The Creator is absolute good, writes Baal HaSulam in the article “The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose.” Indeed, the Creator is primary; He has no one to receive from; He is complete bestowal. If He gives, He gives goodness. Being primary means that He has nothing bad. This follows both from real attainment and from our intellectual conclusions.
But in this case, why do we see so many terrible things in our world? Of course, “There is none else besides Him” meaning the only acting force. Consequently, all comes from the Creator. How can it be that we feel our states as bad?
The fact is, Baal HaSulam explains that the management of the Creator is goal-oriented. In order to teach us, to lead us to the peak of awareness and understanding, the Creator has to take us through all sorts of rather unpleasant states. Due to them, we begin to discern what is good and what is bad, not in the eyes of our egoistic desire, as at the beginning, but in relation to the desire to bestow.
This scale is so opposite to the one built in us from birth that we do not even understand the essence of their oppositeness. We still have to discover it, and on the way it will be repeatedly presented to us in another form, in another shape, requiring a different approach. After all, every degree is opposite to the adjacent ones, both the lower and higher.
Thus, a person, of course, can never be sure of anything that he experiences. He only has the “anchor,” our world. Here, we are detached from spirituality and in every state return to this separation because with every step we need to fall to the lower degree, at least for a brief moment. We feel as if everything spiritual completely disappears, and then we ascend to a new degree.
The state of “this world” is special because here we can somehow exist without any intention, detached from spirituality. It may be an imaginary world, and yet we live in it, so to speak. Later we will see and understand that this is not existence, not being, but a kind of “fluctuation.” Nonetheless we can ascend the ladder of corrections only if we stand in this world, experience various phenomena in it, strengthen the group and try to make the necessary actions within it.
Here, we are engaged in dissemination; here, we want to see correction. Since we are not yet in the spiritual world, this imaginary, material world becomes the “foundation” for us, solid and unshakable. This means that the specificity of our group also comes out of this world.
Thus, the goal-oriented management of the Creator takes us through horrible states, peculiar to the process of growth, to the sublime and sweet fruit. It’s said that the advantage of light is known from the darkness. If the process is delayed, it also shows the height and the uniqueness of a particular creature. After all, the more complex the soul is, the more stages of growth it requires.
However, this is not directly related to its pace. We accelerate time when we desire changes every moment. If I have been in “business” for twenty years and have come nowhere, I should not reassure myself that I have a high soul that requires a long time for a “run-up.” No, I should judge my development not by the results, but by the speed of internal changes. That is what determines whether I go through the Light or through the darkness, by the path of the Torah or by the path of suffering.
And here, everything depends on the preparation from my side: If I prepare myself for changes, I accelerate time and turn the undesired path into the desired one. In fact, there is no “undesired” path. A person cannot admit, weeping, that the Creator leads him to the goal of creation. We are not a horde of slaves trudging to the absolute good, forced by a whip. This is simply impossible. No, at every stage and every moment, I have a choice between the path of the Torah and the path of suffering. The difference between them is determined by my preparation: whether I want to expose my state in advance and see how far it is from the goal of creation.
And the goal is my adhesion to the Creator, meaning a complete equivalence of form with Him. How is this possible? He is the desire to bestow and I am the desire to receive. We are polar opposites.
But can I make sure that I advance in the correct direction? To do this, I have a group in which I have to work. If I really strive, I wait as the Creator performs the necessary actions on me, arranges “exercises” for me. I am ready for them; I want them and accept everything willingly, with joy and gratitude, blessing for the evil as well as for the good.
But how can I check myself in this? The criterion is the following: When the burdening of the heart comes, I am glad, glad that I get a place to work, that the Creator has not forgotten me and shows me the height of the next degree. Now, I lack only the Light to rise to it in the altruistic intention.
Thus, the burdening of the heart shows that now I can ascend to the property of bestowal. This is the difference between the path of the Torah and the path of suffering.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/7/13, Writings of Baal HaSulam