The greatest crisis of our lives is not economic, intellectual, or even what we usually call religious. It is a crisis of imagination. We are getting stuck on our paths because we are unable to re-imagine our lives differently than they are right now. We hold on desperately to the status quo, afraid that if we let go, we will be swept away by the torrential undercurrents of our emptiness. The most important thing in the world, implies wisdom master Nachman of Bratzlav, is to be willing to give up who you are for who you might become. He calls this process the giving up of pnimi to reach for makkif. Pnimi, for Master Nachman, means the old familiar things that you hold onto slavishly, even when they no longer serve you on your journey. Makkif is that which is beyond you, which you can only reach if you are willing to take a leap into the abyss.
Find your risk, and you will find yourself. Sometimes that means leaving your home, your father’s house, and your birthplace and traveling to strange lands.
Both the Buddha and the biblical Abraham do this quite literally. But for the Kabbalist, the true journey does not require dramatic breaks with past and home. It is rather a journey of the imagination. In the simple and literal meaning of the biblical text, Abraham’s command is Lech Lecha… “Go forth from your land, your birthplace, and your father’s house.” Unpacked by the Zohar, it is taken to mean not “Go forth,” but “Go to yourself.” The journey is inwards, the vehicle – imagination.
It is only from this inside place that we can truly change our outside. It is only in the fantasy of re-imagining that we can change our reality. The path of true wisdom is not necessarily to quit your job, leave your home, and travel across the country. Often, such a radical break is a failure rather than fulfillment of imagination. True wisdom is to change your life from where you are. Through the power of imagination.