Monday, December 16, 2013

Escape From The Box

In the Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva in Jerusalem, there are so many people with amazing stories of what they were doing before they ended up in Rav Arush's yeshiva. Some of the students were five star chefs; others were world-class kick-boxers; there's professors and doctors and lawyers from top Manhattan law firms - and they gave it all up to come and study Rebbe Nachman's Torah in Israel. Why? Because something, some message, some occurrence, hit them, and they all paid attention to what G-d was trying to tell them, and they acted on it.  Amazing things happen when we have the courage to act on the Heavenly messages we get. That's not to say that we go around making hare-brained or rash decisions. The correct approach is to process the message, pray on it, decide if it's really what G-d wants from you, and then to get a blessing from a tzaddik, a pious individual, and go for it! When we deal with our messages that way, we have an amazing 'calm' energy and excitement to try something new.
So many of us try to work out our problems, or figure out what we need to be doing, or how we should be trying to prove ourselves, alone, without G-d's input. It could be we have 20 priorities, and we don't know what to focus on. The logical way forward would appear to be to work down the list, and see what happens. But when we put Hashem in the picture, He'll give us a clue that our real priority is number 17 - that's the realanswer to all my problems. If I relied on myself, it could take me weeks, months or years to get to number 17 - or maybe, I'd never get there. But once I've plugged into Hashem, I get a short-cut to the real solution, even if it doesn't always look like it from the outset. Hashem sees things in a completely different way, and He knows what's best for us, what's really going to 'work' in our lives, and what we're really down here to do.
Thinking out of the box
Dr. Milton Erickson had a very creative unconscious mind, and he was probably one of the top so-called secular doctors of the twenty-first century. Dr. Erickson was a psychiatrist, and he used to help people by showing them how to stretch their minds and think 'out of the box'. (If you're wondering where that saying comes from, psychologists did a number of famous experiments, where they took a person and put them in a box, and then asked them to solve some problems, and then took them out of the box, and asked them to solve problems. They found the 'guinea pigs' were much more creative and successful at problem-solving when they were 'out of the box'.)
We aren't in physical boxes, but a lot of us are still stuck in boxes inside our heads. Erickson would try to 'liberate' his patients from their own mental boxes by asking them silly questions. For example, he would ask his patients: "Madam, how many different ways can you think of to get from this room to that room and back again?" The lady would reply: 'I could walk there, and walk back." 
"Anything else?" 
"I could skip, there, and skip back." 
"Go on…"
"I could hop there, and hop back. Or crawl there, and then crawl back."
"Madam, is that the best you can come up with?
The lady didn't know what else to say. She'd exhausted all her possibilities, because she was stuck in her box. So Ericson told her how he would go from one room to the next, and back again. He told her that he would go in to the room, walk out the back door, jump in to his car, drive to the airport, and then get on a plane to Paris. Then, he would take a plane from there to Shanghai; and then visit Los Angeles and New York and Tel Aviv, before flying back to the airport in Phoenix Arizona, where he'd hop into a taxi, go home, go in through the front door, and then walk back into his room. And that was just for starters. 
Go away from your problems
We can solve our problems the same way. Rav Arush tells us that we can go as far away from our problems as we want. If you have a big, black problem, we don't have to jump into it and wrestle with it. Sometimes, it's a much better idea to distance ourselves from it, and let Hashem solve it - and when we do that, we'll see that He can solve it much better than we ever could. Leave your problem right here, and hop on that mental cruise to the Caribbean; or go and visit the moon; go up, far beyond space, and take a stroll in Heaven... when we travel away from our problems in our minds, we see that our problems shrink right down. Jump out of your problem, at least for a while, because when you do, you'll find that it's got much, much smaller when you return back to it.
This idea of jumping around, or of making mental leaps to different places and trying different things, in order to help us stay in the flow of life and to stay properly engaged, has its roots in the wanderings of the Jewish people in the desert.
For 40 years, the Jews had to get up many, many times to move to another camp, at the drop of a hat. 'Ok! time to pack up, and take down your tents, and load up the wagons. Let's go, G-d says it's time to move on!' Then they would get to their next destination, and strike camp, and put all the tents back up - and then sooner or later, they'd have to take it all down to move on, and repeat the whole experience somewhere else.  Sometimes they'd stay in one place for years; sometimes for months, and sometimes, it was just days. From the outside, it seemed like quite a repetitive, random experience, to keep breaking and setting up camp for no obvious reason other than it was G-d's will.  But that's the whole point. 
There are so many lessons to learn from the years that the Jews wandered in the desert...Continue reading here...