What prevents us from getting enlightened, centred and still? Other people! The boss who ruins our life, the friend who always breaks commitments or the spouse who does not give us peace. Problem solved.
The most powerful transformation tool I ever learned was that of taking responsibility for my words. Every time I blamed a person or situation for my unhappiness, there was a place where I was a ‘cause in the matter’. If someone was regularly breaking verbal commitments, there was usually a place where I was breaking verbal commitments to myself, be they internal promises (i.e. “I’ll never put up with this again, I owe myself more”) or external promises to others (“I’ll be there at 8pm tomorrow”).
The tough side of self-development is that we intensely dislike seeing ugly traits within ourselves and it is easier to deny them. As John Webster wrote “Man stands amazed to see his deformity/In any other creature but himself” (The Duchess of Malfi, 1612). The yogis called these traits ‘kleshas’, a kind of spiritual wound or challenge that needs healing.
Moses warned about the power of words: “according to whatever comes from [your] mouth, [you] shall do” (Numb 30:3). The Kabbalah teaches how our words create realities in spiritual worlds. Every thought we think or word we say is a tangible ‘thing’ other planes of existence. Thus the importance of being 100% mindful or our words and thoughts (Sefer Tanya, Chp 39). In the sense we really are made in the image of the Creator as we continue to create worlds at every moment.
Blaming others is always easier, but taking complete responsibility for our words – specifically for our broken commitments to ourselves – is the first step to enlightenment.
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Based on Parsha Matot-Masei.