The 77% Weekly

The Religion-Outside-The-Box Newsletter

October 2006 – Issue 34/40

In This Issue


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Strength of Soul.

There are some people who can lift a
90-pound weight with ease. There are others for whom
lifting a 90-pound weight takes every ounce of their
effort. And there are those who cannot lift a
90-pound weight at all.

The amount of weight
that a person can lift defines the strength of one’s
physical body. But there is a more important
strength, strength of soul.

Bags of

My darling wife, a
psychotherapist, teaches her clients about the
proverbial bag of sorrows that we all carry around
with us. She explains that the point of therapy is
to reach into the bag, take something out, examine
and understand it. At the end of a session, the
problems do not disappear; the bearer just knows
more about what it is they are carrying around. The
remarkable thing is that over time the sorrows
become lighter and easier to bear.

All human
beings have burdens. All of us, simply because we
are alive, suffer. That is what it is means to be
human. (There is a Buddhist notion that to be alive
is to joyfully participate in the suffering of the
world.) From childhood on our troubles accumulate as
we carry them around, adding weight to our loads.
Some of us experience sudden tragedies, adding much
weight at once. Others confront an endless series of
minor day-to-day problems. Our strength of soul
determines how heavy the burdens we carry

Strength of

Strength of soul is the
strength we draw upon to carry our

There are people out there whose
inability to get their favorite dish at a restaurant
can ruin their dinner. On the other hand, there are
also people who are just as happy to eat the
eggplant parmesan as the lasagna they originally had
their heart set upon.

The difference in
outlook is directly related — not to wealth or to
circumstance — but to strength of soul. People with
little strength of soul can be detoured by the
slightest obstacle in their path. People with
greater strength of soul are more flexible and
better able to carry the extra weight.

all know of people who have lost a business, a loved
one, or even a limb who are better able to deal with
their burdens than someone who just lost a dollar in
a soda machine. Is it really a surprise that those
with the greater strength of soul are the people we
would rather spend time with?

There are
certain individuals who believe that their bag of
sorrow is greater than anyone else’s. They like to
complain of their problems so they can brag about
how strong they are. This shows not strength of
soul, but grandeur of ego.

Some people
refuse to admit that they are human and struggle to
stoically stand under the weight of their sorrows.
They suffer silently, pretending their soul is not

Finally, there are the ones who
delude themselves by acting as though they have no
sorrows at all. One day, invariably, they


is strength of body — the ability to lift a 90
pound weight with ease. And then there is strength
of soul — the ability to walk with a lightness of
being while carrying a life-bag heavy with sorrow.
That you can carry 90 pounds does not matter. How
well you carry your burdens does.

I hope that
your physical health is and remains strong. But more
than that, I pray for the strength of your soul —
your ability to walk with a lightness of being while
carrying your life-bag.

And, if you care to, click here to see the comments on

where the
article went up last week.

With much love,

Rabbi Brian


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