Saturday, January 2, 2016

Thank you Deborah for sharing this with me....

Once again, we are completing one cycle and beginning another. Life is but a mysterious 

series of simultaneous and sequential cycles, from personal cycles to universal ones, from 

daily to annual cycles, from one system of accounting for the passage of time to another. 

This transition from the “so-called” 2015 to the “so-called” 2016 is a major transition for 

many of us – and becoming increasingly so even for many peoples and cultures that barely 

a hundred years ago didn’t really care about this particular New Year. Nonetheless, this 

particular convention, this particular marking of passage of time has become an important 

one. And so we acknowledge it. And so we celebrate it. And so, I wish you, a “Happy New 

Year,” and pray that 2016 will be a year of growth blessed with wisdom, a year of prosperity 

partnered with generosity, a year of achieving goals of happiness for self and others.  
In the spirit of celebrating this New Year of 2016, I also offer you two famous Japanese 

poems, two haikus for your reflection and enjoyment. The first is from Bashō who lived in 

the 17th century writes:
year’s end,
all corners of this fleeting world,
swept.
 

In the Buddhist cultures of East Asia, this world of ours is sometimes referred to as a 

“floating world” (浮世). Literally “floating” – unstable, superficial, transient, fleeting, fluid – all 

fall nicely within the range of meanings for this word. That we are all living in a fleeting, 

, transient world is something the Buddha pointed taught. It’s part of the noble truths that he 

taught without mincing words. But this “floating world” isn’t just transient – transiency is the 

“half-empty” way of viewing it. This world is also fluid and free – it’s not as fixed and stuck as

we might sometimes feel.  
At the end of a year, at the end of a day, at the end of a breath, it’s “swept.” Clean. No dust.

Swept of what? Swept of the ancient dust of confusion. Swept of the petty gossips in our

heads. Swept of the endless aches and pangs in our hearts and guts. Swept of any “thing”

for all things, all experiences, all phenomena are simply floating, fluid and fluttering. No-

thing ever remains, every-thing is always swept: clean and pure, pristine and clear. So 

every 

moment is both an end and a beginning. Everything is both old and new. Every corner and 

nook of our fluid lives is always as they are – always, Swept. The second haiku comes from Issa who lived in the 18th century. Issa’s name literally 

means “single (cup of) tea.” Issa writes:
 
new year’s day –
everything’s blooming;

I feel about average.
What a relief to be reminded that we are fine feeling just “about average” even as 

everything around us is blooming and blossoming! This New Year might harken new hopes 

and new promises. This New Year might seem like “the year” where everything changes for 

the better, where everything will finally be perfect and we’ll have what we want and want 

what we have. But no matter what the promise might seem to be, Issa tells us: go ahead 

and be comfortable about being “about average.” The “self” cannot be improved. It cannot 

be made better, newer. Any attempt to do that only brings more trouble. So just enjoy your 

single cup of tea. Just enjoy the blooms and blossoms of the New Year and be about 

average. Be good to yourself, be good to others. Be kind to your-average-self, be kind to 

others’-average-selves. Being bout average is a fine place to be. So this New Year, perhaps the “resolution” to make and to keep - if you feel it’s the decent 

and expected thing to do, to make earnest resolutions like others do - then make the 

resolution to simply remember Bashō’s single word that puts an end to all needless words 

and worries. Swept.


Dr. Hun Lye
Founder & Spiritual Director
Urban Dharma NC

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