On this auspicious full moon day, we look forward to the Tibetan Lunar New Year on March 3, 2022. As we do so, the team at Samye Institute aspires to encourage all of us to build virtuous and meaningful habits in this Water-Tiger year. We can join together to face the coming year with dignity and courage, knowing that we can rely on the habit of consistent daily practice to support us.
Samye Institute’s mission is to make the teachings of the Buddha and Guru Rinpoche accessible to all who wish to study and practice authentically. We welcome and provide support for beginners as well as those who have committed to the Buddhist path. For many of us, beginning and maintaining a practice of study, reflection and meditation can be challenging. We are busy people, with limited time and so many conflicting demands. And yet, we all have a sense deep inside us that a change is possible, and that we can rediscover our innate wisdom and compassion. In fact, we wouldn’t be reading this, without at least a tiny belief that this is so. But distraction can be powerful as we know.
Our lineage founder, Chokgyur Dechen Zhigpo Lingpa, wrote:
So now don’t be too distracted, but apply yourself to meditation.
Since study, reflection, and meditation are the highway of the path,
you must exert yourself in them, and not get distracted!
When we wish to avoid distraction, we try to establish more meaningful habits. In many cultures, the New Year provides an opportunity to set the intention to adopt new habits. Cultivating new habits takes time, patience, gentleness with ourselves (and others), and a good sprinkling of humor! Tulku Migmar Tsering reminds us in this video clip that we succeed with habit-building if we are kind to ourselves in the process.
Phakchok Rinpoche, in this video clip, describes the process of examining our habits. He points out that we can open ourselves to observe our faults yet not fall into the pattern of self-judgment. If we’re looking to build new habits, we can learn how to accept criticism from others without becoming defensive. When we observe our patterns in a neutral, objective way, it is easier to make changes and to adopt more beneficial habits.
If we’ve had a little more experience on the Buddhist path, we may notice that we have developed preferences. We like some practices, and we avoid or feel less joyful about others. We may even rush through or skip some elements due to habitual patterns. In this short video, instructor Erric Solomon shares some pointers for approaching our habits with a sense of curiosity. What can we learn from observing our patterns? How might we set the intention to make some changes in the new year?
As we enter the New Year with the intention of incorporating positive changes, we encourage you to consider Samye Institute your virtual spiritual friend. We’re here to provide access to inspirational teachings and reminders whenever you need a boost or support for your practice. We remind you that we offer an archive of video, audio, and written material that can answer questions or help you in contemplation and self-inquiry. Feel free to browse our library for topics of interest. Explore short video teachings, such as this reminder from Tulku Migmar to make meditation a habit. When we encourage ourselves in this way, we gain confidence in our ability to make meaningful changes.
In addition, we encourage each one of you to join our core course offerings: The Path of Meditation Level One (now available in English, Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish) or Path of Meditation Level Two (available in English, with other translations in development). Each one of these lifetime access courses provides profound instruction on contemplation and meditation directly from Phakchok Rinpoche. Each course is self-paced but offers a clear roadmap for study, practice, and contemplation. In addition, both courses give precise mediation practice advice that helps you to develop a habit of practice. Phakchok Rinpoche recommends that all students use these courses to ensure a stable foundation for their Dharma practice. With these courses, you will gain authentic experience through the gradual unfolding of the Buddhist pathway. Many students attend retreats or seminars, but then return home and realize they need more inspiration and support. These courses keep you connected to the practice and allow you the time to develop new habits that can support you throughout your path.