Watch: Roshi Joan Halifax’s Two Prayers for Now and Our New Year

Roshi Joan Halifax shares two short prayers to set the intention for the new year.

Joan Halifax  •  Rod Meade Sperry
4 January 2023

Roshi Joan Halifax shares two short prayers to set the intention for the new year.

With the arrival of the new year, we want to share these two short prayers. (If prayer is not your kind of thing, simply think of these two short pieces as fresh statements of intent, if not actual resolution.) They come to us by way of Upaya Zen Center founder and head teacher, Roshi Joan Halifax, who wrote them as 2023 approached.

Of course, one can start anew at any moment. So think of these prayers as Roshi Joan suggests we might: appropriate at New Year’s, but also simply appropriate Now. Which is to say, any time, any “now” you like. May they offer comfort, strength, challenge, and renew your sense of connection to the wholeness of life. —Rod Meade Sperry

(Read along via transcripts below and closed captions.)

Transcript

I’m Joan Halifax, and this is the dedication that we offered at the end of our service as we moved into the new year. It was originally composed by Roshi Egyoku Nakao, and Kodo Roen and I did an adaptation of it. I hope this serves.

Let us vow to remember the causes of suffering and dedicate ourselves to the ending of suffering.
Let us accept all that we cannot change and let our hearts be broken open.
Let us vow to bear witness to the wholeness of life, realizing the completeness of each and everything.
Embracing our differences, let us realize that we are not separate from each other and all that is.
May we serve each other for all our days in every way we can.
Let us vow to open ourselves to the abundance of life, freely giving and receiving.
Let us care for the trees, the rivers, the oceans, the meadows, and the fields.
May we be grateful for all our days and all that we receive.
Let us vow to forgive all hurt caused by others and ourselves, and to never condone hurtful ways.
Being responsible for our actions, let us free ourselves and others.
Let us vow to remember that all that appears will disappear.
In the midst of uncertainty, let us sow love and kindness.
Let us together live the Great Peace that we are.
May we give no fear for all our days here, there, and everywhere.
Thank you for your practice.

Roshi Joan also shared a prayer adapted from principles of restorative justice:

Transcript

I’m Joan Halifax. And this is a prayer we offered at Upaya as we moved into the new year. And it’s adapted from the principles of restorative justice:

I believe that violence is not a solution to any problem.
I believe that every person and every being is endowed with sacred dignity.
I believe that every person and every being is capable of changing, healing, and being restored.
I vow to respect the dignity of every person and all beings.
I vow to overcome violence with love and compassion.
I vow to accompany and support those on their healing journey.
I vow to be an instrument of restoration, of reconciliation and forgiveness.
So thank you.

Joan Halifax

Joan Halifax is the abbot and head teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her most recent book Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet explores how we can face the challenges we are facing in our current fraught political climate.
Rod Meade Sperry. Photo by Megumi Yoshida, 2024

Rod Meade Sperry

Rod Meade Sperry is the editor of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Guide (published by Lion’s Roar), and the book A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation: Practical Advice and Inspiration from Contemporary Buddhist Teachers. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his partner and their tiny pup, Sid.