The start of a New Year may be a more significant spiritual event than any on liturgical calendars. As a genus, Humans are compelled to count days, organize seasons and lunar cycles, divide days into candle-time, observe celestial cycles and even build gigantic stone thingy-s associated with all of those times. Longest day, shortest day, equal days, feast days – they all become so very important. But, the most important of all… the one day that every one of us cares about, regardless of nationality, is the day, indeed the hour, minute and SECOND that we change the number we have rather arbitrarily assigned to the year-time division: New Years.
Every one of us that is aware of the change in annual numbering is equally compelled to make promises to ourselves – sometimes publicly – as to how we will comport ourselves in better ways in the “new” year. It’s a time for new personal and, in effect, spiritual beginnings. We collectively, but privately, intend to be “better” people… replace bad habits with good ones, go on a diet, give more to charity, maybe go to church more often, tell our significant others, more often, that we love them. Now, then, to whom are we speaking when we tell ourselves these promises?
Obviously we are attempting to communicate to a “self” that exists somewhere deeper? higher? than our cerebral cortex. Short-term memory is notorious for being… well, short. Our need at New Years is to imprint some new pattern of behavior – belief, really – on very long-term memory, and to do so quickly.
Belief is the key, and beliefs are spiritual, fundamentally. Does all of our consciousness exist in neurons, ganglia and synapses? Religions teach us, “No,” and even a little meditation can expose that our beliefs are held in a different level of mentality, and that maybe there is a spiritual component to the reflective human. However it works, it is unlikely that a smoker, for example, will relinquish his or her hold on the habit until he or she believes that he or she is a non-smoker who is simply entangled with tobacco. At that point dis-entanglement can begin; it won’t until then.
Or a druggie or a drinker, for other examples, must cement the belief in him- or her-self as a non-addict before commencing a true path toward cleansing that self of the entanglement with drugs of some kind. The same is true of any habit or practice that the resolute resolver can identify as needing change. The best news is that we need not wait for New Years’ morning to get started. There are lots of cycles that we attend to that form perfectly good times to start becoming better humans.
In Eastern traditions there exists a concept called “The Cosmic Clock.” It’s connected to other concepts related to the “Law” of “Karma:” As ye sow so shall (must) ye reap. There are many ways of stating this idea. “What goes around, comes around,” is one. Even westerners understand it. The Cosmic Clock starts the cycles of your life when you are born – that’s YOUR true “New Year.” In line with the concept of being tested in each lifetime, aiming toward self-perfection, you and the people around you start a series of tests upon your birth. Every year on your birthday you commence a new cycle of both testing and accomplishment, and by the end of that year you are obligated to place your accomplishments – your harvest: what you have “reaped” – on the spiritual altar of your “higher” self… the one you are trying to communicate with through New Years’ resolutions! These cycles come in groupings of 12: 12 hours, 12 months, 12 years.
It is in your thirteenth year that your own, personal karma begins to cycle into your life. That is the age of spiritual responsibility, as it were. Many cultures and spiritual paths recognize this timing with celebrations – or events, at least – marking the end of the first 12 years’ milestone, like a bar-mitzvah. In every year there will be 12 beginnings we call months; every day there are two beginnings – of 12-hour cycles; every 12 years of our lives there are major beginnings. Sometimes the kinds of tests this life will include come to 12-hour, 12-month and 12-year “peaks,” together, so to speak, and even comfortable Westerners can detect a point at which testing is severe, a point when “everything goes wrong” at once.
“Every cloud has a silver lining,” is a platitude that then applies. The lowest point is when there is the greatest opportunity for good, or improvement, or, we might say, Victory over that test. Karma instructs that the tests you failed to pass the first time (in this life or a previous one) will be presented again, providing the opportunity for personal victory. Trying to imprint a “resolution” is a response to the spiritual need to prepare yourself for tests your “higher” self knows are coming, and to remove weaknesses that will interfere with your victories. You might refer to the post of Christmas Eve for another aspect of this: http://www.prudenceleadbetter.com/2017/12/24/the-religious-question/
So, New Years is a big party, presumably a celebration of all we accomplished in the spiritual year just ending. But, it is also commencement of a year/cycle in preparation for which we are resolved to “be better.” Pretty cool, thank goodness.