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Monday, June 6, 2011

Stretching the Self

"Whoever said of me that my soul is torn put it well, for torn it is indeed. Our minds cannot conceive of a man whose soul is not torn. Only the inanimate is whole. But man's aspirations contradict one another, and battle is constantly waged within him. All of man's efforts are to unite the opposing forces of his spirit by means of a general idea, whose greatness and sublimity holds everything and leads to perfect harmony. That, of course, is an ideal we strive for, though not every child born of woman can reach it. Still, our efforts can bring us closer and closer, and that is what Kabbalists call "Yichudim."

-R. Kook

"That religious consciousness in man's experience which is most profound and most elevated, which penetrates to the very depths and ascends to the very heights, is not that simple and comfortable. On the contrary, it is exceptionally complex, rigorous, and tortuous. Where you find its complexity, there you find its greatness...The pangs of searching and groping, the tortures of spiritual crises and exhausting treks of the soul purify and sanctify man, cleanse his thoughts, and purge them of the husks of superficiality and the dross of vulgarity. Out of these torments there emerges a new understanding of the world, a powerful spiritual enthusiasm that shakes the very foundations of man's existence. he arises from the agonies, purged and refined possessed of a pure heart and new spirit. "it is a time of agony unto Jacob, but out of it he shall be saved (Jer. 30:7) - i.e. from out of the very midst of the agony itself he will attain eternal salvation and redemption. The spiritual stature and countenance of the man of God are chiseled and formed by the pangs of redemption themselves."

-R. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man, pgs.142-143 (also see, R. Tzadok, Resisei Layla, # 17)

"Dear Frau Frobe,
...There can be no resolution, only patient endurance of the opposites which ultimately spring from your own nature. You yourself are a conflict that rages in itself and against itself, in order to melt its incompatible substances, male and female, in the fire of suffering, and thus create that fixed and unalterable form which is the goal of life. Everyone goes through this mill, consciously or unconsciously, voluntarily or forcibly. We are crucified between the opposites and delivered up to the torture until the 'reconciling third' takes shape. Do not doubt the rightness of the two sides within you, and let whatever may happen, happen. The apparently unendurable conflict is proof of the rightness of your life. A life without inner contradiction is either only half a life or else a life in the Beyond, which is destined only for the angels. But God loves human beings more than the angels.
With kindest regards,
C.G. Jung"

"Two skills that serve a woman well in this process of birthing of her soul are "internalizing" and "stretching." Internalizing involves taking within, into her own womb, whatever has happened or is happening in her life and allowing it to gestate there. Stretching requires a willingness to hold the tensions of opposites, to allow contradictory thoughts and feelings to live insider her simultaneously. Internalizing and stretching inevitably lead to deepening, to connection with a more core aspect of herself and Hashem's will for her...

"Stretching requires a willingness to stay with conflicting choices, with seemingly contradictory realities. Being torn between possibilities, none of which feel totally right, is, of course, uncomfortable. We long to make a decision one way or the other and simply get on with life. Yet often only by staying with the tensions of opposites can we hope to reach a deep level of truth, a deep knowing of the direction we should take. We have to acknowledge these periods of being in doubt and confusion as part of the process, to accept them even if they are not pleasant. Only by traveling through these difficult parts of the road can we reach peaceful destinations inside ourselves."
Miriam Millhauser, Inner Torah, pgs. 64, 68

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