Over the course of the entire spiritual path, our rod constantly turns into a snake and then becomes a rod again that supports us on the spiritual path. That is to say, we either walk below reason, in reason, or by faith above reason.
When you ascend again after you had fallen and started judging what is good for you with your mind, you have to beware for the return to faith above reason to not be an egoistic decision which the mind obligates you to make. Otherwise it will turn out that you are walking by faith below reason instead of above it, and that your faith, which is inside reason, descends even lower.
This is a very fine and acute discernment which jabs our heart. We have to be able to look truth into the eyes so the Creator won’t be able to trick us and force us to fall. After all, we have to catch this “snake” by the tail and pick it up from the ground so it would turn into a rod again, instead of falling under the burden of these states, under the weight of this snake.
It takes time for a person to form these concepts inside and to begin to understand whether he is in this work or not, whether he makes these discernments. Work with the “rod and the snake” is already work with your egoism when a person is between these two forces that influence him—Pharaoh and the Creator.
Everything depends on what he does with his rod—will he drop it on the ground or pick it up? By doing the latter he will build his own spiritual vessel (Kli), his “self.”
This does not simply mean being a good psychologist or knowing how to seemingly come out of yourself or look at yourself from aside in order to check what is going on. These are purely psychological tricks, but not inner spiritual work.
We are talking about discernments that take place in a person who has already established some kind of attitude to the Creator and to himself. From these two points he begins to build Pharaoh and the Creator, and himself in the middle.
Then he can wrestle with love for himself, which aspires so strongly to sweep him away, and by virtue of this hatred for this egoistic quality, he can ascend above his egoism.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/13/11, Shamati