‘Happy New Year’ to all. As the new year dawns upon us it brings 2009 to an end and presents to us an entire new year full of promises, hope and excitement. This is a good time to reflect upon the past year and to examine our current progress toward our ultimate destination of divine awakening and realization.
According to the Hindu calendar, today is not the beginning of our (Hindu) New Year. However, we all observe new-year today because it is the way of the land in which we live. From a social standpoint, we are all impacted in one way or another by the activities surrounding the commencement of a new year. The Hindu New Year begins when the Sun is in the Aries constellation, which comes approximately two weeks after Holi or Phagwah.
So much in our past years, at times, feels overwhelming, frustrating, unmanageable…. however; at these times, it is most important to remember that we are never alone. God is always with us. As we continue to work towards our ultimate goal of life – Moksha, we recognize that this will only be possible if we obtain the inner strength from the Lord to follow our Dharma. So as we think about resolutions for the New Year, let us think about the following.
Generally, when we make resolutions at the beginning of the New Year they are projected to be kept throughout the year. Yearly resolutions are difficult to maintain and most of them are often broken a few weeks after they are made. A resolution is a sankalp (a pledge) and when we break a sankalpa we end up losing self-confidence. One may think ‘I could not keep a simple sankalpa, I am no good, I am a failure etc’. Therefore, my suggestion is to make more realistic and practical sankalpas i.e. daily or even weekly sankalpas. This way we have a better chance of keeping them since we remind ourselves on a daily basis of our renewed pledge.
The event of New Year is a phenomenon if time. Day by day and 365 days’ passes and another New Year come. Time cannot be understood with the physical mind. The concept of the beginning of time in beyond the human mind. In fact the present time also cannot be understood. The present can be looked at as this hour or the hour can be broken down into minutes, which can be further broken into seconds. Now a second can be divided into milli-seconds. Now each milli-second has a duration with a beginning and an end. So let us further subdivide this milli-second and we can keep going. The point is we cannot comprehend the phrase ‘present time’. "Kalo jagat bhakshah" is an old adage. Time is the greatest consumer of all things. It is constantly heading to engulf the future, eating all of our present and digesting all of our past. Birth and death are processes of time. Only Time will determine our future, we have no power to predict it nor do we have the power to change what has already past. Yet, there is something above time, which is working within us in the form of joy that a new year of betterment is before us. So when we say "Happy New Year," we are not really celebrating the movement of time, rather we are relishing the joy, unity and hope for a better, safer and secure year ahead.
In a deeper sense we are really hoping to be ourselves: Aham Brahamsmi – I am Brahaman. We hope to ignite the flame of happiness that is covered by prakriti (our body, mind and their interplay with nature). We can only achieve this by the blessings of God and the removal of "I"-ness and my-ness. To be able to rise above our many roles in this world as a father, mother, friend, employer etc. and leave everything in the hands of God. "I" is the biggest obstacle in life. It cannot even be written as a common letter in a sentence, it must always be capital. It blocks our spiritual awakening. The same ‘‘I” however, when it surrenders or lie down it becomes a bridge to take us across the ocean of samsara. In order to give up "I" ness, we have to achieve equanimity or Shant – a state in which we always do the right thing and give up all sorrows of the past and fears of the future.
To achieve Shant, we have to first:
1. Sow the seed of truth (Satyam). Be truthful to ourselves.
2. This seed of Satyam will develop roots of Ahimsa, which will let us react in the most appropriate manner when faced with situations.
3. The flowers from the tree of satyam and ahimsa will bloom and spread it’s fragrance throughout the world ultimately yielding ……
4. The fruit of moksha.
Chanting of the Aditya Hridayam followed the message. This is a compilation of shlokas by Agastysa Muni to Shri Rama (Valmiki Ramayan), revealing the secret of the Sun God in re-energizing the mind and body of mankind so that they can maintain their sankalpas or New Year’s resolutions.