Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kabbalah: The Remedy to the High Cost of Materialism

By Bnei Baruch

Are you obsessed with your stuff? Chances are that you are. We are a nation of consumers, and this has become our primary identity. According to the book, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, we live to buy, and in fact, we buy and throw out so much stuff that we spend more on trash bags than 90 percent of the world’s 210 countries spend on everything!

Our endless pursuit of more stuff has become like a socially transmitted disease infecting our souls and threatening to destroy not only the environment but also our own families and communities. Moreover, to get the stuff they want, people often resort to all kinds of ruthless acts.

For example, corporations employ an effective strategy called “planned obsolescence,” which is another word for “designed for the dump.” This strategy is obvious when we look at things like trash bags, and paper products, but today it is used in the production of big money items like cameras and even computers. Computer technology is actually designed to make computers become useless as quickly as possible, so within a couple of years they actually become a impediment to communication.

Yet, these corporations also want to make sure that the consumer will not lose his confidence in their products. This is where a technique called “perceived obsolescence” comes in, to convince us to throw away goods that are still perfectly useful. How do they do this? They change the way things look. Fashion is a prime example of this: It encourages us to value ourselves and others by the clothes we wear and the cars we drive, and to keep up with the current trends, lest everyone will tell that we aren’t!

One look at the state of today’s economy has to convince us that there is definitely something very wrong with our current financial systems. Of the one hundred largest economies on earth, fifty one are corporations. Even more amazing is the fact that the tactics of complete ruthlessness and lack of integrity used by these corporations are depicted as honorable and something we, as humans, should aspire to. We have become brainwashed by the powers that be to think that we must always “keep up with the Jones’s” and to have at least as much new stuff as they do.

But how did we arrive to the point where the average U.S. person consumes twice as much as they did fifty years ago? According to the Story of Stuff, “Shortly after World War II, these guys were figuring out how to ramp up the economy. Retailing analyst Victor Labow articulated the solution that’s become the norm for the whole system. He said, ‘Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and our ego satisfaction, in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever accelerating rate.’

Perhaps worse of all, this spiritual sickness is sweeping across the country and even infecting other nations. People feel more “empty” than ever before, and we’re seeing just how true that old proverb is, which says, “Money does not buy happiness.” While we have all the stuff we can want and even more, fourteen million Americans use illegal drugs and twelve million are heavy drinkers. Depression, suicide and disease are affecting us and our future generation, and we have no idea why.

According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, this current crisis is a result of the evolution of our will to receive. What does this mean? It means that by nature, our lives are driven by desires and the attempt to satisfy those desires.

One of Kabbalah’s most important texts, The Book of Zohar, states that it is specifically in our era that a new, spiritual desire will surface in humanity, and hence the wisdom of Kabbalah would be revealed as the only method to satisfy it. This method enables is to discover a new source of fulfillment - the spiritual world that lies beyond our material world.

As we study this ancient teaching, we become aware of the real reasons for the consumption crisis, as well as all other problems in our individual lives and in the world at large. We begin to understand that there’s a law which operates in all of Nature’s systems – the law of bestowal, and that the turbulence we are now experiencing is a result of us acting egoistically, against that law. Through the wisdom of Kabbalah, we not only become more aware and in balance with Nature’s laws, but also find answers to those age old questions, “What is the meaning of my life” and “Why am I never satisfied?”

Bnei Baruch, is the largest group of Kabbalists in Israel, sharing the wisdom of Kabbalah with the entire world. Study materials in over 25 languages are based on authentic Kabbalah texts that were passed down from generation to generation.

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