“My girlfriend says I'm fine just the way I am.”
This is the response I got recently after asking a Kabbalah student what he feels he needs to improve about himself! Although there is nothing wrong with this lady's admiration for her man, if we would like to become the person we truly want to be, this answer simply won't help.
Rav Berg was once approached by a waiter who didn't study Kabbalah, didn't know Rav Berg, and had never heard of The Kabbalah Centre. The waiter said to Rav Berg, “I feel you are someone full of wisdom and understanding, so can I ask you a question? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF LIFE?” The Rav replied, “To be born one person, and to end up a different person.” In Kabbalah, this is called the process of tikun, or spiritual correction. When we change, the reality around us has to change too.
The Torah portion called Yitro and its energy can assist us in transforming into the best version of ourselves, and therefore achieving what Rav Berg shared as our purpose in life.
Yitro, the father-in-law of Moses, was the high priest of Midian, and was a master of the occult. This indicates that he was using the energy of the universe for negative, selfish purposes rather than to benefit others.
In the Yitro portion, this man – who started as an extremely negative individual – transformed himself completely, even to the point of having his advice and vision sought after by Moses himself. The fact that he has a whole portion in the Bible named after him is a clue to his huge achievement. Imagine that you know someone who used to be a violent drug dealer and now they are a medical doctor – this would be nothing compared to Yitro’s transformation.
What was different and unique about Yitro, and what allowed him to change?
Even when he was a priest of Midian, he was never complacent. If you asked Yitro what he needed to improve, he would never tell you, “My girlfriend says I'm fine just the way I am!” He continuously looked for the truth, and was open to hearing and listening to advice and feedback. The portion even begins with the words ‘Yitro heard’. To achieve our purpose in life, which is to change, we do need to be open to feedback from others that helps us improve ourselves. Perhaps some people in our lives may say they like us just the way we are, but ask yourself this: Is the person I am now the person I truly want to be?
Yitro was always open to change, but only when he heard about the miracle of the Israelites’ war with Amalek (which is a code for overcoming all doubt and uncertainty) did he come to the desert to meet Moses. Although doubt is a natural and healthy part of anyone's transformation, Rav Berg shared that “doubt is a luxury we can't afford to have” – meaning that it’s okay to have doubts, but not to dwell in them forever and get stuck. Knowing how difficult overcoming doubt was, Yitro heard that the Israelites overcame their doubts, and he was finally convinced of their power.
This is a great story of transformation to marvel at, but we are not on the level of Moses, Yitro or the Israelites at that time. So, how do we achieve the level of certainty required to completely change?
Rav Berg shared in a lesson about the Yitro portion that only because there is a Zohar (the main text of Kabbalah) do we have any chance of changing today. There is no hope if we don't scan (make eye connection with) the Zohar every day. There is neither hope that we can change, nor hope that we can have compassion for others with whom we don't agree. Unfortunately, there always seems to be an excuse for not using the Zohar every day. Classic examples include: ‘I have much more important matters to attend to right now, so will devoting this time to connect with the Zohar be worth it?’ Or: ‘Why am I reading/scanning the Zohar when I don't understand even one word?’
In the introduction to the 23 volume set of the Zohar (also available in The Holy Grail: A Manifesto on the Zohar), Rav Berg wrote about our ego/Opponent:
“He will never cease trying to infiltrate our minds. He will make every attempt to discourage us from reading or scanning the Holy Grail (the Zohar). The Opponent knows that the Light drawn toward our true subconscious level of reality will remove the darkness, uncertainty, and wrong decision-making that bring about the chaos in our lives.”
If we have the will power and focus to scan a part of the Zohar every day, then we can gain the strength and certainty to become the person we want to be – and start to enjoy our spiritual growth more and more.