New Year

Reflections on the New Year’s Ceremony
by Anonymous

As I drove up the hill to the monastery I felt joy and calm, my breathing slowing down as I entered the now familiar setting. The Chan Hall was so festive, red and white flowers, lanterns, as well as the adornments for the Guan Yin Memorial Ceremony.

I feel so grateful to the Dharma masters and everyone associated with Buddha Gate to have this jewel practically in my backyard. The chanting, the Abbess’s talk, the feeling of being with others who also resolve to clear their minds of delusions and strive to have a clear mind,truly makes this a joyful New Year!

Reflection on the Chinese New Year at BGM
by Darlene Cioffi-Pangilla (Chuan Ling)

Entering the Chan Hall, we are welcomed with thoughtfully planned flower arrangements and altar adornments. Greeting us was the traditional Chinese New year color of red. Red everywhere: symbolizing for me compassion, strength and power (power in the sense of coming in touch with my True Nature).

As we chanted through the liturgy, I could feel and sense a quieting within the assembly. Evoking the name of Guan Yin, over and over, penetrated the very core of our beings and we relaxed, became calmer. There was peacefulness inside. Peace in my “core”, peace in the assembly’s “core”, peace in the Chan Hall and peace hopefully in the world (if for only an instant peace happened).

As I chanted and was mindful of Guan Yin’s name, I recalled the names of those I had “blessing tablets” prepared for. I knew they, too, were being heard and their needs met because of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva’s great, pure vows and skill in responding in all places.

Reflections on New Year Celebration
by Julia De Rienzo

When reflecting on the Lunar New year, it becomes clear that my priorities have changed compared to those of previous years. Many years ago, my New year’s resolutions were filled with “should and have to” often rather self centered. However, this New Year comes as a surprise to me not so much because of the things that need to be done but for what has already been accomplished. Looking back at the past year, I was filled with gratitude not only because I am blessed with a wonderful family, but also because I have the chance to walk the Buddhist path along with so many incredibly kind companions. Each of them have brought a wealth of experiences for which I am deeply grateful. Their benevolent acceptance of my shortcomings, their persistence in keeping me on the path, their tolerance and their strength is like a mirror which reflects my hopes for myself and for those around me. So this New Year comes with renewed vows, and responsibilities. For each moment is a blessing and each step of the way is joyful and peaceful like clear water.

Reflections on Guan Yin Blessings and New Year Celebration
by Julie and Brian Gyoerkoe

Thank You for such a wonderful way to start and celebrate the New Year. This was our first Guan Yin Blessings and Memorial Ceremony. We felt very welcomed by everyone showing us the rituals and routines. The chanting was one of the loveliest earthly sounds I’ve ever experienced. We left the ceremony feeling rejuvenated and ready for the new year. We feel so fortunate to have Buddha Gate and all the wisdom of the Shi-fu’s as part of our lives.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Reflection upon Entering the Lunar Year 2007 Ceremony at BGM
by Mae Hoag

Looking ahead to the New Year is also an opportunity to look backwards, not only to see where I may be going but to reflect on where I have been. Who I am today is not the person I was yesterday or the person I will be in the future. Sometimes I think I am losing my identity. The lines of demarcation are no longer clearly defined. Who am I? Before practicing Buddhism I read many books on the subject, and I recall a line, “There is no abiding self.” It was a totally new idea. Now I am learning from my experiences at Buddha Gate that all life is in flux and that such a realization, which initially is frightening, can become on a deeper level not only comforting but liberating.

Since being actively engaged in Buddhism the past five years, my life has gradually been a process of letting go—letting go of old patterns and habits that defined my and my universe, letting go of ideas and concepts maintained for security and stability, and letting go of the person I think I am. I am shedding a lifetime of layers, and with the loss of each layer, I become lighter. One can accumulate a lot of baggage over time, which can be an obstacle to the realization of one is Buddha nature.

What would my life become if I had not entered the Bodhi path? I can only assume that my judgmental critical characteristics would have prevailed and that underneath a persona seeking perfectionism, an unfulfilled spiritual yearning would have persisted—a vague feeling that there must be more to life.

I live now increasingly in the present. My life before Buddhism was spent looking ahead to the future or ruminating on the past. There is pleasure in simply being present in my life, right here, right now, accepting what is. I have always had goals which created pressures and drives and to change my attitude about this is not easy. But I have increasing faith in karma, its results and connections, and I see it manifested as my awareness increased. With infinite life and a dedication to the Bodhi path, I can practice with assurance and faith that the Buddha nature within will eventually emerge and follows.

Reflections on New Year Celebration
by Susie Tyrrell

I celebrated Chinese New Year at the Buddha Gate Monastery February 18, 2007. The flowers, the chanting, the candle lighting ceremony were all so beautiful. It gave me a wonderfully positive feeling about the New Year ahead. It gave me an opportunity to honor my loved ones, both alive and deceased. I felt part of a large community all with the same focus. The love and oneness was a perfect way to celebrate this new beginning, the year of the pig. Amitofo.