Imagine a life where your every desire is handed to you. No effort would be required. All you would have to do is think it up and poof, your dream would be a reality. Sounds pretty great, right? Yet, in such a world, what would motivate you to work hard, to go out of your way for others, or to take risks? If every desire were granted without struggle or effort, where would we find fulfillment? According to Rav Berg, "Gratification, whether it be spiritual or physical, will still last only if there is a balance between receiving and sharing."
When the good stuff in life comes easily, we call it luck, relax into complacency, and as a result, are far less likely to give our best effort. On the flip side, when we sense the risk of failure, we often feel motivated to do better, to strive for success. This is where the true reward lies. It’s the effort we put forth that brings us blessings in return, even if we fail along the way. In fact, failing once or twice (or even more!) gives us more satisfaction when we ultimately reach our goal. The journey makes the end result feel so much better.
Kabbalah teaches that without hard work, we are seldom rewarded; we have to earn our blessings. The road to transformation is naturally bumpy and filled with detours, unexpected setbacks, and obstacles. At times, we may feel like the journey takes us farther from our goals; we can feel lost or as if trying is futile.
As Michael Berg explains, “Our purpose in this world is to achieve oneness with the Creator through spiritual work using the tools of Kabbalah that have been provided for us. There is no quick fix, nor should we long for one. Spiritual fulfillment cannot be a gift. We must earn it; we must work for it.” The experience—good or bad—is your spiritual work and it’s what makes the effort worth it in the end because it is through that experience that we connect with the Creator.
Spiritual work is hard; it is uncomfortable and if we could get away without doing it, most of the time we would. But, spiritually speaking, you don’t get something for nothing. The Kabbalah Centre teaches that the work we are meant to do in our lifetime is sharing more than what is easy or convenient. What does this mean? It’s simple—if sharing doesn’t take effort or doesn’t put you out, then it’s not doing the work. If you only have 10 minutes to spare, give 20. If someone asks for change, give what you have. If you only have a small sandwich for lunch, cut it in half and share it with someone who forgot theirs at home.
It’s easy to sit back and receive, but to send energy outward takes consciousness. There are many avenues through which to share—through our community work, our careers, or our circle of friends and family. No matter how small the action, a deed done selflessly is a contribution to the world, which takes us further along in our spiritual journey towards transformation.
We can, of course, achieve material success by acting from a Desire to Receive for Ourselves Alone. However, this kind of success is often only temporary and leads to pain and regret. What we need to remember is that each challenge we face in life is an opportunity to grow spiritually and strengthen our connection to the Creator. Avoid taking the easy way around, engage with life—even when it’s uncomfortable or requires you to work.
In the end, blessings do not guarantee fulfillment, only spiritual work can do that. When we do the work, we feel like we’ve earned our blessings and as a consequence are more likely to feel fulfilled. The work is worth it.