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Answer: Generally speaking, we measure things according to the Lights that enter the vessels when I overcome my ego. After all, I don’t want to be in contact with others at all. I don’t even want to see them, but I overcome myself and receive, “buy” the other’s desire, just like the upper does with the lower in order to draw MAN upon them (a request for correction) and to receive MAD (a response to this request) and to pass it on to them. Thus I develop, by playing the role of the upper for others.
Question: And how does that happen? In our world a cow doesn’t become a human being and leaves don’t grow out of rocks…
Answer: Imagine a person’s life: He graduates from school and goes to university, becomes an engineer, and then a scientist, and finally has everyone’s recognition. If we look at his body, however, the opposite happens, since he becomes exhausted with time: Once he had lots of hair and now he is bald; once he was potent and healthy and now he is ill.
We don’t see what was added on the human level since he has received that from others. In our world, it’s impossible to see that since here we are all the same in our physical form, and the human being in us is our inner level.
In order to rise to it you have to connect to others, to the friends, against your will, in resistance. In order to do that, I have to rise above my ego and to start acting for the benefit of others. Then I begin to feel the other and can receive his desires. Thus we establish the connection of the upper and the lower, and I can develop and pass him the Light, fulfillment.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/11/13, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar”
Baal HaSulam, “The Secret of Gestation is Birth”: And this is the sign that a creature is worthy of the Light of life, since he has the power to at least perform a contraction for some reason, since then the Light of life appears and performs the expansion and the first movement of life is created. Therefore this movement does not stop and the creature becomes alive and moving.
This first movement is called a soul, which means the spirit of life one breathes, as it says: “And He will pass into his nostrils the breath of life.”
But the level of still nature, the vegetative and the animate do not have the power to perform an inner contraction in any way. Therefore, the Light of life cannot be dressed in them and lead to an expansion.
He gave a law that cannot be broken, that without the contractions and the expansion the vessel will not be able to expand beyond its limits. Therefore the still level of nature, the vegetative and the animate are doomed to eternal death.
The speaking is indeed totally capable of life, but he is born dead, since he needs a cause and a factor to operate on it, and to bring about the first contraction at least, which is caused by the cold air that comes from the Torah and good deeds.
Humanity is divided into levels: the still, the vegetative, the animate, and the speaking, according to the roots of the souls in Malchut of Ein Sof (Infinity), according the four levels of the depth of their desire from the first phase to the fourth. Only if the fourth and last phase awakens in a person, is it a sign that he can engage in spiritual work actively and independently.
Other people who have a desire on the level of the still nature, the vegetative, and the animate, cannot be awakened to work independently. They are carried by the current according to their level.
The level of the speaking in a person is called the point in the heart. But even if a person is already born with a point in the heart and after his previous lives is already prepared for spiritual work, it doesn’t mean that he can be awakened by himself yet. He needs some external factor that will force him to contract as a result of pressures, despair, and different unpleasant events that make a person feel that he is under pressure and threats. These pressures force him to think about how he can transcend his nature.
So a group of Kabbalists goes through different unpleasant states. The people who have already been prepared are incorporated in the group and want to advance. They don’t run away from the problems and don’t just watch things from the side but actively participate in the group’s life. They feel a cold wind as a result of the unpleasant events and the fears that force them to contract.
Wind is not a still state. It takes a person out of the level of the still nature he is on, to the vegetative level. The wind itself is air, but its source is Bina, the soul that fills it. Thus a person tastes what air is for the first time, what the feeling on the level of Ruach is.
This unpleasant event forces the cold wind into a person, which makes him contract. But by overcoming the contraction he expands himself, which means that he performs the opposite action. He wants to receive the cold air without freezing and contracting with fear, but rather expanding in Hassadim and bestowal. In order to do that he has to rise above this state by the force of bestowal in adhesion with the Creator and then for the first time he can perform a spiritual breath. The wind has been put into him by force, and he already exhales it and is ready for the new action.
After several such actions that could be called the plagues of Egypt, a person begins to “breathe” independently. He may even be ready to “contract” by himself, which is called “I awaken the dawn and it isn’t the dawn that awakens me.” This means that he doesn’t wait for an external reason, but begins to breathe on his own. Thus he becomes a living soul (Nefesh Haya).
From the Preparation to the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/11/13
Our will to receive is divided into four levels: still, vegetative, animate, and speaking. They are very different in their ability to analyze. At the bottom of the still level, a person still doesn’t understand what he is doing. After that, when he rises to higher planes of this level, he already understands, feels, and agrees that all of his work needs to be built upon nullification of the self. So, he tries somehow to perceive that the Creator is acting within him and to identify with Him with heart and soul.
This is not a simple level if we are speaking about a person who yearns to realize this state. Even though I have not yet reached a feeling, understanding, and perception of spirituality, still I want it. I want to feel how the Creator activates and controls me in every cell, in every desire, in every thought. I want to feel myself “clothed” in Him, and, of course, not to feel any resistance to this, only full agreement to this “servitude.”
This is what we attain in the “embryonic” state, and from here development continues.
On the other hand, on the level of the vegetative, I already actively reach the feeling of identification with the Creator. I go through a period of lack of desire, opposition, and dependence on time, movement, and location, the kind of fulfillment. I must bring myself to agreement, and this agreement is always against my nature. Thus, I build myself so that in the end I will be able to be human, and along the way I pass through the appropriate, small, immature stages.
The speaking level is completely different from the previous levels. Here, I am ready by myself to increase my desire through the others, not as before when I only acted personally. I was by myself within my nature and only developed this more and more. Now, I begin to grow beyond those levels that I received from nature. At all times, I have the possibilities of receiving, acquiring desires and deficiencies from the outside, and transforming them from an egoistic intention to an altruistic intention. This is the human level.
Therefore, we don’t see this level in our world because it is different than the previous animate level and is not found within the body. My body leads a beastly existence, but, if I work and acquire social desires from the environment and fulfill them through bestowal, then, thanks to them, I grow and thus become like the Creator. This ability to attract the deficiencies of the other, in fact, makes it possible for me to transform them into bestowal in the spiritual world, and in the physical world, we exchange our petty desires, which only bring problems, destruction, and crisis.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/11/13, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar”
In the wisdom of Kabbalah, when we speak about “matter,” we mean desire. At a fundamental level, the desire is just an inanimate drive for self-preservation, the “laziest” of desires. It is satisfied with preserving its structure only, that nothing should hurt or help it. The main thing is to remain this way forever. This is the simplest desire, an eternal rejection of any development. Like the flow of water, the desire of the still is to aspire to a more stable existence, and the most stable one is below.
Problems begin only when desire develops, becomes “heavier” like elements at the end of Mendel’s Periodic Table. They are no longer stable and so are ready to “illuminate,” to emit radiation. There are times when they break down.
Generally, everything technical, all of our technology, is based on the still level. It is only recently that we have begun to enter into living cells with the help of biotechnology. Until now, we have been satisfied with the lowest level of matter, which happens to be very rich and great. This is not just rejecting something; rather, it is possible to utilize it in various ways.
For example, by connecting metals, we get wondrous results. Even semiconductors and components of electronic systems are the result of metal alloys due to adding or subtracting electrons, due to differences between the substances. In brief, only on the still level do we use a richer variety of forms, and some are not yet known to us, and with respect to the vegetative level, we are complete amateurs.
Question: Why specifically is there a potential of intense power in still matter? Nuclear explosions, stellar processes—do these seem like a yearning for rest?
Answer: The vegetative level absorbs substances from the environment and use it to develop, but the still level only wants to preserve itself. The ideal state for it is a stable environment in which it also is stable, and, on the contrary, environmental influence doesn’t develop it. Rather, it shatters, destroys and “kills” it. Plants absorb what is useful to them and emit what is damaging, and thus develop. Even if the still level emits or expels something, this is only so as to remain even more still. Radioactive substances ultimately stop radiating, even though this may take hundreds and thousands of years, because on the lower levels processes progress at the slowest rate. In any event, all this tends toward rest, emitting only what doesn’t help it maintain a static state.
So energy, which originates in nature, is derived from communication between the Light and the vessel or in other words, from a conflict between opposites. If we can create resistance between plus and minus, we get energy and utilize it. This is relevant to nuclear energy. We create it with the help of resistance, and if this resistance doesn’t exist, in contrast, we push opposites toward each other resulting in an explosion.
Incidentally, in an atomic explosion, first, there is activation of a regular explosion that brings two opposing parts together to the point that they begin to emit the energy of a nuclear explosion. Clearly, I am giving a primitive description of these processes for illustration only and not in detail.
Therefore, when there is a lack of resistance when opposites come together, this leads to a “short circuit” and destruction. In Kabbalah, this resistance is called a screen (Masach). When we have a screen, we get positive energy for spiritual work, and when we don’t have it, the Light enters the substance of desire and shatters it.
Question: Still, why is such intense energy released with a nuclear explosion on the still level of nature?
Answer: Indeed, this energy destroys the vegetative and the animate returning them to the still level. This happens because the level of the still is the fundamental level of development. Everything begins from that, and it is ready to destroy, returning everything to its source.
However, in any case, the primary source of energy is the Light, Kli (the desire), and the resistance between them.
On every level, we can utilize this energy only if we control the state. At the present time, we can control processes well only on the still level. As to the other levels, we still have not learned to use them because we still don’t know and aren’t connected to the source of life. We have in our hands only the plus and minus of the still level, and on the other levels we still need to be similar in form to the real life, meaning a screen with the Reflected Light.
Therefore, as of today, we don’t understand the deeper mechanisms that are characteristic of the vegetative and the animate world. It is true that we investigate various phenomena, yet we don’t touch the essence, the inner, vital force. It eludes us because it is developed in accordance with spirituality.
So, life is a unique phenomenon. All conditions are formed such that there is only one place in creation, like the point in the heart, where the silent level develops into the vegetative. All the components and factors from here to the infinite are connected together to awaken the development of the vegetative, animate, and speaking nature on Earth. In this sense, the Earth can be said to be found at the center of the entire universe.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/10/13, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar”
Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” item 33: …any contentment of our Maker from bestowing upon His creatures depends on the extent that the creatures feel Him—that He is the giver, and that He is the one who delights them. For then He takes great pleasure in them, as a father playing with his beloved son, to the degree that the son feels and recognizes the greatness and exaltedness of his father, and his father shows him all the treasures he had prepared for him…
“Playing” means that I feel the Creator’s desire, His attitude, His need to create us because of His desire to do good to His created beings. I feel the unending love that flows from His level. He created us in order to allow us to feel His love, and we can enjoy this love only if we understand it, to the extent that we can value it.
We are together in this mutual love like two lovers, like a father and son. They play together, but the son perfectly understands his father and is adhered to him. They are incorporated in one another in their desires, and each one can fill the other. They are originally opposite from one another by nature, but thanks to the correction, they are united and have endless opportunities to develop. This inner contradiction is not an obstacle, but rather, allows them to reveal infinite love above the separation.
Question: Why do we talk about evil so much and so little about the good?
Answer: First, you should talk about the good with one another, about the goal of creation, and about the work and the group.
Second, we study and examine our vessels, our desires, and this is not more or less, but a lack of desires. Our study and raising a request for correction stem from the lack of fulfillment in the desire. We learn how to reach the right desire and to raise it in order to receive the forces, the Masachim (screens), and the correcting Lights in response. Only then do we reach fulfillment and eventually are rewarded with pleasures as a result of the adhesion, the unity, and equivalence of form with the Creator.
So, all our work is done under pressure, but if you value it, if you appreciate this pressure, if you remember that you are working for a reason and to serve the Creator, if your faith is strong enough—which means the forces of Bina, the forces of bestowal—then, even if it’s about overcoming unpleasant states, you still will enjoy it. After all, you have another force, the force of Bina that raises you above Malchut. Although you don’t feel comfortable in Malchut, Bina gives you the feeling of the ascent.
It is difficult to express this dualism in words, but this is our work. We make efforts, and then the question is whether we enjoy them or not. That depends on for whom are we making these efforts.
In any case, there aren’t so many words about excitement and pleasure in the story about this work. The work, itself, is most of the story.
Personally, I enjoy most of the states I go through. Sometimes, you are thrown into an unpleasant feeling and sometimes into indifference. Anything may happen, but you should try to hold on to the ascent and to enjoy every state. After all, if the Creator manages you, if you are constantly in His hands, even when He cuts you off and throws you out, eventually there isn’t a moment without pleasure.
Back to the playing of the father with his son: We actually feel it in a state in which you don’t receive anything. It is in contrast to our perception. There is nothing in your vessels. The Light of NRNHY is not the fulfillment that you receive from someone, but your attitude toward the Creator that is built on top of the emptiness inside you. It is this attitude that reveals to you a Light that is “in the air,” the attitude itself. It is the Light of bestowal and love that comes from you.
We say that the abundance of the Light comes from the Creator and is revealed in all the worlds, but, in fact, it doesn’t mean that you are egoistically filled with pleasure—no. It is because it happens above the first restriction, in the attribute of “to bestow in order to bestow,” and then, in “to receive in order to bestow.” It is in complete contrast to our current views, and it is impossible to explain this.
This is the reason we cannot describe the pleasure that we experience to others when we play with the Creator. It is all a result of self-annulment and devotion, above the Machsom (barrier), outside yourself, in your aspiration outward, above the pangs of love.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/09/13, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar”
Question: How do you see the most effective way of promoting integral education in America where the entire system is built on an individualistic social and economic principle of separation between people?
Answer: Different parts of the world come to the need to do something at different times and in different aspects; otherwise, it will be bad. After all, there is no solution—not economic, not financial, not political, and not social, not anywhere. The crisis is general, but not its particular manifestations as it was in the past. That is why we need to disseminate Kabbalah for those who have the point in the heart and integral education for the rest.
In Europe, they still resist a lot even though they feel bad, and it will be even worse in the near future. In Russia, they only now have begun to feel that something is coming. As it is said, “As long as thunder breaks out.” For the time being, it is possible to put up with everything there, and thus, until it comes, a year or two might pass.
It is the same thing as in America. The Americans live according to the principle, “Today, you die, and, tomorrow, I die.” They will be able to ignore the crisis for a long time. They will print dollars—for them, it is not a problem—and they will climb out at the expense of the rest of the world.
Therefore, the problem is in Europe. Then, there are North Africa, the Middle East, Iran, not to mention China and India, and, in addition, Russia with the southern republics of the former Soviet Union. All that comprises the closest area of a very serious crisis that needs to decide for itself what to do.
However, each of them has its own problem with dissemination.
We cannot disseminate in the Arab countries, and that is a big problem. Perhaps, they will come to this from their point of view and, eventually, will revive Sufism.
In Europe, this may go through integral education, but before that, they should be shaken well. There are a lot of problems, tension, and strife.
Russia is an oil state. Until oil production falls, it will be bad. When it falls, it will be bad on the one hand, but good on the other hand. Then, everyone will understand that they need to save themselves, not by covering with money, but by restoring a correct society. There, it is the easiest thing to do because the Russian people are agreeable to integral education; they have it in their genes.
As a result, our world group must feel itself in the center of the world. As the Earth is at the center of the solar system, so should we feel ourselves in the center of the universe, and around us, the world Bnei Baruch group, the rest of the world, and all the planets and stars, are spinning.
From the Virtual Lesson 4/7/13
In the News (from Stanford): “Engineering researchers at Stanford University have devised a mathematical model that helps demonstrate what’s behind the growing rift in American society. They have used the knowledge to create Internet-based social systems that counteract polarization. …
“The prevailing sociological theory, known as homophily, is that like seeks like. Those who have similar opinions tend to aggregate together and reinforce opinions that grow more divergent from the center over time. This is the echo chamber model that would seem to gain validation in the era of talk radio, cable news and the Internet.
“According to this theory, we are polarized precisely because we have greater ability to choose our social networks and news sources. We narrowly tailor our information sources by selecting them based on how closely they mirror our own tastes.
“Mathematical models that try to use homophily to explain polarization have come up short, however. Most are based on something known as De Groot’s model that assumes that people form opinions in a way that minimizes overall disagreement within their network of friends and relations. As a result, an individual’s opinion gradually converges to an average of those in his or her network, or so the theory goes. The flaw in these models is that they predict that opinions in society as a whole can only become more uniform over time, resulting in depolarization rather than polarization.
“’We show that repeated averaging of opinions always results in less divergent opinions, even in networks where the people are like-minded,’ said Pranav Dandekar, a doctoral candidate in MS&E and a co-author on the paper. ‘You can’t create outliers by averaging.’…
“The Stanford team instead took a different approach based on a phenomenon well known in the social sciences called biased assimilation. In biased assimilation people more easily accept evidence that supports their opinion and, likewise, are prone to discredit evidence that does not fit. More specifically, people look at inconclusive evidence in a way that is most favorable to their existing point of view.
“’It seems counter-intuitive that two individuals would arrive at a more divergent opinion when presented with identical information that is inconclusive, but that’s what happens,’ said David Lee, a doctoral candidate in electrical engineering and a co-author of the paper. ‘You might think that seeing identical evidence would produce greater moderation and agreement, but it doesn’t.’
“’It seems we look at the world with rose-colored blinders. We see what we want and ignore what doesn’t fit,’ Dandekar said.”
My Comment: Not a single person is like another and that is why everyone’s opinion is different in one thing. Egoism is not ready to accept a different point of view. Thus, as a result of communication, opinions distance from each other. The more we develop, the greater egoism becomes. The more we develop, the more diverse egoism is. Envy, jealousy, rivalry, authoritativeness, and other egoistic qualities increase.
And when in our time, total cultural, economic, and other dependencies of everyone on everyone else are manifested, then negative opinions appear greater up to the point of hatred. The solution to this problem is only in integral education, up to mutual love because Nature will increasingly manifest itself as a single entity.
The wisdom of Kabbalah considers the entire creation to be like a will to receive divided into four levels: still, vegetative, animate, and speaking.
Essentially, this is talking about the vital force that acts within them. On the basic level of the still, it only constitutes the compulsory need to maintain its structure. So everything begins from a simple polarity, from “plus” and “minus,” from an electron and a proton, to which are gathered other particles, forming a complete “galaxy” within the atom.
Then the atoms build all kinds of forms of inanimate matter: gases, liquids, solids, plasma. And on the next level they connect into molecules, and at a particular moment life is formed within matter.
We don’t understand how this happens. Because up until now the particles were connected with each other “mechanically,” then suddenly something new appears among them.
What is life? Is it simply the “leaping” of electrons? No. Basically, in what way is animate organic matter different from the inanimate matter of the still? Science doesn’t know this. But we see the vital force, metabolism, reproduction, all kinds of mutual connections, forming memory, forming reactions that produce the connections and the uniqueness of all kinds of different cells. The origin of all this evolution remains a mystery to us. Nobody has succeeded in creating the vegetative or animate level from the still level.
But in fact, this is talking about the vital force, the desire that acts within matter. It is derived from the spiritual interaction of Lights and vessels; this is the reason why its appearance cannot be explained in physical terms. We discover and investigate all kinds of phenomena but not the force that forms them.
In this manner, the will to receive is the basic force of creation and we can only witness its existence. It is worthwhile to accept this as a fact, to be able to discover and perceive all the rest later. For in sum we are creatures who perceive ourselves in some kind of reality, at a particular moment in our development. Certainly we ask questions, but in order to find answers about them, it is necessary to go either to the beginning of creation or to its end.
A person is a small and limited part of the immense creation, and if he wants to investigate it, he must first grow to its dimensions, to the required height. Only then will he be able to grasp, absorb, and investigate it through analysis and synthesis.
In general, life is Light. But we discover this within a desire that is born within our comprehension of the phenomena of the levels of the still, vegetative, animate, and human. In fact, it is singular, even though on the “screen” of our consciousness we see all kinds of images that are sketched by the Light; even though they compel us to experience all kinds of emotions, all this takes place within us and not in reality. In reality only desire and the Light that animates it exist, to a greater or lesser degree. If to a greater degree, then one is happy, and if to a smaller degree, then one cries. And that is how we develop…
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/10/13, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar”
There are a large number people in the world who have wanted to discover the program of creation, its purpose, which is to say, its entire journey where it leads and its reason. Many have wanted to understand what is taking place in this world and to understand why everything happens specifically in the way that it does and how we should act correctly in this world.
For in this world now it is as if we are blind in a dark room, wandering in the dark, causing only harm to ourselves and to others and bumping into each other all the time. This is not useful for anyone, not even for someone who succeeds in winning over others, but for what does he win?
It is up to us at least to know what is happening and where are we found, why we are called humans! The nature of the silent, the vegetative, and the animate acts in an instinctive manner and never errs. An animal never errs because nature compels it to behave correctly according to the commands of nature.
The Creator controls every particle in creation including the still, the vegetative, and the animate parts in us, but the speaking part in us is given freedom of choice. The person develops according to a natural evolutionary process called “in its time,” in an instinctive form due to his ego. And on his way he constantly errs because he doesn’t invest effort in a development, which is called “I will hasten it.” And therefore, all of our lives are one great suffering.
So, what is the reason, where is the turning point found where I can change my fate? We must attain awareness, understanding, connection, and adherence with the higher supervision, become conscious of the Creator, and to be like Him. It is up to us to take the reins of control over all of reality from Him.
In order to carry out this task, first of all we need to want this wholeheartedly and to understand it intellectually. Through our mind and heart, we perceive new levels of the higher supervision from the Creator all the time as it pertains to us, and against our will we realize them in ourselves.
And when we advance in this way, step by step, we become like the Creator. Even though we don’t want to be like the Creator, which is to say to bestow and to love, with the help of the environment we must gradually acquire desires and abilities like these, drop by drop. It is up to us to submit ourselves and ask the Creator to give us a possibility of being like Him, which is to say, to transform ourselves and control our part, our portion, our spiritual body, which is the beginning of the spiritual Partzuf.
It is explained that on the animate level, there is a unique organism whose head (its thoughts and its desires, heart, and mind) is developed in opposition to the Creator, and it corrects itself to be like Him.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/10/13, Writings of Baal HaSulam