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My new article on Linkedin “One Year Later—Polarization Is Still Sinking America”
A year after the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th during a 2020 election protest, polarization prevails in the United States and lack of trust has only deepened. Only 20% of Americans have faith in the integrity of its election system (a nearly 50% drop from the previous year) according to a new ABC/Ipsos poll. Finding a common ground between Republicans and Democrats to recover public confidence looks impossible, but there is no other alternative in this matter of existential importance.
Exactly one year ago former President Donald Trump’s supporters invaded Capitol Hill in an attempt to prevent the ratification of Joe Biden as the nation’s leader. At that time the country was fraught with deep political divisions and social tensions that ripped Americans apart into two factions. While half of the nation exuberantly celebrated, the other half felt disenfranchised, frustrated, and angry which boiled over into vehement questions of fraud in the electoral process.
Nothing has changed much. The wounds are deep, still raw, open, and bleeding. America remains torn apart and the social divide has intensified. A recent University of Massachusetts poll reveals that 71% of Republicans consider Joe Biden’s victory illegitimate, and on the other side, 91% of Democrats believe Biden was duly elected.
There is no problem with different camps being in disagreement as there will always be differences in opinions. The real threat is the extremism. The current mistrust and strong mutual accusations are eroding America’s social fabric. The situation is so bad now that it is hard to believe it could get even worse. But the current breakage being revealed now in US politics and between its citizens actually poses a unique opportunity for all to realize that there is no way to survive and thrive unless the country unites.
The alternative scenario is an unbearably explosive situation of constant strife that is on course to erupt into the total internal disruption of America. This will clearly not benefit any side or any individual. In the interdependent and interconnected reality we live in, breaking the boat that keeps everyone afloat will only sink and drown all so quickly that no means of bailing out will remain. Currently each side is too busy paddling in its own direction to even notice there is a hole in the boat.
What is needed is to reveal something that currently does not exist: a common denominator to repair the breakage. The disparate positions can yield this together, and only together. The Republicans lean to the economic side, to industry, and the military, and Democrats lean toward social movements, massive protests, rousing pretty words to achieve their agendas. Can one live without the other? No, that is impossible, one side cannot wipe out the other; they need to be balanced in such a way that the trust in the democratic system is restored.
The two opposite parties and their followers that are currently in a trajectory of greater separation need to do the opposite of their current inclinations and instead get closer, not because they profoundly love each other or even agree with each other, but because they need to find their shared interest, the nation. It is in everyone’s common interest to overcome their differences to keep America afloat.
From My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 1/6/22
When you look at people immersed in computer games, you get the feeling that they would readily jump into the computer and become the avatars that represent them in the game. Indeed, computer games answer all our questions. Some people even believe that in the future, we will live in a computer network and communicate with one another in a world that is completely virtual. But games have a purpose: to make us ask about reality and our place in it.
From a broader perspective, we can see that our “reality” is a game, as well. We buy, sell, win, and lose. If you tell a child what you do all day, he will tell you that you, too, play games.
For most people, today’s games are different from the ones their parents played. They no longer play ball or ride their bikes through the park. They play on their phones, alone or with other people online, or they watch others play.
There is a reason for this. We build reality according to our desires. As our desires have changed, our games have changed accordingly. As we have become more self-absorbed and narcissistic, our games have changed to reflect our self-centeredness.
Also, in many ways, children in today’s games feel like they are building their own world. This is far more satisfying than playing basketball, for example. If we, adults, felt like we were building an entire world to live in, much like kids do in Minecraft, for example, we would never come out of the game.
On the computer, on the playing field, or in life, we play to win. But thousands of years ago, the authors of the Midrash said (Kohelet Rabbah), “One does not leave the world with half one’s wishes in one’s hand, for one who has one hundred wants two
hundred; one who has two hundred wants four hundred.”
The only way to win the game is to ask about its purpose. When we ask, it is as if we stop the game and demand to know why we’re playing in the first place. In life, too, we should stop and ask why we do what we do, why there are stars, air, Earth, people, why everything exists and why we live. When we ask these questions, it is like going back to our childhood when we asked ourselves these questions. When we ask, the questions themselves bring us answers, and answers are the only victory we need.
Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “The True Touristic Magnet of the Land of Israel”
Travel and tourism is among the sectors most affected by the Covid 19 pandemic around the world. Israel is no exception. Last year, only 300,000 tourists visited the Jewish state due to travel restrictions, in contrast to the record-breaking 4.5 million tourists reported for 2019. But even as the virus comes under control worldwide and the situation normalizes, we must recognize that what Israel has to offer is much more than breathtaking landscapes and iconic sites.
Among the victims of Israel’s battered tourism industry are tour guides and travel agents who have been virtually unemployed for the past two years as travel bans have been repeatedly imposed to control new variants of the coronavirus imported from abroad. Hundreds of tourism workers demonstrated in the heart of Tel Aviv a few days ago to demand compensation for the long period during which they could not work regularly. The protests erupted after the finance minister advised them to “change jobs,” but in the end a financial aid package was approved.
Nevertheless, love of the land and enjoyment of the profession are not enough to try to keep tourism the way it was. In general, tourism today has undergone a kind of distortion. There is a tourism that encourages shopping, a tourism that encourages entertainment, and another that encourages prostitution. The original tourism, which was based on traveling to different places, especially abroad, and learning about the culture there, has already lost its appeal. Therefore, I do not believe that the tourism industry should be artificially revived.
It is also a mistake to blame all the problems of tourism on Covid-19. Without Covid-19, some other disease would have occurred or some other natural phenomenon would have brought down the tourism industry, which needs to be revamped.
If we were to see the big picture of reality, we would realize that the goal of the human race is to achieve the unity of all and join together as one big family. If we use tourism as a means to come closer, to get to know other peoples, to overcome differences, then this means is helpful to us. But if we, especially Israelis, allow ourselves to be captured by the magic of foreign cultures, abandon our ancient Jewish culture and tradition and replace them with new, foreign worldviews in our social fabric, then there will be no more room for tourism and it will insidiously continue to dwindle.
We Jews have a true treasure in our hands. If we were to tap into the exemplary sources of the Jewish people that speak of brotherly love as a way of life, and unite “as one man in one heart,” we would serve as a magnet for all in the world. “The Land of Israel is not some external entity. It is not merely an external acquisition for the Jewish people,” as Rav Kook wrote, but “rather, the Land of Israel has an internal meaning. It is connected to the Jewish people by the knot of life. Its essence is imbued with extraordinary qualities.” ( Lights, The Land of Israel)
The power of mutual connection between us is capable of evoking a greater positive force, a force of the highest nature. With its help, it is possible to open a new tourism, such as has never existed before – a tourism that connects the spiritual level with the physical level, between the Land of Israel from above and the Land of Israel from below, a sublime feeling that will be transmitted to every person in the world.
My new article on Linkedin “If You Run Over “Signposts,” Expect Accidents”
Now that we are facing a fourth jab, or a second booster shot, pick your term, it is obvious that we are going about the pandemic the wrong way. It makes no sense to get vaccinated every six months or so. We cannot beat the virus because we do not understand that it is not an external enemy, but emerges from within us for a reason. Until we understand why it is here, we will not know how to deal with it.
SARS-COV-2 is a signpost. Like all signposts, it is in the ideal place to keep us on the right path. However, instead of following the sign, we think it is an obstacle in our way and try to run over it.
To know how to deal with the virus successfully, we first need to know what it is for. Why has it come specifically now and not before or later? For example, just recently, a combination of new algorithms and technologies identified hundreds of previously unknown microbes that live in our bodies. There are countless more that we do not know about, and many of them are viruses.
A virus is not necessarily pathogenic. It becomes noxious when we excite it to act against us.
In other words, our negative behavior induces negative change in the virus, just as it induces negative changes in all of nature. The virus is a signpost in the sense that it indicates that we have gone astray. If we return to the right path, the virus will disappear. If we do not, it will stay until we do, or another painful signpost will take its place until we understand.
The only way we can stay on track is to lead a balanced way of life. If we switch from coal to solar and from gasoline to electricity, but do not change our abusive and exploitative attitude toward other people and the environment, nothing will change for the better. We will see escalating disasters on all levels, from earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and fires, through droughts, storms, and rising sea levels, to epidemics and finally to social breakdown, chaos, and war.
They are all signposts. They will stop harming us when we stop bumping into them. When we adopt a balanced way of life, where we live in harmony with one another and with all of nature, when we nurture reciprocity and mutual development instead of swagger and degradation of others, we will not be at odds with one another or with nature.
As long as we set ourselves on a collision course with the people around us and with nature, we will have accidents. When we foster mutual consideration in society and align ourselves with the planet we live on, our lives will be a smooth and joyful ride. It is basic common sense.
Rabash, “You Stand Today,” 471: Likewise, when a person feels the love of the Creator, he understands that it is worthwhile to leave other loves for the love of the Creator. But later, when the awakening passes away from him and he no longer feels the love of the Creator, he will want to return to the other loves that he had already decided to toss away.
At that time, a person needs the covenant and [to] maintain the same conduct that he had while he felt the love of the Creator, although now he has no feeling whatsoever. Then, the work must be compulsory, to enslave himself to the covenant that he had made before. This is called “that you may enter into the covenant.”
Answer: If I realize with my mind that everything comes from the Creator and that everything around and inside of me is absolutely good, I make a commitment that I will continuously reveal this state in me, and not for the sake of making me feel good about it, of course it will be good for me, but for the sake of bestowing pleasure to the Creator.
I do not want to think bad of Him, speak bad of Him, begrudge Him, and see evil in everything. I must correct all the evil in me, and then I will see absolute good around me.
Question: Is it possible to control your feelings and emotions? A state comes and that is it.
Answer: I ask the Creator to help me in this. Without turning to the Creator, without an insistent and repetitive request, I will not achieve anything.
Question: That is, I cannot fulfill this covenant by myself?
Answer: Of course not. Only if you ask Him.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 12/14/21
Question: For almost 1,000 years, from the construction of the First Temple to the destruction of the Second Temple, there was a period of prophets. How should we relate to their texts that are accepted in all religions?
We know that the Torah is written in the language of allegories, the language of branches, which describes spiritual forces in the words of our world. Can we interpret the prophecies in the same way?
Answer: Undoubtedly. In the Torah, that is, in the general texts of the Tanakh (The Torah, Prophets, and Scriptures) there is nothing that a simple mind can understand. All of them are intended for people who want to rise above our world and see the forces and systems that control it.
Question: This means that if a scientist, for example a university professor, reads these prophecies, studies them, and makes a comparative analysis of the texts, he will still not be able to determine whether it is correct or not. So, is it impossible? Is it necessary to rise to the spiritual level in order to understand what it is about?
Answer: Of course. Both the one who speaks and the one who listens must be on a spiritual level.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 12/21/21
Question: Biblical prophecies are predictions of events that are going to happen in the future. This information is received from the Creator by special people called prophets.
Predictions are information about events that are more likely to occur in the future. Moreover, predictions are divided into rational and irrational. Rational ones are predictions of some risks, financial indicators, weather, and so on. Irrational ones are all sorts of clairvoyance and fortune-telling.
What is the difference between prophecies and predictions?
Answer: Predictions can be attributed to the fact that people have some knowledge about the development of society, technology, science, and culture, on the basis of which they make assumptions about the future.
They do not have firm confidence in their assumptions, they just know all the technological, cultural, historical, and political moments of human development and by relying on their scientific experience, they can forecast the future.
In principle, this is the usual work of scientists that we turn and consult with for advice for the future. These are not prophets, but just smart people who predict the future with some kind of probability coefficient; since they also do not know it, but have knowledge of the current state of affairs, they can roughly say what may happen tomorrow.
Prophets are people who can immerse themselves in the system of governance of our world, feel the forces that control it, and can to some extent align themselves with these forces. Therefore, they do not predict what will happen based on some calculations, but simply say what should be and will be.
We see stories about such people in the sources and we call them prophets because due to their spiritual development, they rise above the limitations of our world, above time, space, and motion, and thus tell us what can happen.
There are no prophets in our time. We are at such a level that we are no longer waiting for them and do not believe in them. Yet, in general, prophecy does exist.
Question: It is interesting that for religious people all biblical prophecies seem to come true. For skeptics and non-religious people on the other hand, of course none of this happened. In principle, the prophets wrote so ambiguously that it was possible to interpret both ways. Why?
Answer: The fact is that the prophets wrote or spoke from the spiritual level. Those people who were at this level understood them and therefore accepted and saw what was happening. And those people who did not perceive the spiritual level, did not hear and did not feel either the prophets themselves or what happened according to their prophecies.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 12/21/21
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “Why does it feel so good taking advantage of bargain prices on Black Friday?“
It is the human ego. We do not want to be suckers, and when we take advantage of bargain prices, we feel as if we get the upper hand. However, what we fail to realize is that we are being toyed with.
The sales toward the end of the year that excite people to buy double is done on purpose in order to make people feel good about taking advantage of all the shopping, but really who fools whom?
It is the human ego that makes us restless.
We would be better of sitting down and doing nothing, without looking at all the products in the shops.
Instead, we need to feel whether we truly need something, without any external stimulation, and then consider whether it is correct to buy it. If we discern that we need it, then we can go ahead and buy it. Anything that we buy beyond that, buys us instead.
Based on the video “A Kabbalistic Take on Black Friday” with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman and Oren Levi. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “How do I cope with suffering?“
The suffering that we experience expands to our consciousness through the brain, and our attitude to the suffering, how we relate to it, equates to the intensity of the suffering.
Therefore, in order to cope with suffering, we have to realize, in our minds, that nature makes us suffer according to its plan, which is ultimately in order to lead us to a bright and positive future. For the first time in humanity’s history, nature takes us by the ear, so to speak, as if we are schoolchildren, and guides us to realize positive relations, where we will discover a world of light and warmth.
When we reach the final destination that nature is leading us to, we will no longer experience suffering, because suffering hinges on the fact that we see no goal ahead of us. If there is a goal, then the goal absorbs the suffering.
When we apply certain efforts, we can experience those efforts as enjoyable or as painful. There is no difference between pleasure and suffering in the sensation itself, but the difference between the two lies in the idea that we adhere to. If we feel a lack of purpose in a certain effort—that we are headed toward an abyss—then we experience suffering. On the contrary, if we imagine that a certain effort leads us to a goal where we benefit and enjoy, then we become ready not only to endure the effort, but to prolong and even enjoy it.
If we, as a society, calibrate our attitudes to think that nature leads us to a harmonious future, to stability, and to a problem-free life, and we create inputs in our social environment, such as media and art, which projects such an idea to us more and more, then we will be able to further progress in our lives with relative ease. We will then experience an end to suffering.
Whether sooner or later, we will develop to a point where we actively progress in such a direction. We have already engaged in several wars and conflicts, where we fought to the death for the sake of the future, under the guise of certain imaginary values that people invented. Today, however, we have exhausted our man-made ideologies, and all that is left for us to do is work out how we can adapt ourselves to nature’s own form of development.
By fighting for the prominence of various man-made ideologies in the past, we ended up with a lot of suffering and disappointment. Today, however, if we progress toward matching nature’s interconnectedness and interdependence, we will finally end up with a positive result, free from suffering and disappointment.
We will then find ourselves in the most comfortable and blissful state, similar to being in our mother’s womb, but which is in fact billions of times greater. It is a state where we feel completely taken care of. If we attain it in our lives, then it is much greater than the sensation in the mother’s womb because in the womb, we are unaware of the care that surrounds us. By developing such a state in society, then we will experience the sensation of total care with the additions of understanding, awareness and a feeling of achievement.
We will then experience how nature, humanity, and everything in the universe and in all the worlds, envelops us in an all-encompassing kindness. We are approaching such perfection, and if we had no experience of suffering, then we would never gain awareness of it.
Based on the video, “Why Do We Experience Pain?” with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman and Semion Vinokur. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.