Monday, February 20, 2012

tranquility part 2 and a life of tests

so in my last post i wrote that the secret to tranquility is being present in the current moment by allowing our strengths/ inner talents to find expression.... and when i thought about this a little more, i got a little further clarity on the idea, which i want to share with you now...

we learn from the Torah that every person has a unique purpose and mission to fulfill in this world and every aspect of our lives is perfectly designed in order to fulfill that mission- even the hard stuff. In fact, it is the challenging moments in our lives that make us who we are by giving us the opportunities to actualize our potential. Abraham, the Jewish forefather and spiritual role-model, underwent ten major trials/tests in his life (in hebrew this type of trial is called a 'nisayon'). His trials were so difficult we probably wouldn't wish them on our worst enemy (e.g. jumping into a fiery furnace in the face of an evil king, having a different evil king kidnap your wife, leaving behind your entire life to start over in a new, foreign land, etc. etc), and yet it's because of the extreme situations Abraham faced that his hitherto dormant, massive potential was released and he became the great person that he was.

Now in our own lives, we also experience these nisayons, sometimes on a large scale, and sometime on a much smaller scale (btw in the quest for spiritual growth we certainly do not hope for awful things to befall us in order for us to grow, we just hope that with whatever does come our way (which we hope will be pleasant and enjoyable) we will be able to do our best and grow in that situation)... you know, they say that it's easy to be a righteous person when no one's around, because there's no one to fight with... but it's not worth very much... but now try when the person you live with (roommate, sibling, significant other, whoever)... steps on your toes and doesn't do things exactly the way you want (e.g. eats the ice cream you were saving all week for this specific occasion, leaves dirty laundry everywhere, speaks rudely to you, etc., etc...) then how will you react? will you be patient? loving? give them the benefit of the doubt?

it is only when we are challenged that our innate strengths and inabilities can shine the most. so if a well-meaning lady in the street stops me to tell me my baby's too cold and needs a hat (they say an israeli mother is like a jewish mother on steroids! so you can imagine what it's like walking through streets full of them :)... ) i could just think to myself 'who does she think she is? what a rude woman to tell me how to be a mother, i know just what's right for my baby, etc, etc...' OR i could use my trait of humility to put my ego aside and say 'maybe she's right, let me put my baby's hat back on her' (ha btw this is a true example and she even had her hat on, it had just slid half off!) or i can use my trait of judging favourably to view this woman as kind and considerate and genuinely concerned about the welfare of my child and willing to do what she thinks is right even if i might think she's rude, pushy, controlling, etc.etc.etc!

then there are more serious examples, like G-d forbid illness, which often reveal incredible strength of character in those affected and their love ones... but the point is that while all of these situations may feel difficult, really most of the factors involved are beyond our control. the only thing we do have power over is our own reactions and if we will choose to let our inner greatness shine through...

which brings me back to the idea from my previous post: when i'm feeling anxious/upset, i can either ask 'what's bothering me?' or i can ask 'which of my strengths/talents is not being expressed at this given moment?'

and i think that if we start to feel that anxiety/upset at any time that it is a signal that we do in fact have a test before us and when we choose to engage in the moment by giving expression to one of our strengths/talents, what we are really doing is passing that test by letting our inner potential come out.

so i hope you all can give this a try the next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable or G-d forbid very challenging situation, and that the strengths you didn't even know you had will shine through

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