Kabbalah and Psychology: Anxiety Relief – The Kabbalah Approach to Mental Health – Part 27 – Separation as the Key to Sweetening

The constant consciousness and awareness of G-d even while enjoying the pleasures of His world is attainable only after the work of separation has been completed. Through his desire to shed the shackles of this world and cling to G-d alone, and by strict adherence to G-d’s Torah and commandments, the person successfully frees himself from his enslavement to sensual gratification. Once a person has experienced the good feeling and true delight of being close to G-d, the enticements of this world no longer impress him. He no longer feels compelled to exert himself to obtain them and indulge in them. When a person who has attained this level of spiritual maturity does indulge in some physical enjoyment he does so in an essentially liberated way. He experiences the pleasure as pure, unadulterated pleasure instead of the fulfillment of some artificial void or need. More importantly, since he is in no way captive to the pleasure in which indulges, he can freely associate and experience it in the context of his overall connection to and consciousness of G-d.

During the separation stage, the individual does not articulate the hidden evil within him to anyone else, but rather attempts as best he can to ignore it and not think about it at all. In contrast, during the sweetening stage, once he has successfully divorced himself from his former identification with his neuroses and freed himself from the erroneous idea that these neuroses form the essence of his psyche, the person can talk things out with his confidant and reveal to him all his troubles while attempting to deal with them. For the duration of the separation stage, speaking about evil is itself evil, in accordance with the saying of our sages that a person must never make himself out to be wicked. In the sweetening stage, the person may enter into his own evil zone and discuss it in order to sweeten it. Here, the permissiveness is the permission to discuss that which was formerly taboo.

The desire to sweeten reality immediately, without separating (or subduing) first, recalls the sin of the Jews in the desert who attempted to proceed towards the Promised Land even after G-d had told them they were sentenced to wander for forty years in the desert. (Numbers 14:40-45.) Moses warned them that G-d would not be with them, and indeed, they were immediately defeated in battle by the enemy nations opposing their way.

This impetuosity is the root of most sins described in the Torah, even, at times, those of great and righteous individuals. The psychological drive to push incautiously toward the end originates in the same inability to deal with evil that motivates a person to push (repress) his inner evil back into his subconscious. When a person feels threatened by the evil within him, he feels pressured either to repress it (and thus avoid the separation process) or pretend it does not exist (and thus proceed prematurely to the sweetening process).


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