Michael Laitman, On Quora: “How can you end suffering in life?“
We first need to understand the source of suffering in life, and then we can implement a method to end it.
In order to understand the source of suffering, the wisdom of Kabbalah explains a key interaction between two fundamental forces in nature: one is a force called “light,” the force of love, bestowal and connection, also known as “the upper force” and “the Creator” (“Boreh” in Hebrew), which means “come and see” (“Bo” and “Reh”), because we need to attain this force as a clear perception and sensation in order to believe it. This initial force created the second force: the creation, which is also called “the created being” or “the desire to enjoy”—a lack of fulfillment, opposite to the initial upper force.
The upper force develops the desire to enjoy, making us feel as if we need and want several different kinds of fulfillment. We are essentially made of a set of desires—food, sex, family, money, honor, control and knowledge—and we each feel an instinctive urge to fulfill ourselves via these desires in differing extents.
If we fail to fulfill these desires, we suffer, and this suffering extends from sensations of emptiness to those of outright pain, the latter of which can even become intolerable.
Desires for food, sex and family are natural bodily instincts shared by all animals. By contrast, desires for money, honor, control and knowledge are social desires based on comparing what we have in relation to others, and such desires are unique to humans.
The source of suffering is thus the inability to fulfill these desires. In Kabbalistic terms, when the light (pleasure/fulfillment) does not fill the desire, then it suffers, and the suffering can be intense or slight, long-term or momentary, collective or individual.
Understanding that our desires’ lack of fulfillment is the source of our suffering, we thus find ourselves in a constant race for fulfillment. The problem is that our desire to enjoy only knows how to enjoy at the expense of others and nature, and thus we pit ourselves up against each other in a tug-of-war, each pulling to their own corner. That is why any kind of fulfillment we sense in this current setup is only transient, after which we once again feel empty and desire a different fulfillment again and again.
The solution to this predicament is to invert the direction by which we enjoy. If instead of wishing to receive fulfillment for ourselves alone at the expense of others, we would develop a new desire—one where we wish for the benefit of others—then we would enter a new level of life where we would feel constant fulfillment.
Image: Left: Direct reception of pleasure into the desire leads to its extinguishment. Right: The intention to benefit others redirects the pleasure, allowing for continuous fulfillment.
Our desire to enjoy for personal benefit alone immensely limits and narrows our sensation of fulfillment to very tiny and transient moments, and most of the time we feel emptiness and suffering in order to push us to seek fulfillment. On the contrary, the desire to benefit others holds unlimited potential for fulfillment, because by aiming to benefit others, we enter into balance with the initial force of love, bestowal and connection that is on the opposite side of reality, wishing to bestow just like it.
The wisdom of Kabbalah is a method that teaches us how to undergo such a transition. “Kabbalah” means “reception” in Hebrew, because it teaches us how to receive fulfillment in a way that is ultimately adapted to nature, a fulfillment that does not fade away but which constantly increases.
On one hand, Kabbalah has become quite popular, but on the other hand, it is a hidden wisdom, because its results are felt in each person’s sensations and desires. Nevertheless, it is open for everyone, and it lets us understand how to work with our desires in order to receive fulfillment in an unlimited manner. By doing so, we become truly happy as we rid ourselves of suffering at its very source.
Based on “New Life episode 736: The Origin of Our Suffering” [28:27] on June 23, 2016. Written/edited by students of Kabbalists Dr. Michael Laitman.