Entries in the 'Society' Category

New Life 1089 – Indifference Within Society

New Life 1089 – Indifference Within Society
Dr. Michael Laitman in conversation with Oren Levi and Yael Leshed-Harel

The indifference we find in today’s society will advance us toward a new, spiritual world. In ancient times, we required others for survival but today, children are immersed in technology of all sorts and don’t feel a need for people. Eventually, this social dryness and egoism will push us toward change and spirituality. The spiritual world is full of mutual support and connection based on the principle “You shall love your friend as yourself.” In the future, people will get fulfillment from communication with one another and everyone will be filled with a higher power.
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From KabTV’s “New Life 1089 – Indifference Within Society,” 3/5/19

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“World Happiness Report – Perceived Happiness Is Not Happiness” (Linkedin)

My new article on Linkedin “World Happiness Report – Perceived Happiness Is Not Happiness

According to the latest World Happiness Report (WHR), the Finnish are the happiest people in the world, and the people of Afghanistan are the most unhappy. Also, the top four countries on the list are from Northern Europe, with the Netherlands at number five. This is interesting because if these countries have the best life on the planet, why are they not flooded with immigrants? Is it because people from poor countries migrate to richer countries as a first step toward the countries that can offer the happiest life? Probably not, since the happiest countries are not that high up on the popularity scale. Apparently, what makes one person happy isn’t what makes another person happy. There is a big difference between what we perceive as happiness and what happiness really is.

There is no miracle here; it’s a psychological shift. Instead of focusing on our own desires, we need to focus on the desires of others, and they on ours. This is all it takes to change the world and make all of us, every person in the world, truly eternally happy. Then, we will not need reports to tell us whether or not we are happy; we would know for ourselves.

The WHR surveyed several factors in order to determine which nation is the happiest. Among them are GDP (a country’s economic output), income inequality, the freedom to make life choices, trust and the ability to count on others, confidence in public institutions, healthy life expectancy, well-being, and generosity. It seems plausible that such factors would play a big part in determining people’s happiness, but in truth, they overlook a key factor without which the whole project is meaningless: people’s expectations, namely what they perceive as happiness, as opposed to what the composers of the survey perceive it.

For example, if people aren’t bothered by income inequality, it will not make them happy if they have more than others, or unhappy if they have less. The same goes for trust: If a person settles for being able to trust his or her family members, and doesn’t expect anything more, then even if a country is ranked among the most corrupt in the world, it will not make the country’s people any more miserable. Apparently, the survey was conceived by Western minds and ranks countries’ happiness by what Western minds consider important for happiness. But Western minds aren’t the objective truth.

The truth is that there is no objective truth; you cannot compare people’s happiness—not between countries or between eras. That said, individually, people can determine if they are happy or not. We can measure our happiness, grade it, compare it to previous stages in our lives, and plan how to make ourselves happier because inside we know what makes us happy: Simply stated, we are happy when we get what we want. When our desires are satisfied, we feel happy. Or, perhaps I should rephrase it: We feel content.

Regrettably, we are never content, nor can we be. Our sages already said in the Midrash (Kohelet Rabbah): “One does not leave the world with half of one’s wishes in one’s hand, for one who has one hundred wants two hundred; one who has two hundred wants four hundred.” In other words, human nature itself denies our contentment. If we were content with what we had, we would not have had civilization because we would feel no urge to improve our lives. As a result, we wouldn’t have technology, and we wouldn’t have noble social ideals about what makes people happy. So by the WHR’s own standards, we wouldn’t be happy. But then, if we didn’t want those things that are said to make us happy in the first place, why would not having them make us unhappy?

The apparent catch is resolved if we understand not what makes us content, but what makes us truly happy. If you’ve ever observed a mother to a newborn baby, you know what it is: the pleasure of pleasing others! Even when the baby is sound asleep, tucked in her blanket and her belly full, her mother still watches her, needlessly fixes her blanket and smiles. No person is happier than a mother satisfying her baby’s needs.

If we strove to please the desires of others the way mothers strive to please their babies, and others strove to do the same for us, everyone would be happy. We would have a never ending pool of desires to please, everyone’s personal needs would always be met to the fullest, and everyone would always be happily pleasing others. There is truly no end to the happiness that such a state of mind can induce.

There is no miracle here; it’s a psychological shift. Instead of focusing on our own desires, we need to focus on the desires of others, and they on ours. This is all it takes to change the world and make all of us, every person in the world, truly eternally happy. Then, we will not need reports to tell us whether or not we are happy; we would know for ourselves.
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“Envy – How To Rein In The Monster” (Linkedin)

My new article on Linkedin “Envy – How to Rein In the Monster

As Israel is opening up malls and commerce is returning to full speed, the ailments of Western society are reappearing as though we’ve never had Covid. High-end stores are so crammed that people are standing in long lines outside of them hoping to spend a lot of money on posh accessories. You’d think that the coronavirus would have cured us of these ills, but it has done nothing of the kind. On the contrary, it seems as though people are shopping with vengeance.

People value what they see that others value. They buy things that others appreciate because it makes other people jealous. If we promote other values, people will naturally shift to showing off that they excel in those other values, for the exact same purpose of arousing other people’s envy. If we showed admiration to people who contribute to unity, solidarity, and cohesion in society, many people would want to be that way.

But why are they shopping in the first place? Do they really need new accessories? Probably not. In most cases, they are shopping to show that they shopped; that is the only reason they need. People are shopping, especially when it comes to elite fashion, in order to show that they have lots of money and make other people jealous. Were it not for jealousy, they wouldn’t bother spending hours in crammed lines and crowded shops for the questionable fun of blowing their salaries of high-end status symbols they don’t need, and possibly don’t even like.

Nevertheless, I’m happy that they’re so eager to buy. The more intensely they spend, the quicker they’ll understand that there is no real satisfaction in buying stuff that they don’t need, and the impression they make on others doesn’t make them really happy, unless you consider glee at having what others don’t a real form of happiness.

There is something more that we can do to accelerate the transition to more lasting happiness: People value what they see that others value. They buy things that others appreciate because it makes other people jealous. If we promote other values, people will naturally shift to showing off that they excel in those other values, for the exact same purpose of arousing other people’s envy. If we showed admiration to people who contribute to unity, solidarity, and cohesion in society, many people would want to be that way. They would act as if they’re kind and caring even if they aren’t, simply in order to arouse envy or not to feel inferior because they are uncaring. Other people wouldn’t know who is genuinely caring and who is not, and the impression they would get would be that everyone is like that. This would make them behave similarly, and very quickly, all of society will transform itself.

We mustn’t underestimate the power of envy; it is the most powerful force in human nature. We only need to rein it in, to direct it toward a positive direction, and our way to mending the ills of society is paved. And the sooner we start working on it, the better.
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Is It Possible To Explore Our Consciousness?

228Comment: In science, there is great confusion between consciousness, reason, and intellect. Everything is piled into one heap.

My Response: Let’s try to understand these definitions. Frankly speaking, I never did this intentionally. I found my teacher at a young age, and he “bought” me with an absolutely clear, systematic approach to everything.

Comment: The problem is that for hundreds of years we have made almost no progress on this issue. Descartes, for example, searched for the soul in the brain, found the pineal gland, and said “This is the soul.” And today it is the same: consciousness is sought after in the brain.

Surprisingly, it seems that exactly in these areas there is great progress, there is tomography, a large number of tools, but we have not made any progress.

My Response: The fact is that these devices will not be able to give us any impression about the soul, about consciousness, nor about the mind.

Comment: Unfortunately, scientists continue their research in this direction. Some of them say, “Consciousness research is a waste of time.” Others feel that they have reached a dead end and can do nothing. Yet, all of them still continue to cling to a purely materialistic approach.

My Response: Kabbalah also deals with pure materialism. It says, “It is necessary to find a way to rise above our nature. Our entire nature is egoism. We must try to rise above it.”

Do we have this opportunity or not? Kabbalah says that we have it, and accordingly it gives some tools, some opportunities.

On one hand, this is, in principle, a clear, sober, materialistic approach. On the other hand, it goes against our nature, our egoistic desires. Therefore, scientists do not need it.

Within the framework of our nature, scientists agree to anything because there is a visible benefit in the place where you invest. They are willing to take risks and sacrifice themselves, but they understand this in their mind at the same level. There are well-known examples of when scientists really sacrificed their lives in dangerous experiments.

However, the average person cannot understand what Kabbalah offers. Here we need a different atmosphere, a different laboratory. Here you yourself are the laboratory.

How can we talk about the mind if we do not try to rise above it?! How can we study it?! This is clear to anyone: If I need to research something, I need to be at least a small step higher than this object of research. It is impossible to do anything without exiting yourself. Therefore, I agree with those who say that this is beyond their control.

Without the auxiliary tool that Kabbalah offers,—to extract from the surrounding world, from the field surrounding us, a force that is opposite to our nature, and make it change us, raise us above our nature to the next level—it is impossible to explore our current degree. Then we will know what the mind is and what consciousness is. It will be possible for anyone.

In the meantime, we just have to accept without proof that there is such a force that can take us to the next degree. Then from this degree, we will explore our consciousness and our mind.
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From KabTV’s “Meetings with Kabbalah” 1/3/19

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Not Equalization, But Complementing Each Other

962.1Question: Several hundred years ago, women did not have any rights. These rights exist today. Do you think this is correct?

Answer: It is the responsibility of the state to give everyone the opportunity to realize themselves for the benefit of society. This is what Kabbalah thinks.

Nature has made us different. Everyone has one’s own functions, one’s own abilities. You can’t do anything about it. Equality is not an equalization, but a complement to each other. The harmony of society is achieved exactly by complementing.

Question: So equality does not mean getting the same salary, wearing the same clothes, etc.?

Answer: No. We must maximally extract from each person the realization of their potential that they can give to society. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cook or the head of a state. If each of them does what he can and gives it for the good of society, then they are equal. From the point of view of Kabbalah, they are entitled to the same thing.
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From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 4/29/19

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“Mastering Human Connection” (Linkedin)

My new article on Linkedin “Mastering Human Connection

The world is advancing towards a more interconnected state, towards reciprocity and integration. One who already perceives this trend of development can pass along to others the spirit of connection. We bear witness to the signs of humanity’s ripening process which has been accelerated by the pandemic. Complete maturity will be reached only when we rise to the level of love of others. The transition period toward it can be either painful or pleasant depending on our level of willing participation in ushering in that positive change.

What can move us towards a state of emotional closeness and harmony despite all the legitimate disagreements? Each of us as a “connection cultivator” must constantly put before his or her eyes one principle: in order to influence someone for the better, I must first connect with the person in sympathy, praise, and understanding, while thinking together how to further improve mutual care and reciprocity. In other words, we each must put into practice love of others to create the most fertile ground for a gratifying existence.

Until now, we have let our inborn selfish nature dominate our thoughts and actions in life. The more we continue in that direction the more we distance ourselves from the essential unifying law of nature, which leads to everyone’s suffering as the division proliferates. Thus, the ongoing virus outbreak is conducting us towards a more conscious society, one that is aware of our interdependence so that our aspirations for a better future bear fruit.

How can we yield ideal results in our human relationships and cohesion? First of all it is important to realize that every person acts as a type of receiver and transmitter. We constantly receive messages, process them within ourselves, and transmit them. So when I start thinking about good connections and complementary relationships between people, a field of positive feeling already spreads around me, even without words.

Moreover, in order to increase the positive impact in the circles among which we move throughout life, first and foremost we need to assess our surrounding environment. This means we need to check the current situation of the people we associate with, the state they aspire to reach, what they would consider success, and how they define a good future. Then, we need to build an outreach action plan based on that vision that is tailored to them and offer to deepen the mutual connection as a means of helping them realize those goals.

This kind of sensitivity to the needs and aspirations of others is relevant in our relations with our children and family members, as well as with friends and colleagues at work. It might also be related to improved health, career and business success, to better relationships—in reality, to anything and everything. Whatever the exact situation, the principle is always the same: first understand where the people are and what they are aiming for, and then think about how to demonstrate them that through good connections between people around can they achieve their goals.

In order to better understand what is meant by the word “connection”, let’s consider the family circle for the sake of illustration. What does a connected family look like? It is a place where everyone feels open to each other, willing to understand and support each other, without having to defend or hide from anyone. A family must be a unit in which the atmosphere is like a warm, gentle cloud encircling everyone.

If we want to broaden our perspective, we can go one step further and try to envisage how differently our country would be run with this connection-focused approach. If people could sit together and connect in the same way as within a family, our societies would behave in a vastly different manner. Instead of fighting from morning to evening in such ruthless ways, there would be more peaceful interactions between us every step of the way.

What can move us towards a state of emotional closeness and harmony despite all the legitimate disagreements? Each of us as a “connection cultivator” must constantly put before his or her eyes one principle: in order to influence someone for the better, I must first connect with the person in sympathy, praise, and understanding, while thinking together how to further improve mutual care and reciprocity. In other words, we each must put into practice love of others to create the most fertile ground for a gratifying existence.
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“Harnessing Society’s Power Of Complementing Contrasts” (Linkedin)

My new article on Linkedin “Harnessing Society’s Power of Complementing Contrasts

When you look at societies around the world, it is clear that tensions are rising everywhere. Whether it is between Right and Left, religious and secular, Conservatives and Progressives, Blacks and Whites, or locals and immigrants, the reasons are countless but the tension is the same: Two opposites that want to cancel one another.

The contrasts in society are its source of energy; we must harness them to build a better, stronger, and healthier society. We must not, and cannot agree, but rather complement each other. Once we do this, all of us will benefit from the power of society, the power of complementing contrasts.

It will not work. The contrasts will only grow, as will the tensions. All of reality is built on complementing contrasts that are interdependent. Take one away and you have canceled the other. Human society is no exception, except that we don’t recognize our interdependence and therefore do not want to complement each other. Instead, we want to cancel one another. We regard anyone who does not think or speak like us as backward and ignorant, hence the cancel culture.

But if two complementing contrasts are required for development, how can one party be right and the other one is wrong? If reality itself requires the presence of opposites, how can we want to cancel those we regard as opposite from us, when in truth, it is the existence of the opposite view from mine that justifies the existence of my own view? If, for example, there were no Conservatives, would there be Progressives? The whole concept of Progressivism exists because there is the concept of Conservatism.

Moreover, and this is the most important point: Neither side matters in and of itself. Only the tension between them matters! The frictions between opposing views makes people think, move, build, explore, challenge, or in short, live!

Therefore, we must feel our objection, our dismay at the opinion of our opposers. At the same time, we must not cancel them; we must acknowledge that they are the reason that we feel so strongly about the subject. Their zeal about their views excites our own, and together, we keep each other growing.

The contrasts in society are its source of energy; we must harness them to build a better, stronger, and healthier society. We must not, and cannot agree, but rather complement each other. Once we do this, all of us will benefit from the power of society, the power of complementing contrasts.
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“Between Good And Evil” (Linkedin)

My new article on Linkedin “Between Good and Evil

From the subatomic level to the most sophisticated human societies, everything consists of two basic, yet opposite elements. We define one of them as positive and the other one as negative. For example, we define the electric charge in a proton as positive and the one that is in the electron as negative. We define light as positive and darkness as negative, growth as positive and decay as negative, birth as positive and death as negative, and we define love as positive and hate as negative. We also attribute value to our definitions: We regard the positive as good, and the negative as bad.

We already exist concurrently, but we resist this idea and still strive to cancel one another. In order to create the healthy balance that can engender the next level of development, we must be conscious of the process, agree to coexistence with our opposite, accept our mutual dependence, and that without the other side, we will not develop.

But life does not consist of static states, but of cycles. Generation and degeneration are intertwined, and we would not have one without the other. Therefore, neither of them is good nor bad. We would not have love if we did not have hate, so which of them is good and which is bad? In a cycle, just as in a wheel, everything moves through all the possible positions; nothing has an absolute, unchanging value; it all depends on its position in the cycle.

Now, imagine what would happen if we removed one item from a pair of opposite elements. What would happen to the day if there were no night? What would happen to life if there were no death? Only when we have both do we have a complete and functioning system. If we have a balanced number of protons and electrons, we have a complete atom. If we have a balanced number of animals in an area, we have a stable and healthy ecosystem.

As things evolve, they tilt and sway, and each time, a different aspect takes charge until it gives it up in favor of the opposite element. When they reach a more or less stable balance, it is a sign that the system has completed its construction and a new system has begun to evolve on top of it. This is why evolution goes from the simpler to the more complex, and why human society has evolved from smaller and simpler societies to larger and more complex ones.

The same pattern permeates all of creation; the tilt from positive to negative is the engine of reality. It never stops; when it reaches stability, it engenders a new level where the tilting process starts all over again until the new level reaches harmony and stability once more, but only in order to develop another level, higher still.

Human societies go through the exact same process as the rest of reality. The previous century demonstrated the extremes that humanity can reach. My teacher’s father, Baal HaSulam, who wrote about this as early as the 1950s, already noted, “Humanity has already thrown itself to the extreme right, as with Germany, or to the extreme left, as with Russia, but not only did they not ease the situation for themselves, they have worsened the malady and agony.” Like all of reality, human society had to go through extremes, but it also has to find its balance, where extremes exist in mutual support and move on to the next level of development.

This is our current point in time. We have tried our best to ordain the most fanatic extremes, but they all gave way (as they should) to their opposites, which in turn collapsed, as well. Now we have all of the extremes existing simultaneously, and it is time for them to complement one another just as atoms, seasons, and all animals do.

However, this is where humankind’s uniqueness comes into play: In all of nature, the tilting and subsequent harmony happen on their own, through nature’s inherent forces. Humankind is different. We already exist concurrently, but we resist this idea and still strive to cancel one another. In order to create the healthy balance that can engender the next level of development, we must be conscious of the process, agree to coexistence with our opposite, accept our mutual dependence, and that without the other side, we will not develop.

Moreover, we have to agree to it on every level. We must go through that process of recognition in matters of gender, race, culture, opinions, and anything that pertains to human existence. If, for example, we do not accept that there are both Democrats and Republicans in society, we will never grow above the political rift. Instead of generating a higher and more advanced reality that includes both views, we will sink into the rift until bloodshed erupts.

Worse yet, it doesn’t matter how much blood we shed, we will still not be able to eliminate the other side since nature has created it, just as it created us. If, by chance, one side does destroy the other, the “triumphant” side will disappear, as well, since its opposite will no longer exist. We will stop advancing, nature will recreate that situation all over again, and we will ultimately have to accept that both sides must exist and complement one another.

Only then will the higher level emerge. When we accept that both opposites are mandatory, we will rise to the next level of development. This is the secret of evolution.

Correct Interaction

289Question: Does the correct interaction between people assume that I receive something from society and give something to it?

Answer: Naturally, like in a living organism.

Question: What is the rule for such interaction? How do I know how much I should receive and how much I should give?

Answer: This is not regulated. As far as I am able to give, I give, and as far as I need to receive in order to be able to give fully, I receive.

Question: There are seven billion people on the planet, does everyone determine how much they need?

Answer: These seven billion have only been around for the last hundred years. Before that, there were two billion of us. So, the quantity does not matter here.

We have evolved over thousands of years. Today we gradually realize that we are developing incorrectly, and we need to come to some other interaction, to internal homeostasis between us, to maintain a balance in communication. Nature itself, all our qualities, all our states, teach us this. So, it will take another couple of hundred years, and humanity will still come to this.

Question: Do I understand correctly that there are forces in nature that we ourselves can call upon, and they themselves will produce this balance?

Answer: Sure. Not ourselves. We are under the forces of nature.

Question: So, will these forces balance how much I need to receive from society and how much to give?

Answer: Yes. Little by little, we will grow wiser. We will call from nature the emergence of those forces that will act on us and change us. We will enter into such a state of connection between us, into such a correlation that we will receive from each other as much as necessary and give as much as necessary to maintain our society in absolute, ideal balance.

Question: But do you understand that this is a theory that needs to be tested?

Answer: This is not a theory. One day our times will become history, and then this theory will become reality.
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From KabTV’s “Spiritual States”, 5/13/19

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“Stay-At-Home (Grownup) Children” (Linkedin)

My new article on Linkedin “Stay-at-Home (grownup) Children

According to Pew Research Center, “A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression.” In the 1960s, only 29 percent of young adults lived with their parents. Over the years, and especially since the outbreak of Covid-19, the number of (involuntarily) stay-at-home grownup children has spiked to more than 52 percent, and rising.

It may seem counterintuitive for young adults to live with their parents. After all, youngsters want their independence; they want to succeed, accomplish things, and make their mark in the world. Even if they’re not great achievers, they certainly don’t want their parents prying into their personal lives. So why are they moving home again, or refraining from leaving home altogether?

Only if we can tap into the all-inclusive mechanism of reality, we will feel that our lives have meaning, that we know how to live them, and we will understand where they are going.

There are several reasons for this, and on different levels. On the more superficial level, today we aren’t as confident about how we should manage our lives or about where the world is going. Personal and national breakdowns have become more common, and our confidence in ourselves and in our future, as individuals and as a society, has plummeted. We no longer aspire to conquer the world and make our mark, “to be somebody,” as young people used to say. Instead, we hope to get by.

Clearly, not everyone is in that state, but the statistics speak for themselves; it’s happening to a lot of people. As a result, instead of taking chances and jumping head first into life’s deep water, we merely dip our foot in it to test the temperature. Only if we’re confident things will go well, we venture inside.

On the deeper level, there is a sense of meaninglessness that is inching into the consciousness of young adults. It is not that today’s young people don’t want to enjoy life, and it is not only that they are afraid of being hurt by life’s obstacles; it is also that the temptations that life offers, such as money, power, and fame, simply don’t entice them anymore. They don’t find the trophies of our generation appealing, yet they have no others prizes to pursue. This is why so many of them are depressed. When you have everything you need for life, but no reason to live, you cannot help but feel miserable. Some are conscious of it, others are not, but you can see it through their frantic search for experiences that take them to the edge, such as extreme sports, hard drugs, violence, and various addictions.

This sense of meaninglessness is the crux of the matter. In an era where everything is shared, where every product is manufactured and assembled in twenty different countries, an individualistic mindset is the opposite of the flow of reality, yet this is what we are attempting to utilize. It is no wonder that we can’t understand life; we think in the opposite direction to the course of life!

Today, in order to find satisfaction in life, we must incorporate ourselves positively in society, become contributing elements to its prosperity. The “Me! Me! Me!” culture has exhausted itself, and little by little, its opposite is emerging: the We! We! We! approach.

A person who is connected to society feels not only the society, but the flow of life that streams through the society. Society is just a means to connect to a much greater and deeper structure: the whole of reality. Reality, or nature, is all-inclusive. Everything within it is connected in countless ways to everything else. We need a society to start developing mutual connections, learn how to interact, and thereby start to feel the connections and interactions that permeate everything! Only if we can tap into the all-inclusive mechanism of reality, we will feel that our lives have meaning, that we know how to live them, and we will understand where they are going.
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