1. Those who are indifferent to spirituality and remain at the animate level of existence. They relate to others only in order the find the most comfortable and pleasant way of interaction. These people don’t step beyond the “I versus environment” calculation.
2. The second type are the religious and those who believe in being rewarded for “good” deeds according to their standards. Faith and philosophy don’t matter to them: Some fear the police and others fear the Creator. They both seek reward from their environment, but the religious expect to be rewarded in the future world as well. They are receivers of payment one way or the other, and each one defines for himself the optimal reward expected at a given moment.
These people do not have the slightest intention to correct themselves, and therefore they have no relationship with the Creator. They simply practice psychological self-help, expecting to receive in the future world in exchange for certain actions they perform in this world.
They are willing to pay and suffer many hardships in this world in order to collect a handsome reward which they were told awaits the righteous when they die. They believe the elation and paradise that they will feel in the future is even worth dying for.
3. The Kabbalists are the ones who understand that everything mentioned above is a lie and it doesn’t work, that the principle of “do something and be rewarded” doesn’t work in a relationship with the Creator. It doesn’t hold up when it is tested in the reality of life or human history.
At this stage, a person arrives at a more exalted goal: to know the purpose of life. He doesn’t care that much about reward or punishment (“sweet” or “bitter”); he wishes to dig deeper and reach the truth (“truth” or “false”). He may suffer and receive nothing for it, but the truth is the reward he seeks. Then a person does not measure himself according to how satisfied he feels or how bitter or sweet something seems, but by what is true or false.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/3/10, “The Creator and Israel Went Into Exile”