The kabbalists have long taught that humanity exists within two different realities. The first is the Seen, the world of effect. It is everything you can see, feel, hear, and interact with. Your body, your family, your home, your job, and your possessions. The second is the world of the Unseen; your emotions, dreams, thoughts, beliefs, and connections. The unseen accounts for 99% of our experience yet, so often, we place all of our focus and attention on the 1% experience of the seen world.
We make the wrong things important and so much of our spiritual work is about learning to place our focus on the things that really matter: connection, love, inclusion, and sharing. The great kabbalists went as far as to say that radical kindness and sharing are the only ways to live a truly happy and fulfilled life.
And now science confirms it.
Neuroscientists Jorge Moll, Jordan Grafman, and Frank Krueger of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke have used MRI machines to demonstrate that deep concern for others is an intrinsic part of human nature. Their work suggests that the satisfaction that most people feel when they are kind isn’t because of something we learn but actually comes from the evolution of the human brain.
For example, when volunteers in these studies placed the interests of others before their own, a primitive part of the brain normally associated with food or sex was activated. Similarly, when researchers measured vagal tone (an indicator of feeling safe and calm) in 74 preschoolers, they found that children who’d donated tokens to help sick kids had much better readings than those who’d kept all their tokens for themselves.
However, they also learned that children from wealthier families were less likely to share tokens than the children who came from less well-off families.
Humans are wired for generosity, empathy, and kindness. It is in our inherent nature. What trips us up is the architecture of modern society. In a modern world that overvalues wealth and drastically undervalues human life, we are “rewarded” for our 1% pursuits and mentalities. The bumper stickers that read “The man with the most toys at the end wins” come to mind. It is a backward way of thinking and one that is actually hurting us. Throughout these studies, the evidence was clear: the more wealth someone has, the less connection to humanity they experience.
Psychologists Dacher Keltner and Paul Piff monitored intersections with four-way stop signs and found that people in expensive cars were four times more likely to cut in front of other drivers, compared to folks in more modest vehicles.
When the researchers posed as pedestrians waiting to cross a street, all the drivers in cheap cars respected their right of way, while those driving expensive cars drove right on by 46.2 percent of the time, even when they’d made eye contact with the pedestrians waiting to cross.
When Keltner and Piff left a jar of candy in the entrance to their lab with a sign saying whatever was leftover would be given to kids at a nearby school, they found that wealthier people stole more candy.
Finally, a group of non-profits called Independent Sector found that, on average, people with incomes below $25,000 per year typically gave away a little over 4 percent of their income, while those earning more than $150,000 donated only 2.7 percent (despite tax benefits the rich can get from charitable giving that are unavailable to someone making much less).
The more and more our consciousness slips into this 1% realm of wealth and status, the further we slip away from humanity at large but also our own humanity. The more we place wealth above our humanity the less “human” we become.
Keely Muscatell, a neuroscientist at UCLA, found that wealthy people’s brains showed far less activity than the brains of poor people when they looked at photos of children with cancer.
The more we live in the 1% realm the further we drift from the Light. The more self-centered we become the less happy we are. There are a variety of studies that show that diminished empathy is strongly associated with increased health risks, including stroke, heart disease, depression, and dementia.
While these findings seem bleak, the antidote they offer is so much brighter. A life lived in service of others is life’s true treasure. Real wealth is found in the relationships we build and the kindness that we share every day. This science can give you yet another reason to shift your consciousness to one of joy and to live from that place every day. Spiritually, when we live and give in this way—when we stretch past our limits—we change our experience. We call forth blessings to ourselves and we begin to manifest a life we never thought possible, without losing ourselves in our abundance.
The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches that the path to lasting fulfillment is through service to others and the world at large. The kabbalists call this a Desire to Receive in Order to Share. It is a consciousness that is focused less on lack and scarcity and focused more on how we can use the blessings we already have to create joy and love. When this consciousness shift happens, the wealth you will accrue will be the kind that nourishes you and the world, that brings joy, and that lasts long after you’re gone.
Where in your life have you been prioritizing the 1%? How can you shift your focus to the wealth you already have?