In order to reach a goal we need the means, and our means is our exertion. The more we exert ourselves and the more focused, clarified, and goal oriented our exertion is, the more strongly we draw the Light that Reforms that advances us.
Therefore, every moment in life is given to us in order to search for and to clarify what is the most effective thing that I should do that will help me draw the Light that Reforms, as it says: “I have created the evil inclination, I have created the Torah as a spice for it, since the Light in it reforms,” which means that you correct the evil inclination and turn it into a good inclination. In this good inclination, like in a good vessel, you receive the feeling of spiritual life.
This is the formula of correction. So our exertion is to try to discover the most effective means at any given moment.
A person usually floats along the current of life thinking that he advances this way. But the passive floating allows him to advance on the “inanimate” level. Suppose he is in a group, studying and taking part in different events and all this becomes routine for him. He is under the influence of the general force field that advances in one general current all those who want to reach the goal, but this is called “Holy still,” and there is no personal advancement here yet. The personal advancement depends on a person’s daily exertion in order to spur himself and add flavor and acridity to this dish by himself: salt and pepper and other spices.
He must understand that he has no choice, and it is only possible to be spurred by these sharp situations into which he is thrown mercilessly, by being shown how opposite and how distant from spirituality he is. If he isn’t afraid of building up an appetite by these not-so-pleasant spices, he is spurred and can already perform some independent actions and not just float in the general current of his society. So we constantly have to exert ourselves, as it says: “You have labored and you found—believe,” which means that then it happens, and the Creator is revealed to a person. But this is only if a person exerts himself above the daily routine. This is a problem for us, since it is very hard to kick a habit. We are used to our daily schedule, the same hours and to the same filling that we receive according to a regular timetable, to the same amount of exertion; “a habit becomes a second nature.”
I have been exerting myself for many years and it seems that I am constantly on track. So I feel less satisfied and begin to complain: What is happening with me, why is there no result?” I don’t notice that I have been floating with the general current. Regarding the spiritual level, it is an inanimate body, a dead body that doesn’t move. This is because I haven’t exerted myself. Spirituality is revealed to a person according to his personal exertion, to the preparation of his own vessel, his desire. Of course, I am still moving and advancing a little, since I am part of some activities, but the important thing is that above the daily routine and the general current there should be my private clarification, by which a person constantly internally evokes his appetite, by hot spices and unpleasant questions.
He should constantly check and pressure himself by trying to hasten time, and he must really exert himself in order to fulfill the saying: “You have labored and you found, believe!”
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 6/15/12, Shamati #117