19 August 2023

In this episode, William Green speaks with Michael Berg, a great scholar & author who draws on the ancient wisdom of Kabbalah to explore how we can build lives that are truly richer, wiser, & happier. Here, Michael discusses how to extract more pleasure from whatever wealth you have; why sharing your money & time builds a greater sense of abundance; how to support your kids without sapping their desire to succeed; why deferred gratification is a superpower in business & life; how to handle challenges & adversity; & why the real key to happiness is appreciation.

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  • Why Michael Berg sees no conflict between a spiritual life & material success.
  • Why Sir John Templeton called tithing “the single best investment.”
  • How our own actions open or close the “channels of abundance.”
  • Why Charlie Munger reveres Maimonides, a 12th-century sage & doctor.
  • How to extract more pleasure from whatever wealth we have.
  • Why it’s helpful to recognize that we don’t truly own anything.
  • How appreciation helps Howard Marks to stay humble & be happy.
  • Why many rich people are surprisingly unhappy.
  • How to build joyful abundance by sharing your time & money.
  • How to help your kids without disempowering them.
  • Why delayed gratification is essential in business, investing, & life.
  • How Michael handles challenges & reframes adversity.
  • Why his father, Rav Berg, taught that “consciousness is everything.”


Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

[00:00:03] William Green: Hi there. I’m really excited to introduce today’s guest, Michael Berg. Michael is a brilliant scholar, writer, and teacher who’s thought very deeply about the question at the heart of this podcast and also at the heart of my book, namely, how can you and I build lives that are truly richer, wiser, and happier?

[00:00:21] William Green: Michael comes at this question from an unusual angle that may not be particularly familiar to you. He teaches an ancient form of spiritual wisdom called Kabbalah, which goes back literally thousands of years until the last few decades. This was a secret wisdom historically, it was so concealed that you weren’t even allowed to study it unless you were basically an exceptionally learned and pious man over the age of 40.

[00:00:47] William Green: You also had to understand Hebrew and Aramaic so that you could read the most important capitalistic books, including a monumental and incredibly profound book called The Zohar. Michael grew up in a family that was totally immersed in this ancient wisdom, and he’s deeply committed to making it accessible to anyone who might help, regardless of their background.

[00:01:09] William Green: When he was only 18 years old, he started translating the Zohar from Aramaic into English, ultimately producing a 23-volume edition that took a decade to complete. But what makes Michael extraordinary is that he’s able to take this fairly esoteric knowledge and make it extremely practical and applicable to our own day-to-day lives.

[00:01:33] William Green: In this conversation, he talks about very pragmatic subjects like how you and I can extract more pleasure from whatever wealth we have, whether we have a lot of money or not that much. He talks about why so many rich people are surprisingly unsatisfied and unhappy. He talks about how to enhance our own sense of abundance by sharing our money and our time.

[00:01:56] William Green: He talks about how we can support our children without disempowering them or sapping their desire to succeed for themselves. He talks about the importance of deferred gratification, which turns out to be a kind of superpower in business investing and life, and he talks about how to deal with adversity, including some very difficult challenges that he’s faced in his own life.

[00:02:19] William Green: One thing that’s fascinating to me is that whenever I study these very old forms of wisdom, like Kabbalah or Tibetan Buddhism, or for that matter, Stoic Philosophy, the teachings seem just as relevant and helpful today as they ever were. It reminds me of a book, Sir John Templeton wrote many years ago called Worldwide Laws of Life, which lays out what he describes as 200 eternal spiritual principles.

[00:02:47] William Green: In the introduction, Templeton wrote, “To be a happy and useful person, it’s important to understand and practice the laws of life. These laws are simply the set of rules by which we should live.” So that’s our goal in this episode. We’re gonna explore some of these timeless principles that are likely to lead to a truly rich and happy life.

[00:03:10] William Green: I hope you enjoy this conversation. Thanks a lot for joining us.

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[00:03:17] Intro: You are listening to the Richer, Wiser, Happier podcast, where your host, William Green, interviews the world’s greatest investors and explores how to win in markets and life.

[00:03:37] William Green: Alright, well, hi folks. I’m really excited to welcome our guest today, Michael Berg. Michael’s teachings have really had a huge impact on my own life. He’s definitely one of the best teachers I’ve ever encountered, and he’s looked very deeply about how to build a life that’s truly richer, wiser, and happier, and how to achieve real and enduring fulfillment.

[00:03:57] William Green: So it’s lovely to see you, Michael. Thank you so much for being here.

[00:04:00] Michael Berg: Great to be with you, William. I’m excited for our conversation.

[00:04:04] William Green: Me too. I was thinking this morning that your teachings have done probably more to make me become happier than anything else I’ve learned in many years. And then I was thinking I’m not sure I’m any wiser yet, but hopefully by the end of the conversation this is gonna kick in.

[00:04:17] Michael Berg: Well, I teach you things and see on happier tho those teachings that that I share are the ones that continuously make me happier as well. And I think probably the first thought that I have around this is that the only way to truly have happiness is by running after wisdom all the time. And wisdom, I don’t just mean information, right?

[00:04:36] Michael Berg: Wisdom that changes us, that gives us a new viewpoint on life, on issues that, that we’re going through. I don’t believe that it’s possible from, certainly for most people, and certainly for myself to be living a life that is progressively more enjoyable without a constant desire and pursuing the gaining of more wisdom that changes us.

[00:04:57] Michael Berg: And on the wiser side, there’s one of my favorite quotes from an ancient Italian capitalist. He says that the purpose of all wisdom is to know that we know nothing. And I think it’s a really important to understand that, it comes off as a little bit funny, but really what it means is that you can tell a difference between somebody who’s really wise and somebody who’s not, is the humility that comes with wisdom.

[00:05:18] Michael Berg: Because if you truly have any significant breath of wisdom. The one obvious conclusion is that you understand a tiny fraction of reality and therefore that must lead to humility. So, you, I’m sure we’ve all met people like this in our lives. There are those who have all the answers for everything all the time.

[00:05:37] Michael Berg: And there, there are those that some of the answers sometimes, but always with humility, and that’s the attainment of wisdom. So when you say you’re not sure you’ve gotten any wiser, that’s great. One great indication that you probably have.

[00:05:48] William Green: So we live in hope. No I’ve studied Kabbalah for about 15 years and have found it incredibly life enriching wisdom. But I’m aware that a lot of people in our audience don’t really know what it is. And also it’s worth mentioning that for thousands of years, people like me weren’t allowed to study this concealed wisdom. And so could you just ground us a little bit by explaining what Kabbalah is and how this secret concealed wisdom came to be accessible to all of us here today, including folks like me who would’ve been regarded as much too ignorant and based to study Kabala until sure the last few decades.

[00:06:23] Michael Berg: Sure. And so what I’d like to have, I’ll let to have a little bit historically and then a little bit more, I would say deeper spiritual answer. So historically the view is that from the beginning of time, there’s always been this secret wisdom, and that’s worn out through many of the works that have been revealed that came to our world.

[00:06:40] Michael Berg: But that’s the understanding I’m standing that this wisdom is not a new wisdom. It’s a wisdom that really was the foundation of the world within which we live. Historically though, there are a number of books that were, that came into being one of the most ancient of the Kabbalistic works that we know is what’s called the Pacific [Inuadible] the Book of Creation or Formation, which was revealed, a few thousand years ago.

[00:07:01] Michael Berg: It is meant to have been written by Abraham, the biblical patriarch. Then the idea is that Kabbalah, which literally means received, it was an oral tradition, not a written tradition. So even for instance, at Sinai, a number of few, a few thousand years ago, when what is called the the Torah, the Bible was revealed through Moses.

[00:07:21] Michael Berg: It is understood that within that revelation of the physical, what we have today at the five books of Moses, there was also an oral secret tradition given as well. And throughout history, while there was a tradition that would, that kept teaching and giving from one generation to the next, the what’s called the Reveal [Inaudible], the reveal spiritual understandings, there was always that layer of the secret, and it was only about 2000 years ago.

[00:07:48] Michael Berg: When a great capitalist in the northern Galilee in Northern Israel revealed to a small group of students, the, it was called the Zohar, or the secret teachings, and he asked them to start writing it down. From that moment, for the next, at least a thousand years, students of Kabbalah, students of the Zohar would study these teachings and continue to write down and add on to them.

[00:08:12] Michael Berg: But still, it was only to a small group of students. The teacher who had the wisdom would gather around him, five students, 10 students, and that’s how the tradition kept going. About 800 years ago or so, the Kabbalists believed, and there’s other historical reasons for this, that it’s time for this to be at least a little bit more revealed than just to a small group of students.

[00:08:33] Michael Berg: And therefore, what’s called the Zohar, the foundational text of Kabbalah was really brought out to the public again, still only in Aramaic. So only those who understood Aramaic and were able to read it, were able to access this wisdom. This continued on, and I, there’s a lot of history here. I won’t go through all the steps of history, but basically up until about a hundred years ago, you had to be a tremendous scholar with a connection to one of the teachers who had this secret wisdom to really access it fully.

[00:09:01] Michael Berg: One of the. Reasons why the organization that I am a part of today, the Kabbalah Center, came into being about a hundred years ago, was because they understood that the spiritual leaders at the time, that the world needed this wisdom and then began a process first in Hebrew and then in English, and then eventually in all the languages of the world to endeavor, to make this wisdom accessible to all, because it is necessary for all people.

[00:09:27] Michael Berg: That’s a little bit of the history. So it’s an ancient secret wisdom that was originally held by only a few given from generation to those chosen to receive the wisdom about a hundred years ago or so. It began a process of making this more and more accessible in other languages and of course making anybody who wanted to receive this wisdom to be able to access it.

[00:09:48] Michael Berg: The other part of this. And by the way, William, feel free to ask if you wanna go any further detail into the history of it, because that we can talk an hour and a half just on the history, but yes.

[00:09:57] William Green: Well, one thing I was going to say is it’s amazing to people who don’t know just how controversial this was because your father Rav Berg and your mother Karen Berg, obviously played a very central role in spreading this wisdom.

[00:10:09] William Green: And I remember when your mother passed away back in 2020, you did a beautiful podcast episode with your wife Monica, where you talked about lessons from your parents. And one of the things you mentioned was that when your parents had decided that they were going to spread this wisdom, your mother was literally attacked with a baseball bat and your father said, they’ll kill us.

[00:10:26] William Green: And your mother said, well, that’s okay. We’ll be doing what it is we’re passionate about. So, I mean, this was a very controversial thing in many ways to make this public.

[00:10:36] Michael Berg: Absolutely and the controversy goes back thousands of years. I mean, to be clear, those who were teaching wisdom 2000 years ago, especially during the Roman rule over Palestine, over what is now Israel, there were many teachers who were killed by the Romans because the Romans saw this teaching of this wisdom as in some ways undermining their control over the people over the country.

[00:10:59] Michael Berg: So one of the most important capitalists, Rabbi Akiva, who was the teacher of [Inaudible] the author of the Zohar. He was killed by the Romans for gathering around him students to teach this wisdom. And unfortunately, that has been the history of this wisdom for many years, where it was always seen as either dangerous, either again to government or to religion, or to other people.

[00:11:21] Michael Berg: And many people who partook of this wisdom and tried in any way to teach it, even if it was to small groups historically, would find themselves in danger. And even as you said, as we go back, only a hundred years ago with the founder of the center, many of the students who were very learners from very, what are called good families in Jerusalem at the time in the 1920s and thirties, they were beaten up by if people around them, because everybody felt this wisdom is too important, too secret, too holy.

[00:11:50] Michael Berg: Choose the word for anybody to be learning it, to be studying it. It should be kept in a book, in a corner, on a show. And so that has been the history. It has been dangerous. Literally up until, relatively recently, physically dangerous to be studying and disseminating this wisdom. And as you said, in the 1970s when my parents began, continued the efforts of their earlier capitalists to bring this wisdom to a wider and wider audience, there was physical danger involved.

[00:12:17] Michael Berg: Thankfully, today that, no, I don’t think that exists, but I think it is important. I know for myself to appreciate the fact that literally there have been people, many people for the past thousands of years, that have lived literally either given up their lives or put their lives in jeopardy for the purpose of bringing this wisdom to the world.

[00:12:34] Michael Berg: Which leads me to the second point that I wanted to make, which is that when we talk about this wisdom, and I think it’s really important, I think a lot of people have with the notions of religion or whether as it relates to spirituality, what we’re talking about when we talk about the wisdom of Kabbalah.

[00:12:48] Michael Berg: We’re talking about the underpinning spiritual rules that govern life, that govern our world. And when you understand it in that way, it becomes clear. Of course, anybody who wants should have access to it. If I or you, anybody in the world has or wisdom, information that can make one person’s life better, of course that wisdom needs to be disseminated as widely as possible.

[00:13:13] William Green: And you wrote in one of your books, Kabbalah is not a religion, but rather a technology. And in, in many ways, what we’re going to discuss in depth today is how this kind of spiritual technology can help us to build richer, wiser, and happier lives. But can you first explain what you actually mean by it being a technology rather than a religion?

[00:13:33] Michael Berg: So the word as many words, even the word God, but the word religion has many different meanings to many different people. It has a positive and negative history, as most of us know. Understand the capitalistic understanding is that when you go back to the origins, so whether you go back to Moses or Jesus or Muhammad, the understanding is that these people never meant their job purpose, their call it, their prophetic visions, their writings, their teachings were never meant to create a road following of rules, which is unfortunately for many people, or at least historically, what religion has been seen as, which is this doesn’t make sense, but God wants you to do it, and if you do it, God will be happy with you.

[00:14:16] Michael Berg: And if you don’t do it, God will be angry with you. That doesn’t make any sense. But aside from that, it’s also not the truth as the way we see it, the only purpose of what became known as the world’s religion was a deep spiritual wisdom for only one purpose to help the individual transform. To be able to achieve the life that we’re meant to have.

[00:14:40] Michael Berg: And when that’s the view, you can call it religion, you can call it technology. The words are less important than the understanding of what, what is meant, which is that, at least the way we understand it or the capitalists understand it, religion, as many of us know, it was not the original thought, was not the original idea that the only whether and therefore whether again, this spiritual wisdom is whether you’re Jewish, Christian, Muslim or none of the above or something else.

[00:15:05] Michael Berg: Because it’s viewed as simply a wisdom that to be learned as for the individual to become a transform and become a better person on a consistent basis. Religion, unfortunately, as we said throughout history, has not always been either viewed or used in that way. And that not only, I guess we said is not only needs to be a shift, I think certainly from that thought of a road following of rules, which again, as I said, both doesn’t make sense, but, and neither was the original intention, but also sometimes completely distracts from the purpose, which the sim single, simple single question is, am I a better person today than I was yesterday?

[00:15:44] Michael Berg: Have I changed tomorrow? Well, maybe a changed person tomorrow than today. And that constant change was the only purpose for, we’ll call it Moses’ teachings, Jesus’ teachings, all that have become religion. And therefore, when we call it a technology or we call it a spiritual wisdom the understanding it has to both have to make sense.

[00:16:02] Michael Berg: And most importantly, and I think maybe this is the key, you have to see it working. My father, my teacher, the Robert often use that phrase that, he was, the Missouri is in the United States called the show me state, right? He said, s true spiritual wisdom has to always answer that question.

[00:16:17] Michael Berg: Show me is it working for me? Not, oh, I’m doing this so that when I leave this world, God will be happy with me and he’ll put me in a good place. If it is true, if it’s true and powerful and it works, I need to see the changes here and now.

[00:16:32] William Green: In some spiritual and religious traditions, there’s a sense that making lots of money or having physical success in the world is somehow tawdry and shallow and distracts us from deeper spiritual pursuit.

[00:16:46] William Green: So you should, if you want to be a holy person or a righteous person in some way, you should withdraw from the world and live a modest life like a monk or a holy man on a mountaintop. And in Kabbalah, there doesn’t seem to be that sense of conflict between being successful in worldly terms and being spiritual. How come?

[00:17:05] Michael Berg: So, I’ll share with you a few teachings that relate to this. So, I was actually just studying this yesterday. There’s a teaching that says that any great teacher, they referred to Moses in this case, had to have both strength, wisdom, and wealth that Moses could not have been Moses and [Inaudible] revealed what’s called the Torah, the Bible.

[00:17:28] Michael Berg: Had he not had all three of those attributes, strength, wisdom, and wealth. Because we understand everything to be what we call, and this might have to go a little bit deeper into this, what we call the light of the creator. So what is our view of everything that exists? Money included, everything is only what we call the light of the creator.

[00:17:48] Michael Berg: We, and maybe we’ll take a minute here, will, if it makes sense, I think to talk about between the capitalistic view of what others would call God. So I always make the joke that, some people have a vision of God as this old guy in the sky with a white beard. Which of course is silly, right?

[00:18:02] Michael Berg: You’d have to be, immature to, in any way think of God in that way. Kabbalisticly the view of God, which I think gets closer. And this is where it’s, I think, both important and beautiful to science, which is that God is an energy, it is an energy that primordial energy that, that brought this world into being.

[00:18:22] Michael Berg: It is also that energy that sustains everything that exists. You and I are both an aspect of what we call that light or that energy of the creator and everything that we, that exists in the world is an aspect of that light. And therefore everything in this world has a very positive part to it.

[00:18:38] Michael Berg: Of course, everything also has the converse, a potential negative to it. But when we understand that everything is energy, God is energy what others would call God, we often refer to as the creator or the light of the creator is energy, then money is energy as well. I. And when the capitalists say that Moses could not have been Moses had he not been wealthy.

[00:18:57] Michael Berg: It means because it is a connection to that energy as well, that allowed him to gain greater wisdom. So that’s where I would begin the capitalistic view of, well, which is, it is often actually a unnecessary prerequisite to attaining wisdom, which is, which I think is a I like that it’s a little bit both, I would say a little bit controversial but it’s the teachings that have been around for thousands of years, number one.

[00:19:21] Michael Berg: Number two, the Kabbalistic view and the word Kabbalah said before means to receive, is that the singular purpose we exist, the singular purpose for which we exist is to receive now how to receive what is the right way to, there are right ways to receive, there are wrong ways to receive of course, but it’s the foundational principle of light.

[00:19:43] Michael Berg: Is that I came into this world to receive and to receive goodness, abundance of goodness that both my view and what I would call the creator’s view of the way my life and your life and every single person in this world’s life is meant to be, is a life that is a constant growing abundance and goodness.

[00:20:01] Michael Berg: That’s life as it should be. That’s li life as what I would say the creator intends it to be. Well then of course there should be no limit on any aspect of my life, what my love should be, limitless, that I receive and give my wealth, should be limitless, that I receive and give my wisdom should be limitless, that I receive and give.

[00:20:18] Michael Berg: So not only is it not a negative, it is actually along the line of the singular purpose. Why? Why in this world, Now, of course, money can be used in negative ways. Chasing after money can be done in a negative way. Of course, that’s a whole other conversation. But foundationally it is the understanding that wealth and goodness are the reasons why we’re in this world.

[00:20:40] Michael Berg: And which leads me to the third point. One of my favorite quotes from the Talmud says that when a person leaves this world, and I was actually talking about this to a student the other day, he was asking me, should I limit sort of, he’s somebody who has, money to spend and to enjoy life.

[00:20:55] Michael Berg: Should I limit? I sometimes feel he says, I’m spending too much time on, on he, spending money on things that I enjoy. I said, the opposite is true. It says in the Talmud that when a person leaves this world, one of the questions that he’s asked in judgment is there anything that you could have enjoyed in this world that you did not enjoy?

[00:21:13] Michael Berg: And the creator would then be upset because the only reason why I put all of this in front of you is for you to increase in pleasure, in joy and abundance in wealth all the time. Now, of course, as we said before, there are many the right way to attain wealth, the right way to use wealth, and so on but as a foundational understanding, the Kabbalistic view is that not only is it not the, against spirituality to attain the desire and the attainment of wealth, but as a matter of fact, o often it’s a prerequisite.

[00:21:43] Michael Berg: It is certainly foundational to why we are in this world. And as a matter of fact, if you think about judgment, one of the things that one will be judged on when he or she leaves this world is whether he partook of all the pleasures again, that he was supposed to partake of in this world.

[00:21:58] William Green: So we’ll talk about this in much more depth, I hope, how to build a balanced approach to money, wealth accumulation, giving, sharing, giving to our kids and the like, things like that so that we can kind of tie together some of the spiritual rules from this ancient wisdom, but also some of the things that I’ve observed in lots of my interviews with famous investors.

[00:22:17] William Green: And I thought I’d kick off actually by reading you a paragraph about Sir John Templeton that I wrote in my book. Which is very appropriate here. because Templeton was probably the greatest global investor of the 20th century. But he was also very spiritual guy. He was a devout Christian, but also passionate like you are about science.

[00:22:34] William Green: And he set up a charitable foundation that funded research into the power of prayer and virtues like forgiveness. And he was also famously frugal to, to an almost kind of crazy degree stapling together bits of paper to write his notes on the scrap paper and the like. And he always refused to fly first class despite being a billionaire.

[00:22:52] William Green: because he said he would never squander his money on this stuff. And so here’s what I wrote just in a brief paragraph that I wanted to run by you and see if it stirred any thoughts for you? So I wrote Templeton’s watchfulness over money also stemmed from his belief that we are merely temporary stewards of God’s wealth.

[00:23:09] William Green: He liked to begin meetings at his fund company with a prayer, and he saw a strong connection between spirituality and material success. If you focus on spiritual matters, you will very likely become wealthy. He told me, I never found a family that tithed 10% of their income to charity for 10 years that didn’t become both prosperous and happy.

[00:23:29] William Green: So tithing is the single best investment in the world. He had even developed a new form of super tithing. For every dollar I spend on myself, he said, I carefully give away $10. So it’s curious, what do you think about, this? Yes, this, I, there are so many ideas here, but for one, just this connection between how we live spiritually and our wealth and almost this sense that, well, this sense that they’re tethered together very tightly.

[00:23:54] Michael Berg: There’s a few thoughts, but I’ll start with that one, which is that if we understand that naturally the natural state of being should be an individual with abundance. Then the question is, what stops that? And we cap capital ballistically spiritually, we would say that when the individual is not growing in the way that he or she’s meant to be growing, not changing in the positive ways that he or she is meant to be changing.

[00:24:24] Michael Berg: When that creates what we call a blockage in that flow of energy to the individual, and therefore the understanding is that the most important work, of course, we have to do the physical work to attain wealth and success, but the most important work is the spiritual work. Because if my connection to that energy of abundance, what we call the light of the creator is not flowing, then it doesn’t matter that much.

[00:24:52] Michael Berg: All the great input of work that I will do in the physical because the spiritual is blocked, which is the source of the blessings. What causes blockages? Well, again, to use general terms, of course. When we act selfishly, when we act with ego, when we act angry when we speak negative words, there’s a whole list of actions I think many of us even intuitively know, are not the right thing to do.

[00:25:12] Michael Berg: But the understanding is, and this is why where the science, I would say of Kabbalah becomes so important is that it’s not that God again gets angry at you and therefore you’re not going to have no, it’s that, imagine if there are channels, pipelines coming down into your life and you literally put sandbags below them.

[00:25:28] Michael Berg: Of course the flow is going to stop. God isn’t angry with you, but you just did an action. If you went to the plumber and said, I don’t know why there’s no water running in my house, and he comes to your house and says, did you close, shut off the major valve that brings the water into your house?

[00:25:40] Michael Berg: I say, yes. I still don’t understand why there’s no water. Well, it’s looking like you’re an idiot. Of course, if you shut off the main valve that brings water into your house, you’re not going to have water in the rest of your house. So this is the spiritual view. Again, God is not a punishing God. What we call the light of the creator is a flow of energy.

[00:25:55] Michael Berg: And when we do things that put that open up those channels by being charitable, for example, by giving tithing, for example, by being kind, for example, then we open up those channels when we behave in negative ways, we close those channels. So all that to say that, of course, if you had to understand not of course you need both the physical and the spiritual, but that without the spiritual, the efforts that we put into the physical work will be always be limited.

[00:26:21] Michael Berg: If our spiritual connection to that flow of energy of abundance is limited. And all we have to do is look at our week and our day and our life and ask the question, how many actions do I do that are actually sogging that flow of energy, that flow of abundance, and then that’ll answer the question of why am I putting all this effort in at work?

[00:26:40] Michael Berg: And still things don’t seem to be flowing. It doesn’t seem to be occurring. So it is actually a a section in the Talmud that my father’s teacher would often share with him. And they asked the question, they literally asked the question, what should a person do to become wealthy? So first they answer, he should invest all of his time and effort and work in the physical world.

[00:27:01] Michael Berg: Then they ask the question is, tell, this is the way the talent works, question and answer. But many people have done that and they did not become wealthy. So then they answer, well, then he should spend time and effort on his spiritual work, and then he will become wealthy. But then they asked the question, but a lot of people did that and that didn’t work.

[00:27:17] Michael Berg: So they come to the conclusion, one without the other will not work. You need both. You need the spiritual work that opens up the channels, and you need the intense physical work that allows that flow to manifest in our world. By the way there is a beautiful quote from John Templeton I actually want to start using, if you don’t mind in my sharings with people. But I think that is both fundamentally true, but also I think for all people who are struggling in one way or the other. I think it’s also beginning of an answer of what we can do to start opening up those channels of life.

[00:27:49] William Green: There’s also something related that I think you’ll enjoy, which is from Warren Buffett’s partner, Charlie Munger, who’s this 99 year old Polymathic genius. And when I first spoke with Munger back in, I think it was 2017, I went to this meeting of a company called The Daily Journal, where he was the chairman.

[00:28:07] William Green: He’s also more famously the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, which is this $700 billion behemoth. And at this meeting, Charlie said, he basically starts talking about why his hero is Maimonides. This famous 12th century Rabbi that you often quote who, who was also obviously a pioneering doctor who I guess was the doctor Saladin, the ruler of Egypt.

[00:28:28] William Green: And so I’ll read you what Munger said. He said he was talking about the dangers of being disengaged from reality and just being sitting off in the, in your ivory tower. Think thinking about ideology as, or going to super political universities where you’re just sort of dream, thinking about ideas without actually doing anything.

[00:28:44] William Green: And he said, you can’t just be dreaming how you think the world should be run and that it’s too dirty for you to get near it. My hero is Maimonides, all that philosophy and all that writing he did after working 10 or 12 hours a day as a practicing physician all his life, he believed in the engaged life.

[00:29:03] William Green: And so I recommend the engaged life. You want to do something every day where you are coping with the reality. You want to be more like Maimonides. Absolutely. So I thought that was really interesting that again, it’s like being in the mud of day-to-day life.

[00:29:16] Michael Berg: Absolutely. And if I can share with you two teachings that, that it brings to mind. One is there’s a verse in the Bible, in the Torah, it says, you should be, which literally means you should be holy because I God the creator is holy.

[00:29:32] Michael Berg: And the Kabbalah explained that means the creator’s telling us, I am holier than you. What does that mean? So my father’s teacher said, now those who have a view of spirituality, which is again, go to run away from where everybody else is to a mountaintop or to the forest and meditate and study.

[00:29:48] Michael Berg: And that’s the ultimate spiritual journey with the creator saying, no that, that is above you. That is not why I put you in this world. I put you in this world so that you partake, you’ll become, as you said, engaged in the dirt of this world, in the filth of this world. And from that, be able to extract some light or some work.

[00:30:07] Michael Berg: So certainly the Kabbalistic view is that is, and without going to details, my father’s teacher, Brandwein was the spiritual leader of the Workers’ Union in Israel. And the reason he took that job is because it, one, it was one of his, as you probably know historically, there has been this view amongst religious groups that the greatest s are the ones again, who spend all their time all just in study and pursuit of wisdom.

[00:30:32] Michael Berg: He believes in this, it says that wisdom without work is not wisdom. That the quote is again, that if you’re not living in this world, your wisdom is all for Naugh. And so it’s a very strong line in the capitalistic wisdom that the own, that, again, wisdom is not even really, wisdom cannot be considered wisdom if it’s not borne out in engagement in this world.

[00:30:56] Michael Berg: And I’ll add one more story. One of my many, you might know, but maybe your listeners don’t. That the Kabbalah especially those who are students of the great Kabbalist from Ukraine, the [Inaudible] would often give their teachings and stories. And this is one of the stories that is given.

[00:31:10] Michael Berg: The story is about a a we know some of you might know that on the, this, what call the high holidays, Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur is a time that we spiritually set up our year, said that everything that’s going to happen in that year, wealth, health, everything that’s going to occur is prepared based on our connections that occur on the high holidays or Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur.

[00:31:31] Michael Berg: And on one of those days there, the Kabbalists sat down as students afterwards and said, I want to tell you, because he was able to see what you asked for in your prayers for the next year. And also what the heavens responded. But the creator responded and he says to one student, he says, you run an inn in those days it was very common for people to run this in pub where they had a few rooms and you run an inn.

[00:31:52] Michael Berg: And, but you realize that in all the hours that you have to spend running the pub amount around, around drunk people, around, sort of lower people, you don’t have any time to really study. You don’t have any time to really pray. You don’t have time for your spiritual. So you prayed to the creator and you said, you know what?

[00:32:07] Michael Berg: In the beginning of this year, give me all the money that I need. I don’t want to be wealthy, but I just want to have all my expenses taken care of, and then I can dedicate the entire year just to study, to prayer and to spiritual work. And then the next day in the prayers you rethought your request and you said, you know what?

[00:32:25] Michael Berg: If I get all my money in the beginning of the year, I might spend too much time worrying about it and I won’t really dedicate all my time to, to the spiritual work. So gimme half in the beginning of the year, half in the second half of the year, and then I’ll be able to dedicate the whole year.

[00:32:37] Michael Berg: And then the afternoon came, and in the prayer, you reconsidered your request again. And you said, you know what? I’m still afraid. And that amount of money in the beginning, and it’ll be too much. I’ll spend too much time worrying about it. So give me it in quarters every quarter. Give me all the money that I need for that quarter so then I can not have to worry about money.

[00:32:52] Michael Berg: I don’t have to run this pub with all the drunkard around me, and I could dedicate my life to the spiritual work and to study and to prayer. And you didn’t want to know what he said to his students with the heaven’s answer to your prayer. He said, of course. He says, you think that you came into this world to be this pure spiritual being.

[00:33:11] Michael Berg: That’s not why you’re here. Angels exist and the creator, rather than up angels in the heavens, you’re in this world to be engaged in this world, to be in the filth of this world, to be around the drunkard in the pub and still find three minutes for some spiritual action. That’s why you’re in this world.

[00:33:28] Michael Berg: And that of course is to, to your point and to Charlie Munger’s point that the reason we’re in this world is not co a coincidence. We’re not here to run away from it. We are here to be engaged in it, yet to be able to extract from it the few minutes or moments of spiritual connection and elevation.

[00:33:45] William Green: It’s funny I was writing to someone yesterday, I always have this fantasy of a calm, peaceful life, and it never seems to happen. I’m always somewhat overwhelmed, juggling too many things, feeling stressed and the like [Crosstalk]

[00:33:56] Michael Berg: And not in the club. It’s funny, when I was growing up, if you asked me what my dream life would be, it was always the same dream to go to the north of Israel, sort of the city of Kabbalah is and have, be married with my kids and, but just study all day and all night, not engaged with any person ever, which is the exact opposite of what my life is today.

[00:34:14] Michael Berg: But because that is the truth is that we are not in this world to run away from it. We’re in this world to be engaged in the mud of it and to yet extract great light and enjoyment, fulfillment from it.

[00:34:27] William Green: I wanted to talk in more detail about how to increase our enjoyment of the money we have, because you did a very interesting podcast a couple of years ago with your wife, Monica, the Spiritually Hungry podcast, where you talked about how to enjoy our money in a more balanced way.

[00:34:45] William Green: And you talked about growing up without money yourself and having to buy clothes in thrift shop and the like, but never having any sense of lack. And so you were saying that the most important thing is not how much money we have, but being able to enjoy what money we do have and get pleasure and fulfillment from it.

[00:35:02] William Green: So I wanted to talk in a bit more depth about how actually to do this. And the first thing you said, if I remember rightly, there are a whole slew of points that are worth discussing here. But one of the things you talked about that’s kind of a provocative idea is the importance of recognizing that the money’s not yours in the first place, which is something that Templeton talked about there, right? Where he talked about being a steward of God’s wealth. Can you talk about that idea and why it’s helpful to think this way?

[00:35:29] Michael Berg: Yes, it’s very important. So first of all you say it’s a little controversial, but the reality, of course, is if you think about it for more than five seconds, you realize, and it’s true, right?

[00:35:39] Michael Berg: No wealthy man ever takes his money into the grave. I mean, he might be able to physically take it. It doesn’t him or her no good. So objectively, philosophically, the money is not ours, right? That’s just a factual reality. But more importantly, if we understand that everything is energy and more importantly, that none of what we have is actually ours.

[00:36:02] Michael Berg: And this is true, again, not just of money. It’s true of wisdom. How many wise people have a stroke and in a second, all that wisdom, but seems to no longer exist. How many times people have a car that they love and something happens, right? So the times that people think that they own something and then it goes away is, 99% of the time it might take a year, five years, 50 years.

[00:36:24] Michael Berg: This body within which we live to think that it is mine is ridiculous because we all know that unfortunately, at a certain point, it no longer continues to serve us. That is all to say that the false view of that which we have acquired, which the ego wants us to take ownership of which this is my wisdom, this is my money, this is my car, this is my child.

[00:36:48] Michael Berg: That thought, which comes from ego and is false, it is not, is it, is objectively not physically true, but more importantly, certainly not spiritually true. All we are given are gifts for purpose, either to enjoy, to partake, to share them. When we really and truly view everything that we have as not ours, but as given to us, again, for, to take care of.

[00:37:15] Michael Berg: If it’s a tremendous amount of wealth, a big part of that, of course, will have to be its purpose, is to share. But it’s true about wealth and even our children, some of the most, the greatest pain that we ever feel stems from the ego convincing us that this thing is mine. And then when anybody tries to either take it away from me or succeeds in taking it away from me, that causes great pain because this thing that was mine has now been taken away from me.

[00:37:41] Michael Berg: If you view it as, no, this is not, this was never mine, this was never mine. It was given to me. Maybe it was given to me for a day, maybe it was given to me for a week first. You have greater enjoyment of it because your appreciation for it never wanes. And again, I, there’s a lot, I don’t want to go to this point of appreciation, which I think is foundational to, to this idea.

[00:38:02] Michael Berg: There’s a teaching that says, That when we take anything, money, gifts, wisdom as our own, what we’re actually doing, and this might be a deep spiritual concept, we’re separating it from its source, what we call the light of the creator. That energy that is sustaining, that is flowing all the time. If we, our ego convinces us, no, this is my money, this is my wisdom.

[00:38:28] Michael Berg: That thought separates it from a source. And what happens to a flower when you cut it off from the ground, it begins to die. That it might take a day or a week or a month, but it begins to die. So if we understand that the thought of ownership actually cuts away our blessing, be it our money, be it anything that we have away from its source, it’ll of course lose its life force and therefore, the pledge that we’re able to extract from it.

[00:38:57] Michael Berg: So many reasons, but one of the reasons it’s so important to live with a thought, with a consciousness of not ownership, but again, having it for a certain amount of time, an undetermined amount of time. It first of all, spiritually allows our blessings to be connected to their source, which allows them to be able to be receiving life force, and therefore we continue to receive pleasure from them because again, why we know this, again, relationships is probably the most obvious case.

[00:39:24] Michael Berg: And I always use this example because it’s sadly true. Almost everybody on the first date is very excited. Almost everybody on their wedding date is very excited. The majority of the world, by year five is not as excited. Certainly, and by year 10, most people aren’t happy. So lift, look at that continuum.

[00:39:42] Michael Berg: Right? And I’m sure Daniel Kahneman.

[00:39:44] William Green: Yeah.

[00:39:44] Michael Berg: And so he writes the fact that marriage is the silliest thing that people do because the facts and the figures tell us it’s a terrible choice. People still continue to make it but I think more importantly, it’s go to the root of that.

[00:39:56] Michael Berg: Why is that the reality where people have this hope for love for relationships that almost always dies. It almost always dies. And one of the reasons is because when you marry somebody, you believe that they are yours. Not remembering nobody certainly, but nothing really is ever mine and I therefore I have to be earning it every single day.

[00:40:20] Michael Berg: That appreciation can only truly stem if you would truly believe that you do not own it. And if you understand that you do not own this great marriage, not on day one and not in year 10 and not in year 25, then you have the possibility, or I would say the ability to have the love in your relationship grow.

[00:40:36] Michael Berg: Taking that back to what we were talking about before as it pertains to wealth. The second, and unfortunately I would say most people, and if it’s an fortunate question, people that ask themselves, how do I view my relationship with that, which I acquire it, be it money, be it a car, be it a house. Has my ego convinced me that it is mine?

[00:40:54] Michael Berg: Well, that is the first step to, its dying. Now, death can come in many ways. It could be that you hold onto that money, but it doesn’t give you pleasure. It can be mean, of course you don’t hold onto that money, but. The only way to truly maintain and to continuously be able to receive great pleasure from the money and acquisitions that we take in his life is by remembering it is not mine.

[00:41:21] Michael Berg: That, as we said, keeps it. Connected to its source, which allows the life force, that energy to continue to flow through it. Because money is energy, which is an important topic maybe we’ll talk about a little bit later, but it allows it to continue to be in that flow of energy and therefore I’m able to extract from it more pleasure.

[00:41:37] Michael Berg: And secondly, which is very important, it allows me to maintain appreciation and the understanding that, that this thing that I have, because it’s not mine. I have, wow, I woke up this morning and this million dollar is still in my bank account, or this beautiful car that I enjoy is still in my driveway.

[00:41:54] Michael Berg: I’m sure most of us remember, and I have many clear memories of this as a child, when you get a new toy and usually you play with it all day and you get sort of bored with it. But as a child, often you wake up the next day, it’s almost like it’s brand new to you and you enjoy it.

[00:42:06] Michael Berg: That’s the way our life is meant to be. Whether it’s our relationship to money, whether it’s relationship to the physical things that we enjoy. Never ownership, only used for undetermined amount of time and therefore, great appreciation if you’re able to maintain those two things, which is the thought that this blessing is this gift.

[00:42:25] Michael Berg: This money is not mine, but it’s connected to a higher source. And second, therefore I have great appreciation and the growing appreciation for it every day that I wake up, then that is able to maintain the energy within the money and then for the pleasure that we receive. And one more point to this, there’s a verse from King Solomon.

[00:42:42] Michael Berg: He says that you will find often wealth kept with the individual for their detriment. That people, there are a lot of people and unfortunately I’ve met people like this and I’m sure you have, who have a lot of money, but are not able to extract great pleasure from it, or at least not the pleasure you would expect them to be able to extract from it. And that is because of these two things, they have taken ownership on it and therefore necessarily will lose appreciation for it.

[00:43:12] William Green: This question of appreciation is so practical and profound. And I remember several years ago you gave a talk one Saturday where you used this wonderful phrase from the Old Testament that I think was, which as I remember you translating, it was something along the lines of, I I’m humbled or made small by, overwhelmed by all of my blessings, all of my gifts.

[00:43:33] William Green: And I wrote it down, both in Hebrew and in English to look at it every day to kind of hammer into my brain in the sort of way that Munger talks about pounding good ideas, simple but good ideas into our brain through repetition. because it felt to me so important as a way, a sort of practical means instead of constantly reminding myself that there are other people who are so much richer and smarter and better looking.

[00:43:55] William Green: And that I would just keep coming back and being like no. I’m overwhelmed by, I. All of the gifts I’ve been given. Can you talk about that idea just as a very practical way to keep pounding into our head the sense that we’re not coming from a place of lack, but abundance?

[00:44:12] Michael Berg: Absolutely. And it relates to something you’ve mentioned before, and it’s a quote for, again, from the Talmud that says, who was a wealthy man than one who is appreciative of what he or she has, that is happy with what they have. And the reality is that it is, again, this, I often like to talk that, sort of the line between fact or reality and spirituality.

[00:44:33] Michael Berg: We know that and there’s studies on this. That the dollar amount that a person has in their banking account does not correlate with happiness. That is just a fact. Right? Studied a studied fact. So if you understand that each one of us can be wealthy regardless of the amount. The money that we have or the amount of acquisition that we have, the only differentiator is appreciation.

[00:44:57] Michael Berg: I often use this, the story of the guy who gets the call from the doctor, right? He had the tests and he and the test didn’t look so good. So the doctor said, you have to do this for the testing. And he gets that call and the call doctor says, everything is okay. You don’t have this disease in that second.

[00:45:12] Michael Berg: And we can all imagine that. Second, certainly those of us who are a little bit older that we in that second, there’s nothing that can bother you, right? But what changed? Literally, absolutely nothing. You were healthy before the phone call. You are healthy after the phone call. The joy that you’re experiencing now and so such great joy that literally if you worst enemy came and slapped you in the face, it wouldn’t bother you because you’re so happy right now is you gained appreciation for the life that you had as it was a second ago.

[00:45:39] Michael Berg: And appreciation, therefore is probably. The most important trait that we need to develop, both for happiness but then also for wealth. But happiness, of course, is the most important thing because if you had more wealth and you’d be sadder you wouldn’t want that wealth. The only reason we want to achieve greater wealth is because we hope and believe that greater wealth brings greater happiness.

[00:46:01] Michael Berg: But I’m telling you that the most important thing that you can do to attain real happiness in life is to grow your ability to appreciate, and like you said, with that verse. So it’s a verse that was said by Jacob, and literally, as you said, taking that time, and by the way, the science around this as well, which you probably know that it’s a site, they’ve done studies on this, that people who spend their Sundays creating a list of gratitude or what they’re appreciative of, live a more successful and happier life.

[00:46:30] Michael Berg: That is a fact because it’s based on the spiritual rule that the indicator or the, what causes our pleasure is our appreciation for it. What if I know for myself the most I work on many aspects, hopefully, of myself and things that I want to change, but the one thing that is always constant that I try to wake up with every single morning, and therefore there’s a capitalistic meditation that we do every single morning, right?

[00:46:55] Michael Berg: That we awaken appreciation for being alive. And if any one of us truly appreciated life, the second of life that we have now, the second of life that we have next, we’d be the happiest person in the world. Unfortunately, the flow of life causes us to lose appreciation for all things, for all things.

[00:47:13] Michael Berg: And we spoke about that a little bit before. If I can really underscore this for the listeners, that one of the most important things that you can do is find a way to awaken great appreciation every single day. And you have to meditate on it, by the way, and often it’s a, you meditate on, well, how would I feel that this didn’t exist?

[00:47:31] Michael Berg: I don’t appreciate a person doesn’t appreciate their health. Think for a minute, for five minutes, how would you feel if you had to be in the hospital right now? A person doesn’t appreciate their wife or their spouse. How would you feel right now if you’re by yourself and you’ll see that you meditate on these areas of life with which you have abundance already, but have lost appreciation over time, you will see how much happier you are.

[00:47:54] Michael Berg: And I would, one test that I test myself is how often in a week do I feel overwhelmed with appreciation, not for something new. We all can awaken appreciation for the new money that comes in, the new gift that comes in, the new relationship that comes in. Of course, I’m talking about how often in a week do I sense an overwhelming appreciation for what I have.

[00:48:16] Michael Berg: Like, like that verse that you said, cat, that then I could never have done the work, whatever that is to deserve all this abundance of gifts that I have. And it’s kind of a crazy thing that, that. Every single one of us is wealthy. Every single one of us has abundance, but we’ve lost appreciation for that, which we have abundance for.

[00:48:38] Michael Berg: And I’d like to tie that into one other important teaching, which maybe gives it a greater impetus, although I think being the happiest person in the world is probably the most important impetus. But Ash SL says, the great catalyst and founder of the center says that the vessel, we know that in order to have more money, more wisdom, more joy, you have to have what we call a vessel desire.

[00:48:59] Michael Berg: But he says, the vessel for my next success, the vessel for my next money, the vessel for my next blessing, is my appreciation for the blessings that I have. So much so that if I, to the degree that I lack in appreciation and an overwhelming appreciation for the blessings that I currently have, the abundance that I currently have, it becomes almost impossible for me to receive the next gift, the next wealth that I’m meant to achieve, that I’m meant to have.

[00:49:27] William Green: It’s funny, I had a conversation about these sort of topics with a famous investor named Howard Marks a few years back, and Howard, last time I looked overseas something like $170 billion. And he is a multi-billionaire and he’s Jewish, but grew up actually as a Christian scientist, but he’s sort of on the fence about his spirituality.

[00:49:46] William Green: He is a great rationalist and also kind of, very thoughtful about about the larger questions of life. And he often talks about the importance of humility for him, both as an investor, but in. In every area of life. And so he was saying, look, everything that’s happened to me that’s been good, that allowed me to become a multi-billionaire was all based on luck.

[00:50:07] William Green: And it, it started even with the fact that he got his first job, I think, at a bank that became Citigroup later. But he desperately had wanted to go to Lehman Brothers, which subsequently went bankrupt. But he didn’t get that job because the guy who was supposed to call him and tell him that he’d been hired, got drunk and had a hangover and failed ever to call him.

[00:50:27] William Green: And he only found out about it many years later. And so he was listing all of the ways in which he’d got lucky that really had nothing to do with his own efforts or brilliance or intelligence or anything. And I once gave an interview where I mentioned how he had this incredibly high IQ and it, it had clearly contributed to his success.

[00:50:44] William Green: And he emailed me afterwards and he said, look, people who don’t fully acknowledge their luck miss the fact that being intelligent is nothing but luck. No one does anything to deserve a high iq. And I thought that was really interesting that. Even, for someone like Howard Marx, it actually it helped him to keep focusing on his good fortune because it made him, for one thing more humble.

[00:51:03] William Green: And so it protected him from what I called master of the Universe syndrome, where you start to believe, wow, I’m so talented and so smart that you end up overreaching and taking too much risk and blowing yourself up.

[00:51:15] Michael Berg: Absolutely. And it relate everything that we said even before, right? The ego that comes from lack of humility, the ego that comes from the thought that I have done at time.

[00:51:22] Michael Berg: I remember, I’ve mentioned this in one of my lectures, I think it was Bill Gates who said, to be who Bill Gates became, he needed millions and millions of people. There’s no one person in the world who will ever be successful on their own. Whether it’s the university, all the teachers in the university, they went to all the, you know that statement?

[00:51:36] Michael Berg: It takes a village. It takes the world to make any one person successful, which should help us both gain humility, but also realize how silly it would be. To take ownership, again, whether it’s on our intelligence or whether it’s on our wealth. Yes, of course, it takes certain attributes to be able to grow.

[00:51:57] Michael Berg: But you’ll have that, I’m sure we know this, right? Two people with the same level of intelligence. One will be successful. One, one will not be two people with the same level of desire. One will be and won’t be successful. So it is clearly right, objectively not the physical attributes or even work of one person that makes them more successful than the other.

[00:52:16] Michael Berg: Then the question becomes then what is it? But at the most basic level, it would be, it’s not me, it’s not my ego. And maintaining that humility gains hopefully gives us the ability to maintain appreciation and spiritual. I believe that when we are able to maintain that humility and appreciation, we’re able to grow with our wealth.

[00:52:34] Michael Berg: And I, I’ve met many people who are very, we’ll call them successful in the physical sense, but are very unsuccessful in the happiness sense. And I don’t know if you would say this often a a negative correlation, but there certainly is not a positive correlation. And I think it, it boils down to the what we, I would call the ego, what we would refer to as the ability to maintain humility and the ability to maintain a lack of ownership on that which we have achieved, and that’s which we have acquired.

[00:53:03] William Green: Yeah I remember this multi-billionaire famous art collector as well. David Khalili saying to me once that he had all of these multi-billionaire friends who he described as poor, rich people. There was a wonderful phrase. And then he said he, he also knew plenty of rich, poor people. But I love that phrase, poor, rich people, right?

[00:53:23] William Green: Because as we said before, the being happy is car correlated to how much pleasure we are able to extract from that, which we have. If I could, if I can go a little bit deeper, there’s a spiritual concept here, and it’s one of my favorite ones, but it might be too deep and willing. You let me go too deep, or it needs to be I won’t be able to understand it, to point out that it’s too deep. So go ahead, Michael.

[00:53:43] Michael Berg: So,the understanding is that the energy that we speak, of which we call the light of the creator, that energy, that creator, this world, the phrase that the capitalists refer to that energy is the endless meaning. It has no end. So what that means is that if everything that exists, the shirt that I’m wearing is a microphone to which you’re speaking to, which we’re speaking, is a part of that energy, it means that everything has the potential to be endless.

[00:54:09] Michael Berg: Everything is part of the endless, everything came from the endless, and therefore everything has limitless energy within it. I’ll use even a practical example. We know that the splitting of an atom, which exists in abundance all around us, within us all the time, creates so much energy, right? It must mean that internally there is much more energy in everything than we are currently extracting.

[00:54:30] Michael Berg: So when I look at my wife, when I look at my wisdom, when I look at anything that I have, and I understand that it is not finite, that it actually has the ability to supply me with an endless abundance. So my relationship can give me an endless amount of pleasure. My money, no matter how much it is, can, and in its current state can supply me with an endless amount of pleasure.

[00:54:56] Michael Berg: When you really, and again, this is not a simple concept nor one that, that they, that it’s easy to actually live with, but it gives you a completely different view on all things. And it gives you certainly a different view on life and on wealth that every single one of us has right now in our life.

[00:55:11] Michael Berg: Anything and everything that we need in abundance to be able to live a life of great happiness. The only problem is that we’re not able, we’re not currently able to extract the endless energy from our money, the endless energy from our relationship, the endless energy from anything that we have. I, I remember there was a book that I read many years ago that spoke about the fact that the, this truly spiritual person could spend hours meditating and gaining pleasure from the rose.

[00:55:40] Michael Berg: And that’s true, right? That, that if everything is connected to the endless energy and an endless light, that means that everything has the potential, at least the potential to give me endlessly endless pleasure and appreciation. The humility, all that are stepping stones toward being able to extract the endless energy from all the things that are ours.

[00:56:02] William Green: Another thing that’s obviously really an important aspect of enjoying ones. Wealth and not feeling controlled by it. Not becoming a slave to it, is being able to give money away to share it. And I remember Templeton all those years ago when I met him, he was probably 83 when I went to visit him in The Bahamas for a day, and he said, look, I’m the happiest and the busiest I’ve ever been because now all I’m doing is spiritual.

[00:56:28] William Green: I’m giving my money away. He had this very idiosyncratic mission to increase what he called the spiritual wealth of mankind a thousand fold, I think. And likewise, when I give when I think of a lot of the interviews that I’ve done with famous investors, people like Joel Greenblatt, one of the most legendary hedge fund managers.

[00:56:46] William Green: He’s, he set up a network of something like 45 charter schools in New York City where my son Henry works as a teacher. A lot of these guys are very focused on giving and sharing. The first person in my book, Monish Pare, uses the fact that he can make these. Kind of rational dispassionate betts on stocks to lift tens of thousands of kids out of poverty across India.

[00:57:06] William Green: These very highly intelligent kids who come from very poor families. And I wonder if you could talk about this whole concept of injecting this flow of giving and sharing, whether it’s through charity or tithing or whatever, and why what I’ve observed in these people’s lives would have a spiritual base on it.

[00:57:24] William Green: Why? Why do these people seem happier than the investors I’ve seen who are just building massive collections of Ferraris and bigger private planes and bigger yachts? And those guys? Those guys don’t seem quite as happy and fulfilled to me, but maybe I’m deluding myself.

[00:57:43] Michael Berg: Well, let’s just say that they, but it’s possible to have all that pleasure and also be giving back hopefully.

[00:57:49] Michael Berg: But let’s talk to the spiritual concept of tithing. And this is of course a biblical concept. This is historically al always been around. And it relates back to what we were saying before that what keeps our gifts be it money, be it our relationships alive, right? Because unfortunately we know people can have money.

[00:58:10] Michael Berg: It could be dead money, it could be in a relationship, it could be a dead relationship. Even with her still maintaining the facade of it. What keeps anything alive is that flow of energy, what we call the light to the creator. And we need to be actively, and that’s what we said before, humility, appreciation connects, keeps connecting our blessings, our wealth to its source.

[00:58:30] Michael Berg: When a person takes $10 that he or she made, and consciously, and this is what needs to be the consciousness of ti, he or she says, follow it. I know all these $10 are not mine. None of it’s mine. I guess I worked for it. Yes I, I put in the hours, but I know that this is not mine. This is. Coming to me from what I would call the light of the creator from that energy, and therefore to indicate, to clarify, to make very clear that this is not my money.

[00:58:56] Michael Berg: I’m taking a part of it. I would take all of it, but I’ll just take it one 10th of it and give it towards sharing. So again, charity in whatever way a person chooses to use that money, what the person does then is he actually connects the remaining $9 to their source and therefore that money is alive.

[00:59:17] Michael Berg: Money. Money is flowing with energy. That $9 left will give him more pleasure than somebody who has a hundred thousand dollars. That is not connected to its source. That is dead money. So the purpose of tithing or the pur, the importance of giving money away isn’t so much because I’m doing a favor to the poor man to whom I’m sharing.

[00:59:34] Michael Berg: More importantly, and therefore, for instance, the Za, the Zohar, the capitalistic basic, capitalistic text refers to a poor man as a gift given to us by the creator. Because when I give, when I have the ability to take one 10th of my money and give it to a poor man, it gives life to the $9 remaining.

[00:59:49] Michael Berg: And when $9 are alive, they can grow and they can give pleasure and they can give me more abundance. When th when those $10, if I did not give it, are cut off on their source then they begin to die. So tithing and therefore the capitalists use the phrase, get ti, because in Hebrew it’s a word play, but the word tithe is the same, comes from the same root as the word wealth.

[01:00:12] Michael Berg: So the words that they say is, which means ti so that you become wealthy again, that tithing, what it does is it actively. And that’s the money remaining in with you to its source. And then that money can continue to grow and to flourish. So imagine what a person is doing by tithing is he, if you are, if you have a branch on a tree that you want it to grow fruit by keeping it attached to the tree, they continue to give you fruits in abundance.

[01:00:39] Michael Berg: When you don’t give tithing or when you keep the money only to yourself, you cut it off from the source, you cut down the branch from the tree, of course it will not continue to bear fruit for you. So the whole purpose, the capitalistic view, and often, my father would often use the phrase, the reason I give all the time is because I’m the most selfish person in the world.

[01:00:55] Michael Berg: And I know that the only way that I can continue receiving endlessly is if I give endlessly. And that’s the idea of tithing. That by, by tithing and more importantly, the thought behind it, which is not my money, I may need to make sure that whatever money stays with me remains connected to its source.

[01:01:11] Michael Berg: And therefore I take this as a token, as an action that says, I know that all of this is in mine. I’m going to take one 10th of it, give it away. And that. It keeps my money attached to the branch to the tree, enabling it to bear more and more fruit, enabling it to bring more and more wealth. And therefore there’s actually a a verse in the Bible that says, the creator says, test me on this. Test me. I promise you that if you tithe, you’ll find abundance without, without end, and without limit.

[01:01:41] William Green: It’s a difficult thing because I often find with. Charity and tithing and the like, personally, there’s a fear of being without, there’s a part of me that’s like, I buy into the idea that, yeah, I should give money away.

[01:01:54] William Green: I should be charitable, I should be a better person and it will benefit me. And then there’s this deep seated kind of underlying simmering fear of, yeah, but what if it’s not enough? What if I can’t take care of my family? God forbid and I wonder how you deal with that, that lingering sense of fear and lack that you may not be okay.

[01:02:15] William Green: And what if I’m buying into this system that isn’t really true? It’s a nice idea.

[01:02:20] Michael Berg: So I would, so I would put those in two different categories. I would definitely say if a person is concerned about literally paying their bills I would not be rushing to tithe although there are those who do that, and they do find success with that.

[01:02:33] Michael Berg: But I think the second group is a much bigger group. Right when we’re not really concerned about paying, the mortgage or the electricity bills. But we still think, that by giving, I lose some of it in the first group, meaning people, if somebody’s truly concerned that they’re not able to pay, their monthly bills I wouldn’t be pushing too much towards siding.

[01:02:52] Michael Berg: But it’s the rest of the group, which is most of the time, most of the people where there is that extra. But the fear is if I give this maybe next month, right? There’s a quote in the Z that says, A person who has enough money for now and more is about tomorrow, has no connection to the like of the creator, right?

[01:03:08] Michael Berg: But most people are in the category of, yes, I have now, but what about tomorrow? The next day, next year? And therefore I have to, hoard it only for myself to that group. I would say, again, as the, I would say the verse says, try it. Try it, give, once 10%, see what happens.

[01:03:25] Michael Berg: They, as we said in the beginning it has to be tried and true. Now, in your book, and I’m sure we’ve all heard stories of people have been very successful using this method. So I would always say, well, if so many successful people have used it and it’s brought them success, it’s, so that’s some indication aside from the fact that there’s also so much ancient wisdom written around this.

[01:03:46] Michael Berg: I would say try as the creator says, try me and see if you do not experience greater abundance by sharing, and maybe you don’t start with one 10th, maybe start with one fifth or something. And to your point, which you said again before, and this is both anecdotally and also proven by studies, that there’s a reason why for the most part, we enjoy sharing more than receiving That, that, that relates to the fact that the energy from which we come, what we call the light of the creator, is an energy that is always giving never receiving for itself.

[01:04:16] Michael Berg: And. If I want more abundance, if I want more blessings, then I have to be more in line with that energy. So when my actions of sharing what it does, aside from any benefit it has to the person from with which I’m sharing, it puts me in contact closer to the flow of energy of the universe. Would we call the light of the creator?

[01:04:38] Michael Berg: And therefore more abundance can come. And by the way, what I would say to those who are concerned about giving and say, one 10th of their money, why don’t you give one 10th of your time? We all have something that we have a little bit more of that, that we can give. So I would maybe a person starts with one 10th of their time that they dedicate towards sharing.

[01:04:56] Michael Berg: Because tithing, again, should be of everything, should be of our wisdom, should be of our money, should be of our time, should be of our love, should be of every aspect that, that we have. And again, I strongly believe that we will find that those actions, those small steps for those of us who need small steps of tithing of our time or any actions of sharing that we will do, we will see the benefits of it.

[01:05:16] William Green: I wanted to talk a bit about how not to give and share, and I’ve been looking through a lot of your old lectures and writings and the like and there were a couple of things that came up that I, I hope you can discuss. So one of them obviously is not to give and share in ways that are just designed to prop up our own ego.

[01:05:31] William Green: And there’s a book of yours called Becoming Like God, where you wrote, ,a dollar given with the conscious desire to grow, to become like God is an act of transformative sharing. A bequest of $10 million given for self-glorification fame and additional power is not. Can you talk about that sense of when giving kind of is nice, but maybe it comes with not the best consciousness and where we should sort of work on our consciousness so that it’s not just about, making ourselves look richer, more powerful, more influential.

[01:06:04] Michael Berg: To be clear, I think, and this happens all the time, a person who a significant amount of money to it, it’s through a hospital to museum. Always do that regardless. I mean, it obviously brings benefit both to the individual to some degree and to the institution of course. So I would always, I would never recommend against that.

[01:06:20] Michael Berg: But as we look internally, each one of us, I would ask the question if the reason why I want to share is because it what connects me to what I call that flow of the universe or the energy of the light of the creator, then it has to be true. Meaning when I give and whether it’s a big check, check to a hospital or whether it’s alone to my cousin, what feelings does that awakening within me?

[01:06:48] Michael Berg: Any feelings that become attached to the ego, oh, I’m the big man. I’m the person who can do it. It diminishes the energy of that given and therefore diminishes the benefit that I will receive from that given of course, it’s always good to let people who need money, of course, it’s always good to give charity to those in institutions that are in need, but I always bring it back to me.

[01:07:09] Michael Berg: What will bring me the greatest benefit from this action and the reality is that the more selfless, the more true, the more it is coming from that part of me that I fall in my soul that is connected to that force of sharing. The more powerful it’ll be for me, the more benefit that I will receive this in return from that action.

[01:07:30] Michael Berg: So any action of sharing is worthwhile. But if we talk about the ultimate way that we can benefit, and that’s the reason we give. We do not give because simply want to be a good person, which is nice. I give and I share because I know that I need for my growth, those actions of sharing that gives me abundance, that gives me blessings.

[01:07:52] Michael Berg: The pure that action can be. The more powerful it’ll be for me. The receiver might be just as happy with the $10 that the thousand dollars that I give them, that I, that is all for my ego and the thousand dollars that I give them that is truly from the place of my soul. That is simply an action of sharing.

[01:08:07] Michael Berg: But I will not receive the same benefit. And therefore, I think it’s very important for those of us who are, and I hope all of us to some degree, are involved in actions of sharing that we make sure to the degree that we can, that where we can receive the greatest benefit from them. And the way to receive the greatest benefit from the actions of sharing is to make sure that I am coming from the purest place, not of ego, but of a desire to share.

[01:08:30] Michael Berg: More importantly, because it connects me to the source of where all of my blessings come from.

[01:08:35] William Green: There’s another big issue that a lot of us wrestle with of how to give money and share with our kids without, Spoiling them wrecking their desire to achieve stuff for themselves. And Warren Buffett famously said, you should give your kids enough money so they can do anything but not enough so that they’ll do nothing.

[01:08:55] William Green: And that’s guided a lot of people in the investment business so that, it gives it, it gives them the justification to give away a lot of money, but they still give something to their kids so that, they’ll have a decent head start in life. There’s a concept in Kabbalah that I’ve found incredibly profound of Bread of Shame, and I wonder if you could talk about that and how, what it means and how basically we can give money away or help our kids or family members in ways that will actually help them rather than disempower them.

[01:09:29] Michael Berg: Absolutely. So, like you said, it’s a foundational teaching of Kabbalah that the question, the philosophical theological question is asked, why are we in this world? Why isn’t the world perfect? Why is there pain, suffering, and death? Why do we all come to struggles in our life if God is good, if that pull the endless light, pull the creator is good, why isn’t everything good in this world?

[01:09:50] Michael Berg: And the answer is because if everything was created in its perfected states, we would never have earned it. And we would be experiencing what is called bread of shame. Being bread or what is given to us without having earned it, causes us to feel unhappy with it. Because our root, where we come from, is that light of the creator.

[01:10:11] Michael Berg: We are all made of that light, of that energy that is of sharing, that is of creating. If we came into a world created in its perfection, we wouldn’t enjoy it for a while. Maybe a long while, but eventually we would come to the point where we would understand, I didn’t create this, I didn’t earn this.

[01:10:27] Michael Berg: My energy, where we come from is the force that creates things that, that makes things better. And therefore, eventually we would be unhappy with it. And therefore, the answer to the question, why is this world as it is, why do we have to work so hard to make it better? Is because we need to earn it.

[01:10:44] Michael Berg: Because ultimately our soul would never be satisfied with anything that was created for us that we did not create. So it’s a very important foundational, theological, philosophical reason for the creation of our world, for of our being in it. But it’s a truth that continues to flow through life.

[01:11:01] Michael Berg: And I’m sure most of us have real have had, had these moments. The greatest pleasures that we’ve had is when there was a challenge that we overcame where there was something that we needed to create, it wasn’t given to us, right? Imagine, right? And we all know this right person who, sort of doesn’t write their book.

[01:11:16] Michael Berg: Somebody gives them their book and they put their name on it. They don’t enjoy it, they can’t enjoy it, and they’re deep in their heart. As a matter of fact, I’m sure it starts eating away at them because it’s not theirs. Even though I have to get all the accolades. Everybody loves your book, but they know inside they didn’t create it.

[01:11:29] Michael Berg: So by nature, our innate nature is a nature that will never enjoy in the long term anything that we have not created, anything that we have not earned. And therefore, when we think about ourselves, it’s certainly true. And when we think about our children it’s more importantly true. And this is true.

[01:11:46] Michael Berg: Again, whether it’s about wealth or any, anything else in life, you have to know. And therefore, it always comes back to you want the best for your children. You have to make sure that they are able. That they are given the ability to create their own life, their own wealth, their own success.

[01:12:03] Michael Berg: What does that mean? It’ll look different for every single person. What it doesn’t look like, and this is for sure, like you said, when somebody is given a large sum of money for which they never work and did not earn, and therefore they do not have to work the rest of their lives, that is most likely not going to give them the pleasure of life if they never have created and simply live the rest of their lives off money created by others.

[01:12:31] Michael Berg: It’s not that it’s wrong because we don’t have moral views on this. It’s just that for your child, it won’t allow them to have the most fulfilling life that they’re meant to have. Interestingly, I know many people, this is that, trust fund babies as they’re called. I know some of them who’ve gone deeply into the spiritual world and are actually satisfied, not because of the money that they have, but because in addition to that they’ve created their own world and life for themselves.

[01:12:56] Michael Berg: I know many people who’s caused, has caused a tremendous amount of pain, and I’m sure we all know stories like this, and I think the second group is larger than the first group. And if you truly understand that it is a foundational rule of life that nobody will ever be satisfied in life unless they have earned, unless they have created, then the question has to be not how much you give in what ways you give, but how do I make sure in whatever way that I give, in whatever amount that I give to my children, or by the way to anybody else that it doesn’t.

[01:13:28] Michael Berg: By the way I was having a conversation with somebody who’s a partnership with his brother. I. He’s doing most of the work, the brother’s doing almost none of the work and they’re splitting the profits 50/50. And I said, that’s fine for now, and he’s probably happy for now. But in the long term, that energy doesn’t work.

[01:13:42] Michael Berg: So back to children, the thought always has to be, I want my child to be the happiest child for the rest of their lives. Not in the moment that they know they got, they have their trust fund. And I know, and we’ve all seen, and it’s a spiritual and physical rule that unearned un, an uncreative life is one that cannot, that will not possibly bring fulfillment in the long term.

[01:14:05] Michael Berg: So how do you set up a system in whatever the amount of money is, whatever the amount of time is where you allow your child to have desire. And I think this is the key point. The one thing that you cannot give or. Which you can cause reasons for it to be diminished is desire. Lack build’s desire. If there’s no lack.

[01:14:26] Michael Berg: And lack, doesn’t have to be the fact they don’t have food team, right? But it can be that there’s a desire within them to do, to accomplish, to create. Unfortunately, too often when you give bread of shame, which means when you give too much unearned, then the de desire becomes diminished. And then even if 30 years from now they would want to do something because the desire was not allowed to flourish in the younger years, it can lead to them accomplishing, achieving not just what they’re meant to achieve in this world, but create in this world and more importantly, enjoy this world.

[01:14:58] Michael Berg: So, It’s a very, I think rather than, which I think many parents look at, okay, I have all of this, of course I’m going to give it to my kids because I love them. The th first has to be, I want my kids to be the happiest kids or have the happiest lives for the rest of their lives. I have to make sure I do not create a cycle of bread of shame, because that almost never leads to pleasure, almost never leads to fulfillment.

[01:15:21] William Green: There’s another really foundational spiritual principle that I learned in Kabbalah, but then I kept finding, whenever I looked at people in business and investing, and I wrote about it at some length in a chapter that I wrote about these two legendary hedge fund managers Nick Sleep and Qais Zakaria, because everything they did was really built on the concept of deferred gratification.

[01:15:43] William Green: That the ability to defer gratification turns out to be a kind of superpower. So they said they would, they started to invest in companies like.Amazon and Costco, which were, and Berkshire Hathaway which were prepared to think in an incredibly long-term way. And so Amazon for years, every, all everyone on Wall Street hated it because they didn’t report any profits.

[01:16:04] William Green: They just would keep plowing their money back into the business to give their customers a better and better deal, more and more benefits through Prime, whatever else it was. And same thing with Costco where they insisted on keeping their profit margins at something like 14%. They never would mark stuff up outrageously.

[01:16:21] William Green: And so they just kept taking really good care of their customers. And what Nick and Zach said is they called this business model scale, economies shared. And they said what it means is because these companies benefit from their scale as they get bigger and bigger they share those benefits with their customers.

[01:16:36] William Green: And so it becomes this kind of benevolent cycle. And I started to look at this in every area of life and to think, oh, that’s amazing, this fundamental principle that we see. In spirituality actually plays out in businesses. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because it’s I don’t know if I’m articulating it properly, but it I kept seeing it in the Old Testament as well.

[01:16:58] William Green: Like, like you’d see for example the story of Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream and seeing seven years of abundance and then seven years of famine. So he advises Pharaoh to store surplus grain during the years of abundance. So again, it’s an act of deferring gratification.

[01:17:15] Michael Berg: Interesting. So there’s a found foundational teaching in Kabbalah, which is that the way the world came into being is a process called, is the ancient word, which translate as restriction, which means that in order for this world to come into being there first had to be a restriction of the light, what we called the light of the creator.

[01:17:36] Michael Berg: And then there was space for this world to come into being. Whereas before the, everything was only light. There was no space for humanity. There was no place space for our work that had to be created. This empty blank canvas where we can create what we can be born into and so on. So it is seen that, or restriction is the foundational element in creation.

[01:17:58] Michael Berg: Certainly creation of 18 important and therefore, my father would often use the example of the light bulb where you need the, the three, what we call three columns, right? The one that receives the energy, the one that restricts the energy and the one that allows the light to shine.

[01:18:10] Michael Berg: And in order for any system to work, that has to be receiving, that has to be giving and that has to be a restriction. And when you understand that, that is foundational and fundamental to anything, certainly to the, to our experience of life, but even to the creation of our world, it does gives you an understanding that in order for anything to prosper, it has to have this element.

[01:18:32] Michael Berg: It goes a little bit back when you think about it to. Any business we create, a person creates, he or she receives from it. Hopefully he or she gives into it. And hopefully within that system there’s also a process of restriction, or in your words a delayed gratification. The only those three elements create a perfect system, and only those three elements can create a sustained system.

[01:18:54] Michael Berg: And therefore it’s not coincidental in, in the cases that you’ve shared where when you have, I think most people know that you need to give into a business and take from a business but most people don’t necessarily understand is that you need restriction in a business in that delayed ratification or that ability to say, I won’t take now so that I can take later.

[01:19:13] Michael Berg: That is foundational and fundamental for any system. Not again, we system can last for a day, for a week, for a month, or for five years, but for something to have an eternal ability to be self-sustaining, there has to be that element of restriction. It’s true both in large businesses, but it’s also true in our own lives.

[01:19:29] Michael Berg: In order and again, there’s many examples of this but when we have, again, whether it’s in our relationship, if we’re taking all the time and we’re not giving, that’s not going to work. If we’re taking and also giving, but never restricting in our relationship, it also is not sustainable. Those three elements, sharing, receiving, and restriction, our foundational to any, anything being, having the ability to be sustainable.

[01:19:54] William Green: It’s funny because I actually quoted your father in this chapter because because I’m talking about these guys Nick and Zak, and how everything they do basically is built on this idea of restriction on delayed gratification. And so I say none of this is new. In the book of Genesis, Esau, a sucker for instant gratification traits, his precious birthright to his brother Jacob, in return for a worthless bowl of lentil soup.

[01:20:16] William Green: By contrast, Jacob’s son Joseph, a master of deferred gratification, has the foresight to set aside vast quantities of grain during the seven years of abundance, ensuring that Egypt survives the seven years of famine that follow. Thousands of years later, we’re presented over and over with this same choice between the present and the future, the instant and the deferred.

[01:20:35] William Green: And then a little bit later, I quote your father Rav Berg saying instead of choosing the line of least resistance, the quick fix, instant gratification, the catalyst chooses the line of most resistance.

[01:20:47] Michael Berg: Beautiful. Beautiful. Exactly. Because if you want the most abundance, you have to have the most resistance.

[01:20:53] Michael Berg: And we know that, in simple terms, if you’re, whether it’s a bow and arrow, whether it’s a catapult, the further back you pull, the further it will go. And that’s the foundational spiritual teaching.

[01:21:04] William Green: So I wanted to ask you one more thing about happiness, because I mean, we’ve talked a little bit about it already and my book and the podcast called Richer, Wiser, Happier.

[01:21:13] William Green: And you’ve often struck me as one of the most consistently joyful people I’ve ever met. And I remember also in one of the books that you edited a book of letters from Rav Brandwein, your father’s teacher to your father. He wrote at one point, make sure always to be joyful, which struck me as an incredible thing.

[01:21:28] William Green: It was like, wait, you can actually always be joyful. How would you manage that? And so we talked about the importance of appreciation as being a central aspect of. Building a happy life. It seems to me also that one of the things you talk about a great deal is the importance of kindness. And the Rav would always say, it’s easy to become religious, but to become kind takes a lifetime.

[01:21:50] William Green: Can you talk about just the importance of kindness is, or anything else that you think is super central to building a truly happy life?

[01:21:59] Michael Berg: So I’ll talk about both with kindness and happiness. So, so kindness. It’s interesting, I’m always in this, Monica and I have all often observed this, and you’ll have parents, high achieving parents who want their children to be successful, but I am often shocked at how kindness is not at the top of that list.

[01:22:17] Michael Berg: The reality is the reason why it’s important to be kind is because as I said before, that energy that sustains the world, recall the light of the creator is a kind of benevolent energy. If you’re not in tune with that energy, you’re never going to be happy, because that’s from where we receive all of our blessings and all of our abundance.

[01:22:34] Michael Berg: So being kind, which simply needs to be aligned with a forest that sustains the world, the state sustains the universe is something that needs to be ingrained, certainly within our children. And I’m often shocked at good parents who are giving their children all the possibilities in life to be successful, but don’t realize or don’t remember, or certainly don’t ingrain within their children.

[01:22:54] Michael Berg: That kindness needs to be at the number one. Everything else can only flow from that. And second, as it relates to happiness, there’s a section in the Czar that says that, and it says it’s about King David, the biblical king. Instead of that, whenever he would want to feel connected, and he was sad, he would have somebody come in and play the harp or play an musical instrument, and music would bring him joy because he knew that what we call the light of the creator, that energy that brings abundance only rests on a person who’s happy.

[01:23:24] Michael Berg: That’s what it says, that the light of the creator only rests on an individual who’s happy. So if you want to have abundance, you have to be happy. If you want to have blessings in your life, you have to be happy. And happiness, as we said before, flows from appreciation. But if you understand, my father would often use this phrase in different ways, but he would say it’s dangerous not to be happy.

[01:23:44] Michael Berg: Now, that might be overwhelming for some people, but the reality is, again, if you realize that blessings and light and abundance only rests on a person who’s happy, and maybe some people are more inclined to it than others, well you definitely try to use your time and your energies and how do I create.

[01:24:00] Michael Berg: For myself more happiness, because that’s what draws the next blessing. That’s what draws the next level of abundance. And it ties back to what we said about appreciation, but it has to be, I think some people, even spiritual people, don’t often give enough weight to the importance of living a ha of, I don’t want to use the word, forcing yourself, but really encouraging yourself and do the things that are necessary to live a happy life. Because that’s the only place, the only state upon which the blessings that the light to the creator can rest.

[01:24:31] William Green: It seems like one of the biggest challenges is that we’re, if we’re in the mud, if we’re in the world, if we’re trying to make money, support our families, build businesses, have an influence in the world.

[01:24:41] William Green: We get battered and buffeted it a lot along the way. I mean, when I started studying Kabbalah maybe 15 years ago, the very first thing that happened, I got laid off by time, right in the middle of the financial crisis when I was editing the European Middle East and African conditions of time back in 2008.

[01:24:56] William Green: And I felt like absolutely crushed. And one of the big challenges is how to deal with these setbacks, these Buffetting, these things where things don’t seem to be going our way. And I think we all go through this and if you could give us some sense of how you’ve dealt with it. because I, I know that Raav had a devastating stroke back in 2004 and later, maybe eight, nine years later, passed away.

[01:25:18] William Green: Your mom passed away a couple of years ago. Your beautiful son, Josh, was born with Down Syndrome. You’ve gone through lots of challenging stuff. Somehow you’ve managed to reframe or deal with in a way that’s allowed you to maintain this happiness. And I wonder if you could just share with us how you do that in ways that we can emulate that might help us.

[01:25:41] Michael Berg: I think it stems from, really the found, for me, the foundational element is the fact that I know that I am not directing my life. And that’s a good thing. I think what happens too often is we think we are in total control, and when things don’t go as we had wanted them then everything’s, a problem.

[01:26:01] Michael Berg: But when we understand that we’re basically a co-pilot in his journey of life, call it God, call it the creator, call it the universe, but clearly our plans. My mother would often quote this quote, would quote this, man plans and God laughs, right? That sort of quote that she would often use, and that’s true.

[01:26:20] Michael Berg: I think every person who’s lived more than day knows that. I don’t know if the, you know what the percentages are, but 50% of our plans work out and 50% of them don’t. We’ve also all experienced that sometimes when they don’t work out like you gave a few examples, they actually wind up for the betterment, right?

[01:26:38] Michael Berg: They actually, I’m happy that didn’t happen. So it’s really all about gaining that view of life. I am not in total control. I never was, never will be. There is a benevolent force. Call it again, whatever force you want to call it demon. That is leading me in a positive direction. So much of our angst, anxiety and upset comes with the fact that what I wanted to happen didn’t happen.

[01:27:03] Michael Berg: My view always, it happens to all of us. We all have plans, ideas, big ones, small ones that don’t work out, that go in thero the other direction. My first thought is there’s a greater force involved in here, and I have certainty that it’s going to lead me to a better place, that better place by, the examples you’ve mentioned, whether it’s the struggles with my parents and their health and their living this world, or with our son Josh and thousands of others that you and I we’ve all had, my first thought is there’s a greater force at work here, a benevolent force.

[01:27:31] Michael Berg: I’ve seen it lead me to better places, even though, like, I often use the example, and this is true, I think of so many parents, if you asked me before Josh was born, do you want to have a son with Down syndrome? Of course my answer would be absolutely not. If you ask me now, 21 years later. Are you appreciative?

[01:27:48] Michael Berg: Are you thankful that you had Josh with Down Syndrome as a member of your, as your son and a member of your family? Absolutely, yes. The blessings that we’ve received, immeasurable, myself, my wife, our kids, our community. So how silly is it? I would get upset when things don’t go my way. When I’ve see I’ve experienced time and time again in life, I’ve had my plans and I’ve had what I wanted to happen.

[01:28:12] Michael Berg: Sometimes they follow through and sometimes they don’t, and when they don’t, often I’ve seen them come to a better place. If you see life as the purpose of life isn’t just to, to stay above, it’s sort of still waters and just get a lull, but to grow. Sometimes growth comes from challenges and sometimes it comes from our we ourselves pushing, but that mindset of change and growth, which is my desire, then the things that happen that you don’t want to happen, you see them, you accept them as part of that greater plan, not to make you comfortable.

[01:28:47] Michael Berg: To make you grow. And I’ve both experienced that and used those experiences as the way I take in any new challenge that comes. Yes. Not exactly what I would’ve planned for, not exactly what I would’ve wanted. But I’ve seen throughout life that these challenges often lead me to a better place.

[01:29:03] Michael Berg: Sometimes they make me uncomfortable, but ultimately lead me to a better place. And that allows me to go through the challenges with a greater sense of peace, with a greater sense of acceptance.

[01:29:14] William Green: Yeah and I have to say I’m much happier today, I think, than I was back in 2008 when I was working in insanely 70, 80 hours a week managing a magazine.

[01:29:22] William Green: Didn’t have time to think and I, look, that getting laid off led to all of these other things, whether it was initially ghost writing books, or then writing my own books and then having this podcast. And I also think there was some sense in which the crushing of my ego was very helpful because I was so busy going around the world interviewing presidents and prime ministers, and feeling like a big shot.

[01:29:42] William Green: I wasn’t really open. I really did feel like my success was created by me and once I got kind of smashed in a way that felt kind of unreasonable and unfair, it kind of, I had to sort of rebuild in a way that I never would’ve been as open to seeing how I needed to change, for example. So it did turn out to be the sort of a really beautiful journey.

[01:30:03] Michael Berg: Absolutely and I’m sure we’ve all had countless moments like that, but we don’t often remember them when the next challenge comes.

[01:30:11] William Green: Yeah. Michael, I’m aware that you have limited time and I just wanted to know, is there any last point you’d like to make something big that we failed to discuss?

[01:30:20] Michael Berg: I would say I mean, I think we’ve covered so much of this. I would say that one of the most important teachings that I give is two that, that I always, I don’t know if the word is repeat, but one is that every single one of us is so much greater than we currently are and that often that we currently give ourselves credit for.

[01:30:40] Michael Berg: I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes that every single one, I’ll talk to myself even today, as I said there now, and I would say I’ve accomplished certain things. Yeah, I can make a list, but my potential is endlessly greater than what it is currently now. And that drives me and excites me and inspires me every single day, number one.

[01:30:57] Michael Berg: And then the second one is that truly embracing the knowledge that the singular purpose for which I’m in this world is to have greater happiness, wealth, abundance every day, one day to the next. How you achieve that’s a whole other conversation. We’ve touched upon some of those points but to really understand that’s life as it is meant to be.

[01:31:19] Michael Berg: That tomorrow I am happier today than today. I am more abundant tomorrow than today. And find, let’s find our ways to get there, but to know that is the underlying purpose for which we’re in this world.

[01:31:30] William Green: The other thing that I think for me has been hugely transformational. When I look back on the last 15 years of studying this wisdom is something that, that I got from your father where he, the era where he just would say over and over again, consciousness is everything.

[01:31:43] William Green: And that sense that my happiness was not going to come just externally from people thinking I was a big shock. because I was editing an international magazine or, because I was living in Belgravia, this beautiful area of London. It was going to have to be internal. And so I was going to have to work on my consciousness on these things like becoming kinder, becoming more loving, becoming more compassionate, more, more self-compassionate, more sharing, treating other people with more human dignity. It wasn’t going to be the external stuff that I’d been chasing really for the first 40 years of my life that was ever going to do the trick.

[01:32:23] Michael Berg: Absolutely and he, again, it’s a very important fundamental teaching, which I think what I like about it, it’s also logical. We know that what makes us happier, unhappy is not what is happening around us.

[01:32:33] Michael Berg: You have two people in the same situation. I always use the example, there was a certain very wealthy billionaire. I remember reading the article maybe 20 years ago, he had lost almost all of his money. He was left with only $80 million. And the articles, I don’t know if it was jokingly or not said, how is he going to live only on $80 million?

[01:32:48] Michael Berg: But of course, that man was terribly depressed. Well, you have somebody else who would have $80 million and he’d be the happiest person in the world, at least for that moment. Clearly, our situation does not make us happy or unhappy. It is how we view it, how what our consciousness is. And therefore, as my father would always remind us, consciousness is everything.

[01:33:07] Michael Berg: If your consciousness is right, what hap what is happening around you is less important. Your consciousness is wrong. What is happening around you is less important. As we said, two people in the same exact situation, one of them elated, one of them depressed. It is not the physical occurrences that usually make us happier and happy.

[01:33:23] Michael Berg: It is how we receive them, what our consciousness is about them. And if I can end with a silly story, so, and I often like repeating it because it goes really to this point. So a number of years ago we were flying from LA to New York. Before boarding the plane, I put my stuff in the overhead apartment.

[01:33:39] Michael Berg: I’m sitting down and people are filing by and going to their seats. And a woman had a very large, I think it was called venti, a cup of Starbucks, one of the sweet ones. And she’s trying to put stuff in the overhead, the apartment. And she spills her coffee all over me. My first thought is, oh my God, for the next six hours of this flight, I’m going to have to five hours of this flight.

[01:34:00] Michael Berg: I’m going to have to sit in sticky clothes. The second thought I had was, well, this is coming from the creator. This must be for your benefit. I don’t understand exactly how, but it’s definitely for your benefit. And I became instantly happy in that moment. I couldn’t tell you the logical reason why I needed to spend the next five minutes, but I knew that there was a greater plan and that it was only for my benefit that anything that happens that comes into my life is only for my benefit consciousness, right?

[01:34:22] Michael Berg: So I could have been an angry person sitting there five and a half hours in a situation I couldn’t change anyway at being angry at this woman who spilled their call family. Or I could be a happy person sitting there in my stinky, in my sticky clothes saying, I know this is for my benefit. Consciousness is everything.

[01:34:38] William Green: It’s a beautiful note on which to end. Michael, thank you so much for joining us today and thank you for being such a wonderful teacher over all these years. I’ve learned so much from you and I often say that I learned more from you than I learned from going to college, so, thank you. It’s but of course I didn’t study very hard at college, so we’ll see.

[01:34:56] Michael Berg: Thank you very much.

[01:34:57] William Green: I really appreciate it. It’s been a real delight. Thank you so much.

[01:34:58] William Green: All right, folks. I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Michael Berg. If you’d like to learn more from Michael, there are a lot of great resources, which I’ll include in the show notes for this episode.

[01:35:11] William Green: For a start, there’s Michael’s Spiritually Hungry podcast, which he co-hosts with his wife Monica. It provides very accessible advice on a lot of practical topics, like how to overcome challenges and achieve greater happiness and how to build a great relationship. Michael’s also the director of the Kabbalah Centre, which has a terrific website that I use a lot.

[01:35:35] William Green: You can find it at It has literally thousands of lectures, videos, articles, and livestream classes with Michael and other great teachers, including his late father Rav Berg and his late mother, Karen Berg, who are both amazing teachers and amazing human beings. Michael’s also written an array of books with titles like Secrets of The Zohar, Secrets of the Bible, and Becoming Like God.

[01:36:02] William Green: He’s also edited some wonderful books by great Kabbalists like Rav Yehuda Ashlag and Rav Ashlag’s books are particularly dear to my heart. For example, there’s one called The Wisdom of Truth and another called, And You Shall Choose Life, and then there’s one called The Sort of Creation, and they’re all just amazing books that I think for me anyway, you can just read over, and you will always learn something new.

[01:36:27] William Green: Most important, perhaps there’s a 23-volume edition of The Zohar, which is the foundational text of Kabbalah, which Michael started translating from Aramaic into English when he was 18 years old. And for me, the Zohar is really the most infinitely beautiful and rich but also enigmatic book that I’ve ever encountered.

[01:36:47] William Green: I never really feel that I truly understand it, but it’s just endlessly rich. And I tend to keep a volume of it actually on my desk pretty much all of the time, whether I’m writing or recording a podcast or whatever. And I try to read a few paragraphs from it every day. As I mentioned in my book, I think it’s really helpful to find a few books in your life that you just keep coming back to again and again.

[01:37:10] William Green: And this, in a way, is the one I come back to most and every day I tend to play this game that I call Zohar Roulette, where I open the Zohar more or less randomly and just see where I’m going to land and whether there’s a lesson in there that might have particular resonance for me that day. And so this morning, I ended up opening the Zohar and reading a paragraph about the idea that everything is interconnected.

[01:37:35] William Green: Everything forms one whole, that we are all connected. That division, in a sense, is an illusion and I think this is something that we saw in fairly practical terms during the Covid pandemic, where you couldn’t really you couldn’t really trust a virus to stay on one border without leaping over the borders and affecting everyone else.

[01:37:55] William Green: And similarly, I think we’re seeing it now with climate change and the impact that extreme weather events are having on all of us. And I think we also see it in the global economy, where countries like China and the US are inextricably interconnected. So in that one paragraph that I randomly selected from the Zohar this morning, it says, and I’ll quote it says, there is no division, but all is one.

[01:38:19] William Green: So to me, that’s a beautiful and typically helpful reminder from the Zohar, that we’re all interconnected, we’re all interdependent. And I think this runs through many other spiritual traditions. It certainly runs through Tibetan Buddhism. This sense of interdependence and for me it’s a really helpful reminder that one of the great challenges of life, in my mind at least, is to diminish our sense of division and separation.

[01:38:46] William Green: And so I think a lot about how I can do that by trying to be a little more compassionate and a little kinder, but also trying to be more open to other people’s points of views. And to understand that I have a very limited and partial view of what’s really going on in the world and I think one of the great reminders from that passage and from.

[01:39:07] William Green: Studying Kabbalah is just this truth that we’re all in the same boat, we’re all struggling at times, and we all want to be happy. And in some sense, we’re all deeply responsible for each other. So on that note, thank you for listening to the podcast and for being on this journey with me, and I hope for all of us, it helps us to become richer, wiser, and happier.

[01:39:28] William Green: Until next time, take good care and stay well.

[01:39:31] Outro: Thank you for listening to TIP. Make sure to subscribe to We Study Billionaires by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Every Wednesday, we teach you about Bitcoin, and every Saturday, we study billionaires and the financial markets. To access our show notes, transcripts, or courses, go to

[01:39:52] Outro: This show is for entertainment purposes only. Before making any decision, consult a professional. This show is copyrighted by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Written permission must be granted before syndication or rebroadcasting.


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