Excerpted from "Becoming Like God" with permission of Kabbalah Publishing.

According to the Bible, "Man was created in God's image, in God's image man was created." Kabbalah teaches that there are no superfluous words in the Bible, so why the repetition? It urges the reader to pay attention. Do not miss this. You are created in God's image.

You have the same essence and therefore the same potential as God. You are destined to become like God, so keep asking yourself, am I like God yet? Am I manifesting godly powers? Can I heal the sick and bless people? Have I resurrected the dead? The yardstick suddenly extends to infinity. I don't just measure myself against myself. I measure myself against God.

Greatness is not reserved for the great. The great are simply those who have risen to meet their destiny. Everyone alive has a destiny infinitely richer than they know.

Dullness and boredom come from unmet or abandoned potential. It's television ratings soaring. It's playing computer games when you were meant to compose sonatas. If you're not doing what you were meant to do--and each person was meant for something astonishing--you'll never enjoy contentment. Imagine Dr. Jonas Salk becoming a successful businessman, a generous citizen, and a wonderful father, but never going near a lab. What may have seemed a good life would in fact have been tragic, the pain and suffering he was meant to remove from the world never having been achieved.

A great spiritual leader with thousands of students and many books to his credit once told this story.

"When I was eleven," he said, "I was a lost cause as a student. I never minded my teachers and I played hooky from school at every opportunity. Then one evening, I heard my parents in the next room talking about me. My mother was crying.

'What are we going to do with our son?' she said to my father. 'He has no interest in his studies. He doesn't want go to school, and any day now they will expel him. Then what will become of him?'

"As I listened to her, a strange event occurred: I could feel her anguish as acutely as if it had been my own. I burst into the room and I told her I was sorry. I promised that I would be a good student and obedient from that moment on. I made the promise not because I cared about studying but because I cared about my mother and did not want to cause her pain. I kept my word and changed my ways. I became studious and never missed a day of school, and I grew up to be the scholar you see before you now.

"My point is this: If I had not overheard my parents that day, what would have become of me? Well, I would have been a good person, since it was in my nature to do so. I would have prayed, I would have given to charity, I would have enabled many others to earn a good living. However, imagine what would have happened after I left this world and arrived in the place called the 'heavenly court.'

"My judges would say, 'Where are your thousands of students?'

"I would gape at them and reply, 'What are you talking about? I was a merchant and I did good business, but I didn't have any information to impart to even a handful of students, let alone thousands. Let's talk instead about the sums of money I gave to charity.'

"And then they would say, 'Where are the dozens of books you were supposed to write?'

"Again, I'd look at them as if they were unhinged. 'What do you mean, 'dozens of books?' I wasn't illiterate--I could read and write--but I had no reason to write any books; I had nothing to teach anyone. Let's talk instead about the many kindnesses I bestowed on my friends, my family, and my customers.

"Then they would show me everything I could have achieved, everything I should have done. Can you imagine the grief I would feel in that moment? There is no greater hell than to see what we might have done, but in fact failed to do."

So this is the measure: where am I, not in reference to others, but in reference to myself? Where am I on the road of my own potential? Growth should not be linear, but exponential. A little growth increases our feeling of contentment exponentially and every step makes the next one easier.

If our thoughts and actions are not taking us toward God, we need to change. What progress are we making? That cannot be quantified by anyone outside ourselves. We need to ask ourselves this: if we continue in our life's trajectory for 5, 10, or 20 years, where will we be? Will we become like God yet? The answer should make us rethink our efforts. As we dissolve our prison chains and merge our essence back into God's essence, we reveal our godly nature more and more. Eventually, we may become immortal, and even resurrect the dead. It is this vision we keep before us, immovably.

Until then, the Opponent will do his job as supreme prison guard of the penitentiary we inhabit, and chief operating officer of our universal system of pain and suffering. His job is to ensure that we don't realize our potential, yet if we could even believe for a minute who we really were and how great our destiny, the balance would shift and we would emerge from prison, not like inmates, but like God.
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