In 2002, may the people of Portland nourish the roots of goodness in their community and in themselves that lead to happiness and away from suffering and discontent.

The first root is gratitude for our life. The fact that we can see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think is a miracle not matched by anything on Earth. No matter how difficult our circumstances may be, no matter what kind of history we have come from, being alive is a gift above all others, for without this gift nothing else is possible.

The second root we can nourish is appreciation. Portland is a wonderful city. We are at peace. We are so fortunate to live where most of us are fed, housed and have medical care available.

We live in a city where we have many opportunities, from the great free library system and Portland Parks & Recreation activities to the many public services offered here. No matter what problems we have or what lacks we see, compared to most of the world, our lives are blessed by good fortune.

The third root is our heart's power to turn toward peace, good and helping others. No matter how troubled our times are, in every moment we can wish someone well: We can pray for peace; we can do even a tiny thing to help someone else; we can realize our unfailing connection to the great source of all things.

In this next year, may all of us cultivate the roots that lead to happiness for the benefit of our community, ourselves and everyone else.

Hogen Bays is a Buddhist priest and teacher with the Great Vow Zen Monastery and Zen Community of Oregon, which meets in Southeast Portland.

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