A new year has come, what should we do?
Now it is already 2019, what should we do? This is a question that each of us should take seriously. Let us reflect on whether we have made any progress in our Dharma practices throughout the year, and whether we were fully devoted. In the past year, did we actively engage in virtuous activities, accomplish many recitations or did we deliberately waste our time? As Buddhism practitioners, this year-end reflection is very important.
In the past year, did we spend our time in vain?
Think about the people around us, our colleagues, friends and family have always been living in chaos. They have no discipline over their behaviors and they have no interest to unveil the truth. However, they create the environment which we live in almost every moment. Under such circumstances, we are often tempted to invest all our energies in worldly concerns and neglect what we should and should not do as a Buddhist. It would be a great pity if this was how we spent the past year.
Our life is like the sun, rising from the east and setting in the west as time flies by. As a practitioner, we should contemplate on impermanence to find a more meaningful way and purpose for the coming year. Please have a look-back on what we did. Did we frequently participate in life-release activities? Did we actively join group practices? Did we complete the recitation of The Sacred Grand Liberation Sutra every month on time? Did we do our daily prayers? A year has gone by, if we did not waste our time, then we become the biggest beneficiary. We will have all the merits resulted from doing virtuous activities. On the other hand, when we devote too much time to the eight worldly concerns, we would be trapped in work and family chores. In this case, we should ask ourselves, would we be able to face impermanence? Would we have the power to ease our pain and change our fate? Therefore, it is important for us to know that another year is gone in our life, we are one more step closer to death.
As Buddhists, should we be more determined to pursue renunciation or should we let ourselves to stay in the chase of the eight mundane obsessions?
We don’t have unwavering faith because our lack of fortune
2018 was a tough year, we have encountered many obstacles and unpleasant things. But it is all behind us now, I wish everything will turn out to be more auspicious for all of you in 2019. However, we have to understand, in order for us to dispel suffering, accumulate fortune and practice with more diligence, the only way is to pray for blessings from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The Three Jewels are the only real refuge for us all. We cannot change the fact that we wasted time in the past year, therefore in the new year, we need to make an aspiration: from now on, I will practice the Dharma more assiduously with fervent faith, and never give up!
Making aspirations is essential for us, this is a reminder from me. On the path to enlightenment, you need to be reminded once in a while to avoid becoming careless and confused. Some of you practice with extra diligence when bad things happen and forget about Dharma practices when everything goes well. Others may develop wrong views when in trouble, they would abandon Dharma practices, thinking Buddhism did not help to block bad things from happening even after so many years of practices. There are countless obstacles that may cause us to give up on the Three Jewels, because we have so little merit in this Dark Age. Despite we have been practicing for some years, our foundation and our faith is still weak. If we don’t put in more efforts, we will face the risk of giving up the Dharma. Our faith can be easily disturbed by small things, this is a sign of us lacking fortune and merits.
Meditate on impermanence and make pure aspirations
Therefore we must have a thorough reflection. For things that we did not do well in the past year, we need to confess and strive to make improvements in the coming year. We can’t stay ignorant anymore. Try asking ourselves, when we come to face impermanence, do we have enough power? A few days ago one of my disciples told me that he had 8 relatives who died successively in the past year and he was deeply touched. In fact, this is how impermanence works. It can fall on us anytime, therefore we need to cherish our time and practice assiduously.
As the new year begins, I wish all of you to pray for the blessing from all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and lineage masters. May all the blessings be instilled in you to practice more diligently and never give-up, to have pure discipline, to stay in harmony with your Vajra brothers and sisters, and to engage in virtuous activities properly according to the Dharma.