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The Grand Soul-Journey

The soul has three states of consciousness: Self-consciousness, Divine consciousness and natural consciousness. The story of the descent of the soul to the world – “descent for the sake of a subsequent ascent" – is actually the descent from the state of Divine consciousness in which it basked before Creation, into a state of negative self-consciousness. Ultimately, this state is supposed to foster the soul’s attainment of true unification.

Since the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, man has become overly conscious of himself. From the day that we are born, an egocentric self-consciousness develops within us, causing us to focus on ourselves, our wills and desires, our image and accomplishments – and to forget God. This type of consciousness causes constant friction between us and the surrounding reality and a lack of ability to properly function in the world.

We may think that if a person wants to truly serve God, his first aspiration should be to escape from his self-consciousness – to forget himself and the world as much as possible – and to envelope himself in Divine consciousness. This escape is indeed necessary to balance his initial state of self-consciousness, but it is not the ultimate goal. God placed us in this world with consciousness so that we may exist and act within it.

Hence, the desired goal is natural consciousness, which is a balanced state in which a person is naturally aware of God, of himself, and all reality. It is a state in which everything is perceived as one with God and in which the connection with God is natural (and does not demand the complete nullification of man). We will achieve this natural consciousness in the days of Mashiach, following the rectification of the sin of Adam.

On a deeper level, the above description of self-consciousness begins from a ‘later,’ retrospective point in time – from self-consciousness that was formed as a result of sin. But God brought man down into this world knowing that he would sin and what would result. Yet, he brought him into this world nonetheless. Thus it is more correct to begin the process in the higher, a priori point – the existence of the soul before its descent into this world.

The initial state of the pure soul, when it stands before God in the World of Emanation, is of pure Divine consciousness. The soul has a wondrous, Divine, holy image. Yet it is a reality separate from God’s essence, existing ‘outside’ of Him, as it were, while maintaining a state of constant awareness of God. The soul, which entirely cleaves to Godliness, is not able to fully unite with God, for this would mean that it would have to give up its ‘image’, its amazing existence – and it has much to lose…

For this purpose, God created the world. He contracted and concealed Divinity to the farthest degree, with the might of self-control and the veiling of His infinite light. It is to this world that God sends the soul. The soul descends from the greatest of heights to the deepest of pits, from God’s infinite light to darkness, from an existence that is entirely Divine consciousness to coarse, clumsy self-consciousness.

At this point, the soul does not have much to lose – it has reached the lowest depths. From here it can give up its separate reality and reach unification with God. From the soul’s place of distance, it engages in return to God and the grinding, constant work of conquering its evil inclination – until it merits return to God. It turns out that true unification with God – which at first glance seems to the soul to be a total loss of its personality – is actually the attainment of its ‘true image.’ In this state of natural consciousness, its attraction to God is completely natural, as natural as the physical attractions that we experience – and God’s light is revealed in the most consummate and natural form in our world.

Image by Lola Gloger from Pixabay

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