We all have a soul which is really what our brain sees (for we are really just conscious of self – which of-course may be housed in a body, but it’s thoughts, belief and emotions.) Our soul has a five point hierarchy: There is prime-motive: usually something that is attractive. Then there is the desire – so while something may be attractive, I am not desiring it. Conversely when I desire something, the very fact I desire it – even (aka drugs) it is terrible – nonetheless, my desire creates an attraction.
Kabbalah teaches, that our desire creates our opinions (though we imagine it to be otherwise.) To use a few examples – before puberty boys think girls have “cuties” (some kind of skin disease; as you can see in any playground, that boys and girls play with their own “kind” – however stick in some hormones which really is a biological attraction and the same brain is in “love” (or “lust). A famous Biblical example is, the same reason is given for God to both destroy and maintain the world! (For he creates the flood witnessing the evil of man saying “All his thoughts from youth are evil” and he promised to never destroy the world, “because all of man’s thoughts are evil” (so you can’t really blame him…) So though we think we are logical, we are not – we are merely corroborating… – as say an investor selling his product – what we wish! In other words, our brains are not rational (though they technically, when having zero bias can be.) Rather, our brains are simply like the internet, a reflection of what it’s that we ourselves desire.
Now once we choose something to desire, this is called an emotion – roughly speaking, there are two types of emotions: attraction and protection; the former is what is called love (“I love that…” means “I want it,” because of-course I am attracted, as I believe it will provide me with some kind of pleasurable outcome.) Conversely protection is what we call fear; which means “I don’t want it,” because I fear a negative (harmful, painful, shameful) outcome.
This simple system is how all biologically living species operate.
From desire (love) comes the attribute of the desire to win (to attain.)
From the desire for protection comes acquiescence (to not get hurt.)
Now in truth there is a third path – the middle one, integrating man to God, which comes through humility, but this is not our current discussion.
Now once you have a subconscious desire (something you want, whether desirable or fearful) this then travels from the heart to the mind.
The mind then comes up with mechanisms.
These mechanisms subdivide into Chochmah: the ability to conceive of how to do new things; binah – the ability to execute a plan (breaking the idea into its necessary details) and Daas, for once you have a plan you need a new desire to actualize that plan (as I like to say, “if we had a dime for every get-rich scheme, we would be rich.”)
This then comes into speech (in the implementation stage.)
And of course action.
But what concerns us most is the unique notion that what we are thinking actually is a reflection of our desires (which if you think about it, is obvious.)
So the way to find out what we desire, is also by doing the reverse – namely – What are you thinking?
The following may be very hard for some people (truth hurts) but you can only change, if you are aware.
The first fundamental rule is we desire security.
This is why children acquiesce (though there is a testing of boundaries, the very notion “someone creates my boundaries” is acquiescing.)
In general, in all authority and subordinate realities; such as teacher / student, boss / employee, the latter acquiesces. Often they will begin to identify – in other words, believe they are the identity of the parent, boss, role-model. This in fact is of-course how identities are created.
This is also why the very first stage in growth is leaving your previous identity, for as long as you think you are your father, mother, role-model, You Are Not You.
But what happens God-forbid if there is continual anxiety – say a soldier in a battlefield – or even a kid where there are bullies; the mind then goes into protection mode – in it, the mind becomes narrowly focused, like a radar, on finding all enemy “planes.”
In fact two things happen.
The first is we become experts at seeing problems (though they are in fact only possible or perhaps probable; as what we are looking for is security, all possibilities of attack are perceived to be…) then the mind also becomes like a general surveying a battle plan – he is focused on every nook and cranny, every detail is interesting – again the real motive here is protection, so what happens is not only do we see the enemy soldiers we also become hyper-vigilant.
On the flip-side is the exact opposite spectrum – in this we have no fears – we see this with many children or even teens and adults in safe countries – so we basically go into fantasy (men more than women) We Dream.
Now if we – as often happens in democratic societies that offer freedom – fulfil those dreams; be it lust, a good job etc. then we become disillusioned – for behind the dream was the notion that this would make me happy (the trouble with happiness is, that as our sages teach, any constant pleasure – like eating ice-cream three times a day ) well, becomes repulsive.
This creates the existential search for meaning.
Though once we do discover God and truth – it is only self-discipline – creating the desire (which as mentioned, controls the rest) that can lead the horse.