Looking at the sad struggles of our world and reflecting on this desire to have meaning in our lives, to devote ourselves to some great cause, it could seem that being human such vows are impossible for us to ever fully achieve. I feel it is like getting a chance to re-live my life in richer and better way, once I can see the frailty and error of my old self.
Allowing my desire to devote my life to some good cause and the rule I set to regulate my behavior or thought is organizing principle of my life. The universe will give us all the great causes to hurl ourselves at, but hopefully we will be lucky to avoid such heroic external challenges. Whatever happens to our life, whoever and wherever we find ourselves, we cannot shake off our own, in part illusory, but persistent, self that seems to follow us like a shadow. I have too often punished myself for not changing the world, but overlooked the ever-present challenge of changing myself.
At the start of each New Year, we are encouraged to use arbitrary new start to reflect on our old life and, with renewed insight into our human frailties, start over and live by different rules; setting resolutions for the ‘new-me’ to whom we aspire. It seems to me our vows to adhere to the rule intended to regulate our behavior or thought actually give us not so much commandments to beat ourselves with, but rather, simply, beautiful words, a way to embrace our lives, cultivating the courage to live freely and creatively.
For me, to my surprise I realize that I no longer needed to hold out on my old thought. Rather, the simple act of accepting the rule intended to regulate my behavior or thought and say yes to life, is to encourage my life to vibrate in a new way. Of course nothing changes, but we always have a moment by moment opportunity to reshape our lives. Those vows help me to stop being the jerk I sometimes feel, and reset the compass, and at least aspire to live my life in richer and better way.