A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth

A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth: Part 19 – The Path to Self Motivation

As we saw in the verse from Proverbs:

Educate the youth in accordance which his way, and even when he grows old, he will not abandon it

the particular must be present within the generic ("educate the youth in accordance with his way"). Inspiration triggers the process of growth by awakening the desire for good that lies within the unconscious root of every soul. Yet, with all the excitement and drama of emotions, typically, students only glimpse the possibilities, while they still have not changed in any real way. They must work, struggle and sacrifice to actually build this new awareness into their personality. Otherwise, when the romance passes, they will be left unmoved, for even at the height of their inspiration, they are still bound by the limitations of the personality–the only difference is that now they have a goal.

An educator must address both where each individual student is holding and where that student wants to go. The educator's efforts will produce fruit–that is, motivate his students' spiritual growth–only if they are realistically and properly tailored to each student's level and personality. Thus a parent motivates the young child with candy but a teacher encourages the student with classroom privileges. The teacher must appeal to the student's interests even when they seem superficial and petty.

In the final analysis, however, only the packaging varies; the content of the teaching remains essentially the same for everyone. This is because in any real awakening there is a hidden point of objectivity–a point that can develop into an awareness of universal truth that goes beyond the short-sighted subjectivity of each personality.

If the educator makes sure that the particular is in the generic, then his teaching will be potent–it will draw his students into harmony with God's will, and wean them from dependency upon external reward and punishment. The students will become self-motivated. Their newly internalized love of God will compel them from within to pursue that point of truth sensed beyond the horizon.

The second half of the verse from Proverbs describes the presence of the generic within the particular ("even when he grows old, he will not abandon it"). "Old” here indicates the ultimate fulfillment of the person’s purpose in life, and even then, he does not abandon the basic desire for good that characterized his initial awakening.

The necessity of including inspiration within integration is most apparent in crisis, when the students fall from the level of awareness they have earned thus far. At such times, they temporarily lose their breadth of vision and tumble to their ground state. While these "black-outs" are frightening and terribly unsettling, nevertheless they enable growth. By nullifying a previous state of being, they allow a new and more perfect awareness to emerge.

The teacher plants the seeds of integration within the initiation by suggesting, either explicitly or implicitly, how his students could profit by applying the new awareness to their particular life situation. In this way the students gain a toehold–they create an inner connection to the idea, and so have a place to begin drawing it into their personalities. Otherwise, the concept could overwhelm them; its complexity, loftiness, or implications might paralyze their ability to digest the information, or incorporate the change. When inspiration infuses integration, then in the event of some lapse or regression, the students will be cushioned in their fall. Their initial state of inspiration and their general commitment to good will not allow them to sink below a certain point, or become too lost as they struggle to find home–the place within from where they will once again begin the journey in pursuit of truth, good and the fulfillment of God's will.

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