Happy New Year 2014
As we ring in a new year and pause to consider it’s potential for changing ourselves and the world we know, I can’t help but recall the words of a sage I met in Ladakh last August.
I had gone to the Mahabodhi International Meditation Center outside of Leh for a short Vipassana mediation retreat led by the organization’s visionary founder, Venerable Bhikkhu Sanghasena.
On the third morning of the retreat our group of mostly Western students set out from the center before the first light to hike up a steep, rocky trail to a barren ridge high above the Indus River.
Venerable Sanghasena had gone up long before us to chant prayers and smudge herbs to welcome the new day. As the horizon brightened and we watched the red crescent of the sun appear in the east, Venerable Sanghasena broke the silence.
“Dear Friends,” he said, “how auspicious, how byootiful. What a miracle of perfection that the darkness of night has given way once more to the dawning light of a new day. A new day, a new life. Give up clinging to the memory of yesterday.
“Whatever joys or disappointment, happiness or pain you had are gone back into the emptiness from which they arose. Clinging to the memory of the joy or pain is not going to keep the joy or pain alive today. It is departed, water down the river, and if you crowd your mind with the skeletons of yesterday, your mind is blind to the new living joy of today’s present moment.
“Dear Friends”, he continued, “look around you to these Himalayan Mountains. This world we are so fortunate to be born to is heaven…The world is perfect, but our human mind is imperfect. Human greed, jealousy, anger, pride, and ignorance contaminate this paradise. Human greed, jealousy, anger, pride, and ignorance are demons that spoil this paradise and bring us pain.
“We should live in peace and harmony in this byootiful paradise. We should care for each other like brothers and sisters. Each human being and each living being our family.”
As Venerable Sanghasena inspired us to recognize from the vast perspective of that Ladkhi ridge top, this threshold of the New Year presents us with all the potential we could wish for. May our aspirations for genuine happiness this year not be despoiled by the demons of greed, jealousy, anger, pride, and ignorance. May all of us in this great family experience as everyday reality the byootiful paradise that we all sense lies beyond the veil of our misapprehensions.
Happy New Year 2014.