Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 21: But as we have said, the whole substance of creation, both the substance of spiritual objects and the substance of corporeal objects, is no more and no less than a will to receive.
Studying reality, we see that all the elements tend to attract everything useful and reject everything harmful. This is the desire to receive acting in this manner at all levels beginning from the elementary particles and molecules. Everything leans to the most convenient of all possible states.
In the world around us, we observe various forms of the desire to receive pursuing everything for its own benefit each moment. The rock that was thrown falls, the water flows down, the wind balances pressure, all thereby achieving a state of rest.
Every particle of the universe, every ensemble of particles, everything in the still, vegetative, and animate levels of nature, as well as people, all of this integral system and each of its parts, desire to come to its most comfortable state.
That is the goal of the desire to receive. Everyone always chooses the greatest good or the less of the two evils. However in nature, on its first three degrees, which stem from the Root, this law is manifested instinctively, and the fourth degree is characterized by its own specific initiatives.
In its first three phases, it also develops instinctively in a different way, without freedom of will, but by feelings. Without choosing, the desire still strives forward, embarks on a quest, encourages science, education, industry, commerce, etc. Today, it enters the fourth phase, which makes our time so special.
So, we see only the desire to receive, in its thickness, in sections along the axes, throughout its history. There is nothing but the desire and its action. However as a rule, we do not ask questions about the desire to receive, do not go into the principles of its actions. We just want to enjoy. Why would a person investigate the causes, mechanisms, and consequences? The main thing is pleasure as it is.
However, when the pleasure disappears, when it is out of reach, when trouble and suffering come, then we are forced to start studying: “Why do we feel bad? What can we do? How can we enjoy?” In hopelessness, the mind begins to act and seeks a solution. It is said, “A lot of wisdom—many sorrows.” On the other hand, we cannot obtain knowledge without these sorrows.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/12/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam