Audio Version Of The Blog – 10/8/20

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“On The Nature Of Empathy”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 10/8/20

Right this minute, some 10,000 people are busy trying to save the world from another natural disaster. At the same time, Amnesty International reports that in the 28 years between 1989 and 2017, nearly 2.5 million people have died in armed conflicts. When we focus on personal suffering, such as a child being pulled out of the ruins of a building destroyed by a bomb or an earthquake, our hearts cringe with compassion.

In fact, it doesn’t have to be a human being that’s suffering. There are plenty of heart-wrenching videos on social media showing animals trying desperately to cross a road or help defend one another against predators, and we deeply sympathize with them. But when millions die by war, starvation, or disease, when tens of millions are abused by slavery, tyranny, and countless other forms of exploitation, we are mostly numb and apathetic. We may perceive ourselves as caring individuals because we feel for the weak individuals, but our indifference to the suffering of nations and masses exposes our selfish motivations. It’s important that we acknowledge this because once we recognize it we can begin to change ourselves into genuinely caring individuals.

If we can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we can feel empathy. But this is not kindness; it is imagining how I would feel if I were in that situation. It is not only selfish, it also tricks us into thinking we are kind and makes us feel good about ourselves. Nothing slows our changing into truly caring individuals more than thinking we are already kind.

If we want a truer picture of ourselves, we should examine how we feel about any suffering, how accountable we feel, and whether or not it galvanizes us into positive action toward connection, toward unity.

The feeling of commonality does exist within us, but it’s buried very deep. Nature is pushing us to reactivate it but if we don’t initiate, it will have to push us all the way and that will be a very painful process. We can see what nature is already doing to our planet, to plants, animals, and people. Already, there is extinction of entire species, burning of forests over huge swaths of land, flash floods that destroy millions of acres, starving people everywhere, from the Third to the First World, and a global pandemic that’s wreaking havoc in our social order. All these are nature’s “attempt” to stir us into action, to develop mutual responsibility and caring rather than the current narcissistic individualism.

If we allow nature to work alone and don’t initiate correction of our nature by our own volition, it will do it, but the trail that leads there will be a long and bloody one, soaked with sweat and tears.
There is no need to suffer like that. We can start working on our mutuality right this minute. Even if we don’t succeed, our efforts will do the trick and we will change. It is much better to try and fail and try again until it works and we learn how to care for one another, than not to try and have nature change us by force.

“A Task Force To Combat Online Antisemitism? Get Real” (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “A Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism? Get Real

Creating “a global inter-parliamentary task force to combat digital antisemitism” a few weeks before a presidential election isn’t credible, and that’s putting it mildly. And besides, what can any task force do against hatred that comes from the kernel of human nature? It would be more successful fighting against gravity than against antisemitism.

On September 29, Jewish Insider published a story titled “Members of Congress launch international task force to combat online antisemitism.” According to the story, the task force is to focus on “raising awareness about online antisemitism and establishing a consistent message in legislatures across the world to hold social media platforms accountable.” It is a hopeless task, and right before the elections, it is nothing more than lip-service.

You can’t eliminate antisemitism just as you cannot eliminate pain until you heal the sore that causes it. In the case of antisemitism, the sore is the fact that Jews aren’t uniting among themselves and leading the world after them to unity and solidarity.

That sore was not born in America, nor in Nazi Germany, or even in Christian Europe. It dates back to the beginning of the Jewish people, when the fugitives from Egypt pledged to unite “as one man with one heart,” established their nationhood, and were immediately tasked with being “a light unto nations,” meaning with sharing their unity by way of example.

For nearly two millennia afterwards, our ancestors struggled with their internal conflicts and frictions. They were exiled and returned, fought each other and reunited, until they finally lost the battle against internal hatred and were banished from their land.

But the mission they had been given back at Mt. Sinai was never abrogated. Two thousand years ago, The Book of Zohar wrote about how the Jews should bring about world peace by setting an example: “‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to also sit together.’ These are the friends as they sit together, and are not separated from one another. At first, they seem like people at war, wishing to kill one another … then they return to being in brotherly love. …And … as you were in fondness and love before, henceforth you will also not part from one another … and by your merit, there will be peace in the world.”

Whenever and wherever there is division, the Jews are blamed for it because people feel (even if they can’t verbalize it) that had the Jews done their job, they wouldn’t be fighting one another. Even our own Talmud admits that “No calamity comes to the world but because of Israel” (Yevamot 63a), so what can we expect from other nations?

If we want to eliminate antisemitism, we should do our task, unite above all our (countless) divisions, and be a role model to humanity. Then the force that drives antisemitism will turn the hatred around as the nations will see that they are finally getting from the Jews what they always felt the Jews should have given them: an example of unity and solidarity.

The Secret To Abraham’s Success

234The property of mercy, Hesed, was the secret of Abraham’s successful dissemination of knowledge about the Creator because it is love that opens a person to the whole world.

Therefore, Abraham managed to explain to the Babylonians what needs to be done in this life in order to ascend to the level of the Creator. The ones who heard him followed him, but Abraham wanted to save everyone. Likewise, today we must continue the work of Abraham.

We are obliged to open ourselves to everyone in the same way Abraham did and tell everyone about the purpose of life, the purpose of creation, about the correction that man must make. This was the beginning of the correction of every person, of the whole world, which Abraham accomplished. And we need to keep going the same way.

This will be mercy because we will explain to everyone that there is an opportunity to live forever, to achieve perfection, health, and knowledge, everything that one could wish for, to be filled with all the blessings. And it all starts with the quality of Hesed, mercy. This is the first correction of the desire to enjoy.

Everyone must find out why we exist, what form we must come to, and how to implement all this so that all the blows that we now feel pass us by.
From the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 10/3/20, “Sukkot

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Sukkot—The Beginning Of Building The Soul

293.1The festival of Sukkot symbolizes the beginning of building the vessel of the soul. The Creator created the desire to receive, which existed in complete bestowal. But this state was maintained by the power of the Creator, from above. This system was called Adam HaRishon, one soul.

But then, in order to give Adam the opportunity to grow, to become independent, and to realize where he is, the Creator broke this vessel, this common soul. And this is called the sin of Adam with the Tree of Knowledge since the huge egoistic desire was revealed and we exist with it to this day.

Everything happened in the way puzzles are made. First, a picture is drawn, then cut into many pieces so that children can play and put it back together. The Creator deliberately led us to sin with the Tree of Knowledge so that the serpent, our terrible desire to receive, would be revealed. And for 6,000 years now, we must correct Malchut by organizing the qualities of the Sefirot in it: Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod.

We are now entering the final stage of this period. Our Sukkah has a very symbolic appearance because for the first time we are practically starting to work as the last generation. The process of the final correction is starting.

The pieces of the puzzle, which each of us represent, are beginning to draw closer together. We must make a human form out of them so that all our desires unite and become like the Creator. There is a small piece of this puzzle in each of us. We only need to gather in tens, and then from tens in hundreds, and in thousands, as the Torah explains. And so we will try to build out of ourselves the form of man, Adam, resembling (Dome) the Creator.

This building begins with the simplest materials, the lightest desires in our soul. This is how a Sukkah is constructed from the “waste” that is separated from “food.” Food is what our desire to receive instinctively likes. And waste is what we naturally reject.

And by connecting with each other, we want to find out what is waste relative to our connection in order to raise this waste above our heads and to increase its importance above all our thoughts and desires that push us away from each other and prevent us from connecting.

We need to connect and become one person. This is the correction of all humanity, it must begin now during the coronavirus pandemic. With this and other events that will be revealed from above, the Creator pushes us to take action, shows us where we can start assembling this puzzle.

Kabbalah deals with the practical implementation of the program of creation, its correction. And now we are working on the first stages of this correction. We have already passed the stages of Slichot, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur, and now we are entering the period of the Sukkot holiday.

Sukkot symbolizes the corrections that must be made within ourselves, in our desire. The Creator created nothing but desire. In this desire, we feel this world as if it exists, we feel reality, and ourselves. But all this is only presented within our desire to receive.

We need to correct ourselves in a way that we will see ourselves as one person. A desire similar to the Creator is called Adam, man, and in it, we will reveal the Creator coming to embrace and merge with us. And it all starts with the Sukkah, with the fact that we build a connection between us in the light of Hassadim. This is not yet a real connection but only coming closer to each other.

The coronavirus pandemic shows exactly how much we are not able to get close to each other. If we get close to our egoistic desires, we bring each other diseases and harm. This is a living example of our bad relationship.

Therefore, we must try to organize everything both materially and spiritually so that all of humanity understands toward what we need to develop and how to correct ourselves and our world. All the forces, all the conditions that are now unfolding in the world are designed to push us to rise to the first spiritual degree.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 10/2/20, “Sukkot“

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The Gates Of Final Correction Are Open

537We have entered the last generation, that is, we have entered the final stage of the correction. We are standing right at the entrance gate that open this period, but there is already the home stretch behind it toward the end of correction.

We do not know how long it will take and what states we will have to go through. But one thing is clear, we have already entered the final phase of correction and must leave it completely corrected.

We talked a lot with my teacher Rabash about this coming future. But today it has already turned from future into an everyday reality. It is necessary to connect with each other and find out the new properties within this connection because they will already be spiritual.

From these spiritual qualities, one must build a spiritual Partzuf, the roof of the Sukkah, that is, the screen and walls that refer to the general structure of the soul. Thus, it is necessary to gather and unite all tens together, all small Partzufim, each of which is built like a small Sukkah. Having assembled this puzzle, we will connect the whole desire to enjoy, completely turning it into bestowal.

I am very glad and touched that we are in such a process. Who would have thought that we would be so lucky to come to this? We are not able to appreciate what is happening now.

In order to ascend to the next stage of unification, you need to open your heart. Each new step begins with the fact that we open our hearts a little more—we feel that here I am obliged to open myself even more to the connection with friends. I cannot do it and I am sorry, I pray but by this the progress begins.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 10/2/20, “Sukkot“

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“The Reset Button To Restore Nature” (Medium)

Medium published my new article “The Reset Button to Restore Nature

For the first time in history over the past few months, the world entered what some scientists call the “anthropause” — from the word “anthro” (human), a massive halt of human activity. Countries worldwide, almost without exception, have experienced on and off lockdowns to control the spread of Covid-19. What have we learned about nature from this period? Has nature healed from the abuse and wounds inflicted by people throughout the centuries? Any pause, long or short, helps in the meantime until we change human nature.

The appearance of wildlife in urban environments following the reduction in traffic added a colorful attraction to people’s experiences during tough restrictions of movement. Sightings of pumas in downtown Santiago, Chile and coyotes walking down San Francisco streets, combined with the global reduction of pollution levels due to lockdowns, gave the impression of nature reclaiming its place and recovering balance. But this new situation is also posing new challenges. Predatory species are running more freely now, illegal hunting and animal trafficking is on the rise, and nature reserves and parks are feeling the pinch of economic crisis from a lack of visitors, according to international organizations.

Multiple global research initiatives are currently underway to assess the comprehensive impact of the pandemic on nature. In truth, none of the research will bear fruit if the human level is overlooked in the calculations, since the root cause of all imbalances in nature leads back to mankind. To the non-discriminating eye, it appears as if the animate level in the ecological web and the human level of interactions are two separate things. This couldn’t be farther from the truth because they are totally interrelated and interdependent.

We humans are all egoists by nature. What this means is that all of our thoughts and actions are ultimately motivated by a desire to satisfy ourselves and enjoy at the expense of anything and anyone around us. As egoists, we each necessarily perceive only the narrow slice of reality that we think might benefit us. We feel ourselves as largely separate from other people and things, primarily concerned with our own personal problems, each in a constant chase after ephemeral pleasures.

In contrast to the egoistic human perspective, nature aims to connect all its elements into a single harmonious whole. Within this harmonious whole, each part receives what it needs for its sustenance and gives according to its ability for the benefit of the whole — similar to the healthy functioning of the cells and organs in the human body.

While the egoistic quality of mankind increasingly clashes with nature’s altruistic quality, we will experience more and more blows. Blows from nature can appear as global pandemics, as we are now experiencing with the coronavirus, as well as in myriad other forms such as ecological disasters, for example.

Within this completely integral system, the human being is the most complex and qualitatively highest level of life. Human thoughts, attitudes, and relationships also hold the most powerful influence over nature’s other levels. It is extremely difficult for us to notice the extent of the burden of impact we place on nature. Thus, when nature deals us a blow, we seem quite clueless, helpless, and disoriented in our response — caught off-guard — because we are so totally unaware of the fact that the way we relate to each other determines how nature responds to us.

So what is the message that nature is trying to teach us through all the pains and problems it sends us? It is all for us to pause for a moment and start contemplating life, its purpose, and why we are suffering. Nature is sending us a cautionary alarm and wake-up call to rethink the direction in which we are headed. Nature is leading us to the understanding that we are parts of a single interconnected and interdependent system, and to recognize that we must reach a higher level of connection between us in order to restore balance in nature and discover its boundless perfection.

By sending us blows, nature is ultimately teaching us that we need to revise the way we live our lives, that we must recognize the bankruptcy of continuing to live egoistically as we have until today. Instead of trying to benefit the self all the time, we should act to benefit others. Nature is pointing out that by changing our attitudes toward others from egoistic to altruistic, we will enter into balance with nature and enjoy a harmonious, whole, and eternal existence.

Jewish Holidays Are Revelations Of Nature’s Laws

294.4Question: It seems that the autumn holidays, which are called Jewish holidays, are actually worldwide holidays. Especially now during the coronavirus, I am starting to understand this more and more.

Rosh Hashanah (the beginning of the year) symbolizes the discovery of the law of love and bestowal. This is the starting point of humanity, and this is where the counting of time begins. Why is this not a world holiday? Why do we call autumn holidays Jewish?

Answer: These holidays do not apply specifically to Jews. These are cosmic holidays that refer to the upper force that governs our world as it enters new stages of its influence over us.

Question: What does this new year require of us?

Answer: We must change, conform to nature, and not destroy each other. We must stop being controlled by our egoism like small animals. Can you imagine if the animal world had such egoism as we do? They would have consumed us and themselves; everything would have been devoured. And so only humans have it. The human being is gradually consuming everything. We have already reached a dead end! We must realize that our egoism is evil!

This year is a turning point. I hope that it will be such that we realize our evil nature and wish to change it.

Question: Is this your wish for all of humanity? Is it to realize its evil nature?

Answer: Yes, this is my wish for the new year.

Question: Is not the usual wish for everything to be fine, for there to be enough of everything at home, for everyone to be healthy?

Answer: No, no need to wish for that because it will not happen anyway. What is the point of all sorts of impossible dreams, suffering, and so on?

Question: Do you think it will be bad?

Answer: It will be bad, but the main thing is for us to quickly realize the cause of this evil in us. Exclusively in us! In addition to finding the cause, to have ability to correct it and transform it to the opposite. Humanity does not need anything else.

Question: Do you think this is feasible to execute this year?

Answer: If we do not, this realization will come through great unprecedented suffering! It is better to do it quickly. Because when a period of suffering comes, you cannot stop it. It comes for many years and with it brings such destruction and cataclysms, both ecological and societal, with pandemics and so on; it would be simply terrible.

Question: Let us say I heard you, and even the threat that the suffering could be great, what do I do now?

Answer: Tell everyone how we can avoid it, how to prevent it from happening. This can only be done through good connections between us. Just like people cling together like little animals in times of great suffering, that is what we have to do now.

Question: Warm, kind thoughts, getting closer to each other, connection, and unity, this what it should be?

Answer: Yes. If not for the good, then to avoid the bad, but we have to do it.

Question: The next holiday is Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). What does it mean for the world?

Answer: For the world, the Day of Atonement is a manifestation of a great evil inside it, which makes us feel completely powerless. There is nothing we can do but ask for the upper force to help us understand, to help us cope with our inner egoism.

After all, there is nothing external. Everything that exists in the world is only an echo of what is happening inside us.

Question: So, am I already revealing the evil inside me? Do I reveal that this is the most terrible thing possible? What do I ask for?

Answer: I renounce it, I do not wish to use it. This is the meaning of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). That is, I do not use any of my egoistic desires. None! I make a restriction on them. Externally it is defined as the five prohibitions.

Question: What would I achieve if I were to do this?

Answer: You would have stopped working with your egoism. Then you can start building your attitude toward the world only from the angle of goodness and connection. This is characterized by the fact that you are building a hut.

Question: So, we come to the third autumn holiday of Sukkot. What is the construction of a hut called a Sukkah?

Answer: This is called “Sukkat Shalom“—hut of peace. It represents the screen, that is, the anti-egoistic force that covers all of us, all of humanity. This is what we need to build.

We can hide under this force. We can gather together, and in this way we want to live.

This is all that we need to do for the new year. If we pass through these states, we are ready for the new development which is the new year. This development is toward the complete unification of all mankind under such a world blanket.

Question: If this happens, should we not be afraid of the virus and all that?

Answer: The virus will disappear as soon as we wish to start moving in this direction.
From KabTV’s “News with Dr. Michael Laitman” 9/14/20

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“Should Earth Get Rid Of People?” (Medium)

Medium published my new article “Should Earth Get Rid of People?

If animals and plants could speak, they would probably say that life was so much better before we humans came along. They’re absolutely right. A UN report found that no less than one million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction because of human activity. We are depleting the soil, chopping down forests, hunting down entire species, polluting the air, contaminating the ground, littering the seas, and we are doing this at an accelerating rate. If I were nature, I’d declare war on humanity a long time ago.

Nature will not wait for us to grow wise and start developing our positivity. It will expose more and more of our unscrupulous nature, as it is doing now, until we realize we have no choice but to change.
We regard ourselves as separate from nature, when in fact we are a link in the chain. Moreover, we are the apex of the pyramid. Currently, we are streaming negativity down through the entire system and all of nature is going berserk.

Consider this data from Times Union, for example: The August Complex fire currently burning in California has broken the record for a single fire as it surpassed 1 million acres. Moreover, the total area of land burned by California wildfires this year passed 4 million acres, more than double the previous record. And if that’s not enough, then here’s the knockout piece of info: The August Complex is larger than all of the recorded fires in California between 1932 and 1999, combined! Indeed, a noxious species.

But there is a reason for our being here, and there’s a reason why we were created so lame that we haven’t even the commonsense not to destroy our own home. While two forces — positive and negative — govern all of nature, only one force governs humanity. Instead of the balance between giving and receiving, hot and cold, birth and death, and day and night that streams life seamlessly for all of nature, the negative force is the sole ruler of our hearts. This is probably why it is written, “The wickedness of man is great on the earth, and all the intent of the thoughts of his heart is only evil the whole day.”

But as just, there is a reason we are born so evil: We have a mission to accomplish. Our vocation as human beings is to grasp the full depth of creation, and to do that, we must understand the thinking behind it. We were made negative so we could develop the positive side of our own volition, and learn how to integrate it with our innate negativity. If we accomplish this, we will restore balance in our own lives, in all of human society, and in all of nature.

But nature will not wait for us to grow wise and start developing our positivity. It will expose more and more of our unscrupulous nature, as it is doing now, until we realize we have no choice but to change. There is no question that we will have to develop the positive side about us; the only question is how much we’ll have to suffer until we understand nature’s “hint” and get to work on ourselves.

In fact, it isn’t hard. We have each other. The level of hatred that has surfaced in American society, but elsewhere in the world, as well, indicates where we have to start — with accepting one another. Human society is as diverse as all of nature. But while we cherish diversity in nature, we hate it in society. When we learn to accept one another and embrace the diversity of our cultures and ethnicities, we’ll have a chance at changing our environment, as well.

We are already at a point where huge swaths of land are becoming uninhabitable. Even within the continental United States, people are fleeing their homes from fires and from hurricanes, and parts of Europe are drowning in floods. In all likelihood, many of them will not be able to return. And that trend will only escalate in the coming years.

It is going to be a terrible decade for humanity unless we turn it into a decade of awakening. If we awaken to our task and start developing the positive force within us, start learning how to care for one another and for nature, we will reverse the trend. If not, our lives on Earth will be unbearable.

“Why Did The NBA Finals Get Such Low Ratings This Year?” (Quora)

Dr. Michael LaitmanMichael Laitman, On Quora: Why did the NBA finals get such low ratings this year?

Today, one of my students told me about this year’s very low ratings of the NBA finals, also mentioning how the recent Emmy awards plummeted to all-time low viewer numbers, down 14 percent from last year’s ceremony, as well as the Oscar awards earlier this year dropping to an all-time low viewership. They asked me what I think about this general decline in interest among various forms of entertainment and sport.

Our generation lavished in excesses of entertainment and sport more than any other. We placed them up on pedestals, showering their proponents with our utmost attention and respect. However, all such ways of enjoying and fulfilling ourselves are transient, and at a certain point, our interest in them wanes.

This is because human nature is a desire to enjoy, which constantly grows and demands new and different kinds of enjoyments to our previous ones. While all kinds of influences can turn our heads to basketball one minute, and then to film and actors the next minute, and then to another pleasure the minute after that, ad nauseam, at a certain point of our desire’s development, we will find that no matter what anybody tries to attract us with, we will feel disinterested.

It will simply be because our desire has outgrown what previously gave us enjoyment. Similar to a child who outgrows his or her toys, we too will start feeling drives for more mature and meaningful fulfillment—genuine human connection and answers to deeper questions about our life’s ultimate meaning, which will itch away at us more and more.

This year in particular, the coronavirus struck our lives, highlighting our vast interdependence all around the globe, and placing us all into a common global situation. It is as if we found ourselves aboard a new global Titanic, floating in space, without any clue as to where it is taking us or what will happen tomorrow.

As we float along together on this giant planetary ship, nobody really knows where to turn or what to do, so some turn right, others turn left, and we find ourselves in a major global crisis as we polarize more and more.

Therefore, as our desires start outgrowing what previously fulfilled them, and while we increasingly realize our tightening interdependence and interconnectedness worldwide—that we share a common global problem—it is no wonder that the NBA finals, and Emmy and Oscar award shows, have reached record lows in interest.

We are growing up. I am optimistic that we will become more aware of how our human nature operates on us, how it is growing to new heights, and how it starts demanding different and more meaningful kinds of fulfillment. I am also hopeful that we will succeed in providing our more mature needs the fulfillment they seek—to realize our increasing interdependence and interconnectedness positively, and by doing so, feel a much fuller, more expansive and authentic reality to our current one.

If we start navigating through these turbulent seas crashing against our common ship today, seeking how to meaningfully connect above our drives for momentary pleasures, then we can rest assured that our ship will reach a safe shore.

Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash.