I was recently watching a documentary that featured many different religions and one of the topics touched upon was Feng shui. According to this article on About.com, “Feng shui is an ancient art and science developed over 3,000 years ago in China. It is a complex body of knowledge that reveals how to balance the energies of any given space to assure health and good fortune for people inhabiting it.” This means that when designing any space, be it your house or your office, you consult an expert who tells you what rooms should be facing which direction and how to arrange your furniture, etc.
But the Feng shui guru being interviewed said something that really caught my attention. “In Chinese, feng means wind, and shui means water,” she started. “And we have a proverb that goes, ‘Birds don’t fly – they are flown by the wind. Fish don’t swim – they are carried by the water.’” And that is the whole idea of feng shui, that there are energies that exist in the world and by arranging your space a certain way, you are taking advantage of those energies and “riding” them.
I was captivated by the idea. Birds don’t fly, they are only flown by the wind. Fish don’t swim, they are only carried by the water. Isn’t that in a way what living a life of Emunah / Faith supposed to be about – not really trying so hard to live and control everything ourselves, but “simply” going along with G-d and trusting Him to figure out all the details? Living with the knowledge that G-d is our wind and our water that carry us along?
I liked how Rebbetzin Esther Baila Schwartz put it: “I am not here to make anything happen. I am only here to do G-d’s will.” So many times, she explains, we end up thinking that our personal agenda is our mission in life: that we’re supposed to open this school, or cure that disease, or heal a certain person. Maybe it actually is. And we all work so hard making what we want happen, sometimes even doing disagreeable things in the process. But the rule of thumb she gave was simple: If in your pursuit to reach your goal you need to step on another person or break any other one of G-d’s commandments, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. In Judaism, the end does NOT justify the means. In each step you take, make sure you’re sticking to the commandments G-d set – that’s the direction you should be leading your life.
But, going back to topic, isn’t it an amazing concept? That I am not here to make anything happen. All I am ever responsible for is the effort, and for trying. If I tried my best, then MY work is done. Making the results happen is now G-d’s domain. As another one of my mentors Devorah Stieglitz said, “Let go and let G-d.” Do your best, and then let go and give G-d the space to do His part. Perhaps in this day and age when everyone is constantly anxious about something, it’s something we should all learn to keep in mind: That we do not need to fly, we only need to ride the wind. We do not need to work so hard to live and make things happen, we need to let go and let G-d.
Bernice is a Noahide from the Philippines, spends most of her time playing violin, being involved in musicology research, and writing about various topics (her favorite being Judaism). The rest of the time, she can be found drinking coffee, reading, and convincing herself to workout.