Minimum Suffering, Maximum Pleasure

Dr. Michael LaitmanI would like to talk about the condition Nature sets before us: We have to reach absolute love between all seven billion people in the world. Is this condition really indisputable? Are we capable of fulfilling it? Is it really so that if we achieve at least partial success, if we advance in this direction, we will see, time after time, that it’s all for our benefit, that it changes us, our environment, and all of life for the better?

The essence of every person’s nature is concern for themselves. A person is incapable of thinking about something else. If we examine and study all of our actions, we’ll see that we need energy in order to carry them out. Even for the simplest motion, like when I shift my hand from place to place, I need to expend energy. However, this energy can appear and be at my service only on condition that by using it, I will achieve some benefit for myself.

Accordingly, we have the following condition: Any internal shifts within atoms or molecules, any bodily motion, any movement in my feelings and reason, all require that I see the beneficial state that will be result from this process. This is how I relate to everything in my life.

Certain actions, I perform instinctively. For example, whenever I’m sitting in a chair, I don’t think about what position to sit in. During a conversation, I don’t ponder my vocal inflections. In the majority of cases and actions, everything is carried out according to an internal calculation. Within me there nestles an egoistic desire to feel well and experience a pleasant sense of well-being. This I see as the desired outcome of all of my actions.

The hope for a good feeling operates constantly and secures me in a given state. Wherever I may be going, whatever I’m doing or saying, no matter how I carry myself, all of this is merely in order to obtain the best possible means for a good state.

I want to eat, sleep, or party. I am required to work in order to provide for myself. All that I do is only to bring me benefit. In essence, my entire life is about how to reach the greatest profit with the minimum suffering and maximum pleasure in order to fill myself with whatever I can.

With what should I fill myself? This depends on my upbringing, the influence of my environment, the scale of values that I received, and from habit that becomes second nature. What I was taught is what I learn to live with, even if it’s unnatural. This is how I live, doing many things in my life not because I wanted this initially, but because society, parents, and educators taught me and accustomed me to it. As a result, I act mechanically, not needing the power of thought.

There are other things in life, too. These things I am forced to do, and they require internal effort, the kind where I convince myself that it’s worth it. Let’s say an alarm rings, and I get up even though I want to sleep. Perhaps I have a difficult and uninteresting job, but still I know that after an exhausting day of work, I will come back to my family and into the warm, homey atmosphere where I can rest and experience good feelings. However, I have to pay for these feelings, and this is why I’m slaving away.

All of my actions, all contacts with some people and distancing from others ultimately are designed to create a more pleasant atmosphere for me. So, I’m always concerned about how I can feel better.

This is the nature of each of us, and it pertains to the “animate” degree. Essentially, the still, vegetative, and animate levels of nature always aspire toward feeling better, toward an ever better state. It seems to all creatures that this state will be balanced, that in it they won’t feel pressure or be pulled in some different direction, but will be in harmony with what they imagine to be a better life.

So, it turns out that all my life I observe the “law of feeling better.” This is the condition on which we exist, and our egoistic nature constantly directs us toward it.
From KabTV’s “A New Life” Episode 13, 01/11/12 

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Nazism: Will It Disappear?

Dr. Michael LaitmanBaal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 67: If, God forbid … an individual from Israel enhances and appreciates one’s externality, which is the nations of the world in him, more than the inner Israel in him, meaning the externality in that person rises and soars, you yourself, the internality, the Israel in you, plunges down. With these actions, one causes the externality of the world in general —the nations of the world—to soar ever higher and overcome Israel, degrading them to the ground, and the children of Israel, the internality in the world, to plunge deep down.

This is what has been going on since the days of the Maccabeans and even in the times of the Second Temple, when they tried to disseminate Greek culture among the people. If we check this throughout history, we’ll see that every time we had a chance to avoid great trouble we didn’t do so.

But today, when we must finally fulfill the plan of creation and have all the necessary means, we surely have to feel that we are indeed responsible for the whole world. The Nazis brought suffering not only to the Jews—the pain and suffering were afflicted upon many people. According to the estimates of historians, 60 million people died during WWII.

We should understand that today we are facing the same danger, but it concerns the whole world. Hitler was no more than a puppet. This, of course, doesn’t justify his atrocities, but ultimately it’s about a very negative combination of forces that was created by those who have free will because of the disrespect towards the spiritual goal.

There are actually no “negative figures” in the world. These are simply the same “positive figures” that appear so that we will correct them. And if not, they are depicted to us as “negative figures,” up to such extremes. In general it’s about a unified system.

Today, as we enter a new era, we should draw conclusions and learn from what we’ve been through. As unpleasant as it may sound, we have caused all the troubles. We should be careful so as not to summon this nightmare upon the whole world in the future.

Baal HaSulam warns us about it in simple direct words. He says that Nazism can return, and we cannot be sure that it will not happen. People always say “never again!” as if they understand how to manage the world. Actually you can say that if you advance by the upper Light, you know for sure what is ahead. But you know nothing about the system and are not trying to correct it, so your words are worthless and you advance from one blow to another.

It’s time to wake up and to understand that the choice is in our hands.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/19/2012 on Holocaust Memorial Day

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We Should Prefer Internality

Dr. Michael LaitmanBaal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 71: Each of us remainders should take upon himself, heart and soul, to henceforth intensify the internality of the Torah, and give it its rightful place, according to its merit over the externality of the Torah.

And then, each and every one of us will be rewarded with intensifying his own internality, meaning the Israel within us, which is the needs of the soul over our own externality, which is the nations of the world within us, that is, the needs of the body. That force will come to the whole of Israel, until the nations of the world within us recognize and acknowledge the merit of the great sages of Israel over them, and will listen to them and obey them.

Also, the internality of the nations of the world, the righteous of the nations of the world, will overpower and submit their externality, which are the destructors. And the internality of the world, too, which are Israel, shall rise in all their merit and virtue over the externality of the world, which are the nations. Then, all the nations of the world will recognize and acknowledge Israel’s merit over them. And they shall follow the words (Isaiah 14, 2), “And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord.” And also (Isaiah 49, 22), “And they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.”

On every level, everything depends on the correlation between internality and externality, and the upper levels determine what will happen on the lower levels. So each of us, meaning anyone who is studying the wisdom of Kabbalah and who belongs to “Israel,” that is, to the category that aspires straight to the Creator (Yashar – El), determines how things will develop by preferring internality over externality, by placing the spiritual advancement, love, connection, and bestowal over the external part in him, which is based on self-interest, success, honor, a desire to control others, and so on. This internal conflict within each of us and the way it’s expressed in the group determines where the world is headed.

But if everything depends on us, what do we need dissemination for? The point is that today the whole world needs to examine the relationship between internality and externality. On every degree, on every level, everyone should make a decision regarding this and prefer unification—in order to join us. Then “the nations of the world,” or our egoistic desires will support the altruistic part that leads the world forward.

Thus, as we’ve already said, everything depends on the correlation between internality and externality, between spiritual advancement and all corporeal interests. So a big question is: What can we do so that there will be no more disasters? As difficult as it may seem, we must accept what Baal HaSulam says: “There is none else besides Him,” and “the law is given and cannot be transgressed,” and no one can influence the advancement of the world except those who have access to the Light that Reforms.

So we have to admit that we are responsible for the afflictions in the world and the troubles we experience. This is what Baal HaSulam says: Since Israel preferred externality over internality and didn’t open the wisdom of Kabbalah in the right time, to this extent they summoned the Holocaust upon themselves….
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/19/2012 on Holocaust Memorial Day

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The Epoch Of Free Choice

Dr. Michael LaitmanIt’s difficult to speak about the Holocaust because this topic is closely tied to people’s feelings. It’s easier to discuss wars that went on thousands of years ago, even though they were often waged between our people, for example, between the Hellenistic Jews and those who adhered to the fundamental principles. And on the whole, the people of Israel have certainly led many wars with external enemies: the Romans and others.

We know that all the past wars were an outcome of Israel not fulfilling its purpose. We know from the Tanakh and Gemara that if the people of Israel acted correctly, then no nation would rule over us. Baal HaSulam writes about this in the article “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee).” Even earlier the Ari had said that had we remained as guarantors for one another, like it was at the period of the First Temple, and had we not fallen from it, the impure forces wouldn’t have gained power over us.

However, our fall was laid down in the program of creation so that in this world, as an analogy with the spiritual one, we would go through the breaking of the kings of DaHGaT (the destruction of the First Temple) and the breaking of the kings of TaNHYM (the destruction of the Second Temple). In our material world we also had to go through these two breakings, and this is why we fell from the spiritual degree to the very bottom.

At the time, Rabbi Akiva laughed when he saw the wasteland in place of the Temple. “I never believed that this would come to pass,” he said, “and since the Second Temple was destroyed, now there is no doubt that the Third one will rise up and that complete redemption will come.” So, these two destructions and the long exile were necessary. It can be said that then there was no free choice yet, all the states were determined by the interaction of the Light and the vessel on the way down.

And today, when we came to the lowest degree and achieved the greatest egoism, a new world is starting to rise. It’s already “rounding off,” already manifesting the breakage, and as Baal HaSulam says, we stand on the threshold of redemption.

As a consequence, new laws are now acting on us, not the “mechanical” principles that previously propelled us forward along with all humanity. In parallel with its development, we went through various states of ascents and descents all the way until the present time, but from this point on, a new epoch is starting, the era of free choice.

After the breaking, after the fall and mutual inclusion with the world, today everything is ready for correction. And we are the ones who realize this correction through good deeds and the request that comes from broken souls. However, these broken souls aren’t capable of the request and good deeds. What can we do?

We are trying to unite into one whole as it was before the breaking, before the destruction of the Temple. And even if we can’t realize it ourselves, it’s our efforts that are the “good deeds.” I keep on trying until the point when I beg for help, until I cry: “Save me!” Thereby I raise MAN, the request for correction, and in response help comes from Above, called MAD.

And in this we have free will: We can accelerate our history, the process which we need to go through. If we don’t carry out in every second everything that we’re capable of through our free choice, then the missed and unrealized state doesn’t arrive as a long-awaited dawn in the property of mercy (Hassadim), but turns to properties of overcoming (Gevurot). As a consequence, in place of “still waters” come “turbulent waters,” instead of waters of Bina come the waters of the flood, and so on. And instead of going forward on the path of Torah and the Light, in loving your friend as yourself, we wander, spurred by troubles that don’t advance us but simply force us to actualize the actions that we missed. After all, one way or another, we are obliged to complete them.

This brings up a question. At first I was able to produce a certain action aided by unification within the group, by understanding and feeling, by the mutual inclusion with friends, mutual support, and so on. I could reach for what didn’t seem to be a pressing need, even if it meant artificially raising the importance of this action in my eyes. But now, when I’m being spurred on by catastrophes and necessity, am I actually realizing my free will? No. Does it mean that I am heading toward the end of correction like an animal fleeing the blows of a whip? And this is spiritual development? Where is the free will in that?

The thing is that misfortunes will lead us to think and reflect, and through their help, we’ll begin to grope around and recognize evil. However, for this we will have to pay and in such case, our free choice will be a lot more complex and multi-layered. After all, there are no concessions here; a person still needs to go of their own free will through every step on the 125 degrees of ascent, from the lowest point back to the end of correction. Otherwise he will not be a human being.

Thus, we raise a request for correction (MAN) and receive an answer (MAD) from Bina. If this doesn’t happen, we transition to the properties of overcoming, Gevurot. And this means misery and disasters, both personal and collective, including the Holocaust. On the whole, this process ripples through all of mankind, but the people of Israel are affected several times stronger since they are not fulfilling their function.

At the end of “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Baal HaSulam writes about the fact that the world is divided into two parts: internal and external, “Israel” and “nations of the world.” “Israel” is also divided into two parts: the inner one includes those who study the wisdom of Kabbalah in order to correct themselves, and the external one includes those who don’t care about correction. And in turn, the internal part of the “nations of the world” is their “righteous,” and the external part is their “wicked,” “those who cause harm.”

A connecting mechanism operates within this system: The way that the two parts relate within “Israel” is the same way that they relate within “nations of the world.” And therefore, when those who study the wisdom of Kabbalah rise above, then correspondingly, within the “nations” the people who yearn for unity and good coexistence also gain force. And conversely, if “Israel” disregards the inner Torah, the wisdom of Kabbalah, in other words, if they disregard their purpose, then within the “nations” the pyramid inverts also: The external ones rise above and take power over the entire world. Of course, these events are far-reaching and they negatively impact “Israel,” whose message and purpose descend, giving way at the top for the wicked and casting to the very bottom those who study Kabbalah and who are close to spirituality. This is how the “hierarchy of power” is laid. 

This is what happened with us in Hitler’s times. Israel acted contrary to its role, preferring corporeality to spirituality, and in accordance with this, within the nations of the world the destructive part rose above the good one, until the pyramid flipped over. And at that point, “the one who brings harm” came along and did his job.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/19/2012 on Holocaust Memorial Day 

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Daily Kabbalah Lesson – 04.23.12

Preparation to the Lesson

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Writings of Rabash “What Are the Two Discernments Before Lishma

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Zohar for AllPassover “Shemot (Exodus),” “Why Exile and Why Egypt,” Item 246

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Talmud Eser Sefirot, Part 15, Item 41

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Writings of Rabash “Dargot HaSulam,” “Go to Pharaoh”

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