The Path of Tikkun
Life is what it is, and you make it what you make it. Whatever you believe (or don’t believe) about God, the Universe, or Life, what matters most is what kind of reality you choose to create out of the cards you’ve been dealt.
It’s about choice. Either you’re going to use “default methods” for coping with the stresses and challenges of life, or you’re going to find a way to choose another reality. A fresh, intentional and empowered one.
The power to choose is in your hands — if and when you can use it— and when you can’t, well then you’ll simply be carried downstream with the common current of habitual actions. Locked into that grooved-in path or track your life has a tendency of following, regardless of how bored or fed up you get with it.
It’s actually pretty straight forward. If you don’t put forth a new kind of energy to go against the grain of your default life, and “lay new track”, you’ll stay stuck on the old tracks heading to the same destinations, time and time again.
Talk about “New Year’s Resolutions”. Well, this is where they come from.
My belief, what I have — “active faith” or Emunah in — is that: Life, the Universe, is here to help us grow, and not just to grow, but to grow-up into an abundant, awesomely powerful, beautifully vibrant, joyful, thriving and cosmically impactful life!
Yet so much stands in the way.
Think of it, if your “default response” to life’s stresses and challenges is: anxiety, for example, then whenever you meet stressful situations you default onto the track or stream of anxiety.
Then this response of anxiety builds upon itself, you get wrapped-up in thinking about the future and how awful and broken, how devastating, it’s all going to be — gathering more momentum, more streams of anxiety joining together until…
Catastrophizing it all, that one stream becomes a raging river heading toward the edge of Niagara Falls. And you? Well, you quickly find yourself over the edge falling uncontrollably toward a familiar “death” or loss of consciousness.
Swept away by this raging torrent of torment, your spirit becomes broken, battered and lifeless. Your capacity to think or act clearly—to lay down new or different track, to get out of this aggravatingly monotonous and depressive stream—is lost and suffocated in that habitual default current swiftly flowing downstream.
You wake up some time later washed up on the side of the shore, unsure how long you’ve been “out”. Exhausted and disoriented as if plagued by a terrible hangover, and you wonder: “Will my life ever change?”
Sound familiar, either for yourself or someone you know? Not so much fun, eh?
Well, imagine this — the opposite is also true. What I have come to realize is that we can have a reverse “waterfall” experience, where it’s a flow of abundant blessings building up and washing over us, instead of the Great Falls of Grief and Torment.
But that takes choice and practice. Not just once, not just in a moment of grace or inspiration. But over and over again… Choosing this path as a way of life.
When you wake up in the morning aligning with it — your intention to see life through different lenses, to engage in “vision therapy” practices — and then throughout the day finding ways to realign with and re-member this sacred intention. Setting “touchstones” all along the path of your day, and “closing” each day with your intention before drifting into a well deserved sleep.
This is “spiritual practice”. This is the foundation of TPOT: The Path of Tikkun. And it’s ridiculously challenging. Probably some of the most difficult work you’ll ever encounter if and when you seriously take it on.
The Path of Tikkun is a radical perspective on how to live an empowered life full of “fresh” choices rather than stale default ones. In fact it invites us to see every event—especially the stressful and triggering ones—as opportunities for growth and transformation, as opportunities for tikkun.
From the perspective of TPOT this is exactly why these challenges are here, not to screw us over, but to give us countless opportunities to choose another way—to lay new tracks—tracks that lead to greater healing for ourselves, the planet and the cosmos.
Take the current socio political landscape in the US for example, a perfect expression of those familiar default tracks of cultural intolerance leading to a fractured and imbalanced social web of disfunction. The yawning chasm of socio-political division between American citizens today. Those Tenacious Trump Tracks to Hell, if you will.
But it can’t be overstated: This is no small task. To create real change from default to aligned design, either personally or culturally, takes a tremendous amount of energy. An amount of energy, resources and grace that its actualization is nearly miraculous. Explaining, at least in part, our current global climate.
Now here is where the brilliance of the Jewish Tradition—when practiced as a spiritual path and practice of personal and collective healing, of grounded-awakening or integrated-wholing—comes to offer powerful relevance for our present personal and global conundrums.
Allow me to explain.
There are many time-tested traditional Jewish practices which can act as “touchstones” to activate throughout the day (not to mention, the week, month and year) to realign the practitioner with, and re-engage her “intention” for, how she wishes to see the world; for how she desires to show up moment to moment throughout her life. These practices help those who adopt them successfully lay new tracks toward the destination of an empowered life full of impactful responses rather than a dead-end life of habitual reactions.
Now you can look at this “dead-end life of habitual reactions” as a kind of genetic eye condition or visual impairment. Our eyes are conditioned — through our childhood experiences, and how we were raised — to see the world and show up, i.e. to respond to life and its stressors, in certain “default” ways as mentioned above (in most cases those same ways our parents or caretakers use or used to cope with life’s challenges).
To be fair these ways also came from our intelligence and served our basic needs of survival as little-ones, but have now become obsolete and outdated. And in many ways they’ve turned burdensome and even harmful now that we’ve become “adults”. These “ways” of responding are like the code of an old clunky Operating System which hasn’t been updated since it was first programmed into the computer’s CPU 30 some odd years ago.
And so, we find ourselves in need of a serious software update! And in need of long overdue, what you might call: Vision Therapy—an in-depth treatment of healing practices administered by the guidance of authentic and skilled “professionals” to assist us on our healing journey.
As a result of this update and therapy we should be able to correct the “deficiency” in our ability to see life through a “clear lens” (in Aramaic: ispaklariah me-irah, a term referring to Moses exceptional “visual” capacities). Rather than using our current cloudy lens, impaired by our genetic “eye condition” which is responsible for us seeing life in these default ways, we will gain new sight which will allow us to get off those old habitual tracks and lay new ones toward that life we so long to live.
And, yes, this is a hereditary condition—passed on to us ancestrally. Not by any “mistake” or irreversible “sin” in a mythic garden or an unfortunate random mutation in our DNA. And, it’s not our fault, nor is it a “problem” or a curse. It’s actually our invaluable inheritance: our “karmic inheritance”, our “genetic tikkun” (though to be down-to-earth, it can absolutely feel more like a curse than a blessing most of the time).
Regardless of how we perceive it through our current clouded lens; it is a sacred gift. A cosmic-puzzle-piece, a primordial enigma, riddle or treasure map, for us to follow, and “figure out”, at least some piece of it. By tracking the clues, putting the scattered pieces together, and “raising the fallen sparks”, we get to take one step (or many steps) in solving this “cosmic riddle” and bringing more healing and tikkun to this earth and cosmos.
From the perspective of TPOT this sacred gift of our “karmic inheritance”, this “ancestral cosmic riddle” has been passed down to us from generation to generation (in Hebrew: l’dor vador) — since the time of “Eve and Adam”. It is a “trans-generational life-project” that we get the exquisite privilege to work on during this life-time, in this particular body, as this particular person. And it manifests as our own unique “life curriculum”—if & when we choose it.
You should know that the impact of this type of tikkun—even an itty-bitty-little repair, when actually accomplished—is felt throughout the universe. And it is most noticed as an impact of transformation on future generations, especially if we have children, to whom we pass on our bag of “karmic inheritance”, like it or not.
And this is where, I as your writer, can “come clean” and transparently confess my own faults and failures past and current in relation to the above practices. The challenges of which since becoming a parent have only increased to levels previously inconceivable. On par with doing the work of tikkun as an individual, parenting children is likely the most profoundly challenging and vitally significant human task on the planet!
Thus, the skills needed to be successful on The Path of Tikkun would be what— if we lived in a healthy, balanced, holistic, non-pathological, non-patriarchal, non-capitalistic culture — we’d be going to “school” for. This is what we’d be getting educated or trained to accomplish, along with a trade or skill to contribute to the functioning of society and support our physical sustenance. It would be a mandatory “required course” throughout our life-long schooling.
And, in addition, this is culturally what parents would be supported to learn about and make progress towards, so they can heal, metabolize and make tikkun on some of these bits of karmic baggage. Rather than passing on of the same lot of (or even more) karmic inheritance to their children to unpack and sort through.
On the bright side, when any of us takes steps on this worthy path we directly assist in slowing down—at least in some way—the train of collective trauma thundering through civilizations across the globe leaving a trail of devastation & destruction in its wake.
This, my readers, is The Path of Tikkun. It is what religions and religious leaders have been attempting to teach us and guide us toward—in their greatest moments of authenticity (and at times more or less successfully)—since their various inceptions throughout history.
But for a large majority of contemporary citizens (especially the “younger generation”) most traditional religious expressions no longer successfully support them in completing the above mentioned tasks. For these folks, Dogma Doesn’t Work. Ethnocentric, closed-minded, one-sided, black and white perspectives of religion, purpose, meaning of life, God, truth, reality, etc. Do Not Work. For so many reasons, too broad and complex, to unpack in this essay.
Suffice it to say, it’s about evolution, and from this writer’s perspective, mainstream religions tend to have an exceptionally challenging time evolving — i.e. meeting the rapidly changing needs of the ever-developing mental, psychological, emotional and psycho-spiritual human landscape of the contemporary global citizen.
As a matter of fact, this whole process of personal and global tikkun described above is actually the expression of a very, very, very long and slow process of divinely designed evolution unfolding through time. I call it: The Long Game.
And, it’s with these eyes, this type of Long Game Vision, that Primordial Adam is described as possessing, enabling the capacity to “see around the world from beginning to end”. And it is this type of vision that Rabindranath Tagore referred to when he is quoted saying: “The one who plants trees, knowing he will never sit in their shade, has at least begun to understand the meaning of life.”
This is walking the Earth guided by the indigenous wisdom way of Seven Spans: “To live and work for the benefit of the seventh generation into the future.”
Seeing spiritual practice in this way will not only powerfully support the TPOT practitioner on her path to success, it will consequently relieve a lot of suffering along the way.
But I digress.
From the vantage point of TPOT most people are standing on the threshold of acting on default or choosing tikkun countless times throughout the day. And it is exactly on this threshold between acting out a habitual default action or choosing to lay a new track where all the power of change and transformation is held.
These moments are like potential power conductors of awakening and tikkun. Through these opportunities we either find a way to break free from the current of our default stream and—flip the switch—generating a new energy with its chain reaction of vitality (which can lead to that “waterfall of blessings” referred to earlier) or we float right on by carried on as a passive passenger on that well traveled track to the next station of opportunity lying in-wait.
Yet, I imagine, for most people they are simply unaware of this constant opportunity due to basic ignorance, i.e. they’ve never been taught, or come across these perspectives on life. But more importantly, for the sake of the present reader, many others are aware of these teachings, but lack the support and inner resources necessary to choose tikkun in that precious moment of choice.
This point deserves to be highlighted dear reader. That is to say, even if one has the good fortune to “understand” this TPOT perspective on life and choice, one may not have the capacity—in the form of energy, resources and external support—to be able to choose a new path , when that crucial moment of opportunity arises.
And trust me, I know this terrible truth all to well. It’s what I struggle with on a daily basis each day of my life.
Therefore this, among many other reasons, is why The Path of Tikkun is so relevant and essential for our rapidly changing times. That is to say:
- It takes the gems and jewels of the Jewish lineage — these timeless spiritual technologies — and puts them into an accessible language, path and practice for the contemporary spiritual seeker (whether Jewish or not).
- It supports people to discover and hone the accuracy of a new inner compass for decision making. One with which they balance each decision on whether it guides them towards laying new track or steers them toward the familiar default path.
- It intentionally guides practitioners away from a path of “default faith” by supporting them to explore authentic practices of Emunah (embodied, active faith) for inner and outer transformation—without spiritual bypassing.
- It assists people in nourishing themselves in various ways, so that they have the resources and support needed to see events as opportunities for growth, healing, transformation and tikkun—and most importantly—have the capacity to choose a fresh response when the moment arises.
With the hopes that as a result of engaging in this sacred practice together, we—as humanity—might increase our chances of choosing The Path of Tikkun. A path who’s destination leads to the constant creation of a new reality, that bright and loving world, we in our hearts so deeply long to choose.
Coming Soon: Find out more at pathoftikkun.com
About the Author:
Gavriel is the founder of Evolving Judaism and The Path of Tikkun, two organizations committed to the development of Jewish spiritual practice as a means of personal and collective transformation. Gavriel is a Spiritual Counselor and Transformation Coach who supports people in healing the barriers to accessing and actualizing a more whole, healed and integrated life. He was the Director of Youth and Family Programs at Chochmat HaLev in Berkeley, CA. and now lives with his wife and 2 daughters in beautiful British Columbia.