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My teacher, Rav Berg, explained that this week is all about appreciation. Appreciation is the key to truly enjoying what we have in our lives, as opposed to having blessings that mean very little to us.
How do we start to develop more appreciation?
Just making a conscious effort is a start, but Kabbalah teaches that there is a 4-phase process that we all need to go through to really get there.
Where does appreciation come from? The answer is: by having a true craving for the very blessing I want to appreciate and enjoy.
A good example of this ‘craving’ would be when it comes to cool, refreshing air conditioning (we have had a heat wave this week in London, believe it or not).
If we were to stay inside all summer in a beautifully air-conditioned home, we may be saved from the heat, but are we really receiving maximum enjoyment from the air-conditioning? It’s certainly nice to have it, but we may not appreciate it because we forget how unbelievably hot it is outside.
This is what the kabbalists call passive desire. However, someone that has spent all day outside in the blistering heat and crawls into their cool air-conditioned home to collapse on the sofa has true craving.
So what’s the limitation of passive desire?
To be considered real sharing, a recipient needs to truly appreciate and enjoy what they are receiving. So if the mission of the Universe is to share endless fulfillment with us to truly enjoy, our passive desire means we are stopping this from happening.
The Four Phases that we as a vessel go through to create desire are as follows:
Phase One - Passive desire (Waking up in my air-conditioned home as if it’s normal to be in a cold environment.)
Phase Two - Initial awakening of appreciation (Realizing it’s a really hot day and being pretty happy not to be out there.)
Phase Three - Creating a lack (Going out into the heat until it becomes terribly uncomfortable.)
Phase Four - True craving and appreciation (Going back inside and thinking, Wow, this feels amazing now, I’m really enjoying this feeling!)
Which is the phase that is particularly important in manifesting true craving? That’s right, Phase Three!
Remember that, no matter what, the universe is constantly trying to give us everything, but needs us to reach a place of true desire and appreciation. We therefore have two options of how to go through Phase Three. If we go back to our air-conditioning example, the first and more proactive way to create the lack would be to go outside for a walk. The second way, which is reactive and involves feelings of suffering, would be to have the AC unit break and our house heat up like an oven. Both ways get me to a true desire, but one is proactive and involves no suffering because I was in control the whole time.
This week will give us the energy and strength to count our blessings and appreciate what we have, not focusing on what we do not have or think we want. This way, we don’t need to lose the blessings in our life to get us to a place where we truly crave them. We can use this week to see where perhaps we have fallen into a state of passive desire in our lives – at work, in a relationship, etc. – and find a way to proactively awaken the lack and develop true desire. This can be done by sharing (or making more effort in that area) so that you can start to appreciate a blessing before it’s gone.
There was a song written in the 80s, ‘Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)’. Perhaps after learning a little Kabbalah and the Four Phases, they may have been open to an alternative song title!