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Anthony Bourdain’s Mistake

Friday, 15 June, 2018 - 4:19 pm

Last week our world lost a good man. Anthony Bourdain inspired the world through food and travel. He was loyal, brutally honest, and brought people together through his work. 

In a revealing comment regarding his childhood, Bourdain shared “God was never mentioned -- so I was annoyed by neither religion nor church nor any notions of sin or damnation” 

Bourdain perceived religion to be an annoyance that restricted one’s choices, because of some belief in hell or notions of guilt. 

He felt fortunate to be free from the shackles of religion, able to pursue his hearts every desire.  As Bourdain told a reporter from the New Yorker “"I travel around the world, eat a lot of **** , and basically do whatever the **** I want”.

But he was mistaken.

Following one’s heart indiscriminately is not freedom. Quite the opposite. 

The teachings of Chasidut differentiate between “inner will” and “outer will”.

The “inner will” refers to wants that are inherent, whereas the “outer will” refers to wants that are a reaction to external stimuli. 

When we desire an enticing experience that pleases our senses and draws us in, we are expressing our “outer will” since we are reacting to the outside world.  Your “inner will”, on the other hand, comes from a place deep within you. It's what you really want in life. 

I can’t tell you what your “inner will” is and what you really want in life, that’s up to you to figure out. However, I can tell you, that if it merely feeds the senses, you are probably heading in the wrong direction. 

Since the “outer will” is often “louder” than the subtler “inner will”, we spend our days on this never-ending goose chase feeding the “outer will” but are left feeling empty and unfulfilled.  We then double down and feed the “outer will” even more, reasoning that if we are not satisfied, then we must need even more. But we will never truly be satisfied because you can’t satisfy the “inner will” by feeding the “outer will”!  (As Bourdain himself said, “I had had an adventure, tasted forbidden fruit, and everything that followed in my life — the food, the long and often stupid and self-destructive chase for the next thing, whether it was drugs or some other new sensation — would all stem from this moment.")  

It takes discipline to ensure that the “outer will” doesn’t hijack our lives. Often, one must say no to the “outer will” in order to satisfy the "inner will”.  

Bourdain was a good person but he was mistaken in this regard. Religion is not about avoiding hell but actualizing our “inner will” and truest self.  He was a slave not to the “shackles” of religion, but to pleasure, sensation, addiction and the “outer will”. 

Bourdain’s life behooves us to take the time to discover our “inner will” and realign our lives accordingly. 

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

PS. Please join us tomorrow at 12:15 pm for Sparks of Wisdom in honor of the Rebbe's Yahrzeit.  Sparks of Wisdom is a new discussion-based social learning experience that delves into 10 profound ideas handpicked from the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings, each exploring a fresh perspective to an important area of our lives. 

Chabad Rivertowns in the News this week:

The Enterprise

Chabad.org 

Lohud.com 

Patch.com  

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