So here we are at the end of 2014. The year has been the usual mix of pleasure and pain, loss and gain, meeting and parting, hope and fear – or any particular set of the eight worldly dharmas that you prefer. The eight differ from tradition to tradition. Fame and shame, praise and blame are other pairings that could be included, and no doubt these have featured in 2014 as well.
I can guarantee that 2015 will be a similar mix – with just the details changing.
I find it useful to remember this on the last day of the year. Samsara—the cycle of existence that we perpetuate through attachment to the eight worldly dharmas—will continue to cycle as it has always continued to cycle and will always continue to cycle.
Is this depressing? Or is it inspiring? I choose to find it inspiring. I know that the only way that I can have any impact on this cyclic existence is to be a practitioner, and particularly to meditate every day. Meditation enables me be a little more aware and a little kinder. This helps me to be a good citizen, a decent friend, a loving wife, a caring mother and attempt to be a helpful teacher. People sometimes despair about the state of the world, but human societies are made up of individuals. If each individual tries to change themselves through meditation practice; if each individual attempts to live as an honourable, respectful and kind individual; society will become more open and peaceful of itself by itself without need of legislation or political manoeuvring.
This morning I received a parcel from a lady in Australia that I have come to know through Facebook. It contained two 2015 calendars. The one shown she has made. How lovely that it arrived today – the last day of 2014, and how nice to end the old year—and start the new year—with a piece of someone’s artwork kindly sent to someone they have never actually met. Surely this is one of the great strengths of this era – the capacity to communicate with people all over the world in an instant. I am hopelessly optimistic that this is a good thing.