The teachings of Chasidism map the distinctions of the living spirit within us, and all this we call “soul.”
The deep complexities of ancient Kabbalah explain the ideas that I can barely explore in this brief commentary.
The living soul which lives in us humans can be broken down in the following three stages or categories, (1) The Will; (2) The Intelligence, and (3) The Emotions. There are three modes of expression: Thoughts, Speech, and Action.
When we delve deeper we observe that there is a clear hierarchy in the strengths of our soul. For example, the way you feel about something today will likely change over the course of your future experiences.
In a healthy person, the "emotions" of the soul are governed by the higher order, i.e., the intelligence. Thus, by simply becoming more informed, and thus more wise, a person will respond -- intellectually and emotionally -- in a different way than before. But if emotions trump intelligence, the response can be impulsive and even regrettable.
Our feelings play a very important role in “who we are." But our essence is not defined by our emotions and our essence does not change.
Beyond our emotions, and even more powerful than our intelligence, is the most powerful force within us --the Will. When a person's will is inspired, to what can it be compared?
They tell a story of a young farmer who was asked to help clean a chicken, which was filled with filth, thick mud and a whole lot of dust and dirt that ended up in the poor bird's feathers so that it could hardly walk. The young farmer tied the chicken, removed the thick mud and proceeded to comb -- laboring to remove the dust between the feathers. Soon his father, the experienced farmer noticed the way in which his son was cleaning the chicken. The father untied the chicken, and upon being released, the chicken jolted and shook back and forth, and within seconds most of the dirt was out of her feathers, allowing the chicken to run freely once again.
When our “will” is awakened, it is similar to the chicken's jolt. When we touch the deep-seeded power of “will,” the rest of our being responds in an instant. Thus, perhaps the most important question becomes, what is the essence of our will and how do we get in touch with it?
I'll have more about this next time.