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Can People Change?

Can People Change?

Creating something from nothing

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Most people never really change.

Sad, but true.

Some people never even try.

But those of us who do try often experience great frustration and disappointment as we encounter the same limitations over and over again.

Life can start to seem downright repetitive.

Creating Something From Nothing

Why is it that in most cases your life keeps looking like some variation of whatever we've experienced before?

The answer is: because we are creating something from something. We're attempting to create a new and different future based on the limitations of our past.

Imagine that you are a potter and you have a piece of clay. You can study your craft and make pots that are smoother, sturdier, or more beautiful than before. But when all is said and done, they're still just clay pots.

Who says you have to be a potter? And who says you can only make things out of clay?

G-d Creates Something From Nothing

There is a fundamental kabbalistic principle of Creation known as yesh m'ayin--"something from nothing."

This principle explains that G-d is bringing the entire world, including me and you, into existence from absolute nothingness at every moment.

G-d didn't create this world once and withdraw back into Heaven, where He supervises from a distance and intervenes when appropriate. Rather, He is actively and intentionally speaking the world into existence from nothing in the present moment, again and again and again. In fact, if G-d would stop creating this world--with all of its myriad details--at any moment, the world and everything in it would disappear as if it had never been.

Based on this, two things are clear:

  1. The world has no existence outside of G-d. Everything we experience in life is part of G-d and His intention and purpose for Creation.

  2. G-d desires the world--and you as an individual being--with an intense and personal desire. Everything you do has great meaning and significance to Him. That's why He keeps on creating you.

Remember the old commercial where a little kid said something like: "I must be good because G-d made me, and G-d doesn't make junk"?

Actually, the truth is much more powerful than that. G-d doesn't make anything or anyone without a profound purpose. He passionately desires you and just as passionately wants you to desire Him. And He is waiting--with bated breath--for you to embrace the Divine purpose for which you have been created. To make your life, your relationships and your circumstances a “dwelling place” for the Divine.

What Is Nothingness?

G-d creates from Nothing because Nothingness, ayin, actually means absolute, infinite possibility. No limitations. No restrictions. None at all.

When you don't need to be any particular something, you're free to be anything. Kabbalah calls this infinite potential "nothingness"--not because there's nothing there, but because there are absolutely no limitations that define or restrict this infinite possibility in any way.

You're Already Creating Something From Nothing

As a human being created in the image of G-d, you are also empowered to create something from nothing. And you do, all the time.

Unfortunately, most of the time what we create from nothing are the stories about what we can't do, aren't capable of, will never have--together with all the reasons why.

These stories are continuously being recreated from nothing in each of our lives. But unlike G-d, who creates consciously, we create this reality unconsciously. It's a sort of default programming. Yes, we may have reasons for what we believe are our limitations, but those reasons, while they may help to explain our past, do not have the power to limit our future. Unless we think they do, and act accordingly.

Most of us don't wake up in the morning in awe of our own potential, in touch with our Divine purpose, filled with the joy of life, ready to create. More often we wake up all-too-conscious of our limitations, our disappointments, our frustrations, our unfulfilled needs, and the burdensome problems we need to solve. No wonder so many of us are worn out before we even get out of bed.

Harold and The Purple Crayon

You might have read a cute little children's book called "Harold and the Purple Crayon." In this book, Harold, a baby, draws things with his purple crayon on his bedroom walls. He draws things like castles, mountains, roads and tigers. The interesting part is that then Harold climbs the mountains, runs down the roads, explores the castles and runs away from the tigers. Sometimes he gets so far into the picture that he can't figure out how to get home again--but then, he just takes his purple crayon and draws the road back.

Harold is always creating something from nothing.

You can create something from nothing, too.

Your life, your present and future, is actually an ayin--a "nothing" of infinite potential. Yes, it is true that as a soul in a specific physical body, there are some limits to what you can create.

But you have no idea what they are.

-- Do you want to experience unconditional love? How would you behave if you were committed to love others unconditionally, especially those people who long for your love? Your parents. Your children. Your spouse. Your friends. What if you noticed, accepted and appreciated the way they love you--even if it doesn't yet look exactly the way you want it to look?

What might happen today if you behaved that way? What if you stayed committed to that experience over time--what might happen to your most intimate relationships, your family, your community, your world? Don't shortchange yourself by skipping over this question. Really think about it.

-- Do you want to experience your power to live as a creator rather than a victim in your life? How would you behave if you refused to let your fears and past failures put any limits on what you do right now?

What would you do that you've been putting off? What else? What might you actually create or achieve over time if you do those things? And perhaps even more important, what would life be like for you right now if you choose to be a person who isn't stopped by fear?

Do you want to be more intimately in touch with your Creator and your Divine purpose? How would you behave if you were a person committed to seeing G-d's intimate, infinite and loving presence in all aspects of your life? What if every action you take was based on the assumption that nothing is wrong--because G-d is intentionally, creating your world right now on behalf of your ultimate purpose and fulfillment?

What might your life be like--today--if you behaved that way? How about your relationships? Your energy? Your happiness? Your peace of mind?

Like a farmer who tills his field, plants seeds, waters and tends them, sometimes it can take time to see the results of your efforts. But if you are willing to create something from nothing, you don't have to twiddle your thumbs while you wait for things to grow. The very decision to be a creator in your own life brings with it some powerful, intrinsic rewards; rewards like joy, fulfillment--and miracles.

Shifra Hendrie is a personal and spiritual coach who has been studying and teaching the principles of authentic Kabbalah for over 20 years. More about her writings and programs can be found on her website.
About the artist: Sarah Kranz has been illustrating magazines, webzines and books (including five children’s books) since graduating from the Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan, in 1996. Her clients have included The New York Times and Money Marketing Magazine of London.
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Discussion (7)
April 12, 2010
Can People Change?
We are all human beigns and have potential and a purpose to live in this world. People need to trust God with their hearts and have faith in his will to see us through.
Anonymous
October 23, 2008
great article
Is very good to be able to read articles like this, specially when we need the most. This gives us an opportunity to look the things with better eyes, and from this be able to follow G-d's will.
Anonymous
tel aviv, israel, israel
July 6, 2007
article re people not changing
I had a question in my mind and instantly stumbled on this article through Google. Absolute magic, spot on and exactly what I needed to hear. A little miracle maybe? The first reader comment however expresses dissappointment in finding truth that appears to lie outside the bounds of your sacred book, the Kaballah. Religious dogma is always used to limit growth and understanding. G_d's realtiy, at least to a gentile like me, can only be experienced in the heart or through spirit and can never live within the limitations of ink on a page. When will people learn to trust their hearts rather than rely on external things? I have been most impressed with the teachings I have found in your Kaballah community. Please dont make the same mistakes that I previously and other religious people make. Religious dogma is fear based and limits understanding. Pure truth can only exist in the heart, not in a book. Thanks again for this incredibly helpful article. Priceless.
Sharky
Manchester, UK
March 1, 2007
Well Done
Thank You very much. This is a great article.
Kevin Chen
Singapore
May 30, 2006
reply to last comment
I understand where this person is coming from but it is childish to think that way. A significant point of this article is that it forces you to think outside the box. If something inspires someone, whatever reason that may be, that is part of life and life is part of torah automatically so in my opinion it is impossible that chabad.org post articles not affiliated with the torah.
risa
April 28, 2006
I do like much of this article and found it thought-provoking. However, I find it disconcerting that Ms. Hendrie's writing often includes references to people's "stories" -- which to me always connotes non-Jewish philosophies like TM and its related modern incarnations. I find that I am not able to to fully appreciate the Torah in Ms. Hendrie's articles because I am not certain which parts are actually Kabbalah and which are from other sources. I would like to trust Chabad.org to offer only pure Torah inspiration!
reader in USA
April 23, 2006
wow..very good article! thankyou!
chaya