My apologies for being absent in the recent blog discussions. Yasher koach to all the contributors.
I used to believe that Chassidus’s main emphasis was on “being” and Mussar’s on “becoming.” By “being” am I referring to shedding one’s outer klipos and embracing the inner self as it is (call it the neshama if you would like). By “becoming” I mean looking towards the future, towards the development of potential, towards what could be. I have come to realize that this divide between Chassidus and Mussar does not exist; both approaches must embrace both concepts necessarily.
It seems that there are times when we must let ourselves simply be, and sit with who we are with a mindset of self-acceptance. However, remaining in this state for too long can lead one to complacency, that I am who I am and that is all I need to be. By contrast, there are times when we must focus on becoming, that the current state simply is not enough. However, an over-emphasis here can become reminiscent of a knight in full armor running forward into battle, completely unaware of where his enemy lies. It is a focus on moving forward without the insight of who is doing the moving. We must push ourselves, but we must make sure it is ourselves that we are pushing.
Indeed, the risk of falling off this tightrope in either direction is frightening. I would like to develop this idea further with the vaad. Comments are welcome.