Sukkot, the harvest festival we are celebrating now, is one of three annual Jewish festivals (Shavuot and Passover being the others). We just got through a period of self reflection, asking for forgiveness for our missteps in the past year. We have committed ourselves to delivering our best during this new year.
Sukkot is our exhale, giving us a break from this intense soul searching work. It’s pure joy. Like the week spent in the sukkah, our days on this planet are temporary.
According to the yoga sutras, by devoting ourselves to a spiritual practice (abhyasa) and remaining unattached (aparigraha) to the practice itself, we can calm the mind and experience bliss.
I cannot think of another Jewish holy day or festival that exemplifies these concepts more than Sukkot. During the festival we are encouraged to practice non-attachment by acknowledging and accepting the impermanence of everything in our lives.
Non-attachment does not mean indifference. On the contrary, it empowers us to be present and to relate to the people in our lives with love and fierce intensity, knowing that our relationships could cease at any moment. Our natural instinct is to cling to pleasure, praying that it will never end. When we are overwhelmed by distress or pain, we fear it will never stop. Dwelling on these inevitabilities distract us from the precious gift of being present in the moment.
Sitting in the sukkah, the distractions of our lives are minimized; we are invited to connect to the natural state of the world. Our awareness anchors us to the present moment and we find z’man simchateinu, the time of rejoicing. In these moments may we to connect to the holiness within.