Into The Light
I have never been what you call a deeply religious person. Deeply spiritual, yes, as with most people in the creative field, are wont to be.
Baptized Roman Catholic, I consider myself to be fairly “middle-of-the-road” and open-minded, with a tendency towards spiritual sensitivity and liberalism all in one go.
The closest thing I had come to being “religiously transformed” was when I was once managed by a company that prided themselves in their religious beliefs, and through out many sessions of being “prayed-over” alas, I had still managed to come out “unscathed,” and to my mind, “untarnished” by any “fundamentalist” persuasion.
THE FIRST TIME
My introduction to Kabbalah was through my best friend. She is what I call a “searcher” someone who stops at nothing to find a deeper spiritual connection/meaning within his/her life. She had tried many different self-help/new age/meditational/healing workshops in the past and had even traveled to different parts of the globe, just to further her learning. In fact, it had become a joke amongst friends, because she would purposely not mention where she would be taking her next trip (and why) because a far as we were concerned: nothing much really changed upon her return from this endless “search”.
Until one day, in Sept 2007, she came back from Israel. She was uncharacteristically open, emotional and in touch with her feelings. She mentioned a teacher was coming from LA Kabbalah Center in a few weeks and I attended his talk.
We were given the simplest answers to all our questions. I was curious and decided to explore a step further, signing up for Kabbalah 1 with the Living Kabbalah System.
What really attracted me to studying Kabbalah (we are all called “students” since the learning never really stops) was that in fact, it is not a religion, and you can keep practicing any faith, and still study Kabbalah, and gain the benefits of this wisdom. It’s universal, open, and embraced all of the concepts that are in tune with my own desires and beliefs. Kabbalah put into words a system that I could live my life by, that I didn’t even know I was looking for.
The first thing I heard was not to believe anything I heard or read. Test these principles out for myself so I could discover what is true for me. One of the things I connect to most: “Kabbalah is not for everyone. No one is forcing you to believe or do anything. If all Kabbalah can do for you is to go home after this lecture and treat your help with more dignity, then it has done it’s job. Full stop.”
BECOMING A “STUDENT” AGAIN
I am the type of person who has a natural hunger for, and loves learning new things. I now realize that throughout my existence, I had been gifted with only the best mentors in many areas of my life. Whether it be, in the arts: acting, dancing, singing, hosting, directing, in business, sports, and achieving personal goals. This spiritual experience was no different:
I have been studying since September 2007 and in the beginning, it was the most exciting part, because it’s where the most seemingly “drastic” change happens, when you get to try out the different universal laws and see how this spiritual technology works for you in your life, and when you are “in awe” by the mere vastness of the knowledge that is imparted to you.
The truth of the matter is, the longer I study, the more I realize, how little I actually know, and that’s when the real learning starts. I am constantly being humbled, learning how to deal with my ego (am I in the right business for ego-centric people or what?) about how to be the “cause” for my own happiness and not just the “effect.” Concepts like: creating a “vessel” to allow more blessings in my life, that all life’s “flaws” and other people’s “faults” are merely mirrors to what I possess myself, and to welcome “challenges” and “difficulty” as opportunities for real growth. I am dealing with my own issues of entitlement, selfishness, and the more I connect to the Light, the more I see how much of myself I truly have to change.
Kabbalist Rav Chaim Luzzato, from the 15th Century in Italy, shares in teaching Kabbalah
“I do not pretend to tell you more than you already know. But it is not what you know that shapes your life but how you know it. And in teaching you how to know, how to weave the truth of Kabbalah into the fabric of your minds and souls, to make of them heart of your heart and flesh of your flesh, it is my goal to write more than a how to book or a moral lesson and have these teachings become part of your life.
I had many apprehensions at first. Like wearing the red string. (That’s also why I have never had a tattoo.) As an artist, I believe you are the canvass of the writer and director and to “label” or “mark” your body can lessen in the “suspension of disbelief” when portraying certain characters. Good work is hard enough to come by these days, and insisting on wearing a red string when you cannot hide it with your costume might be an issue.
Strangely enough though, when I eventually got the courage to wear my red string, I had been blessed with stylists and wardrobe people who were not only understanding of this practice, but even went out of their way to help “camouflage” it when it was not called for by the character.
I have learned many things on this “spiritual journey” and hope to continue to be open to learning every day. I still make many mistakes, still have moments when I get impatient, even become selfish at times. But if these very traits don’t “come out” I will never have the opportunity to see them, or to eventually remove them through restriction and acts of sharing.
I can now see the benefits of “restricting” and “sharing”. They have given me more opportunities to have better relationships with loved ones, friends, and even my colleagues in my latest television project (I daresay we were even labeled as one of the easiest to work with, and happiest cast/staff/crew ever for GMA network!)
Blessings come in many forms, whether it is having patience to focus on learning new songs for my Valentine’s show at the last minute, or making my role in the repeat of “Love Letters” in Cebu new and fresh, (even if I have done that show countless times in the last 12 years or so.) And guess what? I have even learned to become more tolerant of other religious beliefs/practices. At the end of the day, whatever works for you, works!
My latest personal challenge came when I was asked to sing the National Anthem acapella, for the book launch of Yehuda Berg’s “The Power to Change Everything” at the Rockwell tent last January 18, 2010.
I have been performing onstage professionally for 27 years, in front of hundreds, even thousands of people at a time, all over the world. However, the stage-fright was something I had not experienced ever before. I realized, it was because this event meant so much more to me than all the rest. Singing for Yehuda Berg, author the books that had brought the most powerful and profound change in my life, and in front of these people was now one of the most important things I could ever do.
Five minutes before going on, I rushed to Yehuda and said: could I just meet you before I sing? He gently embraced me and thanked me. Off I went to sing, still shaking. After singing, I felt as if I was having an asthma attack! (I do not have, or have ever had asthma) Then after the lecture, he came up to me again to thank me for singing and said: “well done! You did the uncomfortable.”
I was so humbled that a spiritual man of his stature would even have the time of day to think about me, and how he was more interested in the welfare of his team more than his own personal challenges of jet-lag, non-stop interviews, and eventually introducing his book (and all the wisdom it contained) to an audience of almost 600 who either had no clue about Kabbalah, or were even skeptical, at best.
Which brings me to another fundamental lesson I learned: That in order for us to receive more blessings, we have to make others mean more to us, than ourselves. That we literally have to get “out of our own way.” When asked to explain all of Kabbalah while standing on one foot, a great sage once said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself, all the rest is mere commentary.”
Of course, learning all this universal wisdom in order to erase randomness and chaos from one’s life is one thing, but actually adopting this to your own day-to-day existence, is quite another. And so the battle with the ego (cause for chaos in one’s life) begins, and the instance-by-instance application is the real challenge.
This is where the Kabbalah Center is different in it’s approach to learning this age-old wisdom. There is a framework for you to work towards change and becoming the best version of yourself. The Kabbalah Centre provides not only a system and step by step process but support through mentors, 1-1 meetings with teachers, tools, teachings, everything we need to reach our innermost fulfillment and utmost potential.
I am by no means an expert, and nowhere near my best version. I am by no means an example or “poster girl” of Kabbalah. I am simply a student, putting myself out there, letting you know that for those who seek, there is a path. The changes in my life are beyond anything I could have dreamed. The only way you will really know if this (or any other) path is for you, is if you try it out for yourself.
Kabbalah 1 starts Feb. 11, Thursdays, 830pm, 8 weeks
The Power to Change Everything, by Yehuda Berg available at Fully Booked