New Moon Newsletter vol 15: A Celebration of the Sun

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Happy New Year! Happy 2016! We send you GREAT wishes for the new year, and a special prayer that you are able to fulfill your dharma with great joy and inspiration! (Isn’t it great that we get to celebrate New Year’s twice in just a few months?) :b

Today’s New Moon marks the beginning of the month of Pauṣa. This is the beginning of harvest season, where you can reap the rewards of many months of hard work in the field! The deity for this time is Śrī Lakṣmī, the goddess of prosperity and abundance, as well as Lord Sūrya, the sun.

You’ll remember that the practices of the last month were about austerity and simplicity. Now that we’ve finally made it to the beginning of the harvest, we can loosen the strings a bit and play a bit more! Historically, once harvest season began, farmers (so, basically almost everyone) would start to make more money (a physical embodiment of Lakṣmī), which allowed them to buy beautiful and useful things.

This in turn would bring money, Lakṣmī, to merchants and in turn to all the other members of the economy – the artists, the government, the wisdom-guardians (teachers, priests, healers, & monks), and also those in need. And, the added bonus of not having to focus so much on daily survival is that it’s easier to work on improving ourselves, cultivating wisdom, and expressing our creativity.

So it goes kind of like this:

…dedicated and disciplined work transforms into…

…nourishing food which becomes…

…flowing abundance in the form of money…

…feeding all humans, and the rest of creation…

…inspiring compassionate and virtuous action…

…creating beauty and sweetness everywhere…

…motivating the next round of disciplined work…

And these are all faces of the Goddess Lakṣmī. In whatever form you encounter her, you can offer your gratitude and love. Thank Her for all the good things!

Now, the other special day we celebrate during this time is called Makara Saṃkrānti on January 14th. It’s a whole day celebration of the light that fills our lives – the SUN! Lord Sūrya (sun) is very special in the tradition because he is the most visible and tangible form of divine light.

Every single day, you can literally feel his presence on your own skin, and see him reflecting off of everything around you. He is the nourisher of all, and one of his most beloved aspects is Mitra, the friend. That’s because the Sun makes no enemies and shines his light freely upon all creation. When we connect with the sun, we also become friendly and open, strong and radiant. We invite you to celebrate the sun!

Practice: Celebrate the Sun!

There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that Makara Saṃkrānti was actually the Winter Solstice festival several thousand years ago. Because the Earth’s cycle of movement changes in tiny, tiny amounts each year, that day has gone from Dec 21 to mid-January, but it is still a celebration of the end of darkness and the beginning of light!

Most of all, the kiraṇa from the sun – the rays – on this day are said to be very healing and powerful for awakening. The single most important practice on January 14 is simply to spend time in the sun!

In modern India, there’s a tradition of flying kites from the rooftop (a great way to spend the day in the sun). You can also meditate or do spiritual practices under the sun, or just rest and let the sun’s rays enter your being.

Of course, it’s also a great day for Sūrya-pūjā, ritual worship of the Sun. And you can also chant or repeat mantras for the Sun – a common one is the Gāyatrī mantra.

If you practice āsana, you can also perform sūrya-namaskāra, which are a set of postures that honor and invoke the energy of the sun within the body. Even one round is great, but you can also do a certain number as an offering (11, 108, etc).

When you sit for meditation, dhyāna, you can also visualize and meditate on the inner Sun – which is the light of consciousness, the nourisher of all, the warmth of the universe, and the supreme Friend. What is inside is outside – experience the sun’s warm and healing rays outside; also experience them inside.

The blessings of the sun are power, vitality, good health, radiance, success, and [good] fame. As you celebrate Lord Sun, let these beautiful gifts come alive within you!

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