Is ancient wisdom really relevant today? Perhaps more than ever! It’s intriguing to find ancient texts that explain concepts we think of as recently acquired knowledge.
For example, over 2000 years ago mystical Jewish texts explicitly stated that the world was round. Some earlier and later Kabbalistic (and related) texts contain: discussions about the planet’s poles, a kind of “unified field theory,” an awareness of sub-atomic reality, explanations about the true nature of time and space—in tune with the latest science, an incredible understanding of the qualities of light, an awareness of black energy (which sounds very much akin to black holes), intricate diagrams about the multi-dimensional nature of the universe, and so on.
But the discussions aren’t only related to the hard sciences. The social sciences, especially psychology-related discussions, appear more frequently than perhaps any other modern-day topic. A strikingly modern psychology of personality and character development is central to many, even most, texts—if not explicitly, than implicitly.
For example, the concept of healthy self-esteem (presented as an ideal when combined with true humility), is an important concept stressed by many of the ancient and not-so-ancient sages and mystics. They teach that a healthy sense of self, with all that this implies, should be preferably inculcated into children by wise and loving parents and teachers. If not, however, it should be cultivated as an adult.
Interestingly enough, adepts say that through the Kabbalistic meditative process of strengthening your relationship with and faith in God, you strengthen your faith in yourself. As you progress, you develop what might be described as “self-possession”—a deep sense that your self belongs to you and therefore you must care for it with loving compassion, discipline, and responsibility.
Kabbalistic meditation, when done in a correct manner, will lead to a stronger sense of personal responsibility, but one that is devoid of self-persecution. What you cultivate is ideally a decidedly healthy and balanced sense of responsibility towards yourself and others. The balance comes from walking the fine line between self-care and entitlement, or in other words, between self-esteem and selfishness.
In fact, according to Kabbalah, the ability to treat yourself with profound respect, caring for body, mind, and soul with the understanding that every life, including yours, is precious, is crucial to your spiritual development. To live your life with the understanding that your actions really, really count is part of this self-respect. To see your fine points and not berate yourself for your less-than-desirable traits is a foundational teaching of Jewish spirituality in general and Kabbalistic-based character development, in particular.