Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A New Year is Upon Us!

A New Year is soon upon us. In my life, celebration of New Year's Eve has never been of particular interest to me. Nor yet New Year's resolutions. (I go for slow, steady, and sustainable when it comes to lifestyle choices--generally, anyway.)

Perhaps you, too, however, feel that this year, 2011, is not one to be as casual about. I feel a sense of urgency about my personal life and about the world around us. For me, personal life includes the Ananda Community where I live and the activities and things we do here.

In general what I feel is needed is strength and commitment. Our nation, as a whole, has wandered (many feel), adrift from its principles and sinking in a soup of diversity, differences, and conflicts of opinions and lifestyles. Ok, so this will probably always be true. But, not always.

There have been times of crises, threat, or celebration in which even this great nation of diversity has spoken, united in a cause, feeling, or direction. (A small victory in this direction, considered as such even with those who didn't agree with the action taken, was seen in the recent flurry of productive activity undertaken by our "lame duck" Congress.)

But this sense of "We need to get things done" I hope and pray may spread throughout our nation and, cooperatively and harmoniously, with others around the world as well. For me, and that's as much as I can handle, I want to make this New Year's something meaningful. I've never in my life felt this way about New Year's resolutions.

I see the need around me for standing up for what's right; for rising above our own troubles and problems, our smallish likes and dislikes; and, participating in relationship with others of like mind irrespective of personal convenience. As a life cycle "thing," and being now 60 and surrounded by much the same, the temptation is to fuss about one's aches and pains, regrets and affirmations of personal limitations.

But regardless of life cycle, the time in our nation and on our planet is for bold, courageous, and creative action in cooperation with others. Ironically, cooperation, not unlike its more limiting cousin, consensus, can easily work AGAINST getting anything done. But on this planet with the challenges we face, there simply is no choice. We can't (and shouldn't even try) to FORCE others to conform or shape up, neither by legislation nor by coersion.

As I said at our Christmas banquet to those assembled, I think the time has come for cooperative, intentional communities to be more visible as examples of a new way to live. The crushing forces of globalism and the paralyzing mental and emotional impact of being aware of the suffering of others all around the planet, require (and inspire) us to take meaningful, personal action to exercise the muscle of will power and personal initiative lest we fall into a pit of despair or inertia.

So, for each of us, I encourage you to take seriously the opportunity of New Year's to reflect and to commit to personal self-improvement activities, and to cooperation with others of like mind to express your idealism. Paramhansa Yogananda encouraged his disciple (and Ananda's founder) Swami Kriyananda to "Make your ideals practical." America has a solid and positive history of community involvement, giving, and high ideals.

As a nation we need to affirm and reclaim our ideals and to refine our understanding of the concept of freedom. Freedom is not entitlement; it is responsibility. Voting, for example, means for the good of all and for what is right, not merely what benefits you and your personal interests. Without the guiding light of high ideals made practical by personal action, we will lose our freedom, our intelligence, and our heart expanding compassion for the needs of others.

Blessings and a blessed New Year to all!

Nayaswami Hriman