One City

by Ethan Nichtern

As your typical half-jew, half-protestant, God-loving agnostic and Buddhist practitioner, I wanted to wish everyone a very fruitful Yom Kippur 2009. Someone mentioned to me that they think atonement and fasting, seem un-Buddhist, because of the possibility of both guilt and dwelling on the past. I just want to offer that the Dharma provides a whole array of purification and atonement practices. The simplest one is called the four powers, a simple four-step process for working with and purifying negative habits. It can apply to whatever you want to apply it to – weight lose, completing your manuscript (my personal atonement), quitting smoking, or anger management.

yom_kippur_prayer_jew.jpgThe Four Powers (or Four R’s – Props to Pema Chodron who teaches this impeccably):

1. Recognition – the practice of mindfulness meditation allows us to actually see how thought patterns work and link them to our actions in daily life.
2. Remorse – We take to heart that actions have consequence, and gently vow to shift our intention in the future.
3. Remedial Action – Simply put, we try something different, something outside our habitual reaction, whatever that might be. Maybe it’s just resting with the impulse of the habit for a few minutes before deciding what to do.
4. Repeating Again and Again – Habits are not superficial things. They require us to view awareness as a daily practice, and moment by moment to keep working with our mind.

Have a great holiday, everyone. Peace to all the Jews and non-Jews in the lotus!

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