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the Goal, the journey, or neither?

What is more important to you: the goal or the process of achieving it?

What if the truth is neither? That the real truth lies not in a goal, in results, or even in the journey.

It’s beautiful that today in the world of sports, business, health, and so on, the focus is on enjoying the journey rather than the destination. Let’s use the journey of health as an example. The (proper) journey of being healthy starts with, well, defining what healthy looks like and feels like to you. In other words, what your intention is and the meaning behind it. Then, enjoying the journey means that in becoming that definition of health, the individual realizes that their joy, happiness, and success does not lie when it is achieved, rather they are to enjoy the challenge and struggle of becoming that new person i.e to live in the moment no matter how challenging.

To emphasize further, the focus on the journey is very enjoyable, effective, and sustainable. In August 2019, when I was an ambassador for Mindvalley, I listened to the Mindvalley Talk, How To Eliminate Stress And Anxiety FOREVER by Dr. Srikumar Rao. In this lesson, Dr. Rao presents a valid reason for why stress arises in the first place, the illusion of control. He encourages listeners to forget about the goal. Goals are only important because they set direction. Once the direction has been set, forget about the goal, don’t even think about the goal. Instead, he encourages listeners to put their emotional energy on what is needed to accomplish/to do in order to achieve it. What a powerful shift in perspective and understanding of stress! It recognizes that life is full of journeys and not destinations. He even poses questions to ask that assists in making decisions ranging from books to read, movies to watch, subjects to learn, and careers to choose:

Is this a journey I want to take? Is this a place I want to spend my time?

A reasoning is that often we know the ending to things, like movies or books. Rather than choosing the result, it places the focus on the journey there. Or, in the case of a career, it places the focus not only on the journey there but also the journey in that career. Although the focus on the journey is effective and truthful, there is another question, a subtle - sometimes very subtle - focus that precedes choosing the journey over the goal. The following will shed some light on what this preceding focus is. In the “What I am Learning” section of last week’s newsletter, I wrote about learning the discourse I Will Choose the King 1971 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. It was originally delivered on his birthday, so I started learning in honor of the 120th anniversary Tuesday of this week. By the hand of G-d, this was the first maamar, discourse, I learned two years ago, a few months after I returned from a 10 day silent meditation retreat (video: Silent Meditation Retreat & Benefits of Meditation). The book of the discourse came to me by hashgacha pratit, by Divine Providence, and illuminated my perspectives on life and approach to life. This year I revisited the discourse to review my previous understanding and to evaluate my grasp intellectually and practically of the subject matter. I was very surprised and pleased to see that on his Youtube channel, Rabbi YY Jacobson (Episode 69: Breaking Through Personal Limitations with Rabbi YY Jacobson), started teaching a 4 part series on “I Choose the King”. Listening to someone who sat at the footsteps of our great leader and understands a greater picture of the discourse itself, facilitated learning this maamar more in depth.

The discourse explains on several levels, 6 to be exact, the meaning of choosing the King, meaning G-d. In this article I won’t be diving so much into the discussion in the discourse, so I highly encourage listening through the link above. On one level choosing the King means recognizing that there is One G-d over other gods. This is limited because it can lead to thinking G-d gave power and independence to, what other nations “serve[d,] the sun and…the moon.” On a personal level, it can mean (unconsciously) choosing things outside of us, such as substances or distractions, that provides us relief or solution without looking at the real problem. However, these are limited because it focuses not on the core, the source, of the problem.

When it comes to healing, real healing looks at the whole of the person, not just the symptom. In simple terms, even if someone has the best nutrition plan or exercise plan, it will not work if the person does not believe they can be healthy or if they don’t have the motivation to change. This is of course an unconscious belief because no one would consciously choose to believe they’re not worthy of health. In Limitless, which I wrote about 10 weeks ago, Jim Kwik writes about three parts to learning something new or making a change: mindset (belief), motivation, and methods. In terms of the “I Will Choose the King,” this means going to the root of the problem and healing it rather than choosing other things, which although according to the Rebbe provide relief quicker and in greater quantity, are just solving symptoms and not solving problems.

There is however another level of which the choice of the King can be understood. I mentioned above a question that ought to precede choosing the journey over the goal. In the third episode, Rabbi YY Jacobson shared it:

Do you want to be in a place where you can enjoy truth, or do you want to be in a place of truth?

In other words, is the focus you choose in asking “is this a journey I want to take?” on you and your experience? Or is the focus on your relationship with G-d?

If it’s the former than there are levels to personal growth. When the focus is on the King, there are no levels. The perspective shifts from being about you to being about G-d and your relationship with G-d.

Why is this important?

It’s not about you or me. Living life in Truth is not about living how I might think it should look like, but rather living in the moment, intimate with the King, and focused on what G-d wants from me now.

In terms of health, why do you want to improve your health?

Both focuses are correct and really it’s not an either/or; however, the focus changes everything. We could be doing the right things, but in the wrong way.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I spoke with previous podcast guest Rabbi Rome (Ebb & Flow 75: The Essence of Jewish Spirituality) about this discourse and about meditation. The discourse explains that ultimately the root of problems we experience happen from very subtle spiritual distortions, such as the statement in Menachos 110a that, G-d is “‘G-d of gods.” As explained in the discourse, this subtle error can lead to thinking other entities have independence. Even though it recognizes that G-d is greater than bodies, such as planets and constellations, it falsely assumes these bodies were given authority by G-d. In truth, everything is a tool with which G-d uses, merely “an ax in the hands of the Chopper.” In conclusion, and this is the approach I take in health coaching, nutrition, fitness, meditation and prayer, journaling, etc. are all tools. What precedes using these tools is improving one’s approach with them, the mindset and perspective. Then, using these tools can improve our relationship with and intimacy with G-d. Ultimately living in Divine purpose not solely because we want to and because it may be the best experience, but because that’s why we were created; as taught in Ethics of our Fathers, to “serve my Master.”

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