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In the News (from the University of California San Francisco): “Scientists say the unexpected finding offers a new basic understanding of fetal eye development and ocular diseases caused by vascular disorders – in particular one called retinopathy of prematurity that can blind premature infants. The research, led by scientists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and UCSF, was published online Jan. 16 ahead of print publication.
“’This fundamentally changes our understanding of how the retina develops,’ says study co-author Richard Lang, PhD, a researcher in the Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. ‘We have identified a light-response pathway that controls the number of retinal neurons. This has downstream effects on developing vasculature in the eye and is important because several major eye diseases are vascular diseases.’
“But researchers in the current study found that activation of the newly described light-response pathway must happen during pregnancy to activate the carefully choreographed program that produces a healthy eye. Specifically, they say it is important for a sufficient number of photons to enter the mother’s body by late gestation, or about 16 days into a mouse pregnancy.
“Researchers were also surprised to learn that photons of light activate a protein called melanopsin directly in the fetus – not the mother – to help initiate normal development of blood vessels and retinal neurons in the eye.
“Mice were reared in the dark and in a normal day-night cycle beginning at late gestation to observe the comparative effects on vascular development of the eye. The researchers verified the function of the light response pathway by mutating an opsin gene in mice called Opn4 that produces melanopsin, in essence preventing activation of the photo pigment.
“The melanopsin protein is present in both mice and humans during pregnancy. Lang said the research team is continuing to study how the light-response pathway might influence the susceptibility of pre-term infants to retinopathy of prematurity and also be related to other diseases of the eye.”
My Comment: The developing fetus experiences not only light, but also all other influences that we experience from the external environment. This prepares it to the existence outside. In spiritual development at the level of the fetus, we have to clarify all the influences of the upper one on the lower one, and precisely in the correct relationship between them, which we form, to develop until our spiritual birth.
Opinion (F.F. Wiley, Cyniconomics blog): “Wars and political systems are the two most basic determinants of an economy’s long-term path.
“Military spending requires a different evaluation because it succeeds or fails based on whether wars are won or lost…. In any case, military spending isn’t our focus here.
“There are 11 countries in our analysis, chosen according to a rule we’ve used in the past – GDP must be as large as that of the Netherlands. We start in 1816 for four of the 11 (the U.S., U.K., France and Netherlands). Others are added at later dates, depending mostly on data availability.
“Not only has the global, non-defense budget balance dropped to never-before-seen levels, but it’s falling along a trend line that shows no sign of flattening. The trend line spells fiscal disaster. It suggests that we’ve never been in a predicament comparable to today. Essentially, the world’s developed countries are following the same path that’s failed, time and again, in chronically insolvent nations of the developing world.
“In much of the world, the Great Depression triggered a gradual expansion in the role of the state. Public officials failed to establish a sustainable structure for their social safety nets, and got away with this partly by sweeping the true costs of their programs under the carpet.
“Central bankers suppressed normal (and healthy) market mechanisms for forcing responsibility, by slashing interest rates and buying up government debt. Regulators took markets further out of the equation by rewarding private banks for lending to governments, while politicians and central bankers effectively underwrote the private bankers’ risks.
“Monetary policies also encouraged dangerous private credit growth and other financial excesses, resulting in budget-destroying setbacks such as stagflation and banking crises.
“Budget decisions were made without consideration of the inevitability of these setbacks, because economists wielding huge influence over the budgeting process assumed a naïve utopia of endless economic expansion.
“On the bright side, a fiscal disaster should help trigger the needed changes.”
My Comment: Or it can happen by realizing the need for fundamental restructuring of the whole of society—its re-education. And it will lead to the restructuring of the entire life: economic, political, social, family, and so on. In our world, there is no other means of changing our life and avoiding disasters, but transforming the human being himself.
The greatest and most important Mitzva for building a person is love, as it is said in the Torah (Leviticus 19:18): “…You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and “from love of the creatures to love of the Creator.” But this is the second Mitzva; not because it is less important, but in order, it comes after the Mitzva of fear. You see we build love on top of our ego, over our nature. Therefore, first of all, we must build fear within us toward the characteristic of love and bestowal. And only after this can we build the characteristic of love within us.
From “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 202: Rabbi Shimon took him and kissed him. This is to say he created a spiritual connection with him called a “kiss,” one of the three levels of connection: “embrace,” “kiss,” “Zivug.” Rabbi Pinchas came and blessed and kissed him. “Blessing” is an additional level of connection. And he said, “It must be that the Creator has sent me here. This is the fine Light that I was told was integrated in my house, and which afterwards will illuminate the entire world.” Rabbi Elazar replied, “Certainly, this fear must not be forgotten in all the Mitzvot, much less in the Mitzva of love—fear should be attached to it. And how is it attached? Love is good on one side, when He gives him wealth and bounty, long life, sons, and nourishments and then fear should be evoked—to fear lest he will cause the sin and his fortune would turn on him. It is written about that, ‘Happy is he who is always fearful,’ for fear is included in love.”
There cannot be love without fear. Fear is imperative, for based specifically upon fear, exactly to that degree, love can be maintained. Fear is the foundation of love.
The question is must I entirely finish with the level of fear to be able to go on to love? Or can I get a little fear and build love above it that will require me to develop a new fear above it? Do the states of fear and love alternate one after the other on the levels of the 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, with fear and love consecutively alternating? Or is it that only fear is felt first and only after that love begins?
Sometimes it happens this way and sometimes the other way. We reach the level of Bina and after that the level of Hochma and along with this we build our relationship to the level of Keter. After we build the level of Bina, we build the level of “love,” Hochma. We must also develop Hassadim to pass from simple faith to complete faith. “Complete faith” means that Ohr Hochma is clothed within Ohr Hassadim. So existence on the level of Hassadim can be like the life of “a person living in the forest.” He doesn’t have a shirt, but he is happy with his lot because he has Hassadim, complete Hassadim. But he doesn’t have love, a connection with what is higher. He has only risen above his desire, but he still cannot reach connection with the Divine.
After this he builds a link with the Creator, from the middle of the level of Bina and above. But for this, within himself he must develop Ohr Hassadim within which can be clothed Ohr Hochma.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/11/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam
Answer: Obviously we don’t resolve the work for them.
Question: Is this saying that they will also pass through the same states on the way to connection?
Answer: They must pass through those same states through which we pass, but on the smallest scale.
Suppose that for fifty years I developed and built a computer. Eventually I brought it home and turned it on. But the moment that I turned around, my grandson immediately sat in front of the screen and began to press the keys of the keyboard. I am fundamentally a person who is used to the right approach, carefully learning the instruction manuals, and he throws them up in the air: “Grandpa, everything is very simple here! I will just try a few things and then I will explain everything to you.”
He learns instinctively, interactively, feels within himself, and easily guesses how we get the result. Apparently the computer is built for the way he thinks and not the way I do. For me this computer was produced from suffering and effort and my grandson doesn’t need to make the effort; instead he grasps everything naturally. In other words, I made a great correction so that my grandson would get everything ready-made. And now he can work more efficiently than I can on the device that I built.
Lurking here are two opposites, two levels. We carry out greater and more difficult work, and apparently others only reap the fruit and rise more easily to the level of their generation.
For them everything will be much simpler, natural. We invest years in order to attain some kind of result, in order to find the form of the workshops that will raise new questions, and they will immediately get it and understand that certainly this is what should be done. Following the trouble that we take now, sweating and being in doubt, with them the complete picture will be immediately managed in their heads.
Question: If this is the case, is it necessary for the whole world to participate in at least one workshop and then everything will begin to be arranged by itself, or must we direct people again and again?
Answer: They will get feelings and intelligence “automatically”, regardless of the forms that this process will take.
In general, in the way of spiritual advancement, every level is the opposite of its predecessor; therefore, it is impossible to speculate, to assess a particular state based on another state. In my estimation people feeling that connection in the form of the workshops makes it possible for them to solve all problems in life. And so they will themselves seek and adopt the method through the Internet, television, and so forth without much talk, like children who don’t need instructions to operate a computer. And the current fashion is transient.
Question: So it could be that it is up to us to bring into public awareness an expansion of the information touching upon the new method as quickly as possible?
Answer: No. If we ourselves don’t make more of an effort, other people will also remain “outside of the business.” The grandson is smart because his grandfather and father took the trouble throughout their lives, they “gained” his new mind, new understanding.
It is up to us to make an effort to a particular level and then suddenly there will be a breakthrough, and a buyer will be found for our “merchandise.”
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/18/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam
Question: During the congress, we learned to feel each other better, to sense the desires of the friends. At the same time, our sensitivity to all other people that we come across in everyday life became sharper too.
Answer: It is simply becoming clear who they are. After all, when we look at small children, we understand them. Likewise, right now, when we look at the masses, we understand what they actually are: nothing—essentially children.
Question: What should be happening inside of us at the moment we go among them to disseminate?
Answer: Nothing. Love, forgive, and understand them. They are ordinary people with all their weaknesses, thoughts, and desires—everything that is instilled into them through the program of nature. How else could you relate to them? Nature is operating in them and they, like wind-up dolls, are executing their program.
Thus, your work is to treat them calmly and steadfastly, the same way that they treat each other, except in a benevolent way.
Question: All the while maintaining a connection with the group and the Creator?
Answer: The group and the Creator, this is something completely different. It pertains to the upper world, whereas 99% of the population belong to the animal world. So, interact with them on that level.
Question: However, when you see that the majority of the people are suffering, it creates a feeling of guilt and responsibility for them.
Answer: The feeling of responsibility arises because we, through our spiritual degree, can improve their condition, and if there is a feeling of guilt, it means that we are blaming the Creator.
A workshop is a Partzuf that we build in a connection between us, and, specifically in it, we feel the spiritual world. If we don’t build it then we don’t feel anything. This is our common Partzuf about which the wisdom of Kabbalah speaks: Rosh, Toch, Sof, ten Sefirot, and so on.
When ten people are nullified toward each other and begin to discuss some subject, they create a connection between them. When they insert the problem into this connection, they are lifted above it, and in this form, they find the solution but on a spiritual level. Specifically, the connection and not the attempt to be clever should give the correct decision.
In fact, we haven’t reached this yet because in the groups, the communication between people is still not right. I ask some question and you begin to go into it deeply instead of connecting above it. You see the connection is more important than the question itself.
You want to find the answer by way of your intellect. Yet, in fact, it is necessary to find it from the connection. Therefore, don’t pay attention to the question itself. If you connect correctly, you will receive an answer without lengthy searches and philosophy.
Answer: There are no limitations. Eat, drink, have fun and do what you want, but from within that maintain a permanent connection with the Creator: “There is none else besides Him.”
To the same extent that you are not able to be with this thought, you must reduce exaggerated living. In other words, doing all that you want, begin to reduce the threshold of material excesses so that the “There is none else besides Him “ will constantly be the main thing for you. And at Gmar Tikkun (the end of correction), you will consume without limits and will ask from the Creator all that there is in life.
Kabbalah is the science of receiving eternal and infinite pleasure. With time you will begin to understand which pleasures to exchange with which, and you will see how few of them are exchanged with others or clothe upon others.
Thus, there is no need to limit yourself, but only if you execute all the conditions of adherence with the group, with the teacher, and with the Creator.
The vessel that was entirely received from the Creator makes a restriction. This restriction does not apply to our world. From within it, you can use everything. If the corporeal pleasures don’t interfere with rising towards the Creator, don’t distract your opinion of Him, then use them.
Would it be that from sitting down to a meal with friends and crying or eating vegetables, you would turn into a saint? The opposite, enjoy the tasty food, but it should be that all of this will complement the happiness of the meal and will in no way detract. When you feel that there weren’t even anything on the table and you would have stayed with the same uplifted spirit with the friends, then you can add all that.
From a lesson in Russian 2/10/14
Preparation to the Lesson
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The Book of Zohar — Selected Excerpts, “The Donkey Driver,” Item 102
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Talmud Eser Sefirot, Vol. 3, Part 9, “Histaklut Pnimit,” Item 6
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Writings of Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 58
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