Monday, May 19, 2008

The Baal Shem Tov on Mirrors

Someone sent this to me via email. It’s so striking that I post it here in its entirety. Wow.

You Spot It, You Got It

A student recently wrote to me: “I want to stop judging people but I can't. It's like breathing, it's part of who I am and what I do. I'd have an easier time holding my breath. What can I do?”
The great sage known as the Baal Shem Tov said something beautiful that speaks to this, but it's not poetry or philosophy or a metaphor or a nice way to live your life. It's reality, what I'm about to share with you. Here it is:

Whatever annoying behavior you see in someone else is inside you. That person is a mirror showing you what you've got to correct in your life. Somewhere within your consciousness, either on the surface, mid-level, or deep within, you have the exact same trait you are judging.

Now we've heard this all before. People are mirrors, we get it Yehuda. But the Baal Shem Tov goes one step further. He says, not only do you have to accept responsibility that what you see is inside of you, but you must know with certainty the person will never change until you do.

That's a mind-bender. You are responsible for every person you see in your life? Yes! And once you accept that charge, redirecting judgment onto your own behavior and making the change within, you'll see the change reflected in them.

There's one more part. I can say to you that the people in your life are also responsible for what happens inside of you. But you can't say it. And I can't say it about me. You get it? If we did, then we'd use it as an excuse to take less than 100% responsibility.

Spirituality is technology; it's the way the universe is hardwired. God, 'in his infinite wisdom,' (which is nothing but a giant computer calculation) arranges everything, karmically speaking, so that the people we need to confront will be in our lives.

This week, think twice about that annoying person in front of you. Maybe you won't stop judging over night, but at least you can begin to be aware of the judgment mechanism. Use the Baal Shem Tov's words as a weapon in the war against your own ego. Go inside. Take responsibility. Make some changes these next seven days.

When you do, it will feel amazing because not only will you get to change, but you will get to relieve yourself of the burning burden of judgment and hatred. Now that's what I call freedom."

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