by Mike Schwager
[Wednesday, October 8th, 2008] -- Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, observed beginning tonight, is the holiest time on the Jewish calendar. On this day, Jews all over the world atone for their transgressions, and ask God for forgiveness of their sins.
On this day, we confront our mortality. We recognize and renew our understanding of life's preciousness, our own and our fellows'. We affirm with solemnity our rededication to commit our lives to moral and ethical behavior, and to treat our brothers and sisters with respect and love. We reconsecrate our lives to kindness towards others, and charitable giving of those in greater need than ourselves. We reconsecrate our personal lives - to treat ourselves with kindness and respect and a seriousness of "seeing" and honoring ever more fully our unique life missions and life tasks.
Yom Kippur is also the Day of At-One-Ment, with God and the Unity of All Life. So it is not only about atonement for personal sins, but a true sense of reuniting with the One Life, the One Presence, of which we are all a part, and out of which we have emerged creatively as individualized beings. It is a recognition of the Sacred in us, of the Eternal that lives in us and through us - and also transcends us.
Life is precious - it is Enrichment - and the source of Life shines through all Life forms - human life, animal life, plant life, mineral life - and it is this One Life, when recognized, that allows us to experience our profound connection with ourselves as individuals, and also with each other - with our neighbor, a stranger on the street, a homeless person, the people close to us in our lives, and also...a cat, a dog, a duck, an elephant, an oak tree, a chirping robin, a blade of grass. It is this experience that allows us to truly love one another, and recognize the sanctity that is everywhere.
The essence of Yom Kippur - an expression of humankind's search for reconciliation with self, others and God - is an expression that lies at the heart of all the great Wisdom Religions. Unity and tolerance, two of its hallmarks, are also a litmus test of the authenticity of any religion.
May all of you, you of the Jewish faith, and people of all faiths, grow in this awareness, and may Yom Kippur and what it represents be a blessing to us all.
Mike Schwager is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Enrichment.com.