by Greg Hermann
“Progress, not perfection.”
First of all, Merry Christmas!
If your Spiritual practice is Christian, then please keep Christ in this Holiday. The only commandment Jesus left was: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Let’s make the season loving.
If your Spiritual practice is other than Christian, then I wish you an opportunity for peace in your practice. Let’s enjoy peace this season and each day after.
Now, with a sense of peace and love on our minds, I’ll ask if you have given thought to a New Year’s resolution.
Yes, resolutions are frequently on our minds over the coming weeks. So, I thought I would introduce the opportunity a bit early. Here is food for thought: How can I make a fail-safe resolution?
Personally, I have never succeeded in a resolution past the first two weeks. I resolve to do something that will make my life a bit better, or make life better for those I love. However, failure occurs quickly.
I would like to introduce a Yogic niyama: an observation. The one I would like to offer as a basis for a resolution is ‘svadhyaya’. It means “to recollect (or remember) the self. I think of it as self-study, a non-judgmental observation of the results of my actions.
That would mean that I would have to know myself so I can remember myself.
For my personal practice, I recall parts of myself. I focus on those practices of my life that serve my purpose in life. Oops! This supposes that I have identified my purpose in life! Well, I have devoted considerable time to uncovering a Divine purpose. Yes, it was a journey, and the journey continues as my purpose is an evolution. I had good Spiritual guidance in this process, and continue with good counsel as this purpose continues to evolve.
So, perhaps a resolution would be to discover a purpose to life. I would ask you to give this some thought.
Now, back to the generic aspect of a New Year’s resolution.
Rather than a resolution as something to do, may I suggest a resolution as an aspect of being. Make a resolution in the form of a ‘to be’ statement rather than a ‘to do’ statement, rather than an accomplishment.
Some that I have worked with are:
To be patient when my wife disagrees with me.
To be accepting when my expectations are beyond my abilities.
To be open to heartfelt criticism.
What does this have to do with svadhyaya? What does this have to do with remembering the self, or self-observation?
My personal challenge has to do with self judgement. I look at my actions as right or wrong, pass or fail. This mind set is harsh because rarely do I get it right all of the time, or even most of the time. When I fail, I punish myself and my self- esteem takes a beating. It is difficult to love myself when I see myself as a failure.
I would like to end here with a challenge: How do you view yourself?
Through the eyes of judgement?
Through the eyes of observation?
Please give this some self-study. Next week we will further engage these questions. I pray we will resolve to observe and grow rather than judge and fail.