Fair New Year’s Eve, my friends, I hope the final day of the current year finds you in good spirits and dreams of the days to come. After the Christmas rush, I find myself in an odd state of exhausted calm, craving time to myself to reflect upon 2011, so that is what I am doing now. However, before I extend this post into the common categories of the season (resolutions, reflective memories etc) I wanted to share with you all my empowerment experiences earlier today. About a month ago, the nun running the centre in which I reside, approached me in the hallway, and very kindly offered to finance my place in the New Year Tara Empowerment. I suppose that’s Buddhists for you. When I first started coming to the centre two years ago now, I took to joining the weekly Tara puja, and she soon became synonymous with my presence. If anybody knew of events pertaining to this particular deity, I would be alerted as a matter of urgency. A couple of these were empowerments, but either they were always at other centres in the North, and between studying and working, I could never get the time or money to go. I had a grand opportunity last Spring, when the gentleman who first inspired me to call upon Tara, needed an assistant to travel with him for an empowerment in Derbyshire. Hastily I agreed, and was prepared to go until a day before I was due to leave, my mother became ill, and I had to attend. Sometimes, things aren’t meant to be; I had a feeling perhaps I was not supposed to bond with the Buddha in such a way just yet, and that when I was truly ready, the opportunity to do so would arise without hindrance. It wasn’t something I felt I needed, I’d never felt too far from Tara even before our formal meeting, but rather something I wanted to experience as a form of spiritual improvement.
Today was the first empowerment I have ever received, and it was a wonderfully strange affair in which blessings were given, vows made, and matra’s chanted. During the morning I had forced myself not to expect anything, because expectation leads to disappointment and worry, and I didn’t want to go into the ceremony with this state of mind; instead, I wanted to be open to what was happening, and to enjoy the moment. It was also important to me to have the right motivations, as any Sanga member will know, as I allowed Tara to enter my heart. I didn’t want to undertake the promises of Bodhicitta, without focus, and a comprehensive knowledge of what they mean. Our teacher gave a concentrated lesson on who Ayra-Tara is, and her connections with Atisha, who was first to become Empowered by her. He spoke about what her interpreted forms represented, and guided us to understanding her powers of swift rescuing. Sounds extraordinary, to be able to aid those in need as quickly as a rushing wind. I got a sense then of the power behind the act, but my mind couldn’t quite grasp how energizing and natural the entering of Tara would be. As I knelt down before the teacher performing the empowerment, I thought I would have to concentrate to ensure the right images came to mind, but the feeling overtook me, and Tara herself seemed to lead the process, in gentle welcome. I was aware of the bell, and of chanting, as a warm sensation spread down from the crown of my head, to my heart. I had a vision of black smoke being pushed out of my body. And then, I was rising to my feet. Quick and beautiful.
In 2011, I can’t say much has changed, and I didn’t accomplish the goals I set out to with optimism this time last year. Reading back over enthusiastic posts about writing, I can see I perhaps illuminated the ideas in rainbow lights, failing to see the realistic obstacles that would stand before me. I’m not going to make a definite aim this year round, and I’m certainly not going to pressure and restrict myself to the point of exhaustion and devastation. Instead, I’m going to resolve to move forward with writing in some aspect; to write where possible and whatever I can, perhaps by posting regularly on this blog, or ensuring I try harder to take ideas further, by forcing doubts from my mind. Hopefully, come 2013, I’ll at least have something I can honestly say I enjoyed completing, and hopefully be a step closer to the ultimate dream of becoming a published author. I want to get into the habit of spending time writing, on regular days at regular times, to form a progressive pattern of working. Already, I’ve ensured I won’t be working at my retail job on Mondays and Tuesdays, to begin to accommodate this plan. The most dangerous obstacle will be walking the line between routine and obsession; the latter will no doubt lead to similar instances of frustration and abandonment as earlier this year. I’d like to visit more places, go for walks in new areas see things I’ve always wanted to. If my friends and I end up enacting a plan to go to one National Trust location a month, then I’ll take out a years membership, but if not I still want to experience more of life’s natural and historical wealth, and try new things. This means I’ll have to overcome the fears I have of having to do things alone.
Health is another important factor; I’ve had several issues, discussed back-and-forth between doctors, about the condition of my intestines, and other areas of my body. I eat too much sugar, and rely on the rushes it provides when I’ve been so busy I’ve skipped meals. In order to combat my poor eating schedule, and clear my sugar addiction, I’m eliminating sugar from my diet throughout January, with time added for cheating. Andreas is joining me, and together we plan on overcoming our personal eating demons. It’s a challenge I’ve needed to face for a long time. In addition, I’ll return to running, possibly even swimming, once a week, and take food on a routine. I’ve got to start working around meals, not eating around work. Hopefully treating myself better, both body and mind, will provide me with more energy, and a positive attitude, but I’m under no delusions that this will be simple. Going to meditation classes, and continuing to meditate and contemplate alone with help me, as well as friends both worldly and otherwise, and I’ve every faith if I apply enough effort I can achieve. And, if you have made resolutions, so can you.
That leaves me only to wish you a very successful, and joyful new year. No matter how hard I try, I could never say it better than Neil.
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.
Have a happy and healthy New Year!