Naked we come into this world and naked we depart. All the sages remind us. Little Jesus in his manger received gifts from the Magi, but what use were the gifts to him, one might ask. Perhaps the Magi brought treasures from his previous incarnation with which to identify the tulku. Perhaps they found what they were looking for. Perhaps the love they brought then shaped his life. In truth, we have nothing but love in this life. All the gold, frankincense and myrrh in the world can never be more than a token. We receive love. We give love. Nothing is given and nothing is taken. Only great freedom manifests.

When I was recently passing through Spain my suitcase got stolen. I hope the person who took it got some joy from it. I don’t suppose he had much use for a Buddhist robe and a heap of red clothes, but you never know. Things come and things go. They had their journey to make. This is not me, this is not mine, this is not my self. It never was.

In Buddhism we talk of letting go and Buddha talked of avoiding accumulation in the first place, but the reality is that we actually own nothing. We hold various things in trust for a while and then they pass on and leave us behind. Yet, even when we have been passed by, nothing has passed and there is nothing really that has been left behind, because even our life is not our own possession.

There are those who live in search of a Holy Grail and others who seek a perfect society. There are those who try to perceive their true self and others who grasp after fame and fortune. The sun rises and the sun sets and the light of dawn and evening is more radiant than any treasure. Will o’the wisp goes passing by and one can’t catch his shadow.

History unfolds. The signs are not good. The coming year may start a great upheaval. Everything we have taken for granted for half a century or so may be about to change and such impermanence comes hard. A great affliction shall spread across the earth and much will be lost. In the dark time to come, strong hearts will be needed and the strongest will be those least encumbered. There will be love in the midst of the pain.

Practice renunciation secretly, deeply, for all shall be taken and nothing spared. The human race has been mad with greed and arrived at an impasse. More than three sins, more even than four, have contributed to this calamity, but there is no way back. We have to go onward, through and through. It is at times such as this that faith is needed and spiritual quality counts more than gold.

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This is the Kali Yuga dear David, no doubt! Thank You for being part of the spiritual Leaders who hold the light in the darkness of ignorance! Of course some signs, many signs are not good. But there are also people who build good communities, gathering to share their insights, creativity for positive changes, love and compassion. I will never give up to see the glimpses of Buddha natur sparkling all around, never give up to work on my own mind! And, anyway, we have a bodhisattva vow, so, we have no Choice, isn‘t?! Merry Christmas! 

Reading about the loss of your suitcase I was reminded of the time several years ago when the night before we were to dedicate a Peace Pole I had donated to a community center the pole was stolen  The person who was coordinating the installation called me in a panic the night before and said it had been stolen and what I wanted to do. I said well we have the ceremony as planned since people were coming and it was not possible to contact everyone  I said that I would order another pole to replace it and we would cary on. I told him about hungry ghosts and at the original installation ceremony without the pole we prayed for the hungry ghosts of our community.  We might wonder what use someone would have for a peace pole and yet many migt wonder what use we had for a peace pole  

Joyeux Noel David  

Thank you, both. Happy Christmas.

I remember, on the two more recent occasions when I was robbed, feeling a curious intimacy with those who robbed me. An unsought, absent connection, but a connection all the same. So, who knows what seed might be sown in your robber's life-stream by opening that case :-) May they be blessed by the encounter.

I'm 53 years old, English, reasonably secure financially by local standards. (But wildly privileged, if we pan back to consider other times and places.) My whole life, then, has been lived within this window of local peace and prosperity you speak of.

Yes, I feel with you, and with many others, that the augurs are not good, and that this local window of peace is now increasingly likely to close both abruptly, and soon.

Who knows exactly when, or how, or how fast? But faced with a deepening sense of uncertainty as the New Year dawns, I do an equal sense of conviction that whatever emerges from this moment, both individual lives and local communities rooted in unconditional faith, generosity, courage, will only become more valuable. 

Your last para speaks powerfully to me. Amida: unmeasuring, measureless love. The unconditionality of Spirit seems the nub, as outer successes, or even just extrinsic goals, get harder and harder to even frame in the face of these challenges.

Reversing mass extinction? Correcting - or even tweaking - Earth's biospheric temperature spike? Before these too-big-to-see questions, faith seems to me the only coherent ground for 'preparing ourselves'. 

Today, here, we have Christmas leftovers, family coming and going, friends getting in touch to catch up. I just feel so damned lucky about the good things we share, still, and have been given in such abundance. Grateful for them, which is I suppose as good a way of turning to meet those things' vulnerability as any.

Namo Amida Bu, and a belated Happy Christmas to you. 

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