2021-12-27 Living Well With Choice
5:21AM Dec 28, 2021
new year's eve
So good evening, here the last Monday evening here of the year. And one announcement is that for the next two Monday's we won't meet here at IMC. Polls will start hopefully start to get on the 16th of January. And it just felt like it was the wise thing to do to be a little cautious during this time, we don't know what's happening with Omicron. And and there's some theory that it might peak in about two weeks. So I don't know if it's the right time to open then with, we'll have a little bit more sense. So yeah, it will look on the website and see if we open that on there. And like I said, I think it'd be the 17th of January. And and we might do require everyone to be fully vaccinated this time. I mean, they boosted it as well. So you might have to resubmit your vaccination card. And I think it's just who knows how unnecessary all these things are. But hopefully, it's good for everyone to know that we're being as cautious as we as cautious as we can be, in trying to make everything I could say for everyone. And
so I find it rather amusing that the English word for the current last month of the year, they say it's the 12th month, right? And, but the word December comes from the Latin word that means 10. It's 10th month. So if you know Latin, that must be very confusing. And, and November means ninth and Latin, October means eight, September 7. And so you know, we're marking a little bit confused in the English language about what we're actually commemorating here. And, and we just passed this, the solstice, which is kind of a kind of real event in terms of the planets in the sun and everything. But this New Year's Eve that we celebrate this break with this transition from one year to the next. It's not a thing that really exists. I mean, it's not like it doesn't mark anything that's unique. That happens in the stars, the sun, the Earth. It's just a kind of arbitrary day that somehow was used to mark the end of an arbitrary year where we're confused about the names of the months. And nothing really will change between, you know, in in from the 34th of December to the first of January, except the clocks that somehow in the computer is notice as well as mark the time is being changed. But in the end the nonhuman world, there's nothing really that happens. Of any particularly import as far as I know. And even when, you know, we were fortunate to live in, I think we're fortunate to live in this bay area, which is so cosmopolitan cultures and people from all over the world. And you can kind of go around different weeks in the Bay Area and celebrate different New Years. Different cultures, societies celebrate New Year's at different times. Some are the F some market by the lunar lunar calendar, not this solar calendar. So I like this thing about reflecting on New Year's Eve this way. Is that we see that it's a convention. It just constructed the human mind. Some people who made up this calendar and we live by it. And but, but I don't want to dismiss it because the construct is a convention. But the conventions and constructs that we have, we have so we can share our life together. They've been there kind of or they're made by people so that they can kind of support each other or kind of be on the same page same year and the same kind of communication together and certain way. And, and if we share some of the same conventions, that conventions link us, they make a connection between us. And so I don't know how many of you might stay up until midnight on the 31st. But I don't know if people still do this when I was young, there were people would stand on a chair. And when midnight came, they would jump into the new year, off the chair. That really worked. They got there into the next year just and people didn't jump got there as well. But maybe somehow you got there better when you jumped. The but still, it's something that people do together, some people party, some people come together and and there was a time when people came together much more than the last couple of years. And I think it's important for people to come together. And I thank those of you who came here today, to sit this together, I find it precious that we're meditating together, thank you. And we share these conventions. And they link us, they link us and kind of organize our lives and we kind of share share the conventions and share the life in some ways.
But it's more for me, it's more important. It isn't that they link us but rather their channels of communication. And the question is, what are you communicating? When you when you use to shared conventions? And that is what I find is most interesting about this what I'm trying to say today, what are you sharing? What are you communicating? When you use a convention? When you use when you simply say how are you to someone? Hi, how are you? And a lot of people in English don't really want to know how you they say how are you doing really wonder how you are you say oh I'll tell you sit down you have an hour I'll tell you they don't really want to know they just want to know that it's a kind of convention to say hello and I see you and and so you say you know by the convention sometimes you say fine and then how are you in the fine and then you can go on to the business you have to do it just the kind of little dance you do get connected. Maybe a little it can be a little communication or friendliness or recognition. There are some cultures where they say hello by the word for hello is I see you in the kind of nice I see you and and so we're communicating through the conventions that we use and and this I find precious and what do you communicate? When you use the conventions when you say hi? How are you when you say Happy New Year? Happy holidays or whatever you say? You're participating and conventions that we share. And what are you communicating what is traveling in your words to the other person? Is it friendliness? Is it kindness? Is it recognition? Is it a feeling of shared humanity? That we're in this journey together? We're accompanying each other? That's where caring for each other that we are respecting each other? Or is it the something else
I've here in Redwood City I've heard her terrible things be yelled out car windows to people walking on the sidewalk. That communicate something else to not say how are you to someone? You know, maybe that communicates more of an indifference, some different feeling. So what are we communicating in the conventions? So one of the things that happens when people practice Vipassana mindfulness practice. There's a kind of deconstruction process that goes on. We're kind of slowly deconstructing the conventions we live in. Some of the conventions get claustrophobic, some of them are not held For our own hearts and minds, some of them are burdensome that we live under. Some of them are just part of just our lives. But as we sit and get quiet in meditation calmer and calmer, calmer mind is no longer participating at all the conventions. And for some brief moments, perhaps a meditation, a good percentage of the usual constructs of the mind thoughts, ideas of who I am, and other people are and what I supposed to do and am I supposed to accomplish and my To Do Lists forgotten? My concerns of work are put aside for a few minutes. And we experience a calmness or peacefulness of letting go, we experience our life or a world ourselves to some degree free of all the constructs the ideas that the beliefs, the to dues, and entities that we live by. And it can be a relief, to put it all down. And when the more we can do that, the more than we can see, we can recognize when we reintroduce the conventions, when we reduce interpretations, reintroduce thoughts and ideas and projections and assumptions and judgments. And that we have about ourselves. So there's the world around us. And that's a special place to be able to watch how we, these things come back in. So if you feel pretty calm and meditation, pretty peaceful, and things are pretty good and quiet, and you leave meditation to go out here to find your shoes. And you see your shoes. And probably none of you have these kinds of thoughts, but you see your shoes and you say, Oh, they are those old, tired shoes of mine that really are embarrassment to the human to humankind. And I hope no one notices. You've now introduced a whole series of conventions, constructs and ideas, to watch it come in to watch the mind pick it up while they're in my shoes, they're tired, Noldor and bear and watch it as thoughts coming up and be quiet enough to see it arise and say no, thank you. I don't need to go there, I don't need to pick that up. This is optional. You could just then drop it and be quietly put on your shoes, they probably will get you home. Another option you have, as you can see your shoes, recognize that you're going to spiral down and some kind of self loathing around your shoes. So I'm not going to do that. Instead, you can look at your shoes and say, you know, I've had those shoes for a long time. They've taken care of me in many, many places. And we've been through a lot together. Maybe I'll just thank my shoes, thank you shoes. I'm grateful that before you put on your shoes, you bow to them. And maybe that's a silly thing to do. But what a world of difference it is to live in a world where we look at our shoes and have loathing for the shoes ourselves embarrassment, versus when we feel grateful for it, or shoes, what a difference. Which, which world would you rather live in? If those are the two options? I know I wish better I'd prefer to live in The grateful mind.
So we come to New Year's Eve to another convention. And there's a lot of things people do for New Year's Eve that doesn't interest me whatsoever. There was a time in my life where I maybe would have been a little bit dismissive of what people do. I think some things people do probably not so healthy for themselves. But I don't want to dismiss people anymore. Don't want to dismiss and don't want to live in a world where I'm judging people. Oh, look at that. What they're doing. I'd rather live in a world where I appreciate people and value them and say oh, look at that. People are having a chance to celebrate. People are coming together. Humans need to be together, some of them do. And wish them well. May they be well, may they be safe. And if those are the only options, those two to be dismissive or to think what well about them and wish them well, I'd rather live in the latter. I think it's better for me, it's my best I've had a world I'd like to live in. And so this idea that we live in the world of conventions, ideas, and constructs an idea of what's going on. Some Buddhists want to dismiss it all and say it's all empty, to all that real, you want to stay with close to what's real. And some Buddhists will say, Well, maybe they're not real in some kind of absolute way. But they're real enough in the sense of, we have a choice, how to use them. And use them well. You make choices like that all the time, you sit down at a meal, you could probably eat your soup with a knife or the fork. But it's a little more useful to Eat your soup with a spoon. That's a convention is idea. It's a choice we make. So we can make the same we can make choices with how we use our words. We use our evaluation of people and circumstances. And that is one of the powers that come from meditation. If you in meditation have learned to get quiet and peaceful enough to have put to rest some of the judgments, some of the ideas, some of the projection some of the activities of your mind. Just enough so you can see them when they get when they reappear and see them as reappearing. Oh there it is, it wasn't there now it's come and don't give it a thority don't take it being real the thoughts the judgments but rather see them as thoughts the them as judgment see them as evaluations the fact that you see your shoes as old tired shoes maybe they've been around for a long time. But then the follow that in the wake of that of all this is embarrassment. Is that true? Just because I think it doesn't make it true? Because I think it it's not so much but is it true or false? But in that I think it is it helpful or not? In that I think it how can I use it for something that's beneficial, that makes this world a better place
and this you know, tireless or continuous dedication, love devotion to making this world a better place. Why not? Why not do that? I believe that there are people who seemingly are continuously doing the opposite. continuously thinking about and how to make this maybe the trying to make a better life for some people but to make other people miserable. But what if we make our make us world a place that we care for people and try to make it good for everyone? And you might say that that's a moral choice. I'd like to say that it's it's a not a moral choice Exactly. But rather it's the more healthy choice for our hearts and our minds. And so even as simple as how you go to put on your shoes as you leave here by the time you get to the shoe rack and you remember wow I've but if I rush home right now I think if I you know really raced home and got in my car and maybe hopefully no police on the freeway and just really get there. I get back just in time for the beginning of the TV show that's a choice. Or see the those thoughts arise and say, Wait a minute, What world do I want to live in? I live in a world that's rushing and dangerous? Or is there better things to do? Is there healthy things from my heart, in my mind, healthy way to drive healthy two way leave stay connected to myself. And that is that is the dose cut out kind of questioning is the kind of questioning that I believe comes from doing Buddhist practice. Buddhist practice is not a magical pill that you just do the practice and everything will be glorious and wonderful. But Buddhist practice is one that gives us the the knowledge, the material, the capacity, to see what we're doing moment by moment, to choose the healthy option. In our words we speak and the actions we do, and even the thoughts that we have. And to do that, in a regular way, ongoing way, begins to kind of change the inner and outer environment. There's less stress. There's less fear and anxiety. There's less tension that we carry with us. And there's the opposite. The rewards are huge. The benefits are fantastic. To live in that place. In the present moment. We can see how we live, the choices we make. And to choose choose the ways that are healthy for you, for ourselves and for the world, to the things beneficial for self and others. And all the conventions we use that communications we have to never dismiss anything, but always to see how can we this be used? How can this be a channel where I can spread goodness, freedom, kindness, compassion, love. So we come to this end of the year, beginning of the next year. And we have all these conventions that we do when one of the conventions is to kind of review the year and to set an intention for the next year. And it's an I think that's that can be a nice thing to do. And what I hope is that we keep making that resolve that intention over and over again. It's it's how we live our lives. It's not something we do once a year.
And so it's a life in Buddhist life is a life of making choices resolves intentions all the time. But not in a way that's tiring. But in a way that's obvious. It's so obvious that if you're going to drink the soup, you do it with a spoon to try to eat the soup with a knife you know maybe once a lifetime it's okay to try but you know it's a kind of you know, that it's which is the easy choice, the spoon. It becomes that natural that easy to live this life of choice to live the life of being in the present moment to care for what we do each step along the way so a New Year's Eve maybe to this year then if that what I've said today had any meaning for you. Maybe you can infuse imbue New Year's Eve in whatever way you're doing it alone or with people or anything that was something new or more dedication. How can you live this New Year's Eve intention? New Year's Eve event in a way that becomes a Channel A canal doorway for the best in you to come forth always choose the best in you can live by that that's the opportunity that we have. So thank you very much for being here and being part of this and sharing this sitting and as I don't take it for granted after this year and a half of the pandemic that we come together and sit this way and to me it feels very special. And thank you for sharing this with us and this time and I look forward to seeing you again, having a chance to do this again. Hopefully in a few weeks, it'll have information about it will be on their on their website. So just keep an eye on the website under what's new or the calendar or something. So thank you all very much