When the calendar rolls over to another year, some people make resolutions : affirmations about something positive they wish to accomplish in the year to come. It is certainly healthy to take stock of one’s life and think about where one would like to be headed – beginnings have always been the moment for such reflection. No ship’s captain would weigh anchor and set sail without first examining all the on-board equipment, and then consulting navigation charts, weather reports and the compass.
But where did this custom of resolutions originate? Perhaps few people think about it, but at its most fundamental level, it is an echo of the affirmation we are all said to have made before the world began. We are told that before God created the world, He spoke to all the assembled souls that would ever be born on earth, and said to them, “Am I not your Lord?” And the vast multitude replied with one voice, saying, “You are!” That moment of the acknowledgment of Truth can be understood as the origin of all faith. As Hazrat Inayat Khan observed in a recent post, it is the nature of every baby to believe; doubt, which he considers a disease, is alien to us, and only acquired later. That allegiance to the Real reverberates in us still, in our respect for honesty, for example, and even in our most humble resolutions to faithfully remember birthdays or to be more considerate to our family and co-workers.
Making a resolution will always be a personal matter, reflecting our own circumstances. It is similar to the silent, intimate communication that might arise in our hearts when, washed by the prayers of the Confraternity, or perhaps by some days of retreat, we open ourselves before the Candle of Wish. Nevertheless, if we are searching for ideas for a good resolution, we could do well to consider the saying from the Bowl of Saki for the last day of the year. A friend recently pointed out that the saying for December 31st is, Happiness lies in thinking or doing that which one considers beautiful.
In other words, beauty makes us happy, and whatever is un-beautiful dims our happiness. It is clear and straightforward, but if one would resolve to think and to do that which is beautiful, it would mean weighing all our thoughts and actions with care. So much of what we do and think is no more than a mechanical reaction, made without consideration. But, as Hazrat Inayat Khan says, we are faced with a choice in life, either to be the machine, or the engineer who directs the machinery; there is no other alternative.
To live in beauty requires that every impulse should arise from the heart. Perhaps it is expecting too much of ourselves to hope that every thought and action should be beautiful, but the longest journey begins with a single step: if we could resolve to have one beautiful thought and to perform one beautiful action a day, it would begin to create a habit of happiness that would gradually transform our life – and the life of those around us would also be improved.