The inner life may be likened to a growing plant.
The source of all growth is the little seed, the hard nucleus that has to perish by rotting in the soil.
That is, the seed has to nullify itself by giving itself up to the power of germination.
And this power is the central power of growth.
So long as the seed remains a clean and wholesome self, not spoiled by contact with the dark, engulfing soil, it can remain a correct and meticulous specimen of its kind.
Only by surrendering its continued restricted being as a seed and totally subordinating itself to the infinite power of growth in the earth can the plant begin to emerge from it.
The critical point of transformation is immersion, when there is a genuine contact with the soil, when there is such union with the earth that the seed can relinquish what it contains and all that it is, and from the resulting essence begin to be what it was intended to be.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From “Sanctity and Restraint” in The Candle of God by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz