For years, many people have been complaining that I am not obeying the normal standards or the normal rules, which is true. People like me most of the time have to conform to certain traditions and certain cultures, unfortunately. As we all know, this world is full of labels and so, cultures, traditions and all these various things are in fact included in the package of labels that define who we are, or rather what we are. We are trapped by these definitions and then we have to go accordingly, whether we like it or not.

I am not saying that labels are not good or defining our roles in the communities and societies is not good. It would be really chaotic if we don't have any labels. For example, in some offices that I visited, they have what we call the filing system and each cabinet has a label. So imagine if there are no labels, that would really be messy. You will not be able to find the documents you need. You will be going crazy.

We need labels to be organised, but we don't need too much of them to cripple our creativity. Without creativity, we would become like robots. That's why we have to take a middle path, having labels and yet not trapped by the labels. Do not be attached to labels, because that encourages us to have bigger ego, which means bigger problems. We have enough problems in our life to sort out, we don't need to make things worse.

We have to be daring. We are the ones who control the labels and not the other way round. By "daring", I don't mean that you can go and kill your enemy, or you can go and get yourself drunk and do all sorts of crazy things, that will not only harm others, but also yourself. By "daring", I would say that we have to be daring enough to at least look at ourselves clearly, without any fabrication. Most of the time, when things go wrong, we are quickly thinking of reasons to excuse ourselves and almost immediately, we blame others for the problems. If we look around ourselves, and if we look at the world we are in, 90% of the people are like this, and I would say that they have no guts. They have no guts to take up the responsibility of wrongdoings, correct themselves, improve themselves and then progress positively on the path.

Most of the time, when we humans sit together and chit chat, if we listen carefully with sharp awareness, we will immediately discover that all the contents are about how good we are and how bad others are. It's very rare that we are praising others, especially those people that we don't like or hate. I think our ego is so huge that it takes up all the room for us to be daringly different, daringly positive, daringly kind and daringly understanding.

I always tell my friends and students, it's so easy to complain and criticise, because it makes our ego so happy. Our ego is even happier when we are able to get more people to complain and criticise as we do, I guess this is how the different political parties are formed in different countries. Yet, we are not daring enough to stop complaining and criticising, especially when it comes to anything or any person or any circumstance that we don't like, that we hate or that we feel uncomfortable with. We want everyone that we know to join us together in this cowardice journey of surrendering to our ego. The foolish ones will join but the wise ones will not. I see a lot of these happening in our society, in our community. Most people act emotionally so that their ego will feel good temporarily and then, suffer for a long time afterwards. Actually, emotions are killer to any activity in your life, they cloud our understanding and we lose our clarity.

A hero who is daring to live a happy life is one who conquers his or her ego, and manages to control the Mara within oneself. Mara manifests as jealousy, pride, and all these different burning emotions that make us jump and do or say things that hurt others. So you should always check yourselves, whether you are doing this very often, whether you enjoy gossip and burning sensations, if you do, then try to daringly stop this.

It takes a lot of courage to tell ourselves that we are wrong and that we need to change and improve, we need to stop feeling angry, jealous, proud and insecure. We have to develop this inner mirror so that we are able to sharpen our tools to live daringly a life that is fruitful, that is beneficial and meaningful, and that is truly great. It's okay to make mistakes, but it's not okay to ignore the mistakes, continue making the same mistakes over and over again, without the sense of wishing to be a better person, wishing to improve. If you are a spiritual practitioner, mistakes and obstacles are there to make you more daring and make you progress faster, only if you confess and change for the better.

Ego limits our progress and to expand our limit and to be successful, we really have to live life daringly. Daring to love your enemy, because loving your family and friends who like you is too easy. Daring to be kind to people who are unkind and nasty to you, because being kind to people who are kind and nice to you is too easy. Daring to admit your shortfalls and improve, because forgiving yourself and blaming others are too easy. Daring to take up responsibility and not just gossiping, because putting positive into actions is truly the practice of a hero. So be daring to be a good human, be daring to be a virtuous friend and be daring to make a positive change in your life.

This is my small advice for the new Dragon year.

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