When we wish each other a “Happy New Year” do we not think what is so ‘New’ about it? Has it not been arriving every year since time immemorial? Are we trying to gift each other a post dated cheque of happiness which we ourselves don’t own? Also, does it not imply suggestively that the years gone by were not so happy after all?
We all look forward to something new. A new dress, a new car, a new house, a new holiday resort, or a new spouse! Wasn’t the year gone by also new at a point in time? Didn’t we wish happy new year then? Each day is a glorious new dawn. It is a fresh new day with promises of joy, so also has each day of the last year been, and also will be. Yet in our mental perspective anything old is jaded, faded, and full of problems. Will not the ‘new’ have new problems?
Will not what we term as a ‘new situation’, a ‘new relationship ‘, also turn into an ‘old’ problematic and uninteresting one, with its ‘newer’ problems?
Since we always see only the negative side of all that we already possess or which we have already experienced, we are hoping for a glorious new future year with all old, painful and stagnating situations gone for ever! No. Life forever is an amazing mix of joy and sorrow. So have been all the past years and so shall be the approaching ‘new’ year. To believe that the new year will magically bring just happiness, is to believe that a lotus can grow on a rock!
How does just one fine day, the 1st of January become a New day? Just because man decides so! Time is a flux, so at what point does it cease to be old and donn the mantle of new?
We are so eager for change to the new, but do we really leave our clinging to the old? With the old stagnating in you as memories, longings, hatreds, possessions and relationships, how can you churn out the freshness of new?
Isn’t it the same old inquisitive neighbour and the same old disgruntled you? Never fully satisfied or contented with all that one has in plenty, we always look forward to the future to bestow the boon of complete happiness. Amen! The poor ‘new’ year does not know how to bestow that! None of our thoughts or perceptions of any experience can be termed as new. Each thought, each intellectual judgement, each evaluation of good and bad, joyful or sorrowful can only take place in our intellects with reference to a past thought, deed or experience. The past is blood related to the present and the present to the future. There is an uncut umbilical cord uniting all three. Our idea of ‘newness’ is our perception of the same old thing, but just differently. The present is the product of the past and nurtures in its womb the seeds of the future.
How does one enjoy the ‘new’? Unless one deletes the ‘old’ from one’s mind nothing new can be seen or experienced. While guiding us in meditation, Poojya Swami Chinmayananda Ji asked, “How often do you throw out the garbage from your house?” “Daily” came the reply with great alacrity. “So, throw out stinking garbage daily from your mind”, but we continue to store the decadent memories of decades! We clutch onto the past with both our hands, not one hand is free to reach out for the new! The past is, in American lingo, “been there, done that” and therefore uninteresting. Newness is always exhilarating, exciting, because there is a freshness, unconditioned and unspoiled by old memories.
With full focus on ‘now’ let’s relish each blissful morn as a glorious gift of love from our father, our provider, our life giver! How about celebrating each arriving day as a New Year’s Day? Let’s make a new year resolution that today we free ourselves of all old hurts. We free our minds of all old tensions, worries and anxieties, of fear and insecurity. All these and their dreaded offspring’s, hatred, jealousy, spite, vengefulness and regrets should all be moved to ‘delete for ever’! How easy is it then! You free up so much mind space for the New Year’s joy to flood in unhampered!
Ah, what about you yourself, the old you? The good old you? The old miserable you, ever at the begging end for a little love, a little praise, a bit more power, a bit swankier car, and some square yards bigger house! When one breaks the hypocritical mask of the old beggar individuality, there emerges a new joyful Giver individuality that harbours just one sacred new thought that always asks: How can I give joy?
The writer is president, Chinmaya Mission, Delhi