Happy New Year! Isn’t it incredible to think that you and I are among the top 0.0000001% of the world’s population?
How can I make such an extraordinary pronouncement?
The population to which I refer is that of all sentient beings – not just humans. To be born as one of only seven billion humans on a planet of numberless billions of other life forms, with far less capacity for personal growth or happiness, is extraordinary.
Among the tiny proportion of people, if you are reading this on your own computer, you are among only four out of every 100 humans. Materially you may think you’re fairly normal, but taking a broader view of the world’s population, you are probably among the more affluent fraction of the top few percent.
That’s just the start. What about your education, formal or informal? Your IQ and emotional intelligence (EQ) – the ability to delay gratification? Your ability to access information about wisdom traditions which, until even 10 years ago, were unavailable without the most strenuous effort?
More importantly, the fact that you have an interest in understanding the nature of consciousness and optimising it, transports you to a preposterously tiny fraction of a fraction of one percent. Seeking to illustrate this very point, Buddha once used the analogy of a blind, crippled turtle that rises to the surface of the ocean every hundred years and just happens to stick its head through a wooden yoke that’s floating on it.
That’s you. And me.
What can we take from this analysis at the start of the New Year? Plenty. But an obvious implication is to make the most of this precious life. We are among a very, very rare, privileged few. This opportunity is fleeting and may be over before we imagine. How can we use it to best effect, both for ourselves and for others?
Let me offer the following meditation for the New Year:
Adopt a meditation posture and settle the mind with breath-based meditation for a few minutes.
Having calmed the mind to some extent, ask yourself this: ‘What is my highest purpose in this life?’
Observe what arises in your mind. If you become distracted, return your focus to the question.
After five or 10 minutes, ask yourself: ‘What resources do I need from the outside world to make this happen?’ Visualise breathing in these resources, and intend that you have access to them.
After five or 10 minutes, ask yourself: ‘What resources do I need from myself to make this happen?’ Visualise breathing in these resources, and intend that you have access to them.
After five or 10 minutes end your meditation thinking:
May I achieve my highest purpose
Quickly, easily and completely,
Not only for my own sake,
But for the sake of all living beings without exception.
May all beings have happiness and the true causes of happiness,
May all beings be free from suffering and the true causes of suffering,
May all beings enjoy vibrant good health and abundance, and
May all beings find their highest purpose and be an inspiration to others.
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