Regret, we’ve all experienced this painful emotion. Phrases like,” I wish,” “if I had only known,” and “if I could do it over” are often verbalized in regard to our lives. We as humans tend to live in the past and often look back to the point that it numbs us to our present situations.
Many would say you should “put the past behind you,” and “let bygones be bygones.” But as humans we often find this advice impossible to heed. Often our insecurities and doubts make it difficult to focus on what is happening right in front of us.
We continue to feel responsible for situations in our lives and regard our past as something that belongs to us. We attempt to rewrite our histories by looking for something in the future that will take away the hurts and disappointments of yesterday.
What exactly can we influence in our life? There is an ancient prayer that says, “Lord! Grant me the strength to change the things I can change, the courage to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference”.
The teachings of Kabbalah can help us understand our past and grant us the wisdom to know the difference in what we can change and what we cannot. The book of Shamati (“I Heard”) is a collection of lessons spoken by Baal HaSulam to his students. The first article begins:
“It is written that “there is none else beside Him,” meaning that there is no other power in the world with the ability to do anything against Him. And what man sees, namely, that there are things in the world which deny the household of above, is because He wills it so.”
This means that there is a single force, called “Nature” or “the Creator,” that guides our development. In other words, everything that ever happened to us was supposed to happen exactly the way it did. This is true regardless of what happened and how it happened. Even if it has brought us to some undesirable, painful, unpleasant result today. Even if at this moment it is really burning, killing us from within, it does not matter. We must accept that everything that happened up until this moment took place because the Creator willed it so.
Kabbalah also teaches us that the Creator’s only goal is to fill us with unbounded delight. So how can we reconcile these two seeming contradictions?
According to Kabbalah, mankind’s ultimate purpose is to reach a perfect and eternal state where we are in harmony with all of creation. Man is the only aspect of nature that was given the ability to choose to do this. Everything else in the world was created to exist within this harmony as part of its inherent nature. Man, on the other hand, was created with an opposite nature, with an illusion of independence and control. In contrast to Nature’s interconnectedness, man operates from egoism – what is best for me. Mankind’s task is to transcend this nature in order to partake of the bounty that Nature has provided us.
Nature provides us with situations that will show us the difference between our nature and the altruistic nature we are meant to acquire. When we experience this difference, we perceive it as suffering. Whether we realize it or not, the suffering of humanity is constantly pushing us closer to achieving the harmony that Nature intended.
Kabbalah provides us with a methodology to become consciously involved in our life’s process of development. It shows us that we cannot change the past, or even the present. In fact, there is only one thing that we can change: ourselves. By making this internal change, we change everything we see around us.
This does not mean that the painful events of the past are forgotten, or that we will avoid challenges in the future. Instead, these events now provide us with the incentive we need to convince us to work on changing our inherent nature. As we come into alignment with Nature, there will be less and less suffering on both an individual and a global scale. We begin to feel the Creator, and our lives begin to make sense.
Through this connection, we reach the point where we understand that all of our past situations were given to us by the Creator so that we could realize ourselves on a higher level. We can then put the past behind us. We begin to see that all the situations which caused us pain were to awaken the spiritual part of ourselves which is timeless.
By: Bnei Baruch
Bnei Baruch, www.kabbalah.info 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