Tuesday, August 31, 2010


(The first in a series of articles)

It seems ironic that one of the shortest passageways – from our heads to our hearts -- takes so long to travel.

Why is it so difficult to influence the heart and the emotions with our logic and common sense?

Many times, even though we know in our mind what we should be doing or what we should avoid, we still can’t influence and take control of our emotions in our heart. The emotions get excited and seem to overwhelm our logical sense and we get drawn into things that we later regret. Whether it’s eating, speaking or doing, we know it is wrong yet we do it anyway.

The answer is, a person is not just his body, with the needs and wants of the physical flesh, he is also a soul. Actually, the person is more a soul than he is his body. The soul is who a person really is, and it is his soul that operates and uses the body to function in a physical world. Unfortunately, this tool meant to help us many times becomes an obstacle for the good and progress of the person.

Mysticism explains we all have two soul energies in our lives, the animal soul which animates our bodies and emanates from the heart, and the G-dly soul which shines through the mind, into our lives. So the life wants and needs of the body is connected mostly to the heart and the emotions from which the animal soul gives life to the body, while the power to objectively and rationally think about our purpose and meaning comes from the G-dly dimension and energy in our lives.

An animal acts selfishly, egoistically and instinctively. The animal has a lot of power and strength when harnessed and leveraged by the mind of a human being. The special quality of a human being is in its capacity to be aware of itself, think independently, think in terms of the future, and think in altruistic and philanthropic terms.

A person’s body, alive from the animal soul which flows from the heart and the seat of the emotions, is external to the soul and identity of the person. Therefore, the body is attracted to its kind, the superficial, external, peripheral and emotional stimulation. That is why, if it looks good or tastes good, even if it isn’t good logically, the person who is guided by his body’s instincts is emotionally attracted to these things.

The mind, on the other hand, which evolves and matures long after the body has been around for a while, must send its messages down to the seat of the animal soul and attempt to stop, or better yet, harness this emotional animal operating out of the heart. The mind encounters a lot of resistance, challenges and obstacles. As we all know, after the heart has become excited about something, it’s not always easy to get a handle over the situation.

People say it’s nearly impossible to talk logic when someone is in love. That’s because when the animal soul operating through the emotions is shining too strongly, there is no room for logic.

We have the conflict between the G-dly soul, which is intellectual and thinks objectively and the animal soul, which thinks instinctively and is impulsive.

To be continued.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How to address the internal perpetual battle.

The constant battle a person has with unwanted thoughts might make a person feel like he is always on the run. Looking over his shoulders for the enemy who is perpetually in pursuit of him.

Running away from an enemy is never the solution. This creates fear and a feeling of victimhood. The truth is that these thoughts, unless we invite them in our mind, and host them, they have no substance whatsoever and there is nothing to run from.

They only want to confuse and test the person. If they are ignored by distracting oneself from them as if they don’t exist, and you must not look back to keep on peeking at them, they evaporate and we discover there was nothing real in them to begin with.

Bad thoughts when presented in our mind are just an illusion. It’s when we absorb this illusion and turn it around in our mind and give it importance that it then becomes a real force with serious consequences.

Once a student came to Rabbi Shmuel and asked him why Chassidim pray with such devotion and slow meditation. Wouldn’t it be better when they have not good thoughts during prayer if they quickly said the words, so there would be no room for the bad thoughts to creep in.

The Rabbi answered. If the thoughts where coming from the outside then perhaps the quick pace would be an answer. The problem is, the thoughts are on the inside, and at this point they emanate from within the mind of a person. The only way to deal with them is to stand up to the enemy and do what it takes for them to be pushed out of the mind.

The strength that is drawn from inside to prevail and triumph over the challenging thoughts is the purpose why G-d put us here in this world. When conquered, a person’s soul is one more inch liberated from the opposing forces. When victorious over bad thoughts, there is a freedom and strengthening for the soul.

The internal struggle with thoughts is specifically strongest when a person is seeking to be spiritual. It is when he tries to elevate himself more spiritually, that the evil inclination feels his position being threatened.

The more a person tries to be spiritual the more they can expect the internal struggle to take place. This sudden struggle is proof that his decision is meaningful and significant. Rather than feel despondent when these thoughts come in, that perhaps the person is not doing something right, to the contrary, it means someone is resentful and putting up a fight.

When a person is fighting with someone else, the harder the opponent tries the harder the other must fight.

The way to deal with these thoughts is not to try and figure them out, as we mentioned earlier, it is to strengthen our concentration in the prayer and not give any attention whatsoever to the challenging thoughts.

One technique is to look in the book while praying. Letters have power to capture and focus a persons mind so the mind pays no heed to any interference. And there are other many other things that can be done to help focus and strengthen the mind.

In mysticism it tells us, every time a person denies a bad thought from the door of his mind, this weakens the general strength of evil in the world, and G-d is very happy with that. Therefore a person should see these challenges as a great opportunity to prove himself. He should be cheerful and grateful after the fact, that these challenges are presented to him.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is a weird soul forced to have bad thoughts???

We established that the most successful way to deal with bad thoughts is not to fight them, but to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.

When these positive thoughts have the power strength and light of G-dliness, for example passages from the Bible they not only replace the bad with good, they will actually chase away and dissolve the dark thoughts, similar to light that without any struggle chases away darkness.

Once, a Chassid struggling with unwanted thoughts was sent to a Rabbi for guidance. When he came to this Rabbi’s house in the middle of the night and knocked, no one opened for him. In the morning, when he was admitted in, he noticed not only was the door bolted on the inside, it had an extra piece of wood to cover the small crack at the bottom of the door.

When he told his host why he was sent, the Rabbi asked him “Did you not notice when you arrived at a time when you were not welcome, no one let you in? In addition, didn’t you see how besides the door to stop any intruders there was an extra precaution in place to hold back even the creepy crawlers from coming in?"

Similarly, your body has its own doors of entry and a boss over all these gateways. It is you who determines who and when you allow anyone in. It is up to you to bolt the door shut and place precautions for the creepy crawlers.

Thoughts are like a garment through which the soul expresses itself. So, when a person is a happy soul, he will most likely choose to put on happy garments. A person who is not so happy will subconsciously choose unhappy thoughts and garments.

When a person is in a crazy mood and is naturally drawn to unhappy thoughts, how does he get control and stop the vicious cycle of those bad thoughts which then influence the soul, like garments that influence the person wearing them?

We need to be reminded that while the garments express the disposition of the soul, they are a completely separate entity. In truth, a person is not connected with his soul inherently to his thoughts. It is possible, to choose and decide to think something entirely different than the nature of the soul.

Since the soul always enclothes itself in the garment of thought, it will be influenced by the positive or negative thoughts, and the thinking can ultimately change the character of the soul!

Part of the difficulty in overcoming negative thinking once and for all, is the bad inclination inside every person. This force is always trying to bring the person down in whatever way it is able to. One of the arguments this evil force inside us uses to get us to think in negative and self inflicting ways is by telling us, it’s only for a second, it can’t harm.

In that second, the bad thought will gain squatters rights forever. Since the soul is eternal, and thought is so close to the soul, a positive or negative thought will make its impression on the soul that will last a lifetime. The way a person eventually gets lost, is with the first step of compromise off the tested and true way.

The purpose of this internal battle is to draw out the deepest strengths of the positive side. When a person asserts himself over his house and doesn’t let anyone just trample all around, he creates the satisfaction of ownership and of having his space to use it, as he chooses. He is empowered, and feels good.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Taking control of your thoughts.

Thoughts are very powerful. The energy of a positive thought will eventually influence and mold the soul itself, a person's surroundings and even other people. The same is true for negative thoughts.

How does a person take control of his thoughts? Since we are constantly thinking what is a person to do when a bad thought enters his mind? How can a person expected to serve G-d in joy all the time when other thoughts are pushing their way in??

Thoughts are not the soul, they are an external garment to the soul, which the soul uses to express itself. The only way to alter a thought is to ignore what you don’t want to be thinking of and to think something different.

There are two forces inside a person a good and positive one and a bad and animalistic one. These two forces are eternally in battle to take control of a person’s life. One of the tactics these forces use to take control, is through thoughts. Since thought is external to the soul, it is easiest for these forces to manipulate and begin their infiltration to the soul through this exterior garment, thoughts. Through thoughts, the good or evil force is able to influence the actual soul.

This gives reason why our thoughts are not always our fault. These forces don’t consult with us. They operate by their own nature and supply us with the thoughts they generate by their own characteristics.

This is why a person should never blame himself or feel guilty for the thoughts that enter his mind. They are being thrown out by something that G-d has placed within us. The Talmud tells us, “There are three sins one can not escape every day, and one is, thoughts of sin.”

However, this is only as far as the first moment of thinking is concerned. Once the thought puts in its’ first foot in the door of our brains, and a person is aware of his thinking, the choice is squarely placed on the person whether to relish and enjoy the “guest” who made his way in or to chase him out, by quickly inserting a positive thought in that space.

When a person at that moment decides to think positive worthwhile thoughts, that is how he chases out the current thought he does not want to think of.

If a person has a an unwanted thought and he wallows away in guilt for having it, he is still thinking about the negative thought.

If a person is stuck in mud and keeps fighting it, he is still attached to mud. If a person is stuck in high waves and he fights them he is still connected with the waves. It is only when he stretches his arms out to someone else or for a saving ring outside of the mud or the water, it is only when he sets his eyes and focus away from where he is, that he is able to get himself free of his current jam.

The same is also with thoughts. The way to save oneself and escape from bad, negative and destructive thoughts is not by fighting them, but by diverting his mind away from the negative thinking and by holding on to a more positive thought.

To be continued..

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The power of a good resolution.

The Talmud says that when a person makes a positive G-dly resolution and for some unforeseen reason it did not materialize, G-d considers it, as done, in this world. When we make a resolution, the power of our mind is such that immediately the positive energy is drawn into the physical world as if the deed was done. The verse clearly states that even those who merely “think G-ds name…G-d listens and records.”

Where a person mind is, that is where his soul is as well. Therefore, when a person makes a sincere decision to do something, he is already there and the deed was completed in the world of thought. When the resolution is sincere, all the faculties needed to accomplish were already drawn in the direction of his goal and commitment, and as far as the person is concerned, he already is there -- at the goal. As far as the physical world is concerned, sometimes G-d may have other plans.

When we say G-d considers and attaches the thought to the deed, this includes even those acts which are presently over and above the capabilities of this individual. If the resolution is sincere with all of one's soul, G-d considers and attaches this thought to deed -- meaning that the strength is given from G-d, and new channels are opened, if necessary, to fulfill and reach this resolution.

This is true only for positive things, because inherently the nature of everyone is to do good. Thus, when a positive resolution is made, it is in harmony with one's complete soul and in agreement with G-d -- so the good thought draws the deepest parts of one soul to open the paths in order to accomplish the deed. However, when one thinks evil, it is only on the exterior and does not come from deep inside, and isn’t in harmony with the universe which is good. So, the person's bad thought is all alone and goes no further than the bad thought that it is.

In ancient Babylonia, there was a ruler who made evil decrees, including that it was forbidden to fast and pray to G-d. The Rabbi of the time advised the people to decide that they would fast when it was possible, and the thought alone would help avert the decree from G-d.

In the book of Daniel the verse says, “From the time you (Daniel) understood and decided to benefit from the power of fasting, I (G-d) have heard your words.”

The code of Jewish law says that when a person is being pursued by an enemy and decides to fast in prayer, immediately this will help them. The moment he thinks and still hasn’t done any fasting, he receives the consideration as if he fasted.

Drawing from a verse, the Talmud says, when a person makes a bad resolution, G-d will re-arrange circumstances so that his evil plan will not materialize. And when a person makes a G-dly positive resolution, this can influence actual reality, and G-d will re-arrange matters, if necessary, so his resolution can be materialized.

Once the Holy master, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, asked a follower of his to pledge that he would print a certain collection of books. Since the follower had absolute faith in his G-dly teacher, he accepted, even though the cost was way more than he could afford. Not long after the pledge was made, an unexpected positive opportunity for this person arose which presented new channels of livelihood and suddenly enabled him to fulfill his pledge.