If it’s not one thing, it’s another right? Sometimes we feel like as soon as we’re done battling one challenge, another one lands on our plate. It’s enough to make us wonder, “Does life ever get any easier?”
We teach that challenges are our greatest opportunities to reveal Light. When there’s more effort required, it only means there will be more fulfillment when we overcome. The greater the challenge, the greater the Light.
A student came to my father, the Rav, and told him, “You know, I have come to a place in my life where I really want to change.”
The Rav told him, “Want to change? You have to change!”
Until we realize what is really at stake – all that we lose out on for ourselves and the world – by staying the same, we won’t be able to take the necessary steps to transform.
Change happens when the fear of things staying the same becomes greater than the fear of changing.
When we take the next step in our spiritual growth – getting a little more uncomfortable, being a little more unconditional – we immediately start looking for the results.
We feel if we sacrificed ourselves right now, we should see the rewards right now!
But it can sometimes take more than one sacrifice. No one gets stronger by going to the gym only once.
One of the great Kabbalist used to talk for hours when he was teaching.
One day, he stood up before his class completely silent for quite a length of time. When his students asked why, he said, “Sometimes there are no words.”
By quieting ourselves and quieting our mind, we can better hear answers the universe is trying to tell us.
The Rav would often tell us to do our spiritual work with passion.
He would say, “We should wake up like the building is on fire and it’s our job to put it out.”
Try literally jumping out of bed, leaping into action. It can make the difference between living one day over and over again for seventy years, or living seventy years in one day.
It’s hard to remember that the Light is always with us. It’s easy to have certainty during the good times, but in the moments that seem dark or difficult, we can forget the Light is there still.
Consider a situation where a man misses his flight. Maybe he is furious because he has so many things to do at his destination and so many are depending on him. Little does he know that his soul mate is sitting next to him as he waits, desperate to get on a standby flight.
Our opinions are not the only ones that have value.
If we truly care about those around us, we need to be open to listening to other’s opinions, taking into account their thoughts. Maybe they have a point of view we would never have considered.
Self-importance prevents us from being able to hear other perspectives and see a bigger picture.
The smaller we make ourselves, the more clearly we can see.
While it’s not always easy to hear, criticism can move us leaps and bounds toward a better version of ourselves.
Being open to criticism lets the Light in to push us further in two ways. Simply by diminishing our ego, we get out of our own way and the Light has room to enter. Also, by really considering the criticism we can work on improving who we are and what we do.
None of us is perfect. The problem is when we allow the critique to get us down or make us feel as if we are any less than we were before.
A student once asked one of the great kabbalists to reveal all the secrets of the Bible and all the laws of the universe while standing on one leg. The sage replied:
“Love thy neighbor as thyself. The rest is commentary.”
It’s not just a nice saying. It’s a technology that can bring the Light to bear on any and all darkness or lack in our lives.
More importantly, it’s the consciousness that can end pain, suffering, and death, thereby creating a reality of peace in the world.
Our spiritual work is like a ladder toward our perfected selves. Even if we have made it up one step, there is always another. A new challenge. More transformation.
Being satisfied with what we’ve accomplished will only breed stagnation in our spiritual growth. It’s a healthy thing on a spiritual path to have a consciousness of urgency; to consistently ask yourself, “What more could I be doing?”
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