Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Gashmiyus Anticlimax

[fyi: Gashmiyus, pronounced gah-sh-mee-oos or -oot refers to materialism or anything pertaining to this world, as opposed to the spiritual or afterworld]

If we Americans weren't so stuck on using language from the alte haim, creating a cholent pot of European languages and Latin derivatives that no one understands anyway, then this time of year would be called the Consumerism Equinox, or whatever the appropriate astrological term is. 'Tis the season when the sun beams down strongest upon manufacturers and retailers alike, and opening hours are longer than ever before.

If you're going to get sucked in by the present climate, at least let it be a lesson. I had my own bout of materialism recently, but TG I snapped out of it and swear never to go back, be"H. That's a longer story. The moral is: materialism does not satisfy the soul.

Ever notice that when you want something very hard, it's usually not that hot once it's in your hand? This is what I'm calling the Gashmiyus Anticlimax. It is so blatant in our times, when there is an entire industry of advertising with the sole purpose of convincing you that you need something that you don't have, and you won't be happy without it. Of course, getting something won't help much because they're still trying to convince you that you want something else. And if you have a spiritual mindset, it feels even worse when you wake up with the object of your desires in your hand and realize that this is what you wasted all that energy on-- on wanting, on acquiring, on enjoying it.

You won't have to give anything up to satisfy your desire, it's not too expensive and not against halacha. WRONG! Every bit of material pleasure comes with a spiritual price tag. The good news is that every physical sacrifice gives your soul a boost. Keep this in mind the next time you're not feeling well.

Materialism and spirituality are diametrically opposed. They pull in opposite directions; it is impossible to pursue both simultaneously. This presents a challenge, since we posess spiritual souls and a Torah that tells us that's "where it's at," yet we are clearly living in physical bodies in a material world. We learn, therefore, that it is possible to elevate the physical and use it for spiritual purposes. However, a person's true desire can only lean towards one.

So, if I find myself drawn towards materialism, does that mean I can't genuinely want spirituality and my soul is doomed? Not at all, if we understand that our actions shape our feelings, and not the other way around. The first step is simply to be aware of your motivation. Any physical action can be rationalized with spiritual reasons, so you must force yourself to be honest about why you do things.

The pull towards everything worldly is not a personal defect; it is part of human nature and is designed to be fought. Don't let it get you down. Once you become aware of the reasoning behind your actions, take the metacognition one step further back and try to do the reasoning before you decide to do things. Let the Torah's way shape your decisions, instead of streching its parameters to accomodate materialistic choices.

You will be in control. It feels great.

1 comment:

Lvnsm27 said...

great food for thought