Rabbi Akiva was a great sage of Rabbinical Studies and had lots of students, around 24 thousand. They all studied, and followed the rules, and practiced, etc.
Regardless, when the great plague came, all 24 thousand students died except five, among them Shimon Bar Yohai, the author of The Zohar, the main written book of Kabbalah.
Why would all those students die, and why the five. The legend says that Rabbi Akiva went through rigorous self-examination after this plague, and came to the conclusion that it was his fault: he did not squarely base all his teaching on the most fundamental (and hardest) principle: “love your neighbor as yourself”.
It is hard to define exactly what this “love your neighbor as yourself” is, because it is so missing from today’s culture.
What is it? respect? willingness to support another?
I am no sage, so I am going to give you a few recent examples I have experienced.
Why this is important? Because when you are violating this principle, you are disconnected from the 99%. When you are disconnected: your life goes darker. When you are disconnected: the things you desire move away from you. Is that good enough reason?
OK, here is something that happened last week:
Two revered friends of mine, business partners, teach stuff on the internet through webinars. So far so good, right?
They are both extraordinarily talented people. One has a more pleasant voice and a more pleasing way of stringing words together though.
You may expect, but in order to make a living with webinars, you need to sell them…
Half the people like the sharpness of one of these guys, the other half gets enchanted by the oratory capabilites of the other.
The other night I was at one of these “pitch” webinars and noticed the orator’s attitude of extreme beligerance. I picture him in my mind reclining in his chair, and lazily pumping out oh, yeah, hell yeah… constantly interrupting sharpie…
I sent a private message asking”are you drunk?”
“I wish” was the answer
“you do sound drunk…” I replied.
“so much for being encouraging” he retorted.
“well, you sound drunk, snap out of it” I commanded…
It took him a minute or two, but he eventually came around and became part of the presentation, instead of hindering it.
OK, I hope is visible and plain that the attitude of orator was: I do this better, i speak much better than you, I should be doing this, not you…
This, clearly, is disrespectful and diminishing for his partner… so it is violating the principle “love your neighbor as yourself”
Would you have noticed? Would you have known what is happening? Or would you have just gotten, below your conscious level of thought, that there is something off… and that you should not listen to sharpie… that he is no good? I think so.
What am I trying to say? That it is so ingrained in most of us that it is an “either you or me” world, that it would have not occurred as a disconnect from the divine…
The first level of any transformation is awareness.
I used to gossip. I still do, occasionally. I now catch myself fast, but only after the word is out of my mouth.
Gossip is designed to climb on another’s ruined reputation higher… but it is a mirage… everyone who listens feels that you are compensating for something lacking in you.
Since I have stopped to be constantly condescending, proud, gossipy, and comparing myself to others, my luck has increased, my fortune is coming, my health is better, because I disconnect less and less from where it all comes from, the 99%