Discovering Balance, Harvesting Peace

by Emily Takahashi

autumn-688111_640Summer is over, the children are back at school. Nights are cooler, even if the days remain warm. The light is different. The dazzling brilliance of summer has melted into a rich golden hue. A few dry leaves now sprinkle the sidewalk. There is different birdsong in the morning. Who is passing through?

We are preparing for the fall equinox, that fleeting moment each mid-September when day and night come into balance (“equal night”). In Shambhala we celebrate this moment as the Harvest of Peace, one of four nyida days that mark the onset of a new season. Nyi comes from the Tibetan word nyima which means “sun” and da comes from the word dawa meaning “moon. By paying attention to these larger migrations of the sun and moon and to the changes they bring about on earth, we remember that we are part of this planetary dance.

Human society has recognized the importance of celebrating the four transitional points of the year (winter and summer solstices, spring and autumn equinoxes) since time immemorial. After all, human life has always depended on being in harmony with these movements—when to plant, when to harvest, how to store, how to renew—the very rhythms of life are determined by these larger cosmic movements. The Great Pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge in England are monuments of two ancient peoples’ veneration of their connection to the heavens. Druid, Mayan, Hindu, Anasazi, or Chinese—no matter what culture—you will find rituals acknowledging the four points in the year when the sun and moon are in special alliance. By celebrating the nyida days in Shambhala, we not only come together to enjoy each other’s company, but by doing so, we also cross cultural and time barriers and celebrate with our ancestors and future descendents.

9051-red-orange-and-yellow-autumn-leaves-on-a-tree-pvThis puts our lives in perspective—we are part of a vast space time continuum.   At the same time this 2015 fall equinox is just a dot of nowness, when, for a brief moment the sun and moon share the heavens equally.   Celebrating the Harvest of Peace as a community, we can use this present moment to feel our connection to these larger patterns of balance, and we can recalibrate.  For example, if we or others have acted unskillfully, we can remember that ours is a “culture of no mistake,” and recognize such behavior as part of the dynamic coincidence of being human.  We can forgive ourselves and others, and thereby participate in a “culture of kindness,” restoring harmony within ourselves and between each other.

Noticing our connection to the larger patterns around us brings appreciation, appreciation brings celebration, celebration brings generosity of spirit. And, as Trungpa Rinpoche said, “generosity is the virtue that produces peace.” Part of our Harvest of Peace celebration includes acknowledging the financial balance needed between our center’s expenses and its income, and we give generously, participating in balancing the budget.

Our world is busy. Even in Shambhala there are more programs, more classes, more committees, more mantras to accumulate, more people to get to know, all leading to a profound sense of fullness, but also, potentially, overwhelm. Here is a moment to hit the “reset” button (I accidentally typed “rest” which I will include as an editorially auspicious mistake), and take time to rebalance, even if only briefly. As the world prepares for winter, shedding leaves, dissolving color, losing heat, there is a natural letting go. This is natural for us too. We can say no as well as yes, we can do less as well as more, and either way we can still participate fully. Our world does it, beautifully, effortlessly. Perhaps we can too.

We hope you can join us this Sunday, September 20 from 9am to 1pm for our annual Harvest of Peace celebration!

3 thoughts on “Discovering Balance, Harvesting Peace

  1. Thank you Emily..a lovely piece! And a reminder that Nyida Days relate to our own sense of time and inner clocks as well as the calendars’.
    So funny…i just realized that the spider web is a photo of mine…small world.

  2. I read your all blog posts regularly, i like the way you uptdae your student about class and all things. I am also learning chinese online using CHINESESPHERE site, and enjoying your blog post. Thanks all your work. keep it up

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