Michael Laitman, On Quora: “What do you think is the cause of modern racism?“
The human ego is the basis for all our drives and characteristics. It operates in an absorptive manner, receiving from others and nature for the sake of personal benefit. Over the course of history, the ego undergoes development and leads us to a fateful transition where it changes direction to its opposite: from receiving to giving. We can aid such a transformation, to make it faster and more enjoyable, if we learn how the ego operates on us, and what we can do in order to realize the transformation consciously.
When our perception shifts to a direction that aims from ourselves outwardly, toward the benefit of others, we discover a paradigm of totally different feelings and understandings. When we are self-aimed, we always calculate whether something is good or bad for us. It means that we automatically choose that which we perceive as good for the ego, and throw aside what we see as bad for it. When there is a phenomenon that neither benefits nor harms the ego, then we have no sensation of that phenomenon. This is how we perceive reality.
When we change ourselves, shifting our constant egoistic focus on self-aimed benefit to an altruistic focus on the benefit of others, we then start perceiving the part of reality that surrounds us, which we had no prior perception of, because we perceived everything through our egoistic impulses.
We then start perceiving everything via a completely opposite altruistic lens. Instead of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, we develop five new altruistic senses called “Keter, Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin and Malchut.” We then perceive a new world, called the “upper world” or “spiritual world,” through the new altruistic nature that we attain.
When we reach such attainment, our egoistic perception of reality still remains. We continue living and feeling the world through our same inborn five senses, however our focus completely transforms to perceive the altruistic part of reality that is concealed from our egoistic perception. We then start feeling life in two worlds. Via this new perception and sensation, we start making decisions on how we orient our every motion. We are all destined to reach this state.
In the meantime, our egoistic perception prioritizes whatever it perceives as serving greater benefit to ourselves, while everything that does not benefit us, it rejects or does not perceive at all. In general, we automatically choose what we enjoy and find useful for our goals, and reject everything else.
Racism is a state where, in addition to our senses being directed solely toward self-benefit, we also enjoy when others are worse off. Humanity in general has this problem. Part and parcel of our egoistic development over generations is that the ego reaches a state of overgrowth, where we live and work not only to serve our own interests, but we also wish to inflict harm upon others. This comes from excessive social desires (wealth, honor, control and knowledge) where we constantly compare ourselves to others, and the bigger our egos are, the more we want to be above them. Then the worse it is for them, the better it is for us.
Envy, hatred, and generally the desire to reap enjoyment from harming others, is nonexistent in animals. This constant comparison to others in society thus sets the scene for racism. We start blaming others for all kinds of problems and misfortunes in our lives when we think that they cause our troubles, or when we see that they are more fortunate and successful than we are. Also, we want to look good in the eyes of society, and the more we see others looking seemingly better than us, the more we want to put them down in order to elevate our own status. Such traits exist only in humans, because we are composed of animal and human qualities. The animal part of us requires food, sex and family, and the human part demands money, honor, control and knowledge. When our egoistic desire grows and we wish to fulfill ourselves more and more with the sources of these emotions, we then encounter envy and hatred.
It follows that we feel better off when we see others as worse off, as it is an essential aspect of our inborn ego. If our egos are small, similar to animals, then we do not encounter such negative emotions. However, if our egos are highly developed, then we feel great unrest due to constantly comparing ourselves to others and seeing that they are more successful and fortunate. This unrest thus acts on us in order to make us want to be above them, either by outcompeting them, or by putting them down.
Racism thus increasingly surfaces the more our egos grow. We find ourselves emphasizing our differences and divisions more and more, without any inclination to rise above them, which ends up creating more and more instances of racism, hatred and division.
We thus find ourselves moving toward a state of immense hatred and divisiveness, on one hand, but on the other hand, we also find ourselves becoming increasingly interdependent. At such a fateful juncture, we need a new kind of education that emphasizes how we can positively connect above our divisive drives—specifically a wisdom that acknowledges the causes of our divisive drives, and which guides us not in order to diminish or cancel them, but in order to rise above them in a positive connection—and by doing so, we will reach a newfound harmonious balance between these two opposite tendencies.
Based on a video conference with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman on June 7, 2015.
Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman. Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash.