This month of Virgo is dedicated to looking back on our past year. It’s a time to take a good long look in the mirror and make an unflinching appraisal. Think about all the things we did that we wish we hadn’t and all the things we wish we had! If you’re anything like me there are a few words that you’d rather had remained unsaid or even unthought. Before you disappear into a shame spiral, hold on. There is a process for righting the wrongs. I would like to introduce you to the idea of teshuva, which is like a cosmic eraser.
Whatever negative things we have done in our lives over the past year, this month of Virgo is the month we can correct what we have done. Kabbalists call the opportunity teshuva, which means return. The first day of the month of Libra is the day the world came into existence. The first day of Libra is also the beginning Rosh Hashanah which means ‘head of the year’. Kabbalists teach that on Rosh Hashanah everything of the physical world came into existence.
Therefore, Virgo, the month we are in now symbolically precedes creation itself, which is how we can “return” to a time before any damage or negativity occurred. Before anything comes into existence there is a moment of perfection that precedes it. Rav Ashlag compares it to an architect who wants to build a beautiful house. Certainly he doesn’t begin to pour the foundation for a house that he hasn’t even thought of building yet! In those moments of inspiration when we have the idea of the house we would like to build, or the thought of any creation for that matter, included in those thoughts is the entire perfection of that structure even though it may take a year to build it. However imperfect that final house may be, the thought that preceded the beginning of the building was perfect. In the architects thoughts the roof did not pitch 5 degrees too flatly and water did not pool on the laundry room floor. Even through the imperfections, delays, problems with building, ultimately the house is somewhat as the architect imagined it.
Just as the architect with his house, so too did the Creator have a thought of creation. His thought included every soul that has come or ever will come into this world. But his thought was not of us in the state we are now, but rather our perfect selves. Where we are now is in the middle of our process, still striving to fulfill our purpose and attain our perfected state.
The power of Virgo is the revelation of the thought of creation. There is no other time in the year when we can connect so powerfully to our own perfection — ourselves but us as our best version. No matter where we are in our process if we ask to be connected to our perfect self we can consciously disconnect from our imperfections. The key is that we have to ask.
Rav Ashlag goes on to say that of 1000 people who begin their spiritual journey only one will complete it. Why?
As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you are going you are never going to get there.” Most of us don’t know where we are going and don’t have a true sense of what our potential really is. That’s why often we allow ourselves to be lazy, to become complacent and not push ourselves to be as strong as we need to be. In short, we don’t believe in our perfected self, it doesn’t seem like an attainable reality.
This week our work is to ask to see our perfected self. To seek and desire to connect to that best possible version of ourselves.
Here is the simple 3 step process that will get you on the way to wielding the cosmic eraser that is Teshuvah.
1. What have we done that we wish we hadn’t?
2. What didn’t we do that we wish we had?
3. What is it that we want to do that is different?
This process of Teshuvah or return seems simple enough. You sit down with a pen and paper and you will probably write something along the lines of:
I need to change…
I didn’t do that right…
I wish my reaction had been…
I shouldn’t have said…
I regret not doing…
See a pattern?
“I”. We immediately think only of ourselves. This process becomes not just introspective, but dangerously egocentric. The secret of Teshuva is that in order to truly change our patterns and our behavior to create the new year we want, we need to change how we view others. It’s less about focusing on ourselves and our past actions than making sure we are forcing ourselves to focus only on the good in others.
Everyone is both good and bad. All too often we focus on the bad. Rather than our attentions being drawn to someone’s great qualities we only focus on the qualities that frustrate or annoy us. We are all guilty of this mentality. When we get to a place where we allow ourselves to dislike someone we are then blind to any of their good qualities. There is nothing they can do that we won’t dislike.
If this is our consciousness then we are not properly doing teshuva, because we haven’t changed. It can’t be completely about ourselves. If we haven’t changed the way we allow ourselves to view and talk about other people then we are not really doing teshuva.
The true gift of Teshuva is knowing that everyone has good and bad and then forcing ourselves to focus only on the good. Not just during this month, but every single day.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
Today be conscious of your thoughts about others. Force yourself to focus on their good qualities while ignoring their flaws.