I had the good fortune to be invited to celebrate these
magnificent Tashlikh (literally: "casting off") vows as part of a Jewish Rosh Hashanah (new year.. literally: "head
of the year") ceremony. The ceremony began with a reading:
Who is a God like You, Who bears iniquity and ignores
transgression for the remnant of His chosen people! He does not retain
His anger forever for He desires to be benevolent. He will again show
compassion and will subdue our sins and cast all of their transgressions
into the depths of the sea!
Then we began to cast symbolic bread crumbs into a river.
With each bread crumb we recited another one of these vows from the heart,
and after each vow there were a few moments of silent meditation to consider
ways that we could change ourselves in order to allow these vows to truly
bloom and flower in our own lives:
Let us cast away the sin of deception ---- so that we
will mislead no one in word or in deed, nor pretend to be what we are not.
Let us cast away the sin of vain ambition --- which prompts us to strive
for goals which bring neither true fulfillment nor genuine contentment.
Let us cast away the sin of stubbornness --- so that we will neither
persist in foolish habits nor fail to acknowledge our will to change.
Let us cast away the sin of envy --- so that we will neither be consumed
by desire for what we lack nor grow unmindful of the blessings which are already
Let us cast away the sin of selfishness --- which keeps us from enriching
our lives through wider concerns and greater sharing, and from reaching out in
love to other human beings.
Let us cast away the sin of indifference --- so that we may be sensitive
to the sufferings of others and responsive to the needs of people everywhere.
Let us cast away the sin of pride and arrogance --- so that we can
worship God and serve His purpose in humility and truth.
But, why wait for a new year... aren't these a good set of ideals for
As the mystical poet Rumi said:
keep on pouring
So much time and energy is spent looking here and there, hunting
for some complex formula, seeking some big long mantra... but the truth is even
simpler... we simply need to live every moment centered in Loving Kindness.
Sufi mystical poet Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi (Mathnawi, V:134-135) said:
Don't search for the water,
just get thirsty,
so that the water may arrive,
just as the cry of the
brings the mothers milk.
Similarly, the 38th chapter of the Hua Hu Ching starts off with:
Why scurry about looking for the truth?
vibrates every thing and every not-thing, right off the tip of your nose.
you be still and see it in the mountain?
I know it sounds too simple, but look at all of the great lines from the
Masters... always amazingly simple stuff. The highest principles to which we
aspire are stepping stones, leading us step by step toward Loving Kindness.
Only through selfless thoughts and selfless acts centered in Loving Kindness
do we ever find the sense of true fulfillment and peace of mind that
we all hunger for. And it is through our incessant longing to be more
selfless, more loving and more kind that we become an expression of Loving
Perhaps some would argue that the term should be "love" or
perhaps just "kindness", but such arguments miss the point... the word is really
not very important, but rather there is an essence which is found in the depths
of these words Loving Kindness... and that essence is what we must become.
When Aldous Huxley was dying, he was asked what he had learned
from all of his experience with his spiritual teachers and gurus and through his
own spiritual life. He said, "It's embarrassing to tell you this, but it seems
to come down mostly to just learning to be kinder."
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says
" Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these
two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
And indeed we can follow these commandments simply by letting
Loving Kindness be the root of all of our actions and thoughts in the present
The great Persian poet Hafiz wrote:
It happens all
the time in heaven,
And some day
It will begin to
Again on earth-
That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are
And women and women
Who give each other Light,
Often will get down on their knees
And while so
Holding their lover's hand,
With tears in their
Will sincerely speak, saying,
How can I be more loving to you;
I be more
May the light of the Divine Presence shine through each of us, more and more