Baal HaSulam, “The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose”: In this article I would like to resolve three issues:
A. What is the essence of religion?
B. Is its essence attained in this world or in the next world?
C. Is its purpose to benefit the Creator or the creatures?”
Evidently, these three issues cover the entire, immense topic of religion. So, what is religion?
A person living in this world has these three questions about his life. He wants to know: “Who am I? Where do I come from? Who governs me? How do I exist? Where am I going?”
Animals are not concerned with this. They are born naturally, live under the rule of their instincts, and die without asking themselves any questions. The questions awaken only in the human race, and then not in everyone. Ninety percent of people do not think about this at all. They accept birth, life, and death as given. What happens is obvious and clear for them.
However, what if a person thinks about something greater, about the reason? This reason comes from the Creator.
As we know, each stage is divided into four levels of Aviut, that is, the depth or coarseness of desire. If a person already has reached a deeper, more corrupt level, he has more questions. He experiences various fears, wants to earn money, seeks the truth, and digs deeper. Thus, people become scientists and philosophers, and in general, develop a particular attitude toward life.
At the last step of this ladder, a person begins to relate to what is happening objectively, independently of himself. It is not just a scientific approach; he wants to discover the secret of life in spite of great personal interest while remaining as independent in his judgment as possible.
A traditional scientist obtains data, ignoring himself, without revealing his own relationship to the subject. He studies only material nature in which there are no answers to questions about the meaning. That is why scientists and philosophers cannot discover the dimension that lies above this life, unfolding in the five bodily sense organs.
However, if a person realizes that he must reveal the essence of life above his nature, apart from himself, then he should disconnect from this life, rise above it, and become a real scientist. He cannot remain a prisoner of his own nature that dictates to him his world view and behavior.
So, in search for the meaning of life, we must reach such a level where we are really independent of our nature, that which is the most objective and completely separated from everything that exists within us. How can this be? It is a big problem, and the wisdom of Kabbalah deals with this above all.
Our progress in life is divided into two stages. In the first stage, we must rise to the level of independence, armed with all necessary facilities, tools, and details of perception to occupy the “no-man’s land” where we owe nothing to anyone: neither to this world, nor the future world, nor egoism, nor bestowal, nor the good inclination, nor the evil inclination, nor the Creator, or the creature. We must stand in the middle, in the place called Klipat Noga or the middle third of Tifferet.
We do not understand how this could be. After all, there is nothing but the Creator and the creature, nothing except the Light and the vessel. And since we are talking about ourselves, about the creature, then by definition, we are in the vessel of the created desire. How can we be brought to such a state where we will depend neither on ourselves nor the Light? How can we walk the razor’s edge? Who actually makes decisions in this situation, and what side may we choose if we are neutral?
Here, we have to understand that making an impartial analysis of our life is possible only if we rise above ourselves, above our own properties. Thus hanging in the air, we become independent of ourselves in the first place. Then we, possibly, will find that we are under the authority of the Creator and will have to get rid of that as well. How could it be otherwise?
So, to answer the question about the essence of religion, it is necessary to understand the origin of my life, who controls me, and where I am going. After all, I am carried by the flow, but will this knowledge help me? Could I change my fate to the better? Revealing the meaning of life, could I improve it, or to the contrary, is my ignorance bliss?
In the end, what will be will be. So, the question about the essence of religion is very complex, and approaching it, we have to solve a few preliminary tasks.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/24/2011, “The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose”