In February, Naropa's Shambhala Day ceremony celebrated Losar, the Tibetan new year, and the dawning of the year of the water snake. As is tradition at Naropa, the ceremony included a reading of the I Ching, or Book of Change, from the Taoist tradition. During this part of the ceremony, a student, faculty member, staff member, alum, trustee, and the president each toss a coin, so that the reading represents the entire Naropa community. Howard Bad Hand, a Sicangu Lakota from Rosebud, South Dakota, and I Ching practitioner for more than fifty years, then offers Naropa a forecast of the year to come based on the reading. "This is a tool to know life and its processes," Bad Hand explains. "Let it sink in that this is about life, and everything that this shows you is already known by your intuition."
This year, Naropa's I Ching reading displays the hexagrams of "duration" and "exhaustion." We must focus on preserving Naropa's duration as an institution, which will be determined by the relationships and commitments of its staff, faculty, and students. To ensure our duration, we must reaffirm our commitments and embrace each other, moving out of the "I" state of mind and into the "we" state of mind, reestablishing our movement as a single body. Bad Hand advised us, "you will make it, if you sit down and look at what can ignite you as a body of people," suggesting also that Naropa community members find a meaning to dedicate themselves to as individuals.
Bad Hand reminded us that as tests and challenges come from the outside, there is no sense spending energy battling forces beyond our control. In this time of testing, we must not remain at the mercy of hopes and fears, but rather we must tone down our emotions, focusing our available energy on simply living without emotional attachment. "When a strong person meets adversity," Bad Hand explained, "one remains cheerful despite all danger, and this cheerfulness is the source of later success. It is that stability that is stronger than fate." Tests usually happen when we are least equipped to meet them, so it is in how we choose to handle our passions that our destiny is shaped. He advised us to be flexible, as our adaptability will determine our preservation. The year to come will challenge us to balance what to hold on to and what to let go of or adapt to.
"This reading basically says that this institution is going to last a long time," shared Bad Hand. "But lasting a long time is determined by relationships that connect each other."