Baal HaSulam, Shamati, Article 208, “Labor”: The efforts that one makes are but preparations for achieving devotion. Hence, one should grow accustomed in devotion, since no degree can be achieved without devotion, as this is the only tool that qualifies one to be rewarded with all the degrees.
In order to ascend a new step of the ladder, one must apply effort. Only after one applies effort does he attain a new level, but how does this happen?
At the present stage, one possesses a number of qualities, but the next step involves a higher level of qualities. How can we acquire them? We should plead for the Light that Reforms to affect us, to correct us, and thus leads us to rise.
All our efforts are meant to awaken the Light. How do we do that? We elicit the Light only by trying to simulate the higher step, although we are totally unable to do that since it is hidden from us. How can we become somewhat similar to it? For that, we have to follow several instructions defined by Kabbalists.
Our next step is in fact a greater effort to bestow as opposed to the current phase. It means that we have to invest determination into unity with friends, annul ourselves in relation to the group, and try to feel to the best of our abilities that there is none else besides Him in all our problems, issues, impediments, and hindrances. Everything is sent to me by the Creator, including the interferences that conceal His oneness and hide His unlimited power over the whole universe. We have to connect everything that happens to Him; our efforts should be directed to regard the group as a mechanism through which He reveals Himself to us.
Our determination has to reach a point where we feel that our efforts cannot grow any stronger; this is when we surrender ourselves to a higher state so that it can govern us. We still do not have the correct sensation, nor do we understand our next spiritual step; all we do is simply entrust ourselves to the next step by directing all efforts solely towards attaining it.
Due to this level of self-sacrifice and complete devotion, a person receives a soul from the higher level. Our efforts have to be directed to realizing that there is none besides Him; we have to strive to reveal Him and His oneness through bestowal and unity in the group. Let the upper govern our senses and intellect without any disparagement on our behalf.
This state comes to us gradually, step-by-step, to the degree that we elicit the Light that Reforms by attaining more similarity with the higher level. Similarly a fetus turns to its mother, allowing her to nurture it. Step by step, she augments his desires (in our realm it bears the form of supplementing its flesh), but his “job” is to refuse new desires by completely entrusting himself to her.
Over and over again, he merges with the upper one and admits that there is none else besides Him, the One who is good and does good, in spite of all the problems, difficulties, and obstacles that the new “flesh” (desires) awaken in him
The fetus “attaches” all of its parts as well as the whole world that surrounds him in his mother’s womb to the upper force, and eventually reaches the level of devotion and self-annihilation, which is called “nine months of conception” after which he is born into this world. The process of birth is excruciating; it is accompanied by tremendous labor pains (“birth contractions” – tzirim) under very constrained (tzar) conditions that cause incredible afflictions (tzarot). Through enormous pressure that originates both by the upper force and the fetus itself, the fetus transcends the narrow passage, and is born into the world of the Light. During the process of birth, the child has to completely “bow his head,” flip upside down. Then, when the process of birth is over, he lifts his head up again.
All of this is a result of our efforts. We have to realize that we will never attain the next step on our own; therefore, our task is to elicit the Light that Reforms so that it produces essential changes in us and, as a consequence, prepares us for the next step.
So, our work is to make actions that effectively elicit the Light that Reforms. Now, we are talking about our unity. By investing efforts into connection between us, we raise its importance with the help of the Light. At the same time, the Light demonstrates to us that we are not yet able to unite. The force that inspires us to bond conflicts with predicaments that prevent us from attaining unity, recognizing that there is none else besides Him. We still continue to think: “if not me, then who?”
This is how we approach the critical point that allows us “to be born anew” at each next level.
From the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/10/12 in America, Shamati #208