“There is none else besides Him” is the central theme of any convention, and in principle, the most important. That is why this is the first article in the book Shamati (I Heard). And of course, it is the foundation of a person’s search for his Source. Often, we forgot about it for a long time, and then this topic again dumbfounds us. And again we forget, and again return to it. It is always awakened and forces us to wake up.
That fact is that it is difficult for a person to re-adjust from the state in which he was developing to the state of becoming conscious of the upper force, to contact with it up to the point of adhering to it.
Basically, what should a person reach? He has to admit that everything up to the current moment was realized from above, and he himself did not participate in that at all, and everything that will happen next will depend on how much he will cling to the contact with the upper force, the single controlling force of the universe—the contact that was revealed to him again by this force from above.
From that moment on, a person has freewill to use various tools and all kinds of mediations, to arrange such aids, tricks, and reminders around himself that will constantly push him to the connection with the upper force that has been revealed for a moment, so that he does not go away from this connection.
Undoubtedly, there will be various states that this upper force again causes in a person. As a rule, this is a state of rejection, repulsion. So, it is a “game.” Kabbalists compare it with a game of two lovers, with “flirting”: The Creator reveals and then distances Himself to appear in a different form, from a different perspective. It is described very well in the “Songs of Songs,” a special work dedicated to this mutual “courtship.”
By the way, it exists on all levels. True, we do not notice it on the vegetative level and even less on the still level; however, there are clear ritualistic movements on the animate level before mating, coming closer, bonding. It is a whole language with a huge “vocabulary,” and moreover, every kind of animal has its own special language.
But as a highly organized animal, the human being has his language, more advanced, more complex, up to the point that people do not understand each other or vice versa because due to it they are able to reach out to each other and establish certain contact.
This language manifests itself not only between a man and a woman, but just between two people when they communicate, mutually attracting or repelling each other.
It is a very difficult language for communication that appears in us almost subconsciously, and sometimes consciously. Political scientists, sociologists, and psychologists are engaged in this sphere, in essence, a huge culture that we have created and is always evolving. This is not a verbal language, but the language of feelings, the language of movement, music, all kinds of expressions, the language of facial expressions, looks, movements—all together.
However, all of this is a tiny “poor,” pitiful fraction of the feelings and movements of the soul, which we discover in the relationship with the Creator. There, the power of various hints is revealed, all the four stages:
- simple interpretation of our feelings (Pshat);
- hint (Remez);
- interpretation (Drush), but more profound;
- hidden meaning (Sod), i.e., the most hidden part, what do we mean by all this.
In these four parts, four stages of our relationship with the upper force, with the Creator, we reveal Him, reveal contact between us and begin to become aware who we are, what we are, how He created us, how He controls us, how He develops us, and how he plays with us like with a child, showing His distance and closeness, showing drop by drop joy, sadness, anger, sorrow, etc. We also play in this way with a child, seemingly showing him various faces, playing before him expressions of feelings at the level at which he can understand us. The Creator behaves with us in the same manner.
We need here to tune in to this dialogue, this conversation, this “flirting,” to this exchange of emotions, understanding that any thought and any feeling that arise in our mind and heart initially come from Him, as it is said: “I am the First.” Together with what appears in us, simultaneously with this, we recall, rather the Creator reminds us, that this is related to Him. And then the movement, the “baton” is passed over to us. How should we react?
This is the way “flirtation” is arranged: on the one hand, the forward movement and seemingly backwards, and on the other hand, the pseudo-backwards movement, but in general forward, and so on. The reason is that there cannot be fulfillment without a sense of lack. Satiety is possible only if hunger was felt earlier.
On the whole, all this game is designed to develop in us a true, absolutely clear desire, directed to nothing else but to what is called the “Creator.” And this becomes known from all our other possibilities. A person is given anything in this life, and at the same time only a “narrow clearing” is gradually being revealed to him that he has to find and stay on, not turning from it, not wandering in the surrounding woods, fields, and bushes, but all the time returning to this trail.
How can one define it? It is a problem every time. How can I find the Creator behind everything that happens to me? What can I do so it is manifested in my feelings?
It is possible to describe all this in nice words, but in the end it will be philosophy, perhaps with diagrams, with mathematics, but only as miserable aids. But I need to grab Him and not let this internal contact go, this is realization: He fills everything, He organizes everything, He arranges everything, and only He exists.
A huge universe is drawn in my imagination: still, vegetative, animate, human creatures, objects—all this is Him. The Creator outlines all this in my imagination. He draws our make-believe world in me, desiring that I look beyond this picture, gradually disengage from it and perceive Him—the single force that draws all the details in me so that I switch from my corporeal perception to the spiritual one in which there is nothing but unclothed, naked feeling.
And the most important thing is holding on to the beginning of the connection with the Creator, whatever it may be, let it be vague and indistinct, it does not matter, just to start developing it. That is, try to define now: what are the obstacles in front of me so that due to them, I “cling” to Him more strongly. Do not dismiss these obstacles, do not scatter them in different directions, breaking through forward, no! The Creator gives them to me on purpose, so that together with them, I attain Him without denying them, without eliminating them. Otherwise, I seemingly reject those means by which He wants to establish a stronger connection with me.
This is very important. Indeed, in this case, what I see in life from this moment on also comes from the Creator and only with the purpose that I come closer to Him, reveal Him. And it is possible to reveal Him only when I transform all these obstacles into new “capacities” of our relations in which greater contact emerges between Him and me.
It seems to us that it is difficult, hard, impossible, but it is not. Here, a person has to admit to himself every time that he is facing such problems and “obstacles,” which he can overcome, must overcome, and in which there is a greater connection with the Creator, in which the Creator waits for him.
The most important thing in overcoming these obstacles is that a person has to work against his egoism. That is, they seem big and impenetrable because they are hampered by our egoism.
But as soon as I move it to the side, trying to work on bestowal, not for myself, not towards myself, not to pull something towards myself, when I begin to discover connection with the Creator in the right way, that is, forgetting a little bit about myself and try to discover only Him, not in relation to myself, but the way He is—the eternal property of bestowal and love, existing outside of my “Self,” still egoistic today—then I can relatively easily disclose all the obstacles that are in front of me.
This is called “faith above reason” in our terminology. That is, everything that happens in me and everything that happens around me are the unique obstacles, especially designed for the revelation of the Creator. You can call them not “obstacles,” but the “means” for His revelation.
Thus, I reveal the force of bestowal and love, adjust myself to greater bestowal and love that with each time are less relative to me. Based on this advancement, it is possible to see that every time I seemingly take away my “Self”—get further away from it and constantly connect to the Creator more in awareness that there is none else besides Him – up to the point when all these obstacles end and it is truly revealed to me that there is none else besides Him, and just the first basic Reshimo is left of me. The entire ego that surrounded it (the so-called “heart”), everything except the point in the heart retreated back. I gradually cut it off myself by “layers,” entering all the time only into the property of bestowal, the Creator.
But every time, to the extent of my advancement, I have greater and greater problems. I think that I am farther and farther away from the goal. After all, if love must grow, then accordingly, egoism must also become stronger. That is why, each time it seems to me that I am farther away from the goal, that new students are the most advanced, they have such an aspiration, they have everything for this, and I am somewhere in the backyard. I was pushed aside, as if they retired me. Perhaps, the Creator forgot about me completely, does not believe that I will be able to do something. Everyone experiences this, the same states…
Why does this Creator do this? Up to a certain stage He does this so that we strive to reach Him. Then our forces gradually weaken, we go astray, to do something else unrelated.
Moreover, it is also necessary to deal with unrelated matters, not in words, be it studying, dissemination, etc. In reality, it is not something unrelated. This is movement forward, as if an alternative means of revealing the Creator.
Similarly, a man courting a woman and desiring to attract her attention gives her a gift or maybe to her mother, or, for example, repairs or installs something in her house. Thus, he affects her indirectly, but through some alternative ways, and by this attracts her to him.
Thus, our movement towards the Creator also covers a rather wide “lane.”
But still in the end, we come to a state when it seems to us that this may continue for a thousand years, but will not come to anything. The only thing that can increase our movement towards the Creator is the envy of the group and the friends.
Standing behind you during the gathering of friends, listening to your words during the meals, I become imbued with impressions. After all, students are more inspiring. That is why my advice for the future is to find students. You will be inspired by them more than by the friends and more than by the teacher because here envy acts more. Envy is the most important tool in developing of our desire, our aspiration to advance. The initial desire is given to us from above, and we have to develop it further ourselves, to cultivate it, and it is not that easy.
At first, I find myself in a group and begin to envy friends because they are great and I am just a beginner. That is, the process goes in a natural way: I am growing like a small child who is learning from adults, envying them, and wanting to be like them.
Then, this gradually disappears, as if I grow up and become an adult myself. After a couple of years of studies in the group, I already know everyone and everything, understand everything. Now I have a different impression, as if there is nothing higher than me, but there are people just like me. And here is where the problem arises.
Kabbalists write to us that we should see our friends as higher than ourselves, as the greatest of the generation. Meanwhile, even the teacher is not high, not great in my eyes, and the friends are not great. It is difficult to cultivate this awareness; it is difficult to work on it all the time. This is against my egoism, and it is necessary to do this all the time: to get inspired by friends, looking at them from the side.
Especially at the gathering of friends, in any case do not neglect what they are saying. If you need to internally, “slap your cheeks.” During the gathering of friends, you must keep away disparaging thoughts, literally “cut them out” if you have them. It happens, “Well, what is there to listen to? It has been heard many times…” This is the most harmful. These tests are given from above, and a person must do something with himself.
It’s hard. It happens to everyone; it will happen to everyone, and even worse than now. Disregarding the friends is given specifically, and only serious work on oneself will help, the work when you are shaking as you go to the gathering of friends, shaking with fear that during this meeting you would start thinking about something personal or neglect what you hear. These thoughts are sent from above, and we should make every effort to work on them. If I do not see friends as higher than myself, I will not be able to relate to the Creator. He puts this obstacle in front of me, and if I see that “there is none else besides friends,” as Rabash writes, then you can say that “there is none else besides Him.” Only in the friends, will I reveal the Creator.
And all the more so it is important with students: You begin to envy them, and then they suddenly say wonderful phrases, and you are not in this state, cannot be in line with them. The Creator acts through them as well, and here you have greater envy.
On the one hand, it is said that a man does not envy his son and his student, but in spirituality this still happens; moreover, it is accompanied by real joy. And self-control is expressed immediately, “And what about me?” Or “Look, how I pushed him, where he went! And me?” This occurs in the residual egoism.
As a result a person sees that nothing helps him. But this happens only after he has worked hard with the help of his friends: bowed his head and applied much effort, getting from them new desires, aspiration, jealousy, etc. Then, he slowly begins to become aware of the hopelessness of his efforts. He simple gives up from weakness, and the realization is formed that only the Creator can help him.
That is why it is said, “Through the love of friends, the love of the Creator is attained.” In the group, in the friends, in everything I partook, trying to reach the Creator, a new stage of work is shown, an understanding that I need to ask precisely Him, that I completely depend on Him. Here we approach the state when “there is none else besides Him.”
It is impossible to come to this state automatically; a cry does not arise by itself. Everything will be artificial, halfway. The true plea appears only after a complete disappointment in all the tools, in all the means, with which I tried to work earlier.
Moreover, in spite of this disappointment, I cannot retreat from the desired goal. On the contrary, just because I put efforts, trying to reach the property of bestowal and love, that is, to reveal the Creator, now in the means that I used, like on the sensitive foundation for the Light, the need to appeal to the Creator begins to appear to force, to compel, Him to be revealed. Until the end, this will be a conscious and informed decision, “If I desire to reveal the Creator, then I desire to annul my ego completely, to annul myself.” If I have really discovered that there is none else besides Him, this means that there is no one else, including me, except the Creator. That is why, any reward, any pleasure, any fulfillment is out of the question.
This is the state that we are gradually approaching. And a person is ready for it. “I don’t need anything, not me, not for me, in any way. I don’t want to receive anything, to get fulfillment in any way; I want to know and to see nothing! I need no signs in my egoism from You. The only thing I need is to be absolutely unconsciously included in You, in what that exists, even if I disappear.”
At this stage, a person begins to enter and integrate into the Creator, into this single force or field, and it starts working on it, developing him in an entirely different direction. In the same way, a drop of semen leaves one body and enters the other, but during transition it was a pure Reshimo, only an information record and nothing else.
Of course, during just the first stages of my spiritual development, I begin to understand that there is nothing negative in our life. There are no obstacles that hinder me; there is nothing harmful —everything is organized by that single force, and if something else exists in the world, then it exists only because I am like this and I need it for reaching the goal.
That is why as Baal HaSulam writes even the most harmful phenomenon in our world cannot be simply destroyed. You cannot even just wish that it disappear because we need it for our correction. It is like our copy, the projection of our inner state outside. Various obstacles, problems, haters, environmental disasters, wars, whatever, are all the reflection of my inner problems. That is why I again include all this in the principle “there is none else besides Him.”
You can check yourself, “Do I feel the same way in an ascent and descent?” If not, then I am not included in this principle. As a rule, this check is done in our spiritual states, but it is possible in daily life, although for this, as Rabash writes, one needs special, additional skills.
Thus, you need to be grateful for everything. And gratitude is that I agree with His management that “pulls” me towards Him; I agree in spite of the ups and downs, any obstacles, and conversely, any insights.
This does not mean that I belittle my good states (although they are good for my egoism, for my egoistic desires) nor do I not want to notice my bad states. No, I want to raise them to the level where there is none else besides Him so much that the good and the bad states are felt as coming from the Creator. And if they come from Him, then they can be only good. Thus, this forces me to rise above my egoism, to stop feeling something with the “plus” or “minus” sign, but to feel in absolute value. It is said that a person must thank for the bad as well as for the good.
In order to grasp something and work in the conditions of this “flirting,” I need to feel myself as His part, knowing that if I feel bad, then I upset Him. Nothing can be done, I must adjust myself, my properties, in this way although I cannot imagine yet what this absolute good force is.
Of course, these are not obstacles for it, not changes. We know this by the properties of Bina relatively to Malchut. The Creator created the desire and wants to bring it pleasure. That is, He has an empty desire to bring pleasure, as in Bina relative to Malchut, and moreover, it is much greater than our desire to enjoy.
And so if a person does good deeds, truly aimed at the goal, he has to desire to feel that thus he pleases the Creator. Conversely, if he cannot act correctly—went somewhere, reacted in a wrong way—he has to try to feel that thus he upsets the Creator. It is not important how I feel, what is important is what He feels from this. I transfer the result of my efforts on Him, and this is important to me—what happens in Him. Thus, I exit my egoism and try to connect with Him.
This is one of the elements of “flirting”: the one with who I am in this relationship becomes more important for me than myself. I constantly watch: “What happens in Him? How can I do something good and kind for Him?” These are the elements of love. If we love, we want to “give gifts” to that person all the time; we desire to do something pleasant, good, kind, to please him, etc. I transfer these feelings from myself onto the Creator and want to control myself just by the fact of what I cause in Him.
The same approach is maintained when I do something good or bad, and He produces something good or bad in me, when these or those sensations, associated with distance or closeness are sent to me directly. I transfer this outside as well. Having experienced a sensation, I immediately check, take care, “And what does this produce in Him?”
If He rejects me, I cannot fulfill Him, cannot please Him, and this makes me sad. Or if on the contrary, He attracts me and I feel good because of this, if I begin to understand more, feel more, then I have to try to feel that in this way I bring Him pleasure, fulfill Him.
Constantly I have to work with myself as for the loved one. And this state, when we switch to bringing Him joy, is the direct path to the goal, to complete adhesion.
From the Convention in Krasnoyarsk 6/15/13, Lesson 3