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The Ten Days of Awe between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, are an opportunity to enter into a time of personal retreat, the theme of which is “forgiveness.” The path of forgiveness is one of the most powerful spiritual paths available to us. Forgiving ourselves and others, and even–for some of us–forgiving God, can be a compelling pathway to moving beyond the narrow confines of our ego and finding greater peace within. Forgiving helps us move from our obsessive concerns with our small self and its compelling, mesmerizing stories; and toward our Higher Self, free from stories and obsessions.

But we already know all of that! We’ve been to S’lichot services, to Rosh HaShanah services, we even have gone on and participated in the annual Tashlich ritual that calls us to cast off the old stories and old resentments that keep us stuck. Each time we’ve heard yet a different version, a different take on that same message we’ve heard a thousand times before. Forgiving is not about forgetting, erasing, denying or whitewashing the past. Nor is it about revising it or making anything better or different than it was. Forgiving is a good thing. It’s good for us; it is a healthier way of being, it frees up the energies bound up in our stories, our grudges about the past. We know all of that. We don’t need any more convincing. Yet we don’t do it. And now it’s the day after Rosh HaShanah and we are busy with life, kids, jobs, traffic.

And that’s OK. That’s what is. This process is not about beating ourselves up or making ourselves feel guilty. This process is about starting where we are right now, just as we are, with all our limitations. Our ego is not going to surrender that easily! Of course it is going to rationalize its way out of forgiving! And with every thought at its disposal! Especially the ones that convince us of how busy we are. The ego–who fears change–likes these thoughts because they have helped it successfully postpone so many other life-changing practices before, that it knows them to be reliable. So, OK, just be present to that. Watch how easily we all slide back into unconsciousness. Simply be aware. On this Day Two of our ten-day retreat we gently and compassionately acknowledge the truth of our conditioning. Today, we look at ourselves just as we are. That’s it.

So here is an invitation to a practice, done nightly before going to sleep: to read the Ribono Shel Olam prayer. I would encourage you, in fact, to read it every night during these ten days. It will keep the energies of the Holy Days alive. Tomorrow, we will take our next step together, and address our ego’s fears.

I look forward to sharing in this journey with you.