When I can't quite wrap my head around a new concept I try to write about it. Somehow my intuition kicks in and it gives me an interpretation that I can relate to. A couple weeks ago I attended a Kabbalah class that I couldn't quite grasp and this was my solution. It was the third in a series on spiritual graduation and evolution. The overall theory I can relate to: a soul goes through many lessons before graduating from one stage of spiritual development to the next. The process can be compared to our school system where a child graduates from elementary school before moving onto high school and eventually university. We covered 3 of the 4 stages, known as Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama.
I like to think of them as:
I like to think of them as:
- Elementary School: This is when we're learning the survival basics; at this Nefesh stage people are very much concerned with materialistic and ego based considerations like money and power. The more money you make; the stronger and safer you feel. People who believe that you can never have enough are at this level; as the ego is always desperate for more. Eckhart Tolle qualifies this group in his book A New Earth; when he says that the Rolling Stone song I Can't Get No Satisfaction personifies this stage in human development. Though this may come across as a selfish group, it is also the one that suffers the most. We all go through this phase during our soul's journey.
- High School: This is when we start thinking beyond our bubble; like high school students to dream of leaving their small towns to explore the world, those of us in the Ruach stage start to become aware of other people and how our actions influence their lives. You still want to be successful, but it has to be meaningful and it also has to make a positive impact on the world. Soul's at this stage still care about their own physical needs; but they also care about others. This is the point where being rich or comfy is not enough, there is still a drive to continuously improve your life and that of others. If a person starts believing they are better than others because of this; they flunk out and go back to elementary school. Reminds me of the children's game known as Chutes and Ladders!
- University: At this level souls are self-less; they put others first and see the dignity in each individual. The rock star and the homeless man are one and the same. Kabbalah refers to this level as Neshama; it also happens to be where the class lost me. The teacher mentioned that people grow through pain; and after many many growth experiences we no longer feel pain. This kind of makes sense to me, especially having read Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth. The book talks about the pain of humiliation, defeat and pride being hurtful to our ego-self, not to your spirit. When you detach from your ego-self you stop feeling emotional pain. Stubbing your toe will still hurt; but losing face will not. When you realise that losing face does not make you less of a person, the experience is no longer painful. Now that's freedom!
Now that I've written about it I think I have fuzzy understanding of this Neshama phase. The part that still gets me is the role of pain and discomfort and whether we need to feel it to grow and move forward. Though Kabbalah says yes, my intuition says I don't need to be motivated by pain to grow. We can also be motivated by a desire for meaning, beauty or fulfilment. Change will always bring some degree of discomfort into your life but it is not necessarily the catalyst. I'm not sure what the teacher meant when he said pain was necessary for growth. I'll have to ask when I go back this week. What are your thoughts on the subject? Visit the Kabbalah Centre US, Kabbalah Centre UK for details.