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As one advances, a person begins to feel that everything spiritual is outside of his body, in everything that surrounds him in the still, vegetative, and animate nature, in humans. This is what the world is, the area we must learn to treat with love and care as a great treasure so that the world, which is outside of our body, will become very important to us.
The feeling of existence in the physiological body occurs only in our imagination through a combination of forces that are acting on us. That is why we feel as if we live in the material body, and, if a person has an aspiration to live outside of his body—in everything that surrounds him—this is already the need to feel the soul.
Having begun working on this, a person sees that he needs to concentrate all his work on the correct environment because only from there can he get help and support. Such an environment is the group, as a representative of the external world, which may respond to me, attract me, and help me exit myself.
Then, I view the group as my savior, who throws me a rope to pull me out as if from a well. I do not associate myself with the body and wish to get out of it, and thus I grab the rope. The group, friends who are outside of me, help me break away from my body.
Thus, working together, we take turns helping each other climb up and exit ourselves. After all, only outside of his skin, outside of his selfish interests, does a person begin to feel that the group is not a gathering of some people but the holy Shechina in which the Creator dresses.
The body consists of Klipat Noga, the part that gives me freedom of choice, and the “snake’s skin,” the most powerful egoism that pulls me back, so that in trying to get out, I am able to apply sufficient effort correctly aimed.
Due to my desire to get out of my egoism—self-love and thoughts about my own good—to break out beyond my skin and think about the group and the world, I awaken the force that comes through the group, the teacher, and the Creator, which saves me from this prison. All this is due to the mutual work in the group with the teacher and with the books, and thanks to studies and dissemination, which are all the means in which the force of the Creator dresses and helps me exit myself.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/13/13, Shamati #36
Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 10: …He has no interest in reception, only in bestowal, whereas the Klipot want nothing of bestowal, but only to receive for themselves, for their own delight, and there is no greater oppositeness than that. And you already know that spiritual remoteness begins with some disparity of form and ends in oppositeness of form, which is the farthest possible distance in the last degree.
In this world, pluses and minuses attract each other as do opposite poles of a magnet. For example, people who have opposing opinions usually are interested in talking with each other and comparing their points of view. This happens because our world is submerged in the egoistic nature of receiving.
As a result, we can get something from one another to the degree of our dissimilarity. If we were alike, what could we get from one another? Similarity doesn’t promise any benefits; we need others to receive “profits” from them whether it is money, respect, power, recognition, services, etc. One needs something that one doesn’t have, something that one lacks. This is why we bother dealing with others.
It explains why we are unable to understand relationships between the Creator and creation: The distance between them is tremendous and they have no chance to come closer. At the same time, we see numerous examples when opposites meet. This is a paradox: Two different people who have egoistic desires find ways to take advantage of each other; however two contrary desires (egoistic and altruistic) can’t unite because they repel each other.
Consequently, creation has no chance to approach the Creator unless it modifies its nature. It goes without saying that it’s impossible to change the desire to receive per se. So, the Creator made the intention far more important (basic) than the desire. Intention is something we can work with and eventually it can be changed. Spiritual distance between the Creator and us is delineated exclusively by the intention. Intention changes the essence of connection among us and makes us either similar or different.
“The Creator” is a giving desire; consequently, one has to “shield” one’s desire to receive with the intention to bestow. The desire by itself is only a “material,” whereas intention is a tool for transforming the very essence of our actions to bestow. Thus, we approach the Creator.
Still, how do the Creator and creation converge if they have similar poles? It contradicts the laws of physics in this realm. Why can’t those people who have points in the heart unite with each other in spite of the law of similarity of properties? What does convergence depend on? Is it contingent upon our qualities or does it depend on the way we are using them?
For example, two thieves can find common ground. On the other hand, today people are not ready to unite their efforts even if their cooperation promises obvious benefits. They prefer to earn less independently rather than receive more in somebody else’s company.
Now, it becomes even harder to unite since our egoism continues growing and we repel each other much more strongly. Each of us prefers detachment and isolation. There is a growing trend of working from home; it’s convenient both for employees and employers.
We don’t find pleasure in teamwork; it doesn’t appeal to us at all. At one point, women started to strive to get out of their homes and escape from their families. They wanted to find jobs and enjoy more freedom and now people of both genders wish for the opposite.
However, it’s not about returning to their families. Currently, too many people don’t have families. It’s not about going back to family life, but rather it’s a continuation of our path in reaching new levels of egoism that in their turn lead to even more detachment and loneliness. On one hand, we understand that our alienation is not good for us; on the other hand, it has become do difficult to establish contact with anyone. So, people choose to refuse the potential advantages of connecting.
It means that we have to give charm to the idea of unity. Our joint work has to be pleasant, interesting, attractive, and to bring us satisfaction. We have to work on creating these conditions, since nothing will happen on its own. In the end, who would mind working in a company of nice people even without being rewarded? If we enjoy somebody’s company, we would be willing to pay for this pleasure. The problem is that we don’t regard liaisons among us as attractive. It’s very hard to treat others well since our egoism is too strong and amicable relationships require too much exertion and energy.
We have to break many walls that separate us before others will believe that we are not lying to them, playing with them, or confusing them in some way, and that we are genuinely sympathetic. We are used to hypocrisy; our relationships with others are too “commercial” and are saturated in mutual contempt. We should really try hard to understand others more deeply…
In spirituality, similarity of properties brings us closer to each other and allows us to eventually attain revelation, whereas in the material world we take pride in “consuming” each other. In spirituality, togetherness is based on similarity of properties, although in this material realm our closeness rests on dissimilarities. On this material plane, two people unite only if they want to confront a “third party” or if they expect to obtain certain benefits from their association.
There is a law that states that without the intention to bestow, pluses and minuses attract each other; the intention to bestow reverses the situation and makes everything conditioned by the degree of similarity.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/5/13, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar”
Baal HaSulam, “A Speech for the Completion of The Zohar”: In spirituality, the time of giving and the time of receiving are separate. This is because first it was given from the Creator to the receiver; and in this giving He only gives him a chance to receive.
Question: How can we recognize this opportunity and use it correctly?
Answer: It has several signs, and the first is when we are not left in peace. If we don’t wake up, then what kind of chance does it give us? We usually “wake up” either in a coffee shop, or bar, or during a football match on the TV. Can we really wake up for correction if our nature is simply an egoistic desire to receive pleasure? We only wake up because of purposeful, special, and qualitative troubles.
Over thousands of years of development, humanity received plenty of simple blows. If a single generation of long-lived people had experienced this, they would look incredibly pitiful. This is why we reincarnate from generation to generation—to come namely to qualitative blows.
Today, we have food, clothes, and shelter. Each of us lives better than the kings did five hundred or a thousand years ago. Refrigerators, air conditioners, microwaves, mobile telephones, cars, or if worse comes to worst, public transportation are the attributes of our modern life. The entire world is in front of us. But not that long ago, even Europe looked very differently: People lived in terrible conditions and had inconceivable social relationships.
We all are relatively well-off. So what is lacking in our lives? We lack joy, purpose in life. What do we live for? The paradox of our life is that we have everything we need, but we hardly enjoy our existence.
Previously, it was the other way around. Had a person had a loaf of bread every day, he would have wanted nothing else. Having this “bliss,” he would have stayed in bed the entire day. Whereas today, people rest on their couches because they are emptied by the abundance. This is what is called qualitative blows. Rebellious children, broken families, fears, worries, and confusion—a person does everything to avoid them, but there is no place to run.
On the other hand, the world is being “pulled together” by a single net, and we worry because of the New York stock exchange, European crops, heavy rains in remote areas, or conflicts in other countries. We are connected with everyone and depend on everything. We constantly feel pressure and uncertainty. Thus, we are forced to take care of others.
As a result, we all experience disasters that are aimed particularly at us, and that shapes one single question in our brain: “What’s the purpose of my suffering?” Baal HaSulam formulated this question a little differently: “Who is it who enjoys what’s happening? Or even more precisely, whom do I delight?” The problem is that there are no answers to these questions.
In general, the current period of our lives represents the “opposite side” of the era of Messiah. Before anything else, we must reveal a desire. That’s why the Light comes to us through the “back entrance,” from behind. Our duty is to reverse it in such a way that it shines before us. Rabash writes about it in his article “The Matter of the Association of the Quality of Mercy with Judgment.” The upper one seems to me as something very gloomy and repulsive until I rise “above reason” and start revealing Him and getting attached to Him. I transform myself into my opposite (оr do the same with Him in my eyes), and then we turn face to face to each other.
However, He still shines to me through the “back side” and causes disasters that gradually drag me to a correct approach by building a vessel within me.
This is how we have passed all levels, all historic stages. Baal HaSulam writes that any state is preserved until it becomes unbearable. Then we destroy it and build something else instead.
However, this time we don’t have to destroy or build anything at the level of this world. Rather, we must comprehend and digest what’s going on with us, explore the situation we are in, and understand and acknowledge it. The main thing is to realize that the upper one has to perform all changes. But it’s not because we are powerless; after all, He did everything previously as well, albeit without us being aware of it. Today, we must acknowledge this fact and make sure that we accept every action that the upper one does, and that we must elicit all of His actions, ask for them and thank Him for them, and thus constantly accompany all of His steps.
This is actually the “work for the sake of the Creator”: I get to know Him, I begin merging with Him. This is the specifics of our last developmental stage: We get to know the Creator better and better, until we know Him completely. In other words, finally, we will see that everything that happens to us, including “negative” events, were prepared for us by Him solely to make us know Him better. This kind of knowing Him is impossible without our participation. This is exactly what is still concealed from us.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/11/13, “A Speech for the Completion of The Zohar”