There is an old clichÃ©: When the student is ready the teacher appears.
I had traveled the world many times over, performed in soccer stadiums, appeared in films, dined with state leaders, collaborated with great artists and achieved what most people would view as a high level of success but I still felt something was missing in my life.
I was pregnant with my daughter, almost 14 years ago and I had just finished the film Evita and realized I had spent my whole life worrying about myself, and that I would soon be responsible for someone else’s life.
I was raised a Catholic and my father was very religious but none of my questions ever really got answered when it came to trying to understand why people suffered in the world or what the meaning of life was all about.
And suddenly I thought, “What will I teach my child about the important things in life?”
I was practicing Yoga for years and studying Sanskrit. I had read many books by the great Yogi Masters and Indian Avatars. I studied Buddhism and the teachings of the Dali Lama. I studied Taoism and the Art of War.
I read about the Gnostics and the early Christians. I learned a lot and I was very inspired but I still could not connect the dots and find a way to take this knowledge and apply it to my daily life.
I was looking for an answer.
I went to a dinner party in L.A.
A woman sitting next to me was telling me about a class she was taking from a Rabbi.
She said it was so inspiring and that I should come along. I asked her what it was about.
She said, “Life.”
I asked her what it was called.
She said “Kabbalah.”
I told her I wasn’t Jewish and she said: “What difference does it make what it’s called and what religious upbringing you have had if you are inspired?”
She had a point.
So I went to the class and sat in the back and I listened to a man named Eitan teach the class.
I heard what he had to say and I knew at this moment my life would never be the same.
I began to go to the classes regularly and sit in the class with my notebook. No one bothered me. I took notes.
I met with Eitan privately and asked a lot of questions. The thing that was encouraged the most was to inquire further.
All the questions I had about life began to be answered and I realized I had finally found a “belief system” or philosophy that incorporated Science and Spirituality.
I was learning about Physics, Astronomy, Nature and the laws of Cause and Effect.
All the puzzle pieces started falling into place.
Life no longer seemed like a series of Random events. I started to see patterns in life. I woke up. I began to be conscious of my words and my actions and to really see the results of them.
I also began to see that being Rich and Famous wasn’t going to bring me lasting fulfillment and that it was not the end of the journey; that it was the beginning of the journey.
I have been studying with Eitan consistently since that first class and it was only a matter of time before I met Michael Berg, whose father Rav Berg comes from a long line of Kabbalists and was the teacher of Eitan.
Michael Berg is a very unique human being. He might be the smartest person I know.
At first he seemed quiet and shy, conservative and even perhaps a bit naÃ¯ve. But ask him a question on any subject and you will find yourself swimming in an ocean of information.
It’s astounding what he knows and what he has accomplished at such a young age. The fact that he translated 22 volumes of the Zohar from Aramaic into Hebrew and English is remarkable.
The funny thing about Michael is that he is as comfortable and knowledgeable about discussing the teachings of the Ari as he is of discussing his favorite Seinfeld episode.
He knows more about Pop Culture and what’s going on in the world than anyone I know and yet his desire to really affect change in the world and the compassion he feels for people who are suffering is unparalleled.
When Michael gets up to tell a story in front of a room full of people there is never a dry eye in the house, including his own.
I am lucky to call him my friend.
He has a child with Down Syndrome and it is perhaps because of this that he feels the need to come to the rescue of children who are living in challenging situations or abject poverty.
We were both looking for a project to do with children and low and behold a Malawian woman appeared and told us about the plight of over 1 million children orphaned by AIDS in a small landlocked country in Africa.
Before we knew it we were visiting Malawi and that was the birth of our foundation: Raising Malawi.
Of course now that I know what I know, I realize that this did not happen by chance.
Once again the students were ready and the teacher appeared. In this case the children of Malawi are the teachers.
They have taught me so much. And they continue to teach me.
As do Michael and Eitan.
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