The Zohar: It is known that there is World, Year, and Soul in everything. In the stony heart (Lev HaEven), too, there are World, Year, Soul. World is the primordial serpent (Nahash Kadmoni), which Samuel rode; Year—the ninth of Av; and Soul—the thigh-vein sinew (Gid HaNasheh).
The Zohar tells us that there are two ways of perceiving the reality that we feel. There is the perception “for one’s own sake,” where one feels an egoistic “year, world, and soul,” which belong to the stony heart (Lev ha-Even). There is also the altruistic “world, year, and soul,” where one’s perception of reality is directed in the opposite direction, away from oneself. One perceives through bestowal rather than reception, and therefore one perceives the Upper “World, Year, and Soul,” because it is perceived through bestowal (sanctity).
What’s the difference between the perception of reality by way of absorption and reception, when one separates the perception into world, year, and soul; and the perception of reality by way of bestowal, when one also separates the perception into world, year, and soul? This is, in fact, a big difference between these sensations, because by absorbing into oneself, one is limited and feels that he exists in rigid boundaries of time. One feels that he lives and dies; he feels suffering and problems. One constantly wishes to fill himself, but this fulfillment fades immediately. One’s whole existence in these egoistic bounds of “world, year, and soul” takes place in reception, in the stony heart (Lev ha-Even), in absorption “into oneself.” However, in spite of the suffering, one is forced to continue existing in this manner because one’s environment conditions him that this is how he has to live. The environment obliges a person to strive to be successful at this egoistic absorption, and one is compelled to listen to them and thereby to kill oneself.
However, it is possible to perceive reality different – through bestowal, by exiting out of oneself. There, “world, year, and soul” are infinite dimensions, not limited by the considerations of how a person can fulfill himself. One feels the spiritual world, eternity, and perfection.