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Purity of Thought    

Purity of Thought

Why guard our thoughts? Rebbe Nachman teaches that the higher the faculty, the further it is capable of reaching; highest of all is the mind…


Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
“The Essential Rebbe Nachman”, Part 14
Man's mind is his very essence. Wherever your thoughts are, that is where you are - all of you.
This is why it is so important to avoid all evil thoughts, because otherwise that is where your place will be.
You must force yourself to think good thoughts in order to be worthy of knowing God. Then your place will be with Him and you will be merged with Him. The greater your perception of God, the more fully merged with Him you will become, and then you will attain eternal life. (Likutey Moharan I, 21)
Guard your thoughts
Guard your thoughts very carefully, because thought can literally create a living thing.
The higher a faculty, the further it can reach. You can kick something with your foot, but you can throw it even higher with your hand. With your voice you can reach even further, calling to someone far away. Hearing reaches further still - you can hear sounds like gunfire from a very great distance. Vision reaches even further: you can see things high in the sky.
The higher the faculty, the further it can reach. Highest of all is the mind, which can ascend to the loftiest heights. You must therefore guard your mind and thoughts to the utmost. (Sichot Haran #46)
Wisdom is the root of everything
Wisdom is the root of all things: "You made them all in wisdom" (Psalms 104:24). Every person must therefore guard his mind against alien ideas. Fulfillment in life can come only through the pursuit of true wisdom - the wisdom of Godliness, the Torah. Compared to this, all other systems of wisdom are sheer emptiness; they are not wisdom at all.
When a person is born, his understanding is in a state of contraction. It only begins to develop when he starts using it to think about how to serve God. But when a person admits alien thoughts and ideas into his mind, the holiness of his mind and soul is diminished in direct proportion to the space they occupy. All kinds of negative character traits develop from this alien mentality and cluster around it.
This is why one must be so careful to protect one's mind and not admit alien thoughts and ideas. To achieve true repentance and make amends for all your sins, make a determined effort to expel all alien thoughts from your mind. The conscious mind is a manifestation of the soul, and thus when a person sanctifies his mind and thereby his soul, everything is elevated and returns to its source. This is the essence of repentance.
It is not sufficient merely to guard yourself against alien ideas. Constantly try to bring new vitality into your mind as this will revive and refresh your soul. For the mind is a manifestation of the soul. (Likutey Moharan I, 35)
Truth and the need to win
A person who always wants to win the argument is very intolerant of truth. The truth may be staring him in the face, but because he is determined to win at all costs, he ignores it completely.
If you want to find the real truth, you must rid yourself of the urge to win. Then you will be able to see the truth if you wish. (Likutey Moharan I, 122)
Each one has his limits
Our sages teach that "It is forbidden to gaze at what is above and below, what is before and what is after" ( Chagigah 11b).
Each and every person has his own unique "above" and "below" where he may not gaze, depending on his level.
Some people's intellect stops at the stars and the limits of the physical world, and they are therefore forbidden to delve any further. The mind of those engaged in philosophy and science reaches only as far as the stars. Beyond the stars they know nothing. Even concerning what is under the stars, they are often wrong and have major disagreements among themselves about everything.
Each person has a point where his intellect ends. He is not allowed to go beyond this, because for him anything beyond this is "what is above and below" . Here he must depend on faith alone. (Sichot Haran #224)
(Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is the director of Azamra. “The Essential Rebbe Nachman” is available for purchase online here)

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