Here at Deer Park we have been practicing to greet the Lunar New Year of the Horse last week and to renew ourselves and our relationships in the beginning of the year. Thay has offered us these parallel verses for us to practice:
New Year – New Me / Joy Within – Joy All Around
One way we practice to wake up to our new selves in to touch our deep aspiration in the beginning of the new year. We practice sitting meditation together as a spiritual family the last 30 minutes of the year. In this way we are calm and still as we start the new year and the ceremony to greet the year. An important part of the ceremony is a prayer/expression of deep aspiration to our ancestors (blood, spiritual and land). Reading this text we follow our breathing, so we can be truly present, body and mind united as we contemplate the content of the text. This is a powerful mirror for us of what we turn to for happiness in our daily life and where we put our attention. As you have read the text, please contemplate your aspiration for this year (2014 / Horse).
New Year Prayer to Mother Earth, Father Sun and all Our Ancestors – Dear Beloved Mother Earth – Bodhisattva Mahagaia – Dear Beloved Father Sun – Bodhisattva Mahavairocana Tathagata, Dear Beloved Ancestors, both Spiritual and Genetic,
We present ourselves before you at this solemn moment of the New Year to mindfully express our gratitude and our deep aspiration as a spiritual family. We know that Mother Earth, Father Sun and our ancestors are always present and alive in us and that you are a solid place of refuge for all us.
Dear Father Sun, your infinite light is the nourishing source of all species. You are our sun, you are Amitabha, you are a great Buddha, a great Bodhisattva, our Great Tathagata Sun, our source of limitless light and life. Your light shines upon Mother Earth offering us warmth and beauty, helping Mother Earth to nourish us and make life possible for all species. When we pay homage to Mother Earth, we see you in Mother Earth. You are not only in the sky but you are also in the earth and you are ever present in Mother Earth and in us. Every morning, you manifest from the East like a bright pink disc, a vast halo shining radiantly in the ten directions. You are the kindest of Fathers with the great ability to understand and be compassionate and yet at the same time you are incredibly bold and courageous.
We continuously practice looking deeply to see that there is a heart inside of each and everyone of us. If our heart were to stop beating, then we would die instantly. But when we look up towards the sky, we know that you, Father Sun, are also our heart. You are not just outside of this tiny body of ours, you are part of the whole cosmos, a part of our solar system. If you were to disappear, then our life as well as that of Mother Earth would end too. Therefore, we aspire to look deeply to see you, Father Sun as our heart, to be able to see the interrelationship, the inter-being nature between Father Sun, Mother Earth, us and all beings. We aspire to practice to love Mother Earth, Father Sun and to love one another with the radiant insight of non-duality and inter-being in order to help us transcend all kinds of discrimination, fear, jealousy, resentment, hatred and despair.
Dear Mother Earth, breathing in, we see that we and all of our ancestors are your children. With your patience, stability, endurance and creativity you have raised us and guided us tirelessly through many lifetimes. You have given birth to us as well as to countless Great Beings, Buddhas, Saints, and Bodhisattvas. You are the great Earth, you are Terra, you are Gaia, you are this beautiful blue planet. You are the Earth Refreshing Bodhisattva–fragrant, cool, and kind. We see that though we and our ancestors have made many mistakes, you have always forgiven us. Each time we return to you, you are ready to open your arms and embrace us.
Because of our wrong perceptions and discrimination we have lived a life of separation, hatred, loneliness, suffering, and despair. We have allowed individualism to prevail, and it has caused a lot of damage and hardship to you and to ourselves. We have run after fame, wealth, power, and sensual pleasures and have forgotten that these pursuits can never bring us true happiness.
We have spent many lifetimes not able to recognize your presence as the Pure Land, as the Kingdom of God, as the most wondrous home that we have. We have run after a distant Promised Land, in heaven or in the future. This has caused us and you much suffering. Tonight as we touch the Earth, we let go and offer you and our ancestors our true presence. We have arrived. You are our home, our only home.
We have learned that only love and compassion can make our lives meaningful, allowing us to protect and preserve your beauty, and allowing us to heal ourselves. We can learn to live as one family — as a community of brothers and sisters, all children of the same Great Mother Earth, Great Father Sun giving our descendants a chance for a healthy and a bright future. We know that only through building brotherhood and sisterhood in the present moment can we make this bright future a reality on earth.
Dear Mother Earth, Dear Father Sun and Dear Ancestors, tonight, on the occasion of the New Year, we give rise to the deep aspiration to begin anew. We would like to begin anew and ask for your forgiveness for all the mistakes we have made. With great respect we make the deep aspiration and promise to learn to breathe and walk mindfully each moment of our daily life. We shall learn to live simply and learn to love with compassion and non-discrimination, as you do. We shall learn to listen to your voice, Mother Earth, Father Sun, to understand you more deeply in order to hear the guidance you and our ancestors offer us. We promise that we shall learn to remain openhearted so that we will be able to communicate better with the members of our family and our community. We aspire to look and to listen with the eyes and ears of our family and our community. We aspire to use peaceful and loving speech with our brothers, sisters, friends and children. So that we may live in harmony and peace, in the very heart of our family and our community, just as bees in the same beehive and cells in the same body. We aspire to learn to see the happiness and well-being of our family and community as our own happiness and well-being.
We promise to stop running away from our suffering, but to practice recognizing, embracing and transforming it. Only by understanding the roots of our suffering can we heal and touch true happiness, and at the same time, restore your beauty and freshness.
You have been calling out to us for many lifetimes and some of us have been able to hear your pain. Countless times you have asked us this question: “Can I have faith and confidence in you? Can I count on you?” In this solemn moment, with palms joined and with one heart, we respectfully offer to you our sincere answer: “Holy and Compassionate Father Sun and Mother Earth, you can count on us. You can have faith and confidence in us.”
We shall practice for you, Mother Earth, Father Sun, for all our ancestors and future generations so that joy, peace, harmony and love will always be present in this world. Please accept our offerings of incense, flowers, fruit, tea, and love. Respected Father Sun, Respected Mother Earth, Dear Ancestors please have trust in us.
Our actions from 2013 will continue to offer fruit in 2014. May we act in a way so as to grow our understanding and compassion. May we act in a way so as to benefit many living beings. Happy New Year!