We see similar qualities in animals: If something bad happens to his owner or if his owner has a problem, a dog feels it and is very dedicated to his owner. Is that the same devotion we speak about here, or not?
What is the difference between devotion on the levels of the still, vegetative, and animate nature and the level of the “speaking”? The slave gets used to his owner, feels his dependence on him, and is devoted to him, just like a dog. In what way is he different from a servant of the Creator?
Being enslaved to the Creator is devotion to a nature that is opposite from a person’s nature. I am in a state of submission and self-annulment between two polar points that have split. Inside me there is my desire to receive and in it, I feel my ego, different claims, problems, and disappointments. I feel all that and do not nullify it, it lives inside me, but above all that, I gradually acquire recognition and the understanding, spiritual devotion opposite to my egoistic property.
The gap between these two forms of nature that are inside me is clear, understood, and familiar. My devotion rises above my reason, and the greater the desire, the higher I rise above it. In an opposite manner, the gap, the tension, the distance between the egoistic nature and the altruistic nature, between the intention of in order to receive and the intention of in order to bestow, for myself or for the Creator, the gap between these two poles grows increasingly larger.
It says: “He who is greater than his friend, his desire is even greater” and “a person cannot fulfill a Mitzva unless he failed in keeping it before.” It means that we have to fall and to feel a greater depth of our ego, of the evil inclination, of the snake, and only from there can we rise to higher levels of selflessness and complete devotion.
These two points do not annul one another. Instead we fill the distance between them with recognition, understanding and our love that rises above hate: “Love will cover all transgressions.” This is the difference between our spiritual devotion and religious devotion.
Religion requires a person to follow with his eyes closed, and the less he understands, the more devoted a believer he is. He does whatever he is told, without trying to understand. The fewer doubts he has, the more surely he advances with the flag in his hand and the fanatic look on his face, and the more respectable he is considered.
In the wisdom of Kabbalah, however, it is the doubts, the confusion, the different problems and inner clarifications that generate rich discernments, thoughts, and inner ideas. They are all opposite from the Creator and the work in order to bestow, but above them, a person builds his devotion, since thanks to them he can understand and feel.
Based on that, he builds the understanding and feeling, perceives the world from one end to the other in the two forms, in all possible feelings and understandings. He doesn’t have a narrow perspective and doesn’t advance with his eyes closed, but fully recognizes the ego, and thus builds his attitude to the attribute of bestowal by understanding the property of the Creator.
He raises the attribute of bestowal above the attribute of receiving; independently and consciously, he consents to surrender himself to serve and love. This becomes his Creator.
From the Preparation to the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/22/13