Answer: Of course, this is not yet called a vessel. That is why it is referred to as the phases of the expansion of the Direct Light and not the phases of the vessel. You can also call it the stages of the development of the vessel, but undoubtedly, until the fourth stage there is no vessel which could be called an independent creature.
It’s only after the fourth phase, expanding from Above downward, performs the Restriction and reaches this world, that it can be said that the vessel completes its development. It is only here, in this world, where the creature will desire to return back to its root, that it can be considered independent and possessing the point of free will, which it can enlarge from a point to the scale of the world of infinity.
According to the sensation of this point of free will and to the extent of its development, it is called the creature, while a simple desire to enjoy is not called the creature. It is the created being only from the side of the Creator, the Host. The real creature stands opposite to the Creator and possesses its own will.
That is why the still, vegetative, and animate levels of nature are not considered to be the creature. They exist instinctively under the complete control of the Light, without any independence. In this same form, not independently, a lot of people still exist now, obeying the orders of their nature.
Choice begins where the creature feels shame due to its lack of equivalence with the Creator, which pushes it to develop itself. This state is called the creature.
From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 6/19/2011, Talmud Eser Sefirot