Monday, April 28, 2008
Our Escapist Tendencies - Getting to Know Yourself
I have written before about people's desire to distract themselves from their own desire for greater holiness and their dissatisfaction with their life without it. I wrote about wanting to distract one's self from Shabbos and from one's spiritual life in general, using movies/TV/ipods/novels/etc here and here.
This is expresed also in the way that the priests used to sacrifice people's children to the Molech. While the priests would kill their children, other priests would beat drums and play loud music, so that people should not hear the screaming of their children calling out for their help, which might cause them to change their mind about what they were doing.
Similarly, when our neshamos are crying out to us for help, we don't like the discomfort of hearing that inner pain. So we distract ourselves from hearing our inner voice by drowning it out with ipod music, movies, novels, or workaholic-ism.
If we want to take the first step towards living the life we are supposed to live, rather than distracting ourselves from that purpose with all of our twenty-first century distractions, then we must first recognize that we do not need all of our gadgets and distractsions merely for their enjoyment or necessity. Rather, we must recognize that, to the extent that this is the case, they are really there to drown out the voice of our neshamos.
Once we attain this self-recognition, we can begin to do a kind of hisbonenus before we begin to engage in one of these entertaining distractions. One might say to himself before opening up a novel or turning on his ipod during a train or bus ride: "The true inner "I," my neshoma, wants to serve you, Hashem. But the superficial "I" doesn't want to think about things like that. I don't feel that I have the wherewithall to win in this battle right now, so I am going to do XYZ to take my mind off of what I should really being doing right now. But I recognize that it is only a distraction, and not the deeper desire of who I truly am inside."
This brief thought is, IMHO, in line with the teachings of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh. IY"H, may we merit to recognize our escapist tendencies and get to truly know ourselves, as a first step towards "getting to know" Hashem.
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