release your outcome
appreciate the moment
let it be enough
This is part of a series on counting the Omer through exploration of the seven lower Sephirot of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
Each week of the Omer is dedicated to one of these seven core emotional drivers of human existence. Each day of each week is dedicated to exploring one of the seven aspects of that week’s trait.
This week we are exploring the sephirah of Chesed.
What if the best way to move forward is to surrender?
This was the insight I had on Day 5 of Week 1 of the Omer, which explores Hod of Chesed.
Hod: Appreciating What Is
Hod is often translated as splendor; a more direct translation is appreciation or gratitude — it has the same root at the word todah, which means thank you.
Hod also represents humility, and thus honors advice and wisdom we can get from others.
Hod of Chesed is about cultivating deeper presence and stronger contact through recognition, appreciation, and reflection. In a relationship, it’s about appreciating the other person, rather than what they have done for us.
Netzach and Hod as Partners
The Sephirot on the Tree of Life map to the body; Netzach and Hod map to the right and left legs, respectively. More accurately they map to the hips.
Just like the hips move as a pair, it’s almost impossible to discuss Hod independent of Netzach. We need both, and life is about finding the balance between them and integrating them. (Spoiler: this happens at Yesod, which is the next Sephira.)
Netzach of Chesed sees the potential of what something can be; it is driven by pursuit of a goal and overcoming the obstacles in the path.
Hod celebrates the beauty of an encounter for itself rather than focusing on what is preventing it from becoming something more. Hod of Chesed is about appreciating the beauty and logic of what is already here — even the obstacles.
Unlike Netzach, which wants to overcome the obstacles, Hod sees the wisdom in the obstacles. It appreciates them for what they might offer.
Like the hips, Hod and Netzach must work together. If we are all striving without gratitude then we might push endlessly to the point where we push others away. Persistence and perseverance are important qualities, but persistence in the extreme can be annoying. Nobody likes a pest.
But if we are all Hod and no Netzach, then we don’t have drive to move forward at all. We delay and defer because the moment is just perfect as it is — so why go anywhere else?
Striving as Resistance
In looking at what has been coming up for me this week, I had an insight that the inability to be in gratitude for where we are might be the resistance to getting to where we want to go.
This was catalyzed by a conversation about illness. Western culture sees illness as bad — something to push away, to suppress with medication. But ancient wisdom was that illness was a portal to purification. A fever burns away invading toxins. Inflammation arises to kill infection. Illness can lead to purification, but only if we surrender to it.
Netzach wants to push through and overcome the obstacle. It wants to work harder.
I like to think that I have a strong Netzach quality. I will do whatever it takes to navigate the resistance or the obstacle and get to my goal.
Except: Do I? Will I really do “whatever it takes”?
I seem to be willing to do more, to work harder, to push through. But what if that’s part of the problem?
What if “whatever it takes” is actually to do less? To ease off? To not push as hard as I’ve been pushing?
What if the way to overcome the obstacle is to surrender to it?
Am I willing to do that?
Fighting consumes so much energy.
What happens to Netzach when it doesn’t have anything to push against? Where does that energy go?
Perhaps it can go to the important tasks that will move me forward. It can go to the courage and confidence and clarity I need to take the next steps. It can funnel into Yesod, the realm of the generative energy of creativity and connection.
Incidentally, Hod also means surrender. So this is part of Hod of Chesed: surrendering to the situation as it is. And through surrender, moving through.
If I stop spinning in judgments and blame and all forms of resistance, if I slice away the veils of confusion and not enough, I’ll be left with what’s real.
My own desire. My own power. My own agency.
Integrating Hod of Chesed
Instead of pushing through or trying to navigate the resistance that arises, ask:
- What is this obstacle here to teach me?
- What is the wisdom here for me to learn?