Since this world is the corridor to the next, and our experience in the next world is dependent on our spiritual growth in this world, then it’s clear that the purpose of life is only achieved through meaningful personal change. If we hide from, shirk, ignore, or pass by the challenges that life offers, we are doing ourselves the most serious disservice of all. We need growth. The mystically inclined are more attuned to the reality of the next world and, therefore, our purpose here. The effect of this has been that they have traditionally taken a keener interest in personal reflection, contemplation, and change. You can affect your own changes. If a person will do the work on him/herself, there is less need for challenges to be brought on a person from above.
An example of this is the beginning of the book of Job. God indicates to the prosecuting angel that Job is a very righteous person. The angel replies that his righteousness is due to the many blessings God has bestowed upon him. Give him pain and suffering and his righteousness will cease. The angel is pointing out that Job’s personality has not been challenged with suffering. Therefore he is tested in order for him to have the chance to reach a higher level of righteousness. Had Job challenged himself and worked on raising his connection with God above and beyond appreciation for his blessings, he wouldn’t have needed to be tested. We can attempt to elevate ourselves, or we can have circumstances thrust upon us from the spiritual realm that elevate us through challenge. Either way is for our benefit.
Not all challenges are the pain and suffering of Job, of course. They can be any moral dilemma, minor annoyance, or crossroads you face. Most of the points of growth we have are all in the same range of moral choices and therefore do not affect us in a significant way. Once in a while we face a major dilemma that causes us to tap into a much deeper part of ourselves. At that time you may feel like the movie caricature with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other each trying to convince you which way to go. It is that type of experience that changes the direction of your life and brings about a very different set of consequences from the spiritual realm. The spiritual responds to the physical and sets up new and different challenges and lessons based on your decision. (Lessons are sent to us to indicate the direction we need to grow in.) Somewhat separate from all the many challenges we face is a specific challenge that is our main test in life. This major test affects us and humanity in a defined way, which was constructed by God. This is known as a “tikkun.” Litaken in Hebrew means “to fix.” Your tikkun is that one spiritual blemish that you are created with, that represents your particular contribution to the tikkun of all mankind. We are not necessarily meant to know what that tikkun is. You may, however, be in touch with yourself enough to get a general idea. They say the prophets could tell you what your individual tikkun was. A famous kabbalist from the seventeenth century called the Ari HaKodesh was known to have been able to do this. There may even be kabbalists alive today who claim to have this ability. There’s a reason why God does or does not let us know our personal test.
The most important thing to realize is the following. With the idea of a major challenge or tikkun in mind, it’s easier to see how what may appear to you as the biggest problem of your life, may in fact be your greatest spiritual benefit. It may be affecting and fulfilling your most important tikkun. The calmness that this perspective will give you will also give you a much greater chance of passing that test.