> Spirituality > Personal Growth

Principles of the Soul: #3 - Giving Vs. Taking

May 8, 2009 | by Rabbi Chaim Levine

The struggle between your soul and your ego is over life-affirming giving and body-deteriorating taking.

You've delved into the inner workings of the human psyche. You've uncovered the essence of the human spirit. Now you are ready for the ultimate experience of living through the soul. Professional wrestling.

When the ego has you in a double hammerlock, living as a soul seems like an impossibility. Remember the last time you were seething mad? You said all kinds of hurtful words, and your thoughts were even worse!

What to do at such moments? Deepen your ability to distinguish between an ego experience verses a soul experience. Develop clarity, see the warning signs -– and next time you'll drive your ego into the canvas with a reverse pile driver.



Here's a quick 'n easy ultimate truth of the universe:

Every emotion you will ever experience is rooted in either giving (the soul) or taking (the ego).

Try this exercise. Make a list of every human emotion and see whether they fall into these two categories. Here's my short list:



Love, appreciation, acceptance, patience, understanding, compassion, humility, satisfaction

When you feel these emotions you aren't thinking about yourself, you are thinking about others. For example, love is seeing the virtues in another person and identifying him with those virtues. Humility is seeing those outside of you as having as much value as yourself. A satisfied person is much more interested with what is going on around him than thinking about himself.


Hate, anger, resentment, envy, irritation, arrogance, fear, boredom

When you're aware that anger is just a manifestation of your ego, you start to doubt the validity of getting angry.

These emotions are completely self-focused. Anger is perceiving an injustice perpetrated on oneself. Envy is wanting for yourself what someone else has. Boredom is needing some kind of external stimulus to provide entertainment.

Here's the power in understanding this principle: When you are aware that your anger is just a manifestation of your ego, then you start to doubt the validity of getting angry. You can begin to get out of yourself, to get a perspective and observe the anger or fear objectively. And then you can see it for what it really is: A flashing red siren that the ego has intruded into your consciousness.

(Note that occasionally "taking" emotions are not ego-driven and should be indulged. For example, getting angry about an injustice perpetrated towards humanity is an appropriate use of anger. Or if you are standing at the edge of a cliff, it is appropriate to be afraid. However, if you are about to do some public speaking and you're terrified, that's your ego feeding you an illusion.)



The human being was built to experience life through the soul and not the ego. Here is the proof: Anger, anxiety, hatred and jealousy are medically known to cause ulcers, heart disease, irritable bowels, cirrhosis, and worse. The more a person experiences these emotions the more severe the physical symptoms he will experience. The body can't repeatedly withstand these emotions without breaking down.

Experience life through the soul and not the ego.

On the other hand, many books have been written on how love and laughter have cured cancer patients. The more a person is able to experience the emotions of the soul, the better it is for their physical health.

It's a great gift that we're designed to physically react to prolonged anger or anxiety. Just like when you touch fire or broken glass, your senses send you pain indicating you're in contact with something harmful, so too there are physical side effects to tell you that you're in contact with something harmful to your personality.

Here's to healthy living –- body and soul!


This article is featured in's book:
Heaven on Earth.
Buy it now!



Leave a Reply

🤯 ⇐ That's you after reading our weekly email.

Our weekly email is chock full of interesting and relevant insights into Jewish history, food, philosophy, current events, holidays and more.
Sign up now. Impress your friends with how much you know.
We will never share your email address and you can unsubscribe in a single click.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram