Kabbalistic Concepts

Kabbalistic Glossary: Transformational Sharing

Kabbalah teaches that our reason for being in this world is to become like the Light, transforming our Desire to Receive for the Self Alone into a Desire to Receive for the Sake of Sharing. Desire, therefore, is a gift from the Creator meant to help us reveal our purpose; once we are able to recognize that our desire is coming from the place of selfishness, we are able to choose to transform it. We do that through what is called transformational sharing.

The general understanding of sharing tends to simply be about doing good deeds. However, in kabbalistic terms, it is not enough to just act in a sharing way; we have to change the nature that underlies those actions. We are meant to transform and become like the Light, whose nature is to constantly be giving of Itself. As such, Kabbalah tells us to share when it's uncomfortable, not just when, or because, it feels good. Why? Because it is in going against our physical need for immediate gratification that we move towards real spiritual growth. This doesn’t necessarily mean not to share if or when it feels good; it just means that sharing to transform our nature is, by definition, uncomfortable, like growing pains.

Our bodies are made up of Desire to Receive for the Self Alone. It is in a body’s self-interest, for example, to eat, sleep, and reproduce. Transformational sharing, then, is counterintuitive, going against the basic instincts of human nature, which is completely of the body consciousness. A good example of this is the sharing a parent does for their child. A parent working hard or sacrificing their own comfort to provide for their child, while positive, doesn’t necessarily constitute an act of transformational sharing. It is ingrained in our physical DNA to take care of our offspring, and doing so fulfills a parent’s innate desire to meet their child’s needs, and brings gratification. So, while sacrificing for a child may be hard, it does not require any change in the parent’s nature, and is not, as such, necessarily considered transformational sharing.

Since our nature is that of the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, our challenge is to recognize and resist it. Giving charity is a powerful tool for practicing that resistance; and charity, contrary to popular belief, does not just mean giving money. It can be giving our time, offering words of kindness or encouragement, or opening up our home, for example. But regardless of what it is, in order for what we give to be transformational, it needs to be the most challenging for us. We need to stretch ourselves to give in ways that are very uncomfortable, even when we believe we have little to give; in fact, the benefits of sharing can be greater then, because it gives us the opportunity to experience a consciousness of abundance rather than lack.

While with charity we typically tend for the focus to be on what the receiver gets, Kabbalah's focus is actually on the spiritual effects of the giver, highlighting that charity is as much - if not more - about what the giver gets out of it as the receiver. This is because when we share of ourselves to others, we become closer to the Creator. Further, no matter the type of sharing we do, it is essential we keep it as quiet and anonymous as possible. We should never share for the sake of reward or acknowledgment, as doing so comes from the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, and therefore defeats the entire purpose of doing it.

Each time we push ourselves to do an act of transformational sharing, we remove one more layer of our Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, taking a step towards becoming like the Light and achieving the lasting fulfillment that comes with it.

In his book, The Way, Michael Berg writes, “All by itself, true sharing can transform the world. This refers not only to the sharing of physical objects, but especially to the sharing of wisdom and the Creator's Light.” Kabbalah teaches we are not just meant to transform ourselves; we are responsible for the world’s transformation, as well. Like the well-known saying goes, we are all in the proverbial same boat, and if one person is sinking, we all sink. This is because we are all one; we are all a part of the original Vessel that shattered into infinite pieces. Everything that exists in the physical realm is part of us, and when we transform, we are not just doing it for ourselves, but for global transformation. It is very powerful, therefore, before sharing of any kind to set an intention asking the Creator that the Light we reveal through sharing go on to reveal greater Light in the world.

Related

See all