Happy New Year 2008! ("Year of the Waking Buddha")
Dear mindful friends,
Today is the first day of a very exciting year in spiritual history.
2007 was a year of equanimity, of letting go, of patience and
of expanding our horizons. It was a year of recovering our foundations
(1st chakra); it was the beginnings of "The Great Shift" in
anticipation of a possible future "Global Awakening." And it was a
"wake-up call" year.
2007 was the first time in history that two Buddhists held office
in the Congress of the United States of America. 2007 was the year
that George W. Bush actually gave an honorary award to His Holiness
the Dalai Lama. 2007 was the year that the whole world saw
thousands of Buddhist monks in Burma take a stand for social
justice in their country. 2007 was the year that, all of a sudden,
both left and right wing believers agreed upon global warming as a
real issue; and it was also the year that Al Gore received a
Nobel Prize for his efforts in this direction. 2007 was the year
that Hollywood began production on what is expected to be the
biggest blockbuster movie in history on the Buddha's life and
message (based on Thich Nhat Hanh's novel "Old Path, White
Clouds") to be released into theaters in late 2008. And locally,
2007 was the year that "Breath of Life" was started in
Dallas, Texas. And many of you began or became more dedicated to
your Dharma practice this year as well. And in my own life, 2007 was
the year that I experienced a pivotal breakthrough in my own personal
practice. Indeed, 2007 was a "wake-up call" year, with Buddhism at the
forefront of "The Great Shift."
I believe this New Year of 2008 will be a fertile year of joy, of
energy, of positive growth (2nd chakra) and of the beginnings of
greater public awareness and interest in the Dharma, Buddhism,
meditation and mindfulness. I am calling this year the "Year of
the Waking Buddha." Last year, the world received a wake-up
call, and this year, we are going to see more and more people
beginning to stir from their spiritual slumber. The collective Buddha
is starting to open Her eyes, yawn, stretch, and slowly pull off the
bed covers. So, my encouragement to all Buddhist leaders around the
world is: "Build it now, because they are coming!" Imagine meditators
in every Dharma center with "standing room only."
The next few years are critical years. What we do during this time
period will determine the future direction of our world. We will
either have a "Global Awakening" or the mass breakdown of modern
civilisation as we know it. But either way, our Dharma practice today
will be greatly needed and necessary either to aid the "Global
Awakening" or to be a calm and stable light for all the people around
us who will be running around in fear, confusion, despair and chaos as
our ecological and economic systems start to fall apart.
The days of "Lone Ranger" spirituality are over. The only valid and
viable path for any of us now is the "Bodhisattva Path" -- the
path of awakening in service to others, the path of community and
interbeing, the path of Sangha. And this is universal, not restricted
to Buddhism. There are Buddhist bodhisattvas, and Christian
bodhisattvas, and Jewish bodhisattvas, and Hindu and Muslim
bodhisattvas. The point is, unless we all collectively awaken
together, the future is not going to be very bright. It is up to us
to make the difference, to make the shift. We are not alone. None of
us is "an island unto himself."
And so, my sisters and brothers, let me encourage you to make this New
Year resolution, to practice the "Sangha Lifestyle" starting today --
- Daily: Personal meditation (20-40 minutes) at home and
mindful living throughout the day
- Weekly: Group meditation with others (Sangha)
- Monthly: A formal or informal "Day of Mindfulness" retreat
by yourself or with others
- Quarterly: A formal or informal weekend mindfulness retreat
by yourself or with others
- Yearly: [If you can afford it,] a formal weeklong or
longer mindfulness retreat with others under the direction of a Dharma
I guarantee you, if you practice this "Sangha Lifestyle" faithfully,
consistently and regularly over the course of this next year, you will
experience a major and pivotal breakthrough in your life and
spirituality that will be of benefit to all beings. You will set
yourself upon the Path of Enlightenement "with no regression." You
will have begun your training as a Bodhisattva. And you will find
yourself supported by all the wisdom, love, joy, peace and strength of
the Universe on your journey. "Yes!" and "Thank You!"
May we and all beings be happy and loved.
May we and all beings transform our suffering.
May we and all beings rejoice in each other's joys.
May we and all beings let go, be content and at peace.
In joyful gratitude,
"True Wonderful Happiness"
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