Crohn’s disease and humility

By Rabbi Shalom Rodin
Parashat Vayikra

In this week’s Torah portion of Vayikra, the letter aleph at the end of Vayikra is small, which represents Moshe’s humility. This is a lesson that one should learn always to be “small” and humble.

I would like to go beneath the surface and share a potential strategy to help us attain this character trait of humility.

One of the most foundational concepts in the Torah is a Mishnah that shares the following wisdom: “Who is considered wealthy [true wealth]? One who is happy with his lot.”

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 24. I am now 41. I am one that believes in the approach of Dr. John E. Sarno, that my Crohn’s is a result of an internal/subconscious emotional conflict which has manifested physically in my colon. (Sarno says this is the cause of most if not all autoimmune disease. For more on Sarno’s approach, read “Healing Back Pain” and “Divided Mind.”)

I am not at all trying to convince anybody that Sarno is right for you, as I know this approach might be controversial and that there are many opinions what the cause and cure of Crohn’s is. All I want to share is what has helped me.

The blessing of Crohn’s has forced me to learn more about myself through understanding the power of the mind (as I will explain) and striving to become the best version of me.

Although for some, just reading Sarno has help them heal, I needed more and am still in the process of healing. If I would have to sum up what I have learned, starting from the Torah, in addition to modern scholars such as Dr. John Sarno, Eckhart Tolle, Dr. David Hawkins and Steve Ozanich it would be the following:

Now let’s examine. On a very practical level, with the help of modern-day scholars, we know that most unhappiness comes from the narrative of your mind, which 99% of the time is resistance of the now; constant fear of what will be or always thinking of the past (“I should have done something different”), subconscious guilt, etc. These thoughts are all fueled from our ego that can’t survive in the now. We are addicted to these thoughts because for so long we’ve identified these thoughts as who we are and it’s very scary to lose our “identity.”

Now here’s the move. Our actual circumstances (without our mind’s narrative) are amazing (look at the blessings of your personal life). Our consciousness/awareness (which is beyond/above our thoughts) must watch our thoughts and say these thoughts are not our reality; it’s a false self (a physiological term) that we created and identify with as who we are — for some of us, most of our lives.

So, what does it mean to be in the now, also known as being present? Your consciousness (awareness) is liberated from any mental form. Not waiting for anything! Just being “happy with our lot” — right now, in this moment. This is the ultimate feeling of joy!

So one might ask, does that mean you’re not supposed to plan for the future but rather just be present?

The answer is, although at times you should and must take action, especially if you want to accomplish, action should look like this: acceptance of the is-ness of now (which is total presence, aka surrender to the now) and then taking action. This type of action is a very different action that comes from any of the “ego” thoughts that I mentioned previously, which as I initially stated leads to most of our unhappiness/internal conflict, subconscious rage and ultimately disease.

So to sum it all up: It goes back to the Torah’s infinite wisdom that teaches us, wealth/happiness is only when one is “happy with his lot” — which perhaps is truly the best definition of presence and can help us reach true humility.

Rabbi Shalom Rodin serves JET–Jewish Education Texas.

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