I’ve just discovered a wonderful little book called The Search: A Guide to Emotional Spiritual Awareness by Sigal Ahaviel. The book is written in Hebrew. It is very readable has a colorful layout and I highly recommend it as a gift. Written from a gestalt psychology and Rebbe Nachman perspective, it takes the reader through the process of where things go wrong and where they can be set right. Throughout she uses imagery growth in the natural world. She illustrates by means of a sensitive spiritual soul type who grows up in a family of woodcutters and what happens when someone needs to listen to the beat of a different drum. She refers to psychological concepts in a way that is accessible to any reader. For mental health practitioners she puts all of it into a very holistic context, in which the challenges people face are not pathologized but understood as a natural process of growth in which we find ourselves, where we are learning to find our place in the world. I found it very relevant to our topic of conscience in logotherapy, and I want to part summarize part translate the first few chapters here.
In Jewish teachings we learn that as a fetus we are taught the entire lesson of life and once we are born we forget it all. Rebbe Nachman teaches the meaning of this. Each of us has a task to fulfill in the world. A certain aspect of the meaning of all of life is illuminated through each person. Our actions are expressed in the framework of where we live, the people with whom we interact and the work that we do to refine our character and our actions. If we do not reveal our “light” no one else will do it for us.
Before we’re born we are taught the particular path of our particular life’s journey: What do we hope to achieve? Who are we to marry? Which career shall we take up? How should we to guide our children? What do we have to communicate to the world? How can we bring our talents to light? Who are we? As we emerge, how do we express our feelings? What is exactly right for us and what is not? What are we searching for? And then the angel touches us and we forget it all.
Rebbe Nachman calls the search for this knowledge a search for something lost. The author writes:”Something that has been lost is something that we once possessed, and we have lost it. This means that we can no longer hold it in our hands…but the memory of it is in us and calls to us. We may long for it very much and think about it every day or we may be reminded of it when we are cold and sad…In any case our connection to it is still alive inside us.”
“Rebbe Nachman explains that when the angel touches us at birth he makes us forget our connection to any working knowledge of our truth. From that moment on our connection to this knowledge stops being immediately accessible to us. But deep within the heart, in the soul, the inner longing and memory of all that we learned still remains.” An impression of it is inside us.
Consider for example a person who comes into a room and makes a strong positive impression on all who are present. After he’s left the room the impression still remains in the hearts of all of them.
The impression of truth is similarly etched into us. Couples will sometimes say that they knew they were right for each other in the first five minutes after they met. This feeling of “this is for me” is the connection to the inner voice, which guides us towards the way that belongs to us.
A particular career choice is based on the same process. One particular field sparks our interest, is felt as something that relates to who we are. It speaks to us. There’s a sense of “This is for me.”One person’s eyes will shine at seeing the harmony of design in a room and another person’s eyes shine when he or she hears someone talking about the wonders of human biological functioning. The first is destined to be a designer and the other a health practitioner.
At birth we lose this connection with our destiny and our tasks, and we spend our lives searching for a way to be reunited with this knowledge.
What is the process of this search? Every one of us has a feminine and masculine side. The feminine aspect is the capacity for internal contemplation. This is the ability to experience life and not just think about it or act upon it. The feminine aspect functions as an internal emotional and spiritual preparation for every external action that is done. The external action is the masculine aspect, which refers to our ability to make our mark on the world and leave a remembrance here. (The word for male in Hebrew is zachar, and the word for remembrance is zeicher.) Jewish tradition teaches that the male searches for what he has lost. On one level this refers to a person’s destined mate. On another level this refers to the male and female aspect within all of us.
The process of regaining our lost knowledge of what we’re doing here and where to find the road to our truth is learning to look for it in the world and learning to trust our feelings. (Batya Yaniger)