The last day of year 2009.
A challenging year for so many people, for so many institutions, for so many countries.
It's been a difficult year for Mother Earth, and all of her inhabitants. Some say we are in the grips of Mappo, a time when no sentient beings can be released from Samsara.
I don't know if this is true or not, but even in this small community in which I live, so many people have lost the ability to meet their most basic needs.
Food Banks are depleted, emergency shelters are bursting at the seams, jobs are scant, and wages won't pay the bills anyway.
During a year when a friend said her cat was a luxury, I found myself offering a silent Nembutsu over and over again, and I wondered whose heart I was nurturing.
No one has gone without suffering.
Tonight around the world, Buddhist communities will gather to release the old year and welcome the new year with 108 strikes of the temple bell. Accompanied by mindful reflection, each vibration symbolically dissolves negative karma generated throughout the past year. We allow space for our Heart-Mind to empty of ignorance, greed and anger, and to generate a sense of gratitude, a sense of wonder, a sense of calm abiding.
Today is a good day to meditate on the passing year, to thank those who have supported us, loved us, helped us practice and open and awaken! Even in those sticky places, especially in those difficult places, we can find the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, the indestructible Triple Gem!
And clementines? What does this have to do with clementines?
Well, unless you have a family of ten or more, a full box of clementines probably spoils before you can eat them all, and if you are anything like me, the sight of those gorgeous little crates in the produce section of the super market fill you with a mixture of delight and dread--delight over the existence of such an exquisite fruit, and dread over the knowledge that it will be impossible to eat them all, that some will certainly spoil and have to go in the trash.
Realistically, how many clementines can I eat in one day?
I've found that my answer is two. You might be able to eat more.
But this Christmas season, for the first time ever, I managed to finish an entire box of clementines. We didn't have crowds of people for the holiday, but we did start eating them as soon as we bought them. I met my daughter at the train station with a few clementines, then sent her home with a couple more. Meanwhile, my other daughter and her companion started their day with clementines, and so did I.
And then, when everyone had left, I counted what was left and resolved to take the Holiday Clementine Challenge, I was so close! So that's meant 2 clementines a day for 7 days, not a hardship certainly, but it requires a certain amount of mindfulness--I am reminded however that even something as initially enjoyable as a clementine can cause suffering....
This morning there are two clementines left, put out for my breakfast. And now it's time to eat them.
A little orange sun, portable, sweet, simple, designed for sharing.
A little orange Buddha!