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Medium published my new article “We Can Make Inflation Work for Us”
All over the western world, prices are on the rise. In the US, consumer prices have gone up by more than 6 percent, the most since the 1990s. In Germany, prices have gone up 4.5 percent, and in the United Kingdom, prices are up 5.1 percent. These leading economies demonstrate what is happening across Europe and North America. Pundits tell us that jams in supply chains have created a shortage in commodities and raw materials, and an increase in demand, which spirals prices upward.
I believe we can make inflation work for us. We can turn it into an opportunity to rethink our entire value system and figure out if there are more things to enjoy besides shopping, things that are more satisfying and less costly to us and to our planet.
Currently, we produce far more than we need. We throw away half the food we produce, manufacture unprecedented amounts of weapons of all kinds, and trash perfectly good phones in order to buy the latest model. We also apply this senseless approach to clothing, shoes, and many other goods. Do we feel happier when we act this way? Very briefly, before we sink into an even deeper depression. Meanwhile, our needless excessive shopping causes delays in supply chains where there should have been none.
The shopping frenzy does not help anyone. We are filling the soil and oceans with garbage and waste, polluting them with plastic and toxins, poisoning ourselves, the animals, and the fish. The only ones who benefit from this cycle are the business owners who see the number of zeros in their bank accounts grow even though the money is sitting there uselessly.
There is an alternative: We can produce as much as we need to live comfortably, which is less than half of what we produce now, buy only what we need, and spend the rest of our time bonding with each other. Instead of deriving meaningless pleasures from new smartphones, we will enjoy the stronger bonds among us, the greater sense of belonging and security, and the feeling of being surrounded by people who care about us rather than alienate us.
This is not a new idea. The ARI Institute wrote about it back in 2012 in the book The Benefits of the New Economy, and a few years later, The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman expressed similar ideas when he wrote in 2017 that in the future, people will need to “create more value with hearts and between hearts.” To this, he added, “We used to work with our hands. Machines replaced that but we started to work with our heads instead in a knowledge economy. …Next I think we’re going to work more with our hearts.”
To break the logjam where things are stuck because of our excessive competitiveness and alienation from each other, we should shift from pursuing material pleasures, which do not bring lasting happiness and charge a hefty environmental tax, to spiritual pleasures that come from enhancing and tightening family and community ties, and enhance the overall feeling of mutual responsibility in society.
Such a transition still requires explanation. People have been “programmed” to suspect and alienate everyone. If we want a sustainable society, we must “reprogram” ourselves to be the social beings we once were. We can wait a little longer if we want, but we must do it sooner rather than later. The longer we wait, the more compelling our shift in values will be since the broken supply chains and all the problems that plague our world will not heal themselves. Either we heal them by shedding what is redundant and adopting a more caring approach to each other and our planet, or life will strip us of anything that is not an absolute necessity.
Medium published my new article “54 Nobel Laureates Are No Match to Petty Politicians”
Physicists Sir Roger Penrose and Prof. Carlo Rovelli, as well as fifty-two other Nobel Laureates, are among the signatories of a new initiative called “Global Peace Dividend.” The initiative seeks to “reduce military spending by 2% in all countries,” thereby “save one trillion USD over 5 years,” and use the money “to fight planetary emergencies.” Since, as they write, “humankind faces risks that can only be averted through cooperation,” the scientists suggest that we “cooperate instead of fighting among ourselves.”
As much as I would like their initiative to succeed, Nobel laureates do not run the world; politicians run it, and they will go to any length and spare no effort to achieve military dominance, even if it leads us to an atomic, third world war, which it will.
We have a problem. Hatred, folly, and selfishness have climaxed to levels that form an impenetrable wall. Humanity is in a desperate state. This is how I see it.
In every society, the people who excel in its most dominant trait are its leaders. In an egoistic society, the most egoistic are the leaders. Human society is not only egoistic, but is growing more so by the day. Therefore, our leaders are the most self-centered. As such, they cannot see anything or think of anything but themselves. They will preach to us and pretend to care about people when in truth, their only goal is their seat at the helm.
It is not their fault; it is human nature, and they cannot go against the nature that drives them from within. They are totally enslaved to it and will do whatever it tells them. If it tells them that it is perfectly OK to destroy the economies of their own countries to keep up with the arms race, they will not hesitate for a minute.
Russia, for example, has extracted everything it could. Other than a few hundred super rich individuals, the rest of the people are in poverty. The US, too, is deteriorating rapidly. Yet, governments cannot control their passion for control. Remember the rule: In an egoistic society, the one at the top is the most egoistic. Therefore, people should not expect any benefits from the leaders.
The only time when politicians listen to scientists is when they tell them that they can develop a more lethal weapon that will give them military superiority. If they tell them anything else, they will reply, “Just give us nuclear weapons; we will know what to do with it.”
In 2020, the world economy shrank by more than 4%. During that same year, global arms purchases reached an all-time high of nearly two trillion dollars. This goes to show how focused world leaders are on their own objectives. One would think that if there is a recession, arms purchases would decrease, but the opposite occurred.
When you think about it from a self-centered perspective, it makes perfect sense: The worse off we are, the more money we need to spend on arming ourselves, since leaders are more likely to start wars. Since leaders need to keep their people from rebelling, they must incite them against others. So the worse we do financially, the more we need to spend on arms in order to prepare for war. And if you think that at some point the resources for weapons will run dry, I would not count on it; leaders will spend their last dime on weapons.
Even building shelters will not help. You can build shelters that protect from rockets, but you cannot build shelters to protect a nation from atomic bombs.
The only solution that does exist is to change the ego itself. The ego is the drive behind the arms race and the impending war. Hence, only changing the ego and reining it in will help prevent a war.
People who understand me should join forces and nurture unity, care for one another, and eventually love one another above all the differences. This is the only antidote to the virus of egoism. There is no other vaccine for it other than to try to care for one another despite our inherent alienation.
If we are already aware that we are dependent on each other, and that narcissism is our enemy, we should start working together on changing our behavior from self-centered to caring. Just as we currently teach ourselves to be selfish, we should teach ourselves that if we are selfish, we are hurting ourselves, so we had better learn to be unselfish. If many of us work on it together, around the world, then it is not too late.
For more on the importance of solidarity, see my book Self-Interest Vs. Altruism In The Global Era.
Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “On the Verge of Ruin”
A few days ago was the tenth of the Hebrew month of Tevet. On that day in 587 B.C. began the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon, which culminated in the destruction of the First Temple and the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people. Jewish sources, however, do not attribute the downfall to the Babylonian king, but to bloody internal conflicts, slander, intrigue, and other forms of mutual abuse. Seventy years after the exile, we returned to the land, rebuilt the Temple, but let the Second Temple fall once more for the same reason: our hatred for one another.
Today we are once again the sovereign in Israel, and once again we are fighting among ourselves. Not physically, yet, but we are definitely fighting, and the hatred is only growing stronger. Religious Jews hate secular Jews and secular Jews detest religious Jews; the Right hate the Left and vice versa; Ashkenazi Jews cannot stand Sephardic Jews and the other way around; and every day new divisions arise. The hatred that destroyed two Temples will also destroy our fragile country. We are on the verge of ruin.
Just as we blame Nebuchadnezzar for the destruction of the First Temple and the Roman general Titus for the destruction of the Second Temple, today we blame Iran, the UN, and a host of other hostile countries and organizations for our troubles. But just as our own sages attributed our ruin only to our own division, today’s approaching fall of the State of Israel is happening for exactly the same reason.
If we are to avoid a similar fate to the one we have already experienced twice, we must address the common cause that keeps failing us: internal hatred. We must recognize that our strength lies first and foremost in our unity, and everything else, including military might and sophisticated technology, is an adjunct to the most essential element: unity.
Our vocation, our calling as a nation, has not changed since our inception. From day one, our mission has been to unite above the hatred that has always existed among us, and by doing so, to set an example for the world. When we were divided, foreign rulers overcame us and tormented us. When we were united, we were safe and welcome among the nations.
We may think of ourselves as a “startup nation” or believe that we are strong because of our military might and technological edge. However, wars are won with spirit, not computers, and when it comes to spirit, we have none. We do not believe in our cause, we do not understand what it means to be “a light unto nations,” people who set an example of unity, and we have no wish to learn about it. We are obstinate and arrogant, and there is nothing more stupefying than hubris.
If we do not wake up now and realize our calling, it will be very difficult and painful to do so later. At some point it will be too late to turn around, the country will be ruined, its people exiled, and the whole world will suffer because Israel failed to recognize its calling.
Answer: No, on the contrary, it is very good. People stopped believing in all sorts of nonsense that supposedly can happen by itself within the framework of the earthly world. They see that only what is available to our sciences can be done here, and therefore, there is nothing to be surprised at. Close your eyes, open them again, look at the world, make sure it is the same as it was before.
Question: You say that you do not believe in miracles, that a person performs a miracle himself. Can you explain this?
Answer: A person, working on himself, creates a certain environment around him that helps him, with the help of the forces of nature, to get out of his nature, from his egoistic desire to attract everything and be filled with everything, into an altruistic desire—to treat everything with bestowal and love.
This transition is the transition from Egypt to the Sinai Desert. It is the transition from our lower earthly world to the upper world, from the property of receiving to the property of bestowal.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 11/30/21
Answer: We are all in one system on all the levels of still, vegetative, animate, and speaking nature so whatever happens on one level affects all other levels. People on the speaking level have the greatest impact. If their relations are imbalanced, negative energies that stem from them affect all other levels.
Question: Does the feeling of hatred attract energy that causes accumulative harm to the world?
Answer: Of course. Because everything is energy, feeling, attitude.
Question: Experts who speak about the emission of greenhouse gasses claim that the climate crisis requires man to change as well. What is the change that needs to take place on the human level?
Answer: A change in relations between people. If people change, the calm, balanced, and good connection they will bring to the world will impact all levels of nature: the still, the vegetative, and the animate. Man is responsible for everything, “His hand will be upon all, and everyone’s hand upon him.”
From KabTV’s “Conversation with Journalists” 10/28/21
Question: Does a Kabbalist have any supernatural powers that he could somehow manifest in our world? For example, healing abilities.
Answer: No. All this manifests itself only in him.
By studying the wisdom of Kabbalah, a person attracts positive forces of nature, which are studied in Kabbalah. Thus, in principle, he helps all people, including himself, in part, in correction as he corrects the course of his life. But in general, he does not do it purposefully.
He does not need this, he does not want to use this opportunity even if he has some properties that we call supernatural. He will never use them for some petty, fleeting purposes.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 11/30/21
Question: How do Kabbalists view supernatural phenomena in nature?
Answer: There are no supernatural phenomena. What does “supernatural” mean? From which point does “natural” begin and from which point does “above nature” begin? Everything that is within the framework of our egoistic phenomena is called natural because we are in this nature. And everything that is higher than our egoistic properties is called supernatural.
All nature, whatever it may be, that is reflected in our ideas, in our properties, forces, qualities, and feelings is divided into the natural, that which is in us now, and the supernatural, that which is not in us yet today but tomorrow will be. Or some people already have it and for them it is natural, while others do not yet and for them it is still unusual. Everything is determined relative to a person.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 11/30/21
Question: The Book of Zohar is written from the degree of the upper force that governs everything. Is that why it changes a person? Can it do everything?
Answer: It can do everything. But there is nothing in The Book itself, in its pages and symbols. It can be printed in China, or it doesn’t matter where, and given to anyone in the world to read.
It all depends on how much you want to penetrate through this book into the world that it describes. Then you will begin to see it as a multi-layered narrative.
Everything depends only on the desire! The Book itself does nothing. With your desire, you begin to reveal the connection with the upper world through it.
And then this connection gradually changes the person. He reveals the outer sphere, the upper force, the state in which we exist above our animal level. If we rise to a higher level, that is, from the inanimate to the vegetative, from the vegetative to the animal, from the animal to the human, then we cease to feel the previous level as explicitly existing.
For example, when my hair or nails are cut I do not feel pain, I do not feel that I am losing something from my body because this is the plant level that is lower than an animal. We have exactly the same feeling when we find the upper world and look at our material world: “Cut it off!” We remain to exist forever in perfection together with the upper force that determines everything. That’s what we exist for.
A person reveals the source of the upper force. The meeting with the Creator takes place in the connection of people with each other. This is exactly what The Book of Zohar helps with.
I hope that by doing it correctly, humanity will come to get rid of egoism, to solve all its problems.
From KabTV’s “Close-Up. Fate and The Book of Zohar” 2/5/10
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “How can Israel change public opinion that they are committing Apartheid against Palestinians?“
We, the people of Israel, need to construct ourselves according to what made us the people of Israel to begin with: that our connections to each other will be based on the tenet “Love your friend as yourself,” and that we would think, want and act accordingly, generating an atmosphere of mutual support among us.
If we choose to take this path, then we will attract certain forces to ourselves that would make it impossible for anyone to harm us, and which would also invert the growing negative public opinion against us into a positive one. That is, by realizing what made us the people of Israel to begin with, we realize our role in the world, become a conduit to attract positive forces to ourselves, pass those forces onward to humanity at large, and as such, we would see public opinion shift to a positive form.
We are all egoists, i.e., with a sole concern for ourselves alone. This ego, the prioritization of self-benefit over benefiting others, which develops to a desire to exploit others for personal gain, is the cause of the world’s increasing problems and crises. We, the people of Israel, were once granted access to a special wisdom that can connect us positively above our egos. In our current era, the ability and the wisdom to positively connect above our egos has started becoming a global necessity.
Therefore, the more we fail to implement this wisdom upon ourselves—the longer we take to implement positive connections above our egos—the more people around the world will suffer, the more they will subconsciously feel that we are to blame for their problems.
We can thus expect public opinion to grow increasingly negative against us until we wake up to the special wisdom and connection that we need to realize, which has the power to invert the amassing negativity against us into a positive, supportive and favorable opinion.
Based on the video “Israel’s Best Defense to the War of Public Opinion Against it Is Unity” with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman, Tal Mandelbaum Moshe and Oren Levi.
Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.