DDM Abbot President Ven. Guo Dong's New Year Blessing for 2018

Peace and Freedom from Troubles:

By ceasing bad acts and doing good deeds, our heart will be at peace.

By embracing the world with equanimity,
we will be free from troubles.

DDM Abbot President Venerable Guo Dong would like to wish you a happy new year, with peace, well-being, and prosperity.

2017 has become history. Over the past year,the results we’ve worked hard to cultivate will not go in vain. They’ll prove to be a solid foundation for us to walk towards the coming year. We should cherish and harbor gratitude for what we already have as a foundation, without feeling any attachment or regret.

The best mindset to welcome the New Year is to return to zero. This state of zero requires us to live in the present moment,starting from afresh. “Zero” also symbolizes the pure and perfect wisdom. Therefore, we say “to live in the moment is to experience buddha in the present.”

If we can have a moment of purity in thought, we’ll instantly experience the perfect wisdom in that single thought-moment, and in the meantime live in the pure land.

For year 2018, I wish all of you grow in peace and happiness, and make progress by calming yourself and others.

A Peaceful Body and Mind for a Gradual Growth in Spirituality

In terms of Buddhist teachings,a heart at peace represents true peace, and having nothing in mind is utter happiness. To have nothing in mind doesn’t mean to feel bored or indolent, doing without things. It means a mind free of worry and an unobstructed mind at ease in dealing with the world. Nonetheless, it takes practice to experience and attain this state of mind.

Therefore, for 2018 Dharma Drum Mountain has chosen “peace and freedom from troubles” as the theme of the year, with “by ceasing bad acts and doing good deeds, our heart will be at peace; by embracing the world with equanimity, we will be free from troubles” as the guidelines of practice.

We invite people in society to experience and realize the true meaning of peace and freedom from troubles. There are personal peace, peace in family, peace in environment,and ultimate peace, which transcends personal peace and peace in environment.

The foundation of peace starts with personal practice, by purifying our thoughts, speech, and action. Not only should we not harm ourselves and others, not cause troubles to ourselves and others, we should go further to safeguard ourselves and others, acting for the benefit of ourselves and others.

Let us strive to cultivate purity in body and mind, freeing ourselves from temptations and defilements. This is the proactive purpose of ceasing bad acts and doing good deeds.

Insightful Contemplation and Universal Manifestation

Furthermore,to attain a heart at peace we need to regulate our mind. By collecting, reining in, and eventually letting go of our mind, we can maintain inner tranquility and clarity, free ourselves from emotional turbulence caused by external changes, and thus become a positive force to bring peace to the environment. Embracing the world with equanimity and being free from troubles represents insightful contemplation and no craving, while empathetically considering the needs of others and offering due assistance.

By doing so we’ll be able to let go, of people, things, and objects. We’ll be able to emulate Guanyin Bodhisattva in universally manifesting himself to relieve the suffering with no fear of difficulties.

If we can live out this spirit for even once during a day, then we’ll have experienced another development. If we can experience such development every day,then we’ll not only be able to feel the ease of peace and freedom from troubles, in our interpersonal relationships, our family members, workplace, environment, and society will also enjoy more well-being.

Lifting up, Letting Go at Ease without Any Clinging

The Buddhist view of phenomena is free of the notion of subjectivity and objectivity; they’re regarded as having an interactional relationship of mutual cause and effect.

As my mentor and founder of Dharma Drum Mountain, Master Sheng Yen, told us,from uplifting personal spirituality to enhancing the well-being of the overall environment,all the way through to attaining peace of “no things in mind and no-mind on things,” involves five levels:

First is to relax the body. Secondly is to broaden our capacity of mind. Thirdly is to put down our troubling thoughts. Fourth is to expand our personal sense of duty and responsibility. Fifth is to extend our outlook and aim further.

These five steps may seem to be requiring us to keep letting go, but the point is to let go of our self-centeredness, as well as gain and loss.

After letting go, we should at the same time take up a vow, and always have in mind that we and all other people are a shared entity of lives. Moreover, we should seek to create peace and happiness for all beings. This represents raising the Bodhi mind. Being able to take up represents compassion,and being able to let go reflects wisdom. We should often practice taking up and then letting go as well as letting go and then taking up,without leaving any traces of emotional and sentimental attachment in mind.

Only with expedient compassion and wisdom in accordance with the Dharma can we bring about true peace and freedom from troubles.

In hoping for a peaceful and happy new year, we should again start from the mind and set an example ourselves. If we can fulfill our duties and take responsibility, then all tasks, big or small, are good tasks; if we can cultivate merit and wisdom, then all practices, major or minor,are Buddhist practices; if we can take up and let go freely, then all happenings, serious or insignificant, are essentially nothing at all.

I wish all of you to cultivate a harmonious heart at peace,with happiness in mind free from troubles.


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