Bringing the Sacred to 2021

Bringing the Sacred to 2021

When we recognize the sacred in our daily life we can relish the simplest action, opening our heart, and transforming mundane activities into meaningful experiences.

The word sacred has many uses and synonyms. At times, it represents a form of reverence and respect symbolized by some special object, place, or event that manifests as a wise and balanced mind and heart. It is associated with the word sanctity and embodies qualities of holiness, blessings, devotion, spirituality, goodness, uprightness, and virtue.

Objects are considered sacred when used for spiritual purposes during worship, rituals, or ceremonies where something is being honored and celebrated for its rare qualities. An example of this is an object known as a “sacred artifact” that is venerated and often blessed like a rosary, a mezuzah, a golden Buddha. Another form is represented by places and considered “sacred ground,” often found in a temple, shrine, a sacred mountain or an energy vortex.

For many of us, the sacred has been missing in our lives, oftentimes because we are so busy and oblivious we barely notice its absence. Oftentimes we are awakened to this missing element in times of crisis or tragedy when we are forced to slow down and face our reality. When there is an illness, financial loss, the dissolution of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, we are prompted to reflect upon the meaning of our life. Perhaps 2020 and all the challenges it has brought does this. We look for something to sustain us throughout the difficult times, when our normal buffers are disarmed and we are feeling vulnerable. We feel less secure and more unsure. Moments of crises can open the door to the meaning and purpose of rituals.

Buddhist rituals vary from country to country and from region to region. At some temples, visiting devotees pour special tea over a statue of Buddha. Some temples serve a free vegetarian meal. Buddhists may make charitable donations such as purchasing an animal from a slaughterhouse, releasing it and providing for its well- being by feeding them, maintaining their health, and finding them a new home. Lay persons may make a small offering at a temple, and in exchange monks write the names of the family on a certificate — this is called the giving of merit certificate — which is fastened to a lantern. In the evening the family goes and places a lit candle inside the lantern and then monks and laity stroll about the gardens enjoying the alluring artistry of the illuminated candles.

How do you wish to bring the sacred into 2021 this year?