|A Losar shrine|
Losar-related rituals are actually divided into two quite distinct parts. First, we close out the old year and bid goodbye to all its bad aspects and negativities, with activities that center on the eve of the last night of the year, the 29th day – Nyi Shu Gu – of the Tibetan calendar.
Only after that do we turn our attention to welcoming the Losar – the “new year” – and inviting all good, auspicious things into our homes and our lives.For Tibetan Buddhists, the cleaning extends to the psychic and energetic aspects of existence, as well as the altars and kitchens. The 10 days that precede today (the eve being a neutral day) are said to be a time of heightened experiences of what might be considered bad luck: lost keys, smashed fingers, petty arguments.
Shambhala teacher Lodro Dorje writes:
Outwardly, this negativity manifests as discord, opposition, desires, accidents. Inwardly, it manifests as emotional fixations, sickness and unbalanced inner energy in the psycho-physical body. Secretly, it manifests as fixed beliefs concerning ourselves, and the reality of subtle and spiritual aspects of existence. For instance, we might think that the psychic and spiritual forces of life are solidly and definitely external from our own awareness. Or we might think that such dimensions positively don't exist and don't function at all. Both extremes create trouble for us.Thinking that they do exist is a problem and thinking that they don't exist is a problem? Now, that is a problem. Or maybe the thinking is the problem.
You know how to clean the house. How do you spring clean your mind?
The traditional remedy is to increase practices to please the dharma protectors or dharmapalas.
But maybe you think that's the equivalent of leaving sugar water out for the faeries. Or socks for the house elf. You just want a nice Swiffer for the psyche.
Lodro Dorje offers four thoughts:
1) Keep your conduct straightforward and kind.
2) Be open to the fundamental nature of awareness, which is the same in you as in the enlightened beings.
3) Maintain your meditation practice so that you can "tame, ride, and transmute" your personal energies.
4) Pay attention properly to the details of life.
And watch your consumption of rice beer.