Temple gates in Japan have a unique feature: a high wooden doorsill on must be very mindful of. It has several symbolic functions other than its practical one of the gate’s construction. First, it requires one to look down. To do this, one must naturally bow one’s head. This indicates respect and humbleness. Secondly, awareness is needed because if you happen to space-out and not see the sill, you are sure to trip and fall. In fact, there is a beautiful Zen temple outside the city of Okayama where exactly this happened. The master was challenging one of his young diciples just by the temple gate one day and became annoyed with the monk’s answer to a particular koan. Suddenly with warning, he swung his staff to hit the disciple and lost his balance in the process, tripping over the sill and breaking his leg. The master screamed, “Itai!” which roughly translates as a painful and agonizing “Ouch!” In that same instant, the disciple upon hearing the masters scream became enlightened. Respect, humbleness, awareness — all are deeply-connected to a temple gate’s design.
I see this New Year like a temple gate. Existence has delivered me its threshold, generously giving me yet another opportunity to grow and discover myself: to live, love, dance and sing, laugh, cry, meditate and more. New adventures lie waiting just around the corner as Osho would say; as well as new life-lessons to be learned and experienced. So, with all due respect and humbleness, I bow my head in gratitude to the year that was and with all awareness open my eyes and step over the sill and into to the year that will be — 2012! At this stage, it is much too early to say what what it will be — it is a mystery waiting to be discovered — but it is off to a good start. I stand ready to set-sail and embrace it.