Sensing the Future to Redeem the Present

The world is a dark, cold, and chaotic place, didn’t you know? No really, it is a bubbling cesspool of indescribable evil that is incessantly plotting and stealthily expanding to infect and transform everyone you know and love into zombies of destruction! Ok I admit, I just re-watched the Brad Pitt movie, World War Z, and I am staring to notice a disturbing trend in the way we humans handle evil. In the late 1950’s, serial killer Ed Gein was apprehended in his hometown of Plainfield Wisconsin following an investigation into the disappearance of a local store owner. The trail ended at Gein’s farm leading to some of the most grizzly and disturbing finds in the annuls of American crime - the details of which I will spare you. Understandably, the horrors uncovered that day spooked not only the inhabitants of that once quiet family community but the nation as a whole, for how do loving law abiding  people process the unthinkable? I can tell you how Alfred Hitchcock, Tobe Hooper, and Thomas Harris processed it; they created three of the most memorable Horror films ever made! That’s right, Alfred Hitchcock created Psycho, Tobe Hooper created the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Thomas Harris created Silence of the Lambs – at least he gave us Anthony Hopkins. Now I don’t mean to knock the integrity of the entertainment world, God knows I enjoy it myself, but contrast their response to that of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Shortly following the passing of the Rebbe’s beloved wife, a follower asked him how, he, a spiritual master, deals with despair.  The Rebbe explained, “I take the sadness, fear, and grief and turn them into agents of good.” The Rebbe, upon hearing the tragic news of his wife’s passing, immediately instructed his followers to open a chain of schools devoted to the education of women (something near and dear to his beloved’s heart.) Turning darkness into a light is a theme central to Kabbalistic doctrine, for there is nothing more powerful in all creation then a once dark state transformed into its opposite. True, America needed to process the horror of Ed Gein’s crimes, but processing comes in many forms and we should always aim to use the darkness of the hour to engender even greater light. The Rebbe deeply mourned the passing of his wife, but he invested his feelings of despair in the promise of the future, a future that radiantly shines. That is what we must do; invest in the goodness of “what can be” even if the present moment, “what is”, weighs heavy. How may we begin to activate such consciousness?  Simple; light a new candle (righteous act) every day. This is a teaching most fundamental to the teachings of Kabbalah, for it is well known that the Ba’al Shem Tov (famous master of the Kabbalistic tradition), used to instruct the wealthy and poor alike to “light another candle” i.e. increase the light of Godly consciousness and transform the darkness of the moment into the brightest light. Horror movies might be good for “processing” evil, but the end result is still the same, darkness. Why not try instead declaring, “Let there be light”, and do an act that ensures a bright future - this is the master’s way!

Always Check The Mirror

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