Morning Meditations INTRODUCTION by Barbara Kopitz
Mornings, for me, begin by reading the daily meditation book I keep on my desk at work. I do this to help me in my personal goal to infuse my life, each day, with inspirational thoughts. My desire is to live a life of dignity and service, to attain a higher state of consciousness through personal growth, and to live a meaningful life on purpose. I believe we can elevate ourselves to become better people, but we have to work on it – always.
While I enjoy using a variety of sources for my inspirational readings, I find that as a humanist, I am often required to do some mental editing. For example, if I read the line “Please God give me the strength…,” I have to change it to something like, “I look for the strength within me…” Or if I read that I must pray to receive forgiveness, I tell myself that I must play my own role to assure that forgiveness comes my way. And I do not believe there is a divinely inspired plan for me as many of these readings suggest. But even with this mental editing, I am often aware that these readings do not specifically fit in with my humanistic philosophy. Therefore, I have assembled this book of inspirational meditations for others like myself who may be more comfortable with a humanistic approach.
The words I have chosen are all grounded in humanistic principles. Reason, empirical evidence and consequences of behavior are the basis for the moral and ethical values embodied in the quotes in this book. I also include nourishment for the spirit within us. I believe our spirit is enhanced when we transcend the mundane, and give added purpose to our existence by reinforcing our dedication to love, goodness, service, compassion and sense of oneness with others.
Humanists and theists alike share many of the ideals offered in this book. For example, the credo “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” makes practical sense as well as moral sense. Yet, so often people turn to traditional religion when they thirst for high moral and ethical guidelines or an affirmation of values. While religion and values have long been enmeshed, traditional religion doesn’t have to be our only source for enlightenment nor does a higher power have to sanctify ethically sound ideas to make them right and valuable.
I attempt in this daily meditation book to chronicle a spiritual humanism, and to share with you what I believe to be universal truths. I’ve chosen to begin each day’s meditation with a quote from a Jewish source—from ancient to modern times—in order to connect the reader with the richness and diversity of Jewish literature, history and culture. Because of my strong belief in pluralism within Judaism as well as society as a whole, I have picked quotes from Jewish people who are not necessarily humanists. We can learn from each other as we search for our own path.
After each quote I’ve written a meditation illuminating and expanding on the quote. This is followed by a singular affirmation, meant to be your focus for the day. (As some quotes are not gender neutral, when you see words like “man” or “brotherhood”, please note that I use them in the all-inclusive way.) There are thirty-one meditations. It is my hope that you will read a different meditation each day of the month and then repeat the readings in the following months. I suggest that you follow along in the order they are written for the first month. After that you can rotate by taking one from each chapter. The affirmations I have written for you at the end of every meditation are not overly specific in their directives. This gives you the opportunity, as you re-read them each month, to choose a different action or mind-set for yourself to make your affirmation real in your everyday life.
I’ve chosen to divide the book into three sections. The three sections are SELF-LOVE, LOVING OTHERS and HIGHER SELF. They are all based on one enduring and important value—LOVE. Self-love is a prerequisite to sincerely loving others and acquiring a truly satisfying personal life. Loving others enhances the lives of people we love and others outside our personal sphere of society, as well as elevating our own personal life. Our Higher Self evolves as we make a concerted effort to become more compassionate, more loving, more forgiving, more at one with people. Like self-love and loving others, it requires ongoing work, devotion and commitment. However, all of these loves can be worked on concurrently. They flow naturally into one another. Some days we are stronger in some than others.
I hope the words in this book will provide inspiration and enrichment. May these meditations and affirmations encourage you to set lofty standards. May they be a daily nudge to help you live closer to your highest ideals, to be a role model to others, to add to the goodness in the world and participate in the joy. I strongly believe we can nurture our spirits by right action, lovingkindness, and the appreciation of beauty. May you find words and ideas that inspire you and follow them religiously.