During my research for these High Holy Days blog posts, I discovered that there is one sin that Yom Kippur cannot atone: sin committed against another, including hurting someone's feelings. It is said that the wrong-doer must gain forgiveness from the victim before this kind of atonement can occur.
If that's true, wouldn't it then mean that we're never in a state of grace unless everyone else agrees? I don't think so!
This might simply be the universe's way of reminding us that, ultimately, we're the one hearing our own prayers. If the universe is friendly—if God is good, and God is everything—we are perfect as we are. If nothing terrible has ever happened, we are already forgiven; if we don't realize this, then we need our own forgiveness.
One of my favorite subquestions to Question Three of The Work is, "Whose business are you in, mentally, when you believe this thought?" Byron Katie has said she could find only three kinds of business in the world: my business, your (their) business, and God's (Reality's) business. When we are mentally in the business of another, Katie says, we abandon ourselves. This only creates more "sin," or separation from our true nature.
Whose business is it what others think of me? Their business. This may also be God's business, since there is nothing I can do about it; people are going to think what they think, no matter how good my intentions. "It's not your job to like me," Katie says, "it's mine."
Whose business is it what I think of myself? My business. Herein lies the only possibility for healing, and this is why the Days of Awe focus on taking stock and casting off what no longer serves. No one else can make me feel okay about myself, no matter what they say. If I believe I'm a beeyotch, I am, but only according to me. If you call me a bitch and it hurts, you're right...but only according to me.
If I think I need your forgiveness, love, approval, appreciation, or acknowledgment in order to be okay, I'm very confused, and that is not the point of Yom Kippur. However, staying in my own business mentally—viewing my transgressions as something between me and my higher self—doesn't mean that I don't make amends for any wrongdoing I may have done. I like myself when I'm my best self with you.
If I have said or done something to you that I'm later sorry for, and you tell me you didn't even notice, it doesn't mean there is no need to make amends. I need to do it to remain in my integrity.
You may feel so wronged by me that you will not acknowledge or accept my apology. The one I perceive to have wronged may be dead, or I'm unable to reach them...or I may feel it might do more harm than good to make contact. I make amends anyway, in private if need be, in a letter I will never mail, as part of my cleansing practice during the Days of Awe.
Forgiveness is already here, in the moment of my recognition of my true nature, and my sincere wish to do better. I do it for my sake, really; you are me.
May all be inscribed in your Book of Life for a beautiful year/beautiful mind.
©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.