Baal HaSulam, Article, “The Concept of Still, Vegetative, Animate, Speaking,” Shamati #115: Still is something that does not have an authority of its own. Rather, it is under the authority of its Landlord and must satisfy every wish and desire of its Landlord.
Without criticism and analysis, he carries out the instructions of the forces that direct him. That is how the whole world works on the still, vegetative, and animate levels as well as all of humanity under the influence of internal and external forces. And if it seems to a person that he is living according to his own free choice, this is because those forces that direct him are concealed from him. And therefore he thinks that he is directed by his own decisions. Yet what compels him to accept specifically these decisions and not others—this he doesn’t know yet, this is still concealed from his field of vision.
For an animal it also seems that he establishes by himself where to go and what to do. Yet to the degree that wisdom is developed, it becomes more apparent that everything works according to the laws of nature and genetic inheritance that are embedded in our program. From the start, the egoistic nature, according to which we act, is implanted within us; therefore, there is no reason to search for other intentions in a person.
Vegetative is that which already has its own authority to some extent. It can already do something that is contrary to the opinion of the Landlord. This means that it can already do things not for itself but to bestow.
The hidden Landlord is like a mother that hides from her small child to give him the opportunity to do something by himself. It follows that the Landlord seemingly doesn’t exist; here in this empty void, we need to complete what the Landlord didn’t finish when He granted us freedom.
In a place where no policeman is standing, I need to behave as if he were found there. The idea is to learn the laws and to raise ourselves to a level of consciousness that makes it possible for us to maintain them willingly.
Yet, as we can see in corporeal flora, even though they are mobile and expand in width and length, still, all the plants have a single property. In other words, there is not a single plant that can go against the method of all the plants. Rather, they must adhere to the rules of the flora and are incapable of doing anything against the mind of their contemporaries.
This says that he is limited; he must take an example from the surroundings and behave like them. Nobody is forcing him or standing over him with a stick, compelling him to act like this. Instead he must rise to a level that from his inner corrections he takes an example from the others and behaves like them. The surroundings dictate to him his form of conduct, yet independently he must raise himself to this kind of state: to awareness, understanding, respect, and identification with them.
It follows that on the vegetative level there is a particular level of independence so as to take an example from others and behave according to what society dictates.
Thus, they have no life of their own, but are parts of the life of all flora.
Yet the person needs to be happy about this and not feel that they are coercing him, pressuring him, or holding him in servitude. He needs to feel himself whole and happy that they allow him to rise to the level of the vegetative. He very much appreciates his identification with and his dependence on the environment; he wants to see others as perfect and to be like them. The vegetative doesn’t feel that this limits him or that he cannot rise above this level, and he is happy about his being like the environment.
This means that all the plants have a single form of life for all the plants. All the plants are like a single creature and the individual plants are specific organs of that animal.
Similarly, in spirituality there are people who have already acquired the force to overcome their will to receive to some degree, but are confined to the environment. They cannot do the opposite of the environment they live in….
Yet he doesn’t feel his limitations, is happy about this state, and accepts it. Otherwise, he would not be able to nullify himself in regard to the environment.
…yet they do the opposite of what their will to receive wants. This means that they already work with the will to bestow.
Animate: We see that each animal has its own characteristic; they are not confined to the environment but each of them has its own sensation and characteristic. They can certainly operate against the will of the Landlord, meaning they can work in bestowal and are also not confined to the environment. Rather, they have their own lives, and their vitality does not depend on their friends’ life. Yet, they cannot feel more than their own being. In other words, they have no sensation of the other. And naturally cannot care for the other.
The animate level means absolute bestowal with an intention to bestow. A person found on a level like this cannot activate more power in the meantime, yet he is already freed from what the environment dictates to him. This is to say, he can be independent to the degree that he doesn’t harm anyone and carries out actions opposed to his desire for pleasure. And in the name of this, he has no need for an example from others.
If on the vegetative level he submitted to the environment, so on the animate level he becomes free from it. He receives additional power that gives him inner and outer freedom, meaning he becomes “Hafetz Hesed” (only wanting to bestow).
But he still cannot work with his desire for pleasure and transform it into bestowal. This would already be the level of human, where the person willingly transforms into a servant of society, according to his free will.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/11/13, Shamati #115