Entries in the 'Religion' Category

Praying In Order To Change

Dr. Michael LaitmanQuestion: How does a Kabbalistic prayer differ from a religious one?

Answer: Kabbalah fundamentally differs from all other methods and from everything there is in our world. In short, Kabbalah is one thing, and everything else another.

What is the difference then? It is in the fact that Kabbalah is based on changing a person himself rather than something outside of him, his surroundings; neither is it built on asking some “dear God” to start treating me better or to change other people’s attitude toward me. I do not ask Him to change my state of health or fate, nothing of the sort. I ask Him to transform my egoism, only that!

The entire method of Kabbalah is arranged so that a person can transform himself. On the other hand, all other methods and religions are founded on the idea that the Creator should change His attitude to a person: I ask Him to be more merciful and kind to me while I bribe Him.

Kabbalah doesn’t allow anything of the sort. In connection to the Creator, I am like man that changes in the face of the Absolute. And this Absolute is unchangeable. If the Creator is a primordial cause, the beginning of all, and if He is absolutely good, absolute, eternal, and perfect, then He cannot change. Only that which is imperfect can change. He cannot change.

Therefore, all changes occur solely in man. In other words, depending on my strengths, internal states, and properties, I feel more or less comfortable. But it is just me because I can change. The Creator never changes; He is a constant, omnipotent force of Nature.

Accordingly, all the prayers Kabbalah describes constitute man’s plea to be transformed. Who does one address these to, a wall? If the Creator is constant, eternal, and complete, then He doesn’t react to you in any way.

However, when you appeal to Him, you become different and receive a different response because you increase your sensitivity while doing so. You are still present in the same constant field regarded as the “Creator,” in the same constant force. Yet you are praying while wishing to change, and as a result, this field affects you with greater intensity. This is what we call a “prayer.”

The word “to pray” in Hebrew (Lehitpalel) means self-imposed judgment. “To pray” means to judge, evaluate, and rebuke oneself. It isn’t an appeal to someone, in order to be shown mercy or favored. No, it is self re-evaluation. This is what a prayer is.

Hence, although religions use the same word, in Kabbalah it has an opposite meaning, much like everything else.
From Lesson 2 in Moscow 1/16/2011, “A Prayer of Many”

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On Cultural Differences

Dr. Michael LaitmanQuestion: I am a Muslim who has been studying Kabbalah for several months. Is it possible to observe the laws of my religion and correct my soul at the same time?

Answer: Kabbalah was born before Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Torah speaks of Abraham “bestowing gifts” to the sons of his concubines and sending them East, thus laying the foundation for Eastern teachings. Everything stems from one source.

The collective desire is divided into many parts, and each part has its own individual path of correction. Certain parts can commence with correction immediately. They constitute the group that Abraham had taken out of Babylon. The other parts have scattered around the world, with each part developing individually in accordance with its unique set of qualities.

Their means of advancement are the various religions, faiths, and cultures. A person can easily remain in his faith and follow the spiritual path at the same time. Baal HaSulam writes about this in his Writings of The Last Generation:

“The religious formation of all the nations should first and foremost obligate its members to bestow upon their fellow man the concept of another person’s life coming before one’s own, a formation of ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’… But otherwise, each nation may pursue its own religion and traditions, and one must not interfere with the other.”

That is, we must not meddle in the affairs of other nations and cultures. Let them have these things; people need them. This whole “territory” has nothing to do with the spiritual world. As a person advances, it turns into a cultural platform for him, a set of traditions, and does not get in the way.

If I want to rise above my nature so as to unite with everybody, even the relationships between religions appear to me in a new light. As a Muslim, I suddenly understand that I can advance toward the goal alongside a Christian, and, truly, what can stop us?

Everyone is used to their own home cooking, and nobody is taking that away from you. As Baal HaSulam writes, everyone can remain in their religion, and nobody has the right to meddle in your affairs precisely because this has nothing to do with the spiritual path. Ultimately, in our world, religions constitute culture, tradition that corresponds from the beginning to the nature of the various parts of Malchut and conforms to the root of the soul.

Recently, we read the weekly Bible chapter about the Creator bidding Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac, but at the very last moment commanding that a baby goat, not Isaac, be sacrificed. In Hebrew, the word “sacrifice” is Kurban, from the word Karov (to draw closer). Here, the right line (Abraham) sacrifices its ego, Kurban, the left line (Isaac), thus drawing closer to the Creator (Karov).

We hear that Muslims celebrate the holiday of Kurban to honor Ibrahim who had sacrificed a goat instead of Ishmael on Allah’s bidding. Allah is derived from the word Alla (Elyon or the Upper One).
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/21/10, “Hakdama, BeLaila De Kala (The Night of the Bride)”

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Come And See Your Creator!

Dr. Michael LaitmanWe assign the Lights the names of the vessels: NHY, HBT, or HGT. Why can’t we just refer to the Lights with their permanent names: Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Haya, and Yechida? The fact of the matter is that there is no Light outside of the vessel! We cannot say anything about the Light on its own. The Light is an impression inside the vessel. I feel happiness or fear from it, and this happiness does not exist without me.

Therefore, the Creator is called “Bo-Re” (“come and see”); He is perceived only within the vessel (desire). We can only talk about matter and form clothed into matter, while abstract form is unattainable for us. Therefore, the vessels (desires) and the sensations in them are of the utmost importance.

Moreover, the sensation depends only on the perception of the Kli (vessel) itself. We don’t know what actually happens; rather, we learn only our reaction to the occurrences. However, we don’t know what phenomenon occurs outside of the vessel.

Some Light flows through my vessel, and my soul quivers. Then a different Light flows through me, and I am overfilled with delight. So what’s the difference? The difference is only in the vessel itself. I don’t know what kind of Light flows through, and I will never be able to say anything about it; I can only speak of my reaction.

Meanwhile, it is the same Light flowing through me all the time. Doesn’t it change?! I don’t know this; I cannot measure anything in Him. I only measure my vessel, its impressions and changes. Yet what suddenly causes my vessel to change? It changes under the influence of the spiritual genes (Reshimot) and on its own. I don’t even know for sure how or due to what it changes.

However, I always talk only about my vessel, and this is very important since it determines the whole principle of perceiving reality which is inside us rather than somewhere outside. Therefore, “one judges according to his flaws,” and all clarifications occur in the desires, while the Light is the sensation within the vessel.

Our whole work occurs only within our desire, and our sensitivity to the Light depends only on us. If I raise my sensitivity, I ascend through the spiritual degrees from this world to the World of Infinity. The whole difference between the degrees consists of my sensitivity to what happens. In fact, I am in the World of Infinity even now, so why do I perceive this horrible world instead?

The only reason is my lack of sensitivity. I need to get sharper glasses, then binoculars, then a telescope, and I will see a different world. The whole reality consists of sensations within me. Therefore, Kabbalah is called an inner science since it reveals only what is hidden inside us. “Come and see” (Bo-Re) your Creator inside you!

All the religions, methodologies, and belief systems insist that we need to correct ourselves in relation to the outside world. Yet in the science of Kabbalah we correct only ourselves: The group as well as the entire world, everything exists within me. It is unacceptable to think otherwise since the above principle forces me to correct myself exclusively. I will not waste my energy and time on making mistakes while trying to correct the world and other people.

This principle acts in regard to all of humanity in general as well as in regard to the group in particular. Consequently, we gradually reveal the truth: A person needs to correct only himself, and thereby the whole world will be corrected, from the innermost to the outermost circles. “A human being is a small world.”
From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 10/13/10, Talmud Eser Sefirot

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The Correct Formula Of Existence

Dr. Michael LaitmanQuestion: Many people see that this world is sliding down into the darkness and they want to save it. However, your words about love for the neighbor and unity seem unrealistic to them. Moreover, when you mention the Creator, they attribute it to religion and don’t want to hear anything more. So how can you explain anything to them?

Answer: Kabbalah is a natural science, not a religion. And it can be explained on a level that’s clear to any person.

Do you accept the fact that our world has become integral and global? Do you see that there is a general force in the world that controls it? We are revealing how everything is inseparably interconnected and develops along specific phases.

We don’t know what will happen at the next moment, but everything in nature is absolutely thought and planned out. And we can use the forces that are inherent in nature.

All of nature is connected in a single system, so let’s also come together and become one system! That way we will attract a positive influence from nature. I am not talking about something artificial, but on the contrary, if we want to use any forces of nature, we have to come closer to the same phenomena, become similar to them and establish a connection with them. This rule applies to everything and to any forces of nature, including electrostatic and magnetic forces we can feel as well as forces that are concealed.

The more similar we are to these forces, the more we can use them and feel their influence. The closer my thoughts are to yours, the more I feel you and the more connected I am to you. Then we can become close, understand one another, and help each other.

In other words, we have to understand the following:

  1. We are inside of Nature and are an integral part of it, but we are not its masters; we are not above it.
  2. We have to admit that we are connected together, and all of modern science shows this fact.
  3. We are the most flawed part of nature, leading it to a catastrophe, while all the rest of nature besides us is in harmony. If there are any problems in it, they’re all because of us.

Therefore, we have to find the right formula of existence! Everyone can agree that it is the formula of mutual participation and interconnection, as the general, integral system obligates us.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 10/24/10, “Matan Torah”

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Kabbalists On The Essence Of The Wisdom Of Kabbalah, Part 22

Dr. Michael LaitmanDear Friends, please ask questions about passages from the great Kabbalists. I promise to answer them. The commentaries in brackets are mine.

The Wisdom of Kabbalah and the System of Mussar (Ethics)

You will also find a significant difference regarding the support because following the ethics is supported by the favor of people, which is like a rent that finally pays off. And when man grows accustomed to this work, he will not be able to ascend in degrees of ethics, for he will now be used to such work that is well rewarded by society, which pays for his good deeds.

Yet, by observing Torah and Mitzvot in order to please his Maker, without any reward, he climbs the rungs of ethics precisely to the extent that he pursues it, since there is no payment on his path. And each penny is added to a great account. And finally he acquires a second nature, which is bestowal upon others without any self-gratification, except for the bare necessities of his life.

– Baal HaSulam “The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose

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Kabbalists On The Essence Of The Wisdom Of Kabbalah, Part 21

Laitman_523Dear Friends, please ask questions about passages from the great Kabbalists. I promise to answer them. The commentaries in brackets are mine.

The Wisdom of Kabbalah and the System of Mussar (Ethics)

The goal of ethics is the well-being of society from the perspective of practical reason, derived from life’s experiences. But in the end, that goal does not promise its follower any elation above the boundaries of nature.

Hence, this goal is still subject to criticism, for who can prove to an individual the extent of his benefit in such a way that he will be compelled to even slightly diminish his own self in favor of the well-being of society?

The religious goal, however, promises the well-being of the individual who follows it, as we have already shown that when one comes to love others, he is in direct Dvekut, which is equivalence of form with the Maker, and along with it man passes from his narrow world, filled with pain and impediments, to an eternal world of bestowal upon the Lord and upon the people.
– Baal HaSulam “The Essence of Religion and its Purpose

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The World Is Built By Our Prayers

Dr. Michael LaitmanPeople think that prayer relates to religion and religious people, and that it is removed from regular, secular people. But that is not true! All of our external garments, physical bodies, and objects surrounding us in this world are expressions of desire. There is nothing but desire, which creates all these clothings for itself.

Therefore, without being aware of it, we determine our entire lives with our desires, including what state we will enter in the next moment and how we will experience this reality! Whether we want it or not, we are all always praying, or asking for some kind of fulfillment for our desire. We do it completely unconsciously. I don’t have to pray for someone or something intentionally. Desire comprises our entire inner essence, and my sensation that I lack something is called prayer.

We want something at every moment. That is how we influence reality, which contains nothing but desire and the force of desire. This means that at every moment I want something and I pray for it. Our desires connect with one another and control the entire universe, continually producing new pictures and new states for us.

We build this world with our prayers! Therefore, the only thing we need is to change our requests, despite the desire of our heart. Then we will reveal a new world because the whole world is the sensation inside my desire.

The science of Kabbalah is named after the word “Kabbalah,” reception, because it talks about what you will receive the next moment. Only you determine what the next moment will be, what you will receive and feel in it. Will you be able to change your vision of the world, directing your desire in the necessary direction (which is called prayer)? If you change your prayer so that instead of desiring what you desire now, you desire the right thing, then you will change the entire picture of the world and all of reality.

From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 7/12/10, “The Importance of the Prayer of the Many”

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Waiting For The Dawn

Dr. Michael LaitmanMan’s egoism hates the wisdom of Kabbalah since it talks about love of others. Yet, in order to nevertheless bring man closer to the state opposite to his ego, religions were invented. This provided an opportunity to use the “wisdom of Kabbalah” (as it were) in various false forms, which allowed people to develop egoistically.

Religion elevates a person above his animalistic existence by espousing that there is a Creator, punishment and reward in this world and the next one, and eternity of his soul. It gives a person a glimpse into something higher, no matter how false it may be. However, people begin to build around it various theories, philosophies, and methodologies, and thereby develop art and culture, striving to become greater. Thus, through religions, humanity develops in its ego, in order to finally realize, during our time, that it is in exile from true spirituality.

When 2000 years ago we lost our spiritual ways, having fallen from love of others to unfounded hatred to all, we didn’t feel the fall because people were used to the presence of the Creator in their existence. But humanity needs to feel the bottomless depth of our downfall and the total disconnection from spirituality! To achieve this, it needs the Light to shine on it and reveal its state as darkness.

Since we do not have a desire for love of others, instead of being given the Torah (the Light that Reforms), we are given the Torah in the form of religion of this world, which is when we use the Torah with egoistic intentions and not in order to attain love for the others.

Waiting for the Dawn
Studying the Torah with egoistic intentions, a person only more deeply immerses into the darkness of his egoism, until he reaches a state in which he becomes aware of the darkness and the fact that instead of loving the others, he is conceited and hateful towards them. We have to undergo this process in order to realize the evil nature of our egoism. The Creator says: “I created the evil inclination,” and we have to find it within ourselves.

Then I will be in need of the Torah, as a remedy for the correction of my ego, and I will lament. This won’t be a mere religion but the Light that Reforms and brings us to bestowal and love.

From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 6/29/10, Introduction to the Book, Panim Meirot uMasbirot

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Religion Is A Reverse Connection With Spirituality

Dr. Michael LaitmanReligion was given to the nation of Israel during the exile so that the nation would realize the evil nature of egoism and develop the need for the Light that Reforms. All other nations had to evolve by means of their own religions and beliefs. Back in ancient Babylon, Abraham “gave presents (belief systems) to the children of his concubines and sent them to the East.” The nations nearby received these “presents” in the form of the world religions Christianity and Islam. They are considered presents because they stem from the Creator and their mission is to bring people closer to Him. Their followers, too, are called to help man realize the evil nature of his egoism.

All religions are a “reverse” connection with spirituality. This link ultimately shows us that we are opposite to spirituality. Gradually, we reveal that our egoism has developed to the point of no return; it is like a cancerous tumor that consumes us. This is revealed with the Light’s help. All of our historical development occurred by the influence of the Upper Light. The Light does everything by acting toward us directly or in its reverse form.

The Light develops our egoism and gradually elucidates its own nature to us. It lets us see that we exist in the evil, egoistic nature and that we distinguish only darkness which is only what is beneficial to us. We slowly realize egoism to be evil, as the reason for all evil in the world. By seeing all of it, we then strive for goodness.

These are all necessary stages of our development.

From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 6/29/10, “Preface to the Sulam Commentary”

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The Body Is Transient, The Soul Is Not

Dr. Michael LaitmanA question I received: Does it make a difference how a person is buried?

My Answer: First, Kabbalah engages only in the correction of the soul. When a person comes to a Kabbalistic group and begins working on himself in order to unite with the friends so as to reach the quality of a mutual guarantee, he realizes that he hates the others and is repulsed by them. This rejection of friends is, in fact, the egoistic quality that a person needs to correct by turning it into love toward them.

This is possible only with the help of the Light that influences a person while he studies Kabbalistic texts (especially those written by Baal HaSulam and RABASH). A corrected attitude to the neighbor, up to the point of loving him, is what forms a person’s soul, which becomes filled with the Light of bestowal and love: the Creator.

Second, the human body has no sanctity. This attitude to our animal body comes from religions which are based specifically on the concealment of the Creator and on the fact that people don’t feel the soul and mistakenly attribute it to the animate body. It seems to a person that there is something special or unique about the body since they don’t feel anything except the body and perceive everything only through it.

In ancient times, food, utensils, and slaves were buried along with the body of a dead master in order to help him in his future life in the same body. For that purpose, the body was embalmed. American Indians (Native Americans) still dig out the bones of the deceased from the grave, wash them, and return them to the grave as a token of respect. Hindus choose an infant for worship and make him holy. Christianity has an array of relics as well, which they argue about to this day.

Funerals are accompanied by a variety of  rituals. They all are based on ignorance and the adoration of the flesh. Muslims believe that the pleasures of our world also exist in the future world. Over the years, as Judaism descended from feeling the spiritual world and the Creator to the exile (Galut), Judaism became clothed in various external rituals. People began to honor graves and to practice fortune-telling and other “spiritual” manipulations. And although people are trying to re-build the Temple, they are doing so only in an external way according to their exiled spiritual state, and in this way it will be nothing more than an ordinary building.

Conclusion: There is no sanctity (eternity, perfection, and divinity) in our world (our thoughts, feelings, actions, objects, and rituals). Our whole world consists of three levels of nature: inanimate, vegetative, and animate. We need to reach the “human” level (from the word “Adam,” meaning Dome – similar to the Creator) through our work on correcting the mutual hatred among us into mutual love. Thereby, we will become similar to the Creator and thus feel eternity and perfection irrespective of our animate bodies.

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