Buddhist New Year Resolutions: A Discussion with Josh Korda

Josh Korda

This discussion is now closed. Please note that your comments will no longer be responded to. Thanks to everyone who participated, and especially to our discussion leader, Josh Korda of Dharmapunx!

Happy New Year!

Now that it's 2013, how do you hope to grow with your Buddhist practice in the upcoming year? Perhaps you have made a resolution to become more involved in your local sangha, or to practice right speech, or to finally make it to that retreat you've always wanted to go on. Whatever your Buddhist New Year resolution may be, we would love to hear about it! And if you haven't made one yet, now is the perfect time to do so, or to check in with any resolutions you might have made last year.

Throughout the month, Buddhist teacher Josh Korda will be available to answer any questions or concerns you might have about your resolutions. For instance, how can we be more gentle with ourselves when we don't live up to them? Or, how can we set goals for ourselves in a tradition that emphasizes that there are no goals to achieve, anyway? 

Josh began his studies in Theravada Buddhism in 1996. He is currently the guiding teacher at New York Dharmapunx and serves as a visiting teacher at the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. He'll be checking in with us from Thailand, where he just finished a weeklong silent retreat in the Khao Sok jungle (what a way to start the new year off right!). You can read his article in the Fall 2012 issue of Tricycle, "Now What?" about overcoming addiction, here, and watch his online retreat, "Making Friends with Your Demons and Hungry Ghosts: Buddhist Tools for Recovery," here.

Post your resolutions and questions in the comments section below or email them in to editorial@tricycle.com.

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tonyc827's picture

Thank you Josh, I have found many talks, a number you had suggested to me but I have found many more. The internnet is such a great resource. I am so grateful.

metatron99's picture

My resolution is to spend the year contemplating and meditating on Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva. I find its breadth and depth is always appropriate to whatever is happening in the moment, and therefore is fruitful for contemplation and application.

juliegriff's picture

My goal is to get involved (again) in my temple's minister assistant program. Last year the two sangha members who went through it ended up getting ordained, and one is now our resident minister (replacing one who was promoted to bishop/relocated to Hawaii). Our new minister can use all the help he can get, and who knows where it might lead me!

Joshkorda1's picture

Admireable. Even if it leads nowhere, in terms of external changes in life, it will certainly fill your heart with a sense of purposeand connect you on a deeper level to the sangha. Metta! J

jacklope's picture

My intentions for the year:

I vow to live lighter
I vow to let go MORE
I vow to squeeze as much love as I can into everything I do

stupierson's picture

Simplify, simplify, simplify... I'll continue daily practice and continue to get rid of, donate things that clutter my living space. Let practice and the dharma bring about the growth needed, knowing that what I want might not be for the best.


Joshkorda1's picture

Bows to your wisdom.
Metta, j

lotusrainfive's picture

Hi Josh and everybody here
My new year began with a new tattoo of a Dharma wheel on my forearm which serves as a reminder of my life resolutions to follow the Noble Eightfold path and to cultivate love, compassion and wisdom. also to try to live in this present moment as much as possible. So every time I look down I see a Dharma wheel there to remind me to keep to my spiritual path.
Gassho in Oneness _/|\_
Mark Kaiyo

juliegriff's picture

I have on the inside of my forearm the Peony Crest of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist tradition. Maybe a dharma wheel on the other arm!

Joshkorda1's picture

Sounds excellent to me, but when it comes to the subject of tattoos, I'm certainly biased. I'm covered with spiritual phrases,terms and images. Erhaps you could get th four noble truths inked on the other arm?
Metta, j

toonteo's picture

HI Josh & all
May I ask a question ?For about 6 years I am practicing meditation & dharmma ,and study in various tradition but mostly in Tibetan. If I want to be honest I should say I'd started practicing in order to overcome my shortcomings in my profession,Dharmma & meditation help me a lot but now my problem is I do not like to be active in my job and have a tendency for more practice & dharmma than my job as being alive in my job need some study & preparation& taking risks & so on.In a way somehow I feel I am hiding behind my practice & say to my self I am not ready enough for the job I must practice more to find the magic.
So my question is fir the new year how can overcome my fear & can be more active in my profession as i need it for my survival.
May all be free from suffering & the root of suffering
Thanks Teo.

Joshkorda1's picture

Hello Teo, I'd explore ways to undermine the false division between work and spiritual endeavor; must they be experienced as mutually inompatible? Cn you integrate the principles and tools of your practice into th realm of work? For example, practicing mindful awareness of noting which thoughts are distracting you,during work, cloudberry an excellent way of integrating one's labor with one's practice.
If the above is confusing, let me know and I'll extrapolate further.
Metta j

toonteo's picture

Hello Josh
Thank you so much for your kind advices,my job has some competition in it which it bother me too much as sometimes thinking to leave my job,but I need money for survival,that thought annoy me .
At the bottom of my heart I have this wish to be a winner also,I think this is my problem.that I should deal with it this year.,Please do not deprive me from your valuable advices.
Yours teo

atravetti1's picture

OK Josh...I just gotta ask. What is 'cloudberry an excellent way of integrating one's labor with one's practice'? Some special practice we should be aware of? Or was that just a case of 'Damn you auto correct!!' (just trying for a bit of levity :-)


Joshkorda1's picture

Ha! Yep, that would be a case of "Damn you Autocorrect!"
Hunting and pecking on an iPad in Thailand, I shudder to think what future 'mis-corrects' will occur. Obviously, btw, it should've read "could be"
Metta j

Joshkorda1's picture

Hello all: I'm checking in to the discussion from Koh Phangnam Thailand; I recently finished a weeklong silent retreat in the Khao Sok rainforest jungle, meditating seven hours a day; New Years Eve was brought in with a special Thai floating candle ceremony, which was very peaceful and moving. Given my location, I'll be heckling in sporadically.

As is perennially the case, my intention for this year is to deepen my practice, to give my heart and deep attention to others, to cultivate gratitude for all the rich rewards life has afforded me, to spend as much time preparing for each of my dhamma talks as the topics deserve, to write more on spiritual topics, to maintain the virtue of refraining from causing harm to others...especially focusing on right speech which, at times, I certainly could use some additional effort and focus!

Ihope you all can overlook any typos that may occur from typing on an iPad screen, especially given Mac's auto spell correct, which can produce bizarre messages.

Mick: We all have a default desire to accumulate a lot of experience in life, and it's certainly understandable that a sense of urgency can develop as a result. And while it's skillful to enjoy what pleasurable experiences life affords us, what keeps us peaceful and calm is the knowledge that the most important experiences are those that are timeless, unconditional and always available to us: focusing inwards, developing a calm mind, upon which a mindfulness that heals all wounds and opens the heart unfolds.

Tyler: Good stuff! A monk I've spent much time studying with, Ajahn Geoff, often states, life is made up of many balls we juggle... Work, creativity, friendships, exercise and on... If we treat spiritual practice like just another ball to keep in the air, it'll probably be the first ball we drop, as spiritual practice is not much rewarded by the world. So we have to treat our practice as the stool we sit on, or the ground we stand on, as we juggle everything else: it's what makes the rest possible. So you may need to rebalance life, but remember what your most unconditional ally is!

Laura, the experiences you describe sound very, very challenging. While its obviously skillful to put aside gambling, especially when life holds such difficult obligations. What I'd try to remember is the importance of long drawn out breath exhalations, scanning the body for stress and relaxing where possible, keeping the mind focused on each action in front of us--rather than allowing the mind to wander into stressful fears and projections--and, if possible, find a support group of other people who are care taking those in need, like your grandchildren. Also, I hopeful can cultivate forgiveness for those in your family who have fallen short; forgiveness is so much more peaceful than harboring disappointments.

Metta, j

brook.laura@yahoo.com's picture

Hi josh
I am starting the year abstaining from gambling. I have used gambling to cope with a very difficult situation that just keeps coming and has been for the last 6 years. My body mind spirit r weary it involves care taking a very ill child and my 2 other grandchild the middle has aspergers to boot the mother creates only more stress and confusion. It's been one week since we my husband and I have signed off the boats that means if we go to one we could b arrested. Well I am breaking down without this release. I have been sober 4 thirty two years. But due to the time and energy needed to care 4 the children I have very little time 4 myself. The gambling was doable because one my husband drove me and two they r always open. I have difficulty driving due to anxiety. My practice has become nonexistent meetings zen group and qi gong have all fallen away. See josh we almost lost the little guy last spring I had to watch as the doc nurses and incompetent mother played out his starvation my son and I finally when he was near death got control and reversed the process and corrected the problems yet the original illness remains and he is declining this time there is no fix we have done all we can well last spring watching him starve it broke something in me some faith some belief some I don't know what ever kept me going seeking facing life all these years of my extremely difficult life. There is very little hardship or suffering in life that I have missed. But that something was there from childhood. Josh I can't find it anymore. It all seems hollow empty I have become cynical.
.???? Help me!!

David Gould's picture

Laura I am a social worker, and think you need to acknowledge the good that you have done - for yourself and your family. Ultimately the Dharma teaches us that we can only really have control over self, because everything passes. Of course, right now caring for your grandchildren is both necessary and a work of love and compassion. So to control gambling is a challenge, because I am sure it met some kind of a need. Maybe sitting again, or chanting a mantra could help, especially one connected with compassion like Kuan Yin or Chenrezig - Om Mani Padme Hum. Practically though, see a community health social worker in your area or city, and get some resources, find a carer's support group, and look at online resources.
May everything good help you in your loving service to your family.

Sarah11.11's picture

Laura, for years I have also spent my days caring for the mentally and physically disabled. The burn out and desperation you speak of is very real and can be destructive. I wonder if you could get in touch with a social worker who could help you with options for getting the relief you need. Your grandson's pediatric office should have one on staff. If you are able, hiring a part-time caregiver could give you some peace and time to recharge and keep your life manageable. If you contact your state's department of disability services, you might be able to apply for programs that will help with caregiving expenses. I have learned the hard way that the most important responsibilty of being a full time caregiver is to care for yourself first. I hope this year you will make yourself a priority without any guilt. Much love to you.

Violet1956's picture

Don't drink and get to a meeting. If you pick up, all is lost. You won't be able to care for anybody. There are meetings on line if all else fails.

Joshkorda1's picture

I'm not sure I understand this feedback, given that she shares about gambling, not alcoholism. DpAre you referring to Gambler's Annonymous? If so, bear in mind that addiction is a self-diagnosed disease, and it's not really our place to diagnose others.
Metta, j

Violet1956's picture

Sorry, I picked up on the 'I've been sober for years' remark. Thinking that gambling was substituting for the drinking, I was concerned that she might go back to drinking.

tyler's picture

Hey Josh,
This year is about the precepts for me. Especially Right Speech. Feels nearly impossible and totally right at the same time. I asked a teacher about it and his response was "behave like the full moon". I get what that means on a deep level and it alters my thinking on everything.
I'm also writing and practicing everyday, refining the tools that I need to stay on the path and to keep my crazy thoughts in check, getting into deeper silence for a week 4 times this year and re-discovering how to show up as authentically as possible everywhere.
I'm also letting go this year of trying to balance everything. Ive come to believe balance for me is overrated and my persuit of it isn't healthy. ( how many bricks can a brick layer lay, right? ) I'm gonna let some stuff crash and burn this year and what remains will be what matters.
thanks all,

natmaia's picture

hi Mick,
i have the same feeling about time, especially at the beginning of the year. Everything seems to go so fast and sometimes i feel i cannot grasp anything fully. I am trying to think about "pausing", finding some "space" to breathe and not do anything about it. Letting go and trying to embrace everything that comes...It does take a lot of courage and sometimes i dont feel im capable of it, which is ok.

dabbler's picture

I get driven cos its all gotta get DONE!!!
Balancing my responsibilities against my tendency to listing tasks and not breathing inbetween so to speak.
Mindful mornings are the key, set my days up with breath space and time :)

dabbler's picture

Hi to Josh and all
As i embrace and love this existence with all my sufferings and joys. Time passes quicker and theres so much to do and see against a clock that never ceases, my sense of urgency is heightening.
How can i balance this thirst against my buddhist sense of homecoming and being?
Mick (uk)