The problem with the most important day in the Jewish tradition (and yes, it’s relevant to other religions too)Sep 22, 2020
(By Eldad Ben-Moshe ✨ Reading Time: 5 minutes)
❤ Hey there Better Lifers!
The most important day in the Jewish tradition is both beautiful and terrible.
It is also a great example of why I chose a spiritual path over a religious path -
and why I can never relate to any religious narrative (Jewish or other) ever since my spiritual transformation.
it shows some of the dangers that are inherent to the fundamental beliefs of religious approaches (in my humble opinion, of course. Other opinions are just as valid 😉).
But before I explain it all, here are a few quick facts about ‘Yom Kippur’ -
the most important day in the Jewish tradition.
(keep in mind that I’m Jewish -
not religious but certainly not anti-Jews) :
- It translates as ‘day of atonement,’ and in this day,
Jews who follow religious practices are asking for forgiveness for their sins:
Forgiveness from God and forgiveness from each other.
- They also fast (no food and no water) and avoid any pleasure to torment the soul as a means of repenting for their sins.
This takes place for about 25 hours.
- It is considered more important to ask forgiveness from others than to ask for forgiveness from God.
Still, the majority of the time goes to prayer and asking God’s forgiveness,
and asking him to write you in the book of life and good deeds as he is doing the ‘bookkeeping’ and deciding about your fate.
- The most famous line of the many hours of prayers said in this day is “we have sinned before you, have mercy on us”.
Now here’s my problem with all this:
The belief in sin and in a judging, punishing God often creates a psychological chain reaction of guilt and fear.
And that is not a healthy way to live,
even if these guilt and fear are 'only' unconscious and you are not consciously experiencing them.
Even though I was never religious, growing up, I had a problem with God.
And even though with time I overcame the belief in sin and in a judging, punishing God,
that was not easy.
I mean, not only do all people - regardless of their view of religion - study the bible (the old testament) from 2nd grade for at least 8 years in Israeli schools, which makes it be in your conscious and unconscious mind whether you like it or not;
But this is literally the 2nd story in the entire bible, and the most famous one by far:
The story of Adam and Eve’s sin,
and the punishment they got from God for disobeying him and eating the apple.
Even though God created them as he wished
(e.g., being subject to temptation and prone to breaking the rules);
and even though God created the snake that tempted them
(and perhaps even sent him to tempt them);
Despite all that,
Adam and Eve end up being thrown away from the garden of Eden,
and they also get harsh additional punishments:
“And unto Adam he said…
cursed is the ground for thy sake;
in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;
and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,
till thou return unto the ground;
for out of it wast thou taken:
for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
“Unto the woman he said,
I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception;
in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children;
and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
- Genesis 3
I mean, wow.
That’s one angry, judging, punishing God.
Just reading these lines makes me feel uncomfortable.
Imagine facing this God, with his judgment and punishments.
The God who not only threw Adam and Eve out,
and not only gave them such severe punishments to make sure they suffer,
he also put guards with “flaming sword which turned every way" to prevent them from ever coming back to the tree.
No wonder that the most famous prayer of them all ends up being “we have sinned before you, have mercy on us”.
No wonder that people are literally begging for their lives in this ‘day of atonement’.
No wonder that while he is being loved, he is also being feared.
But there is another way.
All that is very different than the loving God that A Course in Miracles speaks of,
and of its clear statements that sin does not exist:
“sin does not exist.
And it is this that true perception sees.”
“the only judgment there is, and it is only one:
“God’s Son is guiltless, and sin does not exist.” ”
“If God knows His children as wholly sinless,
it is blasphemous to perceive them as guilty.”
It is crucial to know than in ACIM, ‘God’s Son’ is all of us - not Jesus.
And that although ACIM uses Christian symbols,
it is very non-religious and it even teaches the opposite of what the common practice of Christianity is teaching.
For example, as you can see, ACIM is saying that there is no sin.
(for more on the difference between A Course in Miracles and Christianity, see here).
In fact, our sinlessness and holiness are such a central piece in the message of ACIM that A Course in Miracles even bluntly say it is its Central theme:
"(the course's) central theme is always,
“God’s Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation" "
Does that mean that ‘anything goes’ and I can go around hurting people?
ACIM does not encourage such a ‘spiritual bypass’.
It just differentiates between mistakes - which we all do and -
and sins, which exists only in our ego’s imagination.
In the words of the course itself:
“Sin calls for punishment as error for correction”
Another way in which A Course in Miracles conveys the same message is this:
“If sin is real, then punishment is just and cannot be escaped.
Salvation thus cannot be purchased but through suffering.
If sin is real, then happiness must be illusion, for they cannot both be true...
The sinful… know it [death and pain] waits for them,
and it will seek them out and find them somewhere,
sometime, in some form that evens the account they owe to God.
They would escape Him in their fear. And yet He will pursue, and they can not escape.
If sin is real, salvation must be pain.
Pain is the cost of sin, and suffering can never be escaped, if sin is real.”
And to deliver the message home, here’s another one, short and to the point:
“Here is salvation now.
An angry father pursues his guilty son.”
So unlike the God religions tell us about, In A Course in Miracles,
God is not judging, nor punishing.
He is Love, and as Love, he is only Loving.
The judging, punishing God is viewed in ACIM as the ego’s false story about God.
ACIM is very clear about it all:
We’re a sinless, holy son of God.
"It is the only judgment there is, and it is only one:
‘God’s Son is guiltless, and sin does not exist.’ “
What a huge difference...
It is a completely different God,
and a completely different understanding of our actions.
So does that means that there’s no problem with the way people are acting?
Again, the answer is no.
A Course in Miracles does not expect us to ignore all the horrific things that humans do.
But it does help us see it all differently:
With a different understanding,
replacing our inaccurate perception with accurate perception,
like cleaning your lenses.
This helps us see things very differently and brings peace, love, and compassion to our minds and hearts.
According to A Course in Miracles,
The problem is that we’re choosing out of fear,
rather than choosing Love.
That is also why we make mistakes.
But that does not make anyone a sinner,
and does not call for punishment,
unlike what the ego says.
It’s a mistake, not a terrible sin,
and mistakes simply call for correction,
for choosing differently - not for punishment and hell.
And God is not an angry judge that wants you to beg for your life at his feet.
Nor is he fooled by our empty promises as we keep going back to doing our ‘sins’ again and again, year after year.
It is more likely that the ego will want that, not Love.
Practical Actionable Steps- From Information to Transformation:
“Thus does the son of man become the Son of God.
It is not really a change; it is a change of mind.
Nothing external alters, but everything internal now reflects only the Love of God. God can no longer be feared, for the mind sees no cause for punishment.”
Despite its name,
A Course in Miracles is not a “fluffy” new-age spiritual course.
It’s not a course that supports a spiritual bypass of our authentic experience.
On the contrary.
It is rooted not only in spirituality but also in psychology.
It helps you go through your fears, your judgments, your stories, your darkest, scariest beliefs.
It does that by acknowledging them and dealing with them, not ignoring or overriding them.
And it does that by being practical.
With more 365 daily exercises,
and with clear statements on how the practice is more important than the theory,
it is very practical and transformative.
in A Course in Miracles we practice sinlessness and guiltlessness to reinforce the understanding of teachings such as “sin does not exist”, which was discussed above.
In the practice of guiltlessness, for example,
we do not become guiltless, but instead,
we remember that we are forever guiltless.
“It is the only judgment there is, and it is only one:
‘God’s Son is guiltless, and sin does not exist.’”
The same goes for the practice of holiness:
Here too, we do not become holy but rather remember, or become aware,
that we are forever holy.
“The Atonement does not make holy. You were created holy.
It merely brings unholiness to holiness;
or what you made to what you are.”
Armed with a better understanding and practical exercises,
ACIM helps us make healthier, better, more mindful choices -
not only ‘spiritually,’ but also practically, in our everyday lives.
It helps us make choices that lead to the belief in your sinlessness, guiltlessness, and holiness.
Choices that lead to the correct understanding, remembering, and experience of who and where you are.
Choices that help you live a happier, better, more awakened life.
And after all, isn’t that what you really want?
To your better life,
with tons of 💖
Founder, Teacher, and Coach
Better Life Awareness Center
All this applies not only to being sinless in the eyes of God,
but also to seeing each other as holy and sinless,
(while acknowledging that mistakes do happen and are calling for a correction, not for ignoring them by being phony-holy):
“Ask, then, to learn of the reality of your brother,
because this is what you will perceive in him,
and you will see your beauty reflected in his.”