The Aaron Hernandez Story and You

Author, Human By Choice: A Kabbalistic Path to Self Help

On June 26, 2013, Aaron Hernandez, star Tight End for the New England Patriots, was arrested on charges of first degree murder. While circumstances of the killing have not yet been made public, one thing is clear: Aaron Hernandez had the potential and the opportunity to be one of the best players at his position in the history of the NFL – and instead, he now faces life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

The question begs to be asked: How did he get here? Didn’t he realize he had the opportunity that most can only dream about? How could he allow himself to get caught up in such a bad situation? (And this was not an isolated troubled incident).

We find this phenomenon all too frequently with pro athletes.

They have the opportunity of a lifetime – stardom, fame, fortune, and all that comes along with that – and they end up in shady activities and behind bars. And the rest of us are left wondering how they could be so (seemingly) idiotic as to blow their potentially “larger than life” lives on things that seem so small, fleeting and futile.

A proverb of the ancient Kabbalists says, “There has to be a ‘lack’ in the egg in order for there to be a space for the chic to grow.” Meaning, if an egg is “complete” as it is, there is no space for a chic to develop and come into being.

A higher level of being can only come about when preceded by a vacancy in the present level of being. Only then is there the “space” for a new level of being to take shape.

All growth happens this way.

A seed has to rot away and decay before sprouting a plant; muscle tears before growing back stronger than before. Getting to a higher level of being entails abandoning the level that we are currently on – and that means going to the unknown. To a personal abyss. We must give up our old life if we want to build a new life. And since all we know about ourselves is the person we have been up until this point, the thought of leaving that behind can be accompanied with deep feelings of loss or denial of self.

When the seed makes the move to become the plant, there is a total abandonment of its identity as a seed. All that the seed has been and has known is vanishing forever. That can be scary/////can inspire a sense of dread.

Moving from a seed-state to a plant-state is not quantifiable. We are not talking here about a well trained athlete adding another rep or another lap. Transitioning from a seed-like state of being to a plant-like state of being is a qualitative move – it’s a move to another level of being, another level of existence.

It means leaving the old life – the old me – behind. That is big. Often, too big for us to swallow and accept. And so, we stay trapped in what we are used to. In our usual ways of doing things. In our smallness. In our personal boxes.

We have all made our own little box. We have each identified ourselves as a certain type of person – as a person who acts in a certain way, reacts in a certain way, and we all have the manner in which we “roll”. We see ourselves from our own eyes. And we get caught up and stuck in that classification.

Maybe you are the person who is known for making snide remarks. Perhaps you are the people pleaser. Or, it could be you think of yourself as the person who doesn’t take crap from anyone.

To take on another way of life and be another type of person means to leave that old you behind. At first, the thought of such a move creates a feeling of emptiness within you. It feels like you’re not being true to yourself. But, in fact, the real you is free – free from any behavior pattern. The real you is independent, not containable by any box.

The truth is, the more we are locked into our behavior patterns – the more we are acting in denial of our true free selves. The more difficult we find it to break out of our ways of being, the further we have gotten from being in touch with who we really are.

It is the commitment to abandon your present way of being that opens up the door to real change, personal determination, and a higher level of being. Leaving the present you is the inner plowing that enables the fertile growth of the future you. It is the vacancy in the egg that allows for the development of the chic.

Oftentimes, we hold onto the smallness of the present because it is what we know. We look at other ways of being as “not me”. But it is only “not me” because I haven’t made the choices to make it me.

It seems that Aaron Hernandez got stuck in this kind of smallness. He could not (or would not) leave his old life – and therefore he failed to create a new one.

We all live the Aaron Hernandez story to a certain extent. It is the story of a life not lived, an opportunity not seized, a journey towards success that ended in failure.

The Aaron Hernandez story can be a wakeup call for all of us. To be the person we haven’t been. To get out of our smallness and live the life we ought to be living. To ditch the box we have made for ourselves, which has been comforting us yet imprisoning us, and go to that vacant space within ourselves and to build the new you.

Hopefully. we can take this as a wakeup call to live the life we haven’t been living. To be the person we have not yet been. To ditch the box we have made for ourselves, which is comforting us yet is imprisoning us, and go to that vacant space within ourselves and build the new you.

 Read more from Beliefnet expert and Kabbalah Counseling columnist, Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov here.

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