A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth
Prayer has simple power. When we pray, we acknowledge our existential powerlessness, submitting our personal desires to the discretion of our Creator, confessing our utter dependence upon God's Providence. In so doing, we draw upon the current originating in the super-conscious roots of our being. When this happens our physical soul experiences firsthand, concretely and undeniably, that the sweetest pleasure is that which comes from drawing closer to the Divine source of pleasure. It realizes that there is nothing to lose. It sees that, immediately upon relinquishing a short term though immediately gratifying pleasure, it will enter into an entirely new garden of delights, where the enjoyments bring infinitely more profound satisfaction, because they are more spiritual in nature and consequently more enduring.
A poignant metaphor helps to illustrate this point. Zoologists have designed a monkey trap based on this paradigm. A chunk of food is placed in an unbreakable plastic container, bound to the earth by stake and wire. The monkey reaches in and grabs the bait, but now that his fist is clenched it no longer fits back through the mouth of the jar. He is trapped but only because it doesn't occur to him to release the food. If he would forgo the tasty morsel–that is, give up his attachment to the immediate, though transitory gratification which it promises to provide–he could have his freedom, a much more valuable commodity. Yet the monkey, without benefit of a Divine soul, is really trapped. Not so the human being who is capable of self sacrifice, who can choose to endure a temporary discomfort for the sake of some greater though distant (or even abstract) good. Deep heartfelt prayer is the most powerful means of spurring the physical soul on to such heights.
The teacher can show the student that the potency of his prayer is greatly enhanced by meditating upon the specifics of the situation. In this way, the student comes to a deeply internalized appreciation of the cost benefits involved and the undeniable advantage of positive spiritual growth to both animal and Divine souls alike. When that happens, a clear mental image of the desired change can impress itself upon the physical soul, thereby enlisting its support through subtle, non-confrontational means.
Prayer in conjunction with this type of imagery is the most potent way of aligning all the levels of the psyche, and directing them toward growth and positive change.