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

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