Entries in the 'Baal HaSulam' Category

You Cannot Replace A Diamond With A Formula

Dr. Michael Laitman“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” Article “The Seventh Commandment,” Item 225: In the Merkava [chariot/structure] of the throne, the face of a lion is on the right and the face of the ox is on the left. The ox is called “a whole [Tam] ox” since in the Merkava of the throne there is an inscription of the covenant.

Question: Is it possible to create a dictionary of spiritual terms appropriate for our level, which would explain the different words from The Zohar, like “ox,” “structure” “(Merkava),” “lion,” “serpent,” and so on? This would help to replace the words that remind us of physical images with spiritual forces according to their definition while reading. Is this a correct approach to studying The Zohar?

Answer: Everything depends upon the way we agree to speak between us. When we have a common perception, we speak according to this sensation. When we do not perceive the events in the same way but understand them (a lower level than perception), we, let us say, speak using scientific terms and formulas.

This excerpt of The Zohar uses words like “ox,” “donkey,” “throne,” and so on. If we were to replace them with forces, we would need to specify the kind of force it is, from which Sefira or property it comes. While here, one word is used to refer to the same force, for example, “ox” or “whole ox.” This language is more concise because it relies on your understanding to what it refers.

This only refers to the Lights and Kelim (desires) because we have nothing else about which to speak. How can I convey to you the connection of the Lights and Kelim in a specific form? Should I draw it for you in a graph? Play a tune? Give you a formula? Describe the image of this world that results from their connection? How can I explain to you the exact spiritual state, the combination of the Light and the Kli, about which I am speaking?

This is why Kabbalists have found four languages to describe the upper system of governance of our world: the language of Tanach, Hagaddot (Legends), Kabbalah, and Halachot (Talmud), and they use them to convey their attainments to us. These languages are mixed in The Zohar.

The Zohar itself is mainly written with the language of the Talmud (Midrash), even though it also uses a little of the language of the Tanach or the Legends, and Baal HaSulam adds the language of Kabbalah to it. And when they are parallel, you can more or less keep the correct direction of thought.

But how can languages help you if you do not have spiritual attainment and you do not perceive to what the text is referring? Nothing can help you! You only need to think about receiving more influence in order to begin to perceive.

It works the same way in our world: You can tell me anything you want, but if I have never experienced it, whatever you are telling me is dead to me, or in the best case scenario, I might be able to imagine it through an analogy to something with which I am already familiar.

But if I do not know anything about the spiritual world, there are no tales that can help me. For this reason, our entire study comes down to striving to perceive these spiritual notions, to want our eyes to open.
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From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/17/2011, “Introduction of The Book of Zohar”

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A Duty To Learn From An Authentic Sage-Kabbalist

Dr. Michael LaitmanQuestion: How can a person know that his teacher is a real Kabbalist?

Answer: How can you know that he is a true Kabbalist? He cannot show you any specific diploma or perform miraculous acts that would look spiritual to you since how do you know what spirituality is anyway? Hence, you can only listen to your heart and examine whether what you hear resonates with you, connects you to the root of your soul.

I studied in five or six places before I found Rabash. And I used to leave them not because I would find something better; I just saw that there was nothing else to do there, nothing else to learn. And it isn’t because their intent was to deceive me; it’s just that each of them had their own method, ideas, and delusions.

But I was seeking a place where I could study Kabbalah as a science. And when I met Rabash, I immediately saw that his students studied authentic primary sources: The Zohar, the works of the ARI and Baal HaSulam, which are the most fundamental Kabbalistic texts, and that he attached deep meaning to the concepts in a logical form, without external religious acts or meditation.

In other words, he used a strictly scientific approach without shifting to one or the other side. By then, I had already realized that everything else has nothing to do with truth. I had a sense that wherever they talk about some actions related to the corporeal body or fantasies, it doesn’t have anything to do with spirituality.

I had a very clear feeling that here there was some entrance into a more internal world that doesn’t depend on the body or imagination, on all those attributes I have at the moment. It is required that a person reveals a certain internal layer within, and I was searching: How do I do that? And when I came to Rabash and started to study, I saw that that’s exactly about what he was speaking.

Baal HaSulam writes that anyone who wishes to receive spiritual knowledge must find himself a teacher, an authentic sage-Kabbalist who seems to be right for the job. But if he feels that he is in a place which doesn’t suit him, he shouldn’t stop looking. After all, time is running out.
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From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/13/2011, “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah”

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When The Soul Resonates With The Word

Dr. Michael LaitmanQuestion: I am quite convinced by what Baal HaSulam says about the fact that there is no chance for us to comprehend spirituality with our corporeal mind because if somebody wanted to lure me into it, they would promise me exactly the opposite. But it is still painful to realize that I am unable to understand anything. Why is it so?

Answer: It is because you don’t have spiritual organs of perception, awareness, or sense.

I always bring up a memory of a very vivid example I received when we were working on a musical adaptation of one of Baal HaSulam’s melodies .The home owners’ fat cat was always near us while we worked. We cried and were overwhelmed with feelings, while the cat just lay there totally undisturbed; only his ear would occasionally twitch when the music was getting too loud.

Both of us live in corporeal bodies, in the very same world, but a cat cannot understand me. It lacks the ability to feel. How can you explain to a cat what emotions we wish to express through music?

But trust me, to teach a cat to comprehend a symphony is a less complicated task than for us to comprehend spirituality. After all, the animal is at the same level in this world, while we need a much stronger impact of the upper Light in order to bring us to sense the spiritual world.

And then, according to this sense, you will immediately begin to understand what every word a Kabbalist says means. You will hear some words with external hearing, but the internal sensations will start unfolding in you. Imagine yourself speaking with a cat, when it suddenly starts understanding you….
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From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/13/2011, “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah”

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Steps Toward Uniting With The Creator

Dr. Michael LaitmanQuestion: How can we attain unity?

Answer: Unity means that according to all the desires of the Giver and the receiver, the two unite with one another like the guest and the Host in Baal HaSulam’s famous example.

The guest has nothing to give to the Host besides his attitude, provided that he develops the same attitude to the Host as the Host has to him. Meaning, we don’t take into consideration the fact that the guest uses his appetite, and the Host—his power. They are initially this way: one is the Creator, and the other is creation.

But if we remove these initial conditions, the fact that one is the Creator and the other is creation, since they have to attain total equality, then by what criterion can they be equal? According to their attitude, which they build without any connection to what existed before.

That is, we must ascend in the relationships between us so it wouldn’t matter that He is the Creator, He is primary, and He created me in the desire to enjoy and does anything He wants with me because all of this initially comes from Him, being the upper root. And it doesn’t matter that I, the creation, am unable to do anything more than that.

However, if He and I attain this state where we have absolutely equal opportunities, then out of our equal opportunities we desire to attain adhesion and unity. First of all, the Creator and creation have to attain the state where they are both completely equal and independent from one another—the creation from the Creator and the Creator from the creation.

Once we are equal and we have the opportunity to create any connection between us that each of us freely desires, we attain the state where we desire only love, unity, and adhesion between us.

As Baal HaSulam explains, the guest and the Host reach a state where they depend on one another in equal measure: the Host on the guest and the guest on the Host, like children and parents. Then the will to enjoy contained in creation and the will to bestow that the Creator has both harness one another and obligate each other. And even though on one hand the Creator is able to do anything, this does not indicate anything because He feels love for creation and this love limits Him, enabling Him to do only what love dictates, rather than everything He can do.

That means that the force of love is the force of restriction, the reverse force operating in the Creator. It does not let you do anything. You cannot destroy the person you love. Love rules.

Therefore, the condition of unity is equality—in opportunities, forces, abilities, and freedom of expression. Once the equality is there, then out of all of these opportunities we activate precisely the force of love and attain unity.
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From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/14/11, The Zohar

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The Spiritual Flowers Under The Spiritual Sun

Dr. Michael LaitmanThe Kabbalistic “language of branches” is the language of those who attain spirituality. It is incomprehensible for a person who hasn’t attained the connection of the branches with the spiritual roots.

First, I have to start sensing the upper world. And then, hearing the words that belong to the lower world, I will clearly understand what phenomena of the spiritual world, in which I exist together with the authors of Kabbalistic books, they point to. I will acquire a common language with Rabbi Shimon and Baal HaSulam since I, too, will be at the same level or place, that they are telling about.

Since I exist in this world in my physical body, I know what the words of this world mean: “sun,” “earth,” “vegetation,” “donkey.” First, I become familiar with the terms themselves, and then I hear their names: words, language. I ascribe this real, perceptible object, the “sun,” a name in any language. This is how we name all phenomena of this world, thereby creating a language, and it allows us to comprehend what is being described.

The Spiritual Flowers Under The Spiritual Sun

If I exist in the spiritual world as well, I attain an additional reality called “sun,” “earth,” “vegetation,” “donkey.” I sense these properties and find out their names. Now the author of the Kabbalistic book starts explaining to me the connection between all these phenomena of the spiritual world by using the words of this world.

Since I exist in attainment of the connection between the material branches and the spiritual roots, it’s clear to me what he points to in the spiritual world. This “language of branches” turns into my language; it explains everything to me.

When we teach a child to talk, we show him objects and name them. This is how we can explain everything to a “child” in the spiritual world as well. For this, he needs to sense the spiritual reality and discover how it is called. That is, he needs help in understanding the connection between branch and root as well as the connection between parts of the spiritual reality.

Kabbalists teach us to find our bearings in the spiritual world with the help of the “language of branches.” But first we need to sense what the spiritual flowers, grass, or sun are….

There are spiritual terms which a person does not yet sense, while a Kabbalist helps him perceive them. This language advances, builds us. The connections inside the language explain to us the meaning of words or why the words are composed out of particular letters. This is because in Hebrew, the form of the letters and their order in a word indicate the properties of a spiritual object that has this particular name. This is how the spiritual information is passed down to us.

This language is already prepared for us because all the worlds, from Above downward, are interconnected. We are born into this world, feel it, and get to know the connection between the words. Now we must rise from the lower world to the upper one, and we take everything that there is in this world, the knowledge of all branches and all their names, and start ascending equipped with this.

The connection directed at the root has extended upward till Infinity. Each level contains everything that exists in our world, but each time it becomes revealed to us in more qualitative terms, meaning that they are more strongly connected with one and unified root.
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From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/10/2011, “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah”

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There Is No Oblivion In Spirituality

Dr. Michael LaitmanThe Zohar, Introduction, “The Second Commandment,” Item 203: …Then fear clings to both sides, the side of good and love and the side of harsh Din, and she is included in them. If fear is included on the side of good and love, it is complete love, as it should be. …since there is love only in two sides—GAR and ZAT de Bina—and love is incomplete on either of the two sides unless there is fear in each of them, since there cannot be Hochma without Bina, which is love without fear.

This explains the completion of all of our work: How to attain love in Kelim (or desires) of bestowal and then also in the receiving Kelim. In essence this is already the full correction of creation in Malchut, which unites with Bina so much that it attains Keter, where its bestowal is perfect in all of its Kelim.

Question: What is fear?

Answer: Fear is the first commandment, meaning the first correction we have to go through. It is a person’s worry and fear: Is he able to attain bestowal to the Creator? This is fear: Will I attain this? Am I capable of this? Will I ever desire this? Then a person has work.

As a rule our work is aimed at maintaining what we have attained. Baal HaSulam writes about this in Letter #2 from 1920:

Wisdom only comes with experience. I advise you to awaken inner fear that the love among you might cool down, even though the mind rejects this view of things. You should go through the trouble anyway. If someone has the opportunity to add more love, but he doesn’t do it, this will be deemed a flaw.

It’s similar to how a person gives his friend a great gift. The love for his friend that becomes revealed at the moment of the action in the heart of the gift’s receiver, is not similar to the love that remains in his heart when the action is completed. Day by day it cools down, until it may reach total oblivion to the gift of love.That is why the person who received the gift has to invent tricks so as to look at it with new eyes every day.

Spirituality is built on the fact that we do not forget the inspiration that we have attained and we constantly keep the same inspiration while expanding it more and more.
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From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/13/11, The Zohar

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Kabbalists About Kabbalah Today, Part 6

Dr. Michael LaitmanDear Friends, please ask questions about these passages from the great Kabbalists. The commentaries in brackets are mine.

An Opportunity for Redemption

Thus, even though the Creator has delivered the land [our desire] from the hands of the nations and has given it to us [has given us a chance to begin correcting our egoism], we have not yet received [corrected] it. We are not enjoying it.

But with this giving, the Creator has given us an opportunity for redemption [from perception of this world], to be purified and sanctified [of egoism and mutual hatred] and assume the work of God in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma [properties of mutual bestowal and love].

At that time, the Temple [collective desire] will be built and we will receive the land [corrected desire] into our own authority [for the sake of bestowal]. And then we will experience and feel the joy of redemption [fulfillment by the Upper Light].
– Baal HaSulam, “A Speech for the Completion of The Zohar
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Revealing A New Earth And Sky

Dr. Michael LaitmanIn the article “Body and Soul” Baal HaSulam explains that we live in one world, but it split into two parts in regard to each of us: an apparent one and a hidden one. Throughout history, we became better and better acquainted with our world, we revealed new continents, examined inanimate nature, flora, fauna, and cosmic space. Reality spread out broader and broader before our eyes.

Kabbalists say that this is not the limit. We just need new aspirations, an aim at bestowal – then the diapason, the range, of our qualities and feelings will become broader, and we will begin to perceive in them the reality that is currently invisible to us.

Today an inner impulse, a need to discover the hidden reality, is awakening in many people. Before, egoism constantly pushed people to explore our world in order to seek out new pleasures, the abundance in various forms, in it. And now, having exhausted all other opportunities, we wish to reveal the hidden reality.

In order to help us in this, Kabbalists wrote books. The main book, with the help of which we can find what has been concealed, is The Book of Zohar. While reading it, we need to pay less attention to the text itself since we still don’t understand what it is about. Instead, we should aspire more to what this book can give us.

The Zohar brings us revelation of “a new earth and a new sky.” The “earth” is the desire, and the “sky” is the degree of Bina, bestowal, on which we will see the reality of bestowal. Therefore, during the lesson we think about how to broaden our perception, to open our eyes, and to allow the still hidden part of one world to enter our sensations.

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From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/30/10, “Body and Soul”

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Face-to-Face With The Creator

Dr. Michael LaitmanBaal HaSulam, “Thou Hast Hemmed Me In Behind and Before“: Thou hast hemmed me in behind and before, meaning the revelation and concealment of the face of the Creator, for indeed “His kingdom ruleth over all,” and everything will return to its root because there is no place vacant of him. But the difference is in present tense or future tense, because he who connects the two worlds, discovers in the present His clothing: that everything that is done is a clothing for the revelation of divinity.

All events, from the beginning to the end, are sent by You and are aimed solely to open my eyes and bring me back to the Source. And there is no place where You don’t rule so that I may say that I acted on my own or someone else stood for or against me.

Everything is permeated by the Light of Infinity, the Creator; therefore, there is no act, thought, or step that would not be completely controlled by Him. And all of it has only one purpose: to get us to attain Him so that we come closer to Him, know Him, cling to Him, and accept His governance.

We need to become like Him and walk with Him further, agreeing with all His actions and copying all His moves to such an extent that we would be able to predict what He is going to do and wish to do it before He does. It turns out that it is my desire to make it so, and He is the one who does it after me!

A person reaches such subtle understanding and perception of all this system that is being revealed to him that he completely unifies with the Creator. I anticipate what the Creator wishes me to do, and like a small child who pulls the grownup by the hand, so do I move the creature toward perfection.

Clearly, in this case we annul time. There is no more past, present, or future, and we ascend to the state where everything takes place at once and simultaneously. The future gives way to the present.

And this is deemed present tense, meaning that now too he comes out in royal clothes [also in Malchut’s clothing] and evidently shows that the rider is not subordinate to the horse. But although it seemingly appears that the horse leads the rider, the truth is that the horse is provoked to any movement, only by the sensation of the bridle and headstall of the rider. And that is called the construction of the stature of divinity, and it is also called face-to-face.
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From Lesson 7, World Kabbalah Convention 2010, 11/11/10

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Baal HaSulam, “Exile And Redemption”

Baal HaSulamBaal HaSulam’s article “Exile and Redemption” (Synopsis):

Harmony Between Religion and the Law of Development or Blind Fate
“And among these nations shalt thou have no repose.”

“And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all; in that you say we will be as the nations, as the families of the countries.”

The nation of Israel cannot exist in exile. It will find no rest there, as other nations that mixed with others and dissolved in them without a trace.

Not so is the house of Israel. This nation will find no rest among the nations until it realizes the verse, “And from there you will seek the Creator.”

And we say about all the rebuke that is happening to us that it is chance and blind fate. This has but one cure—to bring the troubles back on us to such an extent that we will see that they are not coincidental but steadfast Providence.

Due to the wisdom of Kabbalah, a far more rapid development than the other nations has come to us. And because the members of the nation developed so, there was always the necessity to go forward and self-correct.

And because they would not do it, but wished to include their narrow selfishness, this developed the ruin of the First Temple, since they wished to extol wealth and power above justice, as other nations.

But because the wisdom of Kabbalah prohibits it, they denied it and the prophecy and adopted the manners of the neighbors so they could enjoy life as much as selfishness demanded of them.

And because they did that, the powers of the nation disintegrated: Some followed the kings and the selfish officers, and some followed the Kabbalists. And that separation continued until the ruin.

In the Second Temple, it was even more conspicuous, since the beginning of the separation was publicly displayed by egoistic disciples. Their mutiny against our sages revolved primarily around the obligation of Lishma.

Because they did not want to retire from selfishness, they created communities of this corrupt kind and became a great sect called “Tzedokim” (Sadducees) who were the rich and the officers, pursuing selfish desires.

And they fought the Prushim (Pharisees), those who exited from their egoism, and brought the Roman kingdom’s rule over Israel. They are the ones who would not make peace with the imperious, as the Kabbalists advised, until the house was ruined and the glory of Israel was exiled.

The Difference Between A Secular Ideal and A Religious Ideal

A secular ideal stems from humanness to raise itself, in similarity to humanness.

But a spiritual idea, which stems from the Creator, can raise itself above humanity.

This is because the basis for a secular ideal is equalization and the price of glorifying man, and he acts to boast in the eyes of people, even if they don’t know him.

A spiritual ideal, however, is based on glory in the eyes of the Creator. Hence, he who follows a religious idea can raise himself above humanness.

In exile, for as long as we followed the intention of Lishma, we retained strength. But because people rebelled against this in their aspiration to execute their selfish ploys, we have lost life’s purpose.

Instead of scattering monetary surplus on collective needs, they were scattered on the joys of life.

The wisdom of Kabbalah, the natural law of development, goes hand in hand in wondrous unity even with blind faith. Thus, the bad incidences in the exile, which we have much to tell of from the days of our exile were all because we embezzled the Torah. And if we kept the commandments of the Torah (unity and Lishma), no harm would come to us.

Congruity and Unity Between the Wisdom of Kabbalah and Blind Faith, and the Development of Human Calculation

Hence, we must say to our troubles, “Enough!” and at the very least, make a human calculation regarding our country as well: We have no hope of remaining on this earth as a nation as long as we do not accept the work with the intention of Lishma, and not for oneself.

If we do not establish ourselves accordingly, then we will undoubtedly be pushed right and left as all nations are, and much more so. This is because the nature of the developed is that they cannot be restrained, for any important notion that comes from an opinionated person will not bow its head before anything and knows no compromise.

This is a psychological law.

They believe that in the end, the other side will understand the danger and will bow his head and accept their opinion. But the nature of the developed will not allow one to surrender to the other even a little, and no danger will interrupt anyone from carrying out his ambition.

As long as we do not raise our goal above the corporeal life, we will have no corporeal revival.

We are the children of the idea. And even if we are immersed in materialism, we will still not give up the idea. Hence, it is the holy purpose for His name that we need.
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