Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
Download: MP3 Audio
Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
Download: MP3 Audio
Baal HaSulam lists five questions in the beginning of the “Introduction to The Book of Zohar“:
1. What is our essence?
2. What is our role in the long chain of reality, where we are small links?
3. We feel low and defective, but should not the Creator, who created us, only emit perfect actions?
4. How could the Creator doom His creatures to such suffering?
5. How could something Eternal, which neither has a beginning nor an end, produce perishable, temporal, and inferior creatures?
Many have thought about it over the course of many centuries since mankind has come to know itself. And our generation has the same questions before it. We have not managed to reach understanding, while this is regarding fundamental questions that refer to the very essence of our existence: What are we living for? What is the purpose of life? What is its reason? What kind of process is contained in it? Do we have freedom of will? What is the purpose before us? Is nature blind or does it follow a certain program? Can it be changed?
Moreover, there are questions that have to do with scriptures: If the Creator is kind, then where is His kindness? Is it in a certain other world? But who has seen it?
Briefly speaking, these questions comprise the entire reality, except for the animate degree where we must provide for our daily needs.
Comment: Not many people ask themselves these questions.
Answer: This is a separate problem; people do not know how to think about things that matter. However, these things definitely bother them on the subconscious level. And especially today.
And in general, has there really been a single person in history, who did not ask himself?
– Why do I suffer?
But at the same time, what is so surprising here?
– You suffer because you feel bad.
– But why do I feel bad?
– And why should you feel good? You assume that good is a normal state, and anything worse is not normal? Where do you get this? Maybe you believe in the Creator? But how can you know that He exists and that He is kind? So why do you feel surprised when you feel bad? Maybe bad is a normal state of the world.
Thus, any question a person asks, when he rises above his concerns over his daily life, necessarily contains all these basic, essential complications, even if they are disguised. Let us slightly uncover them.
1. Naturally, a person does not ask: “What is our essence?” He phrases it in another way: “Who am I? Why and what for?” Children think about these things and then they forget. However, questions remain: What is our role? Where is the historic process of development taking us? Does it have a purpose? Is evolution accidental or does it follow a certain plan?
2. We discover that all parts of nature are tightly interconnected; moreover, their interconnection is not spontaneous, it is reasonable, and this reason is above our reasoning. But in the end, we are consequences of nature, and we barely comprehend even a tiny fragment of its common picture.
And this is why a person asks questions: If we are observing a consecutive process, which follows nature’s deep wisdom, and which naturally leads to a certain goal, then who am I and what am I? Where am I going? Where should I be going? Where does my life come from? Does it come from another planet? And if so, how did it get there? Some people worry that the sun will be extinguished in billions of years or that a certain celestial body might collide with planet Earth. “Even if it does not happen to me, what will happen to mankind?” Don’t laugh about these concerns.
3. We are incredibly limited, and we still want to know everything. But on the other hand, when we look at ourselves, we see our own deficiency. And this is correct, if we draw a comparison to the greatness of Nature, its power, beauty, and perfection, the beautiful landscapes that have not yet been ruined by man with a starry sky above us. Look deep into the magnificence of Nature, delve into the structure of DNA or an atom and you will be amazed by what you see. We are small, very pretentious fools. Everything that matters to us is nothing but a tiny crumb scraped off the great canvas.
Anywhere we look, we see immense wisdom and inseparable interconnection. It is astonishing that all parts of nature maintain one another, while we only lead to their extinction, failing to understand that this leads to our own destruction. Because no matter how proud we are, in reality nature feeds us and provides for us. Nothing appears out of thin air. Food, water, clothes, all this we receive from it, and we respond to kindness with destruction. This only testifies to our foolishness.
And thus it follows that everything in nature is perfect and only we are defective. But how can it be that only we are defective out of all the elements of nature? We do not only destroy the world, we are destroying our near future, and we refuse to think about it. Even when a person knows that he is to die tomorrow, he still will not stop, he will not resist, and will still travel the rest of the way to the unavoidable scaffold.
Nature undividedly governs over the still, vegetative, and animate levels, but its power is not absolute over us, it has given us freedom of will. So why do we use this freedom to ruin ourselves even more? Instead of using our independence for the good, becoming Human with a capital letter, wonderful and beneficent to themselves and others, I destroy everything I can. Why do I need this freedom?
4. Why do we suffer, when the perfect Nature has prepared a wonderful goal for us?
5. And finally, how could the perfect Creator produce perishable, temporal, and inferior creatures, born in pain, living in suffering, and dying in agony? A person’s entire life is passed in pursuit of pleasure, which he never manages to grasp. Because the second he fails to grasp something, he immediately concerns himself with his next pleasure. We are never fully satisfied, and even if little things are enough for us, it does not last forever. Every pleasure is followed by emptiness, and we constantly pursue a mirage.
Thus, the questions Baal HaSulam has listed, concern everyone to a certain degree, and we will have to find the answers to these questions.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 6/14/12, Introduction to the Book of Zohar
Baal HaSulam, Introduction to the Book of Zohar, Item 4: To understand these questions and inquiries, the only tactic is to examine the end of the act, that is, the purpose of Creation. For nothing can be understood in the middle of the process, but only at its end.
For now, our questions remain questions. In the beginning of the work we don’t yet understand it and don’t see where it comes from. One must first comprehend creation in its entirety, and most importantly, see the end. That is when we’ll understand the beginning stage.
Indeed, we don’t determine the work; rather, we actualize it and are its consequences. Therefore, we shall know the beginning only from its end.
In contrast to us, the Creator doesn’t need a process that leads from a starting point to an end point. For Him, the beginning of the path, the path itself, and the end comprise an indivisible reality. Whereas we must go through all the stages of our development, and only after we have completed our work will we understand the path we’ve traveled and the purpose behind it.
This is why Baal HaSulam wrote that we must study the entire process to the end. Indeed, while on the path the coveted fruit always seems unripe, spoiled, corrupted, just as with any other thing that has not yet reached its final state.
We will not receive true answers to our questions until we reach the goal, the end of correction. Every question we have is a void, a vessel, into which we must receive fulfillment, which is really the answer. Therefore, questions about the meaning and purpose of our existence become filled with answers only after we have achieved the final goal.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 6/14/12, The Zohar
In the article “Matan Torah (The Giving of the Torah),” Baal HaSulam tells us under what conditions the Torah was given to people. First, it must be a group of people who want to be as one man in one heart. The sufferings they have been through leave them no choice and they see that they must escape, but they must escape consciously. It isn’t a blind escape from pain, because the sufferings come from a special force, from the Creator, according to His plan, and within it there is a specific goal.
The Creator brought about the sufferings on purpose. It says “I have created the evil inclination,” which means I have created Pharaoh who brings the children of Israel closer to the Creator. The evil inclination is called “help against,” since it evokes and pushes a person to know the force that manages him. A person asks himself: “Where does all this evil come from? Why am I suffering?” Eventually the searching brings him to the main question: “What is the meaning of my life?” And further: “What is the meaning of life?” Then a person reaches the wisdom of Kabbalah.
So he comes to receive the Torah and begins to understand that there is a need to change something. Instead of changing the world by trying to “bend” it by himself, a person understands that the world is a replica of his internal attributes. Change yourself and the world will change.
This is what we say to everyone: We should correct the person and not the world. Of course, we don’t talk about the perception of reality, about the fact that the external picture is determined by our internality. This cannot be explained at the moment, although there is already some scientific evidence for that. On the whole, a person already understands that today he has to correct himself. Then he is ready to receive the Torah as a spice “to spice” the evil inclination by this method so that it will taste good.
Eventually we have to put the form of bestowal on the original desire to receive. If a person is ready for that, he receives the Torah, meaning the method of correction, and begins to work. Then he understands the essence of the condition that he was given: what mutual guarantee means, what general unity is, and what the final goal of “Love thy friend as thyself” symbolizes. On the way to reaching this goal, a person discovers his mission, which is defined as “a kingdom of priests” and a “holy nation.” In other words, he has to fulfill what it says not only regarding himself, but also being responsible for the whole world. By judging oneself and the whole world to a scale of merit, a person applies his potential correctly for the good of others by doing what he has to do, which means to disseminate the method of correction all over the world.
Then he corrects himself, since he has no need for anything but that. It is enough to live by working for the general correction, which is called “a kingdom of priests.” Priests have no corporeal estate, “God is their estate,” which means the pure level of Bina. A person should also see himself on this sublime level where the good of others is his only concern above all the other concerns, and the only goal above all the other goals. Although different unwanted desires come up and although the interruptions are global, it is all so that above them he can be responsible for the whole world. Otherwise he will have nothing to work on.
By fulfilling the mission of a “kingdom of priests” and “a holy nation,” a person fulfills the idea of mutual guarantee. The point isn’t that we will be responsible for each other and hold on to each other on the way to correction. No, we are advancing towards mutual guarantee with the whole world, we are responsible for everyone, and unless we correct them, our work cannot be complete.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 6/13/12, “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)”
Question: How are we supposed to help each other? Let’s say I am a farmer and most of the time I don’t communicate much with other people. How can I possibly bestow to them?
Answer: Tell me, why and for whom do you work on your land? We think that we work for our own sake, but in fact that’s not what’s happening. A long time ago, humans were at the animate level thinking only about how to feed themselves. They didn’t feel that they were a part of each other or have a sense of community. But with the development of our receiving desires, people were no longer able to provide for themselves. Then, one became a farmer, another a shepherd, and another worked with tools. It is said: “Go and earn from each other.” Our desires grew more complex; accordingly, our world became more complex.
Ultimately, we think we serve ourselves, but in fact, it is really others. We are under the delusion that we act for the sake of our own benefit, but in fact, it’s a misunderstanding. Actually we work to get our salary, which is nothing other than a deception. In fact, we work to bestow and to provide for others.
For example, you grow tomatoes and all day long you are thinking about how to sell them and what you will earn. So remember, if you did not regard yourself through the deceitful prism of egoism, you would see that you simply are trying to find a way to help others profit. You are suppressed by a delusion that all you do is pursue profits because you don’t know how else to motivate yourself because you still don’t know how concern for others will serve the purpose. Well, you can remain under the impression of this lie if you want.
In reality, your pursuit of profit is a complete fraud. Soon the banking sector will collapse, and you will see this. Similarly, we encourage children or trick a donkey by dangling a carrot in front of its nose to make it work.
Question: So, a Kabbalist grows tomatoes, earns half a million by selling them, and constantly thinks about how to use this money for the benefit of others?
Answer: Of course! Otherwise, he wouldn’t be working for the sake of bestowal. What kind of a Kabbalist would he be?
Comment: But, people are constructed in a way that most of the time they don’t think of things like that.
Answer: You keep forgetting because your perception is not connected with bestowal as of yet. A mother feels her child within herself, so she never forgets about her baby. Internally, she never separates from her child; she simply cannot cut off the umbilical cord that connects them together. Wait, you too will discover the cord that joins you to others.
Comment: But even egoistically, I don’t dream about my future salary all day long.
Answer: That’s right! However, you constantly think of various pleasures that attract you. An expert receives sensual and intellectual fulfillment from doing his work well. Eventually, you’ll find out that you are working for the benefit of others. All of us are the Creator’s workers; we are giving to each other all we can against our will and do not acknowledge our bestowal. Instead of a beautiful and perfect picture of the world, we see a perverted and wicked image that alters the reality into its complete opposite.
Eventually, we have to “remove the blinders” and lift the veil of concealment. Nothing will change, except us; but when you change, you will see an inverted world.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 6/7/12, “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)”
Answer: People prefer to rely on themselves, since they are used to implementing their habitual egoistic approaches. Because of the egoistic desire, one doesn’t appeal to the upper Light that Reforms, but thinks that he will earn everything by using his own knowledge and efforts. We tend to think that we are clever and strong enough to overcome all impediments and get a reward without outside help.
We think we don’t need the upper force, the Creator. When we feel powerful, we neglect to maintain connection with the upper force, even if we presume that it exists. One begins to imagine one’s association with the upper force only when facing threats in this world or fearing punishment after death in a future world, that is, only when one can’t cope on their own.
If a person is confident that he will succeed and fill his egoistic desires on his own, he won’t strive to attain the upper force. But, when the spark that is part of the upper Light awakens in a person, he feels that it cannot be fulfilled unless he is connected with the upper force, which gives him additional fulfillment.
The spark is not just a particle of Light from above that was cut off and placed in me. This spark is the faintest illumination of the Light, the Creator that descended within a person: the beginning of the revelation of the Creator in me. This is the beginning of man (Adam) within us, similar to (Domeh) to the Creator.
The spark needs to be connected to the desire to enjoy, so they are brought into harmony by establishing the correct connection between them. This is what we have to work on until the Creator completely reveals Himself to us and not just a tiny spark; in other words, instead of a small desire to be pleased, we should find great aspiration, and both should reach complete adhesion.
A tiny part of the Creator is disclosed within us: This is called a spiritual awakening, a spark. A small portion of the great desire to enjoy wakes up all my earthly passions for food, sex, family, wealth, power, and knowledge.
The difference between my natural desire and the spark is that the desire to be pleased demands that we fulfill ourselves for our own sake, whereas the spark requires fulfilling others, bestowal. They contradict each other, and so a person first loses his head when he first senses the spark.
A person feels the split because the desire to be pleased pulls him into this world with all its egoistic pleasures, while the spark of bestowal carries us in a completely different dimension, although we do not know where or what it is. At this point, we stop caring about this world and become totally attracted to something more lofty and unearthly.
Eventually, the spark leads us to a special place where we can realize it, that is, to the place where the Creator’s desire reveals itself with greater force. The place is called a Kabbalistic group.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 6/6/12, Shamati #21
When spiritual insight is revealed in us, we actually begin to see and gradually understand more clearly that everything depends on the “place” (the Creator), which means on the number and the intensity of my discernments that reveal the spiritual reality and that show me to what extent I am connected to everyone else. Everything depends on the number of discernments and mainly on their intensity and the intensity of the connection.
Each of us suddenly discovers different discernments of his egoistic perception, but gives up his ego in order to connect with others. It turns out that a “dent” appears in my desire opposite a “bulge” in the desire of the friend, and a “bulge” of my desire opposite his “dent.” Thus we connect, as each one gives in to the other.
It turns out that I have given up my interests in order to connect to the friend, but he, in his perception will discover these “bulges” of my ego and will annul himself in order to connect with me. Thus, we don’t annul our ego, but constantly use it through more “bulges” and “dents.” Our sensitive and fine perception and its intensity depend on the amount of such connections in which we discover more and more discernments.
This is how the general vessel is built for the interest of the public. The more common needs I discover, the more I can annul myself and connect with others. But then I have to think about the reason I am doing this for—for the revelation of the Shechina (Divinity). Here I have to attain one more connection that is more internal and for a higher goal by discovering that it is the Creator.
The Creator isn’t some personality, but a discernment that I revealed as a result of my clarification. It is the upper Sefira of Keter, which I discover after having clarified all the Sefirot that precede it. Just like the commandment of love, which we must reach, but which we actually cannot. It reveals to us by itself if we perform all the commandments that precede it.
It is the same when it comes to connection. If I with my point in the heart work in the group and connect with the friends, then within this connection, in all the four phases, I discover their inner root called Shechina. Shechina symbolizes the revelation of the Creator.
I cannot build this last phase, the Keter, the one who bestows, by myself. It is revealed since I have taken the four steps towards it.
I did everything that was in my power, I revealed the four phases and the forms of connection by myself, and then I discover the phase of Keter on which I cannot work by myself. This is the Shechina. On my part, I complete the work and then there is a discovery waiting for me, as it says “I have labored and I found.”
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 6/13/12, “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)”
Answer: A smart person is one that can foresee a future outcome, and because he’s able to see it so clearly, he’s able to change the present. For instance, a person wants to do something that will bring him instantaneous pleasure; however, seeing that this action will result in future suffering, a person will annul the urge for this pleasure, he will become cautious, and will have the strength to overcome the urge.
For example, if a drug addict would see the future picture that his drug use would lead to, it would convince him to give it up.
This is why people need to be shown the picture of the horrible future, even though scaring people isn’t what we want. It’s very difficult to present such information, but since people are closing their eyes to what’s going on, it is necessary to find suitable means of informing people of the threats. So now there are more and more films on this subject.
I hope that reason will prevail. I see it actually happening in our awareness of the nature of evil, although I would like to see it happen more quickly. But only a vision of a threatening future and fear can help a person, nothing else will stop him.
From a “Talk About Integral Upbringing” 6/13/12
Question: There are two forces: One force leads to unity and goodness and the other toward destruction and death. Right now, humanity is irreversibly heading for a point of bifurcation where we need to stop, because we cannot go on like this any further. If things go the natural way, would that be catastrophic?
Answer: Yes, it would be a natural and social catastrophe, which means wars. If we continue to stubbornly go against nature, then on the one hand, it would evoke a variety of natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and so on, and on the other hand, it would trigger in us such internal strain and pressure that a global nuclear war would erupt. This is the natural course of events without our conscious awareness.
But if we reveal this point in advance through mass media, through all kinds of possibilities, then we can move it forward. This should be done not when it’s already inevitable and we enter a state of great conflict, but while we are anticipating everything and feel it in advance as though this point already exists now, and then we can start changing ourselves and society.
This can be achieved only by disseminating the truth about our state and direction: what are we heading toward, what force is leading us forward, and about the inevitability of coming to that precise state. Actually, people are already talking about it, though very little.
And most importantly, there’s a method of correction that allows us to change what exists today. By the way, the method itself is painless, without drama. A person won’t need to break him or herself.
A person comes to a group and engages in it under the influence of a gentle, kind, and friendly environment, attends it like a simple psychological workshop in a university. And within a few sessions, he begins to feel how he himself and his view of the world change.
So, nothing dramatic happens to a person. He or she simply, easily, and comfortably begins to acquire a new system of knowledge and perception of the world.
From a “Talk About Integral Upbringing” 6/13/12