I think it was the Northern line on London's Underground in 1995 that finally got me!
Depression by osmosis – the misery on people’s faces each and every morning finally made me want to believe there must be more to life than Investment Banking.
So, one Sunday night, sitting in my St John’s Wood local, I made a drunkard pact with a friend to quit the investment bank the following morning, jump on a plane and go explore the world VIP-backpacker style!
Through Hong Kong, I continued to Indonesia. I stepped out of Jakarta Airport into a tropical downpour, where three Indonesian children ran out into the rain with arms outstretched, laughing, kicking and stomping with joy. I remember that scene well – it still smacks me when I need a wake-up call in life. The idea that these kids – with nothing in life – all of sudden seemed to have everything I wanted – a pure ecstasy of life.
I got out of my mood and resolved to experience as much as I could on this trip of a lifetime. Each subsequent destination offered me more amazing adventures: skydiving from 11,000 feet (clouds are at 2000 ft they tell me!); dodging sharks in the waters of the Australia; getting legally ‘high’ with a governor in Fiji; 48-hour parties in L.A and celebrating my newly born nephew in Sweden.
After travelling some 20,000 miles and experiencing as much as I possibly could, I returned to London to start afresh – just anything not to fall back into an another city-job rut.
Sure enough within a month, I was back in the ‘city job rut’ and craving change. Solution – run away to another holiday please!
So it was that summer, during a holiday in Israel, I caught one clear word over a muffled conversation my oldest and dearest friend Marc held a with a stranger – ‘Kabbalah’.
Back in London I began to ask questions about Kabbalah: what was it, who was it?
I wasn’t sure what to expect – why was it so controversial? Was it a religion? No religion had never really made sense to me. Didn’t you have to be academic? A wealthy celebrity? Over 40? Fortunate for me Marc returned on fire after the lecture bubbling with energy saying ‘you gotta hear this stuff’.
Despite my innate cynicism, there was something extraordinary about the first class. Over time, the whole controversy of Kabbalah became myth – the 4,000 year old wisdom of Kabbalah just explained how life works and how, through change and hard work, each of us can learn to take back control over our lives and live more meaningfully. I had done many self help courses but Kabbalah was unique in its depth.
Over the course of the next three years, I opened a headhunting and recruitment consultancy for the banking industry with a great friend and successfully applied my Kabbalistic and his Hindu principles, creating a very exciting business.
Because of Kabbalah I felt a change ripple through my relationships, business and health. I became excited about waking up in the mornings seeing life through different goggles and saw how I could help others in a major way too.
All my questions about the contradictions of life finally were answered
It was a very tough decision but I eventually decided I could give much more back to my community by learning to teach what I had been taught. So after much soul searching I left the business and went to study full-time with Rav Berg in America.
It first fascinated me that the Kabbalah Centre is the continuation of a 4000 year lineage pure to its original teachings with many parts made practical to allow all to see how personal strength and social responsibility can remove a lot of pain and suffering from people’s lives. I was melted by the pure intentions and love of this Kabbalist and his ‘show, don’t tell’ manner.
And from this I learnt the point of the Kabbalah Centre charity – first to provide people of all religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds with a variety of educational resources (i.e. seminars, online study, books newsletters, one-on-one consultation, and special events) that aim to inspire students to become proactive members of their communities and the world. And second, it created several charitable programs that provide direct physical assistance for people living in impoverished conditions; crime prevention programs to prison inmates and juvenile delinquents; and peace-building programs for children and adults.
Marc and I have now been studying at Kabbalah Centre for nine years and teaching for five of them. Whether its royalty, celebrities or us lay folk – everyone but everyone is looking for the same fulfilment out of life, and like gravity, the Universe treats us all identically – we’re all playing the same game of life to get the same high from life, and I had finally found the life manual!
Thank you, London Underground!