“Happiness: Lessons from A New Science”

Dr. Michael LaitmanOpinion (Richard Layard, Professor Emeritus Lord Layard, British labour economist, currently working as programme director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics): “’There is a paradox at the heart of our lives. Most people want more income and strive for it. Yet as Western societies have got richer, their people have become no happier.’ Layard is one of many to propose this paradox. It is often referred to as the ‘Easterlin Paradox,’ named after economist Richard Easterlin, who demonstrated exactly this for citizens in developed countries with sufficient welfare to provide for at least the basic needs of each person. …

“Not only do we compare our income to that of others, we also set a norm for our income based on what we ourselves have grown accustomed to. The more money we make, the more money we think we need. This phenomenon is called ‘habituation’ or ‘adaptation.’ It can be compared to building up a tolerance for alcohol or drugs. Layard calls this ‘The Hedonic Treadmill’: To maintain the same level of happiness, we need to keep running.

“Richard Layard (2005) argued that seven factors are central to happiness. Furthermore, he used research such as the US General Social Survey to establish (for the US at least) five in some sort of order of importance. Two further factors were seen as central, but could not be ranked due to lack of survey evidence.

“Family relationships. In just about every study, family relationships and our close private life are ‘more important than any other single factor affecting our happiness.’

“Financial situation. As we have already seen our individual financial position is of significance – especially when we are on the margins of poverty – but beyond that it is a poor second to the quality of close family relationships as a significant source of longish term happiness.

“Work. There is considerable evidence that we need to feel we are contributing to the wider society. Layard comments, ‘[W]ork provides not only income but also an extra meaning to life’. He continues, ‘That is why unemployment is such a disaster: it reduces income but it also reduces happiness directly by destroying the self-respect and social relationships created by work.’

“Community and friends. As we have already seen writers like Lane have placed a strong emphasis upon companionship. However, it is also clear that the quality of the communities in which we participate has a strong influence upon how we feel. If we do not live and operate in communities and groups where there is a sense of trust and belonging then there is a raft of evidence that shows the impact upon our ability to be happy. …

“Health. In studies people frequently cite health as an important contributor to happiness. …

“Personal freedom. Happiness also depends upon the quality of the political, economic, legal and social systems in which we operate. There is some evidence that people living in stable and peaceful societies in which they have a voice and an ability to follow their interests (where it does not harm others), and in which institutions are accountable will be happier.

“Personal values. People’s happiness depends on their ‘inner selves‘ and philosophies of life. ‘People are happier if they are able to appreciate what they have, whatever it is; if they do not always compare themselves with others; and if they school their own moods.’” (Source: infed)

“Modern society desperately needs a concept of the common good around which to unite the efforts of its members. Here is the right concept. We want to increase the general happiness and we commit ourselves to that end.”

My Comment: Of course, this is a wonderful goal. But first, it is necessary to realize that happiness is possible only beyond our egoism, not in it and not in suppressing it. That is why we need a method for getting out of egoism, the method of Kabbalah, or rather, the Light, the force of bestowal and love, which is manifested when this method is implemented.

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An Adaptor Between The System Of Holiness And The System of Impurity

Dr. Michael LaitmanBaal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Book, Panim Meirot uMasbirot,” Item 12: You find that this goal is still denied from the perspective of the Partzufim of Kedusha (Countenances of Holiness). This is because there is nothing there of the vacant space, which is the complete form of reception, over which was the Tzimtzum, hence, no correction will apply to it, as it does not exist in reality.

Also, there is certainly no correction here from the perspective of the Sitra Achra, although it does have a vacant space, since it has a completely opposite interest, and everything it receives dies.

Hence, it is only a human in this world that we need. In infancy, he is sustained and supported by the Sitra Achra, inheriting the Kelim of the vacant space from it. When he grows, he connects to the structure of Kedusha through the power of Torah and Mitzvot to bestow contentment upon his Maker.

There has to be an adaptor that takes the desires from one place to another. This adaptor is called Adam (a human being) who is once incorporated in the system of the Sitra Achra receiving desires from it and once incorporated in the system of Holiness. Thus he moves from the system of impurity to the system of Holiness, until he accumulates the two systems inside him.

There is the pure and the impure system of the worlds about which it is said: “God has made them one opposite the other,” and a person is between these two systems. A person himself has nothing. It is only the middle part of Sefira Tifferet, which is absolutely neutral, an angel. Once it is incorporated in the system of impurity and takes desires from it, then it moves to the system of Holiness and corrects them. Then he moves to the system of impurity again and takes new desires, again moves to the system of Holiness and corrects them.

Thus he continues until he transfers all the desires from one system to the other. It is like the example Rabash gives when the doctor forbade him to drink whiskey and so he used to dip a piece of cake in whiskey and eat it until the glass of whiskey was empty, and then he would say: “I don’t drink whiskey, I eat cake.”

This is how we transfer desires from one place to another and this is all our work. Of course, we need to learn how to do that, how to summon the Light that Reforms, and accumulate the need for it, being nourished by the system of impurity. This is the way the system operates.

Let’s hope it will be clear to us that we only have to correct ourselves and bring the world to the perfect form when these two polar systems cease to be opposite one another and become one.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/23/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam

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An Honest Thief

Dr. Michael LaitmanA vessel can only receive its material, the desire to enjoy. Otherwise there is no creation. But this creature makes actions of bestowal like the Creator, with an intention in order to bestow, but it bestows by means of its receptive vessel.

Either it receives in order to bestow or it doesn’t receive anything in its vessels in spite of all of its desire to receive, and this is called the degree of its bestowal.

For example, I’m invited to some celebration where they are using expensive cutlery made of silver and gold. I come to the party and the host says to me: “I know that you are a thief, but I ask you to hold back this time. I very much want you to be here this evening so I am asking you to be a man. You should know that I believe in you, don’t do anything shameful!”

I arrive and the whole evening I cannot eat even a crumb, can’t even taste a spoonful of ice cream or a sip of wine. This is because I am afraid that if I take some utensil in my hand, I will not be able to hold back and will put it in my pocket.

So the whole evening I don’t eat anything, don’t drink anything, don’t touch anything, and only walk around among everyone. But I made an effort to be in the spiritual world and I deserve a reward for my effort. That is, we start with stopping ourselves and not touching anything.

But this is very difficult work because I was hungry and thirsty and struggled with my desire to receive to steal some utensil! It was such a valuable asset, one stolen utensil would be enough for a whole year of the good life without poverty. If we steal a little spirituality, then it is possible to exist well in the physical world….
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/23/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam

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Seven Billion Exiles

Dr. Michael LaitmanToday we are in both spiritual and material exile because there is no connection between us, no Light of redemption shines among us, and the Creator is not revealed in any connection between us. There is no doubt that this is considered exile. The fact that we are in the territory of the state of Israel doesn’t indicate anything. For the land of Israel are a people connected with a shared yearning directly to the Creator (Yashar-El). We are in exile, but in spite of it all, we try to reach redemption, meaning to correct our desires in order to bestow and to discover the Light within them.

The whole world, all seven billion, is in exile relative to the future state of redemption. This is because they are expected to discover the Light of redemption, to discover the Creator, and to see all of the infinite reality, all of the worlds. But in the meantime they are in exile.

There are people like us who feel that they are in exile, but all the rest don’t feel it. As in Egypt, there were people like these and there were others. Some people didn’t find it an exile and wanted to stay there.

The main thing is to understand that we are a desire to receive that is in a ruined state, meaning in exile. And to the degree of the correction and the elevation of the sparks above the desire to receive, the redemption arrives. It’s necessary to interpret these concepts only this way and not to ascribe them to our bodies, to this imaginary world.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/27/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam

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Attain The Goal Of Life

Dr. Michael LaitmanQuestion: How can we protect ourselves from a fall into material desires when reading The Book of Zohar?

Answer: The study of Torah means that I am expecting the Light that Reforms, as it is written: “I created the evil inclination, I created the Torah as a spice.” To the degree that I feel that I have an evil inclination that I want to get rid of and I know that I have no chance of doing this in any way except through learning together with friends, then I reach a state in which I study and expect the Light that Reforms. This is called studying the Torah.

That is, studying the Torah needs preparation, a great desire to correct something in me that only the Torah and nothing else can do. No remedy from a doctor will help here, no exercise, or excellence in something. This is simply beyond human abilities. I am not ready for this.

I need to approach The Book of Zohar in such a state. Then certainly I will expect that this study will make me healthy, will correct in me what I determine is the evil inclination. It could be that this is still not the true evil inclination, but at the moment I think so.

What is this evil inclination? They are all kinds of desires that hinder me from reaching correction. The Torah says that it is instruction for developing spirituality: If you won’t correct these desires, then you will not reach the goal of creation.

And because these desires hinder me from reaching the goal of creation, I call them “evil.” I don’t delete them; rather, I expect that the Torah will correct them. How? I don’t know. For indeed it is written: “For the light that is in it will turn him to the good.” This means that these desires remain, but they take on a different character.

Question: What do I need to do to reach despair about my own abilities?

Answer: Try to do as much as possible. “Whatever your hand attains to do [as long as you are] with your strength, do…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). You need to examine what is disturbing you from reaching spirituality, the goal of life. What is the purpose of life? You reach this state at the end of your life or before it and you can carry on.

You don’t see your life as unique and unrepeatable. You see this life as a short fragment of your existence, and in this fragment you want to reach a state with which you enter into the next stage. This is called attaining the goal of life, reaching the goal of creation. For this purpose we exist here for the duration of these decades.

It’s possible for everyone to reach this. What is stopping you? This is what you need to clarify and see for you can reach a state beyond this life solely and only on condition that you are equipped with a desire to bestow.

You must acquire this desire through studying Torah under certain conditions, by advancing with connection, working in a group, disseminating, doing everything in order to reach bestowal. After all, our entire world is immersed in the desire to receive and our entire temporal existence is in this, and the stages that are beyond this world exist in the desire to bestow.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/25/14, The Zohar

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Someone Is Working Instead Of Me!

Dr. Michael LaitmanQuestion: What kind of connection do we need to correct between us, we don’t feel it?

Answer: We must attain reciprocity so that nobody will be working on himself, but only outside of himself, for others. If each one works outside of himself, then with this we create a network of connection between us called mutual guarantee.

Being a guarantor means that I work for you, you work for him, he for someone else, and that one for me. I don’t know to whom what I am doing is going.
From the Preparation to the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/27/14

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Knots And Strings Of An Integral Net

Dr. Michael LaitmanQuestion: What efforts must one make to reach spiritual action?

Answer: Efforts should be applied only to connecting with the group; this is the only thing that we are missing. We are the result of the shattering; we are its shards, so all of our activities are directed only towards connection between us.

There is nothing in any of us to correct! This is a bitter mistake that constantly delve into and blame ourselves. This is a Klipa that sucks all of the powers out of a person. I have nothing to correct in me; only to correct the connection between us needs to be corrected.

This is a difficult and fatal mistake; if we were to refrain from it, we would attain correction very quickly. The whole problem is that we don’t pay attention to the place where we truly must correct the vessel in order to reach Divinity.

We only need to correct our connection. We don’t need to look at ourselves and others: I can be good, I can be bad with horrendous characteristics, but this is not at all relevant to correction. Correction is only  for the connection between us.

It’s like a volleyball net where the main thing is the strings and not the knots. All the knots are egoistic and individual people. They have appeared in our world until our time and are in control by force. But today they can no longer dominate because all of our power has passed to the strings. A completely different approach has begun.

So there is nothing to correct in the person himself, only his attitude to the group. Only there is his free choice and surety realized. Shifting the emphasis from personal correction to general correction is called passing from ethics, from morality, to the wisdom of connection, to the wisdom of Kabbalah.

It’s very important to understand this approach because we still act individualistically and look only at ourselves. But this is not associated with discovering evil or its correction. Therefore it’s said that the opinion of Torah is opposite to the opinion of the masses, that is, even those who want to fix themselves.

This defines our approach to everything in life: education, culture, and politics; this is radically different from the usual. This is a completely opposite attitude because we don’t ascribe any importance to that which everyone pays attention. What sense is there to be involved with things if it doesn’t help?

The whole world is now in crisis because they are paying attention to the person instead of paying attention and correcting the connection between people. Therefore all of the rulers are losing their power and ability to control anything as the world becomes more and more connected.
From the Preparation for the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/27/14

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Who Will Win: Hatred Or The Need To Exist?

Dr. Michael LaitmanQuestion: In our world we clearly see the trend toward separation and isolation. But where is the second trend here, the yearning for connection? I don’t see it.

Answer: The second trend is revealing my dependence upon everyone. It turns out that two forces are acting upon you: on one hand, you reject everyone and on the other hand, you depend upon them. These two poles are constantly in front of you.

If from above they want to advance you then they will always influence you with the help of these two forces. Just as the Creator promised to Abraham, (Genesis 21:12) …it is through Isaac that offspring shall be continued. Through him will be born many grandsons will be born that will grow to a huge family, and on the other hand, He adds, (Genesis 22:2) …and bring him up there for a burnt-offering.

If the Creator had just told him to kill Isaac, it would have been more understandable. And even if he blessed him with a multitude of descendants, this also would have been clear. But, how can the two statements be realized together?

Mankind is in this state now. On one hand, total mutual dependence between everyone is evident and on the other hand, the separation is so great that no one is able to talk with the other. Thirty years ago the relationships between people were much better; today European countries cannot reach an agreement between them.

Question: But where in the world do we see an inclination towards connection?

Answer: There is no inclination towards connection; rather, there is only a discovery of the picture of how much we depend upon everyone. And on the other hand, according to our inner feeling, we want to disconnect.

For example, Scotland wants to break away from England even though it’s clear that both of them would be worse off because there are a multitude of joint enterprises. One has coal mines and the other has coal fueled power stations; one nation has fish and the other restaurants that serve fish; this dependence is recognized by all. Why should they be separated?

If this assured them monetary gain, then it would be understandable, but it doesn’t. They would gain only one thing: quenching their hatred. That is, for the sake of the natural desire that has no material justification, they are even ready to lose economically, provided that hatred will win out.

This inclination exists throughout the world, soon we will return to feudal fragmentation. For example, in Germany two hundred years ago, there were dozens of small principalities. We are returning to those times again because we cannot correct the mutual hatred.

But we won’t return exactly to that past condition because of the mutual dependence. One has water, a second has bread, a third has meat, a fourth has fish, a fifth has cars, a sixth has medical equipment, and so forth. In spite of it all, I depend upon everyone; so why do all of these borders exist?

Hatred obligates me to establish borders and to close them. And life shows us that we are within an integral system that we have reached as a result of the development of our desire. So what can I do if they obligate me to connect with everyone? In this case only war can solve the problem; it will destroy the borders and the entire world. Then everything will be just the way I want it: rigid boundaries, separation, and my hatred could pour out in full. When we have no choice, we will begin to fight. This is the result if we let the ego run wild.

On our level there is no other solution. The solution is found above, above the two opposites. Hatred and convergence are incompatible with each other; there is a short circuit between them. It’s impossible to connect them directly; we must put some kind of adapter between them and transform the hatred into love. Then it will be possible to connect them.

But how do we transform hatred into love? In our world no power exists that can transform our egoistic desire into a desire to bestow. Therefore we need the science of connection, the wisdom of Kabbalah. It teaches us how to organize our environment in order to attract the inner power of unity through its exercises. This force will gradually correct us.

And then, from the corrected power of connection, we will begin to feel new relationships, a new perception of the world, because we have been changed. Within this new comprehension, within the relationship of love instead of the relationship of hatred, we will see a new reality. In the previous reality, I pulled everything towards me; my view was to derive personal benefit from all.

But through a change in orientation to caring for the good of society, I discover completely different properties and powers that act in reality that are called the upper world. All this will be discovered within my new relationship with the others.

Just as I now discover this world through my egoistic relationship with the others, I will discover the upper world within the altruistic relationship with the others until all of the worlds, all of the levels, will reach a state of Infinity. Everything depends only on changes in the perception of reality.

It is written (Shabbat 151b): “There is no difference between this world and the next world except how the governments will work,” meaning that everything depends on the orientation of the desire to receive: concern for the self or for the other. The nations have already discovered how much they depend upon one another and understand that it’s impossible to fight against a nation that supplies it with oil or produce. If I eliminate it, what will happen to me? This is like burning a neighborhood grocery where you buy all of your needs. Where will I get all that I need in order to exist?

But the hatred is so great that it doesn’t allow us to think logically, “It makes no difference if I will die, as long as it will happen to my neighbor first!” That is how the law of hatred works, and the intellect is left powerless. Emotion has precedence over intelligence. In sum, the intellect is a slave of desire. First the desire is awakened and then the mind helps to realize this desire.

The intellect helps me to get what I want, not what I planned and decided! This is the whole problem. All of creation is a desire for pleasure and all of our thoughts are directed only towards this. Therefore, I don’t see a millimeter beyond the limits of my ego; it makes no difference how wise I am. Only the science of connection can help, meaning the wisdom of Kabbalah.
From the Preparation for the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/25/14

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Daily Kabbalah Lesson – 04.01.14

Shamati #190 “Every Act Leaves an Imprint”

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