Friday, December 30, 2011

new year aspirations

Bodhichitta is essentially a quality of warmth, an experience of our connection with all beings and with all things. It's said traditionally that it's expressed as a wish or an aspiration, initially expressed as a strong longing or wish that nobody suffer, and that we could in some way in the course of our lifetime, as much as possible, help to alleviate suffering in the world. - Pema Chodron

One more day left in 2011, and to be honest, I am happy to see the back of this year and ready to greet the new one. In these last days of the dying year, my mind turns to aspirations. Not resolutions - I've written about that trap before. When we make resolutions, we are often setting ourselves up to fail, to repeat the constant cycle of aggression and suffering rather than cultivating seeds of gentleness and compassion. Aspirations are powerful because they are more open ended - we are not so much attached to a particularly specific result, but to a slower, more encompassing transformation in our lives or patterns. Our personal patterns and the patterns of our family.

What are your aspirations for yourself and your family in the coming year? For your parenting path? The fundamental aspiration of bodhichitta, as Pema Chodron describes above, is to cultivate our fundamental warmth and connection with all things, and prevent and alleviate suffering. This aspiration seems a powerful one to continue to return to on the parenting path, so that even at our most stuck, our most habitual, our most overwhelmed, we can breathe, touch our hearts, and return to some kind of gentleness. The gentleness has to begin with ourselves. We cannot be consistently gentle and compassionate with our children, our partners, our friends, strangers, unless we can be so with our own basically good selves.

My own aspirations for the new year are gentleness, compassion, understanding, and mind of no complaint. The last one has to do with continued mindfulness of speech, whether spoken or written, and refraining from complaint and negativity. On a more subtle level, I have the aspiration to continue to work with my thoughts, noticing when they are complaining or negative thoughts, and holding those thoughts with gentleness and compassion, rather than pushing them away or justifying them. I feel that by continuing to return to these aspirations, I will be nurturing the seeds of basic goodness in my family.

What are your aspirations? Whatever they may be, I wish you all a beautiful year to come, full of joy and sweetness.

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