A New Year’s Blessing

Karen Maezen Miller gives her New Years well wishes.

Karen Maezen Miller
1 January 2022
Karen Maezen Miller Happiness New Years Zen
Photo by Nathan Rupert.

The New Year is a powerful time in our lives, and by that I mean in our practice. Through no effort of our own, we arrive at a point of culmination. A moment of reflection and renewal. In this span between what we think of as the old and the new, regret can stir. We may be more aware of our stubborn habits and shortcomings, our losses and the never-ending ache of unfulfillment. Another year gone, and all those things we were going to do! All those changes we were going to make!

This recognition is a rare and momentous blessing, and one to be used. Recognition is all any of us needs to make a change.

My teacher Nyogen Roshi is fond of quoting his teacher, Maezumi Roshi, who said something like, “It is impossible not to do your best. You just don’t think it’s your best.” Every moment arises pure and perfect from conditions as they are. From you, as you are. Our judgment alone, our ego mind, distinguishes best from less, gain from loss and new from old. Judgment alone separates us from the fulfillment we think lies just beyond the precipice of time.

And so I seize this moment to wish you all the best.

I wish you less of what you can live without and more of what you’ve always wanted. Less anger, and less quickness to anger. Less greed, and more open-mindedness. Less judgment, doubt and cynicism, and less of the pain and confusion they create. Less hurry.

Less fear. More of the compassionate love that can only arise in the absence of fear.

I would wish you more time, but you already have it. It only takes a moment to transform your life. A moment of undefiled, nonjudgmental awareness. A moment of practice, and everything everywhere is new again.

Only you can make it so, but I will wish it just the same: your best new year.

Karen Maezen Miller

Karen Maezen Miller

Karen Maezen Miller is a priest in the Soto Zen lineage of Taizan Maezumi Roshi and a student of Nyogen Yeo Roshi. In daily life, as mother to daughter Georgia and as a writer, she aims to resolve the enigmatic truth of Maezumi’s teaching, “Your life is your practice.” Miller is the author of Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood, and most recently, Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden.