This shabbat is the day of Sukkot. At the back of the centre, a Sukkah has been built - a temporary structure with a roof made of twigs. Last night the Sukkah was being decorated with fruit, berries and fragrant flowers and for this week the male Chevre will be sleeping and eating within the Sukkah to draw the energy.
The energy is that of Surrounding Light. We've built the vessel, and now is the time to determine how our desires will come to us and build a wonderful protective shield.
The energy in the Sukkah is phenomenal. That's the only way to describe it. As a person who spends 99% of my time crunching solutions and outcomes and options in my brain, it is a wonder to me to walk in to an outside hut and feel my hands immediately start to tingle with energy.
After investigating the Sukkah and helping to stick the edges of some delicate fabric leaves to the wall (and with my hands still buzzing), I went back upstairs to mentor the Kabbalah 2 class.
The students were thrown straight in to a workshop. Picture this: You are on the Titanic. It has struck an iceberg and is sinking fast. Everyone is screaming, running around the deck and looking for lifeboats. Finally you find the last lifeboat about to be lowered in to the water. There is one seat left. If you take the seat, you will live. If you don't take the seat, you will definitely die.
Without debate, each person on the table will state their case for taking the last seat on the lifeboat. When all cases have been presented, each person will vote. You can abstain from making a case for yourself, and you can also vote for yourself.
That's a tough one, isn't it? Validating why you should live above everybody else on the table? Most responses were very humble: "I have no reason above anyone else to be here", some were very sharing "I promise that I will take care of the emotional and financial needs of the families of those left behind" and some were bold and humorous "I am gay. I am the eldest. I still need to fight the cause"
The sharing person won the vote 4:1 (he didn't vote for himself)
The teacher then quizzed each table to find out who won, and why. When it got to our table, he said "so hang on a minute - each of you are saying that this man is in a better position to look after your kids and family than you are? Okay, so sorry kids, I have to die, but here's George to take my place. He's a great replacement and will provide for all your needs!! Don't you think your kids would rather have you instead of him?"
He then explained the meaning behind the workshop.
Every single person is born and destined to change the world in some way. There are many negative sides to the Ego - Anger, Fear, Rage, Revenge, Pride, Laziness, Greed - but the deepest, darkest and most dangerous side to the Ego is simply to diminish how great we can be. It is virtually denying what we came here to do.
If each of us were asked "If you had four wishes that if granted would change the world, what would they be?" we would all find it easy to answer "End Starvation and Poverty, Heal the Planet, End War, .... " We all want these things to happen - and isn't that lovely?! But what are we actually doing about it?
When it comes to taking action, most of us (and I include myself in this) start making excuses. We become mediocre. We think 'tomorrow'. We think 'I would, if someone else will pave the way'.
The truth is that there is nothing more painful than being empty to what we are supposed to be. We can correct anger, overcome fears, become more sharing - all of these things are correctable. But when we come to the point of our deaths (and I hate to be morbid, but let's face it, physical death is kind of inevitable and totally unpredictable to boot) what we can't undo is what we should have done, but didn't.
But whilst you're still here... there is always time to step up to the plate.
Ask yourself: "Who am I and who should I have been by now if I hadn't been playing so small?"
This needn't be "I am here to single-handedly end World Poverty". What about "I am here to be a great mother"? or "I am here to help other people understand the difficulties of (insert challenging situation here)" or "I am here to be a great neighbour and build a stronger community" or "I am here to help raise funds for..."
In the classroom each student was asked to reconsider their campaign, then step to the front of the class and state their case for the final seat on the life raft, in to the microphone. The campaigns were totally different. People started to shine. Little flecks of their potential greatness started to show in their eyes and their posture. Some people didn't really know why they were here, but wanted to hang around long enough to truly find out. But each person gave a valid campaign.
And then out of the blue, the mentors (who had previously not been a part of this exercise) were called up to state their own cases. Once again, I was totally unprepared and hadn't thought through what I was going to say. When I stood up, I almost felt the room spin and felt all eyes upon me. It was a small, warm room. My hands started to instantly shake and I started to babble.
'Well,' I said, 'I NEED to be on the lifeboat because it has, er, taken nearly, er, 40 years to overcome my fears, and I am about to start helping other people overcome their fears andthatiswhyIneedtobeonthelifeboat'
I sat down. That wasn't what I wanted to say at all. And since last night my overactive brain has been chewing on what I did want to say, why I wanted to say it, and why I didn't say it. But for that, you will need to wait until tomorrow. Brace yourself.
In the meantime, start celebrating YOUR Greatness! In the midst of guilt about all of the things you could BE, don't forget who you already ARE, what you already HAVE and what you have already DONE!!