Did you celebrate New Year’s Eve? I don’t normally, but this year I did something that may become my norm. I went with Dianne and Mitch to the Honoka‘a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple’s New Year’s celebration that included meditation, a service and fireworks. Of course, the celebration included the obligatory food and music for events in Hawai‘i. Indeed, we were treated to the sounds of The New Dharma Band performing Shangri-La and Here Comes the Sun during the service. But I’m rushing things…
Somehow it seemed so appropriate to end the old year with meditation, to come to a sense of completion with it. I’ve been attending Mindfulness Meditation on Sundays for the past couple years. It’s 25 minutes of seated meditation (on chairs, not cushions –Yeah!), 15 minutes of walking meditation, and an hour of discussion. We meet in the Hongwanji Social Hall but there’s no need to be Buddhist. It’s open to everyone, and we have a fairly eclectic bunch that shows up. They’ve become friends. Starting my New Year’s Eve reflections in quiet peaceful meditation with them and others, like a contingent from Anita’s yoga class, seemed so right.
Reverend Shingo Furusawa occasionally attends the Mindfulness Meditation, so we sometimes have discussions of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, always interesting. I bring my Catholic background to the discussion and no one seems to mind. The Reverend makes me feel very welcome when I take him up on invitations to attend services to commemorate special events.
On New Year’s Eve he was in fine form, giving one of his famous cartoon sermons. Children and adults alike love his drawings and his story-telling. This sermon was about an arrogant wild pig who thinks he can fight a lion.
But the highlight of the service (besides the band and the story-telling) was the opportunity to strike the temple bell, which hangs right outside the windows. We all eagerly lined up for our chance to hit that bell squarely and make it ring out for the New Year. (“But only one time!”)
Then we wandered outside to watch the fireworks. Having lived in Wisconsin for much of my life, fireworks at New Year’s was not part of my traditions – way too cold. Even on the 4th of July, my interaction with fireworks was of the municipal-large-scale-very-distant-in-the-sky type. My dad was too much of a safety nut to ever allow more than sparklers (and we didn’t even allow that with our own children!). So this event was my first exposure to the excitement of explosions just 30 feet away.
The fireworks organizer is a true pyromaniac and he outdid himself with continual simultaneous bursting rockets. Thick smoke seeped like a heavy fog over nearby properties. It must have lasted 20 minutes. Wow! And, of course, there was food, always food, and the fellowship that goes along with it. Then home to bed by 9 pm – I had a turkey to get into the oven by 7 am the next morning.
After our turkey stupor, I took the time to ponder what I want for 2016. I find that resolutions don’t usually work for me. They’re like fireworks and gonging bells – all excitement, flash and noise, but then they’re spent, and quickly fade and fizzle out. Instead, for the past three years, I’ve taken my coach, Rita Hyland’s, It’s My Year class and found it extremely helpful for creating a plan for the new year. I’m signed up again this year (alumni attend free) and can’t wait for the first later this month. I’m also participating in Mike Dooley’s Infinite Possibilities 30 Day Journey. These programs are not fireworks, but rather, steady progress toward a goal, more like a meditation, with quiet reflection, thoughtful pauses, and being open to flickers of insight.
Doing the Pre-work for Rita’s class, and the first couple exercises in Dooley’s program, has already helped me set a general direction for my efforts this year and is giving me some structure. They both remind me to ask the Universe and trust my gut on what I should do next. It isn’t set in concrete yet, but the gist for the theme of my intention is abundant healing, health and love.
If you’ve tried resolutions in the past (fireworks) and found the outcome lacking, consider the meditation approach: set an intention using reflection, backed up by solid planning. You’ve got everything to gain by trying.
PS. For a thoughtful discussion of Japanese Buddhism in Hawai‘i, see the DVD, Aloha Buddha.
For insights into how Rita Hyland’s life-coaching is able to profoundly change lives, read my book, Manifesting Paradise.
For my thoughts on Mike Dooley’s “Notes from the Universe,” see A Daily gift from the Universe.
For another essay on Honoka‘a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple ceremonies, see “Remembering the recently dead with dancing at the Hongwanji Buddhist Temple.”
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