As a child, my life was wonderful, in part. Every August, I roamed our tourist farm in Eastern Pennsylvania freely. I commanded the hill that ran from the Main House to the lake, learned how to milk cows, rode horses, and had a limitless ego. I played with the other kids who came up, mostly from New York, and interacted well. I dreamed of the farm for many months before August. The rest of the year was something I rarely speak of because it is a shonda. My father, as a brilliant NYU-educated Attorney, was also a violent domestic abuser. I learned there is a wide difference between the expression of one’s intellect and their emotions. Now that I’m much older, (approaching old age) I know things could have been worse. But, they were bad enough to send me on a lifelong journey of returning to that place of bliss: that one period of time when I could exist without limits and in pure joy. I have made a study of this through mysticism, which of all things, my father would read about in his chair when returning from work. I think all of us desire this goal.
Everyone embarks upon the long and winding road, and my plight was not the worst. In fact, now, at the potential precipice of a 3rd World War, I see others who have suffered and are suffering fates much worse than my own. I also clearly see that as a woman, I am powerless to change larger matters in the world, and have often suffered because of the men around me. Some women have been abusive, too. I am also informed that because I am a woman, I can’t express my mystical awareness; it doesn’t count.
Yet, in figuring out my own path, I see men and women who have veered off track: an Executive Director of a Temple who frequently screamed at her volunteers, yet acted like nothing was wrong, and a “loving” boyfriend who tried to embezzle my retirement funds and hoped for my demise to get them. As we walk through life, we realize that many family members and friends have become stuck in harmful behaviors and addictions that painfully echo what their lives could have been.
God gave us senses, but not enough to experience the full expression of His creation. When we observe photos from Voyager, something we have only been able to do in the last few decades, we can begin to fathom that we, with small or large egos, will never be able to Understand it all. Perhaps we begin to recognize that there is a negative force in the universe, but we only experience a limited, judgmental view of it. Our lives always hold a void in which we ask, “what is wrong,” and, “why me?” I remember Uncle Irving, 10 years older than my father, regularly coming to our house and lying down on the couch, weeping. I once stood over him and tried to console him, even though I was a small girl experiencing more than my share of abuse. That’s why some people fall into addictions, a form of “Idolatry.” Another misguided solution, according to Battle Plans (1), is perpetually choosing “Lust,” or transitory pleasures. Clearly, neither works.
There is one way to reach the goal of a contented life: striving to achieve a higher ethical nature in order to become a peaceful being. But with such a limited rationale of what’s happening to us: war, abuse, illness, trauma, and natural disasters, how do we do so without succumbing to the powerful Yetzer Hara?
I started my spiritual path in 1995, after my divorce. Unfortunately, my marriage was a continuation of my childhood, and I took a lot of my problems out on my husband. But, we were not a good match, anyway. And, although I had many years and forms of psychological counseling where I deeply explored my subconscious mind, it wasn’t until I began learning Buddhism at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, that my real journey for peace began. This journey segued into studying Kabbalah, and I wrote a program called, “8 Forms of Love in the Tree of Life.” The program journeys through the Tree, following the same path as the Omer, and reveals loving solutions to many of our limited perceptions. This is Blog 1 on the Journey. I look forward to sharing the rest with you. Contact me for more information.
1 Heller, T. (2010). Yetzer Hara’s Secret Code. In S. Y. Ringler (Ed.), Battle Plans (pp. 24–25). Shaar Press.