Twenty men "disappeared" in Mexico. Thirty-three people killed in a single weekend. Fifteen heads laid out on the street by a store front. One hundred and thirty-four tons of confiscated weed burned by officials.
Because of these kinds of headlines, people thought I was out of my mind when I recently visited The Kabbalah Centre in Mexico City.
Increase in violence related to drugs and organized crime is undeniable. The Mexican government says more than 34,600 people have been killed in the four years since President Calderon took office. The heaviest death toll so far was in 2010: 5,273 lives were lost. The upside is that as the result of a $1.4 billion, multi-year Merida Initiative, both Mexican and American officials say they are working more closely than ever before to fight crime.
Despite the gruesome news, people in Mexico are taking action to make things better. Nearly a thousand people came out to hear me speak about how we can use our consciousness to create a major shift. I'm not mentioning this to boast, but to demonstrate that many, many Mexicans want to improve themselves and their communities.
Kabbalah is all about change. It isn't about being proud of our good qualities: the wisdom is about transforming our darkness into Light. We welcome anyone who wants to enrich their life. In fact, it's by transforming our personal negativity that we reveal the most Light.
There's a kabbalistic story that speaks to this point, "The Wise Man and the Ten Thieves." It goes something like this:
A man had a young son who was stricken with a mysterious illness. With each passing day, the little boy grew weaker. The man sensed the angel of death hovering over his son's bedroom and needed a miracle.
He went to the town mystic, who tried his best to cure the boy, and then he said, "I'm afraid there is nothing I can do. It has already been decreed that the Gates of Heaven remain locked to your only son."
The man pleaded for him to try again and the old mystic said he would make one more attempt.
He summoned his young assistant and asked him to find ten hardened criminals and bring them to his home.
The assistant was able to gather together ten thieves quite quickly, and he was amazed at how easily they agreed to accompany him to the home of his teacher. They all listened carefully as he asked each one of them to assist him in what would be his most difficult miracle. And they all agreed.
The next day the mystic learned the little boy had a miraculous recovery. "It's as though he was never sick!" his father said.
The assistant was puzzled and asked his teacher, "Why didn't you ask for God-fearing, upstanding citizens? Why did you pray with such shady characters?"
The mystic replied, "You see, a good thief knows all about breaking and entering. They picked the locks. These criminals broke into Heaven and that is how my prayers were able to sneak into the Heavenly Sanctuary."
This simple story is actually a profound metaphor that contains the greatest formula in the world to getting all of our prayers answered. The mystic in this story symbolizes our soul -- all of our positive character traits. The thieves represent all of our negative and egocentric qualities. After all, we are all thieves, to one degree or another.
When we identify and work to transform our self-centered characteristics, the key turns and the gates unlock. Overcoming our challenges provides the master key to Heaven. We open to receive blessings and good fortune.
The moral of the story is this: It's in a period of darkness where we can ignite the brightest Light.
The biggest breakthroughs in consciousness occur when things are difficult; when we have a choice to fall to the worst of ourselves or rise to the best of ourselves. In the moment we choose to rise, we engage a Divine power to help us. Then we have to stay true to the new path we have chosen, for we can be sure there will be tests along the way.
I'm inspired and encouraged that so many people came out to pursue positive change in Mexico City. It supports the reason we opened a Kabbalah Centre there, and why we don't build them in the paradises of the world: It's in rough and tumble places that we find the warmest hearts, the most open minds, and the greatest desire for Light.
All the best,