A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth

A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth: Part 59 – Harnessing the Physical Soul to Effect Change

Two currents of energy influence the conscious level of the human personality. The first is from "above" originating within the Divine soul. It is a will to good that descends from the super-conscious root of the soul and drives us toward growth and perfection. Its influence is limited by our character traits. The more we have cultivated selflessness, honesty, and kindness, the more this flow from "above" will enter our personality and influence our reality. The more we submit to God's law, the more profound and enduring will be its effect.

The second current is from "below" which means that it is under the auspices of the physical soul. Though ultimately sourced in God, its route of flow is indirect, entering our field of existence through the food chain, specifically, the metabolic pathways which extract the "energy" from our diet. The physical soul utilizes it to exert a downward pull on us, by seeking physical comforts and pleasures at the expense of growth and change. It becomes a powerful force of inertia that opposes, with utmost intensity, the self-sacrifices which must necessarily pave the way for spiritual growth. Thus the physical soul wills us to remain earthbound and concerned with material security, while the Divine soul wills us toward growth and perfection. The intellect must reconcile these two opposing influences–the force of inertia and the drive toward action.

When the teacher understands how and why the force of inertia arises from within the physical soul–a force that strong arms the student to remain as he or she is, to resist change and avoid challenge–then the teacher can design a plan that circumvents these limitations. Just as it was necessary to learn everything knowable about the law of gravity in order to design an airplane that seemingly defied that very law, so too a teacher must learn everything knowable about the subconscious of his students. The subconscious drive to maintain the status quo is a powerful force that influences every aspect of personality, binding it to its present state. Since every human character trait, both positive and negative, is subject to this force of inertia, the teacher must assess the "amount" of will that is maintaining the trait he wishes to rectify; how physically invested is the student in his or her current state of being, in spite of the spiritual discomfort this state may be generating. Based on this determination, the teacher may decide to break his plan down into even smaller steps, and adjust his expectations of pace and progress accordingly.

The process of change is like forcing a train to make a 90-degree turn, its entire momentum must shift from one direction to another. The faster the train is traveling, the more difficult the task. A successful teacher is one who has learned the secret of effecting change through subtle, non-confrontational means.

The cutting edge between success and failure is the extent to which the teacher enlists the physical soul to support the endeavor; otherwise the desired change will remain an unrealized fantasy. For this most formidable of tasks there are several tools at his disposal. The most potent technique for breaking negative habits and actualizing positive change is prayer. And convincing his student of that is the teacher's most powerful weapon.

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