by Rev. Leland Stewart
The year which is now beginning has challenges more severe than any year in recent memory.  Some of these challenges are already certain to happen.  Others are challenges that are being predicted, such as a major financial collapse.  Finally, there are the various problems around the world, particularly in the Middle East.   This clearly is not a complete list, but these are among the most serious of the challenges ahead of us in 2017.

Recently I attended a meeting focused on how we should prepare for crises that can arise when least expected.  Often the best way to avoid such occurrences is to be prepared.  Such preparations could include having enough food to last for several days or even a week or more; making sure that your car is working well, so that the can leave

the area quickly if needed; and getting training in nonviolence and in safety precautions.

Most important of all, however, is the spiritual aspect of your readiness to meet any challenges that may arise.  Instead of living in fear, it is important to have a positive, caring attitude.  If we know that we will be able to handle any emergency that might confront us, and if we follow a spiritual practice every day, then we will a long way on the path of being able to meet whatever challenges arise.

Starting at the beginning of the year is an excellent time to make sure that we are prepared in every possible way to meet all crises that come along.  Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith today, January 1sr, mentioned that it is in the realm of time and the visible world that the challenges come up, but that the spiritual world is beyond time and free of all the obstacles that we meet in the visible world.  To cultivate our spiritual dimension is to prepare ourselves for meeting the day-to-day challenges.

For many people the name attached to the spiritual world is God, but increasingly there are other words such as Ultimate Reality, Supreme Identity, and the like.  Buddhists do not believe in a personal God.  Yet they can be just as deeply religious as those who do believe in God.  Our statement of belief says “the Spirit of All Life, called by any name or no name”.  The energy of the spiritual realm is the purest and most transcendent energy available, and its being at the center of your life will best prepare you for meeting whatever comes your way.

So as you begin this year, in addition to the various worldly preparations you can make, be centered in your spiritual practice and know that It will make possible your meeting of any and all challenges that you have ahead of you.

Spirit is One; paths are many!