In the post Evil Speech part 1, I discussed how dangerous it is to speak badly of others and even of ourselves. One of the biggest tricks of the negative side is convincing us that we’re justified in our judgments of others. We form opinions based on what we see (real or imagined) and then feel righteous about our judgments. That fuels us to believe that our negative talk is justified, that the other person has it coming! This is the biggest trick of the negative side. Remember, what you put out there ALWAYS comes back to you. (And usually when you least expect it!) There can be no questions that evil speech negatively affects our soul. But fundamentally, what is a soul and why is it so affected by what we say?
In a word our soul is potential.
Many think that their soul already possesses naturally great Light, and all they have to do is reveal that Light in the world. The reality is that our soul is like a seed of a tree. A seed has the the potential to become a tree. But a seed is not a tree. Our soul is a small amount of great potential and it is our job to reveal that potential.
But how do we reveal that potential? Simply, through our actions, our words and our thoughts, which each pertain to a level of our soul. We need to envision ourselves like a slab of clay, filled with unmet potential and the ability to mold ourselves into what we want.
The Zohar explains there are four levels to our soul:
There’s the lowest level, which is called Nefesh: Actions
Inanimate objects lack the level of Nefesh, therefore they can’t move. Animals possess this level of soul. Every time we move and take action, what we are actually doing is going into our soul, taking a spark of Light, and revealing it in this world through that action.
2nd level: Ruach: Speech
Animals don’t have the ability to speak because they don’t have the level of Ruach. Every word that comes out of our mouth has used a spark of our Ruach, and has been revealed in the world.
3rd level: Neshamah: Thought
Every time we think, we are going into our soul, taking a spark of the level of Neshamah of our soul, and we are revealing it in the world.
4th level: Chayah: Complex Thought
Every time we have complex thoughts, whether it’s in our spiritual study or from a scientist trying to discover a cure for cancer, we are going into our soul and taking a spark of Chayah and revealing that part of our soul to the world.
Every action, word, thought, and deep thought takes a part of our soul, of that level that is corresponding to that type of action, and reveals it in the world. When I speak positively, I take unmanifested Light from my soul and reveal it in a positive way. I reveal a part of myself that never existed before. Conversely, if I speak badly about someone, I have used a part of my soul and revealed it, creating darkness.
This is why it is of the utmost importance to refrain from evil speech (lashon hara). Each negative word uses and reveals a spark of our souls and evil speech uses that part of our soul to create darkness in the world. Understanding this, I feel a great responsibility to watch what I say! Once those words are spoken, they cannot be unspoken, as illustrated by this parable:
In a small village lived a nice shopkeeper, but he had a nasty habit of gossiping. He enjoyed all the attention he got from people stopping by to hear the latest rumors and stories. He knew it was wrong, but he couldn’t help himself. One day he heard the most outrageous story about another man in the village. He knew that if this story got around it would damage the man’s reputation, but it was just too good, and he told several people — he couldn’t stop himself!
Hearing the awful rumor circulating about him, the man went to his Rabbi in despair. “What am I to do?” he wailed. “If people believe this about me I’ll be ruined!”
The Rabbi, knowing who had spread the rumor, spoke to the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper felt badly that the man was so upset, but he hadn’t been the one that started the rumor and honestly, how bad was it to just repeat a story?
The Rabbi sighed and asked the shopkeeper if he had a feather pillow. He did. Then the Rabbi instructed the man to cut open the pillow.
“But that will make a mess!” the shopkeeper protested.
But the Rabbi persisted and the shopkeeper finally cut open the pillow. All the feathers burst out of the pillowcase in a swirling cloud and flew into the air, some were sucked out the windows, others landed on the floor, in teacups and others continued to float, resting briefly before alighting on another surface.
“Now put all the feathers back in the pillowcase,” instructed the Rabbi.
“But I can’t!” protested the shopkeeper. “Some of them have floated out the window and are surely gone forever!”
“Exactly,” said the Rabbi solemnly. “Once a word leaves your mouth it flies on the wings of the wind and you can never get it back.”
Once a negative word is said, it’s said. Once I’ve used that spark it can’t be changed. Just as an apple tree can never produce oranges, once I’ve revealed a spark it cannot be changed. Everything that we do, say and think is what we become, what our soul becomes.
So who am I? Who are you?
We are all two parts: our potential, and what we’ve already revealed. Our soul is now made up of all our positive or negative actions. Yet, we don’t feel this in our reality. On any given day we probably don’t have any idea what our balance sheet reads. Did I reveal 80% positive today? Or was I only 40% positive?
“You come into this world naked and you leave naked. What remains is the goodness you have done.” -Rav Berg
It is only when a person dies that it is revealed to him what he’s done. Every day a part of our soul leaves this world because every word, action, and thought reveals a part of our soul that then goes to the Supernal Worlds. It no longer remains in our world. Every action manifests a part of our soul that leaves; that can never be changed.
And that’s who we are. That’s what our soul is made of.
Thought Into Action:
Try, as best you can, for one week to keep track of your positive vs. negative thoughts, actions and words.