Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!
Our life as a human being is very precious. Compared to all other beings in the different realms of existence, we have the unique opportunity to develop our minds and gain total liberation. The human lifespan enables us to enjoy the worldly pleasures of life and also to experience the various manifestations of sufferings, which can act as a stimulus for us to seek true peace and happiness by reducing and overcoming the tendencies of greed, hatred and delusion – the root cause of all our sufferings.
At New Year we always pray for longevity, happiness and prosperity. Longevity provides us with greater opportunity to fulfill our worldly duties and responsibilities. It also provides greater opportunity for us to see the true nature of life. With each passing year, we see our children growing up, and we wish for them to have a bright future. At the same time, we see our elders aging, and we wish that they remain healthy and free from pain and sickness for as long as possible. While we reflect on all the good things that we have done over the past year, we also see that they are impermanent and that we cannot avoid facing difficulties from time to time.
If we see this and truly reflect on the impermanent and unsatisfactory nature of life, this will prompt us to aspire for something higher, to gain liberation from the cycle of samsara, not only for our own happiness but also for the benefit of others. Therein lies the true purpose of the long life we wish for.
The recent bushfires in NSW serve as a lesson in impermanence for us to wake up to the realities of life. There is nothing in this world that we can grasp or cling on to as “I” or “mine”. While we use these words in the conventional world, our knowledge and understanding of the Dhamma will naturally lead us to realise the ultimate reality of things around us. It is the understanding of the true nature of life – the knowledge that enables us to go beyond “I”, “my”, “me”, and “mine” – that constitutes wisdom. As the years go by, we need to grow in wisdom and realise the true meaning of life.
I truly rejoice with all those who have supported the Aloka Meditation Centre, the ABM, ACI and all their related activities over the past year. I also rejoice with all those who have put in the time and effort to cultivate their own minds, through retreats and the Novitiate programme held earlier this year, as well as in their own practice – for one’s own benefit as well as for the benefit of others.
In the coming year there will be several special events. From 1 to 9 February, the Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik Drupchen will be held at Aloka Meditation Centre, followed by Ushnishavijaya Puja from 12 to 14 February. A number of spiritual masters and lamas will be coming to conduct this special retreat and long life blessings ceremony, which is being held for the first time in Australia. I urge you all to take this opportunity to make a connection in whatever way you can with this activity to promote peace and happiness for the benefit of all beings.
The 5th Metta Convention is planned for 13-15 November in Nagpur, India. Please refer to the website in the upcoming months for further information.
May the blessings of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha be with you always.