19 Tamuz 5779 / Monday, July 22, 2019 | Torah Reading: mattot
 
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The 3-Stage Plan    

The 3-Stage Plan



The three-stage plan for preventing self-induced suffering is the key to self-improvement. Once you learn to use the three-stage plan, your life will...

 



The three-stage plan for preventing self-induced suffering is the key to self-improvement. Once you learn to use the three-stage plan, your life will change dramatically for the better.
 
 
Section One: The Three-Stage Plan for Preventing Self-induced Suffering
 
The three-stage plan for preventing self-induced suffering is the key to self-improvement. Once you learn to use the three-stage plan, your life will change dramatically for the better. Here's what the plan offers:
 
1. Prevention of self-induced suffering.
2. Immediate relief from existing self-induced suffering.
3. Better interpersonal relationships, both with family and acquaintances.
4. Improved productivity and career satisfaction, more success and therefore an improved income.
5. Improved vitality, better mental and physical health.
6. Increased happiness and a major improvement in the quality of your life.
7. Less worry, more self-confidence.
8. A closer relationship between your body and your soul, and therefore a closer relationship between you and The Almighty, who's waiting for you with the open arms of a beloved father.
9. No more anger and a lot more tranquility.
 
The more you practice the "One-Week Plan" and the Enhanced Spiritual Awareness (ESA) Workshop that you learned in Chapter Four, the better you'll be able to implement the three-stage plan for preventing self-induced suffering.
 
Self-improvement is similar to fighting a war
 
The body and the spirit are constantly at war with each other, until one defeats the other or until a person's last day on this earth. For an alcoholic lying in the gutter, the war is over; his evil inclination and his body have totally vanquished his spirit and his Divine soul. For a pious righteous person, the opposite is true; by devoting one's life to spiritual perfection, the soul succeeds in subduing the evil inclination and base urges. Consequently, the righteous person's soul completely controls his or her capitulated body.
 
Most of us are somewhere in between; our bodies and our souls are engage in pitched battle on a daily basis. Whenever the body gets the upper hand, the soul suffers. When the soul suffers, a person feels inner turmoil, stress, and anger. The three-stage plan is a critical weapon in the war for inner peace, and a giant step up the trail to tranquility.
 
What are the three stages in eliminating self-induced suffering?
 
The three stages in eliminating self-induced suffering are:
 
1. Observation
2. Self-evaluation
3. Implementation
 
Here's how they work:
 
Stage One: Observation
 
A person should always look for the innate wisdom implanted in every creation or event. Proper observation means asking the question, "What can I learn from this?" Since all wisdom stems from The Creator, when one makes a mental connection to the wisdom of a creation, he becomes attached to The Creator. When we connect ourselves to God, we receive enhanced spiritual awareness.
 
Let's translate the above concept to practical terms. Pick up an orange. Have you ever examined the Divine wisdom of an orange? Look at the beauty of its skin - an experienced team of packaging engineers, graphics artists, and product development technologists couldn't have invented a more attractive package. What a superb color! The skin of the orange is permeable to oxygen, yet guards the fruit from contamination. The orange provides an abundance of vitamin C. The winter, when a person most needs vitamin C to combat colds and the flu, is the exact time of the citrus harvest.
 
The Divine wisdom behind the creation of an orange is actually God speaking to us. How? Suppose we're walking down the fruit isle of our local supermarket on a cold February afternoon, and a gorgeous display of tangerines and golden Valencias catches our eye. The impulse from our eye goes to the brain, and a command from the brain stimulates the flow of saliva in our mouth. A little voice in our head says, "Buy some oranges today." That's our beloved Father in Heaven speaking, who wants his cherished children to have some extra vitamin C. When we observe well enough, we find God in every mineral, plant, animal, and human. Every being has its own unique and timely message.
 
The world around us is God's way of talking to us. That's the secret of observation, our first stage in eliminating self-induced suffering.
 
Now, let's focus on how observation helps eliminate self-induced suffering. Compare the difference between two neighbors, Herbert and David. Herbert lacks spiritual awareness and never tried to develop his powers of observation. David is the opposite - he observes his environment and tries to understand the wisdom within each creation and event.
 
* * *
 
Herbert and David drive on the same road to work. Both had two cases of flat tires in one week. David noticed that in both instances, nails had punctured his tires, and that the flat occurred in the proximity of a construction site. David decided to drive to work via an alternate route. As a result, the phenomena of flat tires and the accompanied aggravation ceased.
 
Herbert continued to drive on the same road, to waste valuable time changing flat tires, and to spend his hard-earned money on tire repairs. The third time he had a flat tire, he pulled his car over to the side of the road, flew into a rage, and started kicking the deflated tire.
 
David, like other experienced spiritual observers, appreciates the messages that The Almighty sends him. David's spiritual antennas receive God's messages loudly and clearly: "David my son, don't travel this road any more. Litter from the construction site is all over the place. That accounts for the nails that caused you the two flat tires. Take an alternate route to work."
 
That was only part of the message. Later that week, a fatal, ten-car accident occurred on the same road, at the exact hour when David usually drove past. When David heard the news, he wrote a big check for charity and thanked his beloved God with all his heart. Herbert was one of the drivers involved in the accident.
 
* * *
 
God doesn't punish - he educates. The flat tires and the nails on the road were God's way of speaking to Herbert and David.
 
David paid attention. By combining his power of spiritual awareness and cogent observation, he perfectly understood and appreciated the heavenly message.
 
Herbert missed the boat. He was angry with God, and his anger constricted his thought processes. Instead of putting his powers of reasoning to work, Herbert vented his frustrations by kicking his flat tire. Worse than that, failure to heed important stimuli in his environment led to his involvement in a serious collision.
 
When we experience suffering in life, the first stage of action is observation - slow down, open our eyes, and look for the wisdom behind the suffering. An educational message from God hides within every case of self-induced suffering. Once our mind connects to the wisdom behind our suffering, we connect with God, and enable ourselves to process His message.
 
The agony of tribulations stems from the lack of spiritual awareness. When a person has spiritual awareness, and looks at the ultimate purpose of tribulations, the sorrow of suffering vanishes. -- Rebbe Nachman of Breslev
 
Let's add a real-life example: John and June Rivers[1] had extreme marital difficulties, and were on the verge of divorce. At the last minute, they came to me for counseling. I taught them the "Three-Stage" Plan, and explained how to observe. John noticed that whenever he criticized June, a quarrel followed. He promised to make a one-month trial, and no-matter-what, refrain from criticizing his wife. He kept his word.
 
After a week of apprehension, June began flowering in her new, criticism-free environment. By the end of the month, she was a new woman and a loving wife. John had nothing more to criticize and the marriage was saved!
 
Had he never learned to observe, John might have held a grudge against God, blaming The Almighty for the misery of his marital lot. In such a case, he would have been like our panicky pigeon or like the prisoner in the unlocked jail. The minute he stopped criticizing his wife, he left his cell and became a free and happy man.
 
To be continued…
 
 
(The Trail to Tranquility - Lazer's newest book!  Now available directly from the publisher:
 
[1] Names changed to preserve privacy. 




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