Starting 2022 with Fearlessness and Peace

Speaker: Ven. Miao Guang

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

I. Greetings and Wishes

Auspicious greetings! May 2022 be a year of hope and joy for all.

Following the epic changes brought about by COVID-19, the year 2021 has been a period of reflection and adaptation for the entire world. Despite the lingering uncertainty and ongoing problems in life, humanity has powered through with growing vaccination coverage, innovative methods of staying connected, and collective strategies to live a  post-pandemic normal. But, more importantly, we are learning from the experience and have deeper contemplations on the meaning of coexistence. In particular, we are finding a way to coexist with COVID-19.

To begin the new year, there are a few things we can do:

1. Look back on the past year and reflect on what we have achieved. Be grateful to the people and conditions that have helped us along the way. For the mistakes we have made and people we may have wronged, express our most sincere apologies, promise to make amends, and start anew.

2. Look into the future and think about new plans or adventures. Make solid action plans, and take one concrete step at a time. As the saying goes, “Think big, but start small.”

In Buddhism, New Year resolutions are akin to aspiring to do something meaningful and transformative. It affirms our goals in life and gives us the power to forge ahead in turning a new leaf in life. Furthermore, when faced with challenges and setbacks on the journey, we will remain firm and never regress on our vows. 

3. Wish others well. May those whose lives and health have been threatened by the pandemic, injustice, prejudice, and homeland insecurity regain safety and have a speedy recovery. May all beings be free from fear. May our loved ones be well and safe. May I progress in spiritual growth and be closer to the mind of the Buddha.

II. 2022 New Year Wishes from Venerable Master Hsing Yun

For 2022, a New Year Message from Ven. Master Hsing Yun, the founder of FGS and BLIA is, “May All Beings Live Without Fear and Coexist in Peace.” In other words, in the year 2022, faith will be the strength needed to free us from fear and encourage all to coexist in peace. This is the true path to happiness and peace.

This message is indeed very timely. We are all looking forward to the end of the pandemic, recuperate from the interruptions of human interactions, let go of the pain and fear caused in the past few years, and find a new path for 2022. How can we live free from fear and appreciate peaceful coexistence?

III. Living Without Fear

  1. Don’t be afraid of loss

We all wish to hold onto the things that make us happy and tend to turn away things that make us unhappy and sad. However, the lesson on impermanence is simply about change that happens to everything in life, whether we like it or not. The good things in life will one day leave us, so will the bad things. As Heralictus once said, “You never step into the same river twice,” instead of trying to hold onto what flows into our palm, why don’t we sit back and simply observe the flow of the river and what watch happens when we choose to simply appreciate the ongoing motions? In the end, we will realize that it’s not so bad to lose something, it only means we are ready to welcome the new things in life.

  1. It’s okay not to know what lies ahead.

No one can be in control of life. No matter how well we try to plan ahead or prepare for surprises, we are constantly confronted with even bigger surprises. However, this is perhaps what keeps us alert and aware so that we can stay in touch with the flexible, ever-changing self that is able to adapt to a volatile environment. Yesterday is already in the past, tomorrow hasn’t come, only today is your best present and opportunity to live life to the fullest. One thing at a time. Go steady. Go firm. This is the best way to prepare for the future.

  1. Give Hope and Courage to yourself and others.

In our relationships with the self, family, friends, strangers, and even with the world, what affects us most is the sense of fear and uncertainty. At such moments, what we need the most is some kind of assurance, some type of support, or someone who is there to tell us, “Don’t be afraid; I am here for you.” Offering support and courage is a unique form of giving. It is called the giving of fearlessness.

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is the most famous giver of fearlessness. He does so by first listening to sentient beings, watching out for those in dire need of help, and then reaching out to help them overcome adversity and calamity. This is an excellent practice of generosity where you take actions or say words to make living beings feel safe and comfortable.

We too, can do the same by offering others words of encouragement, quiet support, or unending care. This will bring hope and courage to others around us.

IV. Coexisting in Peace

No man is an island. In this world, no one can exist alone. No one can survive without depending on the supporting conditions directly or indirectly provided by other living beings. Without our parents, we would not be here. Without farmers, we would not have any food to eat. Without software programmers, we will not be able to access or send information across the internet. Like it or not, as a part of the intricate web of interconnectedness, we are all parts of each other’s lives, and we are all a part of the greater life called the universe. This is what is meant by oneness and coexistence.

Oneness” embodies equality and tolerance. For example, though organs of the body may each be different, they are all equally important when it comes to being alive. We may be born in different regions, as different races, and speak different languages, but we all depend on the same Earth to live and survive. 

Coexistence,” on the other hand, embodies the meaning of compassion and harmony. The empathetic understanding enables us to feel for others’ pain and suffering anxcd then be willing to help them find liberation from such pain and suffering. For example, inside a burning house, the only way for a deaf man, a blind man, and a disabled man to escape is for the mobile blind and deaf men to carry the disabled man together. Though unable to hear, the deaf man can share the weight of the disabled man and see which way they are going while the disabled man shouts out directions. At the same time, though vision impaired but mobile, the blind man can move quickly and move the other two to safety. No one is ever too small to play a part. 

In the Sutra of One Hundred Parables, there was a two-headed snake. The tail hated that it constantly had to follow where the head went, so out of protest, it wrapped itself around a tree, so neither of them could go anywhere. After two days of struggle, the head finally caved in and said, “Fine, if you want to go in the front, I will just follow.” However, not being able to see, the tail eventually led itself into a dark pit, and both of them fell to their death.

Oneness and coexistence create a safe harbor for all living beings to survive and live under each other’s support. By thinking this way, nations, races, and religions coexist without friction. Accepting those who are different from us will enable us to find common ground, thus allowing all lives a place to live and survive.

V. Conclusion

“May All Beings Live Without Fear and Coexist in Peace.” There is no better time for us to hear this message. The pandemic has awakened a sense of oneness and coexistence for humanity. We can no longer find happiness alone. Even more, nobody deserves to live in fear alone. So let us strive towards true freedom from fear by staying connected to one another, so that we may find peace as one.

Remember, everyday is a good day as long as you are accompanied by wisdom and compassion. Be present, it’s your best present for life.

May you have a wonderful year 2022.