An article written for the “Wisdom and Science in a Dialogue: The new Planetary Consciousness” scientific symposium in Düsseldorf, Germany, March 2006.
1. Dear friends
The escalating global crisis calls for resolution. Many renowned scientists and philosophers from around the world study and research the crisis, yet, we cannot presently say that we understand its cause, and, even more so, the actions we should undertake to resolve it.
Today we can no longer deny its presence, theories and suggestions concerning both the nature of crisis and the means for its elimination abound. In this presentation, I will try to depict the present state of humanity from the perspective of the science I’ve been engaged in for the past thirty years of my life—the science of Kabbalah.
2. In ancient times, man was closer to nature and tried to maintain intimacy with it. There were two reasons for this:
* The undeveloped egoism did not distance man from nature and made humans feel as integral parts of it;
* Insufficient knowledge about nature evoked fear of it, forcing man to regard nature as superior.
3. Because of these two reasons, man aspired not only to accumulate knowledge about the phenomena of the surrounding world, but to know the forces that govern the world. People could not hide from the elements as they do today, avoiding nature’s forces in an artificially created world. Their sense organs, still undistorted or degenerated by contemporary technology, were able to feel the surrounding world more profoundly. Fear of nature and, simultaneously, closeness to it, urged man to discover what nature wanted of him, whether it has a goal, and what it created humans for. Humanity aspired to understand it as profoundly as possible.
4. Ancient scientists shared their knowledge about nature. Kabbalists too shared their knowledge with scientists. Kabbalah studies the system that governs our world. Its main task is to explicate the causes and goals of Creation.
Naturally, I am not referring to what is today sold under the title “Kabbalah,” capitalizing on its popularity. Authentic Kabbalah is a serious science that researches the structure of the universe, and which gave the basic knowledge to many other sciences. Contact between Kabbalists and ancient philosophers gave rise to ancient philosophy, which became the origin of science. To honor the organizers of our symposium, I purposely chose statements of German scientists and scholars on this topic.
5. Johann Reuchlin writes in his book De Arte Cabbalistica: “My teacher Pythagoras, the father of philosophy took his teaching from Kabbalists … he was the first who translate the word Kabbalah, unknown to his contemporaries, to the Greek word philosophy… Kabbalah does not let us live our lives in the dust, but elevates our mind to the height of knowledge.”
For many centuries, Kabbalah had remained a hidden teaching, a secret wisdom, giving rise to numerous legends and fallacies around it, which baffle any contemporary person who tries to sort out the true sources.
In particular, the great mathematician and philosopher, Leibnitz, wrote about this in his book Hauptschriften zur Grundlegung der Philosophie: “Because man did not have the right key to the secret, the thirst for knowledge was ultimately reduced to all sorts of trivia and superstitions that brought forward a sort of ‘vulgar Kabbalah’ that has little in common with the true Kabbalah, as well as various fantasies under the false name of magic, and this is what fills the books.”
6. Philosophy assimilated a part of Kabbalah and took it in a different direction. It gave rise to modern sciences that research our material world and its laws within the framework of phenomena perceived by our five senses.
Meanwhile, the ancient teachings, Kabbalah included, remained outside the scope of researchers’ interests. Whatever science was unable to comprehend, whatever remained unattainable for it, fell within the realm of religions, rituals, and customs. The ancient teachings were gradually forgotten.
7. Science and religion are two parallel paths that humanity followed investigating this world, and trying to understand man’s place and possibilities, and to define the purpose and meaning of existence. However, both trails led humanity astray from attaining the Upper Governing Force, from correspondence with it. Man studied nature not in order to learn what it wants of him, and thus change himself, but to change and conquer nature for the sake of man’s own egoism.
8. Crises in all realms of human activity, from science to personal predicaments, prompt the same eternal questions about the meaning and the purpose of life. We are becoming increasingly certain that we know nothing about nature, the reason for our existence, the governing process, and the purpose of existence.
The troubles lead us to accept the existence of the Great Wisdom, the Upper Plan in nature. Since Science is unable to answer our questions, it compels us to look for a new approach to nature, leading us to search for truth in religion, beliefs, and mysticism. The external crisis has led us to an internal crisis, and we have found ourselves confused in this world.
9. The overwhelming interest in these teachings, in explaining our lives not through scientific research but by using all sorts of “supernal” methods, has been underway for the past 30 years, and is now withering away before our very eyes. Out of all human misconceptions, humanity still has to test, reject, and finally forget a few remaining belief systems.
Today is a time when, through mysticism, humanity is rediscovering the true ancient wisdoms. The science of Kabbalah, which is becoming revealed in recent years, must play a key role in this process.
Kabbalah appeared some 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, as did all ancient teachings. This is where humanity discovered them back then, before it forgot them until our time. Now they are being rediscovered. It is not a coincidence that where ancient Mesopotamia once was, now is the center of the modern clash of civilizations.
10. The evolution of man’s egoism determines, defines, and indeed designs the entire history of mankind. The developing egoism urges humans to study the environment so as to realize the intensifying egoistic desires. In contrast to the still, vegetative, and animate nature of our world, humans evolve ceaselessly, in each generation, and each individual, during their brief existence.
Human egoism evolves by five levels of intensification. In ancient times man was not egoistic enough to place himself in opposition to nature. He sensed nature and everything that surrounds him, and the sensation of reciprocity was his mode of communication with nature. In many respects it was even silent, as in telepathy, on a certain spiritual level. This mode of communication can still be found among indigenous peoples.
The first level of egoistic growth prompted a revolution in mankind. It created a desire to change nature for man’s own sake, instead of changing man to become similar to nature. Metaphorically, this desire is described as a desire to build a tower that reaches the sky—to overrule nature.
11. The increased egoism tore man away from nature. Instead of correcting the increased oppositeness to nature, man dared to imagine that he could attain the Creator egoistically, not through correction of the egoism, but by dominating everything.
Thus, man placed his “self” in contrast to the environment, opposite from society and nature. Instead of perceiving others as kindred and close, and nature as home, human beings no longer understood nature and others. Hatred replaced love; people became remote from one another, and the single nation of the ancient world was divided into two groups, which drifted to the east and to the west. Subsequently, each such group further divided into many nations, and today, we are witnessing the beginning of the coming together and reconnection into a single nation once more.
12. The Torah describes this allegorically (Genesis, 11:1-8) in the following way: “And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there … And they said: ‘Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said: ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do. Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city.”
13. Josephus Flavius writes that Nimrod urged the people to defy the Creator. He advised them to build a tower higher than the waters could rise, if the Creator were to send the flood again, and thereby avenge the Creator for the death of their forefathers. Sparing no zeal or efforts, they began to build a tower. Seeing that people are not correcting themselves after the lesson of the flood, the Creator made them speak many languages. They no longer understood each other and dispersed. The place where the tower was built is now called Babylon, as it was the place of mixing of languages, instead of the single language that was before.
14. At the beginning of the 20th century, a German archeologist, Robert Koldewey, discovered in Babylon the ruins of the tower the size of 90x90x90 meters. Additionally, Herodotus (about 484-425 BCE) described the tower as a 7-tier pyramid of that same size.
Historical sources recount that in the center of Babylon, there was the temple town of Esagila, and nearby, the temple of the supreme deity, Marduk, the Tower of Babel. It was called Etemenanki, which means the cornerstone of heaven and earth.
In those days, Esagila was the religious center of the world in its struggle against the monotheistic religion. Astrology, the signs of the zodiac and horoscopes, divination, number mysticism, spiritualism, magic, witchcraft, spells, evil eye, calling of evil spirits—all those were developed in Esagila. These beliefs still persist, and particularly today we are witnessing their final outburst.
15. Since that time, and over the past 5,000 years, man has been confronting nature, i.e. the attribute of absolute altruism. Instead of correcting the ever-growing egoism into altruism, instead of similarity with nature, humanity has erected an artificial shield to protect it from nature. To assist in that protection, humanity has been developing science and technology for the past 5,000 years, and this is, in fact, the erection of the Tower of Babel. Thus, instead of correcting ourselves, we want to govern nature.
16. Egoism in humankind has been growing ever since, and today it culminating. Humanity has become disillusioned with fulfilling the egoism through social or technological development. Today we are beginning to realize that since the time of the crisis in Babel, we have treaded our path in vain.
Particularly today, as we acknowledge the crisis and the dead-end point of our development, it can be said that the confrontation of the egoism with the Creator this is the actual destruction of the Tower of Babel. Formerly, the tower of Babel was ruined by the Upper Force, but today it is being ruined in our own consciousness, as if by us. Humanity is ready to admit that the path it chose, to compensate for the egoistic oppositeness from nature through technology instead of correcting the egoism into altruism, leads to a dead-end.
17. The process, which started in Babel, of separation into two groups that drew apart geographically and culturally, is culminating today. Over the past 5,000 years each group evolved into a civilization of many different peoples. One group is what we call The Western Civilization, and the other comprises the Eastern Civilization, and includes India, China, and the Islamic world.
It is not a coincidence that today we are witnessing a titanic clash of civilizations which threatens the sustainability of humanity. This is one of the key factors in the global crisis. Moreover, this clash reflects the culmination of the process that began with the fall of the tower of Babel. In Babel, the single nation was divided because egoism separated its members, and now it is time for the members of the single nation of humankind to reunite into one, united people. Today we are at the separation point that occurred in the time of Babel, except now we are aware of our situation.
According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, this clash, the global crisis, and the surfacing of mysticism and superstition, are the beginning of the reconnection of all humanity into a new and united civilization, similar to its state prior to the tower of Babel.
18. At the time of the Babylonian bewilderment, Kabbalah was discovered as a body of knowledge about the cause of the stage-by-stage growth of human egoism. Kabbalah states that the nature of all that exists is an egoistic desire for self fulfillment.
However, egoistic desires cannot be filled in their natural form, because the fulfillment of a desire annuls it, and as a result, it is no longer felt. Similarly, food reduces the sensation of hunger, and along with it, the pleasure from eating is gradually extinguished.
But because we are unable to exist without enjoyment, we are forced to constantly develop new desires so that we may fulfill them. Otherwise, we will not feel pleasure. This endless pursuit of pleasure constitutes our entire life, although the pleasure itself is impossible to achieve. Ultimately, disenchantment and emptiness cause depression and bring to drugs.
19. If fulfillment annuls both desire and fulfillment, then is it even possible to experience lasting fulfillment?
Ancient wisdoms metaphorically recount that man is created as a single creature. That is, originally, all people are connected as one human being. This is exactly how nature relates to us—as to a single human being.
This collective prototype is called “Adam,” from the word Dome (similar). In Aramaic, the spoken language of ancient Babylon, it means “similar to the Creator.” Originally, we were created internally connected as a single individual. But as our egoism grew, we gradually lost the sensation of unity and became increasingly distant from one another. Finally, we have come to a point of reciprocal hatred.
20. According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, nature’s plan is for our egoism to grow until we acknowledge our condition. Today, globalization shows us that, on the one hand, we are all connected, and on the other hand, our enormously overblown egoism alienates us from each other.
The reason we have to first be created as a single creature, and then be separated into egoistic, distanced, and detached individuals, is that this is the only way for us to see our complete oppositeness from the Creator, and to acknowledge the attribute of absolute egoism that we possess. In this state we will acknowledge its pettiness, limited nature, and hopelessness, and come to hate our egoistic nature, which separates us from each other and from nature, and develop a desire to unite, to transform our nature into the opposite, altruistic nature. Thus we will independently find a way to transform ourselves into altruists and to reconnect with the entire humanity as a single, united whole.
21. Just as egoistic cells that join into a single body annul their individual egoism for the sake of the body’s existence and, as a result, feel the life of the whole body, so we must reach such a connection among ourselves. Then, according to our success in unification, we will feel the eternal existence of nature instead of feeling our current physical existence.
The ancient principle of “Love thy neighbor as thyself” calls upon us to do this. This principle was in effect until the building of the Tower of Babel, and was later incorporated in the rudiments of all the religions that emerged from the ancient Babylonian wisdom, after the destruction of the Tower of Babel and the division of the people into nations and states. By carrying out this rule, each person no longer remains an isolated and empty egoist, but feels the life of the whole organism, Adam, in similarity to the Creator. In other words, in that state we feel the eternal, perfect existence of nature.
22. Especially now, altruism has become necessary for the survival of humanity. This is because it is now clear that we are all completely interdependent. This clarity gives rise to a new definition of altruism: Any intention or action that does not stem from a desire to help, but from a necessity to connect humanity into a single whole, is considered truly altruistic. According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, all the altruistic actions that do not aim toward uniting all humanity into a single body will manifest as purposeless actions. Additionally, in the future, it will become evident that we need not take any action or perform any correction in the human society, only unite as one body.
23. Transformation of one’s attitude toward a fellow human being from egoistic to altruistic elevates a person to a perception of another world. We perceive the world with our sense organs, and accept what appears to our senses as our sensation of life. The present egoistic perception enables us to feel only our own impressions from the environment. Correcting our nature will enable us to feel not what happens within us, but what happens outside of us, the complete nature.
Thus, by perceiving outside ourselves instead of inside ourselves, we switch to perceiving the entire surrounding world, instead of a fragment of it. Ultimately, we discover that the world around us is a single altruistic force of nature.
When we unite with it, we feel our existence the way nature exists—eternal and perfect. We sympathize with that sensation, it governs us, and in that state even when our body expires, we feel ourselves as continuing to exist in the eternal nature. In such a state, physical life and death do not affect our sensation of existence because the inner egoistic perception has been replaced with external, altruistic perception.
24. The Book of Zohar, written approximately 2,000 years ago, writes that toward the end of the 20th century humanity will reach its maximum egoism and at the same time, its maximum emptiness. The book writes that at that time, humanity will need the method of survival, of fulfillment. Then, says The Book of Zohar, the time will come to disclose Kabbalah to all mankind, as a method for reaching similarity to nature.
25. Correcting a human being and all humanity, reaching similarity with the altruistic nature does not happen all at once and not simultaneously by everyone. Rather, correction is possible to the extent that each person and the whole of humanity acknowledge the global crisis.
Correction begins when a person realizes that his or her egoistic nature is the source of all evil.
Subsequently, one searches for the means to change this nature. The search yields the conclusion that only the influence of society can help in this mission. This means that if society changes its values and elevates the value of altruism, only this will propel man’s correction. By altruism I am referring not to mutual help, but to uniting all humanity in similarity to the Creator, as the only value in the world
26. Society has to raise human consciousness to the level of understanding our collective responsibility. This is because the Creator relates to us as to a single, united created being—Adam. Man has tried to achieve his goals egoistically, but today humanity is discovering that it must solve its problems collectively, altruistically. A gradual exposure of egoism will compel us to implement the ancient method of Kabbalah, which we failed to implement in ancient Babylon.
27. The source of all the suffering that appears in the world is the man’s oppositeness from nature. All other parts of nature, still, vegetative and animate, follow nature’s commandments instinctively and definitively. Only man’s behavior places him in contrast to the still, vegetative, and animate nature.
Since man is the height of nature’s creation, all other parts of nature (the still, vegetative, and animate) depend on him. Through man’s correction, all parts of nature, the entire universe will rise to its initial, perfect level, in complete unity with the Creator.
28. According to the plan of the Creator, the entire universe must reach this state, and the time allocated for the correction is limited. The Book of Zohar indicates that the correction must be implemented from the start of the 21st century. From this time on, humanity will be urged to correct by intensifying sufferings.
Recognition of the purpose of creation and knowledge of the method of correction will enable us to approach the goal consciously, faster than suffering would have otherwise caught up with us from behind. Thus, instead of suffering, we will feel fulfillment and inspiration even while still on the path of correction.
Everything depends on our efforts to explain the cause of the crisis to society, and the way to resolve it. We must explain that the crisis is necessary for us to achieve the most beautiful, eternal and perfect state of being. Explaining this purpose is not a simple task, but the escalating crisis enables all of us to perceive the process as necessary and purposeful. What makes our time special is that along with the escalating crisis, a window of opportunity for change is now opening. We are capable and indeed obligated to explain the crisis as the optimal state for the attainment and the creation of a new, corrected civilization.