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Feb 19
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Year of the Wood Sheep

Two astrologers in the community, Shastri Matthew Lyon and Erik Blagsvedt, share their perspective on the new year.

Shastri Matthew Lyon:sheep
Visualize a verdant pasture where the green fertile grasses flow toward the horizon in pastoral splendor. A flock of sheep, peaceful and unhurried, grazes, comforted by the protective presence of the clan, their white wooly coats resplendent amidst the greenery. Unlike the vigorous, dynamic horse racing through the plains with the wind at its back, the sheep move slowly, taking the time to connect with the Earth, savoring the moment, relaxed and composed.

The communal ritual of gathering together for the feast is calmly celebrated. There is
gentleness in this quiet scene, a reminder of the human potential for relaxed appreciation of the bountiful earth and of our family and friends who move with us through the fields of life.

In this tranquil vision there is also strength. The power of the social group is real, manifesting the harmony of a collective identity, like a chord in music which joins diverse notes into a potent creative moment. There is protection and motivation in the common purpose of life, the beneficial connection with others. Along with their calm and mild nature, sheep are actually tough creatures who can persevere in harsh conditions, drawing upon inner determination and communal energy to survive.

These images invoke the meaning of our transition into the Year of the Wood Sheep. In last year’s invigorating ride on the galloping Horse, many strides forward were made, and boundaries were challenged. Dawning visions and new possibilities inspired our exertion. Outmoded ways were uprooted, as we bravely called upon our adventurous spirit. Disruption and dynamic change were common, both in our individual lives and in social structures. The adventurous wild horse has carried us into new, unexplored territory, stretching our limits. Our individual strength was invoked and provoked.

Isn’t it time for a bit of rest, a stretch of stability, a space for enjoyment of simple human pleasures? This will be the theme we will explore as the Yang Year of the Wood Horse flows into the Yin Year of the Wood Sheep.  The bold and exuberant push forward will settle itself, calling upon us to assimilate and stabilize the dynamic energies of the last year. Like the patient and peaceful sheep, generally living in harmony with its mates, we have the potential this year to discover the power of community in a satisfying way. Turning our vision toward the mandala of family, friends, and close associates, we can celebrate the potential for awakened relationships in our lives. How can the force of relationship, in all of its forms, contribute to our own spiritual progress and to the enlightenment of our society? Networking among individuals and groups who share a common purpose can be especially fruitful in the Year of the Sheep, a time for diplomacy.

earth-gathering-jt7Among the many relationships we live with, our close connection with the Earth, often unacknowledged in our daily lives, can become more prominent in our consciousness this year. As citizens of the Earth, how can we ignore the health of the planet, which, like the sheep’s pasture, is the source of all sustenance and benefit for human life? It is time to collectively gather our motivation to strongly address the need for action on climate change. This year, we have the potential to do so. Let us take advantage of this opportunity.

Sheep may follow unskillful leaders into unhealthy and dangerous places, but likewise they may follow strong leaders on paths of progress. This year, we can identify the true leaders who can bring genuine benefit to our global society.

Creativity and spirituality also are emphasized in the Sheep Year’s reign. These forces in our lives arise more vividly as we relax and allow ourselves to appreciate the details of our lives. Turning our attention from grand accomplishments to the precise execution of important daily tasks, we can refine our practice of the art of living. Mindfulness and awareness can flourish in more stable times, and we can experience genuine serenity. In the open space of nowness, creative energy can arise without hindrance. Our wakeful perception of beauty is enhanced.

The possible downside of greater peace and stability is complacency. However, we can feel invigorated by the vision of enlightened society, while also cultivating peaceful steadiness in our approach.

This year, let us join strength and gentleness together in skillful ways, to refine and fulfill our vision for enlightened society. May our communities enjoy harmonious dialogue and the true power of a common purpose.   May we join together to realize a society which flourishes in the bountiful fields, the sacred ground, of basic goodness.

Erik Blagsvedt:
The Wood Sheep brings a year in which healing and nurturing are brought to the forefront. Our sensitive, kind, and caring side is emphasized. Diplomacy within relationships and groups is also accentuated this year. Bring to mind the most nurturing person you’ve met, or can imagine, and keep them in your heart this year.

The sheep peacefully grazes in a large meadow. Enjoying the simplicity of theshambhala_flag-200
elements her balance is restored and the settled quality of not having to be anywhere allows her senses to appreciate the inherent beauty all around her as if they are inseparable.

We could take care to open more fully to ourselves, our family, and close relationships. There is strong support for revealing the inherent intimacy in our relationships and cultivating it. This is the year to experience these qualities in depth which, in turn, will help further down the path.

Who doesn’t want more beauty in their life and in the lives of others?

Our artful side has more potential with the Wood Sheep. Cultivating creativity and artistic development is accentuated this year. Our ability to appreciate beauty, in ourselves and in our world, could be explored on a much deeper level. Combining the human connection with creativity and artfulness can lead to richness and non-conceptuality.

Good One1505Shastri Matthew Lyon has been a student of Shambhala Buddhism since 1974, and has been teaching in this tradition for over 30 years. He is the former Director of the both the Burlington and Seattle Shambhala Centers. He is in business as financial advisor, and is also a musician, a composer, and an astrologer with an active counseling practice in this field. Matthew is married, and has two daughters and 9 grandchildren. He and his wife Thomasa own a meditation retreat center on Whidbey Island, Washington, called Windhorse. He is currently preparing for the publication of a book entitled “Awakening True Prosperity.” The book explores the journey of meditative warriorship as it relates to our livelihood, our financial life, and the realization of inner and outer wealth.

unnamed-3Erik Blagsvedt began meditating in the Shambhala community 1999. He graduated from Shambhala Vajrayana Seminary in 2004 and is a continuing student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. He has been practicing astrology since 2001 and is also a musician and writer. Erik has led weekly meditation/book study groups as well as Introduction to meditation classes for several years. He is currently writing a lot of poetry and lives with his wife and son near Minneapolis, MN. See more here: erikblagsvedt.tumblr.com

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2 responses to “ Year of the Wood Sheep ”
  1. Yolanda Corona
    Feb 21, 2015

    Matthew: Thank you so much for your inspired text about the year of the sheep. We read today in our sangha of Tepoztlán Mexico something about Theodora Lau this new year but was exquisitely complemented by your shambhalian view of the sheep energy.

  2. Erik Blagsvedt
    Feb 19, 2015

    Thank you, Shastri Lyon. I love what you wrote. Very beneficial. Cheerful Shambhala Day!

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