The spiritual growth of the person begins with the fact that he completely forgets about himself and finds himself with his entire mind, intellect, and emotion, with the desire to think only about the group as a unified whole. Moreover, this doesn’t depend on the group itself, as in the example of Rabbi Yossi ben Kisma.
The person “dissolves” in it and begins to see it in its true form. Apparently this is not a group and not his friends with whom he spent so much time together, no. He simply sees a gathering of great Kabbalists, one soul. It could be that they don’t even suspect this; whereas he already discovers this in them because everything depends upon our personal characteristics through which we see the world.
Today it is like this when we look at the physical world; we suppose that it is as we see it. The moment that we change our characteristics, we see instead a completely different society and environment, and those friends of ours will be seen on another level, in a different form.
Therefore, such a person has no claims against the environment; he always gives his friends the benefit of the doubt without criticism: They are absolutely right, they absolutely believe in the goal; and he justifies all that they do. The main thing for him is simply to nullify himself, and to give them all that is possible, all of his energy, all of his vitality. To this degree he enters the group and sees them spiritually. And so certainly according to his efforts the “Surrounding Light” influences him, corrects the quality of a person, helps him, and he begins to see an absolutely different world instead of the former environment to the completion of correction. This is how it all happens.
Therefore this work, and especially the intention towards it, becomes a foundation for the spiritual ladder. And after that descents and ascents take place.
The descents and ascents of normal life do not interest the person—family, work, and whatever else—he needs certainly to arrange all this to the degree that this is required for his physical existence, since this won’t end when his spirituality begins. This remains because all of our ascents begin from this, we again fall to the level of this world, we rise to the next spiritual level, and again fall into the egoistic state of this world. And that is how it is 125 times. This is most complicated and difficult.
Therefore I always emphasize that the most difficult thing is the first level when the person is able to be detached from himself for the first time and enters into a group such that he loses himself, he doesn’t exist. He is not afraid; he is happy about this; he discovers himself in a different form, in the form of the entire group. Within it he discovers the right reciprocal link between all the friends, which is called the “Creator,” that is found between them, and he is mixed with this network of reciprocal linkage. This is called his adherence with the Creator.
To the degree of a person’s spiritual growth, more and more opposition, contradictions, descents, and doubts appear. And again he is elevated above them to states like those through which great souls, the students of Rabbi Shimon, have passed, who were ready to burn each other to ash with the fire of hatred. And this was the first condition of that high level upon which they were found. That is to say, before they could begin with spiritual work, they had a beginning state like this.
Therefore the ascents and descents are compulsory. Thanks to them we rise, changing the ego to bestowal and love. And all the time, the greater our ego becomes, we can attain greater adherence between us above that hatred that is to be discovered on higher levels, and we go forward.
From the St. Petersburg Convention “Day Two” 7/13/13, Lesson 4