Ramadan Mubarak again dearest family and friends, and welcome to the second third of Ramadan – the ten days of forgiveness, also know as the 2nd Ashra of Ramadan. May we each forgive ourselves and do good so we have more good to remember than bad Inshallah.
I have been amazed at the ease of fasting I have felt during the 1st Ashra. I am certain it has to do with my sincere intentions and excitement at this spiritual challenge! As I mentioned in my last blog entry, my doctor had warned me about thyroid and fasting. Well, I have been going to the gym, visiting my granddaughter Nyla, taking walks, working for non-profits with no feeling of deprivation or starvation. So it seems that fasting actually might help health issues, rather than make you feel worse. I was even at a meeting of the Dining for Women’s Tenafly chapter (which I co-lead with my mentor Judy Manton), and while everyone munched on treats for appetizers and ate dinner, I kept co-facilitating the meeting, and ate at sunset which was 2 hours later. I have found a depth and stillness in my prayers that I don’t feel otherwise, and a patience with traffic- especially New Jersey traffic near Holland Tunnel when I visit Nyla Jan! I have also felt a strength in abstaining from food all day long- it is as if I can do that, I can do anything. Instead of feeling deprived, I feel strong. To be fair though, I feel a slump in energy around 4pm, and push through by taking an hour siesta, which is not possible for those that are working! So, I am grateful for this opportunity. Instead of feeling hungry, I feel satisfied and cleansed. My patience has increased for sure, and my submission to how the world is going is getting better.
Previously, when I heard about war rumblings in our country – unjustified as always, and made up to give the war industry something to do and try their new evil gadgets on- I would get quite upset and stay up all night worrying about the bombs that would be dropping on innocents for no reason at all. Now I accept the way humanity is evolving (or devolving) and send positive energies and prayers out there, while trying to help one needy person or local group at a time through my non-profit work. The gloomy global outlook is just one passing era in our human history, and we have no control on the evil powers for now.
Along with forgiving others who have done you wrong, this is also about forgiving oneself and changing one’s ways. It is about developing greater self-awareness, which means confronting our self-righteous, arrogant and deceptive ego. Our ego is on a mission to justify and perpetuate anything that makes us look good, and be right. At the most extreme, it results in a complacency (not learning), superiority (I am the best), dominance (I will dominate you). All of Ramadan is about conquering our ego, and therefore confronting our lower self, with its bad habits, and building new habits that develop our higher noble self. A noble person tries to develop values and qualities that serve their mission on this planet, e.g. utilize their unique gifts and talents, be humble, be generous, help others, etc (which all faiths of the world have advocated) and build society, such as inclusion, service, sacrifice, selflessness. As a change consultant, I truly appreciate newly the teachings about self-awareness, conquering the ego and developing compassion. No wonder, Rumi- the poet- is so popular! He took these practices to the ultimate level with lessons to teach us to this day. So I end with this perfect quote for the 2nd Ashra of Ramadan: