Thursday, January 26, 2012

Taking full control of your life.

Mysticism tells us, everything in the world is made of an outer shell and an inner energy.

What you see, is only surface, skin deep, and, it isn’t the real deal. What is hidden from the eye after we do some scratching and digging will reveal, the reason why you see what’s perceptible to the eye. That is why in the Bible this world is called “concealed” and a “world of falsehood.” This is so, mainly, because what we see is just the surface, and the inalienable truth needs to be discovered deep inside.

In a person, there is a constant struggle between the outer part, the body, and the inner dimension, the G-dly soul. The body wants to keep on concealing on the inner G-dly soul and its yearnings. The body seeks self fulfillment. Ego, pleasure, anything and everything for the physical self.

The soul yearns for what it naturally craves and longs for. To remain connected to its source, the infinite and the eternal. The soul looks for long term spiritual fulfillment and accomplishing its purpose, for being imprisoned in a corporeal body. The soul is constantly looking to liberate itself from the narrow confines of the short sighted body.

That is why we feel sometimes empty and hollow inside. We feel like there must be more to life. This is the G-dly soul, trying to express itself against the ever powerful force of the body, and all its hedonistic desires.

Both the G-dly soul deep inside of us, and the “animal” soul that vivifies the body are made of ten faculties, which comprise the logic and emotion of each soul. These two souls, with its strengths and weaknesses, they are what they are, and we can’t change them. Some people are born with certain tendencies and propensities to do good and to pursue outstanding and admirable goals. Others, or maybe these same people, are born with a penchant and weakness towards certain behaviors. It is what it is.

There is however a little hope, to control our destinies, and it is in our choices. How, and what, we allow to express itself, in our thoughts, speech, and actions.

A person has one brain, one mouth, and can DO one thing at a time. In mysticism these are called the garments of the soul. Garments, because, just like clothing which are not the person, but are put on and taken off at will. So too with these faculties, each one of them, it is always our choice, we have full control over what we allow ourselves to think, speak and do. And, just like garments make a statement about our personalities and character; the way we think, speak, and act, tell volumes of what is going on inside of us.

Although it is almost impossible to change the nature our souls directly, a person has total free choice over, what he decides to think, speak, and do, at all times.

Let’s say you have a feeling in your heart to think, say, or do, something bad. That may not be entirely your fault. You where born with that tendency. However, what YOU decide to indulge in with your mind, what YOU decide to talk, or do, is always and totally in your control. Unless of course you made yourself intoxicated, and you’ve lost your abilities at that moment, but it was you, who decided to drink, and therefore still remain responsible for your actions.

Harmony in our lives, is when we follow the desires of the G-dly soul. It is deeper and richer. The G-dly soul is who we are, and who we identify with. The body, is a temporary dwelling place. While we are here in this physical world, the body affords us the opportunity to earn merit and become spiritually stronger, by overcoming the superficial and shallow challenges of this materialistic world.

The more a person exercises his choice to think, speak, and do positive things, and gets himself into the habit of allowing his G-dly soul to express itself regularly, and win over the self indulgent desires of the body, the more the person has succeeded and accomplished to infuse the world with “light”, which prevails over the confusion of darkness so many people suffer from.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Are you spiritual? Religious?

I bet many of you didn’t know. Some people, are religious and not spiritual, and there are people who say they choose to be spiritual and not religious at all. These two mistaken ways of conduct come from a flawed understanding of these two expressions.

Let us define spiritual. One pretty good definition I found, “pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature.” And religious, well that’s a bit more difficult, because everyone has a different idea of what it is. I guess one would say, I know a religious person when I see one. Oh yes?

Mysticism explains that everything in the universe is made of a body, an outer shell, and that which energizes and gives life to the body, we call this, soul. A moving car, the body, has a person inside, steering and directing the body. In this example the person is the soul and energy of the moving car.

The metal body and frame of a car, has a motor inside, which thrusts and propels the frame of the car. The motor is the soul of the frame. Wires, are the outer shell, the body, which carries the electricity that flows through them, and so on, all the way down to the source of everything, and the energy of the whole world, G-d.

In all these examples, the internal soul and energy alone, without the framework and channeling of the external body, can not, and, will not ever accomplish the realized outcome, which can come only through the partnership of the two elements working together.

Disorganized and random electricity without the channeling of wires is not only unhelpful it is downright dangerous. The body, whether it is the frame of the car or the wire, without the soul, will obviously not be able to carry out the desired objective.

Spiritual, as we mentioned before, relates to what’s deep inside, the dimension that energizes our bodies. It is, the spark and soul of G-d within. Someone who meditates on the greatness of G-d in the world at large, and within his own small world and body, will begin to feel spiritual and exalted. This appreciation and emotion must have a method and technique, to channel and express this spiritual energy, no different than someone who feels love for someone, or something, and doesn’t have a way to express and manifest this feeling.

Religious people, generally have a code of conduct that is expected from them by their religion. Living in a physical world it is clear, that if someone eats or takes his medication and doesn’t enjoy doing so, this doesn’t matter, since it’s the deed that counts. However there is no dispute, that enjoying your food and having a positive and optimistic outlook when taking medication, will greatly improve your wellbeing.

There is a Chassidic saying, “The Baal Shem Tov showed us HOW we should serve G-d, and Rabbi Shnuer Zalman showed us how we are ABLE to serve G-d.” These two great luminaries represent the soul and body of a mystical worship of G-d known as, Chassidism.

Spirituality is the HOW and the WHY, the energy, the life the vigor. Religion is the actual practice, doing what we where commanded to do, in order to be in G-ds good grace and bring blessings to our lives. Both spirituality and religion are important in order for people to be complete.

On the one hand, the prophet tells us, G-d doesn’t (just) want our sacrifices, G-d desires our hearts. On the other hand the Sages tell us, it is the actual deed that counts.

Someone who is spiritual and not religious has accomplished nothing in this world. He has not enhanced his physical reality. The world is the same. Someone who is religious, and spiritual, has combined soul with body, to make his life and the world around him truly alive, energized, with the greatest measure of life one can ever reach in his lifetime.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Do We Have Free Choice???

The question goes like this. If G-d is everywhere and everything is predestined, do people have any choice and/or influence in the end results?

The answer to this question can become a lengthy thesis, which isn’t the function of this article. So, I will make it short, and to the point.

G-d made this beautiful world. Just look around. The colors, the trees, the birds, the flowers, the squirrels, and let’s not forget the lizards. Every day there are billions and trillions of elements in this orchestra we call the universe, playing for us a most stunning and dazzling piece of music. Every single day, just as the sun rises in the east.

In your body alone, there are trillions of cells, all working in conjunction with each other to perfectly produce your heartbeat, and your breath. All of this, quite obviously doesn’t just fall into place.

If a symphony orchestra with 80 or 100 players needs a maestro to coordinate the musicians, otherwise there’s a good chance the group will not be in sync with each other, how much more so, the zillions of elements that work in harmony with each other to the micro mini degree in our universe, could never operate without the wisdom of a great and wise conductor. To think otherwise, is outright foolishness.

The Bible says, when G-d created the world, He made it, in an evolved and mature ready to use fashion. Adam, on his first day, was a 20 year old adult and, the great redwood trees, already had all their rings in them. It was a “prepared table”, set, and waiting for people to enjoy.

The universe and all that’s in it, is the creation of G-d, all the time. G-d however wanted ( for a reason that we will discuss some other time) that people should have a small little role in perfecting and completing the universe, so He left important, but yet very insignificant in size and quantity, areas that us humans can participate in taking a role, with G-d, in making it just right.

G-d knows what he wants, and He always gets His way. He instructed us to do, and not to do, certain activities which he told us in the Bible, in order, to bring about this perfection that he intended for the world.

The Talmud tells us, “ everything is in the hands of G-d except for the fear of G-d.” This means, that everything that happens in the world and in life is predestined. It will happen, one way or the other. The only area in which we humans have total control and we are held responsible for, are our choices which convey and make evident our fear of G-d. Our choices demonstrate to G-d, our moral standing regarding our fulfillment of the mission, G-d created each one of us. By the choices we make, G-d knows whether to use us to bring about a good, or bad occurrence, which was already in G-ds mind to happen.

In our daily prayers we ask, that we shall not labor in vain…..” From the words of this prayer that was arranged by our great sages we see, that a person may make an effort to do good and will be rewarded for this, however he may not be lucky that his good intentions will come about, because it wasn’t G-ds will at that moment. A person can choose to pull the trigger, and with that has demonstrated his wicked murderous character, and the person shot will not lose his life, because he wasn’t yet destined to leave this world.

Maimonides says, that although G-d runs the show down to the smallest particle of the world, we must say, that in the area of moral choices – the choice alone, is always entirely ours. Otherwise, reward and punishment which is a cornerstone of the Bible would not be possible and the Bible is clear, “see I give you this day, the good and the bad, life and death, and I give you the strength to choose, life.”

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Living life - to Enjoy.

We where talking about anxiety.

What brings it on and how to relieve ourselves of the stress, uneasiness and apprehension associated with high anxiety. If left unaddressed, ultimately this takes its’ toll on any human being in a major way. I am aware that there is a whole bunch of advice out there which includes, exercising, breathing techniques, and many other approaches, however, most important is the attitude and mindset of the person. It’s not just a matter of putting on a smile, and technique, it’s all about what’s going on behind the surface movement of ones face, insides ones head.

Only a person with a firm and unyielding belief system can build for himself an edifice that will not crack under the daily vicissitudes of life.

Part of what brings on stress and anxiety is the constant internal struggle and the perplexity a person is living with, many times on a subconscious level. He doesn’t even realize what’s going on inside. On the one hand he wants to become rich and famous, on the other hand she wants to workout and look good. On the one hand he wants to be fulfilled spiritually inside, on the other hand she wants to hang out with the girls, be part of the fun and not appear like an oddball. A psychological and emotional tug of war, on a continual and persistent basis. Being pulled in so many directions, it’s no wonder that after a while a person doesn’t know who they are and where they are going.

No wonder the person is unsure of the future and craves for control and self empowerment. No wonder, the person feels insecure and has an excessive need for approval. No wonder, the person overcompensates for their insecurities by seeking perfectionism.

Peace, is when the many different sides and perspectives are living in harmony with each other. All the different sides still retain their own individuality, however they are all directed and influenced under one canopy, big enough to encompass the many different interests. A common ground, greater than the many vast differences, which separate one from another.

Every human being if they are to be strong in life must develop their trust in G-d. This is one of the cornerstones and fundamental pillars to a sturdy and secure life. This is the canopy, big enough to cover all pursuits in a person’s life. This isn’t something that happens just by saying your trust in G-d. This comes from a conscious effort to feed ones faith on a daily basis, by studying the Bible and mysticism, related to this specific topic, and then meditating on those concepts in prayer.

A person, who trusts in G-d, will never give up or become despondent. Whatever appears to be happening he is strong in his trust that through his prayers and good deeds, things can and will turn around for the good, in a way that can be visible appreciated. Trust in G-d is strong enough, to unify the many different directions people are drawn to in life.

Prayer in itself is tremendously therapeutic. During prayer and meditation on the greatness of G-d, a person is transported, uplifted and enveloped in a secure place where everything is for the good. Not only does he trust that it’s all for the good, but has to go through some temporary inconveniences, but further, he strengthens and develops a solid trust in G-d that brings and transports a person to a place where the actual occurrence in the present tense, can be appreciated as being for the good.

Being alive in the fullest measure, means living every moment to the fullest degree. For this a person must be in a joyous frame of mind, since joy is the emotion that breaks any barriers that may hinder a person from enjoying and living life to the fullest.

Instead of anxiety and constrictness in life, and existence weighing heavy on a persons shoulder, a person who develops his faith and trust in G-d that He is entirely good, light, brilliant, and positive, will have complete joy and a great life to enjoy.