The Baal Shem Tov, the Founder of the Chassidic Movement, taught that every divine soul is latent with gifts to an extent that we will never discover the limits of, just as the land of Israel is latent with natural resources we will never know the limits of. Within the soul, is a “land of desire”, to which the Baal Shem Tov related, he wants to make the soul yield the kind of produce it’s capable of. (Hayom yom, 17th Iyar)
As stated above, you, as a divine soul, deep deep down are latent with endless gifts and talents. Some you know of, many of which you more than likely aren’t aware of.
If so, why are they only existent deep deep down? Why are they not at the forefront with every single individual we meet? Why do we have our struggles in certain areas or at times feel like what we are good at is still unknown and we are waiting for someone to come along and bestow it upon us? If it’s not just automatically available, what do we do to make it available?
If only we had a list of some tips, tricks, reminders, thoughts and suggestions
I) The Distractions of this World:
It used to be, you walk outside or in front of a TV and there’s someone trying to sell you something. Could be an experience, could be a product that enhances your life somehow, could be a new job, a new wife, a new life, a new body. Whatever it is, it’s probably something new. Something that wasn’t there before and when that thing is old, there’ll probably be another new something. Something to do, something to buy, something to experience, something. Nowadays, all the distractions are in a phone sitting in the palm of our hand (along with all the ones stated above). Can a great violinist reveal his or her potential if they are distracted with what the world wants to sell it each day? Our phones, for one, are there as a means to bolster and enhance that which we are here to do. Our phone, as our example, isn’t here to distract us with enjoyments from doing what we are here to do in life. So too with all the distractions of today, there’s a question on if we can fulfill our potentials with the distractions that lay ahead of us this day. Many things in life are categorized as kelipahs nogah (the translucent shell), meaning it being a good thing depends on how we use it, or even more so its something that begs us to uplift it to its true purpose. Yes, a person can have down time. Time where they spend relaxing or with some sort of hopefully not unhealthy distraction, but ideally even our down time can serve as a means to bring us back to our purpose. Even better if it can be spent on things that also serve our purpose, such as spending quality time with our kids, and the like (I’ll leave it to you to fill in the blank).
2) Belief in one’s self. Try doing something you don’t think you can do. It’s literally impossible. Everyone has their own experiences in life, and some have been negatively impacted by the world to believe they just aren’t capable of doing anything well in this world. It could be for a number of reasons. Some haven’t found the particular things they excel at, some have been around negative people for too long, some have been labeled the family loser, some are just too self conscious to try something new, there’s many ways in which this can manifest. If you haven’t heard of the what the family loser is, it’s something I learned about in a class by Rabbi Dr. Twerski. Basically, many families, and groups of people in general (could just be your circle of friends or your class or a basketball team or your work environment, etc.) adopt a family scapegoat to help them feel better about their own lives. No matter what happens in life, it’s somehow tied to this one culprit. The father’s a drunk, and therefore the daughter can’t find any friends at school, the sons on drugs and the mom’s overweight. So the father goes to rehab, becomes better, and his daughter still can’t find any friends at school, the son is still on drugs, and the mom hasn’t lost a pound in years. Quite the disaster, sounds like they’ll either have to find a new culprit or leave him for good because it’s too late, he already messed them up for life (or maybe they can blame it on his lack of drinking now). A person made the scapegoat in a family or group can come to this really dark state where they just feel like they can’t do anything right. No matter what, it’s their fault. No matter what, they did something wrong. How could such a person apply themselves to anything outside the home? It just won’t go well, they’re doomed! (Has vshalom).
Can exist just the same amongst friends. Perhaps not even that they did something wrong to affect their lives, but rather that everything so and so does is painted as “What a loser!” Such friends highlight everything they can find as a publication for the group verifying to themselves and the rest of the group so and so is a loser, “we’re the winners!” This allows them to escape from the things that make them feel bad in life or perhaps from the things the “loser” does that make them feel lower and less secure about themselves. As long as those three agree this one is the loser, they feel better about their lives, and their given a place to put their bad feelings of themselves, whenever they arise. Unless this one person is aware of what’s going on, this can have the same impact as the family scenario.
Yet, there’s a concept in Kabbalah that every single person has a mission in life. Something they and only they can accomplish, and if it weren’t the case, they wouldn’t be here. Which means you are important and capable of accomplishing that which you’re here to just by virtue of the fact that you are here. Each person is gifted with his or her own abilities, talents, opportunities, personality, education, opportunities to gain education or other skills, and the like. These are all gifted to the individual for him or her to accomplish the spiritual task and service for which they are specifically here to accomplish. Such things are not contingent upon the thoughts, feelings, approval, reaction of friends, family, etc. as to if or where they (such gifts) are there or are not, whether they are utilized for their purpose or not, whether they are manifest within the person or not. Your friends can disapprove of you, your family can say you’re doomed, and if you see their opinions as unimportant, non factual, stemming from their own issues in life, you can allow yourself to tap into the true truth of the matter, the fact that you’re here for a reason. Believing in one’s self is believing there’s a Creator who formed you and brought you into this world for a reason, and that you’re 100% capable of fulfilling that reason, otherwise you wouldn’t have been brought here in the first place.
3) Work. “Man was created to toil.” Just about everything in the world is made up of keilim (vessels) and orot (lights). Namely, it’s up to the person to create vessels in this world that will allow light to manifest and take hold. If we don’t do our jobs or don’t do it well enough, G-d forbid, we’re left without a vessel to hold the light, or a defective vessel which won’t properly contain the light, and light that it itself is defected, as it’s not being drawn down (which is what it’s there for in the first place, which is what the ultimate fulfillment of its purpose is). We have to work and work well. Yet, we can’t lose sight of priorities amongst the work. One may beginners in to think, it’s the work of my hands, and the strength of my prowess that makes me. It’s that toil which manifests things. Blessing, light, who needs it?! In truth, everything is dependent on G-d’s blessing, yet the structure He made is one which requires work. Just don’t get carried away and think it’s the work that does it. Ultimately it’s His blessing which makes rich and successful. Ultimately there has to be a light coming down for the vessel to be of significance. In truth the vessel itself is really insignificant, it has to be a proper vessel, but it’s not really the vessel that does the trick. This changes things as the manner in which a person will approach his or her work will be one where what G-d wants is the main priority and the work is a secondary matter. This allows for blessings in all matters.
4) Connecting yourself above in all you do, even the seemingly mundane.
Everything we have to do in our day, in our mission in life, can be done in a way that connects us above. If each moment is seen in such a light, it’s less likely it will go wasted or misused. Even the mundane aspects of a person, the mundane aspects in life, as divinely ordained for us to be involved in, and there are sparks of light in each thing we can connect to by engaging with it properly and not improperly, G-d forbid. Want to unleash your potential? See everything you are to do as a divine ordained task through which you can connect yourself with G-d on a higher level, connect yourself with your true self on a higher level, refine your natural makeup through doing so, and reveal light within your being, your surroundings, and the world at large. You’ll probably take it more seriously.
5) “I was created to serve my creator. I was not created but to serve my Creator.” Meaning, I’m only here for a higher purpose, and for no other reason am I here. This makes enjoyment no longer life’s purpose, but rather shifts focus towards purpose being life’s purpose. Meaning happiness isn’t my entire goal in life causing me to spend so much money and time chasing my desires, but rather happiness is just a tool through which I can accomplish what I’m here to. Priorities change, when our understanding of our reason for being here changes. Allowing us to maximize our gifts and fulfill our potential. Furthermore, Dr. Viktor Frankyl once said in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “He who has a why can withstand almost any how.”
6) Life, like prayer, is a spiral staircase. True prayer, as I was just learning this week with R’ Brafman (Rabbi of the Rabbinical College of America) includes a constant eb and flow of seeing and knowing where your going, and losing sight of it, just to find a deeper truth, and lose sight of that as well, all on this ascending staircase that leads us closer to truth (Samech Vav, Rebbe Rashab). King David says in the famous book of Tehillim (psalms), “Vani Tefillah.” Meaning “I am prayer.” Not “I am pray-ing”, but that “ I am prayer.” That my entire life should be living in this state of prayer. That I’m in a constant state of receiving everything I know and have from G-d. I’m in a constant state of being and living in oneness, in unison with G-d. My eb and flow is that I’m connecting, in life, to something beyond me, and there are times it’s clear where that’s taking me, and there’s times it’s not. Yet, that is all part of the process of connecting myself on deeper and deeper levels. So too in all endeavors of bringing to the fore our gifts and talents that HaShem has given us. There are times it’s clearly causing what I understand to be good, there are times where it’s not, yet it’s all part of the process of ascending with them, and revealing them. In actuality, the times of unknown hold even deeper growth than the times of clear understand. As it says, “7 times a righteous person will fall, and get back up.” The fall, isn’t a fall, its an ascent through which I fall away from that which I already understand and know to be true.
Additionally, all I have is what I’m here to give. All I can do on this journey is give it everything I got. Whether it’s the time of ebbing or the time of flowing. Through that work, even when I’m in the unknown, I’m coming to deeper and deeper levels of expression, utilization of the potential within me and fulfillment of my mission in life.