Let’s talk about shame, a very elevated concept, which is only characteristic of man. As much as you may try to induce shame in the representatives of the still, vegetative, and animate natures, there will be no reaction since this root is not instilled in them. The beginnings of shame are only manifested on the human level of our world, and not even within everyone.
It is because the human level is separated into five levels of development, and only on the last one of them, a desire of a sufficient “thickness” emerges, a large egoism, which allows one to feel great shame.
Regarding the previous levels, Baal HaSulam describes them as milestones on the way. Some are ready to cause others any kind of evil in the presence of everyone and they are not ashamed of it. Others are somewhat shy or are being careful, and that is why they prefer to cause harm secretly. Others are truly ashamed and not due to the fear of punishment. However, they reconcile their shame and justify what is happening by the retributions known to everyone: “He deserves it,” “I have the right to do it,” “Everyone does it,” and so on.
And only the people, who possess a large egoistic desire, who have experienced great shame, begin to work with this property. As their point in the heart awakens, they begin the spiritual work and arrive at a different kind of shame then, which does not lie on the plane of this world but on a higher level.
In our world, I am ashamed of receiving something that I have not earned, have not paid for. I cannot accept such an “acquisition” because, as a rule, it is not difficult to figure out from whom this good is coming and whether I deserve it or not.
However, I have a problem with the spiritual world. I do not see whom I am receiving the gifts from and that is why I am not ashamed. First, I need to reveal the Bestower, the Root, whom all of this is coming from, and this requires many more calculations. For example, “Must I earn the good from Him? If He created me, then surely He must also provide for me?” Another option is: “I did not deserve the help, but due to no other way out, I will pay for it later.” In other words, in the spiritual world, like in our world, we move by the steps of shame.
In reality, shame is the foundation of creation. Because of it, Malchut of Infinity carried out the restriction and has initiated all of the subsequent development in order to become equivalent with the Creator in the end. Shame is a source, the initial point, impelling us to arrive to the similarity of qualities with the Creator, to become even with Him, to pay off the debt to Him, and to stop receiving gifts as before.
Baal HaSulam gives the following example: A rich man meets his friend, a poor man, at the market and he brings him home and gives him all kinds of goods. The poor man feels that the rich man is helping him from the bottom of his heart without any calculations for himself, enjoying this bestowal. However, while receiving the abundance directly, the poor man simultaneously receives the feeling of impatience and shame, which burns him up from the inside and becomes unbearable. It’s all in the separation of personal receiving on the one hand, and the bestowal by the rich man on the other. Such is the law: When I feel that I am the one receiving, not like the one bestowing, this evokes the shame in me.
This feeling is so huge, that Malchut of Infinity restricted and decided that she will receive pleasure from the Creator only in the similarity of qualities, only for the sake of bestowal. Only in this case will she feel the expediency of receiving. While the point is not to neutralize one’s shame, on the contrary, she begins to value it. Since it is thanks to the suffering, which it brings up, can she now make a different calculation directed at reciprocal bestowal to the Creator.
Shame does not only prevent receiving, does not simply make one restrict one’s egoism and to receive for the sake of bestowal, avoiding suffering, but it allows me to arrive at true bestowal. And that is why I value shame. It is said that this feeling is prepared only for the high souls. In the spiritual world, it is good and beneficial to experience it because shame becomes a means for him, helping him realize the necessity of bestowal, to demand the revelation of the Creator. And then the point is not in the egoism anymore and not in the shame, as such, it’s just that by its means I can truly assimilate to the Creator and become a bestowing one. Let the previous factors remain inside of me, the desire to receive and the shame, but only as necessary conditions above which I can build the relationship towards the Creator and move towards merging with Him.
Shame develops together with the desires and expands them, enriching them with a multitude of details of perception. We see this even in our world, the Creator has only created the initial point of development and everything else has developed thanks to the gaping emptiness, the perception of the difference between the creation and the Creator.
The Torah tells us that Adam has experienced an explosion of egoistic desire, described as the emergence of Hava (Eve) beside him. He has merged with this desire, what is called, has tasted from the Tree of Knowledge, meaning, has received the fulfillment and then has perceived himself as nude, barren of his clothing, and has become ashamed of it.
The Creator is showing an example here. He has created the dressing for Adam and Hava and later, as a consequence, we enrobe ourselves into all of the dressing by ourselves. Their root is the Reflected Light. If we wish so, then we can follow its example and form our own personal dressings. And all of this is not simply done in order not to be ashamed, but in order to assimilate to the Creator and by means of this, to give Him pleasure.
We rarely mention the concept of shame. In our original sources, it is found occasionally. However, in reality, we are always guided by this feeling of separation between the Creator and the creation. Shame is the “trigger,” that point of beginning with which the creation is awakened towards assimilating, merging, like in the example with the poor man and the rich man.
From the Workshop 6/17/12
Shame Worse Than Death
Shame As The Means Of Correction
Shame Is The Opposite Of Perfection