A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth: Part 23 – Prayer–Rectifying the Subconscious

According to Kabbalah, the subconscious level of mind can only be rectified through right-action. The subconscious of our physical soul–that is, the life force within us that drives the vital functions of the body–has a physical worldview. It is concerned with survival, self, territory, and as such is the root of ego, desire, selfishness, etc. Nevertheless, it is an aspect of the soul–which has both a physical and a Divine side–and as such is partially physical, partially spiritual. Because of its dual nature, it joins the body with the mind and so enables thought to generate action.

Meditation calms but does not actually transmute the physical level of self. This is only accomplished by action–by forcing the physical soul to actively serve the Divine soul, to invest its physical energy into performing actions commanded by God. We employ the same techniques to train the physical  soul as we would use to train for any physical activity. Through forced repetition of appropriate behavior the trainer impresses a habit of right action upon the trainee. The body (or unconscious level of being) is thus programmed to act in accordance with mind. In this way the physical soul is purified. A rectified physical soul is one whose habitual way of behavior is in accordance with God’s will.

Prayer becomes an action (and not just an intention) when it is audibly expressed. The body is forced to stand (in the Amidah), bow before its Creator, use its breath to pronounce words that proclaim the sovereignty of God, and plead for a world of spiritual perfection. In this way the animal soul becomes rectified, both by the physical discipline of prayer as well as by the power of its words and their content.

A meditation that also employs some kind of meaningful action, such as chanting a verse of Torah in a prayerful state of supplication, is actually a simple form of prayer. (It is integration  inter-included within inspiration). This, too, effects a certain cleansing of the subconscious. Likewise, when we pray with great concentration–which is called service of the heart–we experience the expanding of conscious awareness associated with meditation. (It is inspiration inter-included within integration). Once again, the domains of inspiration and integration are not exclusive. Each encompasses and actually relies upon the other.

And so in the cycle of daily practice, there is an education process happening through the alternation of meditation and prayer, which become inspiration and integration in our constant work of returning to God.

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