There is an old joke about the question, “Where will the money come from?”
Once in Jerusalem, lived a wealthy and well educated couple.
One day their daughter announced that she intended to get married.
The parents were surprised, and asked why she hadn’t brought the boy home before, and why she hadn’t even mentioned that she was dating anyone…
The daughter curled her hair nervously, looked at her feet, and finally admitted that the reason she’d never brought the boy home before, was because he was a Hassid.
In Jerusalem, many of the Hassidic people do not believe that they should work or handle money.
Hassidic men spend most of their days in a Yeshiva (hall of study and prayers), where they pray and study the Bible.
They are guided by the Biblical scriptures that say we must “Pray to God ceaselessly.”
This call to prayer was intended to reflect an INNER state, in which you must keep the Spirit and the principles of God at the forefront of your mind at all times, but the Hassidic people have taken it literally, to mean that they must not work but only do God’s work at all times.
Many of the people in Israel view the Hassidic people as parasitical, living off donations and government benefits, but the truth is that many of them often barter with one another, have their own schools and provide their own childcare, have their own shops and their own newspapers, often managing with very little use of money.
They live in close, neatly kept communities and barter to provide one another with food, exchanges of skills and many other services that they need.
Anyway… Back to the joke:
The parents insisted on meeting their new son in law to be.
The daughter brought the boy home for a Shabbat dinner.
After the dinner, the father took the boy to his library to have a man to man talk.
“So,… What are your plans for the future?,” asked the father.
“I do not know, God will direct me,” said the boy.
“And how will you provide for my daughter?,” asked the father.
“God will provide!,” replied the boy, confidently.
“And what’s next?,” asked the father, feeling dubious.
“If God is willing, I plan to have many, many kids!,” said the boy, proudly.
“And how will you provide a home, food and education for all those kids?,” asked the father.
“God will provide!,” replied the boy, confidently.
After the boy left, the parents cleared the table and washed the dishes, and the mother asked her husband what he thought of their new son in law.
“Well…..” said the father, “The boy has no plans, no ambitions and absolutely no direction, but on the positive side, the boy is CONVINCED that I am God….”
In the past few weeks, we’ve been skiing most days during the week.
The days have been sunny and the temperature has been very nice and mild for the mountains.
While riding the ski gondola up Vail mountain one day, I overheard this conversation between an elementary school teacher and her student.
Both the teacher and the student were snowboarders.
I could tell that they were teacher and student, because they wore badges around their necks, identifying the school they were from.
They must have been on a school field-trip day, having fun playing in the snow.
“So, where are you going to this summer?,” asked the teacher.
Student: “We are going to Japan.
Have you been there?”
Teacher: “Awesome! Yes, I have been there MANY times.
Where will you be visiting?”
Student: “We will start in Tokyo, and visit Osaka, Nara and Kyoto, just the central part.”
Teacher: “Wonderful! You will have a great time.
Just do not stay in one of those capsule hotels.
They are a Japanese invention but they are so tiny, they feel very claustrophobic.
I once booked a place like that just for the experience, but it felt so claustrophobic that I spent an extra hundred dollars and switched to a small but comfortable hotel room.”
Student: “No, we are not scheduled to stay in any capsule hotels.
We are planning to stay in hostels, and they do look very nice in the pictures online, I hope that they will be nice when we get there.”
Teacher: “Oh, yes, don’t worry about it.
It is only in the USA that hostels are dingy and ugly.
In Europe and even in Asia, hostels can be very charming and nice, and very comfortable.
Where are you going to next year?”
Student: “We are planning to go to South Africa, do a tour of the country, and stay in Cape Town….”
Teacher: “Awesome! I have done that too.
Make sure to take a helicopter ride around the cliffs of Cape Town, it is an amazing experience.
I will also be in Africa, I am going on a safari in Tanzania…”
After the gondola had dropped us on top of Eagle’s Nest mountain peak, I enjoyed seeing the two women click their boots into their snowboards and angulate their way gracefully down the ski run called “Safari.”
I took the parallel ski run called “Bwana,” and Jules followed me in close pursuit.
As we skied down Bwana, I was thinking about how each of us creates our own reality, and how some of those realities can be so lovely, despite having little means.
Here I had witnessed an excellent example of two young people who were obviously celebrating their lives, snowboarding, traveling around the world, having fabulous experiences without being wealthy at all.
Many people believe that you should wait until you have a large sum of money, before you can fully enjoy life.
Many people also erroneously believe that a person must be very wealthy, in order to travel and see the world.
Yet, how did an elementary school teacher have the money to hire a private helicopter to view the cliffs of Cape Town?….
How does she think that her student would be able to afford it, when she recommended that her student hire the helicopter also?
You might be thinking that they are rich kids with a trust-fund, or that their parents have lots of money, but you would be wrong.
In my travels, I have met many people traveling the world on tiny budgets.
They share rooms, take part time jobs, hitch hike and stay in free accommodations like couch surfing or Farm stays, where they exchange room and board for a few hours of work.
I used to think that it would be hard to create a great life, and even harder to step out of mucky, messy situations.
How DO you move from nothing to having a great life?…
How do you move from being in deep debt, to living an abundant life?
Where does the money come from?
It might sound unreal, but all you need is a strong determination to create the life you want and a willingness to make sacrifices, or to make different choices, so that you prioritize what it is you truly want to have in your life.
As a holy child of Life, you only need to CONSISTENTLY put out your intentions with full force and a belief that you are worthy of the life you want, and then allow the Universe to take care of the little details.
You do not need to try to guess all the details of HOW, WHERE and especially WHEN things will happen.
The inner guidance within you will smooth out the details, as long as you do not fall back into despair and disbelief, and thus swim back in the wrong direction.
What does it matter HOW a woman who has to work as an elementary school teacher got the money to fly all around the world multiple times?….
Perhaps her brother works for an airline that offers major discounts to family members, like my mail-lady in Colorado, who told me that she traveled the world for years that way…..
Perhaps she’d gone on some “working holidays,” as some people do, and was able to pay for parts of her costs that way….
Perhaps she took extra work and saved money, made arrangements to write a travel article or give a lecture, perhaps she got a charter airline discounts…. Who knows….
The details are not so important.
It is important that you follow your heart and do the things that are calling you, and that you do not allow into your head grandiose ideas that might paralyze you with doubts and fears.
I must mention that NOT everything that you want is worth pursuing.
Many of our desires come from our egos, that are always hungry and never satisfied.
When you reach one goal that you have worked so hard at achieving, the ego will start pointing out what is wrong with your situation and will start asking that you follow another goal, keeping you forever dissatisfied.
Your ego might set up a plan that is not at all good for you, nor will it lead to your highest good.
Hard physical labor in the garden is better for you than days where you eat as much as you feel like and just lazy about.
Learning to control your cravings and gain emotional maturity, is far better for you than reaching for a cigarette or a drink to calm your nerves.
Because the voice of the ego is also coming from inside us, many people mistake it to be the voice of their heart.
Since they believe that they are “following their hearts,” they spend energy and effort to get what they believe will lead them home to happiness and joy.
Often, the ego’s plan will not manifest at all, or if it does, it will not bring them what they had hoped for.
In my own life, I have seen it happen again and again.
Things that have happened in my life that felt like terrible experiences at the time turned out to be blessings in disguise.
And when I lived a life that everyone would call “perfect,” I felt the most empty.
One of the blessings in my life is that we moved to a rural and very remote village in New Zealand.
It stood in opposition to everything I ever believed would bring me happiness.
It seemed wrong on all levels.
Despite the number one real estate rule that you should buy the cheapest house in the BEST neighborhood, we moved to the poorest part of NZ, and ended up spending almost a million dollars renovating an old house.
It was a bad real estate investment indeed… Besides….
I had never wanted to move to New Zealand.
I’d wanted to move to Hawaii.
I even made numerous and repeated trips to all the Hawaiian islands, checking out each island in detail, and looking at real estate.
I was a city and suburban girl and I had certain ideas about what I wanted my life to look like.
I did not know that living in remote and isolated places can carry so many blessings….
I did not know that living timeless, quiet days can be so enriching and so full of life lessons…..
I did not know that simple chores like cleaning or gardening, doing physical labor and observing the seasons, can lead to such inner light and happiness….
I’d wanted to spend my days surfing in Hawaii, and in New Zealand, the sea is often too cold for me to surf.
Besides, I knew so very little about NZ.
But as it turned out, it has been a great blessing in my life that I could never have planned, and every day I give thanks that we did not sell our house and move out of there, before realizing the blessings the place held for us.
It wasn’t a fluke that all of this happened as it did, I was guided from within and without.
Once when I did an art show, a lady came to me and said:
“I wish I could buy all of your paintings, I love them all!
But I am from New Zealand, and I fly home this weekend, and I cannot carry anything heavy back home, so I will take only this small painting.”
While I packed her painting with bubble wrap, she spent her time reading my poetry, which I had hung on the walls of my booth next to my paintings.
“I wish there were artists like you in New Zealand,” she said to me, and then she added:
“Perhaps God will put it in your mind to move to New Zealand, NZ NEEDS you.”
The last part of her statement felt so strange to me…. NZ needs me?
Who am I that NZ needs me….. I pondered in my puzzled mind…
About a year later, I got a postcard in the mail from a man in NZ.
He said that he had seen my art and poetry in an art show, but because he was from NZ, he did not buy anything nor introduce himself.
At the bottom of his card, he wrote: “I wish you would consider moving to NZ, NZ NEEDS you.”
Here it was again…. this strange and bewildering statement, that NZ needs me…. What was it about NZ that it needed a nobody like myself….
I promptly forgot both of those signs for many years, but the urge within me to move to the islands stayed as strong as ever.
A childhood friend of mine had spent a few years in NZ and he raved about living there, although he lived in the cities and I wanted to move as far away from any city as possible.
When I found on the internet our first house in a remote village, I flew to see the house but was not impressed.
It was run down and for me, very unlivable.
But the village felt so much like home to me…. I meditated in front of the harbor and asked the Universe:
“Will it stay as quiet and serene as it is now in years to come, or is there ANY chance that this place will be overdeveloped and become a tourist hub in future years?”
A calm inner Voice assured me that I need not worry….. It will stay quiet and undeveloped in years to come.
I still did not remember any of the messengers from NZ who urged me to move to NZ, in fact, it felt like I made a compromise for Jules, who was not happy with the over development and population density of the Hawaiian Islands.
Years after we moved to NZ, I remembered a childhood poem that I had once read, some decades before, while living in Israel.
The words rang in my heart with an unusual clarity….
I was a teenager at the time when I read this poem.
Fearful, broken and tired of living in a war zone, living in constant fear among so many maimed and injured and paralyzed people…
As a kid with no prospect and no money, I had no idea of how I would be able to get out of that war zone and how I would ever be able to live a healthy and happy life…
The poem is called “They Say There Is A Country”
By Yair Lapid
I will translate it from Hebrew here:
“They Say There Is A Country
Sometimes I think to myself,
How does it feel to live in New Zealand.
To be born by a quiet ocean
In a small country that is hard to locate on the map…
To grow up in a small, sleepy village,
With houses with red roofs,
To stroll in green fields,
To look at a farmer shearing white sheep….
To live in a house that my grandfather built,
To be the grandson of a grandfather
Who died of NATURAL causes,
And to learn history that dates back only two hundred years….
To be from New Zealand,
Where you can make plans with confidence for the next five years,
Or spend your time worrying if your rugby team will win.
To join the army ONLY if you wish to do so,
In order to add some tension to your life.
To read a New Zealand newspaper
And not to understand what is happening in the Holy Land,
Why people die for every arid foot of land,
When the world is so big and so vast,
And life is SO PRECIOUS…
To believe that all human beings are brothers,
And with a little willingness,
It is possible to smooth out every human problem.
To be from New Zealand and to think that a cannon
Only sounds on the Queen’s birthday,
That a pomegranate (in Hebrew, a hand grenade),
Is only a fruit that leaves a stain on white clothing…
That a sleeping bag was made for fun and for camping,
That a widow is an old lady,
And when a father talks about his son who fell (died in battle),
You should ask him if his son was unhurt….
To be from New Zealand
Where people often forget how blessed they are,
And fall into self pity and neediness,
Not realizing their true abundance…
The Bible says that You Chose us, God,
Above all Nations….
I am not complaining, my God,
I accept the verdict with love, even with pride.
I guess I will not trade Jerusalem for Wellington,
Will not trade the hard life in Israel
For an easier life anywhere….
It is my country,
The birthplace of my children…
This is my destiny,
And I will rise up for it.
But please do not be angry with me, God,
If I sometimes can’t help but wonder,
Is it fair that in New Zealand,
People die from boredom?…..”
As a teenager, I did not know how wrong was this poem.
As a kid, I also thought that New Zealand was an earthly paradise.
I was dissuaded from this notion the very first night that I spent in NZ.
I stayed with a charming young couple who were born in NZ.
They looked like poster children of health and earthly blessings, both exceedingly handsome, abundant and with two beautiful kids.
Then I heard that her father had killed himself and that suicide is very common in NZ.
Over the years, I have met more and more people in NZ who experienced alcoholism, brutality, drug abuse and suicide in their families, leaving behind a trail of emotionally injured people lasting for generations.
I understand that wars bring about misery but it was beyond my understanding, how could anyone living in NZ want to kill themselves, or be ignorant of their many blessings…
What caused them so much pain?…. I wondered.
In the years that I have lived in NZ, I’ve found that no amount of land and open spaces, no beauty and no positive government policies, can save people from themselves.
People live at the mercy of their egos, thinking that they are nothing more than mortal beings, grabbing whatever they can from meaningless lives.
Our egos have a tendency to always point to what is missing in our lives, and we fall pray to the ego’s delusional ways of thinking, forgetting to count our blessings and to be grateful for the many gifts that the Universe gives us daily.
On the positive side, I found that if you disconnect yourself from the “ways of the world,” and stay away from the many voices of the ego echoed by your friends, you are likely to find paradise…. WITHIN.
Many people in rural NZ want more money, even though there are no shops in which to buy things, and many of them already have closets full of lovely clothing and kitchens full of beautiful pottery and china.
So many of the young people want to move to big cities, making temporal careers that hold nothing of the eternal, and they chase after old, worn, and washed out dreams that lead nowhere.
I was surprised at how little spirituality had permeated this Island Nation of NZ.
Some people sat in Vippasana silent meditation retreats, others did some Rebirthing, some studied with Louise Hay, and a few learned other methods, but for the most part, most knew or cared so little about the True Nature of our being, and how we create our own realities.
So many creative artists and good thinkers accept the nature of accidents, death and dis-ease, without questioning their validity.
It seems like a nation starving for spiritual knowledge, masquerading behind a nation of carefree people who love to sail, grill outdoors and sip and make good wine.
I reflected on the many workshops that I have attended in the past three decades…about understanding the nature of dis-ease, about manifesting, about Self Realization and about our Divine potential and miracles ….
After years of running after my own tail, I have given up all earthly ambitions.
I could not care less if people value and buy my art or enjoy my poetry.
The LAST thing I want on earth is to be famous.
In my mind, fame leads to nothing of value, and money is so limited when it comes to buying us what is truly valuable.
Enlightenment has been my one and ONLY goal.
I have prayed for nothing but, at every Buddhist temple, at every Shinto shrine, with every breath I took…
Other blessings and gifts simply came along the path.
I accepted them with open arms and with gratitude, but nothing, absolutely nothing was as important to me as Enlightenment in this lifetime.
(I am adding an old photo of a wooden prayer plaque that I left in a temple in Koyasan, Japan, many years ago.)
When I reflect on the messages that I got many years ago that NZ needs me, I think to myself…. Maybe, just maybe they held some truth…. Maybe NZ does need me?….. Not my “ego me,” but all the spiritual knowledge that I have embraced….But I feel so humble to even consider that this could be true……