A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth

A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth: Part 17 – Preparing the Future

In Kabbalah, future (atid) means "that which is prepared but not yet disclosed," as opposed to its more common definition as something which has no existence at all in the present. This is the rectification required by education–to discover that even our future is a present reality.

Where does this future come from? Who "prepares" it, and how?

When God created the world, He began by formulating a vision of the end and perfection of the entire creative process (both in general and in all its detail). It was this utopian vision that actually inspired and guided the subsequent acts of creation. This is similar to our own creative process where we first visualize the finished product, hold it in our mind's eye, and try to reproduce that vision in the physical world. Similarly, while God's vision of His perfected universe preceded the actual work of creation, so it will be its inevitable future and end point as well. The song we sing each week to welcome Shabbat expresses this very idea in the passage that reads, "The final act arose in thought at the beginning." Since this perfection is the will of the Creator, and since God is the singular force of creation, nothing can oppose His desires in any ultimate sense. His will will be done. Thus God "prepared the future" even before the beginning, a destiny that is irrevocable, and exists, even now, in the "thoughts" of God.

Faith in the ultimate good to come is actually based upon a deep inner and often unconscious knowledge that God is the sole master of all worlds and directs every detail of every moment toward good–that is to say, toward the realization of His vision of its perfection. Thus faith–by affirming that good and perfection are the irrevocable destiny of creation–actually draws that future into the present. When motivated by faith, we struggle in the present to penetrate through the outer layers of our troubles and discover that point of hidden good which is destined to be revealed, then that future actually assumes concrete existence in the present–in our minds and hearts.

This principle has practical application in both the personal and collective realms. It means that a truly potent technique for breaking out of negative personality patterns, overcoming the inertia of habit, and making positive changes in life is to make contact with transcendence through prayer. To do so, we may  utilize a wide spectrum of expression–we may plead, promise, or argue, while combining our prayer with concrete visualizations of the rectified future. The underlying premise is that any desire to grow in accordance with God's will is to seek that reality which is an inevitable and infinitely good future.

Prayer  is the ultimate means of applying these theoretical principles so as to actually draw the future into the present. It is the practical expression of inner faith which itself catalyzes an even greater deepening of faith. When we ask God to support our efforts to serve Him more perfectly (in whatever we envision as our next step in that direction) we should add that we only seek support if our goal does, in fact, express God's highest and truest will for our perfection. If not, God should correct us as gently as possible.

All this is enhanced by an understanding of the principles involved, for knowledge fixes faith more deeply and solidly in our hearts. When we fulfill these requirements, we will necessarily succeed in our aim, for we allow destiny to come forth.

In summary, we thus see that education is a co-mingling of two parallel processes. The educator must teach his students to approach life with excitement and enthusiasm, recognizing each moment as a new beginning. This is not just a prerequisite but anongoing requirement, for only when the students feel a passion for life can they meet any challenges on the road with a joyfulness and vitality that can sustain growth.

The educator must simultaneously teach his students to apply their growing knowledge of God's unity to the practical problems that arise in their lives. The students must learn that God is the beginning, the end, and the essential substance of all creation. Nothing exists besides Him, and nothing happens which does not bring the world closer to His vision and desire for its perfection. Every experience serves this end of drawing more goodness into the world–even suffering. When the students come to know this with perfect faith, they then have the tools to extract the lessons from any hardships that occur.

The educator teaches his students to facilitate the process of growth through developing a relationship to prayer. When the students consciously chart a path of positive change that accurately mirrors God's highest plans for their perfection–then they can progress toward that goal as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thus the students should constantly hold a vision in their mind's eye of the end to which they aspire, asking God to correct the inaccuracies and fill in the blanks, while all the time remembering, of course, that the final outcome is only according to the Almighty One's discretion.

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