By: Rabbi Mark Borovitz
Living well is a struggle. For many of us, just defining living well is daunting. One definition is having what I want and enjoying life. Another is wanting what I have and enjoying life. Still another is having fame and fortune. Living well, according to Spiritual traditions is wanting what I have, living joyously through the agonies, ecstasies and in-betweens of life. To do this, I have to live authentically. This is one of the hardest principles for most of us to live! I am still searching for what is authentic in my life, who I really am and how to practice authenticity in a world filled with falseness. In fact, it seems as if the phonier I am, the more I give people what they want and who they want to see, the more I am rewarded. This is a difficult obstacle to overcome for me. I know in my soul and in my being that I live better when I am being authentic and I know that my life is easier when I live according to what others want. Yet, every time I engage in deception and falseness, my life comes apart at the seams! I am totally confused some days as to which way of being is running the show. Am I being nice to someone because it is going to get me something or am I being nice to someone because it is the right thing to do? If I don’t get what I want, does this mean that I was stupid for being nice? When I am being authentic and people reject me, does this mean that I am bad, defective, wrong, etc.? Does authentic mean that I act whatever way I feel when I feel it?
These questions haunt me every minute of every day. I want to live well. I lived badly for many years and caused much trauma and pain to the people I love and to the world. Was that authentic? I see many people who are trying to live according to how the world says they should and/or how the world says they shouldn’t. I am always confronted with the statement, “this is the real me, take it or leave it’. Yet, is it the “real” person?
Many of us believe that we have to rebel against something or someone to be authentic. This is a fallacy. We have to rebel to our true selves and to a living in truth. This is why having a Spiritual discipline is so important.
The rebellion of any and every Spiritual Discipline stands for non-conformity. This is what makes it a Spiritual Discipline. Conformity, in our society, is doing what everyone else is doing just because they are doing it, like ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc. are all rebellions. Alcoholics Anonymous is a rebellion. All of these and the rest of the Spiritual Disciplines say that living a life of service, compassion, healing, love and Truth is the real path to living a good life. This is against what society says. Society is saying ‘the right house, job, car, mate, bank account, etc. is the path to a good life’. A Spiritual Discipline says that life is not hopeless. These rebellions stand for principles. What principle does your rebellion stand for?