Confucius says by three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is the noblest; second, by imitation, which is the easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.

The Kadampas were early Tibetan Buddhists known for their devotion to the principles of Dharma. They practiced righteous living: living every moment of the day aligned with universal, cosmic laws. Their simple life of farming, herding, and crafting and trading elegantly useful objects was enhanced by a unique practice.

The Kadampa carried with them a small bag of pebbles, some white and some black. As they began their day, every time they had a positive thought about someone, complemented someone, or performed an act of kindness, they would pick a white pebble from their bag and place it in their left pocket. With any negative thought toward anyone, any harsh word or act of violence if there was any act of disrespect toward another living being they would put a black pebble in their right pocket.

At the end of each day,  just before sleep, the Kadampa would empty their pockets and count the number of white and black pebbles. This was their way of measuring their daily progress along the path of righteous living. They strived toward the day when all the pebbles would be white.

This practice also encourages daily reflection. The same can be done for  larger cycles of life, such as monthly or annual reflection time. It also can be used for our overall successes and failures (I like to call them learning episodes) or life enhancing or life diminishing experiences.

Some of you may have recognized that the first part of this blog is from The Law of Reflection in my book Enlightened Negotiation: 8 Spiritual Laws to Connect, Create, and Prosper.

Now is a perfect time to reflect on 2016 – a bird’s eye view of your actions and interactions in different aspect of life: health, spirituality, family, career, education, finance and community.  In each of these areas how many white pebbles can you add to your virtuous acts.  Use your acquired wisdom to plan for next year. As we experienced some unprecedented events this year and will be facing many uncertainties next year, it behooves us to reflect deeply and set our intentions clearly.

May your wings of wisdom and compassion spread wide.

May  you move with strength and grace.

May your aim remain resolved.