What does it mean to start fresh? If we want to make a new start, the first step is to open our eyes and see what we have created with our actions, speech, and thoughts. We need to take responsibility for what we have created with our lives, then we can let go and truly begin anew. It's helpful to follow this fresh start with a vow, a pledge that will ground us and give us direction. Letting go of the old and setting a direction for the future allows to go forward with joy, hope, and determination.
Zen Buddhism emphasizes zazen, or seated meditation, as the means to study the self and understand who we truly are. Dharma talks are an essential aspect of Zen training and take place in the context of zazen. Said to be "dark to the mind and radiant to the heart", a dharma talk is one of the ways in which a teacher points directly to the heart of the teachings of the Buddha. In our meditation practice, it is easy to get lost in self-doubt, fantasy, numbness, and emotional agitation. Dharma talks help to ground our practice, providing inspiration and an essential recognition of exactly where we find ourselves, so that we can learn to face difficulties and obstacles with a free and flexible mind. This talk was given at Zen Mountain Monastery or the Zen Center of New York City of the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism, founded in 1980 by the late American Zen Master John Daido Loori, Roshi (1931-2009).