As 2020 comes to an end, I witness my own and others effort to make sense of what has befallen human beings on our increasingly fragile mother earth. How do we best honor the tragic loss of life, suffering and isolation, and not turn away from the natural arising of elemental fear as we find ways to live with the presence of a virus that could end our lives? Also arising, is the growing realization that the virus most likely will be with us in the coming years, our methods to prevent its spread inadequate, and inequality of vaccine distribution a difficult reality.
We face many challenges and where I find the Buddhadharma helpful, and perhaps you do as well, is in witnessing the grand negotiation taking place in our minds, cajoling, convincing, pleading, disciplining, using every trick in the proverbial book to help keep ourselves on the safest track and not succumb to anger and hopelessness. It is very clear we deeply need each other to truly survive and thrive once again, and as you read this I offer thanks for your presence and the connection we share, and deep gratitude for our continuance and the possibilities that open in the New Year.
It is possible to find ways in which our lives have actually improved during this difficult year, as most of us tucked in to lives at “home,” slowing down, spending more time in reflection rather than in the usual stream of external activity. For those of us already living in isolation, so much more connection is now possible virtually and a cornucopia of new opportunity to learn and be with others who never before considered virtual communication essential.
The gifts I received this year are substantial and I offer deep gratitude to donors, dear friends, physicians not just for having received support materially and medically, but for the profound blessing of healing and deepening internal resources to make offerings to others in whatever ways appropriate and possible. “Blessed am I, Blessed am I,” is the refrain that echoes from one learned teacher’s prayer in Japan.
To all our donors who have been so splendidly generous, our Non-Toxic Tiny House Prototype, still in process, received the name “Bodai-An - 菩提庵 - Hermitage of Awakening and Refuge” rededicating our effort, in the long wait for locale dependent building codes for tiny houses on wheels to be clarified so legal occupancy will be possible, expert technical guidance necessary for taking our next steps without error received, and we continue to gather the resources necessary for completion and pray for improved circumstance in terms of Covid safety to move forward with construction.
As healing from physical illness and trauma is in ever greater need, it's clear that the centuries old Buddhist traditions of developing places of refuge and retreat for healing and spiritual practice will be skillful and necessary in our times as well. Effort to save ourselves from suffering that is avoidable in terms of environmental health, and gathering energy for regeneration and healing the earth, as both an offering, and a fulfillment of our human capacity of loving kindness and compassion for every sentient being and every animate and inanimate thing in our world. So, as the New Year begins, I offer this intention, that Radiant Light Sangha, as largely a virtual community of dharma practitioners around the world who connect for inspiration and mutual support in our practice of Buddhism, focus on developing a place where spiritual practice, healing and honoring of our wisdom traditions may flourish and contribute to the balance and healing of the earth.
With prayers, love, and every good wish for your health, happiness and flourishing practice in the New Year, 2021
Rev. Ekō Susan Noble