A question I received: You said that religion did us a service by showing us how to coexist with each other, and that human egoism became tolerable thanks to religion. Now let’s imagine that religion never existed. Egoism would have torn human society apart, and because of the great suffering we would have reached our logical conclusion much faster – study of Kabbalah and attainment of the goal of creation. Doesn’t this mean that religion is not just harmful, but very much so?
My Answer: The role of religion in man’s (the soul’s) development will become clear only after we attain the Governing Force. In the meantime we have to learn from reality: This is how our world develops, first going through the primitive beliefs, then faith in religions, then faith in science, and finally – the science of Kabbalah. This is when you gain the possibility of opening up your eyes with the help of a new quality and seeing the universe for what it really is.
Kabbalists compare the state before this to sleeping or being unconscious. So while you still don’t have the ability to perceive the true world – while you’re asleep, you should just accept what you feel, and keep advancing. Then the Light of Kabbalah study will “awaken” you.
I accept everything taking place in the world as things that are given to me for my development. I form an opinion about everything that happens only from this perspective. In our time religion must transform and give way to Kabbalah. It should only lay a claim to the cultural content of people’s lives, without any claim to the soul, the world to come and so on, since it doesn’t really know anything about these things. Its task is to give psychological support to weak people, like a psychologist or therapist, but no more than that. Then religion will be able to get out of the crisis it’s in, stop using threats and force to influence people, and earn people’s respect.
The relationships between man and God are explained in Kabbalah by revealing the Creator to man. I consider myself religious because this is the “religion” I follow, rather than the distorted and mechanical one that demands submissive and pointless observance (Musar).
When Baal HaSulam says religion, he means only Kabbalah, while referring to all the rest as culture, tradition, or ethics (Musar). Here’s an excerpt from the article “The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose“:
“Many are mistaken and compare our holy Torah to ethics (Musar). But that has come to them because they have never tasted religion in their lives. I call upon them: ‘Taste and see (receive the Upper Light into your soul and reveal) that the Lord is good.’
It is true that both ethics and religion aim at one thing – to raise man above the filth of the narrow self-love and bring him to the heights of love of others. But still they are as remote one from the other as the distance between the Thought of the Creator from the thought of people. For religion extends from the Thoughts of the Creator, and ethics comes from thoughts of flesh and blood and from the experiences of their lives.”
Laitman.com Post: “And God Created Man In His Own Image”
Chapter from Book “The Path of Kabbalah”: Uprooting Prejudice
Baal HaSulam Article: Exile and Redemption
Shamati #66: The Giving of the Torah