As the wish for well-being, not just for ourselves but for all beings, awakens in our hearts, we participate in a profound teaching from the Kabbalah on restoring wholeness to the world. This is called tikkun ha-olam in Hebrew, which means, “repairing the world.”
Tikkun means to mend or repair. Outwardly, tikkun is associated with social action that has the goal of improving the world. But inwardly, in the esoteric traditions, tikkun is the sacred inner work of mending a broken world and restoring it to wholeness through spiritually developing the love that carries us beyond our separate self. Tikkun is regarded as the highest, most profound purpose of our life.
Awakening and Repairing
This activity to restore balance and harmony in our world is closely akin to the Buddhist notion of bodhichitta, “the spirit of awakening,” which holds that at the heart-core of every living being is a universal impulse to fully awaken to the wholeness of its potential and to serve others in their awakening.
The work of awakening and repairing is an inside-out job. It is said that every tiny bit of restoration of wholeness within ourselves directly contributes to the restoration and awakening of all beings and of the whole world. The impulse of every movement toward healing, every moment of mindfulness, every act of kindness we generate within ourselves, is directly shared or transmitted to support the emergence of that potential within each and every living being.
The more fully awake we are, the better equipped we are and the more natural it is for us to reach out and nurture the emergence of greater harmony in our world. As our awareness and sensitivity increase, we recognize that certain situations in our life or world are intolerably unproductive, toxic, or destructive. This helps to strengthen our resolve to get healthier; resolve conflicts; put a stop to abusive violence in our relationships; and become an advocate, activist, or celebrant of noble causes that expand the sphere of balance and harmony to our world and to the lives of others.
Meditation for Awakening and Repairing from the Inside-Out
The following meditation can help you bring this idea more alive.
Imagine that you are standing on a mountaintop on a still, clear, dark night. In the sky around you are an infinite number of jewels linked together in a subtle network of light.
Imagine now, as you light a little candle, that instantly its light and warmth is reflected in each and every one of the jewels surrounding you. Not only that, but each of the jewels is also illumined by the light that is reflected in it from all the illuminating jewels. It is a fantastic and inspiring sight.
Now imagine that as you light up a moment of mindfulness within you, the light of that mindfulness “lights up” all living beings. Likewise, if within yourself you awaken or light up a moment of love, gratitude, wonder, joy, forgiveness, that impulse immediately lights up within all others. The transmission is effortless, immediate, heart to heart. Each of the jewels in the net is lighting up all the other jewels, giving rise to waves of excitement, waves of sympathy, waves of gratitude, love, or blessings.
Lighting Up The World
In each moment we are awake, we can feel what is reverberating within ourselves and respond in a way that lights up the world in either a weird or a wonderful way. In moments of distraction, when mindlessness sets in, the momentum of habit propels us. In moments of mindfulness, we at least have a choice.
As we learn to recognize and repair the rifts in our own life we reestablish wholeness within ourselves. As our internal repair work deepens, we are better able to reach out—inwardly and outwardly—to repair the world around us. As we focus the flow of our dynamic being more into balance, and dissolve the rigid boundaries that separate us from our wholeness, we restore the world to balance.
These aren’t just nice ideas but a description of the way things are. Our journey of awakening is one of learning to bring more of our natural, clear, lucid, loving, radiant presence into our world. This is very deep tikkun.
The tower is as wide and spacious as the sky itself. . . . And
within this tower, spacious and exquisitely ornamented,
there are hundreds of thousands . . .of towers, each one
of which is as exquisitely ornamented as the main tower
itself and as spacious as the sky. And all of the towers,
beyond calculation in number, stand not at all in one
another’s way, each preserves its individual exitence in
perfect harmony with all the rest; . . .there is a state of
perfect intermingling and yet of perfect orderliness . . . the
young pilgrim sees himself in all the towers as well as
in each single tower where all is contained in one
and each contains all.
Transforming The Many Ordinary Activities Of Daily Life
The following sequence of images and short meditations invite you to bring a more creative mind to transforming the many ordinary activities of daily life.
We once spent some time with a Native American teacher named Thundercloud who taught us a beautiful water medicine prayer-blessing.
When you drink water, you pray, “May this water as it flows through me become medicine, and strengthen the earth, and purify, and bring food for people, and renew the people.”
Can you imagine how it would change your life if at least sometimes during the day when you turned on the faucet, drank water, or urinated, you were to remember this prayer?
The classic practices of the lojung or “thought transformation” teachings in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition also offer many creative meditations to transform every ordinary act into a gesture of creative universal compassion. For example:
You can drink a cup of water to quench your thirst; or you can mindfully drink a cup of water and transform it with a prayer and a creative meditation into a bowl of healing nectar; or you can drink a cup of water with the prayer and motivation that by drinking this water, and quenching your thirst, may the thirst of all beings be quenched and fulfilled by this simple act.
You can walk out a door mindlessly. You can walk out a door mindfully. You can walk out a door with the wish, prayer, affirmation, and visualization that as you walk out that door you lead all beings from darkness into light, from limitation into the boundless space of infinite freedom and potential. When you close the door, meditate that the possibility of returning to ignorance and delusion is sealed forever, for all beings. Similarly, as you come in from outside, you can do it mindlessly, mindfully, or as a gesture and affirmation of leading people from being lost in the confusion of their outer lives into the deep, clear, lucid, loving presence of their innermost being.
You can sweep the walk or wash the windows with disdain for all the dirt and debris, or you can sweep and clean as though you were actually purifying and polishing your mind and bringing forth the unobstructed clarity and purity of your innermost being.
Though such meditations may or may not actually have an outward effect on the world, they are powerful for opening and transforming your own mind and brain, making them more fit instruments to hold the dazzling reality of the potential within creation.
They can also open your heart, burst the bubble of your own implosive self-centeredness and help you to live in a more loving, caring, and compassionate way. They can help you awaken a sincere wish in your heart that your life will in some small way reduce suffering and be helpful and comforting for others.
Draw Strength And Inspiration By Affirming A Deep Connection
Once, when we were walking with Thich Nhat Hanh, he said, “Every mindful step you take, I take with you.” Imagine that as you walk you hold the hand of a beloved teacher, or teachers. As you do, envision them holding the hands of their teachers who hold the hands of their teachers who hold the hands of their teachers. Draw strength and inspiration by affirming this deep connection.
When you say a prayer, chant a mantra, or do a ritual, can you imagine and affirm that you join in spirit with all those who have ever recited that prayer or chanted that mantra or performed that ritual throughout time? As you do these things, you receive the blessings and the inspirations from them all into yourself while at the same time radiating and redistributing and affirming those blessings through you to all beings.
As you light the Shabbat candles on Friday night, can you feel the spirit and the blessings of all your mothers and grandmothers?
As you receive Holy Communion, can you bring alive and affirm your spiritual solidarity with countless people throughout time in the one body of Christ?
As you watch the sunrise and welcome a new day, can you imagine looking out through the eyes of countless people, throughout the ages, marveling with gratitude at the Great Mystery that continually renews and sustains your life?
The great Avatamsaka Sutra, the “Flower Ornament Sutra,” is perhaps the world’s most elaborate text for “seeding” creative meditations. It offers many mind-expanding images of the nature of the fully enlightened mind, including the following description of the ten wisdoms of a bodhisattva, a being who is committed to fully awakening to their True Nature and potential in order to help all beings to awaken as well. At a certain stage in such a being’s spiritual evolution, they are able to:
Bring all beings’ bodies into one body, and one body into all beings’ bodies; to bring all inconceivable aeons into one moment, and one moment into all aeons; to bring all sacred things into one thing and one sacred thing into all things; to bring an inconceivable number of places into one place, and to bring one place into an inconceivable number of places...to make all thoughts into one thought, and one thought into all thoughts; to bring all voices and languages into one voice and language, and one voice and language into all voices and languages; to bring the past-present-future into one time, and one time into the past-present-future.
Remember, your motivation, creative vision of possibilities, and prayer will determine the actual effect of your meditation. Every action of your life provides an opportunity for awakening.
©1999, 2015 by Joel Levey & Michelle Levey. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.
Mindfulness, Meditation, and Mind Fitness
by Joel Levey and Michelle Levey.
About the Authors
Dr. Joel and Michelle Levey were among the very first to bring mindfulness and mind-fitness teachings to mainstream organizations beginning in the 1970s. They have taught tens of thousands of people in hundreds of leading corporations, medical centers, universities, sports, government, and military arenas, including Google, NASA, World Bank, Intel, M.I.T., Stanford, and World Business Academy. They are the founders of Wisdom at Work.
Watch a video: Experiencing Mind-Fitness (with Joel & Michelle Levey)