Michael Laitman, On Quora: “What is a human?“
Human is the highest of four levels in nature, the still, vegetative, animate and human. In fact, there is no form of a human in nature itself, there is only the still, vegetative and animate, and the human level emerges as a result of our undergoing a special kind of education that elevates us to such a level.
When we look around at humanity, can we say that it is full of people who live at the human or at the animate level of nature? Here, we need a clear definition of the two levels.
There are people in this corporeal world who know how to behave with each other in a cultured and civilized manner, i.e. in ways that do not harm others. Perhaps they did not even go to school, but they have a certain kind of inner intelligence that guides their behavior. On the contrary, we might also see somebody who graduated from Harvard University, but who acts like an animal. Therefore, we need to understand the difference between the two levels, human and animate.
The wisdom of Kabbalah differentiates two-legged creatures into “human” and “animal.” An animal means one who has the same image as a human, but who desires to fulfill the inborn egoistic desire with food, sex, family, money, honor, control and knowledge. That is, we could fulfill ourselves with everything that this world has to offer, all the wealth, respect, fame, power, knowledge and artistry, however we would still be defined as being on the animate level—not the human—if our intention is to self-benefit from such a range of fulfillment.
The human level defines those who change their intention from the inborn self-aimed one, to aim at the benefit of others and nature. In Hebrew, the word for human is “Adam,” which comes from the word for “similar” (“Domeh”), from the phrase “Domeh le Elyon” (“similar to the most high”). The “most high” is the loftiest quality in reality, nature’s quality of love, bestowal and connection, which has no shred of self-benefit attached to it. That is, just as nature at its foundation functions as a quality to love, bestow, connect and hold everything within itself together, if we set the achievement of nature’s quality as our goal, and we learn to benefit others and nature to the same extent as we naturally wish to self-benefit, then we are called “human” according to such an inclination.
It is important to understand that nature is a quality of love, which we attain in our connections to each other. When we attain love for each other up to a level of, as it is written, “love your neighbor as yourself,” then we reach a state of similarity to nature. According to Kabbalah, achieving resemblance to nature’s quality of love, bestowal and connection—rising from the animate to the human level—is the highest state we can reach in our lives; it is the purpose of our lives, and its attainment gives us a sensation of eternity and perfection, unlike any limited and incomplete sensation we experience in our animate lives.
Based on the video “What Is a Human?” with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman, Yael Leshed-Harel and Oren Levi. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.