We Have Neither Attainment Nor Perception of any Matter
It’s impossible to attain the essence by thought. Moreover, we do not even know our own essence. I feel and I know that I take up space in the world, that I am solid, warm, and that I think, and other such manifestations of the operations of my essence. But if you ask me about my own essence, from which all these manifestations stem, I do not know what to reply to you.
You therefore see that Providence has prevented us from attaining any essence. We attain only manifestations and images of operations that stem from the essences.
– Baal HaSulam, “Preface to the Book of Zohar,” Item 12