From an article by Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Book, Panim Meirot uMasbirot”: Section 3: Let me explain the matter. We distinguish four divisions in the speaking species, arranged in gradations one atop the other. Those are the masses, the strong, the wealthy, and the sagacious. They are equal to the four degrees in the whole of reality, called:
…Atop them is the speaking, consisting of an emotional force and an intellectual force together. For this reason, its power is unlimited by time and space in attracting what is good for it and rejecting what is harmful, like the animate.
This is so because of its science, which is a spiritual matter, unlimited by time and place. One can teach others wherever they are in the whole of reality, and in the past and the future throughout the generations.
It follows that the value of one person from the speaking equalizes with the value of all the forces in the vegetative and the animate in the whole of reality at that time, and in all the past generations. This is so because its power encompasses them and contains them within its own self, along with all their forces.
After the desire to receive was created, it began to develop not quantitatively, as if its weight was one kilogram and it developed into ten kilograms. In no place in nature is quantitative development considered to be development. If a child were to grow, increasing only his weight, he would be called mentally undeveloped.
This means that we always associate development with a new quality. First of all there is the gathering of wisdom, the recognition of evil, inquiries and observations. And if we require more power for this, then we get it accordingly.
Apparently, only qualitative changes are considered to be developmental in nature. Quantitative development is not considered. What would the benefit be from adding one more, a million more or even a billion more of the same? But it is important that an addition changes the quality, like a change in the number of electrons, protons, and additional particles within the atom, and accordingly there is development.
The atoms connect into molecules; the molecules become more and more complex and connect into cells. The nucleus of the cell appears within the center of the cell and is ready to manage the processes within the cell. The cells gain the possibility of connecting, specializing in different activities. This is not talking about the number of cells here, but about their quality. Different types of cells begin to be formed from stem cells from which the human body is built.
This means that development is always qualitative. Baal HaSulam doesn’t talk about quantities either. There are four levels of development that exist in the world: still, vegetative, animate, and speaking; they are levels of development and are qualitative. The qualitative development is that the desire to receive begins to understand what it wants more and more.
And this is right, from where could it know what it wants? If I am a desire to receive, in order to know what my desire is, I must know what the Creator wants from me. I am not conscious of this on the levels of the still, vegetative, and animate. And on the level of the speaking, I already begin to understand that my intellect is a copy of the intellect of the Creator who implanted it in me because it was specifically His desire that I would understand and think and would be conscious of Him in a form like this.
This is called development. Thanks to development like this, I can control myself and the various processes. But it is up to me to understand that all of the systems that are found in me, all of my intellect and emotion, all of the results of development are a gradual copying within me of the characteristics of the Creator. He leaves only one thing in me, freedom of choice within these systems, meaning to resemble Him or not!
That is how we developed according to these levels, shaping more and more complex systems on the levels of the still, vegetative, animate and speaking. And this makes it possible for us to approach the understanding of our nature more and more on the level of the speaking and control the levels of the still, vegetative, and animate. We add more and more desire to receive to ourselves, and together with this, we add to our ability to use it.
On the level of Adam this is no longer talking about a greater ability to use the desire to receive, but about the ability to understand the desire itself. The level of the Animate realizes itself maximally. The Adam is constructed differently from a qualitative aspect and for him the main thing is not to realize his desire, but the purpose for which he is doing this. The level of Adam (Man) begins specifically from it. Otherwise, we would be a continuation of the animate level. For an Adam, what is important is the reason he wants to realize himself.
Here begins the recognition of evil. We run after different goals that only cause trouble for us, until the Adam—by the way of Beito (in its time), by the way of suffering— reaches the question: What is the reason for living? This means that he searches for a suitable purpose to which it does not bother him to dedicate his life. The development of desire is done gradually and systematically and ultimately brings us to the right result.
From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/6/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam