An Uneasy Peace That Will Tear The Global Economy Asunder

Dr. Michael LaitmanOpinion (Mark Leonard, director, European Council on Foreign Relations): “In 1914, the world’s economic order collapsed because its most powerful nations went to war. A century later, the great powers are averse to shedding blood — and perversely, that could be the trigger for another unravelling of the global economy.

“Rulers once sent in the cavalry when they wanted to redraw the map. Now, the main battleground is economic. In many theatres, sanctions have taken the place of military strikes. Competing trade regimes becoming as important as military alliances. The American historian Edward Luttwak calls this a contest of geoeconomics, defined by the ‘grammar of commerce but the logic of war.’

“Trade talks, too, have become an economic weapon. With fading hopes for a global deal, a maze of bilateral and regional trade talks is taking place. But rather than linking the world in a single system, strong regional players are trying to create gated markets with preferential access for their own companies at the expense of weaker states.

“An optimistic theory once held that multinational companies would make once-hostile nations more dependent on each other, and that this would make them a force for peace. Governments, it was held, had an enlightened interest in guaranteeing open, predictable rules that would allow companies to thrive, unimpeded by political borders.

“But rising tensions between the great powers are turning these sometime knights of the corporate world into pawns. The multilateral institutions that were supposed to be the benign invigilators of a new era of win-win co-operation are becoming a battleground for geopolitical competition.”

My Comment: It cannot be otherwise since the world is developing through the development of egoism, so evil is pushing the world forward. Thus, to be optimistic means not to know the basis for the development of the world. It is written, “I created egoism and created the Torah for its correction,” and without the knowledge of correcting egoism by its opposite force, we have only one negative force in the world, which controls it and pushes it to destruction.

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Everything Starts With Pesach

laitman_740_02At this time, we approach a state when humanity faces a need to change its attitude to life, to itself, to its developmental goals. Humans have to realize that there is a purpose in life and that nature leads us to achieve it.

We will advance towards mutual understanding, benevolent attainment, and comfortable existence to the extent of our correspondence with the program that guides us.

The goal we must reach is above this world, beyond life and death. Eventually, we will transition to the level of immortality. This world gradually will dissolve and we will enter a totally new dimension. By the way, nowadays all worldly sciences confirm this fact. We are going through this process as we speak.

Everything starts with Pesach, i.e., when we realize that we are capable of rising above our egoism and we shift to unity and reciprocity by observing the rule of “loving our neighbor as ourselves,” or at least following the rule of “not doing to others what we do not wish for ourselves.” In other words, when we feel like brothers and maintain mutual guarantee. This holiday is about realizing that exiting from the ego is possible.

When one “leaves Egypt” and rises to the next level one regards the prior state as absolute wickedness and clearly sees how it can be used correctly. This explains why it is said that attainment happens at the foot of Mount Sinai (derived from “Sina” – hatred) when all human properties “stand around the mountain,” whereas our aspirations, the point of Moses, rise to its peak.

Mount Sinai represents a huge egoism and it is absolutely essential to make us rise above our qualities that stand for the entire nation gathered around the Mountain.

The final goal of human advancement is to reach the peak of the Mountain where Moses and the Creator are.
From KabTV’s “A Talk About Passover” 3/18/15

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Are We Slaves?

laitman_532Question: The Pesach Haggadah, the story of exiting from Egypt begins with the words: “We were slaves in Egypt…”

Answer: We still are slaves, but we don’t realize it. We consider ourselves a free nation living in the “land of Israel,” but it is not the “land of Israel.” It is not even Egypt yet. “Egypt” means that we acknowledge the Pharaoh’s authority over us. However, we think differently.

Look what’s going on! What kind of game our ego plays with the people of Israel! We are submerged in endless arguments, quarrels… We are completely immersed in all sorts of problems. Our government and the entire country are split into numerous fragments. We are almost facing a civil war!

We are very far from Pesach! We still are in the deepest and darkest Egyptian slavery of the seven “years of hunger.” We don’t realize that it is our ego that governs us, plays with us, and pits us against each other.

Pesach is about a decision to run away from slavery, to exit from the power of egoism, from the state in which we “gobble” each other up, as it is said, “And the children of Israel cried out from the work…”

Question: Are we slaves today?

Answer: No, we are not, since “a slave” means that one feels one’s slavery and realizes one’s dependence on one’s evil nature. We admit that we hate our neighbor and that we are compelled to argue and fight with each other. We don’t know where this desire comes from. It rises from the inside and we don’t even acknowledge it, nor do we feel that the force that governs us is alien to us. We think it is we who choose to behave this way.

Many people do bad things, but do not consider them wrong. However, there are people who acknowledge: “I am tired of my wickedness! I don’t know what to do with this body of mine, with my nature, nerves, moods… I look at others and want to ravage them. I love neither my wife, nor my family. I want to abandon this world. Let it burn completely. I have no idea where to run away from this life! I wouldn’t mind living on a desert island.”

The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that human nature was created evil on purpose so that we come to the realization of its wickedness. First of all, we don’t feel that we are evil. We think it is natural for humans to be wicked. Then, we gradually learn to differentiate between ourselves and our nature and realize that we are built of two powers—“us” and our opposition, the evil inclination called “the Pharaoh.”

At this point, we regard the Pharaoh as the evil inclination that dwells in us, and think: “Maybe I should try to avoid its power? Let me try treating everybody well. It doesn’t matter what my attempts will end up with, but I still want to learn how to control myself!” The Pharaoh constantly turns off our “dual vision” that is set to differentiate between “us” and “him.” He makes us treat others in a bad way.

Eventually, we will come to understand that the Pharaoh is an evil and hostile power that took us over in order to make us acknowledge that it is an alien to us, thus bringing us to a desire to run away from it. It is not in our power to fight it, but we are able to detach from it. The detachment from the evil power is called the “escape from Egypt.” The evil stays intact; it is us who stop associating ourselves with it.

The evil is still inside us, somewhere in the deepest layers of us, but we don’t allow it to “jump” out; we suppress it and detach from it. Detachment from the evil by rising above it is called “exiting Egypt, an escape from the power of the Pharaoh.” At this point, we reach redemption. We are not yet a free people in the free land. We haven’t transitioned from slavery to liberty yet. We just ran away from slavery, but haven’t yet attained freedom.

At this point, we desperately need to detach from the Pharaoh. This state is called “Pesach.” We start correcting the properties associated with Egypt and the Pharaoh. We don’t have another nature. All we have is the evil inclination that we must correct and turn it into benevolence. In order to achieve this state after exiting from Egypt, we need a special power that allows us to make clarifications on our self-correction. This period is called “counting down the days of Omer.”

In Egypt, there was plenty of bread for us. During the first week after we exited Egypt we ate “frugal bread” called “matza.” Later, we returned to regular bread. This period is called “counting down the days of Omer. “Omer” is a sheaf of grains.

We check our wicked desires, all 49 of them. These desires are called “Sefirot.” Seven Sefirot or seven parts of our desire are called “Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, and Malchut.” Each of them splits into 7 parts. That’s why we have 7 X 7 = 49 different desires that we are ready to correct.

We “abandoned” these desires at the time of our exodus from Egypt, i.e., we stopped using them. Now, we start testing them again. We check each desire and evaluate whether we used them to hurt others, slander, fight, etc. We should find a way of using the same desires to benefit others.

We should transition from the evil to the good inclination in each of our desires. We have to do an “inventory” of our wickedness. We must find a way of using our desires for benevolent purposes.

So far, it is not yet about detaching from our prior state. During Pesach night, we run away and hide from all desires. We check them and try to understand what our desires look like now. We contemplate them from a new level already being “out of Egypt” and away from the power of the Pharaoh.

We look at our desires and become terrified that we previously had them. However, now we have already distanced them away from us; we do not consider them ours any more. We identify ourselves with the point that exited from Egypt and is outside of any egoistic desire.

At this time, from a new “height” we check each desire, one by one, all 49 of them. It is called “49 days of the Omer count” since from the new level that we have just achieved, we start counting and testing all of our desires and see if we are able to alter them and use them for good purposes instead of the wicked ones as we did before.

It is possible because of the Pharaoh who reveals our wickedness to us. Now, we can gradually turn the evil into the good. 49 days of the Omer count is the preparation for the 50th day that is called “Shavuot”—the Giving of the Torah.

On one hand, it is called “Shavuot” because we counted all of our desires and made an “inventory” of them, on the other hand, it is called “The Giving of the Torah” since we receive the Light that Reforms.” The Creator said: “I created the evil inclination and made the Torah as a spice for it.”

At this time, we clearly see the evil since we made an inventory of our desires. Now, we need a special Light, a specific force, called “the Torah” that will help us use our desires one after another and all of them together for the sake of bestowal and benevolence of others since the major law of the Torah is “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the level we eventually will attain.
From KabTV’s “A New Life” 3/24/15

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Like A Bundle Of Reeds—Living In An Integrated World, Part 6

Like a Bundle of ReedsLike A Bundle of Reeds, Why Unity and Mutual Guarantee Are Today’s Call of the Hour, Michael Laitman, Ph.D.

Chapter 10: Living In an Integrated World
An Integrated World Requires Integral Education

Integrally Educated Children

While adults must assume responsibility for changing their social environments positively, the situation is much more complicated when it comes to children and youths. Here it is the responsibility of grownups—teachers and educators—whether through private initiatives or with the government’s support, to build this cohesion-inducing environment.

The current education system endorses unabated competition. In and of itself, competition is natural and not inherently negative. But if we consider today’s competitive culture and what it is doing to us, and even more so to our children, it is clear that we are misusing that trait.

In No Contest: The Case Against Competition, Alfie Kohn, a known dissident of competition, quoted psychologist, Elliot Aronson: “From the Little League ball player who bursts into tears after his team loses, to the college students in the football stadium chanting ‘We’re number one!’; from Lyndon Johnson, whose judgment was almost certainly distorted by his oft-stated desire not to be the first American President to lose a war, to the third grader who despises his classmate for a superior performance on an arithmetic test; we manifest a staggering cultural obsession with victory.”[i]

Indeed, libraries and the internet are rife with studies indicating that competition and individualism are bad, and collaboration and cooperation are good, both at work and at school. Jeffrey Norris published a story in the News Center of UCSF, titled, “Yamanaka’s Nobel Prize Highlights Value of Training and Collaboration.” In that story, Norris asserted, “The lone scientist working late into the night to complete a breakthrough experiment that leads to a Eureka moment of solitary joy is a stock scene from Hollywood movies, but in reality science is a highly social endeavor.”[ii] Later, in the section, “Synergistic Collaboration Drives Progress,” he adds, “In the open layouts of modern scientific laboratory buildings, each principal scientific investigator works with several postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and technicians, and a visitor can’t tell where one lab ends and another begins. Scientific ideas and camaraderie are nurtured in the interactive environment.”[iii]

It is likewise at school. Numerous experiments have already been conducted on the benefits of collaboration in the education system. In an essay called, “An Educational Psychology Success Story: Social Interdependence Theory and Cooperative Learning,” University of Minnesota professors David W. Johnson and Roger T. Johnson present the case for the “social interdependence” theory. In their words, “More than 1,200 research studies have been conducted in the past 11 decades on cooperative, competitive, and individualistic efforts. Findings from these studies have validated, modified, refined, and extended the theory.”[iv]

The authors proceed to detail what these studies had found. The researchers compared the effectiveness of cooperative learning to the commonly used individual, competitive learning. The results were unequivocal. In terms of individual accountability and personal responsibility, they concluded, “The positive interdependence that binds group members together is posited to result in feelings of responsibility for (a) completing one’s share of the work and (b) facilitating the work of other group members. Furthermore, when a person’s performance affects the outcomes of collaborators, the person feels responsible for the collaborators’ welfare as well as for his or her own. Failing oneself is bad, but failing others as well as oneself is worse.”[v] In other words, positive interdependence turns individualistic people into caring and collaborating ones, the complete opposite of the current trend of growing individualism to the point of narcissism.[vi]

Johnson and Johnson distinguish between positive interdependence and negative interdependence. The positive kind entails “…a positive correlation among individuals’ goal attainments; individuals perceive that they can attain their goals if and only if the other individuals with whom they are cooperatively linked attain their goals.”[vii] The negative one means that “individuals perceive that they can obtain their goals if and only if the other individuals with whom they are competitively linked fail to obtain their goals.”[viii]

In order to demonstrate the benefits of collaboration, the researchers measured the achievements of students who collaborated compared to those who competed. In their findings, “The average person cooperating was found to achieve at about two thirds of a standard deviation above the average person performing within a competitive or individualistic situation.”[ix]

To understand the meaning of such deviation above the average, consider that if a child is a D-average student, by cooperating, that student’s grades will leap to an astonishing A+ average. Also, the Johnsons wrote, “Cooperation, when compared with competitive and individualistic efforts, tends to promote greater long-term retention, higher intrinsic motivation, and expectations for success, more creative thinking… and more positive attitudes toward the task and school.”[x] In other words, not only the children benefit from this prosocial attitude, but society as a whole gains leverage.

In early 2012, I coauthored with Professor of Psychology and Gestalt-therapist, Dr. Anatoly Ulianov, a book titled, The Psychology of the Integral Society. The book details the essentials of IE, with specific references to today’s over-competitive society. In essence, the book suggests that since competition is inherent to human nature—as detailed earlier in this book regarding the speaking degree’s aspiration for wealth, power, and fame—we should not inhibit it. Instead, rather than competing to be king (or queen) of the hill, so to speak, we can foster a social atmosphere that endorses competition for the person who contributes most to others.

Specifically, those who should be declared winners are individuals who did the most to make others better. In a sense, it is a competition to be the one who loves others the most. Thus, children’s natural drive to excel—and specifically, to excel over others—is not inhibited, allowing them to actualize their full potential while channeling it toward benefiting society instead of themselves, since the only way to win this type of competition is to be the best at being good. In this way, competition becomes a tool for initiating the quality of bestowal in children.

To foster this healthy atmosphere, peer-to-peer relations and teacher-student relations must reflect these prosocial values. This entails some modifications to the traditional teaching style. The premise in IE is that today’s foremost challenge in education is not transmission of information, but rather inculcating capabilities by which to acquire information quickly and in a manner that best serves students’ varying goals.

This is a shift from the traditional paradigm, which results from the fact that today’s life is very different from the time of the Industrial Revolution, during which the concept of frontal lecturing of information was conceived. In the Information Age, data accumulate so quickly that past experiences can only serve as a basis for further learning. In preparation for today’s adult world, schoolchildren need to learn how to learn more than they need to absorb information.

Additionally, because of the interconnected and interdependent nature of today’s world, from early on children need to comprehend that self-interest alone will not lead to happiness. Rather, as Johnson and Johnson demonstrate, mutual consideration and openness to others will promote their chances of success and happiness more successfully.

But children need to experience the interconnectedness of the world in real life, and not just hear or talk about it. One practical way to achieve this is by transforming the classroom into a microcosm, a mini-environment, a small family where everyone cares for one another.

To that end, IE proposes that students and teachers—or “educators,” as they are referred to in IE—will sit in circles, and the learning will take place through lively discussions on the subject matter. Circles place educator and students on the same level, so the educator can gently guide the discussion toward learning, and even more important, toward mutual understanding without being overbearing or domineering.

Another important issue is the school curriculum. This should reflect the interconnected nature of the world. The curriculum should also support integration of topics. Thus, fields of study such as math, physics, and biology will not be taught separately, but within the context of Nature as a whole, which is how the laws of the three disciplines actually function.

Integration should be inherent in the actual study, and it is quite likely to see students apply laws of biology to their studies in humanities. After all, humanity has already been labeled “a superorganism,” so applying the laws of biology to human society seems a natural evolution.

Also notable is the point that in IE, educators are often not teachers, but older students. This enhances overall cohesion and camaraderie among students of different age groups, develops verbal and pedagogical skills of the young educators, and induces far deeper assimilation of information in the tutors because they have to teach it.

But most of all, when young tutors teach instead of grownup teachers, discipline issues become virtually obsolete. Because younger children naturally look up to children who are older than them by two to three years, instead of resenting the educators, as they often feel toward grownup teachers, they seek their favor and race to be the best student in the tutors’ eyes. Couple that aspiration with the above-mentioned desire to be the best at being good, and you have on your hands a school atmosphere to which children will enjoy coming in the morning, and in which they will grow up to be confident and prosocial adults.

Befitting the purposes of IE, the learning itself will take place in groups, as it is the most advantageous form of study for nurturing social skills and for inculcating information, according to the above studies of Johnson and Johnson. Thus, a student’s evaluation will not relate to his or her ability to memorize and recite in a standardized test. Rather, evaluations will be given to groups, rather than to individuals. This will enhance even further the sense of group responsibility and mutual guarantee among the students.

That said, teachers and educators will regularly send reports to parents and school administrators regarding children’s social and educational progress. Because teachers will be much closer to the students than today’s teaching methods allow, they will see if a problem arises with a child before it deteriorates into a major crisis.

Once a week, students should leave the school building and go on outings. To get to know the world they live in, the education system must provide them with firsthand knowledge of the institutions that affect their lives, the governing authorities, and the history and nature of the places they live in. Such outings should include museums, hikes in nearby parks, visits to agricultural communities, tours in factories, hospitals, and outings to government institutions, police stations, and so forth.

Each of these excursions will require preparation that will equip students with prior knowledge of the place they are about to visit, the role of that place in society, what it contributes, possible alternatives, and the origins of that place or institution.

For example, before an outing to the local police station, the students will research the topic of policing on the internet, if possible with specific information on the station they are about to visit. They will learn how the police came to its current mode of action, how it fits within the fabric of life in our society, and what alternatives to the police we might imagine.

In this way, children learn about the world they live in, develop creative thinking to imagine a more desirable future, practice teamwork, and improve their learning skills. Following the outing, further discussions will enable students to share what they have learned, draw conclusions, make suggestions, and compare what they have found with the notions they held regarding the topic in discussion prior to the outing.

There is much more to say about IE schools, such as regarding parents-school-student relations, approach toward homework, recommended hours at school, holidays, punishment-or-no-punishment policies, etc.. Developing this topic further is beyond the scope of this book, but the idea surrounding IE should be clear: children need to learn in an interconnected environment, and experience firsthand the benefits and fun associated with living in such an environment.

[i] Elliot Aronson, The Social Animal, pp 153-54, quoted in: Alfie Kohn, No Contest: The Case Against Competition (NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986), 2.

[ii] Jeffrey Norris, “Yamanaka’s Nobel Prize Highlights Value of Training and Collaboration,” UCSF News Section (October 11, 2012), url:

[iii] ibid.

[iv] David W. Johnson and Roger T. Johnson, “An Educational Psychology Success Story: Social Interdependence Theory and Cooperative Learning,” Educational Researcher 38 (2009): 365, doi: 10.3102/0013189X09339057

[v] Johnson and Johnson, “Educational Psychology Success Story,” 368

[vi] Books on narcissism in the American society abound. Good examples are: Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (New York: Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. 2009), and Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (USA: Norton & Company, May 17, 1991)

[vii] ibid.

[viii] ibid.

[ix] Johnson and Johnson, “Educational Psychology Success Story,” 371

[x] ibid.