A question I received: There’s a problem with studying Kabbalah: it’s not obvious what you should be doing. Other methods give you different exercises for the body or the mind, but in Kabbalah, it’s completely unclear what you should be doing from a practical standpoint. Should you just study and that’s it?
My Answer: You’re right. In this method, a student cannot clearly see what he should be doing. The reason for this is that he is learning the art of bestowal, which is an intention that is unseen to the eye. Your physical body does not participate in this at all, only your heart does.
But what is the heart? It is a collection of all your desires. In Kabbalah, you have to penetrate inside your heart and learn its qualities. You have to see what attitude is coming from your heart towards yourself, other people, and the Creator. You have to expand your heart and work inside it as if it were a laboratory where you direct, connect and intermix different forces, desires, and thoughts in various ways. This is something a person gradually learns to do, and that is how his heart expands with the help of the Upper Light’s influence.
In other methods, everything is obvious. You have physical cues that you can clearly see. But when starting out in Kabbalah, you cannot see anything! This is why it is called “a hidden wisdom,” and the initial period of studying is called “the period of concealment,” because we do not see how we advance, what enables us to advance, and we are unable to tell if we are simply standing still.
But there is a way to check whether you are advancing correctly. You must ask yourself if you are demanding anything for yourself other than unity with other souls. One’s entire spiritual work is in no way connected to one’s physical actions, but rather, it hides in the internality of things. In other words, we are working with forces that control matter from within, and this is why we don’t yet feel them. We do affect our matter, but only through forces that are concealed from us.
This is why people are right when they demand, “Tell me what to do! Give me work that I can see, and for which I will be rewarded in proportion to my efforts! I need some kind of milestones on the way, so where are they?” Yet, a person has to search for new criteria of advancement, based on ones that aren’t physical, but spiritual. He has to find some kind of indication of bestowal.
For example, even though I do not receive anything, I still come to the lessons and participate in the work. I accept the advice of Kabbalists in a manner called “above reason,” and I study according to this advice. I open up a book, which I was told contains the Light of Correction. I don’t even know what this Light is, but I want It to influence me! I want to place myself beneath this waterfall of Light! Let this Light change me and cleanse me of all the external peel or covering (Klipa).
If you are looking for spiritual changes inside yourself, then the presence of this desire is the way to tell whether you are advancing or not.
(From the Preparation to the Daily Kabbalah Lesson)