Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The three PLUS ways of dealing with hardships

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Everybody has got them.  Pot holes and speed bumps in the road of life.  How do we overcome or at the very least move on, notwithstanding the obstacles that give us a real run for our money.

The Bible is clear, we don’t live in a disorganized random chaotic world. It also makes very good logical sense to think and believe that way.

When there is an order and system to things then, with our free choice, we can sometimes intentionally or unintentionally makes decisions that challenge and attempt to defy the order G-d has set in this world. To a great measure the Bible tells us, it is our very own choices that bring us the hardships we face in life. It is us, who mess up the perfect pattern G-d created.

Nevertheless, Chassidus teaches us to always accept everything in joy. Joy is the fundamental underlying elixir to everything in life.  But how is it possible to accept and bear it all AND do it in joy? Chassidus gives us the tools and techniques how exactly we should and we can, deal with our difficulties in life.

Humans have a definite spectrum and parameter in which they can see and hear things. Some animals and creatures see and hear more because their range is wider and deeper. The same is also with our minds, they are finite and limited.

The first method, is to look at what’s happening, as coming from an infinite G-d who is way beyond our possibility to understand.

G-d is the source of everything and He is by His very own nature, essentially good.  We surrender ourselves to this fact and even when at the present things appear as dark, confusing, and incomprehensible, the knowledge that the pain we feel is from a doctor who cares, helps us keep a happy attitude.

The second method, is to view the pain and difficulties as a process to polish and clean parts of our lives we may have bent out of shape or sullied with our bad choices.  It is to make us, better and stronger than what we are at this present moment.  Out of G-ds deep rooted love for ourselves He puts us through a procedure that corrects and remedies where we may have messed up.

When a person’s sees his hardships as coming from the love of G-d to help this person who messed up, this arouses within G-d the desire to minimize and hasten the process. This second approach shortens the process itself.

The third method is to view hardships as an intentional test G-d is putting the person through. G-d wants to see if we will take the hardship more seriously, than our determination to keep on going.  In this third step a person is completely and totally not fazed by the difficulties. The person knows what’s expected of him and nothing will stop him.  It’s not a matter of the intended good G-d has in mind, it’s not either whether G-d is doing this out of love or not.

With this reaction to hardships and determination, the moment the person is totally at peace with the situation because he knows he can never fail at doing what is his G-dly mission, the test disappears because, he has successfully overcome the test and proven himself.

There is a highest and most powerful attitude where the person doesn’t deal with any of the above three approaches. On this level, he doesn’t even encounter the first tastes of the test. This is when he develops a very deep knowledge and appreciation for G-ds interaction with the world to such a point that he sees and experiences everything for the good, right from the start.

Once a great Rabbi sent his student to Reb Zushe who had every imaginable difficulty in life, to learn how to respond to hardships in life. Reb Zushe told him he must have come to the wrong Reb Zushe because this Zushe, had no problems.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Are u disappointed in people? Why should YOU be good.?

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Some time ago I was discussing a legal and moral issue with a school professor which pertained to his very own son. I posited against what his son was doing while he was trying to defend his son. Our debate got rather heated and I presented a legal and moral retort to every defense he presented.  After some time going back and forth he says, “Well what do you want from him, everyone does that.”  I was  totally flabbergasted by his statement and told him. “If this is your final answer I have nothing further to discuss with you.”

Here is a preacher of sorts to budding and developing human beings in his very own  educational  facility and a lecturer all over the world   motivating and encouraging  people to follow the straight and the  narrow and when it comes down to it, his answer is no different than what any teenager would answer their parent when caught red handed.

People these days are disillusioned and disenchanted in our leaders because they have become followers.  Many “leaders” don’t deserve the title by any standards. These “leaders” request a poll for every new decision they make to be sure they won’t upset or offend the sensitivities of any of their followers.  This attitude begets the expression, “every generation becomes worse than the one before it.”

According to the second law of thermodynamics, in any insulated system, the degree of disorder tends to increase with the passage of time. Everything has a natural tendency to move from a higher state of order to a lower state of order, and so it is with people. Unless, there are real leaders who reverse this natural trend. Leaders who look forward and upwards and drive forward. Leaders with the moral fortitude to lift standards.

Leaders have become followers and worse. Throughout history the overwhelming majority of leaders have never been people to look up to. Leaders killed, pillaged and took advantage of their position. Certainly the people meant to follow as a whole weren’t much better, otherwise they would have produced leaders worthy of that title or at the very least people who publicly protested the inadequacies of the people in leadership.

This brings us to another by product of the above.

Human nature is such that we are all influenced by our surroundings. When a person sees all around them behavior that is problematic and in our hearts we are sure it is wrong, especially, when  coming from people who should be an example, this may sway the person to follow his own weaknesses. This can sometimes justify not doing the proper thing because “everyone is doing it.”

The answer to this is, life is not a popularity contest. The right thing must get done for the right reasons.

Life is meant to test and as a result strengthen our morals every moment of our existence. The evil inclination never gives up and has millions of tricks to get us in his sphere and dominion, as the Bible tells us, “sin crouches at the door” always waiting for an opportunity to put in his foot.

Doing the right thing has always meant being in the minority. By its very definition a leader is one, to the very many.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was once sitting with his teacher Rabbi Akivah when his teacher told him, “It’s enough that I and your Creator know your greatness.”  Someone once told the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi M.M. Schneerson how great his wife was. The Rebbe answered, “only G-d recognizes how great she was.”

Instead of being influenced by the bad neighbor, it is up to each person to be the good influence on the bad neighbor.  We are good notwithstanding anybody around us because, “there is an eye that sees, and an ear that hears,” everything. “The ledger is open (and) the hand writes.”  And finally, “your employer (G-d) is trustworthy to pay you the reward of your labor.”

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mortality and Premature death.

“My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the spice beds, to feed in the gardens and to gather roses.”

This verse is from the legendary Song of Songs by King Solomon. The Rabbis taught: “all the ages are not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel; for all the writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.”

King Solomon, “the wisest of all men”, captures the special bond and love between G-d and His people through the metaphor and imagery that we can better relate to, and that is, the love between a loving husband and his wife.

The above verse is often quoted when offering comfort to loved ones who experienced the death of a child. (May G-d save us) The all merciful G-d, picks the nicest and best from the garden.

“It is better a whiff of the world to come, than all the life of this world.” If anyone was to accumulate all the pleasure and enjoyment in all of human existence, it would not reach the delight in just a scent of the world to come.

Nowadays, especially with past life regression hypnosis, it has become easier for many to accept what the great Mystics have been teaching for thousands of years. A person is a soul enclothed in his body. We, are not our bodies. We are souls, which animate and live while we are here in this temporary existence, in a physical body.

With so much being written lately on near-death experiences and the afterlife, by people of all backgrounds and disciplines, for anyone with open eyes and ready to accept reality, it becomes pretty apparent that the soul goes places after it leaves the body. The soul is still very much aware of itself and all that is around itself.

The book of prophets relates how King Saul out of desperation did the wrong thing and consulted a medium to bring up the soul of Samuel. When that happened, Samuel the prophet said, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

The message and picture we are forming from the above is that when someone passes on, they are not dead as in, that’s the end of them. That is why we use the expression “he passed away” rather than died. The body returns back to its source in the ground as the Bible tell us, “you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The soul returns back to its source, “to G-d who granted it…” which is all bliss.  In that pure and clear world everything is understood, and to the soul there are no questions or sadness.

In truth, the real pain when someone dear passes away is to those who from our limited perspective don’t see the whole picture.  Picking the rose may have saved the rest of the garden. To us, who can only experience past, present, and future, we never can see the whole picture and at this moment the separation hurts. To us mere mortals it appears like something bad and negative, something unfair just took place.

That is why the laws of mourning instruct us to cry over the loss of a loved one and we must recognize the limited truth from our perspective. But even so the law tells us, we must limit our mourning and sadness. At a certain point we must also recognize the real and eternal truth. As far as the soul is concerned, it is in a better place. At a certain point, instead of looking at the temporary separation we must begin looking forward to the time when all souls will be re-united.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The character of one's soul is in their thoughts

As garments of the soul, a person’s thoughts are always the results of what he/she decided to think.

We are always accountable for our thoughts. Consciously or subconsciously, by intentionally inputting our thought pattern, or unintentionally allowing extraneous thoughts into our mind, we bear that responsibility.

Thought is a garment to the soul like speech and action and is therefore a tool of the soul, and not the soul itself. For this reason, even when we don’t feel like it, and/or we are not in the “mood”, we always have the ability to focus our mind in the direction of thinking whatever it is we decide to think and change our “mood”. However one very important distinction with thoughts is that, because thoughts and thinking is constant and internal, closest to the soul, therefore they are more deeply attached to the soul and affecting the soul. Thoughts have the strongest and greatest influence on a person. The mark and/or stain that come as a result of one’s thoughts, for the good or the opposite, will be deeper on one’s soul.

Many times we hear people saying, “Oh, I was just thinking about it, but didn’t act on it.” That is actually a grave mistake because what a person entertains in their mind besides the energy it creates around them, what we think will leave the deepest mark on the personality and character of a person.

Let us look at the physical counterpart to these “garments”, clothes. When a person puts on nice clothing over his body, they will actually change his mood according to the clothing he puts on. In the Talmud garments are called “my honor’. They help define the person and rightfully assign integrity to the person wearing them. An ordinary person, when he puts on honorable and luxurious clothing, he will feel and will be treated in that fashion.

 So it goes with the garments of the soul.  Every speech, action, or thought we decide to don upon ourselves, will influence and impact the actual soul positively or negatively.

With enough repetition, habits are formed (which can always be reformed if necessary), which will eventually mold and shape our actual souls in the direction and form of these garments for now, and all eternity. The spark of G-dliness inside ourselves the “I” inside which remains alive even after we leave this world, takes on the shape and style and becomes identified by the habits and garments we regularly decided to place over our souls.

A person’s life is judged not by the soul he was granted, but by the choices he makes regarding these garments of the soul. After a while and with enough routine and habit, the thoughts the speech and actions will express the character and nature of what our souls have become.

For a person who has decided to make a routine of being involved in wisdom, intellectual thought comes to his mind. A person who decided to think happy and joyous thoughts, cheerful and joyful thoughts will start flowing automatically. This becomes who they are. For some people, the thought to murder never enters their minds, for others, the thought to contribute to society in a positive way will never enter their minds. In the end, what we think is a result of how we trained ourselves to think.

The fact that thoughts ultimately manifest the personality and character traits of the soul, brings a special seriousness and attention to the content of one’s thoughts. Proper thoughts reflect a healthy soul. While empty, vain thoughts reflect an empty and confused soul. Even when these are irregular once in a while, thoughts become a reflection of the character of one’s soul.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Understanding the power of your thoughts

Every soul has three garments -- thought, speech and action. The garments of the soul are not the soul itself but tools of the soul. Garments are put on and off at will. Garments affect the way we feel, and garments tell people who we are. The same is also with how we think, speak and act, they operate exactly as the garments we wear.

One immediate distinction between the garments of thought versus speech and action is that. Because speech and action are on the outside of the person, the outside can sometimes become an influence and impact the person to speak and act in ways not consistent with one’s inner beliefs. Just like sometimes our outside garments can become soiled with dirt, beyond our control, but because of where we placed ourselves.

The soul within each one of us attracts and picks up thoughts like a vacuum and if we don’t consciously control our thoughts, it will suck in whatever it can from anywhere outside itself. Thoughts, which are totally inward, are always entirely our own choice.

Something else differentiates the garments of thought, and the other two -- speech and action. Speech and action are not garments of the soul that must always be on. A person can at will and more easily put them on or take them off, “a time to speak and a time to stay quiet”, “a time to act and a time not to act”.

Thought on the other hand, is always flowing. A person can never stop thinking. This garment, is glued to one’s soul, and this garment a person can never take off, like he can with the other garments of the soul. Thoughts are sometimes compared to a flowing river that never stops. Even while sleeping, when at that time the person isn’t speaking or doing anything, his mind is still working and his thoughts are still flowing. That’s how dreams become possible even while a person is sleeping.

Although the stream that carries thoughts is always flowing and cannot be stopped, a person can decide what should flow in his mind -- clean and pure water or muddy water. Even though a person is not in control of stopping the flow, he can decide what the content of the flow should be.

The soul which energizes your thoughts can train and habituate this garment to think positive or negative thinking and impact even ones dreams. Every person at any given moment has the power and full ability to place whatever thoughts he makes his choice to think. Otherwise, the soul which attracts and picks up thoughts like a vacuum, will draw and suck in whatever is in the atmosphere at that moment.

The only way a person gains control over his thoughts and as a result, all that thought influences internally, is by deliberately and intentionally inserting into this field of energy whatever it is he desires think. To ignore this calculated and deliberate effort necessary to decide what to think, will surely allow for random thoughts and the random results that come as a result of not taking control.

This would be no different than not taking control of a steering wheel in a car while the car is in motion on a highway.

A person can distract himself from unwanted thoughts by consciously inserting different and desirable thoughts. According to his true wishes, and what he really wants to think, and the degree of his commitment to chase away his current thoughts, he will succeed to drive away what is presently there.

This power to control the garments, in particular thought, determines ultimately how our soul and internal character will be molded.