- The Jewish Fall Festivals can be summed up in just a few words
- Give forgiveness and love. Get forgiveness and love!
- In search of Happiness
- A dress rehearsal for the kingdom of Heaven reigning here on earth
- The ultimate mind is the Mind of Messiah (the Anointing)
- Change your thoughts (Mind), change your brain, change your life
- The Mind is the Master and the brain is the donkey
- The universe possesses both conscious and physical properties
- Be an Overcomer
- Let the little children be your guides
- Sukkot and Spiritual Optimism
The Jewish Fall Festivals can be summed up in just a few words:
Although the fall sabbatical month of Tishri is incredibly prophetic and supernatural in character it is also a time of down to earth common sense. Repentance, confession, restitution, reconciliation, charity and a celebration of the gift of life are fairly simple and straightforward concepts. Put simply, the spiritual meanings of the Jewish Fall Festivals can be summarized in just a few words:
תן סליחה ואהבה. קבל סליחה ואהבה!פ
Give forgiveness and love. Get forgiveness and love!
The narrative of the High Holy Days begins with our traveling on a bumpy road called Repentance (Teshuvah). We have to start out on the road called repentance to get to the joyous destination of Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Peace (Shalom). Without repentance you can’t get to forgiveness. And without forgiveness you can’t ever hope to move forward to Simchat, the Joy of Reconciliation, Peace, and Love (chesed and ahavah).
Understanding #1. Why is forgiveness such a big deal? Forgiveness transforms us. Forgiveness transforms our negative emotions into positive ones. Forgiveness transforms our lives. Then with this change in thinking-feeling comes a change in relationships. When we “erase” the offenses of the past that we have committed against each other and the Holy One, then we can go back to Gan Eden (Paradise) again. We can go back to “Loving” each other again.
Understanding #2. Forgiveness liberates. Adverse, emotionally charged traits (relationships) become re-authored, re-framed, re-narrated, and re-formed into ‘new’ advantageous, positively charged traits (humble, gentle, kind, and gracious). With forgiveness, negative relational life styles (conflicts) are converted into new positive life styles (friendship).
Understanding #3. Another outcome of forgiveness is it can transform one’s negative identity (victim) into a positive identity (overcomer). The injured person reframes and changes his or her identity from vanquished, victim-pessimist, to overcoming, forgiver-optimist.
Understanding #4. Forgiveness empowers us. Forgiveness does more than overcome adversity. It pursues, acquires and maintains abundant life. It optimizes human potential. Forgiveness develops outstanding character in us and facilitates relational excellence in our outward behavioral lives. It fosters happiness; a sense of abundant living.
In search of happiness:
Almost twenty-two years have passed since a Jewish Psychologist inaugurated a science of “Positive Psychology” (Martin E. P. Seligman, 1997). Positive Psychology is the study of positive emotion, character and institutions. It was determined by this happy positive psychologist and his happiness seeking colleagues that psychology had overemphasized the focus of ‘pathology’ in human existence. Therefore, he proposed that a greater effort be expended to investigate what makes life most worth living. In other words: Dr. Seligman decided to redirect his considerable skills as a research psychologist in the completely new direction of “searching for happiness.”
El-Elyon is the LORD of all Science and Medicine.
Most of these Positive Psychologists are secular humanists. We get that. But in our belief they are servants of the Most High (whether they know it or not). In our belief El-Elyon (the Most High) is the Lord of all Science and Medicine. He is more than the Lord of Theology. He is the Lord of all. He is the Almighty All-Sufficient One (El Shaddai).
When we are positive we are agreeing with our Creator.
We are agreeing with the Wisdom of God (Chokhmat Elohim). Since these scientists are agreeing with the Chokhmat Elohim, even though they don’t know it, that makes them servants of the Most High. It was the Lord of all Creation (האדון של כל הבריאה) who said that His Creation was “Very Good!” People of faith should be the most positive people who live on this great Divine gift called earth. How could we be and do otherwise? Those who practice blessing (the positive) do the work of the Word of Life (D’var HaChayim).
The opposite of cursing is blessing. So bless!
Those who practice cursing (the negative) do the work of the wicked one. Positive Psychology and all the other professions that enhance our human potentials for happiness are part of the Divine enterprise. They enhance our “common grace” understanding of how, why and under what conditions positive emotions, thoughts, character, relationships, and the institutions that enable them can thrive.
A dress rehearsal for the kingdom of Heaven reigning here on earth:
The practice of forgiveness-reconciliation-shalom promotes a horizon-to-horizon view of life.
In the Twenty-first century we need a new powerful supplement of “the positive” to be added to what we learned in the last twenty centuries about human suffering, weakness and disorder. Today we need to embrace a more complete and balanced understanding of the human experience. The sincere observance in the fall of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippurim, and Chag-HaSukkot does exactly that (a dress rehearsal for the heavenly kingdom reigning here on earth).
The study and practice of forgiveness-reconciliation-shalom promotes a horizon-to-horizon view of life. Its subject-matter covers both the pathologies of human life-existence (spiritual healing) and our great human potentials for health, wellness, goodness, love, and happiness (spiritual wellness).
Understanding #5. Forgiveness is a core concern and initiative during the Jewish fall festivals. Forgiveness enriches our lives by empowering those of us who enthusiastically embrace its reality a wide-angle perspective of the valleys (anxiety, anger, depression, fear, grief, despair), the peaks (security, well-being, happiness) and the everything in-between (empathy, optimism and confidence) of human experience. Our basic premise is that positive life change can result from changing the way people think about things. The transformational formula is:
Change your thinking (build a good mind; the mind should superintend the brain), change your brain, and change your life!
We incorporate ‘disputing’ into our moment to moment thinking process: faulty thought patterns and irrational beliefs are changed by disputing them. We believe that the meaning people assign to their lives is the meaning they will live with. So why voluntarily assign-accept-live with negative meanings that are hurtful and depressing? Resistance is required! We need to athletically reject (resist) the negative messages and meanings that so often invade our consciousness.
The ultimate mind is the Mind of Messiah (the Anointing):
Change your thinking, change your brain, change your life!
The Torah teaches us to change the meaning of our lives from negative to positive through exercising our “mind.” The Creator gave us human beings (his children) a mind as well as a brain. The mind is a powerful entity. The mind possesses the power of free-will. The mind is like the driver, owner, and maintainer of a car (Software). The brain is like the car (hardware). The ultimate good mind is the Mind of Messiah. The intellect, will, emotions, and memory (assignment of positive meanings) of the Mind of the Anointed One is represented in the supernatural place and furnishings of the Holy Place in the Temple. The Holy Place is the Mind of Messiah. The Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, is the Spirit of HaShem (the NAME)—Who is the Spirit and God of both the Messiah and all of us who truly hear, understand, and obey HaShem.
We can choose our thoughts. We don’t have to accept whatever thoughts enter into our consciousness.
Just like we must have a physical immune system, we must also have an immune system for our thoughts. There are natural healthy thoughts and there are invading parasitical thoughts. We can accept the thoughts that are natural and healthy and we can reject (process out) the attacking sick thoughts. We can learn to take “every thought” captive that enters our brain and make it submit to (obey) our mind (our chosen “real-self“).
For those of us who are followers of Rabbeinu Yeshua we choose to follow after and know (embrace) his mind—his intellect, will, and emotional life—and to conform our minds to his likeness.
The Mind of Messiah is communicated to us through the written Torah and the (real) Oral Torah. The true Oral Torah is the leading and guiding (Indwelling) Presence of God’s Spirit of Truth (cf. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
Change your thoughts (Mind), change your brain, change your life:
Insight #1. Mindfulness is our ability to change and upgrade the traits, states and overall capabilities of our brains through simply changing our thinking. Therefore, in modern cognitive-behavioral thought we now believe that a person can change his or her life through the simple formula: Change your thoughts (mind), change your brain, change your life (relationships and behavior).
Insight #2. Due to the powers of our mind the brain’s actual circuitry (hardware) can be reshaped and transformed into the image of whatever new thoughts (software) we select to dominate our consciousness. This power to actually change the hardware in our brains is called in today’s neuro-science, “neuroplasticity.” It is a power given to us by Hayotzer, our Creator that we are learning more about every day.
In today’s twenty-first century, human beings are no longer fatalistically believed to be a by-product of their mental genetic predispositions and their social conditioning by their family of origin and general social environment. Modern neuro-science’s discovery of the ‘mind’ means there is a free-will Agent at work in the mechanical workings of our bodies and brains.
Insight #3. However, the mind is useless to us if we don’t use it properly. The Mind is really a “use it or lose it” proposition. For the mind to be fully operational it must be constantly exercised, tuned up and toned up. Through its constant exercise the mind’s free will agency and vast potentials can be fully enjoyed. Non-use of the mind only leads to a full fatalistic dependence (by default) upon the social-programming of our brain. This is the non free-will use of the brain.
Without the free-will agency of the mind we become a fate.
When we are reduced to becoming a fate we become an outcome of the random synaptic events that interactively occur collectively within and throughout all our brains. In this case of collective determinism, rigid conscious conformity, and ‘mindlessness’ our (brains) will fatalistically and materialistically decide where we the abdicating drivers of the brain (absentee minds; nullification of Spirit) will passively go.
Insight #4. If our free-will and conscious awareness count for anything then we must agree with the Spirit of Truth: The mind is actually “who we are” (the administrator of our soul) and the brain is just the “what we do.”
The mind is the driver. The brain that the driver transports in is just the transportation system we use to get to where we need to go.
The Mind is the Master and the brain is just the donkey:
Donkeyology #1. This means that the full exercise of all the power of the mind is essential if we are to live our lives as healthy, intelligent, autonomous individuals. You have to train your donkey. We call the training of our donkey (brains), “Donkey-ology.” In the Torah wild donkeys are a bad thing; and domesticated donkeys are a good thing ( (Isaiah)):
ידע שור קנהו וחמור אבוס בעליו ישראל לא ידע עמי לא התבונן׃ הוי ׀ גוי חטא עם כבד עון זרע מרעים בנים משחיתים עזבו את־ה’ נאצו את־קדוש ישראל נזרו אחור׃ על מה תכו עוד תוסיפו סרה כל־ראש לחלי וכל־לבב דוי׃ מכף־רגל ועד־ראש אין־בו מתם פצע וחבורה ומכה טריה לא־זרו ולא חבשו ולא רככה בשמן׃
יָדַ֥ע שֹׁור֙ קֹנֵ֔הוּ וַחֲמֹ֖ור אֵב֣וּס בְּעָלָ֑יו יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֹ֣א יָדַ֔ע עַמִּ֖י לֹ֥א הִתְבֹּונָֽן׃ הֹ֣וי ׀ גֹּ֣וי חֹטֵ֗א עַ֚ם כֶּ֣בֶד עָוֹ֔ן זֶ֣רַע מְרֵעִ֔ים בָּנִ֖ים מַשְׁחִיתִ֑ים עָזְב֣וּ אֶת־ה’ נִֽאֲצ֛וּ אֶת־קְדֹ֥ושׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל נָזֹ֥רוּ אָחֹֽור׃ עַ֣ל מֶ֥ה תֻכּ֛וּ עֹ֖וד תֹּוסִ֣יפוּ סָרָ֑ה כָּל־רֹ֣אשׁ לָחֳלִ֔י וְכָל־לֵבָ֖ב דַּוָּֽי׃ מִכַּף־רֶ֤גֶל וְעַד־רֹאשׁ֙ אֵֽין־בֹּ֣ו מְתֹ֔ם פֶּ֥צַע וְחַבּוּרָ֖ה וּמַכָּ֣ה טְרִיָּ֑ה לֹא־זֹ֙רוּ֙ וְלֹ֣א חֻבָּ֔שׁוּ וְלֹ֥א רֻכְּכָ֖ה בַּשָּֽׁמֶן׃
“The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to destruction! They have forsaken Adonai (the LORD); they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness (wholeness, wellness, health)— only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil.”
The Torah metaphorically prefers a donkey to be “domesticated.” Not a donkey “gone wild!”
Donkeyology #2. If your brain is going wild on you – you need to beat it back into a state of submission while reciting the sacred Haftorah words: “dumb donkey, dumb donkey!! “Therefore, in both the Tanakh and in modern behavioral science “consciousness”—the Spirit, soul, and mind—are considered the ‘masters’ (the Lord and lords) of our being and not our brains and bodies (i.e. they are our servants).
The universe possesses emerging conscious properties; not just physical properties:
Neuro-scientists no longer believe that our human consciousness is a fated string of random synaptic events.
Because of the Divinely inspired discovery in the neuro-science of the mind: It is longer appropriate to believe that our human consciousness is just a fated string of “random synaptic events” in disguise. Even our (secular) scientists and medical experts know now that our universe is made up out of more than emerging physical properties. We now believe that the universe is also made up of emerging conscious properties. This means we have real free-will. We are free if we recognize that we are the *mind (the driver) and not just the brain (our transportation system).
*Actually Spirit, soul, and mind (all 3) are involved in the development, maintenance, and protected storage of our consciousness. However, for now science is only interested in studying one of these three domains of consciousness—the domain of the mind.
Insight #5. In fact, in truth our conscious properties (mind, soul, and Spirit) are more enduring than our physical properties. Our physical bodies will die but our conscious being will never die. Also, the science of mind is now a matter of quantum physics (cf. quantum consciousness). This means that at the beginning (bereshit) of the universe there was a *Conscious Causal Agent and not a physical causal agent (cf. Cosmology, theories of the origins of the Universe; conscious and physical).
*God does not possess any physical properties; only conscious properties. He invented this universe with its physical properties; so His children (humankind) could have a place to grow (procreate, multiply) His consciousness.
Insight #6. Therefore, due to the power of Spirit, soul, and mind our fated social programming by our families, societies and others, need not and should not determine our present and future individual beliefs, convictions, and values. Fate will not determine our day-to-day thinking and living if we are aware we have a mind, soul, and Spirit and manage them all appropriately and effectively. Therefore, by skillfully exercising all 3 of these conscious domains a person can choose what the present and future programming of his or her brain will be: what to keep from the past; what to get rid of in the present; and what to change to ensure a better, brighter future.
Be an Overcomer:
Being like the Ashrei-Man
Through the overcoming powers of the Spirit, soul, and mind happiness is possible. Happiness (ashrei-blessedness) is possible when one sees relationships with others as an opportunity, a joy, and an abundant blessing. This belief leads us to liking and loving people; even when we strongly disagree with them. Negative meanings derived from a past life of poor social conditioning can make the most fantastic and extraordinary life experiences feel dull, plain, and boring.
A poorly programmed brain can make even the wealthy feel like they are poor and pitiful.
The negative distorted meanings of a poorly programmed brain can and will impoverish your life. If this has been the case remember that the most negative of brains can be overhauled and changed. Your brain can be positively transformed. New positive meanings can be assigned (repeatedly) by your mind that will give you the power to make even the *smallest activities of your life an experience of great celebration, wonder, and great joy for you.
*We advise you to sit down and watch the (1990”s) sitcom (meshalim) of “Seinfeld.” Observe how the main cast and characters frequently exercise a child-like playful ability to transform even the most common, every day events into absolutely extraordinary (unforgettable) positive experiences (סֶלָה-selah).
Let the little children be your guides:
Re-learn how to celebrate life. Let the little children be your guide.
Observe small children at play and let their joyousness guide you. Through the powers of the mind what we once did as children involuntarily, unconsciously, spontaneously, we can now learn to do again as adults. We can willfully, consciously, and intentionally experience life as love, curiosity, exploration, and play. Through the mind the joy-filled free-will exercise of innocence, harmlessness, and play is still possible. Joyousness-happiness is possible at any age. But happiness is only possible for adults when we forcefully decide to assign a positive, optimistic (overcoming) meaning to all of the circumstances of our lives.
Sukkot and Spiritual Optimism:
After twenty centuries of pessimism it is time for an eternity of optimism.
In the past: we Jews learned for twenty centuries to be pessimists. In the present of the twenty-first century and in all our future: we can lean to be optimists. Pessimism reacts to setbacks from a presumption of personal helplessness. Negative memories of the bad events of the past can undermine everything we do in the present and the future. In contrast: optimism does the opposite of pessimism.
The expectant Joy of belief in a bright future can transform the most tragic events of our past (cutting, biting grit at the core) into the inspiration we use to remain victorious (“the pearl”) in all our present and future endeavors. Sukkot is all about such an expectant Joy – our hope for the future. Therefore, we now close this chapter with five points on *hope.
*Hope is “spiritual optimism.” It is by far the most powerful optimism that shall ever exist. This is so because the optimism of hope is built on the sure foundation of God’s promises. Since Israel’s hope is in God and His promises never fail—-we should be the most optimistic people on God’s earth!
Point #1. Spiritual optimism (hope) responds to setbacks from a presumption of personal empowerment instead of reacts in helplessness.
Point #2. Spiritual optimism (hope) inoculates against depression, improves health, energizes talent, and instills, nurtures, and maintains our desire to embrace achievement. The meanings you assign are the meanings you will live with. So, why not agree with our Creator and make them “very good” ones? Why assign a negative meaning when you are the one who will have to live with IT?
Point #3. Spiritual optimism (hope) is a positive assignment of meaning that encourages a confidant exploration of life through the global explanatory belief that “everything works to good” (instead of bad).
Point #4. Spiritual optimism (hope) reacts to set backs from a positive event-explanation (attribution) frame of reference. Bad events (adversity, trials) are temporary setbacks, isolated to particular circumstances that can be overcome by effort (motivation) and abilities (aptitude, optimism). Mindful positive assignment of meaning leads to success in careers, health, child rearing, school, sports and just about anything else you can think of.
Point #5. People who are spiritual optimists have less illness and recover more quickly than people who are negative. People who assign negative meanings to life are more inclined to be depressed and depression lowers the functioning of the immune system. The consequence of chronic anxiety, depression, and poor immune function is an unhappy life and a shorter life-span. Conclusion: in stark contrast, contemporary studies of optimism show that positive, hope-filled thinking can boost the immune system, elevate your sense of well-being, and help you enjoy a longer life. The opposite of spiritual optimism is spiritual pessimism. This kind of pessimism makes us sick. It contributes to anxiety and depression. Many anxious and depressed persons exercise a constant and abiding pessimistic explanatory style which has been correlated to decreased physical and mental health.