Wednesday, September 13, 2006

no thyself

High holidays are looming. When they do, this old joke makes the rounds:
The rabbi was preparing for the day of atonement. In the deserted sanctuary, he stood before the ark and prayed softly "How careless I have been with my self and others this year! My efforts have been self serving yet I am like a nobody, I am as nothing when I stand before my G_d". He went to a pew in the shadows and sat in contemplation. Noticing this little drama as he passed the santuary door, the cantor was moved and thought it was time for him to also get into spirit of the holy days. He went before the ark and made a similar, more fervent confession and then went to sit quietly in the pew behind the rabbi. The janitor had taken all this in from the choir loft [hey, its reform here!] where he had been dusting. He too was stirred by this and went down before the ark to plead his insignificance in broken English. Then the cantor turned to the rabbi and said "Hey...look who thinks he's nobody!".

I observe that none of the Abrahamic religions have a monopoly on loud humility nor on the quiet practice of kindness to others. Self denial and self abnegation are however, still a focus on "I" if only by casting a shadow rather than a spotlight. "I am nothing" can be a powerful clinging to the illusions of self.

Do not say "no" to yourself and think you are through. Forget you ever thought you had a self and start working.

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