Every year the little white box arrives.
The Cleveland Jewish News wishes me shana tova with the gift of honey.
The box says, “Honey from the heart. A gift to sweeten the New Year.” That little bottle of honey inside reminds me how sweet life already is.
It also reminds me the Book of Life will soon open to more awe. Rosh Hashanah begins on Sept. 6; Yom Kippur will fall on Sept. 16.
We get a do-over. A clean slate. A chance to right our wrongs.
Much is written and said about what to do during those days, but what do we do after the High Holy Days end?
The High Holy Days are a wake-up call. The blast of the shofar wakes us up to a new year. Why not a new way of life? What if we didn’t go back to sleep? What if we devoted ourselves to staying awake all year long?
My favorite author, Michael Singer, has become my greatest teacher. He’s kind of a Jewish Buddhist. I listen to his free talks three days a week at the Temple of the Universe website and read his books often. “The Untethered Soul” and “The Surrender Experiment” have changed my life.
He offers a blueprint for living, and at the end of every talk encourages all who listen to “do the work.”
Here’s what he’s taught me:
• Have no preferences. No likes. No dislikes. Just like everything. Practice it on pizza. The next time someone orders one, be OK with what’s on it. Practice on the weather. Love the rain, the snow, the sleet. As a great Zen master said, “The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.”
• No new sanskaras. Don’t create any new inner blockages, resentments or fears. You get rid of the old ones during these 10 days of reflection between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Don’t create new ones.
“The past is over,” he says. “It should not be bothering you.” So why do we spend so much time wallowing in it? The only moment we can change is the one we are in.
“Serve the moment in front of you in the highest way possible.” I love this. It’s so simple, yet Singer calls it the highest spiritual life. Not curing cancer, not winning an Oscar, not writing a book. Just serve the moment the Universe is giving you, right now. It hands you your job assignment moment by moment.
• No matter what, don’t close your heart. “Nothing is ever worth closing over,” he says. “Nothing.” Not the driver in front of you. Not the friend who didn’t call you back. Not the mother or father whose love came with all those conditions.
“Every experience is worth having.” Every experience makes you a more experienced human being. We label life experiences good or bad, and we want to push away the bad. Treat every experience as if it were brought to you special delivery, like a FedEx package from the Universe just for you to receive, respect and appreciate.
“There is a river of joy inside of you. Find it. Go there. Get in. Drown.” Whoa. That is so intense. Yet it’s true. All the joy and love you desire is already inside of you. You have a direct connection to Source, to God, to an endless and mighty flow of all the Love and Joy that exists. You are the only one blocking off your access to it. Not your sister or boss or ex-spouse. Get out of your own way.
• Stay in your own lane. We spend so much time in our monkey mind jumping around in everyone else’s business judging what they should or should not be doing. My friend, Katie, often reminds me, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Or as a great counselor once taught me, “If you don’t want to get muddy, don’t climb in someone else’s pig pen.” Sometimes, the highest thing to do is nothing at all. Just mind your own soul.
“Things aren’t supposed to be the way you want. They’re supposed to be the way they are.” Life on life’s terms. Love what is, just as it is.
Life doesn’t have to change for you to love it. You have to change and love it as is. It’s called loving life unconditionally.
And when you do that, every day is sweet, every day is full of awe.