Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jacob and Esau,By Karen Berg

This week's Bible reading tells us that Jacob feared his brother, Esau. Now this fear might come as a surprise to some of us who know how powerful a spiritual force Jacob would become. After all, don't we know that Light prevails over darkness?
According to the kabbalists, there is an important secret here: Esau was the epitome of ego. It was not his physical brother that Jacob was afraid of; Jacob was afraid of his own ego. Even at his elevated spiritual level, Jacob knew that if he began to believe himself to be the message rather than the messenger, to be the Light rather than a conduit, then he would lose the battle against the ultimate destructive force: The ego, also known as the Opponent, also known as the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, which is the real battle, the battle of consciousness. For Jacob, it was clear that his only real strength was his ability to be a channel for the Light of the Creator.
For us, this is a powerful lesson. It tells us that each one of us should cultivate a similar fear of our own ego every day. We need to learn that it is not how hard we work physically or the intensity of our learning that makes us spiritual. Spirituality happens from the moment we wake up in the morning, to the hello we say to the first person that we meet, to the way that we approach and see life, to the respect for human dignity that we grant to those around us. This is the kind of spirituality that Jacob worried about. He was afraid he wouldn't be present when he was needed, and therefore he would lose the battle.
This story reminds us that we always need to be on the lookout for what our Ego wants us to do, so that we aren't cutting corners, hoping no one will see. Because you know what? The Creator is in every place. He even goes to the Chinese restaurant on Sunday. Again, the Creator is in every place. God is here.
We need to know that whatever we do or don't do, today, tomorrow or the next day, is going to come back to us. If we can acknowledge and be aware of that, as Jacob was, then we can grow. In that growth might be pain, and in that growth might be disassociation with what is comfortable. But if we don't grow, there is no alternative.
As we have mentioned before, there is only one block in every person's life. And what is this block? The block is the person him- or herself! I am the only blockage in my life, just as you are the only blockage in yours. When we can sit here and not think only about our own needs and agendas then can we begin to taste the sweetness of our soul's potential.
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