Pesach/Passover and Easter are here and it’s Shabbat as well, so it seems a good time to reflect on Redemption, both in the story of escaping to freedom and to God, as well as seeking His Kingdom and righteousness through the power of His Messiah.
So as I pause from a very hectic last few months and contemplate the next few months that look to bring some very challenging times of both great loss and exciting new beginnings laid out before me, I wish to share a little from a book I am currently embracing.
In her great book ‘Einstein & the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul’, Rabbi Naomi Levy recommends we ask ourselves 4 very significant questions, and that as we seek to ‘find our soul’ we re-visit and ask these questions repeatedly.
1. What has my soul been trying to say to me that I have been ignoring;
2. What activities and experiences nourish my soul that I don’t do enough of;
3. What does my soul want to repair that my ego is too stubborn or fearful to repair;
4. What does my soul want me to reach for?
Firstly if you have not thought deeply and studied widely on the subject of the soul you may find these questions strange. Also for those of us who have a good grasp of the Yetzer HaTov and Yetzer HaRa (the good and evil inclinations) we may instead see question 1 as the yearnings and calling of our Yetzer HaTov, and question 3 as the voice of our Yetzer HaRa trying to restrict our growth by being too heedful of our fear and anxieties.
However you come to these questions, and at whatever stage of your journey you are on, a journey that has its straight and easy paths, its steep hills, its backwaters of seeming stagnation and its roller-coasters or joy, I think these questions are well worth pausing to reflect upon and choosing to regularly revisit.
Let me unpack them a little, at least from my perspective though I do strongly recommend taking the time to read Rabbi Levy’s book.
Question 1 and 4 are clearly very connected. Your soul cries out to you, though extremely subtly, to face truths and circumstances that when confronted should lead to a much greater revelation of what your soul yearns for the most.
There is no doubt that we all long for security, for love, for great friends and family, for joy and peace every day and for little pain, yet each of us is unique and we have been given unique skills, passions and positions in time and place to do something worthy of being created in the image of God and becoming more united with the Oneness of the Almighty and the Universe through which we connect with Him and our fellow souls.
In seeking to answer question 1, assuming you are at a time and place where you sense its importance to you, try to meditate on what activities you find yourself most at peace in. When is it that you sense you are most connected with your world and most true to yourself.
Perhaps you can’t answer this question right now – perhaps you first need to give your soul the permission to speak more strongly to you so that you can begin to hear this call. And also then, what might be your higher calling, that is the work that you are called to be most involved in at this time to share in ‘Tukkin Ha Olam’ (repairing the world).
Please see the last two pages of my article ‘Amazing Grace’ (https://goo.gl/4y87Kf) where I discuss the fascinating story of Avraham and the burning Palace and how this leads to the great truth that we are all called to become partners with the Creator in ‘building the world with grace’ (Psalm 89:2).
Question 2 may be a little easier to answer, but even here, as you grow, as your life unfolds, this too may change.
For now though, try to be real with yourself. What really uplifts you? When do you feel most at peace, not necessarily most joyful or happy, but most connected to your environment and those people you share life with. It may even be a time and place where you are alone in some way so that you can first re-connect with yourself and with your God (that is with your current perception of the One True God, whatever that may be). Perhaps you need to be alone to properly and fully appreciate those who normally surround you – to see and hear their souls, their true deeper selves, their true hearts and not necessarily the external nature and behaviours you generally see which may be distorted by the daily challenges of life. See the soul within, see the person they can be and then in turn see the person you can be.
Question 3 may be the hardest of all. We have all damaged our souls. We have all done things that were wrong, that we regret, that may even be irreparable, at least in this life. Can we be honest enough with ourselves to see where we need to forgive, both others and ourselves. Perhaps especially ourselves.
We all think we could do better if we had a second chance. Yet in life we don’t always get second chances and perhaps even if we did, would we really do better – have we grown and matured enough to really choose a better path with better outcomes?
We really can’t go back in time, but we can make today and our future better, especially of we heed the lessons of our mistakes and our successes.
One of the things that can really hold us back is holding on to hurt, leading to bitterness and deep anger. For example, if we have been seriously betrayed in our past, and we still feel the pain from that betrayal I would argue that we have not truly forgiven either that person or persons who betrayed us or our ourselves.
I have written in more depth on the challenges of forgiveness – see my article ‘Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness’ – https://globaltruthinternational.com/2013/08/16/darkness-cannot-drive-out-darkness/
So please consider these four questions and then make a note or set an alarm to revisit them in a few days and again in a few weeks. It may be best to record your initial thoughts each time and the you will be more able to see if your thinking has grown.
It is (almost) never too late to try to go deeper with your soul. It is never too late to look beyond the exterior of those around you and see their souls. Take a step back if you can, and appreciate ‘the heart of gold’ buried within – maybe only you can see it, even when they can’t. Maybe you have the strength, when no-one else seemingly does, to allow your soul to look beyond the exterior and connect with their soul and to some degree allow the two to become one.
Finally, as Rabbi Levy explains so eloquently, this truly is a process as we ‘search for our souls’. And it is a twofold one as well. We need first to allow the One True God to remove our ‘stony heart’, to reduce the power and control of our Yetzer HaRa, so that He can replace it with a heart of flesh – a heart and soul in tune with our nature, our uniqueness, our world and also our God.
” …and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26b
After reading this one of my daughters said she wasn’t sure she could answer the 4 questions.
But I think the more important thing is to ask them. Asking opens our hearts and minds to new revelation, to new insights and possibly to the refreshing of old ones.
Ask and you shall receive – the power is in the asking, the desire to know, to seek, to want more of yourself.
Take up the challenge – read, respond, ask, seek.
We are all on a journey – one which is never complete even though it end.
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