Spiritual Falls and Rises – why do we always descent before the ascent

Wave after Wave

Why do we fail when this were so great?

A friend writes:

“… the only problem or question is why after such a great [spiritual] reward and awakening… I get tested immediately and I feel like I not just fail, but fail miserably. And I feel like I am going backwards for some time before I get up and begin to slowly move forward. I feel like there is an explosion and a big drop before things get better and start going up. “

Growth is never linear

Well, the good news is, there is no such thing as “always steady spiritual growth”. The real spiritual growth always have those wild up/down swings.
You can affect their depth and direction, but not to avoid them completely.

Moreover,  not only the descent is unavoidable, it is completely necessary for the ascent to happen.

This is connected to the non-homogeneous nature of time

Rav Akivah Tatz has great MP3 lecture you can download for free here:

Time and Timing
Same concept is explained in one of his essays in Living Inspired

How do you deal with it in real life?

This is best to explain by analogy with swimming in the sea or ocean in high waves. You can’t fight the waves and rise when the wave actually goes down – this will result in some unpleasant experience. Instead you need to get composed and feel how the wave goes, follow it when you have to, slightly correcting your way within the wave as it goes up and down, up and down… When you tune in, this can be very enjoyable feeling.

Similarly in life “waves”, we should try to stay detached and watch how it goes almost from a side. It’s difficult to stay detached from all that hormonal rush going along with emotions! However the key is to realize it’s not you – it’s the body! The body that goes into established patterns of reactions. Once you change the perspective, you can start changing those patterns of “guts reactions” as well.
The ”Restore My Soul” (Meshivat Nefesh) is compilation from Rav Nachman’s of Breslav teachings on the topic of ascent/descent dynamics, it explains those beautifully and gives plenty of practical advice.

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