|A series brought to you by Secrets My Grandmother Told Me: A Wisdom School|
And so the countdown began on the second day of Pesach, counting 49 days, a journey of seven full weeks…
Netzach – Endurance, Perseverance, Focused Energy
by Kohenet Ruach D’vorah Grenn, Ph.D
This has always been one of my favorite sefirot, the divine/human attributes on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Netzach is an energy I thrive on – that has also gotten me into trouble. Its laser focus on a particular goal has caused me to at times throw caution to the wind –were I even aware of a “caution”–and simply act. I have been accused, even into my 40s and 50s, of being too impulsive. Many of those times I was acting purely on intuition, perhaps without facts that could have been useful in a given situation. I have rarely regretted it.
For me, that accusation was an irrelevant reflection on my drive, on having the determination–another Netzach quality–and vision to go after what I wanted, to achieve, to triumph–more Netzachian traits. But what triumph, and at what cost?
Netzach is an important quality, one which we certainly need to get a job done, just as we need the yetzer ha-ra (the so-called ‘evil inclination’) to get a building constructed or a project completed. It gives us complete dedication to a task, which is admirable if one doesn’t get consumed by perfectionism or the need to respond to others’ needs before one’s own. When out of balance, Netzach can confuse us about our real priorities; we may become less able to distinguish between what is important and what is urgent, what is our goal and what is someone else’s. It can allow us to try to meet others’ standards while losing sight of our own in the process.
And Netzach can provide us with needed vision and clarity in our desire to achieve. It can help us to clearly set our kavanot, our intentions, without which it might be almost impossible to get anything done, except by accident.
Most of the time I pride myself on having the high energy of Netzach (some recognize me as a former New Yorker because of this trait!) and getting things done without delaying or being indecisive. But I have come to learn, in my wiser years, that rushing into anything—a project, a relationship, a decision—can lead to mistakes, can derail us from taking the most optimal course of action. I am now aware of the need to take a step back at times, not to make big decisions too hastily, and if I am on the verge of doing so, to take a step back and rethink, reset before hitting “Send”.
I have learned to honor Hod as a great balancer. Netzach would have me only pay attention to my will, forgetting the larger Will at work. Fueling my Netzach, encouraging it to have even more energy, to move faster, faster, faster can disconnect me from the Divine, from Shekhinah, as I’m not consulting that Wisdom but only myself in those moments. I’m too busy to slow down enough to really ask for divine guidance because I assume I’m acting as She would want me to, or on behalf of others, when in fact at times ego, or intense desire is the driving force. At times the inspiration of Netzach can cause me to fly out of the present into the future I want to create.
I look forward to Reb Nadya’s teachings on Hod next week. I have much to learn about its radiance, multi-dimensionality, and the ways in which it undergirds spiritual leadership and keeps us Present.
A few things to think about over the next week:
- How do you evaluate your own successes or accomplishments? Do you celebrate or even acknowledge them, no matter how small they may seem? A completion, or even making a decision on an issue you’ve been wrestling with, are successes.
- Do you have a partner, friends or a community which supports you in your successes through spoken appreciation, recognition or celebrations?
- When is your persistence commendable? When do you stay with a project or idea out of sheer stubbornness or a reluctance to admit to yourself that you made a mistake?