Pure desire without intellect represents an original form that is derived from the root. If desire strives only to maintain itself without any other desires, it is called “inanimate.” It doesn’t change, but rather always wants by all means to preserve its existence one hundred percent as it is and continually resists any changes whatsoever. That’s why it’s called “dead.”
On one hand, it’s the most powerful force that keeps inanimate matter in its form and because it is inanimate, it is stronger than anything else. On the other hand, it has a deficit because it doesn’t develop at all, nor does it create any advanced form!
A plant doesn’t possess as much force for self-preservation as inanimate matter; it is weaker. But it does have an addition; it is able to change! It develops, alters, and grows. On the other hand, it still cannot remain eternal; that’s why it “acquires” life and death.
There is no choice, there is a price for the opportunity to continue developing. If you don’t possess stony steadfastness, but rather allow yourself to change, you go from edge to edge, from life to death; there is no other option. In other words, our development happens at the expense of immortality.
For a lifeless stone, life and death are the same. For a plant, life and death are different since plants can sense life. This is the root of any sensation, pleasure and affliction, one against the other.
Animals are much farther from inanimate nature; they undergo dramatic changes and experience tremendous growth. They acquire a higher intellect that accompanies their desires; so, during the process of development, animals acquire diverse forms. Naturally, animals are subject to an array of external and internal influences. Compared to inanimate and even vegetative levels, animals have a much more complex organization. Of course, animals sense their mortality very strongly as the difference between life and death.
The added ability to use intellect for analysis constitutes a distinction between human beings and animals. As opposed to an animal, a person has developed to the extent that he recognizes “time” in his brain: past, present and future. People can bring time closer by including it in desire. All of a sudden, we start envying someone who lived a thousand years ago or someone who will be born two hundred years from now.
We observe that at a human level, intellect enhances desire. The work of intellect upon the desire is directly related to the Light; actually, it’s the only work we ever do. The more we work on clarification and expansion of our desires, the more advanced we consider ourselves to be compared to our past, undeveloped states: inanimate, vegetative, animate and speaking levels within the human stage.
Naturally, humans sense life and death, the Light and the darkness, even more strongly. We become more dependent, delicate, sensitive and constrained. But this is the payment for our development.
At the time when our development at simple levels (inanimate, vegetative, animate and speaking) is complete, we approach the Creator’s level at which we gain new senses, a different kind of intellect and an alternative developmental force, all three components together, which we didn’t have before.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/6/12, The Zohar