I believe in a phenomenon I have been known to call a 'Universal connection'. Yesterday one of these destined occurrences deeply affected the mood I was in and took me from feeling pretty low and depressed to feeling a joyous epiphany. Let me tell you about what happened. You see, I don't believe in random, arbitrary coincidences. My understanding is that life is a combined relationship between humanity's freewill, and the will of a higher power who I call 'The Great Spirit". I believe in a paradoxical type of destiny that is both preordained by this higher power, but also can be altered by our own decisions that we make every moment of everyday. Opportunities and obstacles are presented and then we are to decide whether or not to take any specific action relating to the situation.
O.K. So yesterday I wasn't feeling very well; I have a history of depression and anxiety and I perceived a few events that happened to me as being quite negative. Well it just so happens that the day before I had been sent an email from my Tai Chi instructor that had some links that related to depression, as they know of my problem. I looked at one site that was about some new form of neurotechnology where listening to a certain type of C.D. is supposed to send one's mind into a deep state of meditation. I am admittedly skeptical about this sort of thing as of course money is always supposed to exchange hands. The good thing about this particular site is that they offer a free sample C.D. of which I ordered.
Anyhow, I started to peruse over the information on this site and I came across some quotes by famous people. One that struck me was by a Rabbi Hillel and as my good friend at work is very interested in Jewish culture and religion, I cut and pasted it into Messenger for him to read. As I was feeling down, I left work early and went home to read some more of a book that I've really been enjoying lately. It's called 'Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior' and is written by Dan Millman. It's the sequel to a book I really loved entitled, 'Way of the Peaceful Warrior'. After reading for a chapter or two I came up to Chapter 17: 'Courage of the Outcast'. The chapter began with these words:
If I am not for myself,
Who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself,
What am I?
And if not now, when?
(Hillel, Sayings of the Fathers)
This was the exact quote that I had sent to my friend earlier that day! Out of all the quotes in the world, out of all the chapters I could have read up to, out of all the days in my life; this quote came up twice in one day! I knew there must be a reason for it happening so with some help from my friend I did a little research today on the Internet. This quote has been translated from Hebrew so I have now come to see that it has been interpreted in many different ways. This is the general meaning that I have come to think that the words mean:
'If I am not for myself, who will be for me?' relates to self-esteem. It means that if you don't believe in the spiritual aspects of your Self and love yourself for your divine essence and not just your ego, then others will only see you as someone who hasn't truly formed an identity of your own. If you don't love and have faith in yourself, then others will naturally find it hard to love and have faith in you.
'And if I am only for myself, what am I?' To me this is about then spreading your love and faith to others around you. It is very important to do things that will make you feel better about your own self-esteem, but just doing things for yourself is selfish. The best way to become a strong and happy person is through the service that we can do for others. We have to realize that others are just another form of ourselves, the 'I' that is intrinsic to all forms of life in the Universe (Great Spirit), and their well-being is just as important as our own.
The last line, 'And if not now, when?' refers to action. It's all good and well to have this knowledge, but it is the act of putting it into action that is of greatest importance. Now is the only time that is truly real. The past is gone and can never be lived again, while the future has not appeared yet and for some of us (while in human form) it won't ever come. Any second could be our last, so now is the time to put our knowledge and beliefs into work by integrating them into our every movement.
I believe that these 'Universal connections' happen all around us everyday of our lives. We only have to focus our attention to see them; though sometimes they are so profound they will just jump right out and smack you in the face!
Jesse S. Somer
Jesse S. Somer is a human who is learning to remember that there is more to this life than meets the eye.