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On Being Against Nothing but for Something: Practical Kabbalah

Mary is a a septuagenarian great-grandmother with extra time on her hands to ponder life's meanings. She writes about what she's learned.


The word outrage has lost all meaning. Things despicable or shocking or extreme are now commonplace. Doublespeak has become the language of the 21st century. The assault on our psyches—our sense of well-being, our understanding of the world, our very reality—is relentless. Inside us, our indignation morphs into an outrage so fierce that it has no name.

One reason we are so offended is that alongside this outrage, we hold an inborn connection with the rest of humanity. We are astounded at the misery around us and weep for those who suffer. The fact that man inflicts these things on man is especially heart-rending. And the realization dawns that each of us has our part in inflicting the suffering, be it by commission or omission.

We hear and feel the outrage as it twists and contorts itself into an amorphous and pointless global chatter, all the while inflating and feeding on itself. And, inevitably, it takes up residence inside us, becoming more robust, and seeking an outlet. It explodes outwardly as we engage in all kinds of actions of protest and resistance.

The excessive increase of anything causes a reaction in the opposite direction.

— Plato

Internal Landscape

How we react has the power to change or to harm. The stronger the force we are pushing against, the harder we have to exert, thus growing the antagonist into a Goliath. The news media lathers itself up as the moment to moment news cycle escalates into a frenzied cacophony. And where does all of this energy go? We take it inside us, into our internal landscape.

And now that it’s there, we have to come to terms with it. This internal space is unique to each of us, sculpted and cultivated out of the experiences of our lives, becoming the central core out of which we act in the world. Everything begins in that place. So it becomes important to tend to what we allow to grow there.


God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites so that you will have two wings to fly, not one.

— Rumi

The Wisdom of Kabbalah

We live in a world of relativity. We experience everything as relative to something else, and when there is no “something else,” we have no ability to experience what is being experienced. This is our reality in the world. It is also our inner reality, the substance of our internal landscape, the field within which we discern our choices and develop the correct intentions for our actions.

The wisdom of Kabbalah calls this the right, left and middle lines. We are motivated by the desire to receive pleasure. The ladder of development of human desire begins with basic-physical desires for food, sex, family and shelter, continues with human-social desires for money, honor, power and knowledge, and climaxes at the desire for spiritual fulfillment. At every step of the ladder, the desire shapes our perception of reality.

A desire presents itself and I want to fulfill it. This is the left line, where ego reigns because I want it only for myself. The discernment begins here when I consider the possible outcome and to do this I look into my internal landscape—my values, my view of myself in relation to others. Then comes the critical element of this inner process—the intention behind the proposed action. The nature of this intention has been built inside me throughout my lifetime.

If I consider it permissible to harm or exploit others to get what I want, I remain on the left line and act egoistically. If I believe that all action must serve the common good as well as myself, I merge that value (the right line) with the left. The middle line emerges as the correct combination of the properties of the other two lines, and this is the path I take. The choice is between egoism and altruism. When ego reigns the world is in chaos, as we see every day.

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So when you come down to it, the calming of the current world crisis is an inside job. But it’s not an easy job, because the method goes against our innate desires for self-fulfillment. Then what is the context within which we frame our responses to global chaos?

Look to Mother Nature for Instructions

We exist within the predictability, power, reliability and utter magnificence of nature. We see, hear, touch, taste and smell her. We are made up of her elements. Our bodies reflect her workings — individual organs, operating together in harmony, sustaining each other, giving life to this beastly part of us.

Nature exists by laws, both external and internal. Gravity, radio waves, electricity simply happen, like heartbeat, breathing, digestion. Other subtler but just as powerful laws create the template for human relationships. They are inter-dependence, altruism, balance and harmony, interconnection. Mankind, however, under the influence of ego, we relentlessly seek fulfillment of our own desires. Our increasing need for self-satisfaction seduces us into following the left line, separating ourselves from each other more and more.

Mother Nature, it turns out, is noticing. She is exerting her terrifying power to re-establish balance. And it is she who will overcome.

But what if we were to beat her to it?


When you contact the Higher Self, the source of power within, you tap into a reservoir of infinite power.

— Deepak Chopra

Instinctively, we want to correct the world around us, as that is where our problems appear. But in truth this is an illusion. The source of our problems is the growing ego. Just as a vehicle’s dashboard shows the driver data such as speed, fuel, and so forth, the world presents us with various data to inform us about our inner qualities. This is in the form of life challenges that cause us to examine our relationships with each other. If we correct our egoism, our negative attitude to others, the “dashboard” will present us with a perfect world—a replica of our inner world. We rebuild and remodel our inner landscape repeatedly until we are able to project perfect connection among us.

This is not the easiest inner work because we are often called upon to make choices that are against our desires. However, we have a reliable and enduring measure—the laws of nature. If being in alignment with them is the “for,” we don’t have to be against anything. Our decisions and behaviors will be aimed unremittingly at out-picturing a world that works for everyone. We will always be for cooperation, collaboration, love and care for our fellow humans.

And it is when we establish this reality within ourselves, any actions—protests, influencing legislation, running for office, marching—become sacred. Our intention becomes to re-establish the balance and harmony of nature by arranging our lives according to her template and our message comes from that place.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Edward Ponderer on September 23, 2018:

A deeply beautiful piece--truth packaged in an almost poetic prose, ribboned and bowed with most beautiful art graphics. It is an inner message not lost to a lovely external--like, say nature does with the orange: lovely, texture exterior matching and worthy of the fruit protected within. A healthy, tasty marmalade could be made from it alone, yet the true value--the every so sweet and vitamin C packed fruit within, is not lost--only enhanced.

Thank so much Ms. Miesem for sharing this precious gem!

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