Reviewing and Renewing the Buddhadharma on This Little Blue Dumpling Planet with Lots of Big Problems

Happy New Year to you!

Like you, I imagine and hope, I’ve been enjoying this cultural and arbitrary thing we call the “end of the year,” reflecting on 2011 and looking ahead to 2012. So here’s a few wandering thoughts about where we might be at and where we might be going.

First, I’m wondering how the old planet will do in 2012. We’re having a really mild winter here in Minnesota. Sweet and great for the commute … but the above photo was taken just a few days ago and we still have bare ground and the high today might be 41 degrees. This is very weird for us. I’m looking forward to doing my biking thing in a bit but also concerned about the effects this drought and warmth may have on all the many beings.

Second thing on my mind this morning is more specific to the humans and what 2012 will bring. I’m reading Don Peck’s Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It. I haven’t gotten to the “what we can do” part yet so I’ll likely be reporting back about this, but the data he reviews, like other dreary things like this I’ve brought up here, is damn sobering. The middle class is collapsing and the male variety of the species is being especially hard hit with unknown consequences spinning out for many years.

2012 could be about the same as 2011 in terms of the economy, maybe a tiny bit better, maybe a lot worse, especially if the European debt crisis blows up. From what I’m reading, it looks quite unlikely that the year will be much better.

All this makes me really grateful for my job and all the many comforts of home, family, and friends. And no matter how bad it gets, (reader alert: we’ve been indulging in some really dark humor here), it is unlikely to get as bad as the Donner Party had it in the winter of 1846-47 when they were snowbound in the Sierra Nevada.

That’s brings me to the third and final point (sorry for the rough segue), reviewing-and-renewing-the-Buddhadharma part of this post. It’s time, isn’t it?

This is on my mind this morning in part because I’ll be leading a three-day sesshin at Kyoki’s place near Pittsburgh March 1- 4 and the theme will be “Reviewing and Renewing the Buddhadharma.” You, of course, are welcome to come and participate. Click here for more information about Deep Spring Temple (sesshin information doesn’t appear to be up yet).

In 1988, in one of Katagiri Roshi’s last Dharma talks, “Review and Renew Buddhism for the Twenty-first Century,” he said,

As to renewing Buddhism, there is nothing to renew in Buddhism itself but instead renew human beings who take care of Buddhism. Buddhism is mainly very conservative in order to maintain the essence of Buddha’s teaching century after century. Wherever Buddhism has gone, Buddha ancestors have tried to maintain this essence. That is why Buddhism has flourished in China, Tibet, and Japan. If you forget the essence of Buddha’s teaching Buddhism doesn’t work for the long run.

You can listen the whole talk on iTunes, btw (and 300 other talks the old boy gave), if you click here and go to #12.

This life we all share, the Buddhadharma that we all are through and through, is always close and ready for renewal.

So let’s roll up our sleeves together and go to work.

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