Ihave a daily ritual. Before getting out of bed I pray. Every day.
Morning prayers are powerful kabbalistic tools to start every day with the proper consciousness. They include the morning blessing, or the modeh ani, (I wrote about this in an earlier blog, you can read it here) as well as a prayer called the 18 blessings, a tool for connecting to appreciation for the blessings in our lives, from the sun rising to the ground under our feet, to the very act of waking from sleep.
I was recently drawn to the 2nd of the 18 blessings: “give sight to the blind”. This is not to be taken literally, it is me, all of us, that are blind. Everyday we think we see certain things. We assign reasons to other’s behavior, “seeing” their actions as a direct result of some negative thing that we now believe about that person. We are asked to help with a project but all we see is someone who we perceive as taking with unequal giving or perhaps someone we deem “flaky”, only for the project to take off beyond all expectation (without us). We look around and we see negativity and too often, what we perceive to be negative is the opposite of the reality![blockquote]”We have eyes, but see not. We have ears, but hear not.” -King David[/blockquote]
This part of the prayer asks for the power to open our eyes and see with clarity. It’s not our physical eyes that are the problem, but our perception and interpretation of events. Much of what we feel about others and how we experience life comes down to what we choose to see!
I love this story of Rav Brandwein that perfectly illustrates this point. Rav Brandwein was born in Safed, and his family had lived there for generations. He returned in 1965 accompanied by Rav Berg and one other student. It was a Shabbat afternoon and the three men went for a walk in the old city. A large tour bus stopped and people disembarked. The tour guide approached Rav Brandwein and asked if he would show the group around. Rav Brandwein agreed enthusiastically and he spent about an hour with them, walking through the whole city, pointing out landmarks, telling stories and sharing the history of Safed. (I love to imagine following Rav Brandwein through the streets of Safed in the 1960’s and hearing him speak about his hometown.) Throughout the tour the tourists were smoking and taking pictures, which “breaks” the connection to Shabbat.
Afterward, the other man who was with Rav Berg and Rav Brandwein said, “I don’t understand! How, in the middle of Shabbat, could you walk around and guide these people who are smoking and taking pictures and doing all the things that are not connected to Shabbat?”
Rav Brandwein replied, “I didn’t see anybody smoking or taking pictures!”
Why didn’t he? Because, as the kabbalists teach, when a person is truly connected to the Creator he cannot see anything negative. There was nothing wrong with Rav Brandwein’s eyes. I’m sure his eyes saw the smoking and photography, but his consciousness was so elevated that the behavior did not merit a place in his thoughts. He chose (on a subconscious level) to connect to a group of travelers and his desire to share with them, and not to anything negative. His afternoon was completely unmarred!
This idea of choosing what we see is particularly important in this month of Sagittarius, the month of miracles. Sagittarius is ruled by the planet Jupiter, which is symbolic of good fortune, good luck, abundance and expansion; and was created by the letter Sameach, which looks like a circle, and symbolizes continuity and a constant flow of miracles. This is the month of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, when a great miracle occurred and a time when we can connect to the ability to make the impossible possible.
How do we do this? By seeing the miracle. An opportunity is only an opportunity if you recognize it!
To illustrate, a study asked participants to count the number of photos in a newspaper. Some participants accomplished this task in under 10 seconds, others took over 2 minutes. On page 2 of the newspaper in huge print it said:
STOP READING. THERE ARE 43 PHOTOS.
Some people missed this and continued on and counted all the photos in the newspaper. They missed the answer because they were experiencing a phenomenon called inattentional blindness or sometimes referred to as perceptual blindness or selective attention. They were so focused on counting photos that the giant type with the answer did not register. This phenomenon can occur in all individuals and in no way suggests any cognitive defect or deficit. This study sheds light on the lucky and the unlucky, the miracle receivers and the miracle-disbelievers.
Like the unlucky people in the study, often we are too focused on counting the negativity that we see around us rather than focusing on seeing the good, giving others the benefit of the doubt or simply suspending our judgment, knowing that we don’t have the full picture. This month we need to awaken our consciousness and see the miracle in every day. We need to see only the good, because once we change our perspective and see the blessings and the miracles of everyday life that is when greater miracles will flow into our lives.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION Identify a relationship or situation in your life that you perceive as completely negative. How can you change it? Can you see it differently by looking for something good that may come from it? Perhaps if you gave someone the benefit of the doubt the circumstances surrounding the event will start to look different.
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