Instant gratification is one of the things that keep us from the long-term fulfillment that is our destiny.
Yet no matter how hard we try, it can feel nearly impossible to make the proactive choice instead of the reactive one. For example, maybe someone wants to be healthier, but finds it hard to resist reaching for another slice of cake. Or maybe someone craves to be loved, but settles for less just to avoid loneliness.
The only problem with instant gratification is that in the end, it doesn’t give us what we really want, and in most cases it actually keeps us from deeper longings we wish to fulfill.
The Zohar, the main source of kabbalistic wisdom, reveals that reactive choices are rooted in our ego (or, the Desire To Receive for the Self-Alone) and by restricting our reactive nature, we put ourselves more in touch with the ultimate treasure – our soul.
Our worst fear in breaking down the ego is a fear of loss – loss of the pleasure derived from instant gratification. This fear is understandable. But the Zohar tells us that even greater joy and pleasure await us. In fact, it states that one will find “treasure that is sufficient to rebuild his house, so he will not be sorry for the house that was demolished.”
This is a profound and powerful statement. Logically, the only way we will not regret giving something up is by receiving something far better in exchange! Kabbalists believe that living a spiritual life does not demand the denial of pleasure. The desire of the Creator is to bestow infinite pleasure upon all of His creations. Therefore, a kabbalist will only “trade up,” renouncing temporary pleasure for a much greater and longer-lasting sense of joy and fulfillment.
The truth about sacrificing immediate gratification is that it is no sacrifice at all. We get so much more in return.
We are never asked to give something up when following the kabbalistic path. Rather, we are shown how to achieve even greater joy that will deeply and permanently satisfy our every desire.