I do not like to throw out the baby with the bath water, especially when starting out a New Year. At the end of the Old Year, the bath water is pretty dirty and it tends to hide the baby in its murkiness.
I do not subscribe to established religions that collect money from their congregations. However, I do not reject the key elements of spiritual and philosophical wisdom on which they are founded.
It is written in one of the gospels in the New Testament that a virtuous, young, rich man approached Jesus and asked what more he could do to gain favor with God.
Jesus responded by asking him to give up All of his Riches and become a disciple.
When the rich young man sadly declined, Jesus handed him one of the two key wisdoms of the Christian religion. “It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven.”
Of course, the message was aimed at All of Us, not just the unfortunate young man. That is the universal nature of a true moral lesson.
I believe the message was meant to include, not only material wealth, but anything and everything in our lives that would prevent us from flying through the eye of the needle.
It is not just the love of money that will keep us from realizing our full spirituality.
We must find a way, personally and individually, to cast aside our lusts, desires, wants and needs for power, status, recognition, and love out of obligation.
We must let go of our jealousies, hatreds and other negative emotions. We must give up our vanity for being important to others and for possessing them through an attachment we misperceive as love.
We must flush out of our heads and hearts our voluntary adherence to worldly political, economic, religious, and cultural ideas that separate us from other human beings and make us feel and think that we are superior or inferior to others.
At our deepest level of being, we need to liberate ourselves of the toxic expectations that have been given to us by our society.
At the time of the transformation from a dying Old Year to a birthing New Year, we often make resolutions to be better by leaving bad habits behind and taking up new habits.
We make pledges that we know will be difficult to keep. We will lose weight, stop smoking, stop drinking, stop swearing, stop flying off the handle, stop spending more than we earn. We will be kinder to our spouses, children, co-workers, friends, strangers and anyone else we have mistreated.
Unfortunately our approach is usually wrong because we plan to force ourselves to be better against our social conditioning. We resolve to do these things no matter how much it hurts us and no matter how much we know that we will fail. Just like the diet we went on last year.
I think we need to take a new approach. We need to start at Ground Zero.
We start by imagining ourselves as being nothing. This is not the same as being worthless or inferior. It just means that we completely clear the board.
We release ourselves of all expectations by everyone else. We free ourselves of all expectation by us about whom we should be and where we should be in life. Get to ground zero.
What is that single pinpoint of light inside ourselves that cannot be threatened and within which we feel totally secure and safe?
What is the little grain of spiritual sand from which we can build outward to relate to others and to the world into which we have been born, in which we must live, and from which we must ultimately exit?
We then decide what we want to do with the resources we have at hand. We start building one step at a time.
Even if it is very little, it will be more than the confusion we have now that is weighting us down. It does not matter if we have forty minutes or forty years to build.
` We ask ourselves what it is that would make us the happiest doing right now with what we have, not with what we want to have that others owe us.
Perhaps it is not a single tangible action or a series of actions. Perhaps it is just an attitude that we want to adopt. A core value for relating to others that will serve us in all circumstances.
Even if no one else recognizes or acknowledges anything we do, what is it that will be most meaningful to us?
If the cruel and unjust world in which we live takes all of the meager material things that we have, and reduces us to poverty and breaks all of our relations with other persons, what is it about us that no one and nothing can destroy?
Can we see ourselves shrinking to less than the size of the eye of the needle?
Perhaps, then we can put into practice the second key wisdom of Christianity. Anything that is worth doing is done out of selfless love. Everything else makes us grow back into the ways of this world.
It is the death of our material ambitions, not of ourselves, that allow us to make the passage to a new life, a New Year without resolutions.