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Becoming Like God: Wisdom from Jewish Mysticism

Becoming Like God: Wisdom from Jewish Mysticism October 28, 2021
Kabbalah
Mick Haupt via Unsplash

The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is it possible for mere mortals, like you and I, to “become like God”? After all, if we are made up of the particles of God, as Emerson states above, is God not the very essence of our being? Are we not part and parcel of God?

The idea that we can become God incarnate is the premise of the book Becoming Like God, Kabbalah and our Ultimate Destiny by Michael Berg. The author receives his guidance from the 5,000-year-old wisdom known as Kabbalah, which Wikipedia identifies as “a school of thought in Jewish mysticism.” Berg knows the subject well, as he was the first person to translate the 23-volume Kabbalah text known as Zohar from its original Aramaic into English.

While Berg does not provide a direct translation of the books of Zohar, the wisdom informs his teachings and writings. In Becoming Like God, the lessons center around a central theme, one found in many spiritual philosophies: to realize our true nature, we must extinguish our ego. He then adds a caveat—we must share even when it is against our nature to do so. To paraphrase Berg:

 We must move beyond our ego and the desire to receive for the self alone, to a place where we engage in infinite sharing.

What does Berg mean by “infinite sharing”?

Berg asks that we not only share of ourselves, but that we share our possessions. He cites this example: If someone compliments you on your favorite pen, as much as you might cherish it, you should give it to them. It’s this act of suppressing the ego and its wants, in combination with sharing, that helps us become more like God. By repeating these kinds of acts over and over, we can then fully realize the God within us.

This kind of generosity brings to mind my late dear friend, Terry Tomalin. When I once complimented him on one of the many Hawaiian shirts he wore, at the end of the night he took it off and gave it to me. In the years that followed, I learned that he had done this numerous times, for both friends and acquaintances. In the Tampa Bay-area of Florida, his “gifted” Hawaiian shirts graced the backs of scores of others.

15 Lessons from Becoming Like God

What follows are key points of Berg’s teachings, which I have lightly edited and re-ordered. What I’m showing you here is a milder version of what appears in Becoming Like God. Berg pokes and prods in an attempt to wake us from our spiritual stupor, and at times speaks in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS which for added emphasis are printed in pink type. For friendlier reading, I have toned down some of his language but kept the core messages intact.

  • The world is the war of two forces: light and darkness. Light is God, a place where there is no ego. Darkness is represented by the ego.
  • When you are in the clutches of the desire to receive for the Self alone (the ego), you veer closer to the darkness, away from God.
  • We create our lives by whichever force we connect to. We are either moving closer to God or we’re moving toward ego. Receiving for the self alone is the opposite of God.
  • The world has been designed around the care and feeding of the ego—an endless craving for respect, praise and flattery, and the ceaseless indulgence of selfish desires.
  • We have become convinced that the ego is our greatest friend when in fact, it is our greatest enemy.
  • We must move wholeheartedly in the opposite direction: to confronting, humiliating, and purging the ego nature, rather than propping it up.
  • When someone bruises your ego, instead of walking out indignantly, as is customary, stay and study the pain and feel gratitude toward the insulters.
  • When we live in ego nature, sharing is an unnatural act. Sharing violates the ego’s fundamental survival need: I want it for myself.
  • Sharing unreasonably, unexpectedly, when it’s a sacrifice to do so, when it goes against your nature to do so, that’s when we start to become like God.
  • The intent of this sharing is to awaken the divinity within.
  • A dollar given with the conscious desire to grow, to become like God, is an act of transformative sharing. A bequest of 10 million dollars, given for self-glorification, fame, and additional power, is not.
  • Someone asks you for coffee? Rush to oblige. But do not forget why you’re doing it. Not so he or she will like you, but because this act of sharing will awaken your divine nature. You break down one more barrier between you and God.
  • Your every thought, every action, and every utterance should come from a desire to share. You must operate as a being of sharing.
  • Our ultimate goal: a seamless union with God—where God’s thoughts become our thoughts, God’s actions, our actions, God’s intentions, our intentions.
  • At the level of the soul, humans have exactly the same essence as God. In essence, humans are like God and can become like God.

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