All my life, basically, I was searching for something.
When I was young, I liked to ask questions. Questions such as “why we are here”, “what we are here for”, “why there are certain things we should do and certain things we should not”. Growing up Jewish, I could only eat certain food, and I wanted to know why. But it was not easy to get answers in a place that was a little bit religious. So, whenever I asked those questions, I was told, “this is how it is”, or “because God wants it”. It didn’t seem right. Does God really care about what I do or what I don’t? I didn’t really like the answers but I had no choice. These were the answers I had at the time. But somehow I knew, that there were better answers to my questions somewhere out there.
Things changed after I started to travel away from Israel. I moved between three continents until I finally landed in Los Angeles. There, I met a good friend of mine, who was studying Kabbalah at the time. He asked me to try out some classes, but I was very stubborn. I’ve heard about the word Kabbalah, but I didn’t really know what it was. I also didn’t think I needed it. “It’s not for me”, I told him. I was very stubborn. But everytime I went to his place, I secretly took one of the books, read a few pages. He also had the entire set of the Zohar, which is the main study book of Kabbalah, and I liked to take a peep at them from time to time. He was very excited. For six months, every day, he had been trying to convince me to go for a class. But I rejected him again and again. I didn’t know why I was so stubborn. It was like a force, which was preventing me from going there. Of course, in later years, I learned in Kabbalah what that force was. It was what you can call “the opponent”. It didn’t want me to go there because that was the place I really needed to be in.
Six months later, I had a crisis in my life. I was signed to a record company, but one day, they just disappeared. They took all my creations, money, and then, they were gone. It was very painful because having a record deal was “a-dream-comes-true” for a musician, and I attained it, but it was taken away from me.
I locked myself in my room. I didn’t answer any phone call. I thought life was pretty much over. It was so painful that I didn’t see any reason to live anymore. My friend kept calling me. A week passed, two weeks… finally I picked up the phone. He said, “listen, tomorrow there is an open day in the Kabbalah Centre where they are going to present all the classes – why don’t you come?” At that point, I wanted to not just kill myself but also him. But at the same time, I thought to myself, “Wait a minute, I am already at the bottom of the bottom; I don’t have anything to lose anyway. Why not?” So I went. And that was the beginning, the beginning of everything, the beginning of my new life. Kabbalah brought me back to life.
I started to get my answers. Not only that, I started to get rid of lots of bad habits, temperaments – anger, depression, addictions… I remember that after just the third class, I came home, threw away all the cigarettes, and never touched them ever since. It was a big blessing for me, and I will always be thankful to my friend for not giving up on me. He did his best. He brought me there, and that was all what he needed to do. Because the moment I went there, I didn’t want to leave anymore. And that – was 17 years ago…
I was in the Centre all day, everyday, and people started to ask me, “are you a Chevre (a full-time Kabbalah teacher)?” Every time I had to explain that I was not. I had been studying there for almost three years, but people, including the teachers, told me that I was ‘Chevre material’. I didn’t really see myself as a Chevre but there was more than that. I knew how hard the Chevre work. They were getting up at 6 o’clock, maybe even 5:30 in the morning everyday, and I didn’t want that. I had a very comfortable life at the time. I had a house with a swimming pool, a business that generated sufficient income that I could do whatever I wanted. But eventually, I reached a point where I realised that there were two reasons why I should become a Chevre. On one hand, I needed that personal growth, because you cannot be comfortable forever. Kabbalah says that the only way to create miracles is to step out of your comfort zone. Because outside of your comfort zone is where things happen. So I said to myself, “you need to go outside of your bubble; and being a Chevre is one of the best ways of doing it.” On the other hand, I knew that being a Chevre, I could help a lot of people. So it was the combination of these two things that led me to the decision to give up what I had and become a Chevre.
As I used to live in Holland for many years, one of my dreams, when I was still a Kabbalah student, was to open a Kabbalah Centre in Holland. I didn’t really think it was doable at the time. Funny enough, a few months after I became Chevre in LA, they opened the London Centre and the European Student Support department, which was to take care of the entire Europe. I found myself there. Holland was allocated to me. Everything was happening so quickly that I felt like I was fulfilling my dream. I was taking care of the country which I cared the most. I had a lot of students at the time, and I was flying there every week, giving lectures. It was quite amazing. Even till today, I still have students that are studying, being active, being leaders over there.
There have been many lessons in my life so far. But if I can only choose one, it would be the one that has helped me the most. I learned that happiness is not something that you can find, but something that you create. If you wait until happiness comes to you, or if you think happiness will come from certain things, from other people, you are wrong. Because it will not. It might be here for a day, a month, or 10 years, but it’s never going to be lasting. The only way for you to be happy is to generate that happiness from inside. Everyday, you get up in the morning, you have two choices: I’m going to be happy, or I’m going to be sad. And I choose to be happy. When you do it everyday, you are happy and there is nothing that can take that happiness away from you. Of course you will have challenges. As a matter of fact, the whole day is a battle. But whenever you feel the pain, you tell yourself, “OK, this is painful, but I pick myself up. And I’m going back to the same decision that I made this morning, which is to be happy.” So, when you are lying in bed, looking back at your day, you can say, “I might have fallen a few times, but at the end of the day, I did win the battle.”
And to me, the meaning of life is to keep working on myself, make myself a better person, and I would even say, a perfect human being, so that I can help more people do the same.
Ari Politi, founder of The Desperate Artist