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Question from Facebook: Why do you keep scaring us in your posts all the time? You keep saying that humanity is like a little rabbit hiding and shaking under a bush.
Answer: Of course! This is what I see people behaving like! On the one hand, they try to harm each other, and on the other, they are afraid to be treated in the same manner. This is how our whole life is managed.
If we don’t change, of course it will be bad!
I “frighten” people in order to warn them in advance of the sufferings, so they could avoid suffering. It is just as we say to a child: “You shouldn’t do that, you will fall, you will get hurt, and it will be painful.”
My intentions are very good, but what can I do if people think that I am just saying that? It is just like parents who want to protect a child from trouble, but cannot avoid what will happen! I will try to be gentler.
From KabTV’s “News with Michael Laitman” 2/15/17
Question from Facebook: You claim that the development of society is the development of egoism in it. Why isn’t it the development of altruism? Could it be that we should begin to promote cooperation between us instead of promoting competition?
Answer: I see how the world has been evolving for ages and that it is only as a result of egoism. Moreover, all scientists and researchers confirm it. The wisdom of Kabbalah says the same thing.
We should not develop through egoism, that is, not in the desire to receive everything inside you and thinking only of yourself at any given moment: “What should I do so that I will feel good?” But we should change our paradigm, that is, we should think of: “What I should do so that others will feel good?” This is a significant shift, an internal revolution in a person, which he cannot do by himself.
Question: How can I change myself if our nature is pure egoism?
Answer: This is an internal paradox; we cannot exit the framework of our nature. We can fix it but only with the help of the upper force, the Creator.
If the Creator illuminates His force on us and influences us like a magnet moving a piece of metal from a distance, we will be able to change ourselves and move in the opposite direction from our egoism.
In order to do so, we need to convince the Creator to move us forward to a totally different attribute: from the property of receiving to the attribute of bestowal, not the attribute of egoism but the attribute of altruism, not the attribute of hatred but the attribute of love.
Let’s try to do it. This is what the wisdom of Kabbalah teaches us!
From KabTV’s “News with Michael Laitman” 2/15/17
Question: You have mentioned that the Creator does not exist and there is no one to bring pleasure to. I also heard from you that the Creator suffers more than we do; where does that fact come from? How does it turn out that He doesn’t suffer or that He suffers and doesn’t exist at the same time?
Personally I would like the Creator to exist in my life, because if He does not exist and is not alive, the whole wisdom of Kabbalah would seem uninteresting and practically empty just like our beastly life.
If there is no one except me, I would rather live in this illusion without reaching some upper world. Although I am only 24 and have found the wisdom of Kabbalah at the age of 18, I would like to focus myself on the Creator as on someone who exists and is alive and who feels me, because the other attainments don’t interest me.
I am actually afraid to discover that the Creator does not exist. Does that mean that the wisdom of Kabbalah is not for me? At the moment, I don’t intend to study because there is no guarantee that the Creator actually exists and is alive, but if I heard that the Creator is alive and does exist from you (which is the most important thing for me), then I would study the wisdom of Kabbalah.
Answer: Everything we say about the Creator is not His actual essence and does not say anything about Him, but only about what we can express in our sensations. Later, your feelings will change and you will be able to perceive the complexity of the world, and opposing views will not nullify each other, but will actually begin to complement each other. Then you will have no more questions.
Jews-turned-anti-Semites reject not only their heritage, but primarily their task to bring the method of connection for the entire world.
Our Own Worst Enemies Antisemitism
From Twitter, 3/28/17
The Jerusalem Post published my new article “The Happiness We (Wish We Could) Have“
The ego causes all of our wars, but it is not an enemy. If we use it right, by connecting ourselves to each other above our egos, we will learn how all of nature works.
On Monday, we commemorated the International Day of Happiness. Since 2013, it has been commemorated every March 20th.
Happiness is a challenging feeling to describe. Nevertheless, certain preconditions must be met in order for us to feel happy, or at least content: peace, stability, security of basic needs, and the ability to realize our full potential. Regrettably, today there seems to be anything but peace and stability. The Middle East is always on the verge of explosion, but now more than ever due to the involvement of Russia and the US in Syria. At the same time, Europe is torn between extreme left and extreme right, primarily around the immigration issue. The United States has sunk into internal bickering since the last elections, and antisemitism and violence have skyrocketed there. Russia is on the brink of an economic meltdown; Africa is suffering its worst famine since World War II, and China and Japan are both teetering economically and are concerned about North Korea’s nuclear threats.
In short, the world is on edge, and instability is no recipe for happiness.
On Envy, Lust, and Honor
What makes matters even worse is our growing self-absorption. We are becoming increasingly indifferent to the people around us and hostile toward anyone who offers a different view than ours. Too often, we regard anyone or anything that contradicts our view of reality as an enemy and feel as though only our view is valid. This creates a sense of entitlement, which leads to intolerance resulting from the denial of all other views. This is a recipe for violence induced entirely by narcissism, meaning egoism.
Throughout history, there has rarely been any reason for war other than egoism. Dressed as the pursuit of honor, wealth, or dominance, the ego has always been the primary cause of war.
Egoism is a uniquely human trait. All other creatures fight for survival and procreation, but have no regard for social status or desire to deliberately harm others. Conquistadors such as Alexander the Great or Napoleon do not exist in the animal kingdom simply because animals have no sense of history, no pride to cater to, and therefore no desire to take more than they need for sustenance. Their desires are restricted to securing their immediate existence.
Humans are different. The Mishnah tells us: “Envy, lust, and honor remove one from the world” (Avot 4:21). Envy is the key to understanding why we aren’t happy. It causes us to compete with others over power and respect, thereby making us constantly dissatisfied. As a result, as long as we are servants of our envy of others, we are doomed to dissatisfaction, frustration, competition, and worst of all—to hatred of others. In such a state, we cannot be happy.
Yet, the ego also pushes us to develop. Thanks to the ego, we drive to the supermarket to buy what we need, or better yet, order it online without setting foot outside, instead of dicing with death hunting mammoths. We also switch on the A.C. and set it to the desired temperature instead of warming ourselves by a cave fire and covering ourselves with animal fur. The ego has given us many great things, but if we conduct ourselves correctly going forward, we will be able to obtain far more precisely by using our egos.
Piecing the Puzzle
In animals, desires are restrained by nature. The interactions between the self-interests of the species and the limitations imposed on them by the environment create a balance that guarantees the thriving of all the species within the ecosystem.
Perhaps the best description I have heard to date of the mechanism by which nature balances its elements came from evolutionary biologist Prof. Elisabet Sahtouris. In November 2005, I was invited to speak at a conference in Tokyo titled, “Creating a New Civilization,” which was organized by the Goi Peace Foundation. Among the speakers was Prof. Sahtouris, who offered a concise description of the interactions between the forces that make life possible. “In your body,” she said, “every molecule, every cell, every organ and the whole body, has self-interest.” However, “When every level shows its self-interest, it forces negotiations among the levels. This is the secret of nature. Every moment, in your body, these negotiations drive your system to harmony.”
But what works for human bodies, does not work for the human psyche. Within us, evil in the form of egoism prevails through and through, as the Torah tells us, “The inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21).
Yet, the absence of balance between self-interest and the interest of the environment provides us with the opportunity to create this balance by ourselves. It is as if nature has given us a puzzle whose pieces are all apart, and we must piece the puzzle back together. However, nature is also helping us achieve this because nature itself is the picture we must create when we connect all the pieces correctly. The reward at the end of the work is that by learning how the pieces connect, we also learn how nature works.
The ego is not our enemy; it is the substance keeping the pieces apart until we fit them into one another correctly, in accord with nature’s image. In this way, we learn how nature builds its mechanisms and maintains its balance.
As with any puzzle, one part’s protrusion is another’s dent. That is, instead of using our advantages to patronize others and feel superior to them, we should use them to “fill up the dents,” the disadvantages in others. When others do the same toward us, we create a solid and complete picture of reality.
People love to put together puzzles and to build things out of kits because this is how nature teaches us, and we’re just replicating the way that nature instructs us to find its secrets. If we could grasp this notion and relate to our egos in this way, we wouldn’t be competing with each other in the ruthless way we do today. Instead, we would attempt to climb above our egos and connect. In the process, we would learn how everything in nature fits together.
Making the Impossible Happen
We strive to be the masters of nature. But before we master nature, we must master our own nature. Learning how nature puts everything harmoniously together is the first step toward this. Once we have mastered the art of connection above the ego, we will be able to develop our species favorably for ourselves and for posterity.
Kabbalists and Jewish sages have known the principles for achieving balance and connection for millennia. They have been teaching them to their students in seclusion, but today’s rampant selfishness dictates that the entire world learns how to balance our unruly egos. This is why since the early 20th century, these wise individuals have been making every effort to make the paramount importance of connection over egoism known throughout the world.
In this respect, the book Likutey Etzot (Assorted Counsels) describes the correct approach toward attempting to connect: “The essence of peace is to connect two opposites. Hence, do not be alarmed if you see a person whose view is the complete opposite of yours and you think that you will never be able to make peace with him. Also, when you see two people who are completely opposite to each other, do not say that it is impossible to make peace between them. On the contrary, the essence of peace is to try to make peace between two opposites.”
In the beginning of this column, I said that happiness comes when we have peace, stability, security of sustenance of basic needs, and we can realize our full potential. Only if we adopt a positive and creative approach toward the ego, as was mentioned in the quote above, we will be able to establish a society that meets these criteria for happiness. The puzzle will not be complete until we follow the example of nature’s complete picture, where all the parts complement one another. Just as children learn how to put the pieces of the puzzle together, so must we. But in so doing, we will be assembling the pieces of our lives and the pieces of human society, thereby guaranteeing our happiness now and for the future.
Answer: With virtual study or from ordinary study in our courses. Then as you advance in your studies, you will feel that you need a group.
Question: Why are you so sure that it is impossible to advance without a group? I have met quite a few people who claim that they quite successfully practice Kabbalah without a group. Even Baal HaSulam doesn’t mention it in his writings. After all he never had a group.
Answer: There are numerous articles about the need for a group, not by modern Kabbalists. Kabbalists have written very clearly about the importance of the group for ages. You simply don’t know the sources.
Question: Rabash had one teacher, his father Baal HaSulam. What is the shortest way to the Creator: in a group where the optimal number of people is ten, or one-on-one with a wise teacher?
Answer: Baal HaSulam had a group of students and Rabash was one of them. Then Rabash also organized a group in which I studied together with other students. After having studied with Rabash for some time, I asked him what I needed in order to continue to advance and he answered: “nothing will help you unless you organize a group.”
His group included a few old men with whom he had studied with Baal HaSulam. This group did not suit me, so I began to collect young men and gave lectures to them. This is how a new group was created.
It is impossible to study the wisdom of Kabbalah without a group. Without a group, you will not understand anything and will surely not achieve anything!
From the Kabbalah Lesson in Russian 10/30/16
Question from Facebook: Who was the author of The Book of Zohar, Rabbi Shimon or a group of authors, his ten companions? I don’t understand how it would be possible to write together.
Answer: Rabbi Shimon could not have written this book alone because he had to first transmit this book through his students.
First, they all discussed it among themselves, each one expressing his admiration for it and his impressions. They didn’t complement each other; instead they integrated and collected them into one single opinion by rising above themselves. As a result of this, the highest attainment came out, The Book of Zohar.
By uniting among themselves, they were elevated to the next level where they apparently became a single author, a single person.
Question: But in the sources it is said that Rabbi Shimon spoke and Rabbi Aba recorded…?
Answer: It is necessary to understand what is meant by “recorded.” This is not talking about physical recording. Instead, they attained a state in which the white Light was written on a black background, meaning inside of them.
This was a collective effort of a generalized person that included all of them, when all of them were one. Therefore, a power is hidden in The Book of Zohar. Moreover, specifically because of this fact, it is necessary to read it together and not alone.
If we read The Book of Zohar individually, there is no benefit to it. To do this, we must gather ten people (a Minyan), connect into a single whole, and by reading the text together, to a particular degree, everyone begins to feel what the authors of The Book of Zohar felt.
Question: Do you penetrate The Book of Zohar or does The Book of Zohar penetrate you?
Answer: The Book of Zohar is the Light that surrounds us. Therefore, to the same degree that the readers connect together, they make it possible for the Light to enter into the shared integration between them and to format it. The feeling from the book comes from this.
This is also said about the Torah, that it is “white letters written on a black background,” meaning, that it is the Light, which is written on the desires.
From KabTV’s “News with Michael Laitman” 1/25/16
The order to pursue justice is given before entering the land of Israel because only with the help of justice can you reach the state when you ascend to the level of the “Land of Israel.”
It is written: “… that you may live and inherit the land…” since this is life. According to Kabbalah, corporeal existence is not considered life.
Life is the manifestation of the qualities of the Creator in a person; otherwise, this person is called a dead body, meaning existing on the animalistic level, without a spiritual spark inside.
The meaning of life is to reach the level of the Creator. That is why to pursue justice means to pursue the Creator.
From KabTV’s “Secrets of the Eternal Book” 8/24/16
Torah, Deuteronomy 22:02-03: But if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, you shall bring it into your house, and it shall be with you until your brother seeks it out, whereupon you shall return it to him.
So shall you do with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment, and so shall you do with any lost article of your brother which he has lost and you have found. You shall not ignore [it].
“Your brother” and all his possessions, including animals, symbolize desires that need to be corrected. You can use his animals, only not to kill them: You can feed, milk, and work with them in the field but only until you are asked to return them back.
The fact is that the desires developing in you sometimes cannot be corrected at your current level, and at a lower egoistic level you can do it precisely because you are using them temporarily.
Imagine that you have to perform a certain task, but you are too lazy. However, when you see that it is not yours, you are thrilled, you have a desire, an opportunity to fulfill it, and you take it upon yourself namely because it is not yours and relates to another. It frees you from the pressure that you feel when you are obliged to do something.
That is, you carry out the correction on a secondary level, as if performing it for another, thereby making it much easier. Moreover, you have no right not to use this opportunity. Hence it is written: “Do not ignore it.”
From KabTV’s “Secrets of the Eternal Book” 9/28/16