In the “Introduction to Talmud Eser Sefirot,” Baal HaSulam writes about a person’s desire to clearly understand the meaning of his life. He says, “Yet the question, ‘What is the meaning of my life?’ stands as bitterly and as vehemently as ever. Sometimes it meets us uninvited, pecks at our minds and humiliates us to the ground before we find the famous ploy to flow mindlessly in the currents of life as yesterday.”
People will small desires are like small children: they want order. They set limits for themselves and live within confines that help them to feel safe. In addition, these people want their relationships with others to follow a hierarchy. They want to know, “This person is higher than me, and that one is lower. This one I have to fear and that one I have to respect.”
Many politicians, psychologists and sociologists use this to their advantage, and religion is also based on this. Throughout history, people have feared the forces of nature, believing that they are more powerful than they. They tried to smooth things over by treating these forces with respect, and thus, people built special systems by which they expressed their attitude to the forces of nature.
This is how religion was created. And religion was good for the people because it gave them a clear understanding of what was required of them. This institution was satisfactory to all, because people were able to shield themselves with religion.
Today, however, we are living in an entirely different era. Now the will to receive pleasure has outgrown all limitations. Whether people are secular or religious, they can no longer contain themselves within the previously set limits. They can no longer flow “within the currents of life as yesterday.”
In the past, people simply carried out predetermined actions without much analysis or debate. People acted in certain ways, and were contented by this because they knew that they were living their lives correctly. Today, however, people can no longer be satisfied by this lifestyle, because none of these actions give them the answer to the question, “What do I live for?”
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