From an article by Baal HaSulam, “The Secret of Conception and Birth,” part 7, “Movement as a Sign of Life”: From the aspect of spiritual life, we divide the creatures into two groups: still, vegetative, animate – and speaking. The still, vegetative and animate are completely dead. The speaking is the aspect of life.
Life is the power to move. And it is known that the beginning of life is made by two actions that are opposite in purpose.
On the levels of the still, vegetative, and animate activities like these don’t take place and also among people who are found on the developmental levels of the still, vegetative, and animate, but only in someone who has already reached the level of the Adam within a person.
For also the speaking, when born he is really dead until they awaken him through urgency.
This is what we feel on our way. Certainly this is not talking about the birth of the physical body, but about spiritual properties. Even when Adam is born, which is to say when a characteristic of “resembling” (Domeh) the Creator begins to be developed in one of us, in the beginning this is in the aspect of being “dead”; he is not ready to carry out his own actions. And he remains so until they awaken him through urgency and pressure.
For his Kelim, vessels, are ready to receive life and movement while still in his mother’s womb; that is, it is still included within the higher level before obtaining independence and a feeling of self.
And when he comes into the air of the world, the air of the world acts on his flesh with a coldness to which he is not accustomed, and this causes the arousal of contractions.
And this coldness forces him to contract, to stop. We are never ready for coldness that comes from the next state, and so we contract. That is, it is up to the person to feel how much his intellect and emotion don’t operate in that area as before; rather they contract and withdraw. He is really weak and is not ready to do anything, he has no power, no brain, and no inner strength, he is not prepared to perform, to understand, or to feel anything. This means, he reaches a contraction of the first breath.
And after the first contraction, he is compelled to extend again to his previous dimension. A person doesn’t know if this is his previous dimension or not. It is difficult for him to measure these boundaries and depths for everything is already taking place within the new Kelim. From the moment he contracts until he returns to fill that space with the understanding and that emotion that he had, he has new Kelim in him.
And these two processes—contraction and expansion—are the first step toward life. But sometimes the newborn is so weak that the cold air of the new world does not make it contract, and so he is born dead.
This is like a student who feels unpleasant under pressure and can’t stand it and take it to the contraction. And so he goes out of this state spiritually dead, and he remains only in the physical, animal body. After all, he did not create the place and the reason for life to be clothed in him, whose origin began from the power of the contractions. From the contraction, he could not expand to the previous place.
To the degree that a person is ready to contract, to understand, and to experience this state, to accept it with gratitude, he can expand again. And he doesn’t expand to control his state, to raise his self-esteem, and to get rid of fear but in order to vacate a place for the Creator so that He can fill him.
Through contractions and expansions, all the changes in the spiritual levels take place, at every step. One constantly goes through such pulsations and the only question is only how he uses them, how he relates to them?
And here the sign that the creature is ready for the Light of life is that there is at least a power in him to make a contraction so that the Light of life comes to him and makes an exhalation. And the first movement of life is made. The Light that Reforms arrives, and this expansion back to the previous place gives him the first characteristic of bestowal.
Therefore he doesn’t stop moving and becomes alive.
And therefore the movement will not cease in him anymore; and it becomes a living movement.
This first movement is called the “soul” (Neshama); it is the breath of life that the Creator breathes into it; as is written, (Genesis 2:7) “and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.”
It is impossible to rise to the level of “life”, to the level of bestowal, if we are not prepared to produce within us the distinctions between humans, that is, to be ready to endure the contractions and after that to reach the expansions. If the person is ready to endure this coldness, then he will advance. As it is said: (Hosea 14:10) “For the ways of HaShem are right, and the just do walk in them; but transgressors do stumble therein.”
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 9/10/13, Writings of Baal HaSulam “The Secret of Conception and Birth”