In this special year-end episode of The Road Home, Ethan Nichtern uproots our self-aggressive resolutions for the New Year, replacing them with reflections on interdependence and collective wellbeing.
Sign up for Ethan’s Year-Long Buddhist Studies program for 2022 on David Nichtern’s digital mindfulness platform, Dharma Moon
New Year’s Resolutions & The Illusory Nature of Linear Time
In this liminal transition space from 2021 to 2022, Ethan Nichtern reflects on New Year’s Resolutions, relaying how from a Buddhist perspective of linear time as illusory, every moment is “the new year.” Through this lens, he offers insight into impermanence, the subjective elasticity of time, and why our New Year’s Aspirations are doomed to fail under our current model of linear time, rather than the healthier Buddhist view of time as cyclical.
“Buddhist thought, at least on the relative level, is really about beginning to look at cycles of time, cycles of practice, cycles of habitual modes of being in the world, cycles of the seasons—things that tend to recur. But with each recurrence, there’s possibly an opportunity to shift our mindfulness, shift our intentionality, shift our way of showing up. It’s the classic Buddhist example of Groundhog Day.” – Ethan Nichtern
Ethan chats with David Nichtern for a cosmic moment, on Ep. 11 of Creativity, Spirituality, & Making a Buck
Self-Aggression & Aspirations // Reflection & Intention (13:13)
Further illuminating the nuanced problems with New Year’s Resolutions, Ethan speaks to the often subtle modes of self-aggression and self-hatred encased within these good-intentioned aspirations. Explaining how we easily can slip into a self-critical, self-lamenting, shaming, guilting mindset to whip ourselves into improvement, he explores how we can use this time for cool, beneficial reflection, rather than hot, aggressive, self-torturous action.
“We say, ‘I am going to make an impact, and it’s going to be different from how I was last year!’ So, there’s a setting of intention that’s based on getting away from ourself, getting away from ‘bad me.’ It’s really subtle. I would really encourage you to look in your reflection for how a narrative or embodied feeling of ‘bad me’— original badness, original sin—comes up.” – Ethan Nichtern
Bunny Michael shares on tapping into the unapologetic beauty of your higher self, on Ep. 77 of the BHNN Guest Podcast
Buddhism & Interdependence // Vaccines, Conspiracy, & The Crisis of Individualism (26:26)
Digging into the hot topics of vaccines and conspiracies through the lens of Buddhism and interdependence, Ethan outlines the makeup of various worldviews, tiering from individualistic self-cherishing antivaxxer; to collective compassion focusing on the well-being of others; all the way to the highest ideal of equalizing self and other.
“What happens in the mind—in the awareness stream—where self and other are not prioritized particularly, where everything is included as something to generate awareness towards, as something to be present with, as something to be compassionate and loving towards, and practice for? The mind in this equalized state becomes truly free because the idea is that nothing is excluded.” – Ethan Nichtern
For more Ethan Nichtern exploring interdependence, time, and reincarnation, tune to Ep. 55 of The Road Home
Positivity, Kleshas, Practice, & Expectation (36:36)
To bring the episode home, Ethan shares how we can turn New Year’s Resolutions on their head, reflecting on what positive things we have done over the past year, what kleshas (mental obstructions) we are working with, and what practices we would like to engage in this year—making sure they are realistic in order to avoid resentment if you don’t meet your expectations.
“If you commit to something, please make it realistic, make it simple, make it doable. Don’t make it something that you’re going to later resent, your own failure or the worlds failure to let you do that practice.” – Ethan Nichtern