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Course Outline:

Lesson One -   Soul Words
The course begins with an analysis of our inherent ambivalence. On the one hand, we are idealistic and transcendent beings, and on the other hand, we are flawed and self-centered. How can one individual possess such opposing values and emotions? Which ones represent the “real” person? In order to assess and contextualize these conflicting instincts, one must first outline the internal mechanisms from which such drives originate. Lesson One introduces
the book of Tanya, presenting its key terms as well as laying the groundwork for its philosophy.

Lesson Two -  Getting A Grip on Yourself 
The intellectual framework of the first lesson casts light on a new paradigm of exploring the psyche, yet it does not begin to account for how to bridge the gap between the realms of intellect and emotion. A person may strongly feel one desire while habitually acting in a completely opposite manner. Lesson Two describes various ways in which one’s internal world may intersect with one’s external actions, and describes the ultimate goal attainable to the average person.

Lesson Three -  Sync or Sink
Although many maladaptive patterns can be described purely in behavioral terms, and can be controlled by a commitment to behavioral change, there is a great risk of losing resolve if one cannot generate sufficient internal motivation to continue with what is ultimately a difficult struggle. The third lesson considers the long-term vision of aligning reason and emotion, and lays out two methods to be used, concurrently, for achieving this goal.

Lesson Four -  The Joyride
Despite this masterful plan for achieving self-control, there are often inevitable, unexpected complications in day-to-day existence that can drain energy from the commitment to change. Even the most dedicated individual, when faced with difficulties of either a material or spiritual nature, may become despondent and abandon a program of self-betterment. Rabbi Shne’ur Zalman provides a spiritual perspective that allows people to deal gracefully with life’s stressors, while maintaining a positive, productive outlook.

Lesson Five -  The Big Picture
Rabbi Shne’ur Zalman recognizes that a powerful motivation, for sustained effort at change, is the recognition that one’s actions matter and have cosmic purpose. In this lesson, Rabbi Shne’ur Zalman contextualizes the struggle of the individual, within the larger framework of the person’s relationship to the universe at large. He emphasizes that individuals do matter, and though they may be indelibly plagued by failings and imperfections, even imperfect people can make meaningful contributions toward creating a perfect world.

Lesson Six -  Have a Heart
Most of Tanya focuses on the process of gaining control over external actions and behavior, despite internal ambivalence or struggle. To that end, earlier lessons consider how feeling and motivation might be developed. Yet, deep internal change — although a slower and more challenging project — is inherently valuable for its own sake. This lesson provides some meditations and exercises that can, over time, allow the individual to engage in essential change, reaching a greater state of spiritual sensitivity and personal enlightenment.