Compiled and edited by Ziv Ritchie
It is not enough to be happy. You have to tie the joy to your mind. It is possible that every part of you is joyous and your mind can still be in exile, can still be sad. So you have to take your mind, and tie your mind to joy.
In other words, a free person is one who is master over his mind, who can take hold of his own mind, and pin down his own mind. To think, “What is happening to me, what is the purpose of my life?” A slave is someone who is not a master of his mind, who cannot take hold of his mind. So the only way to get out of slavery is with joy.
How to become happy
But how do you come to joy? What do you do when you are full of sadness?
The only way to become happy is if you suddenly look at yourself and you realize, “I really am not as bad as I thought.” What makes us so sad? We look at ourselves, and we give up on ourselves. If we would at least start thinking, “Gevalt, I am not as bad as I thought, in fact I’m doing a lot of good things.”
Reb Nachman says, it can’t be that your whole life you never did someone a favor. So you did one person a favor! Isn’t that enough reason to dance on all the streets of the world all your life?! Just yell: “Gevalt, I did someone a favor! It’s the greatest thing in the world!” because, who are you? You are just a little human being, flesh and blood, and you did someone else a favor!? Gevalt, one time in your life you did someone a favor!
Reb Nachman says, it is impossible that in your entire life you didn’t pray at least once. So you prayed once! You spoke once to G-d! What do you need more?
And then Reb Nachman says, isn’t it enough that you are a grandchild of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Isn’t that the greatest honor in the world? Even if you are lowly and rotten to the core, but you have such a great grandfather!
And then he says, regardless, as bad as you are, you stood at Mt. Sinai. You were at Mt. Sinai! So why aren’t you rejoicing with that? As bad as you are, you were at Mt. Sinai. You heard G-d’s voice! It’s the greatest thing in the world!
Then he says, there is a very special thing in the Gemara called bedicho daatey, that my mind is laughing. Not only do you have to be happy, you have to hear your own mind laughing. You tell yourself; “I am so bad.” and your mind is looking down at you and laughing; “What, are you crazy? You did someone a favor one time, tremendous! Schmendrik, what are you krechtzing [complaining] about?” You have to be in such a state of joy that you hear your own mind laughing.
And if you hear your mind laughing, then you are on the level that you can really pin your mind down and say, “Listen, if I did something good at one time, OK, so now let’s think; what am I doing with myself? If I’m so happy that I am a grandson of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, OK, so what am I doing with myself?”
Why can’t I control my mind when I’m sad?
If you are completely filled with sadness, if you look at yourself and you give up, then you just cannot penetrate into your head.
Reb Nachman says that I’m far from G-d because I never take the time to really think, “What am I doing with my life?” And as long as I am sad, I just cannot take hold of my mind, to sit down with my mind, and say, “OK mind, tell me exactly, what are you doing?”
In a nutshell…
Reb Nachman says that people are far from G-d because they don’t let their mind sit - they don’t have yishuv hadaas [a settled mind]. They don’t sit with their mind, their mind is standing all the time, it is always in a rush.
As long as you are sad, you cannot control your mind. So in order to control your mind, you have to be happy.
So, how do you become happy? You have to realize and remember that you must have done something good once in your life. And even if you never did anything good, your grandfather Abraham did something good. And even if that doesn’t help, you yourself at one time stood at Mt. Sinai. So one way or another, at one moment in your soul life, or your physical life, you must have done something good. So this is enough to make you happy. You start from there. Then you become a master over your own mind.
And then, not only does your mind have to be free, your mind has to be laughing at you. You know what laughing means? It is a very light thing, completely free, without weight.
This is the way I look at it… The mind, in order to think, has to go places. If it has too much of a load on it, it can’t go anywhere, it is too heavy. Sadness is a very heavy weight. When you are laughing, you are free, no weight. So Reb Nachman says, as long as the weight on your mind is so heavy, your mind can’t go anywhere. But the moment you take off the weight from your mind, to the extent that your mind is laughing, then you can go anyplace, you can go to Heaven. You can go back to G-d.
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Excerpt from “Rebbe Nachman Says”, The Teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev as Taught by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach z”tl
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s books are available online at the Breslev Israel store.