Consequences of Inner Conflict Part 1

Do you wonder about the inner conflict that we each have and what consequences it might have in our lives?  On the one hand, we have this human side that is refined, acceptable and polished, and on the other hand, we have this animal inside that can completely go crazy. As my father says, "Everyone is normal, until you get to know them."

Chabad teaches that each person has two souls, which in turn have two parts, the conscious and the subconscious.  The conscious G-dly soul wants only G-d.  It knows right from wrong, that right usually isn't easy, and that it's worth paying the price to do right.  The conscious animal soul is very practical and is indispensable for eating, procreating and probably work too.  They both think, albeit with different metrics of logic and are rational.  For example, the conscious G-dly soul knows that jealousy is wrong, and that's a good enough reason to force ourselves not to be jealous.  The conscious animal also stuffs jealousy, but for a different reason:  An outwardly display of jealousy is socially unacceptable and won't win you friends.  Many self help books, like "How to Win Friends and Influence People", the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "The Power of Habit" use the logic of the conscious animal for self improvement.  On the other hand, books like, "The Practical Tanya" and "Pirkei Avos" (the volume in this link, which Natanya & I had the honor of being the editors for) are great self help books talking to the G-dly soul.  Both types of books are useful in becoming better people.

However, each of these souls has a subconscious, irrational side too.  The G-dly soul's subconscious reliably kicks in at extreme times, like convert or die situations, moments of spontaneous inspiration, and Yom Kippur.  Inspiration, choosing death over converting and the "Yom Kippur Jew syndrome" are all irrational.  If you want proof, try explaining these experiences to an atheist and they'll laugh at you.  You can also practice tuning into it at more regular times to get motivation for doing the right thing.

The subconscious animal is also irrational, and indeed with totally different metrics.  This subconscious animal has it's "moments of inspiration," like at a rock concert or at a late night party.  I'm sure you can fill in your own blank a hundred times with personal experiences of the irrational animal soul.

Whatever we experience in both our conscious minds is only a tiny fraction of what's going on in the subconscious.  If you are inspired enough to go to shul on Yom Kippur, know that your subconscious G-dly soul has a burning thirst for spirituality.  If you're experiencing moments of craziness at these parties, your subconscious animal is going wild!

Pirkei Avos teaches three biggies that can "drive a person out of the world".  They are קנאה, תאוה & כבוד- jealousy, desire and honor.  Subcategories of these probably include resentment, perception of unfairness, anger, guilt, shame & fame.  

These feelings occur in the conscious and the subconscious, but with one major difference.  Both the G-dly and the animal conscious mind shun these feelings, but for different reasons (as the books mentioned before explain).  The subconscious mind, however, is irrational.  We don't have to worry about the subconscious G-dly soul, because it surely doesn't harbor any of these negative traits.

The subconscious animal, however, is a big problem.  When we shun these negative feelings and stuff them, where do they go?  Should we just follow these feelings and act on them?  If we don't and just act normal, what are the consequences

But that will have to wait until next week.

Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Abrams


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