In this week’s section of the Torah, Ki Tissa (Ki Tisa), we read the story of how the Israelites casually traded the Light of infinite fulfilment and freedom from chaos for a little golden calf! After realizing the circumstance they had created, they all fell into depression. Kabbalists that have commented on this story explain that what disconnected the Israelites from the Light of the Creator was not the fact that they decided to worship a golden calf, but rather the fact that they felt sad about the situation.
Achieving happiness is not just about feeling good all the time, because let’s face it, there are too many variables involved in our daily lives. Every day we face difficult circumstances and pitfalls including financial ups and downs, unfavourable weather conditions, health concerns, tricky relationship issues and all other types of bad news we don’t like hearing. That’s not to mention all the things we want and can’t have, or the mistakes we make and feel awful about.
Achieving happiness is more important than we may have previously imagined. The great 16th century Kabbalist Rav Isaac Luria, aka ‘The Ari’, stated:“Sadness is detrimental for one who wants to achieve wisdom and divine inspiration. Nothing prevents clarity, even when one deserves it, like sadness.”
“If one feels that he is far from being complete, it is mostly at these times that the evil inclination comes to confuse him further and reminds him of all his shortcomings, his troubles, and his mistakes to trick him into a state of sadness. Yet the ‘Shechinah’ (the divine presence) does not dwell in a state of sadness.”
If I am not happy I cannot attract more spiritual Light into my life. We usually rely on the Light to come and take us out of the darkness, but that can only happen if we awaken unconditional happiness. So how do we make sure we are truly happy in the first place, so we can attract even more Light, clarity and blessings into our lives?
Our happiness is usually influenced by our unique personal feelings and tastes. For example, a shy, reserved person may find happiness in sitting at home quietly with a nice book and a cup of tea, while an outgoing, socially confident person will probably be happier at a roaring party. So how come even the things we personally assign to make us happy often don’t? Because one thing holds true for every human being on earth: Deep, lasting happiness, on a soul level, has only one source – the Light, when earned through our spiritual work. By changing ourselves, rather than circumstances around us, we bring about true, lasting happiness. Happiness, regardless of what’s going on, is a result of my growth and change. To wake up every day happy simply means I’m upgrading my consciousness.
The concept of happiness being something we earn can be found in part of another letter to Rav Berg from his teacher:
“The truth is that joy is in the hands of the Creator; and it is a gift for anyone who earns it; yet it is the way of the Creator that He does not withhold fulfilment from him who goes before Him upright (with pure intentions).”
We all have issues, but with pure intentions and a desire to change, the Light will be there for us. It doesn’t have to take long, it just requires a decision to let go of what we think will make us happy and commit to change. My teachers Rav and Karen Berg would always remind us that the proof is in the pudding, so don’t just believe this article – try it!