04/21/2011 04:18 pm ET Updated Jun 21, 2011

Certainty: A Principle of Kabbalah

There is a call to action happening all over the world. I just returned from a tour in Latin America, and in three days between Uruguay, Paraguay, Panama, Chile and Argentina, I spoke on Kabbalah to more than 3,500 people. Everyone feels the same thing: that the world is really challenging us right now. People are filled with doubt, wondering if things are going to get worse, wondering how they can continue living with devastation happening around them.

No one is immune because we're all in this together. The tragedy in Japan is affecting each one of us. And collectively we affect Japan. What we need right now, maybe more than ever before, is to find our certainty, our clarity, our strength in knowing that, as bad as things appear, we have a chance for massive positive change.

If we can learn from this, do things differently, then we can look back at the devastation knowing that we grew from it. But if we stay in the darkness of the moment, it will be a missed opportunity, a lesson not learned. It will be as if all the suffering was for nothing.

The problem with certainty is that sometimes it can sound cold and heartless, although it is the most compassionate and supportive answer. Certainty is one of the most important terms and concepts in the wisdom of Kabbalah. It has been mis-translated and softened over the years to mean faith or trust. This translation has not only altered its meaning, it has changed the effect it was meant to have for us. Faith and trust are words that put the power in the hands of an outside force that we are meant to rely on -- whether it is God or a person or the universe. Certainty puts the power back in our hands. Certainty takes tremendous discipline and is one of the most difficult muscles to develop -- because doubt is a formidable foe. Doubt shows up as feeling like a victim, feeling out of control, feeling things are random, feeling like we cannot persevere.

If falling into desperation worked to make things better, then I would say, let's all jump into despair. But it doesn't help. The only way to truly find meaning and fulfillment is to look at the disaster, the pain, the difficulty and know with complete certainty that good can come from this.

Having strength means that we have the ability to not fall into the seductive "woe is me" mindset, but to pull ourselves up and keep going. We have to know that the only way to evolve into our best selves is to somehow, in some way, find the Light in the rubble.

Unfortunately, it is human nature for us to only learn and grow from a place of emptiness. It's hard to learn when we are winning and on top of the world. The spiritual law that describes this principle is part of the basic teaching of the Four Phases of Creation. It's during the third phase when we need to experience emptiness before being filled with Light.

To summarize: The first phase is when the Light gives to us and we are passive receivers. Like a parent who gives to his/her infant child. When we grow-up, we move to the second phase. This is when we want to stop passively receiving and want to be in charge of our own life -- like a teenager. But after we stop receiving from our parents, we still desire the same things we were getting from them. With this newly activated desire, known as the third phase, we now begin the search to get these things on our own. It's this feeling of lack that initiates the creative process of the fourth phase, where we find ways to fill ourselves with Light and become the cause of our own fulfillment, rather than just a passive receiver.

There are many times in our lives when we are passive; going about life as usual. Then, like a Hollywood archetypal hero of an action movie, we are faced with a call to action. It is our opportunity to become new, fresh, creative and wake up from the lull of our existence. There are many examples of this in our world. Out of the most horrible wars, the most devastating disasters, the worst economic downturns have evolved some of humanities greatest developments.

But we can achieve this greatness without the need for pain when we proactively awaken our feeling of lack to inspire creativity. It's never too late. We can rise from the rubble of this world, reinvent ourselves and emerge into an age of more Light and greater good.