Sundays are Spirituality Day here at Taking it to the Streets
Yesterday I went to the Bar Mitzvah of my friend Julia’s son, Joseph. One of the things I like best at a Bar Mitzvah is the young man or young woman’s commentary on the Torah.
Joseph read the Biblical passage about Jacob and Esau and their disputes. His commentary was about the need to protect the vulnerable. He talked about the rich not being unkind to the poor – that rather than stealing from them, we need to help them. I thought that perhaps he could be an advisor to the Republican Party – they need him.
He gave several examples of people with more power taking advantage of those with less, the most endearing of which, from this tall, but still young man, was the injunction that larger people should not pick on smaller people.
His prescription for how one ensures adhering to this path of protecting the vulnerable was quite insightful for a 13-year-old:
Joseph’s analysis immediately made me think of Gandhi, a longstanding hero of mine:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
At the Bar Mitzvah, I was surprised and happy to run into a friend from my youth. She was clearly similarly surprised. Not similarly happy. Which left me puzzling throughout the service – why was Marlene so aloof?
I realized that my beliefs, thoughts, words and actions in my youth were not ones that always engendered endearment to those in my path. And when a significant relationship ended in my 30s Marlene was the one friend who “sided” with my former partner. She saw me as “bad.”
We become who we are along Gandhi’s trajectory. Our actions DO reap results. Karma is, indeed real.
The good news from my perspective is that using Joseph’s nostrum of “self-control” we can change that trajectory.
I have a long way to go, in so many ways. My faults are glaringly obvious to me. But Joseph’s wisdom combined with being rebuffed led me to reflect on my own life – on the ways in which I have changed for the good, and on my current efforts to change my beliefs, thoughts, actions and habits.
How about you? Do you think Gandhi was correct – that we become who we are, starting with our beliefs, which, ultimately become our destiny? And is Joseph correct that the way to ensure we behave in ways that are ‘good’ and just is first and foremost through self-control? How has that played out in YOUR life? I really want to know!