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Principles of the Soul: #1 - Your Essence

May 8, 2009 | by Rabbi Chaim Levine

At your innermost point is a spark of pure Divinity: your soul. That essence gives you all the wisdom and perspective you need in life. (First in a series.)

In the beginning, says the Torah, God was talking and big things happened. Solar systems were spinning, mountains sprouted, and beaches were stretched out along coasts.

The Torah uses the metaphor of God speaking to describe the how God made the universe. Of course God has no physical form, but speech somehow describes the "Let-there-be-light" process. In the entire description of creation only once did God create something through a form other than speech. When it came to the creation of humanity, God stopped speaking and did something completely different: God blew.

What's the difference between speaking and blowing?

The Zohar, the chief work of the Kabbalah, explains, "whoever blows, blows from within." Speaking is a process that takes little energy, blowing must come from deep within. When God blew, man received nothing less than the spark of God -- a soul. A small piece of crystallized, pure goodness. So your soul is God's breath. In fact, the Hebrew word for soul is neshama, which comes from the word neshimah, which means "breath."

God's breath. Your essence. Not bad.

What does this mean? It means that you are good to the core. In fact, you're pure goodness.It means that if you begin to identify with your true essence, your self-esteem will rise like a bobber.It means that you can stop trying to make yourself good by how much you achieve, how many promotions you get, or how many people approve of you.

At your essence you can't get better than you already are, all you have to do is let your essence come to the surface.

Surfacing your essence? Sounds like something you do with an organic tea bag.

At your essence you can't get better than you already are, all you have to do is let your essence come to the surface.

Experiencing you soul is not some esoteric experience that requires many years of meditation and tai chi.It's just the opposite.Because this is who you are at your essence, experiencing life through the soul is natural, ordinary, and very grounding. In fact, just about all of us have already had the experience of living through our soul.

Think about the feeling you had the last time you quietly watched the sun turn into orange fire, the last time you lost yourself in a piece of music, or you got runner's high, or the feeling you had if you were ever present when a child was born. Remember feeling that time was standing still and what was unfolding in front of you was part of something much greater? You were experiencing life through your soul.

Remember the feeling you had the last time you felt truly humble and grateful for the people or things in your life?Remember that time when someone asked you a question and you heard yourself answer with something that made so much sense that even you wondered where you came up with it? Or the time when everything was falling apart around you, but you were able to keep your bearings and stay in the eye of the hurricane?

That's your essence at work.

Judaism teaches that your essence has all the wisdom and perspective you will ever need in life, and that you can tap into this reservoir whenever you need to.

Here are a few quick steps to connecting with your essence:

Realize that the experience of living through your soul is like becoming aware of your pulse, it's always there but unless you put your attention on feeling it you don't notice it.

Spend time every day actively appreciating your life.(In Judaism we do this through making blessings; more about this later.)

Spend a few minutes every day doing something that brings out your essence -- music, running, nature, etc. -- and then realize that what you are experiencing isn't coming from the externals, its coming from inside of you.

The truth is that a few quick easy steps would be all you ever need to start living more through your soul, if it wasn't for this other part of your personality ...


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