Suffering as Time Distortion

Essentially, what the Kabbalah teaches us about the reduction of suffering is that if one is truly living in present time, the emotional distortion that produces it is minimized or eliminated. Conversely, living our lives outside of the moment invariably creates suffering.

Being in the present means not being fixated in the past nor tied up with the future. When one is living in the moment effectively, there is little or no space for suffering since suffering is most often generated by emotional bonds to the past and/or future.

The Kabbalists emphasize that God creates and sustains the world moment by moment. They talk about the constant renewal of creation as a continual process coming from the Divine Will. The divine intention is always at work. It is ever-present in the manifestation and operation of the universe, quite consistently, at all times. God wills the universe and the laws that govern it and therefore it is.

So, if God is consciously and continually focused on the creation and sustenance of the universe as a whole, then existence and hence reality is solely a reflection of the moment.

It is not that the universe is and therefore continues to exist and function. But rather, it is the other way around. The divine intention is that the world exist and be operational, therefore it is. When the Kabbalah speaks about the world that is, the “Is” referred to is the experience of time as being in the moment.

In Kabbalah, what is consistent in the universe is the divine focus. God centers attention on producing the patterns within creation inside the context of the moment. In other words, what the Kabbalah is saying is that God creates time and then centers the divine intention within time from moment to moment. Within the moment, the pattern of creation, the laws of the universe, manifest and play themselves out. God’s focus holds the pattern we experience as the world, because the divine intention remains consistent.

The message for us, as humanity, is quite clear. If the world is being created, formed, sustained and influenced by God’s focus and intention in the moment, then we as sentient, self-aware beings with free will need to be operating the exact same way. We should be living our lives in the moment, in present time. For present time is reality.

Reality is none other than what is happening around us right now in the moment. By “moment”, the Kabbalists mean within the conscious cycle of a day. When talking about creation, the book of Genesis keeps repeating the concept that there was evening (night) and then morning (daytime) and that constitutes a day (full cycle of consciousness).

What the Kabbalah understands is that, in actuality, experience can only be handled and comprehended in manageable units. So, we need to connect with reality as units of time that we can concentrate our attention on, process through and absorb into our being. That precious unit is the moment, being centered in present time.

Through intention and focus, we add to the moment the dimension of uniformity that forms our experience of life. This unified approach is what makes reality vibrant, meaningful and of immense value.

If we are living in the present, our being in the world is centered and our life experience is vivid, clear and pertinent. We are completely aware of our reality and therefore, empowered fully to deal with it and work with it. We are fulfilling our lives, because we are immersed in ultimately what is truly real; focus and intention in the present.

From the Kabbalist perspective, if you are not centered and operating in the moment, where exactly are you? The answer is that you are dealing with non-reality, which is a difficult and often dangerous place to be. When in non-reality, you are forced to endure a false existence that involves the realms of distortion, illusion, fixation and destruction. The underlying constant of these levels is, uniformly, great suffering.

The question then arises; What, exactly, is the non-reality that produces such enormous suffering and damage? The answer is, in modern terms, time distortion.

Then, what is time distortion? The Kabbalist would say that there are two primary dimensions to time distortion. They are being caught in the past and

Master Kabbalist

being concerned and fixated on the future.


Rabbi Steven Fisdel is a practicing Kabbalist with over 30 years experience in teaching Kabbalah and applying its principles directly to spiritual practice, the expansion of consciousness and psycho-spiritual healing. Rabbi Fisdel maintains a spiritual counseling practice for seekers of diverse backgrounds. (800) 851-2495.

Suffering as An Issue of Focus

The paramount element in the avoidance of suffering from the Kabbalist perspective is being centered in present time. One of the most amazing things about a truly conscious life is the realization that where we focus our attention determines precisely how and what we experience in our life. What we choose to look at creates the reality we become engaged in.

For example, if I am at home with some time on my hands and decide to go over bank statements, balance my checkbook and pay bills, for the next hour or so I am in a specific reality with a certain focus that creates the experience of handling finances. However, if I sit and watch a movie, I find myself transported to a whole other reality with an entirely different feeling and a totally changed experience.

What is the difference? How I have focused my attention. By choosing a different focus, I have shifted the reality I am in. I have moved from one sphere of activity, one world to another.

By selecting or altering my focus, I have placed my awareness, intention and energies into a specific context, be it painting the living room, reading a book, taking a long walk, working on a hobby, etc. Each reality that I focus on has its own purpose, its own rules, it own emotional environment, as well as its own challenges and rewards. Each, in a sense, is a complete world in and of itself.

The way a Kabbalist looks at it, no matter what world you choose to be in, if that is where you are concentrating your energy fully there then you are present. In that case, you will not experience suffering necessarily. Suffering is not normally an automatic part of being actively engaged in something. It is in large part an add-on. 

In Kabbalah, the understanding is that activity and events per se are neutral. However, intention influences events and often affects them considerably. Even more so do our attitudes and our emotional reactions to what is happening. So, our experience of events in life is very much shaped by our thoughts and emotions.

The situations and events of life are objective occurrences. Our experience of life, though, is based on how we respond and focus on them. Kabbalists often see suffering then as a distortion of experience, because it is an element that overlays an event, not the event itself.

Where we choose to center our attention can serious distort our perspective and our emotional response to what is going on with us and around us. What happens, as a Kabbalist would see it, is that our conscious focus can get distracted and pulled away from the immediate present, from the now by an improper focus that creates considerable suffering. Appropriate focus is always in the moment.

What the Kabbalah teaches is that if one is truly living in the moment, suffering, in essence, has little or no room to exist.

Rabbi Steven Fisdel, an author and master teacher of Kabbalah, maintains a Kabbalist based spiritual counseling practice and mentoring program for people of all spiritual backgrounds. Rabbi Fisdel focuses on the application of Kabbalah to the healing of psycho-emotional issues at their spiritual core. Rabbi Fisdel can be reached at