Question: What signs can help us tell whether a person is advancing in the study of The Book of Zohar?
Answer: Which books you study is irrelevant in this regard because besides studying The Book of Zohar we also study Talmud Eser Sefirot as well as articles and letters by Baal HaSulam and Rabash which explain how to advance toward unity among us and toward mutual study. They help us to get organized correctly. After we organize among ourselves into a study group, we begin studying actual Kabbalah.
The purpose of the study group in Kabbalah is not to study the material, but to aspire through reading it to realize the “Segula,” meaning to evoke the influence of the Light upon us from a higher level. If during the study we desire for the Light to become revealed inside our unity, then by this effort we build the higher level and then our effort brings about the emergence of that level.
However, if we study trying only to understand the material, then we do not study the Torah. That’s because the Torah refers precisely to our effort and the appearance of a new level in it.
Therefore, progress in studying the primary sources (The Zohar, the books of the Ari, and Talmud Eser Sefirot) is determined by the force of your aspiration to reveal the next level inside of you, instead of the desire just to know the material.
There is no advancement in understanding or accumulating knowledge because prior to the sensation of the upper world, all our notions of it are incorrect.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/12/11, The Zohar