Power of Regret
Strong emotions are part of the sign of Cancer. This month gives us the opportunity to learn how to harness the energy of our emotions to assist us in connecting to the Light. I will focus on one very powerful feeling - regret.
Many of us have done things that we’ve regretted, things that hurt us or hurt others. As the kabbalists teach, regret is an important emotion, and it has both a positive and a negative side. If we look back at things we’ve done, become depressed about them and do nothing, then that is the negative side of regret.
But when our regrets give us a push to do things differently and to change and grow, those regrets connect us to the Light of the Creator.
This brings to mind a story about a kabbalist, Rabbi Abraham Yehoshua Heshil from the town of Apta, also known as the Apta Rebbe. One day, a certain man came to him for a blessing, but when the Apta Rebbe saw him, the Rebbe realized that this man was one of the most evil people alive at that time.
The Apta Rebbe said to this man, “How dare you come into my presence? Leave! I don’t want to look at a person as evil as you!”
Of course, the man was shaken by these words. He asked the great kabbalist, “Is there any way for me to correct my soul?”
The Apta Rebbe answered him, “Go away for one year. Don’t do anything negative for one year, and meanwhile, find your own way to correct yourself. As you are now, I don’t see a way that I can help you.”
After his meeting with the Apta Rebbe, the evil man worked diligently for a whole year. In fact, he did as much good as possible, not just for one or two years, but for seven full years.
Finally, he came back to the Apta Rebbe, hoping that now the kabbalist would be willing and able to help him.
When he walked into the room, the Apta Rebbe stood up and said, “Who are you? You must be a great soul!”
The man began to weep. He said, “Don’t you recognize me? I am that same evil person you saw seven years ago.” The Apta Rebbe saw that the image of God surrounded the man. He saw a tremendous level of connection to the Light.
[Aside: the Zohar teaches that each of us is born with a tzelem elohim, an image of God that covers us and shields us from negativity and danger. That protection will stay with us always, unless we ourselves erode it by our own destructive actions or negative consciousness.]
The Apta Rebbe hugged the man and said, “You no longer need anybody like me. Your soul is completely corrected. Not only have you perfected your soul, but you’ve perfected your body as well. You have achieved complete perfection.”
This is a very powerful and significant story because we’re talking here about using the emotion of regret as motivation to transform ourselves for the better. The journey toward perfection has to begin with sincere regret for the actions that have brought us to where we are today.
In this month of Cancer, the month of emotions, we can use regret to achieve the purpose for which we came to this world—to attain a true and complete connection to the Light of the Creator that will bring us ultimate joy and fulfillment forever.
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