The beginning of a New Year is seen worldwide as the start of new beginnings, of making wishes and resolutions for the coming year. However, it would seem that most of us tend to simply pay this lip service, and do not follow through with our aspirations. There are numerous reasons why this happens. Firstly, old habits die hard. This is the hardest hurdle to overcome, especially when our resolutions for the new year are lofty, which is another reason why they soon fail. However, we shouldn’t drop or reduce our aspirations of the New Year. After all, as Mahāyāna Buddhists, our aspiration for Enlightenment for the sake of all beings is the loftiest of the them all. This aspiration comes with an understanding that it requires time and effort. We start off slowly and steadily. This approach can also be applied to our New Year resolutions.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, we are entering the Year of the Metal Rat. There are 12 zodiac animals and 5 elements. The combination of these two is believed to affect both the year and those born in that year. The Rat is quick-witted, smart, charming, and persuasive. The element of Metal means they are likely to be idealistic, vivid in speech and actions, and emotional.
This year has Senju Kannon or Thousand-Armed Avalokitêśvara as its patron deity, with the seed syllable hrīḥ. Senju Kannon is one of the Six Forms of Kannon and is associated with overlooking those stuck in the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts.