וגם מי שהוא נקי מחטאות נעורים החמורים ישים אל לבו לקיים מאמר זהר הקדש: להיות ממארי דחושבנא
Even he who is innocent of the grievous sins of youth, but yet wants to attain a broken spirit, should set his heart to fulfill the counsel of the holy Zohar — to be “a master of accounts.”
This means that he should do the spiritual accounting described below as a “master”, a proprietor, to whom each set of figures represents either a profit or a loss that directly affects him — rather than as a “servant”, a hired accountant, who can view whatever bottom line eventuates with academic detachment.
דהיינו לעשות חשבון עם נפשו מכל המחשבות והדיבורים והמעשים שחלפו ועברו מיום היותו עד היום הזה, אם היו כולם מצד הקדושה, או מצד הטומאה, רחמנא לצלן, דהיינו כל המחשבות והדיבורים והמעשים אשר לא לה׳ המה, ולרצונו ולעבודתו, שזהו פירוש לשון סטרא אחרא כנ״ל פרק ו׳
This means that he should take stock with his soul of all his thoughts, utterances and actions that have come and gone since the day he came into being and until the present day. Were they all of the realm of holiness, or of the realm of impurity (G‑d forbid)? This latter realm includes also any thought, utterance or action not directed toward G‑d, His Will and His service even when they are not actually sinful, since this is the meaning of the term sitra achra: not necessarily “evil”, but simply “the other side” — the “side” (realm) that is not holy; thus anything that does not contain holiness belongs to the realm of impurity, as explained earlier, in ch. 6.
ומודעת זאת כי כל עת שהאדם מחשב מחשבות קדושות נעשה מרכבה בעת זו להיכלות הקדושה, שמהן מושפעות מחשבות הללו
Now, it is known that whenever a person thinks holy thoughts he becomes, during that time, a “chariot” for the “chambers” (heichalot) of holiness whence these thoughts originate, or, more precisely, whence their vitality originates.
Becoming a “chariot” means that he becomes completely subservient to these heichalot, to the same degree that a vehicle, having no will of its own, is completely subservient to its driver’s will. When he meditates on the love of G‑d, for example, he becomes a “vehicle” for the supernal “chamber of love,” and so on.
וכן להפך, נעשה מרכבה טמאה בעת זו להיכלות הטומאה שמהן מושפעות כל מחשבות רעות, וכן בדבור ומעשה
Conversely, when he thinks impure thoughts he becomes an unclean “vehicle” for the heichalot of impurity, whence all impure thoughts originate. So, too, with speech and action.
Thus, even one who cannot call to mind any past sins can humble his spirit by contemplating how often he has become a vehicle for impurity through his thoughts, words and actions which, though not sinful, were still of the realm of the sitra achra — since they were not directed toward G‑dliness.
עוד ישים אל לבו רוב חלומותיו שהם הבל ורעות רוח, משום שאין נפשו עולה למעלה, וכמו שכתוב: מי יעלה בהר ה׳...נקי כפים וגו׳
Let him further consider his dreams in order to humble his spirit; for one may learn more about himself from his dreams than from his waking, conscious thoughts. For the most part, they are “vanity, and an affliction of the spirit,” for his soul does not ascend heavenward during his sleep; since it is written: “Who shall ascend the mountain of the Lord?” — meaning, in our context, “Whose soul shall rise heavenward while he sleeps, to see and absorb matters of Torah and holiness, which will in turn be reflected in his dreams?” And the next verse gives the answer: “He that has clean hands and a pure heart” — implying that the soul of one whose hands and heart are not pure, does not ascend, and that is why his dreams are a patchwork of vanity and foolishness.
ואינון סטרין בישין אתיין ומתדבקן ביה, ומודעין ליה בחלמא מילין דעלמא וכו׳, ולזמנין דחייכן ביה ואחזיאו ליה מילי שקר, וצערין ליה בחלמיה כו׳, כמו שכתוב בזהר ויקרא דף כ״ה עמוד א׳ ועמוד ב׳ , עיין שם באריכות
Furthermore, “those originating from the ’evil side‘ come and attach themselves to him and inform him in his dreams of mundane affairs... and sometimes mock him and show him false things and torment him in his dreams,” and so on, as stated in the Zohar on Vayikra (p. 25a,b). See it there discussed at length.
We thus see from the Zohar that one may evaluate himself by studying the content of his dreams. Thereby, he can humble his spirit even if he finds himself free of sin, and in this way he may crush the sitra achra within him, as explained above.