Monday, December 6, 2010

Burning Desire

Art by Olga Levitskiy
Rebbe Nachman taught: "One's heart always yearns and burns. Sometimes that yearning is for holiness, at other times for physical desires, for example: for avarice. There is a ruach (spirit) which can descend and "cool off" that burning heart. This ruach is compared to the Divine Presence and is drawn into the heart through the giving of charity". [Likutey Moharan I 13:1]

Craving and longing are embedded in human nature. Everyone feels pangs of want, but it is the nature of a person's deep desires that will determine whether he yearns for spirituality or for material gratification. Furthermore, a person's desires might grow and become more than he can handle. Even spiritual urges can be dangerous when a person seeks more spirituality than he is intellectually or emotionally prepared for. Thus Rebbe Nachman taught "A person's spirit must be regulated in order for the heart to burn properly (for G-d)".

Rebbe Nachman teaches that a person's heart will sometimes burn for spirituality, while at other times it will burn with desires for the mundane: Torah study has the power to regulate both these types of burning desires. Furthermore, when someone has a burning desire for G-d in his heart, if he wants to study Torah or pray, but is for some reason unable to (in an unsuitable place, or without books), then this burning desire alone inscribes a [new] Torah teaching on High. One's burning desire for Torah and spirituality enables one to draw from the spirituality of the Supernal Heart [Binah].

The Torah consists of Five Books, which correspond to the five lobes of the lung. Since the lungs have a "cooling effect" upon the heart, it follows that the study of Torah can help "cool down" and control one's burning desires, whether they be for materialism, or for a degree of spirituality which is as yet beyond one's grasp.

The Rebbe also teaches that charity has the same power as the Torah in helping to overcome one's lusts. He illustrates this with the case of a person who is filled with avarice, the burning desire for wealth and material possessions. If this person gives charity, he displays his faith in G-d, that it is He Who provides. By giving charity, he temporarily overcomes his material lusts and merits assistance in achieving true spirituality.

Perhaps the most powerful emotion of all is Love. Love can be so all-consuming that nothing can stand in its path. King Solomon understood this well when he said [Songs 8:7] "Many waters cannot extinguish love". This is because human love is rooted in the Divine attribute of Chesed (lovingkindness). Since G-d is constantly bestowing His kindness upon creation, feelings of kindness and love always abound in the world. They can drive man to incredible heights, or to the lowest depths.

Love of money can drive a person to risk his own life - or the lives of others who stand in his way. Sexual immorality is a perversion of love; and love of power has all too often in the annals of history led to open warfare and large-scale bloodshed. Conversely, that same attribute of love, when properly applied, can propel a person to creative heights for the benefit of all mankind.

Thus the awesome power of love - both its constructive and its destructive aspects - is best explained by Chesed's approximation to Binah [it immediately follows Binah]. The higher Sefirot [Keter, Chochmah and Binah] are concealed. The very first manifestation of those awesome powers in the lower Sefirot is through the Sefirah of Chesed, which indicates reaching out towards others and extending oneself on behalf of others. Seen in another light, Chesed is higher than Gevurah, indicating that it is "above and beyond" restraint, which is evidence to the great power of love. A parallel exists between good and evil - whatever power exists for good can contain the very same potential for evil. Thus, if love is not harnessed properly - through Gevurah, i.e. awe and fear of G-d - it can be most destructive.

If love is properly controlled, it is the most effective tool for the building of humanity and peace. Thus the verse states "The world is built through Chesed". [Psalms 89:3] One who spreads love and brings peace between people effects great rectifications Above [Likutey Moharan I, 75:4] Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Source: "Anatomy of the Soul" - Chaim Kramer - from the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

1 comment:

Redspect said...

"If you haven't any charity in your heart you have the worst kind of heart trouble" to cure it help people, let's unite for one good cause, be a volunteer"save lives"!mawaddainternationalaid