Dear Sangha Members,

Tomorrow morning we will come to the end of our New Year Practice Intensive. Over the past two weeks sangha members have joined morning and evening services, extended meditation sessions, and even temple cleaning practice. This evening Winding Path Temple will host a traditional end-of-year meditation where we meditate on ringing the bell 108 times to welcome in the new year. Tomorrow morning we will hold a brief closing ceremony followed by an opportunity for fellowship with other sangha members. 

It is intentional that we are concluding the practice intensive by gathering together as sangha. As part of the morning service during this practice period, we recited verses from Kujoshakujo and from Shige. A few of those verses mention venerating the three treasures: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. While all three jewels are important, the transition into a new year is a fitting time to generate both gratitude and generosity toward sangha. 

During this practice period, we have been expressing that sentiment for sangha during the morning service as we have recited verses valuing joyfulness, great friendship, and great compassion. And, I’ve seen those attitudes of joyfulness, friendship, and compassion manifest within our community during the practice period as well. Participants showed up with openness and energy for practice. They expressed joys and concerns for others inside and outside the sangha. People shared stories about family holiday traditions and insights gained from practice. People shared concerns for others near and far, recognizing that this holiday season does not necessarily bring joy for everyone.  

Practicing with community can support us to develop both the energy and patience to do the ongoing work of realizing our Buddha nature. The path we travel together is a winding path, not a straight line toward a goal. Traveling this path together other sangha members can help us sustain virya and kshanti along the way. Whether or not you have been able to join us for any part of the New Year Practice Intensive, I invite you to take a moment during this transition into the new year to recognize the role of sangha in supporting your practice.  

Thank you to all of the past and present sangha members for your energy and dedication to practice over the years. Each one of you has made a unique contribution to our community, creating the conditions for Winding Path Tendai Buddhist Sangha to arise. I look forward to our continued journey together in the coming year. Happy New Year to you, your friends, and your family. Happy New Year to our sangha and the greater mahasangha of travelers on this journey.