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 ours.
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
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
But, why wait for a new year... aren't these
a good set of ideals for everyday?
As the mystical poet Rumi said:
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
Sufi mystical poet Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi (Mathnawi,
Don't search for the water,
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
Why scurry about looking for the truth?
It vibrates every thing and every not-thing, right off
the tip of your nose.
Can you be still and see it in the mountain?
the pine tree?
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
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 Kindness.
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
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 moment.
The great Persian poet Hafiz inspired this
rendering by Daniel Ladinsky:
It happens all the time in heaven,
And some day
It will begin to happen
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,
get down on their knees
And while so tenderly
Holding their lover's hand,
With tears in their eyes,
Will sincerely speak, saying,
How can I be more loving
How can I be more
May the light of the Divine Presence shine through
each of us, more and more each day...
Wishing you love, harmony and beauty,