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Being Grateful for What Will Be October 3, 2020

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.
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“And this too shall pass.”

– The old saying “Gam zeh ya’avor,“ in Hebrew (with Persian and Jewish origins)

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’ How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! — how consoling in the depths of affliction!”

– Abraham Lincoln speaking to the Wisconsin State Agriculture Society at the Wisconsin State Fair, September 30, 1859

There’s an old saying in Hebrew, “Gam zeh ya’avor. This too shall pass,” that is often associated with a very wise Rabbi of old and also with King Solomon (although the words do not appear in the Bible) and has origins in Persian and Sufi poetry. American historians may hear the words and think of Abraham Lincoln speaking at the Wisconsin State Fair a year before he was elected president – although, he would end his speech with a bit of caveat, saying that he hoped the best things lasted. I think of my grandmother saying those words, a lot, but also of (what I was taught was) a Chinese parable.

In the parable, a farmer reacts to everything that happens to him (and around him) with the words, “We’ll see.” While others get excited for what they believe to be his good fortunate or agitated over what they perceive as unfortunate events, the farmer maintains a steady outlook and an understanding that all things are connected: every beginning is an ending and every ending is a beginning. As the parable progresses, the reader (and the farmer’s neighbors) start to recognize the wisdom in his attitude. Of course, in real life it is a little harder to let go of our desires and accept the present moment. Harder still is appreciating the present moment without judgment. The hardest thing, however, is to be open to appreciating whatever comes.

“Be joyful at your festival – you and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maid-servant, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow who live within your city.

For seven days you must celebrate the Festival to YHVH*, your God, in the place which YHVH* shall choose, because the Lord, your God, will bless you in all your produce, and in all the work of your hands, and you will only be happy.”

(*NOTE: YHVH is commonly translated as “the Lord” in English.)

– quoted from Devarim –  Deuteronomy (16:14 – 15)

Five years ago, almost to the day, I was so excited about all the things happening for me. Personally, professionally, and even spiritually, I was riding a high. I would like to think that, in the moment, I truly appreciated everything and everyone around me. I especially would like to think that considering that one of the highlights of that week was co-leading my first weekend-long Sukkot retreat in Darwin, MN, with Sandra Razieli. Sukkot is sometimes referred to as “the Season of Happiness” and there is an extra focus on gratitude. The thing is when I look back, and keep in mind how things changed after that retreat; I realize I wasn’t practicing what I preached. Yes, I was appreciating people and things in the present moment – but I was also attached to how I wanted them to continue.

As is stated in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament, there is a period of time – after the harvest – when people are commanded to celebrate. The curious thing is that the passage related to the “Festival of the Booths” or “Festival of the Tabernacles” does not instruct people to celebrate the harvest they just brought in from the fields. Instead, people are commanded to gather and celebrate what will be. So, in some ways, the holiday which the Jewish community began observing last night at sunset, is all about having faith that not only will things pass, but that how things change will be a blessing.  “Gam zeu tovah,” is another Hebrew saying. It means, “This too is for the good.”

The question is: How do we let go of expectation?

Yoga Sūtra 2.40: śaucāt svāngajugupsā parairasamsargah

– “From purity/cleanliness arises sensitivity to the unclean nature of one’s own body and [physical] unmixing.”

Yoga Sūtra 2.41: sattvaśuddhisaumanasyaikāgreyendriyayātmadarśanayogyatvāni ca

– “[From purity/cleanliness arises] pure wisdom of the heart, cheerfulness of mind, the power of concentration, victory over the senses, and the ability to directly experience our Self.”

Normally, when Sukkot rolls around, I am super excited to talk about yoga sūtra 2.42 and the how the second niyamā (“internal observation”) connects to the practice of gratitude and the emotional experience of happiness. However, we are not there yet. There is a preliminary practice, which actually gives us two sūtras on which we will focus. Part of me, was like, “Oo, they are short and connected.” Another part of me remembered something we kept saying back in 2015: “Don’t be greedy, be grateful.”

Please join me for a 90-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom today (Saturday, October 3rd) at 12:00 PM. You can use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0.

Today’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. (Look for “Sukkot 1+”)YouTube

You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

### Sunshine, the practice, friends (and family) ###

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