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“The highest level of striving is for transformation—for turning the Desire to Receive for Ourselves Alone into the Desire to Receive for the purpose of Sharing.” ~Michael Berg
To desire is human. It helps us survive, it motivates us to succeed, it connects us to others. Desire keeps the human race in perpetual motion. We grow, transform, and move forward as a result of our desire. But desire can do just as much harm as good. The difference lies in the purpose of our wanting—do we desire for the sake of having more, or do we desire for the sake of giving more? It all comes down to whether our intention is to receive or to share.
That intention influences the flow of the blessings we receive. Imagine blessings flowing through a divine spigot with the Creator’s hand on the valve. Our desire is the vessel into which the blessings flow. When our Desire to Receive is for the sake of sharing, our vessels are bottomless cups waiting to be filled and the Creator is happy to oblige. When our Desire to Receive is for ourselves alone, our vessels are shallow and when they have been filled, the flow ceases.
A story from the book of 2 Kings tells of a woman who calls out to the prophet, Elisha, for aid. Her husband, also a prophet, had recently died. “We are left with so many debts,” she cries, “that one of the creditors has threatened to take away my children to be sold into slavery.”
Elisha asks, “What do you have in your house?”
“Nothing,” she replies, “except a small jar of oil.”
At that, he advises her to go to each of her neighbors and ask to borrow as many cups and bowls as they have available. “Once you’ve gathered all these vessels, bring them back home. Close the door behind yourself and your children and you will be able to fill up each cup and bowl with oil. Simply pour the oil from your small jar into each.”
The widow does exactly as she is told. With the help of her sons, she collects many different vessels from her neighbors. When she finally returns home and closes the door she begins to pour the oil from her one small jar into each of the cups, bowls, vases, and pots and the oil just kept pouring. Vessel after vessel is filled from her small jar. But when there weren’t any more vessels to fill the oil stopped flowing. (She was then able to sell the oil to pay her debts.)
The flow of blessings and abundance works in the exact same way. When you desire to give more than you have, the Creator steps up and meets you half way, making sure that you have what you desire to give. “If you want something because you want to share more of what you receive,” says Michael Berg, “then the flow will be endless.”
Yet the Desire to Receive for our own gain limits the blessings we can receive. It is motivated by selfishness. No one benefits from this kind of desire. The ego is the only recipient. When we are consumed with the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, we become more reactive, easy to anger, impulsive, and self-centered. With shallow desires, we in turn create shallow vessels in which to receive blessings and abundance.
In the biblical chapter, Terumah, the Creator instructs the Israelites to bring offerings to the Tabernacle. The word Terumah means “charity” or “offering.” This act emphasizes the need for us to give selflessly. That is the nature of our true spiritual work in this world—transforming our Desire to Receive for the Self Alone into the Desire to Receive for the Sake of Sharing. As long as it is done from the heart, acts of charity, love, and kindness keep our vessels vast, making us channels through which endless Light can pass.