Embrace What You Don't Want
Embrace What You Don't Want
Why do we share? Why do we help others?
Many of us believe doing good actions is all that counts, but the spiritual reality is unless we understand why we share, we can’t receive as much Light and blessings from these good actions.
The kabbalists pose a simple scenario to help us assess our understanding of sharing. They ask, if there are two people who need your help – one a dear friend, the other a dear enemy – which would you choose? They also explain that this enemy is not simply someone who dislikes you but is someone whom you’ve caught doing negative actions in the past and have tried to dissuade him from these actions, but he would not listen. You caught him stealing and tried to explain to him why he should not act in this way, and he disregarded your words and continued to steal. You have history with this person and know the negative things that he has done, which other people don’t know of. You have tried to help him change, but he won’t. Your dislike for this person is not based on any personal hurt but rather because you know the true negative actions of this person.
Now, both your friend and your enemy are coming towards you for assistance. Who do you help?
For most of us the answer is simple: Of course, we would help our friend rather than help this person who is not only an enemy but is negative in ways that only we know the extent of.
But the answer is not simple. The kabbalists make a startling statement. In this case, if we choose to help our friend, there is almost no Light that we receive from this action of sharing. The better action in this case would be to assist our enemy. It is only with this action that we will bring Light into our lives.
To understand this teaching, we need to clarify the purpose of our actions of sharing and even the purpose of our lives. The kabbalists explain that we are not meant to be good people or simply spiritual people who share. Rather, our goal in life – and the only way we will achieve lasting fulfillment – is to be constantly changing our internal true nature from an ego-based, selfish one with which we are born to a true nature of sharing.
People can do many actions of sharing but still not change themselves. The only way to make sure our actions are changing us is to take the uncomfortable route. To share not when it is easy and when we want to, but to share when it is difficult and when we do not want to. It becomes clear that in this case, when we have the choice between one action of sharing that we prefer to do and another that we strongly do not, the only action that will assist our change is the one we do not want to do. Therefore, that is the only one that can reveal Light in our lives.
This understanding must change our perspective on sharing. If we wish to change for the better and if we want our actions to bring blessings into our lives, then we have to take the difficult road.
Share with those you do not want to, share when you do not want to, share in ways that are uncomfortable. These are the actions that will create the greatest change for you and will bring the greatest amount of Light into your life.
The Crazy Man and the Kabbalist
Thinking about the purpose of life as a process of change and diminishment of ego reminds me of a short but important story.
The great kabbalist, the Baal Shem Tov, was visiting his student Zev in the town of Zabriz. In the morning, as they were about to enter the house of prayer, a crazed man jumped in front of the student and proceeded to curse at him and berate him for ten minutes straight. He hurled insult after insult, how terrible his behavior is, how he lies, how he steals, and it got progressively worse and worse for ten minutes. After finishing his tirade, which by this time had drawn a crowd of onlookers, the crazy man went on his way.
The Baal Shem Tov asked his student to explain what just happened. Zev shared with his teacher that every morning this crazy man waits for him by the door of the house of prayer and yells at him and berates him for some time and then leaves. The great kabbalist said to his student, “I am envious of you, Zev. You are purified every morning in a way I can only hope for. I wish I had somebody who yelled at me in this way every morning.”
This story might sound strange to some, but they understood a lesson that we’d be lucky to understand now and to live by. Our purpose in this world is to change.
It is from the embarrassing, uncomfortable, and difficult situations that we change the most.
Kabbalists of the past did not run away from these situations; they embraced them. To accomplish the change we are in this world to accomplish, we need to embrace this ideal and experience the uncomfortable situations. We can do so knowing it is from these actions and moments that we change, grow, and draw the greatest blessings into our lives.
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