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New year blessings
The gift of inner calm

Published: 28/12/2010 at 12:00 AM
BangkokPost Newspaper section: Outlook
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The New Year is a gift-giving occasion. However, we mostly think about giving gifts to others, overlooking giving ourselves a gift, too, particularly what is valuable to our minds.

Illustration by SMITH SUTIBUT

Giving clothes, hosting feasts, taking someone out to dinner, to the movies, or the likes ... these are the gifts that please the physical senses.

But our mind needs some treats, too. This is an important matter, but much overlooked and seriously lacking. What is it that the mind needs? It is inner calm and happiness, which we are in great shortage. That is why most people are yearning for inner calm.

We should take the time to infuse our mind with the calm within. Happiness and inner tranquility will only emerge when we have mindfulness, mental concentration, and insight. These things will nurture equanimity in our mind, which will help us to live our life smoothly.

I would like to suggest that we use this New Year to give our mind the gift of inner calm. And we should not do this only on New Year's Day. We should keep on doing it, because every day is a new day for us. For the rest of the 364 days, I would like to suggest that we give a present to ourselves by living a life of mindfulness, by constantly practising meditation, and by cultivating insight, for they will eventually transform into inner peace and happiness in our hearts.

Just a little bit of meditation every day is very beneficial. The time we wash and clean our body each day amounts to more than an hour. We spend just as much time nurturing our body by consuming food. But we don't pay much attention to our mind. We should pay more attention to our inner life. Let's give our mind tranquility. If we can do so, our New Year will be meaningful, and our life will be more worthwhile.

The New Year is also a blessing-giving time. It is traditional to wish each other good fortune, such as longevity, glowing health, happiness, a strong body, and work success. However, good fortune comprises both opportunity and one's readiness. Opportunity means the situation and timing, which involve many other people, something that is dependent on many external factors.

Winning first prize in the lottery. Being promoted to higher position. Winning a raffle. These things are often considered luck, which comes from external factors. But to have real good fortune it also depends on our internal factor - our readiness within. We might hit gold, but if we are not ready, it will turn into defective luck. We might win tens of millions of baht from winning the lottery, which is indeed a rare luck. But if we don't know how to spend money wisely, or if we spend it on heavy drinking and heavy partying, our life will plunge and probably end up in deep debt. Being drunk from celebrating the prize money, we might crash into electricity poles when driving home. This is broken luck. The opportunity is there. But it turns damaging because the internal factor, our mind, is not ready.

If we want to have good fortune, it is not enough to wait for an opportunity. We must prepare ourselves to be ready; mental readiness, in particular. It comes from being mindful, insightful, careful, and knowing enough. This is in accordance with what I mentioned earlier - the need to give ourself a present through the cultivation of mindfulness, mental concentration, and insight. If we have these mores, our mind will be calm and composed and our life will constantly meet good fortune. If we are ready within - being mindful, insightful and prudent - we can turn every opportunity into good fortune that makes our life meaningful. Even when opportunity is not at hand, or when we face obstacles, our readiness within will help us transform any adversity into good fortune. When we fail in our work or our love life, we will be able to see it as not a misfortune, but good luck - that is, if we know how to think wisely, and how to learn from what happened. If we have discernment and mindfulness, then we have the inner readiness to turn a crisis into luck and opportunity.

For this New Year, I wish you all the attainment of inner peace. I wish you the opportunity to help one another cultivate mental concentration, practise meditation, and nurture happiness within. I wish you becoming the source of moral support for one another to develop the mental readiness, so you can turn whatever you are facing into opportunity.

May your mind be governed with mindfulness and shining with firm mindfulness so you have access to luck and opportunity at all times. I wish you success both in life and spirituality. Whatever comes into contact with your mind, may it be the source of high spirits that emanate to your loved ones, relatives, and friends around you.


This is an edited translation of Phra Paisal Visalo's New Year talk at the Komol Kheemthong Foundation in 2003.

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