Friday, December 31, 2010

One at the Beginning, One at the End

After a lovely day of wandering the island and having a mini feast that we conjured up in the new kitchen ( a little red pepper homous, sun dried tomato tapenade, Moroccan lentil soup, some raw olives, a few dolmades ... you're getting the feasting picture!) we are preparing to join Peter in his alternative new year's celebration. We have lit the fire in the Zendo (first time), have some candles and my singing bowl waiting to ring 108 times (alas, no bell). And then a we will each write something we want to let go of and toss it into the fire and then for a few sips of something bubbly at midnight.

But as I sat down to write in my journal, I found something I wanted to share with you, a little new year's offering. It's a quote I'd copied in March from my daughter's copy of "Taking The Leap' by Pema Chodron, something that had impressed me enough to scrawl into my journal. Perhaps it's a good way to send off the old year and step over the threshold of the new one??

"In the Buddhist teachings on compassion there's a practice called "one at the beginning, and one at the end." When I wake up in the morning, I do this practice. I make an aspiration for the day... I try not to make it too grandiose ... I begin with a clear intention and then I go about the day with this in mind. In the evening I review what happened. This is the part that can be so loaded for Western people. We have an unfortunate tendency to emphasize our failure. But when Dzigar Kongrul teaches about this, he says that for him when he sees that he has connected with his aspiration even once briefly during the whole day he feels a sense of rejoicing. He also says that when he recognizes he lost it completely, he rejoices that he has the capacity to see that. This way of viewing ourselves has been very inspiring for me. He encourages us to ask what it is in us, after all, that sees that we lost it. Isn't it our own wisdom, our own insight, our own natural intelligence? "

"Can we just have the aspiration, then to identify with the wisdom that acknowledges that we hurt someone's feelings or that we smoked when we said we wouldn't? Can we have the aspiration to identify more and more with our ability to recognize what we're doing instead of always identifying with our mistakes? This is the spirit of delighting in what we see rather than despairing in what we see. It's the spirit of letting compassionate self-reflection build confidence rather than becoming a cause for depression." - Pema Chodron, from "Taking the Leap"

Here is my wish for us all for 2011, that we might "feel that sense of rejoicing when we connect even briefly with our aspirations, that we identify with our wisdom and natural intelligence and that we develop the "spirit of delighting in what we see." Bows to you all for your good company on this journey.


  1. What a great tradition for NY-eve! Our tradition is a general take-stock-and-clean-up on Jan 01. I read your post before I dove into the bowels of my study so it was lovely to rejoice in the little things I found, even if I was going to pass them on to some other incarnation. Wow! My dad's coin collection, wrapped in tissues, my mum's unsorted stamp collection stuffed in a plastic hand-wipes box. And, of course, to delight in not yet being able to let go of things I said I would send off to the great beyond last year.


  2. Beautiful aspirations - identifying with our innate wisdom, our insight, and our natural intelligence... Breathing that in with delight... Thank you :)

  3. Carole....this is so lovely. Thank you for sharing this beautiful teaching.