Return to Our Authentic Selves
October 2, 2005
Tomorrow evening marks the beginning of what are known as the Jewish High Holidays. The first holiday is Rosh Hashanah—meaning head of the year. It is the time when the Old Testament says that G-d created Adam. Ten days after Rosh Hashanah is the holiday of Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement. The ten days between these two holidays are known as the Days of Awe. During these ten days, every Jew is supposed to reflect on who they were last year and contrast that image to the person they could have been: kinder, less judgmental, more patient, less self-centered, more generous, less lazy, more truthful, etc. This process is known as teshuva. The imperative to do teshuva, to return, means: Become the person we could have been and want to be. What did we do well this past year?
When we do teshuva we examine our ways, identify those areas where we are losing ground, and map our return to Godliness, our state of spiritual purity. In the process, we return to our connection with G-d.
It is G-d who makes it possible for us to overcome our own stuck places and come back to our highest selves. The great message of the HHD's is that change is possible—we are not stuck.
It is said that repentance or the ability to return was created before the world was created. That is to say, the idea of repentance, of a person changing themselves and changing their course, is an integral part of Creation—and the world could not exist without it.
How do we return to our Oneness with G-d? If only we could go to the post office and have them stamp "return to sender" on us—while we were still living and breathing! But alas, it is not so easy. The next best option might just be for us to take a look at our lives—let's say for starters the past year. Take off the rose colored glasses and assess where we haven't been the highest expression of ourselves.
Back in the disco era there was a song that had the lyrics "to be real." How can we be "real" with ourselves—to be authentic? Author Paul Ferrini writes that, "When each being has the courage to be him or herself, they find the highest truth they are capable of receiving."
So, let's use the letters from the word REAL to identify some steps for this process.
Let's ask ourselves some questions such as:
What were some of our highlights?
How did we feel blessed?
Where did we fall short of being the fullness of who we are?
Where are we not Being One with our G-d?
Where were we not our Selves?
Have we made others wrong to make ourselves right?
What are our regrets? And here I want to clarify that "regret" says that we have failed to live up to our potential. Feeling regret really is a positive sign that we are back in touch with our Godly essence.
Where would we like to have experienced more of G-d's blessings?
What grade would we give ourselves for how successful we were in the following areas:
Mental-our ability to think and reason. The level of confusion or understanding that we experienced. Our ability to think clearly and remain open minded.
Emotional-were we able to experience life deeply, to relate to others on a feeling level?
Physical-Did we take good care of our bodies? Did we survive and thrive in the material world? And,
Spiritual-Did we feel a sense of belonging in the universe? Did we experience a deeper meaning and purpose in our lives? Did we feel our Oneness with our higher power?
A3 Awareness - Acknowledgment - Acceptance
Here we have a triple play-
Were we aware of both our strengths and weaknesses? In all life experiences, when we have the awareness that what we are doing is not bringing forth the desired results, this serves as "divine intervention."
Acknowledgment-Acknowledgment moves awareness to the next step.
Were we willing to own all aspects of an experience?
Were we willing to recognize a thing for what it is-our own conscious or unconscious creation-without criticism or judgment?
Are we willing to make a higher more self-supportive choice?
Are we willing to accept the feelings and memories associated with the past in order to change our choices and responses to similar situations? Acceptance of experiences is realized as an outgrowth of acceptance of self. Acceptance of who we are and what we have experienced is the foundation of unconditional loving of self.
Which brings us to the final letter:
The more we love ourselves, the more we open ourselves to experiencing the love of G-d. G-d really does make it possible for us to overcome our stuck places and return to our highest selves. When we love we are in touch with the G-d within ourselves, and we see G-d within others. And the more we give love—the more we get in return.
To love really is "to be real."
And so, we undertake teshuva—our return to our Oneness with G-d. We've reflected and evaluated. We've taken A to the third power with awareness, acknowledgment, and acceptance, and we arrive at love—of ourselves, of our higher power, and of others. As we partner with G-d and create the vision of who we know we can be—our authentic self—change is just one breath away.
It is customary to greet others at this time of year with L'shana tova-Ketivah vi-chatima tova. For a good year-may you be written and sealed in the book of life. And so, to all of you-I offer that blessing.
ABC's of Rosh Hashanah an article by Rabbi Moshe Lazerus (AISH.com)
Teshuva: Dry Cleaning for the Soul an article by Rabbi Shraga Simmons (AISH.com)
Keep Your Eye on the Expert an article by Sara Yoheved Rigler (AISH.com)
A Path for Spiritual and Social Transformation a High Holiday Supplement in Tikkun Magazine
The Four Levels of Healing. Shakti Gawain
New Age Judaism: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern World. Melinda Ribner
Handouts provided by the Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development
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