Tovana, a Dharma network in Israel, invited me to offer teachings on Yom Kippur, two major holy-days in the Jewish calendar. Tal of Tovana hosted the sessions. I gave six 60-minute sessions, three sessions on Day of Repentance and three sessions on Day of Atonement on 3 -4 October 2022. See previous blog on Day One. Day of Repentance.
Day Two. Day of Atonement
This is a transcription/edit and adaption of one of three Zoom sessions on Day Two of Yom Kippur.
A break from unhealthy past behaviour shows intentional development from the present to the future in a healthy and skilful way. This is an emergence out of the unsatisfactoriness of the old.
You generate a fresh beginning, a new direction revealing a transformation of the old. The change confirms an atonement for the past. You may have neglected someone or something for a long time, so you take steps.
Steps may include a communication or confession to express your regret. This also confirms atonement.
Repentance, regret, sorrow, remorse, and sincere apologies with atonement confirm the two wings of the same bird who can fly. Repentance and atonement show lessons have been learnt.
I mentioned in the last session, the importance of the transcendent element. Some feel easy with the language of God. For others, the word God is not your cup of tea. Yu do not have to use that language. We do need a perspective on our modest life to know a larger sense of things recognising our short engagement and participation between the dynamics of birth and death.
There is a sense of things much bigger than ourselves. We might call it eternity, the vast or the expansive. This contributes to it a proportionate view of our so-called personal life. Acknowledgement of the transcendent means less self-indulgence.
A Guided Meditation on a Form of Deep Experience of Atonement
Meditation for 20 – 25 minutes. A sentence or two followed by 30 – 60 seconds of silence followed by another sentence.
• Posture. Posture. Sit Tall and Upright
• Silence. Sitting. Stillness
• Appreciate the expanse of this noble silence. Rest in it. Allow the whole being to abide in stillness
• Be aware of the stillness around. The stillness of the objects surrounding you
• Silence and stillness have a transcendent element to it. You can find both elements anywhere
• Be conscious of transcendent factor of silence-stillness and the expanse
• Know you are closer to reality, not dependent on what you are thinking
• In the depth of such abiding, you dwell with God
• In the sense of a deeper receptivity, God speaks to you
• From the depth may come a revelation, a creative idea, an inspiration
• The inspiration may be a change or a major fundamental break from the old, an initiative to establilsh a radical change in priority
• Your devotion can make something new happen to show you are making amends.
• Keep the awareness alive to initiate fresh responses
• You action also may show itself through creativity or service
• The sufferings of the past can become a steppingstone to putting out the fires of suffering in the present and application of a vision for the future.
A Talk. On Generating a Break from the Old
You generate the break from the old whether problematic or time has come for a real change from the familiar.
Others around may not understand the motive why. We may not even understand ourselves. It takes a trust to investigate the past related to painful situations – traumas, betrayals, stress, pressures. You sense an urgency to emerge out of that. Be respectful to that urgency. You may need counsel with the wise.
Your memory of the past may not be in that category. You sense something needs to change deeply to contribute to waking up. You make atonement for the past, not that you have done anything patently wrong or bad. You find yourself quietly determined to make something fresh happen.
Three tips points I would like to mention.
Tip One. Be clear about what you wish to develop between the here-now and what you would like to see take place. It is important and valuable to stay as close to today as possible. You start the changes today otherwise too much can go on in your life resulting in your insight into inspiration becoming clouded over with other stuff.
To give a small example. A person, who attended many Buddhist retreats in the West, decided to go to Thailand and become a Buddhist monk. He decided to wait until the spring or summer of the following year. For six or nine months he postponed his journey to the East. Then he injured his back so he couldn’t travel. It meant he could not travel for a year later until his back recovered. The he could travel to the East, or ordain and sit in a forest monastery.
Tip Two: If you wish to initiate something, speak to a person or two in your life who understand how important the change is. Appreciate your conviction. Tell her or him or them. Announce the change to them. This will contribute to giving extra passion and authority to making a change from past to future, from remorse to initiative.
You are not hiding your vision. If you think you might wobble, get insecure and uncertain, talk with those who understand you and will give you encouragement. He, she or they will remind you to get your act together. Don’t throw your opportunity away. Life is short.
Tip Three. The gap between where you are and where you wish to may be too big,
You can’t act because you have kids, financial issues, health issues or endless excuses. You will struggle. If you cannot bridge the gap, be humble. What are the small steps that you can take in the right direction. You think “I can’t leap into what I would love to do. I can’t just go off to Myanmar, Thailand or India.” See the steps where you can develop and evolve. Develop a certain strength and power of the mind to show your dedication. It would be a pity to spend your life living in fear, unable to respond or to act.
Religions remind us that the devil can take over our mind including setting us up for failure. We uncover a brilliant idea. Then all the thoughts start to come in and corrupt the mind. The ideas do not become action. Exercise a quiet authority, small steps, day by day. Stay true to them. See what emerges.
Allow me to offer a small personal example going back to 1966. I decided to make the overland journey to the East in the Spring of 1966. I had a small car to sell but I could not sell the damn thing. It proved to be a test of determination. I waited until the following April 1967. I intended to visit Israel en route to India. I was getting closer to Israel in June 1967. It didn’t seem the best time to visit Israel.
I bypassed Israel and travelled through Turkey around Afghanistan, Pakistan and into India. I was unable to travel in 1966. It was important to keep the motivation alive rather than be forgetful. Neglect can generate the possibility of remorse and self-blame for not following through with the initiative. Years later, we might find ourselves trying to make amends, make atonement for a wasted opportunity.
We must be honest and clear with ourselves. If the past supports our project, we benefit staying dedicated and connected. Some of you work in specific roles for people, animals and the rest of the natural world. You serve family members, friends and more. Stay steady and true to it through the life.
You will face challenges. Stay steady with your dedication and commitment to others. Our past can act as a real support for us – either through wisdom that has developed or through knowing one transformed from an unsatisfactory way of life in the past.
We make a mistake. We make a poor judgement and behave foolishly. These dynamics interrupt the flow of our life. There is much to learn in these times. “I don’t want to repeat that one.” “I need to be careful about that.” What changes do I make so I don’t repeat the same history?
Constant areas of reflection involve past, present and future. Teachings endorse wise reflection. Do not neglect the transcendent element. Freedom confirms one aspect of the transcendent element – not the corrupt freedom of choice idea. Freedom engages in the exploration of life, freedom to develop and stay with principles, true and valid. Know the freedom to look at experiences and relationships to make bold and fresh beginnings.
These explorations include repentance and atonement revealing great qualities of life with the opportunity to make huge steps ti fulfil our potential.
Let’s engage in reflection and making amends
Let’s go deep into transformation.
Let’s know a liberated way of life
Brilliant words, Christopher! I have often struggled that I could never go to Myanmar or India or Thailand– sick parents, very little financial resources, etc. But this post put my mind at ease. Also appreciate your teaching re: “Religions remind us that the devil can take over our mind including setting us up for failure. We uncover a brilliant idea. Then all the thoughts start to come in and corrupt the mind.” With palms together at the heart…tom