- The Message in the Middle
- Give forgiveness and love. Get forgiveness and love!
- In search of Happiness
- A dress rehearsal for the kingdom of Heaven reigning here on earth
- The Ultimate Good Mind is the Mind of Ha-Mashiach
- Change your thoughts (mind), change your brain, change your life
- The Mind is the Master and the brain is just the donkey
- I have a brain but I am not my brain
- Having a cold virus does not make you a cold virus!
- The universe possesses emerging conscious properties; not just physical properties
- The Law of Use
- Powers of the Mind
- Let the little children be your guides
- An eternal perspective of the Mind works better than a temporal one
- Eternal Optimism
- Seven steps to a more celebrative life
- Hope leads us away from despair into strength, overcoming courage and love:
- Building according to code
- Torah of the Millennial Kingdom
- Appearance of the Shekinah glory cloud
- The glorious illumination in the Court of the Women
Message in the Middle #3
Although the fall sabbatical month of Tishri is incredibly prophetic and supernatural in character it is also a time of down to earth common sense. Repentance, confession, restitution, reconciliation, charity and a celebration of the gift of life are fairly simple and straightforward concepts. Put simply, the fall High Holy days can be summarized in just a few words:
Give forgiveness and love. Get forgiveness and love!
The narrative of the High Holy Days begins with our traveling on a bumpy road called Repentance (Teshuvah). We have to start out on the road called repentance to get to the joyous destination of Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Peace (Shalom). Without repentance you can’t get to forgiveness. And without forgiveness you can’t ever hope to move forward to Simchat, the Joy of Reconciliation, Peace, and Love (chesed and ahavah).
Understanding #1. Why is forgiveness such a big deal? Forgiveness transforms us. Forgiveness transforms our negative emotions into positive ones. Forgiveness transforms our lives. Then with this change in thinking-feeling comes a change in relationships. When we erase the offenses of the past that we have committed against each other and the Holy One, then we can go back to the perfect garden again. We can go back to Loving each other again.
Understanding #2. Forgiveness liberates. Adverse, emotionally charged traits (relationships) become re-authored, reframed, re-narrated, and reformed into ‘new’ advantageous, positively charged traits (relationships). With forgiveness, negative relational life styles are converted into new positive life styles.
Understanding #3. Another outcome of forgiveness is it can transform one’s negative identity into a positive identity. The injured person reframes and changes his or her identity from vanquished, victim-pessimist, to overcoming, forgiver-optimist.
Understanding #4. Forgiveness empowers us. Forgiveness does more than overcome adversity. It pursues, acquires and maintains abundant life. It optimizes human potential. Forgiveness develops outstanding character in us and facilitates relational excellence in our outward behavioral lives. It fosters happiness; a sense of abundant living.
In search of happiness:
Almost nineteen years have passed since a Jewish Psychologist inaugurated a science of Positive Psychology (Martin E. P. Seligman, 1997). It is the study of positive emotion, character and institutions. It was determined by this happy rebel and his colleagues that psychology had overemphasized the dynamic of ‘pathology’ in human existence. Therefore, they proposed that a greater effort be expended to investigate what makes life most worth living (i.e. happiness).
El-Elyon is the LORD of all Science and Medicine.
Most of these Positive Psychologists are secular humanists. We get that. But in our belief they are servants of the Most High (whether they know it or not). In our belief El-Elyon (the Most High) is the Lord of all Science and Medicine. He is more than the Lord of Theology. He is the Lord of all. He is the Almighty All-Sufficient One (El Shadda).
When we are positive we are agreeing with our Creator.
We are agreeing with the Wisdom of the Almighty (Chokhmat Elohim). Since these scientists are agreeing with the Chokhmat Elohim, even though they don’t know it, that makes them servants of the Most High. It was the Lord of all Creation who said that His Creation was “Very Good!” People of faith should be the most positive people who live on this great Divine gift called earth. How could we be and do otherwise? Those who practice blessing (the positive) do the work of the Word of Life (D’var HaChayim).
The opposite of cursing is blessing. So bless.
Those who practice cursing (the negative) do the work of the wicked one. Positive Psychology and all the other professions that enhance our human potentials for happiness are part of the Divine enterprise. They enhance our common grace understanding of how, why and under what conditions positive emotions, thoughts, character, relationships, and the institutions that enable them thrive.
A dress rehearsal for the kingdom of Heaven reigning here on earth:
The practice of forgiveness-reconciliation-shalom promotes a horizon-to-horizon view of life.
In the Twenty-first century we need a new powerful supplement of the positive to be added to what we learned in the last twenty centuries about human suffering, weakness and disorder. Today we need to embrace a more complete and balanced understanding of the human experience. The sincere observance of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, and Yom Kippurim does exactly that (a dress rehearsal for the heavenly kingdom reigning here on earth). The study and practice of forgiveness-reconciliation-shalom promotes a horizon-to-horizon view of life. Its subject-matter covers both the pathologies of human life-existence and our great human potentials for health, wellness, goodness, love, and happiness.
Understanding #5. Forgiveness is a core concern and initiative during the High Holy Days. Forgiveness enriches our lives by giving to those of us who enthusiastically embrace its reality a wide-angle perspective of the valleys (anxiety, anger, depression, fear, grief, despair), the peaks (security, well-being, happiness) and the everything in-between (empathy, optimism and confidence) of human experience. Our basic premise is that positive life change can result from changing the way people think about things.
The transformational formula is: Change your thinking (build a good mind; the mind should superintend the brain and the body), change your brain, change your life! We incorporate cognitive theory elements such as ‘disputing’ into our moment to moment thinking process. Faulty thought patterns and irrational beliefs are changed by disputing them. We believe that the meaning people assign to their lives is the meaning they will live with. So why voluntarily assign-accept negative meanings that are hurtful and depressing? Resistance is required! We need to athletically reject (resist) the negative messages and meanings that so often invade our consciousness.
The Ultimate Good Mind is the Mind of Ha-Mashiach:
Change your thinking, change your brain, change your life!
The Torah teaches us to change the meaning of our lives from negative to positive through exercising our own individual (and collective) “Mind.” The Creator gave human beings a Mind as well as a brain. The Mind is a powerful entity. The Mind possesses the power of free-will. The Mind is like the driver, owner, and maintainer of a car. (Software). The brain is like the car (hardware). The ultimate good mind is the Mind of Messiah. The intellect, will, emotions, and memory (assignment of positive meanings) of the Mind of Ha-Mashiach is represented in the supernatural place and furnishings of the Holy Place in the Temple (i.e. Holy Place is Mind of Messiah; Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, is Spirit of Adonai).
We can choose our thoughts. We don’t have to accept whatever thoughts enter into our consciousness.
Just like we must have a physical immune system, we must also have an immune system for our thoughts. There are natural healthy thoughts and there are invading parasitical thoughts. We can accept the thoughts that are natural and healthy and we can reject (process out) the attacking sick thoughts. We can learn to take every thought captive that enters our brain and make it obey our mind (our chosen self).
For those of us who are messianic Jews we choose to know the mind of the Messiah (His intellect, will, and emotional life) and to conform our minds to His likeness.
The Mind of the Messiah is communicated to us through the written Torah and the oral Torah. The oral Torah is the leading and guiding (Indwelling) Presence of the Spirit of Truth (cf. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
Change your thoughts (mind), change your brain, change your life:
Insight #1. Mindfulness is our ability to change and upgrade the traits, states and overall capabilities of our brains through simply changing our thinking. Therefore, in modern behavioral thought we now believe that a person can change his or her life through the simple formula: Change your thoughts (mind), change your brain, change your life (relationships and behavior).
Insight #2. Due to the powers of our Mind the brain’s actual circuitry (hardware) can be reshaped and transformed into the image of whatever new thoughts (software) we select to dominate our consciousness (the power of neuroplasticity given to us by Hayotzer, the Creator). In today’s twenty-first century, human beings are no longer fatalistically believed to be a by-product of their mental genetic predispositions and the social conditioning of their family of origin. Modern Neuro-Science’s discovery of the ‘Mind’ means there is a free-will Agent in the “box” called the body and the brain (i.e “strength”).
Insight #3. However, the Mind is useless to us if we don’t use it. The Mind is really a “Use it or Lose it” proposition. For the Mind to be fully operational it must be constantly exercised, tuned up and toned up. Through its constant exercise the Mind’s free will agency and vast potentials can be fully enjoyed. Non-use of the Mind only leads to a full fatalistic dependence (by default) upon the social-programming of our brain. This is the non free-will use of the brain. Without the free-will agency of the Mind we become a fate. When we are reduced to becoming a fate we become an outcome of the random synaptic events that interactively occur collectively within and among all our brains. In this case of collective determinism, rigid conscious conformity, and ‘mindlessness’ our cars (brains) will fatalistically and materialistically decide where we the drivers (absentee Minds; nullification of Spirit) will passively go.
Insight 4#. If our free-will and conscious awareness count for anything then we must agree with the Spirit of Truth: The Mind is actually “Who we are” (the Administrator of our Soul) and the brain is just the “What we do.” The Mind is the Driver. The Brain that the Driver transports in is just the transportation system we use to get to where we need to go. Since the Torah is big on the use of “Donkeys” as a transportation system (Wild and Domesticated), I like to say:
The Mind is the Master and the brain is just the donkey:
Donkeyology #1. This means that the full exercise of all the power of the Mind is essential if we are to live our lives as healthy, intelligent, autonomous individuals. You have to train your donkey. I call the training of my donkey (the brain), “Donkey-ology.” In Torah wild donkeys are a bad thing and domesticated donkeys are a good thing.
Donkeyology #2. If my brain is going wild on me then I need to beat it back into a state of submission while reciting the sacred Haftorah words: “dumb donkey, dumb donkey!!” (cf. Isaiah 1:3). Therefore, in modern behavioral science human consciousness (the Mind) is considered the driver of our being and not the brain.
I have a brain but I am not my brain:
Insight #8. In the brain the intellect, will, and emotion that you choose is valid. Malfunctions of the brain that are counter to your will are invalid. Just as a parasitical virus, invading bacteria, and tumors are invalid. They are unwanted invaders of the host organism. So IT is unwanted consciousness and the behavior that It outlets is invalid (an IT is Invalid Thinking).
Having a cold virus does not make you a cold virus!
You are responsible for your unwanted thoughts and actions but this does not mean you ‘are’ the things you do; otherwise, instead of saying you had a virus you would have to say I ‘am’ a virus.
Insight #9. The Mind empowers us to get our brains (the what we do) to conform to the who we are; not the other way around. Otherwise the saying would be true: “I had a fart, I am a fart.” How ridiculous is that?
The universe possesses emerging conscious properties; not just physical properties:
Neuroscientists no longer believe that our human consciousness is a fated string of random synaptic events.
Because of the Divinely inspired discovery in the Neuroscience of the Mind: It is longer believed that human consciousness is a fated string of “random synaptic events.” There is more to the universe than emerging physical properties. The universe is also made up of emerging conscious properties. This means you and I have real free-will. We are free if we recognize that we are the Mind (the Driver) and not just the brain (our transportation system).
Insight #10. In fact our conscious properties (mind, soul, and spirit) are more enduring than our physical properties. Our physical bodies will die but our conscious being will never die. Also, the science of mind is now a matter of quantum physics (cf. quantum consciousness). This means that the beginning of the universe was the creation of a Conscious Causal Agent and not a physical causal agent (cf. Cosmology, theories of the origins of the Universe; conscious and physical).
Insight #11. Consequently, the fated social programming of our past, programmed in our brains by our social conditioning, our host societies and families of origin and others, need not (and should not) determine our present and future individual beliefs, convictions, and values. Fate will not determine our day-to-day thinking and living if we are aware we have a Mind and use it. Therefore, by exercising the Mind a person can choose what the present and future programming of the brain will be: what to keep from the past; what to get rid of in the present; and what changes one wants to make in the future.
The Law of Use:
We all need to be aware of the Law of Use.
The brain can and will assign socially pre-determined (programmed) negative meanings into our lives if we do not “use” our Mind. If we are not careful: Socially conditioned negative meanings can become a means of imprisoning us in an oppressive perpetual state of constant relational impoverishment! For instance, one can be socially conditioned to believe relatedness to others is a threat, a bother, and a curse. This leading to the false belief of disliking, and hating people. However, through the exercise of the Mind one can learn to act independently of this conditioning. The Mind can change the ‘fates’ of the brain. Its powers of ‘free-will’ can lead the impoverished person on to a new life of relational affluence.
Powers of the Mind:
Being like the Ashrei-Man
Through the powers of the Mind happiness is possible. Happiness (ashrei, blessedness) is possible when one sees relationships with others as an opportunity, a joy, and an abundant blessing. This leading to the positive belief of liking and loving people; even when we strongly disagree with them; like my Bramble Bush friends in the rabbinates. Negative meanings derived from a poor social conditioning of the brain can make the most fantastic and extraordinary life experiences dull, plain, and boring.
A poorly programmed brain can make even the wealthy feel like they are poor and pitiful.
The negative, distorted meanings a poorly programmed brain chooses will always impoverish the life of its master, the Mind. But even the most negative of brains can be overhauled and changed. Your brain can be positively transformed (look up the term “neuroplasticity”). The new positive meanings you (repeatedly) assign by your Mind possess the power to make the smallest of your life events an experience of great celebration, wonder, and joy for you (cf. the old American sitcom “Seinfeld;” observe how the characters frequently exercise the child-like abilities of creativity and imagination to make the ‘ordinary’ every-day things of life absolutely extraordinary!).
Let the little children be your guides:
Re-learn how to celebrate life. Let the little children be your guide.
Observe small children at play and let their joyousness guide you. Through the powers of the Mind what we once did as children involuntarily, unconsciously, spontaneously, we can now learn to do again as adults. We can voluntarily, consciously, and intentionally experience life as love, curiosity, exploration, and play. Through the Mind the joy-filled free-will exercise of innocence, harmlessness, and play is still possible. Joyousness-Happiness is possible at any age. But happiness is only possible for adults when there is intentionality: When we forcefully decide to assign a positive meaning to all of the circumstances of our lives.
An eternal perspective of the Mind works better than a temporal one:
Let the One who truly loves you define you; and no one else!
An eternal perspective of the mind (soul, spirit) works better than a temporal one. Do not let the invading viral and toxic thoughts take you over (the valid host organism) without a fight! Assigning a positive meaning to all of one’s circumstances is so empowering that it can and even does make the economically disadvantaged feel like they are royalty (the meanings we assign to our circumstances can impoverish us or make us feel wealthy beyond all measure). The constant assignment of positive meanings to our lives brings the exceeding relational super-abundance of love into our individual and collective relational consciousness. These chosen positive meanings that people can and should assign are an outcome of learning.
After twenty centuries of pessimism it is time for an eternity of optimism.
In the past: We learned for twenty centuries to be pessimists. In the present and future: We can lean to be optimists. Pessimism reacts to setbacks from a presumption of personal helplessness (bad events last a long time, undermine everything I do, are my fault). In contrast: Optimism does the opposite of pessimism.
Point #1. Optimism responds to setbacks from a presumption of personal ’empowerment’ instead of reacts in helplessness.
Point #2. Optimism inoculates against depression, improves health, energizes talent, and instills, nurtures and maintains our desire to embrace achievement. The meanings you assign are the meanings you will live with. So, why not agree with our Creator and make them “very good” ones? Why assign a negative meaning when you are the one who will have to live with IT?
Point #3. Optimism is a positive assignment of meaning that encourages a confidant exploration of life through the global explanatory belief that “everything works to good” (instead of bad).
Point #4. Optimism reacts to set backs from a positive event-explanation (attribution) frame of reference. Bad events (adversity, trials) are temporary setbacks, isolated to particular circumstances that can be overcome by effort (motivation) and abilities (aptitude, optimism). Mindful positive assignment of meaning leads to success in careers, health, child rearing, school, sports and just about anything else you can think of.
Point #5. People who are positive have less illness and recover more quickly than people who are negative. People who assign negative meanings to life are more inclined to be depressed and depression lowers the functioning of the immune system. The consequence of chronic anxiety, depression, and poor immune function is an unhappy life and a shorter life-span. Conclusion: in stark contrast, contemporary studies of optimism show that positive, hope-filled thinking can boost the immune system, elevate your sense of well-being, and help you enjoy a longer life. The opposite of optimism is pessimism. Pessimism makes us sick. It contributes to anxiety and depression. Many anxious and depressed persons exercise a constant and abiding pessimistic explanatory style which has been correlated to decreased physical and mental health.
Seven steps to a more celebrative life:
Seven steps to a positive assignment of meaning and more celebrated life are these:
Step #1. “Identify the adversity” that you are experiencing or have experienced;
Step #2. “Identify the false beliefs” used to explain the adversity (i.e. the bad event);
Step #3. “Examine the consequences” of your false beliefs;
Step #4. “Change your old beliefs.” Dispute them if they appear irrational (or unproductive);
Step #5. “Create new positive beliefs” that are realistic and productive;
Step #6. “Create a new positive narrative” about your life and circumstances that is positive-meaning driven.
Step #7. “Get excited and enthusiastic” about believing positive things and enthusiastically going out and doing them. Creating a new positive meaning is not the same thing as positive thinking or optimism. Positive thinking is assigning a positive meaning no matter what the reality is. Positive meaning is the practice of constantly affirming one’s belief in both a positive reality and in the positive meanings that are associated with this reality.
If we must always live with the meaning we assign, why not assign a good meaning; instead of a bad one.
Optimism is only about thinking non-negatively (good). Assigning a positive meaning is globally about not letting the injuries of life define you; therefore, “everything” works to good (very good). Therefore, this everything works to good is what Sukkot is really all about. We are celebrating life to its fullest! We are living a wonderful new story. The People who are grounded in positive reality declare hope in the face of suffering. Hope powerfully reframes and transforms the meaning of all of life. We are positively re-framing all of our past experience of our time living in shacks in the desert. By faith: we are now and forever always living in the Promised Land! Assignment of a positive meaning is about focusing on the very good that the Creator made. It’s about searching for the blessedness of this good life that the Creator of the heavens and the earth has given us. Sukkot is about the end of the journey and the beginning of a very good life. It is about harvesting “with shouts of Joy” the bounty of the life that was at the first “sown in tears.”
Hope leads us away from despair into strength, overcoming courage and love:
Hope#1. Hope drives us to stay on the path of the “Way” (Halakha) that will best lead us to a permanent state of happiness.
Hope #2. Chesed-Ahavah (Love) is the Way of Hope. Loving the One who made us and loving our neighbor as we want to be loved is how we can transcend our (corporate and individual) sufferings, adversities, temptations, and trials.
Hope #3. Hope and Faith properly applied are a gracious endowment offered by the Creator through His creation of the Mind which is “His” Gift to us all. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me,” as the Scriptures say, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”
Building according to code:
“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
The Torah observance of Sukkot consists of four main aspects: building of booths, taking of four species of foliage, sacrificial offerings and rejoicing for all seven days (Numbers 29:12-39). Rabbinic law and tradition dictate how this feast is observed today.
Law #1. The Sukkah must conform to strict “building codes” as to its dimensions.
Law #2. The Sukkah must have a roof made from leaves and straw that allows one to see the stars at night.
Law #3. While the rabbis say we are supposed to dwell in Sukkahs throughout the festival, eating of our meals inside the booths is counted as fulfilling this scriptural requirement.
Law #4. Sukkahs are built at homes, at schools and at synagogues.
Law #5. According to the successor rabbis to the Prushim the four species of foliage must include the “Etrog” (false, must include the “Olive”) along with the palm, myrtle, and willow branches.
Law #6. The branches get bound together with palm leaves and together form the “Lulav,” which along with the Etrog (which the rabbis specify is not bound with the other species but is kept separate unto itself) are waved in the synagogue at the appropriate times.
Torah of the Millennial Kingdom:
In the first Hebrew Gospel of the Brit Chadashah, in “Given of Elohim,” we observe Yeshua, the Messiah, teaching His fellow Jewish brethren about the Sukkot theme of the Millennial Kingdom: “Now when Rabbbi Yeshua heard this He marveled and said to those who were following ‘Amen, I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. And I say to you, that many shall come from east and west and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of Heaven.'” In Messiah Yeshua’s teaching you see a perfect example of the hearts of the children being restored to the “Fathers” (and these restored ‘pure’ hearts are not etrogs). The Feast of Sukkot depicts the global blessing that will one day occur when the Messiah Yeshua leads the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob back into their homeland, into a restored Israel, where all of the promises are fulfilled. During this time (that will last 1,000 years), after Messiah’s return to the earth a second time, fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be present with us in glorified, immortal bodies, teaching us from the pure heart of the Spirit about Adonai. The Seven Shepherds will also help us teach the Gentiles (their spiritual children) all about the goodness, love, grace, and mercy of Adonai.
Appearance of the Shekinah glory cloud:
In the Besorah of the Light-bringer (the third face of Ezekiel, the third Hebrew Gospel), when Rabbi Yeshua was on the Mount of Transfiguration at night He was transfigured. He visibly manifested the Eternal One’s Shekinah glory. This was a complete unfailing manifestation of the Divine light of the Holy One. Although it was night time, the entire side of the sacred mountain (Mount Chermon) was lit up as bright as if there had been a brilliant sunrise. At that moment Moses and Elijah appeared to the Messiah Yeshua while He was in His glorified state. They did so to discuss with Him His future death, resurrection and ascension (triumphant return back to heaven). Some believe that this event actually occurred on the Feast of Sukkot. We don’t! We believe the Messiah would have never missed observing even one of the mandatory feast days. Ever! This is so because Messiah came to fulfill all of the Torah of Moses; not to replace it! However, whether you believe He did miss Sukkot or not is not the point here. The point is that the Feast of Sukkot, also called the Festival of Lights, definitely is prophetically connected to this special historical event of the miraculous appearance of Moses and Elijah bearing witness to the truth that the Messiah is Or Ha’Olam, the Light of the World. The positive point is with true faith in the Messiah we are able to fulfill all of the spiritual meaning and purposes of the Festival of Lights! Without faith in the Messiah we are holding to the symbols without embracing the Reality that these symbols are pointing us to. Have faith that HaShem is with us! Embrace the Divine Presence, He is the “Reality.” Reality is being in harmony with the will, thoughts, and emotions of the Holy One.
The glorious illumination in the Court of the Women:
In Temple times: Like the four great golden lampstands that remained lit throughout the Feast of Sukkot that brilliantly illuminated the Temple Courts from the Court of the Women: The Light of the World (Ha-Mashiach) was miraculously born of a Jewess, Mary, on the first day of Sukkot (cf. the “Messiah in Chanukkah”). We believe in this twenty-first century the Messiah will return from heaven to earth to light up the whole world with the glorious illumination that will proceed out of the glory of His Presence. For this second time He will triumphantly return to us as the Resurrection and the Life (Hatekumah v’haChayim) and the Savior of all Men (HaMoshia l’chol Adam).