Question: Would it help our spiritual development to know exactly where we are on the scale of the inanimate, vegetative, animate, and human levels? What does our progress depend on? What instruments could help us determine where we are? And how can we change?
Answer: All of this is determined the moment a person comes to the group. He can begin evaluating himself only in relation to the environment: How much does he aspire to his friends, to the common desire of bestowal, to feel everyone as one desire?
This common desire is the Soul that was created. And if we attain it as one whole, then in it we will feel the quality of bestowal, the Creator. It was precisely in order to enable measurement, attainment, and control over our state that the common soul, creation, and desire were divided into an infinite multitude of parts. Every part of the desire, every person thereby received the opportunity to imagine the other parts as united, depending on his aspiration to this state.
If this person or part begins to work to unite with all the other parts, seeing them as perfect and receiving from them the right aspiration forward, the motivation, the importance and value of spiritual development, then he gains absolutely clear abilities to measure his state and to receive help from outside.
From the lesson in Moscow on 1/14/11, The Zohar