Lunar New Year—Celebrating a New Beginning

Speaker: Ven. Miao Guang

Personal English Interpreter to Ven. Master Hsing Yun
Fo Guang Shan Institute of Humanistic Buddhism

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè!  Happy New Year!This is a greeting used by those who celebrate Chinese New Year, which is also known as the Lunar New Year. Based on the lunisolar calendar, the Lunar New Year marks the beginning of a calendar year whose months are cycles of the moon and cycles of the sun. People celebrate the arrival of Spring to send off the cold as well as the resting period of winter, and to welcome the warmth of new life with a new start, new hope, and new plans.
As a symbol of renewal, many celebrate this event through family union, bidding the past year goodbye on new year’s eve, and welcoming a new start by wishing loved ones and friends a new and favorable page in their lives on New Year’s day. The most favorite part of this, at least for the children, is the red packets from parents and seniors as their blessings and good wishes.

Based on such traditions, Venerable Master Hsing Yun sends his good wishes and blessings to everyone with his annual New Year Message on the 春聯 chūnlián, to inspire all to look into the future with goodwill and a positive mind. 2021 is the Year of the Ox, so this year’s message from the Venerable Master is “Cultivate a Heart that Blooms in All Seasons.” 

This year’s animal of the Chinese Zodiac, the Ox, is well known for its mild and diligent nature as well as it’s faithful assistance to the farmer in cultivating in the fields for the year’s good harvest. It’s symbolic meaning, hidden in Ven. Master’s Message, “Cultivate a Heart that Blooms in All Seasons” is to inspire everyone to be like the ox and cultivate one’s merits and fortunes diligently, so that we too, can yield a fruitful harvest from the earnest and diligent practices which purify our action, speech, and thoughts.

In his New Year’s greeting video, not only does Ven. Master wishes everyone a fresh start, he also reminded us that the so-called fresh start begins with the elimination of unwholesome habits and leaving behind our afflictions. As the saying goes, “Tomorrow hasn’t come, yesterday cannot be undone, you are here today, so live in the present moment and let go of the past.” It is important that we look ahead and keep progressing in life with new aspirations and determination to change for the better.

Not only so, he also reminds everyone that by saying, “Gong Xi Fa Cai,” which basically means, may you have a wealthy New Year. This does not only mean monetary wealth. Even more importantly, it is the spiritual wealth of generosity, kindness, and compassion that will give us true abundance in life.

So how do we find such wealth? There are four new things that we must have to make a new start:

1. Start With a New Mindset: Attitudes, beliefs and mindsets are like seeds that can be planted in our minds. As we step into a new year, let us ask ourselves, “What kind of new seeds have I planted in my mind? Is it the seed of kindness to be more understanding and think more for others? Is it the seed of openness to embrace others and respect those who are different from us? Is it the seeds of perfect willingness to be of service to others and always offer a helping hand to those in need.

Once the fresh seeds of new mindsets are planted, we will be sure to take solid steps in personal growth and continue to cultivate ourselves diligently. In the end, we will become the ones to have the most fruitful harvest from fresh new mindsets of wisdom and compassion.

2. Start With a New Beginning: As the saying goes, “A new beginning brings endless new possibilities.” Yet this means we must start from ourselves and begin by changing ourselves. For the new start, can I change from now on, to be more willing to praise and encourage others? For the new start, can I always show a sincere smile and sincere heart to others? For the new start, can I be a changed person and leave behind unwholesome habits? For the new start, let us vow to grow bit by bit in everyday life. As long as we are willing to make a fresh start, nothing is too late.

3. Start With a New Style: By style, it does not mean fashion style but a person’s image and particular ways of expressing themselves. This is more than the personal style of confronting issues or dealing with people, it is a person’s self-demeanor and self-culture. For example, can I remain peaceful when people agitate me? Can I remain sincere and honest? Can I be approachable and friendly? Can I be diligent and take matters into my own hands? Once such positive personal styles are developed, you will surely get along with others well.

4. Start With New Aspirations: In the new year, let us cultivate our own minds and discover our inner wealth. For any aspiration that has not yet arisen, let it arise. Aspire to grow and become better. For those already arisen, let them grow. Keep your dreams and hope alive! Let compassion, gratitude, morality, faith, and humility grow. Aspire for your inner strength and power to grow continuously.
Let us remember, a good start is half the success. In time of a new year, a good plan and proper resolutions are key to a successful cycle of life and growth, just like the new spring. Let us set our goals to enrich ourselves and start anew with the above four things: a new mindset, a new beginning, a new style, and new aspirations.

Online Life Offering 雲端點燈

One other Must-Do during Lunar New Year is to make a light offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as a way to offer our utmost sincerity and good wishes. This is usually done in person at the temples. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions this year, many are unable to visit in person, therefore, Fo Guang Shan Monastery has introduced the Online Virtual Light Offering experience for our members. Please visit the website or scan the QR Code shown to make your New Year Light Offering.

Links to live broadcasts of New Year chanting services are also available at the Fo Guang Shan Official Website:
May Buddha bless you all with a peaceful and healthy Lunar New Year!