There is nothing else in the world except the Light (the Creator) and that which was created by the Light (the person, who remains inside this Light). A person can perceive this Light when there is a correspondence between the qualities of the human being and those of the Creator. If the qualities do not correspond, then the person will be unable to perceive the Light – the Creator.
At first, we are placed in the conditions of an explicit and complete domain of egoism, known as « our world. » Only by means of our own efforts can we gradually bring up and cultivate within ourselves such a desire and necessity to perceive the Creator (create a vessel for the Light of the Creator) that we will begin to perceive Him.
Our efforts should focus on an attempt to correct ourselves with all the strength we possess until it is obvious that all efforts to attain the desired goal will be futile. Then, it is time to turn to the Creator with a prayer, asking for help in finding redemption from egoism and in uniting with Him.
This process can take months, and even years, if we undertake this effort under the guidance of a teacher-Kabbalist; or it can take several lives or reincarnations (gilgulim), if such efforts are undertaken on our own, by way of suffering.
Only the right efforts in the correct direction will produce the vessel of the soul, within which the Creator will reveal Himself to us. In Kabbalah, the reasons behind our actions are known as “the fathers,” whereas the consequences of actions are known as “the sons” (the correct spiritual acts).
One is not born because of one’sown will. Spiritually, one is forced to be born (to receive a soul – the Light of the Creator) by the Creator through suffering. But one has the capacity to be born independently by means of the Kabbalah.
One does not live because of one’s own will. If one does not act (live) in accordance with one’s egoistic will, then a true eternal spiritual existence will be the reward, which can actually be called « life. »
One does not die because ofone’s will. If one does not want to die (spiritually) or to be in the state of spiritual death (without the soul; without the Light of the Creator) then one should not act in accordance with one’s own will.
The work in the middle line of the soul begins with the work in the right line: since its use is prohibited (restriction, tzimtzum), the Light of wisdom (Ohr Hochma) shows egoism as bad (aviyut); one feels that there is no worse act than to work for the sake of the self.
But the person still possesses neither the desire nor the strength to work for the sake of others, that is, to give. Therefore, there is a need for the left line, which gives us altruistic desires and strength.
The spiritual organs of perception, just like our five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch), operate in accordance with a particular set goal. The effect of the Light of wisdom causes us to realize that there is no personal benefit in using the five senses; that is, there is no point in working for our egoism.
In the absence of the desire to gratify ourselves, which normally induces the five senses to operate, we experience a complete lack of energy to perform any act, leading to lethargy and inaction. At this stage, we have not realized that the goal of our efforts can be the « giving, » that is, our actions can be altruistic.
For this reason, we need the influence of another spiritual quality, known as the “red light,” the left line (« malchut memuteket be Bina »). This second quality is required to convince our desires to agree to work altruistically (qualities of Bina). Once we receive the spiritual energy and the altruistic motion has begun, we begin to act with a combination of the qualities both from the right and the left lines.
As a result, we receive the Light of the Creator into our new desires (the middle line), and thus continue receiving pleasure from the perfection. If we are ready to receive the powers of faith and altruism, then eventually we will be able to receive the highest reason.
The principle of rejecting self-gratification, which was adopted by one of the world’s major religions, and the principle of attaining pleasure, which was chosen by another, both stem from the impure (egoistic) forces (klipot) of the right and the left lines of the spiritual ascent. Thus, where the Kabbalah discusses the subject of placing limitations on oneself, it implies a preliminary stage of working on the self: making an attempt to reject the idea of self-gratification using one’s own willpower.
The roots of all different types of faith, of all spiritual tendencies, of all groups, and of all religious philosophies can be traced to the various klipot.These surround the left and the right spiritual pure lines, which are sustained through the process of seizing-grasping (ahiza) or through drawing nourishment (yenika).
But the goal of any task is to attain the middle line, to rise to the infinite that has no end or boundary, thus attaining the perception of the Creator, unlimited by particular human qualities.
In spiritual vocabulary, a desire is regarded as a “place.” The absence of desire is considered to be “the absence of a place.” This is similar to a situation when a person declares that no place exists in the stomach for food, since there is no more desire to eat.
A spiritual place, or the desire of an individual to perceive the Creator, is known as “the vessel” (kli) of the soul, or Shechina. This vessel receives the Light of the Creator or the revelation of the Creator, also known as “the soul” of the person. The Creator Himself is known as the Shochen.
Since all our desires are permeated with our egoism (desire to receive), the Light of the Creator is concealed. As egoism is gradually ejected from our desires, a greater place becomes available. An uncorrected desire is known as « egoism. » A corrected desire is called « Israel. »
Once a « place » is vacated as a result of a corrected desire, the Light of the Creator is revealed, but the Creator still continues to operate in a manner concealed from us. After we have corrected and purified our desires (places, vessels), we perceive the process of the revelation of the Creator as the appearance of the Light. In reality, however, no motion takes place, but rather, as in the process of developing a negative, the Light gradually appears in our perception.
Since we do not perceive the Light itself, but only its effect on our vessel, we address the Creator by the name associated with His revelation: Shechina. However, we can only determine His Essence by the sensations and feelings that He invokes in us. For this reason, the revelation of the Creator is known as Shechina.
If the Creator conceals Himself, then it said that “the Shechina is in exile”; or that “the Creator is hidden.” But if an individual has earned the revelation of the Creator, then it is known as “the return from the exile.”
The varying degree to which the Creator reveals Himself to us is called “the soul” (neshama).
As soon as we are able to correct at least one of our desires into an altruistic one, we receive an immediate perception of the Creator. Thus, it is said that the human soul is part of the Creator.
Once we reach the final stage of correction, the Creator will fill all our desires, that is, He will reveal Himself to the ultimate degree to which He planned to reveal Himself in His creations. All our desires were designed for this ultimate purpose at the very beginning of creation.
Shechina is the root and sum of all individual souls. Each soul is a part of the general revelation of the Creator. When the Creator reveals Himself, He is expressing His desire to please His creations. This is the understanding of those who attain the perception of the Creator.
We are unable to answer the question of what caused the Creator to wish to create us in order to please, because this question deals with the process that took place prior to the creation. We can only comprehend those things that can be revealed to us, that is, those things that developed after the creation.
The initial stage from which we begin to comprehend the creation is the perception of pleasure that emanates from the Creator. For this reason, the goal of creation – « the desire of the Creator to please » – refers only to those creations that already perceive Him.
All the questions that concern issues beyond this level are above our ability to understand them. We must always remember that all human understanding and knowledge are derived solely from personal perception.
The only thing that we are comprised of is our desire to be pleased.
All our physical and mental potential, all our capabilities, and all our progress are for the sole purpose of letting us receive pleasure from various objects, which we continue to invent, find, and consider necessary, fashionable, or acceptable. This is done for the sole objective of being able to constantly receive pleasure.
We cannot complain about the unlimited forms of the desire to receive pleasure. It was sufficient for the Creator to generate but a single desire in order to induce human beings to feel like independent (desiring) beings, able to behave independently on the basis of a single instinct – that of maximizing our personal pleasure.
This process takes place with the aid of all our faculties: intellectual, subconscious, physical, ethical, and many others. It also includes all levels of memory, ranging from the molecular and biological to the highest levels of our intellect.
Here is a simple example: a man loves money, but is willing to give up his entire fortune to a mugger when threatened with death. In this manner, he exchanges one pleasure source (money) for an even greater pleasure (staying alive).
We are incapable of performing an act unless we are sure that, as a result of this act, we will be in a more advantageous position. It is irrelevant how the benefit will be conferred. What is crucial is that the resulting level of pleasure will exceed the initial level. Only then will we act.
What, then, is the difference between the pleasure received from egoism (from getting) and the pleasure received from altruism (from giving)? The significant difference is in the fact that, when we receive pleasure from egoism, our feeling of pleasure is invariably accompanied by a feeling of shame. But if we receive for the sake of the giver, then we have no feelings of shame and our pleasure is absolute.
The original spiritual being, known as « the common soul » or « the first man » was unable to undergo such a transformation of thought when it received the tremendous pleasure from the Creator. Therefore, it was divided into 600,000 parts (souls).
Every part, every soul, receives a small portion of the burden of egoism, which it must correct. When all the parts are corrected, they will once again unite to form « a common corrected soul. » When such a state is reached, the corrective process known as gmar tikkun will be completed.
For example, in our world a person can refrain from stealing a small amount of money because it represents an insignificant amount of pleasure. The fear of punishment, combined with feelings of shame, prevails over the desire to steal.
However, if the amount is sufficiently great, then the pull toward gratification is much stronger than the ability to withstand it. In this way, the Creator generated the conditions for freedom of choice that we require to overcome our egoism.
He divided the soul into a multitude of parts, and then separated every part into many successive stages of corrective phases (where each phase compels the part to garb into a human body). He then broke every state of a human being into a number of ascents and descents required for the quest to alter one’s nature.
If we feel love for the Creator, we must immediately attempt to adjoin in ourselves feelings of fear as well, in order to be sure that our feeling of love is not egoistic. Only if both fear and love are present is our aspiration to come closer to the Creator in perfect form.
Those who experience a yearning for spiritual perception, but do not perceive the Creator, are filled with spiritual confusion and panic. Though given the desire to grasp the Creator from Above, such individuals are not ready to take the independent step forward toward the desired end.
Instead, they choose to wait to be sent a very strong desire from Above. This will serve as a thrust forward. It will permit these individuals to realize that every feeling and circumstance is filled with the Creator’s desire to attract their attention to Him, and to prompt them to move closer to Him. Then it is possible to detect the Creator’s address.
It is for this reason that each of us sees the world in a very personal way and uniquely interprets all that takes place around us. The rule that « there are as many points of view as there are people » underscores the fact that each of us is unique. By paying attention to our own feelings, we can begin a dialogue with the Creator according to the principle that « every person is a shadow of the Creator. »
Just as the shadow moves with the motion of the individual, and all the motions of the shadow just repeat the motions of an individual, similarly, our inner motions – our desires, aspirations, perceptions, spiritual essence, and outlook on life – repeat the motions (the desires) of the Creator.
Thus, if a person suddenly experiences a desire to perceive the Creator, that person must immediately recognize that this desire did not result from any particular actions, but rather from the fact that the Creator took a step forward toward this person, creating a pull and an attraction to Him.
At the beginning of the path, the Creator uses every appropriate opportunity to communicate with us by arousing in us both a longing and anguish for the spiritual perceptions. But every time the Creator grants us a pull toward the spiritual, He expects an equal reaction from our side.
Therefore, if we understand that the vigor with which we yearn to perceive the Creator is just as strong as the vigor with which the Creator wants to bring us closer to Himself, we should try to develop and strengthen in ourselves these feelings. In this way, we can advance toward the Creator until we can finally cleave to Him in all desires and qualities.
But when we are still at the beginning of the path, we neither sense nor understand the Creator. After making a number of unsuccessful attempts to advance towards Him, it suddenly appears to us that while we want to draw close to the Creator, He disregards us.
In response, instead of increasing our yearning to the degree required to attach ourselves to the Creator, we begin in our hearts to blame Him for ignoring us. We become angry and completely forget that the Creator wants us, to exactly the same extent, and for this reason gave us such yearnings toward Him.
As long as we lack complete faith in the oneness of the Creator, we will inevitably repeat our mistakes time after time, until the Creator makes us realize that all of our desire for Him comes from the Creator Himself, and that He will accept all the efforts we require, and will help us by revealing Himself to us by showing us the full true picture of the worlds and of Himself.
We can only attach ourselves to the Creator by joyfully directing all of our yearnings, and this is called « with all of the heart ». This even includes those desires not required to be brought into an equivalence of form with the Creator.
If we can completely suppress all the egoistic desires unveiled in us before, while feeling happiness in our hearts, we establish conditions conducive to fill our hearts with the Light of the Creator.
The most important aspect of the task of self-improvement is reaching a point where we find a joy in actions that gratify the Creator, because all that is done for our sakes brings us away from the Creator. Therefore, all of our efforts must focus on achieving pleasantness in addressing the Creator, and towards acquiring sweetness in thoughts and feelings about Him.
When we feel empty, it is an appropriate time to search for the grandeur of the Creator and to find support in Him. The more lowly we feel about ourselves, and the greater we perceive the Creator, then to this degree we can rise after requesting that the Creator to save ourselves and alleviate the present situation.
The Creator brings about this elevation after revealing His greatness in order to offer the strength to move forward. In such a condition, we need the Creator and His help, since our reason is pulling in a completely different direction. Therefore, the feelings of emptiness are given precisely in order that we feel them, with the perception of the Creator’s greatness, called “faith.”
A righteous person is the one who, in all that is felt, be it bad or good, justifies the actions of the Creator, regardless of the feelings experienced by body, heart and reason. By justifying all sensations received from the Creator, it is as if one takes a step forward towards the Creator, called the « right » step.
Under no circumstances should we ignore our true state and feelings, regardless of how unpleasant they may be. Even if such difficult situations as these are required, nonetheless we should not try to annul them. By acting in this manner, we would take a « left » step forward.
Perfection in spiritual growth consists of the fact that we constantly advance forward, alternating the two aforementioned conditions.
An absolutely righteous person is the one who justifies all actions of the Creator, both towards self and towards all other creations.
An individual who has attained the possibility to perceive all sensations outside the limitations of egoistic wishes has already separated from them, and wants only to be happy in giving. In such a state, a person cannot experience spiritual downfalls, since every event is not evaluated from the position of personal gain.
Thus, anything that happens, happens for the good. However, since the goal of the Creator in the creation is not in this, but rather in that the created beings should benefit specifically in their own feelings – the achievement of the level of a righteous person – this is not the final state for man.
Therefore, after a person achieves the level of the righteous, it is time to begin gradually restoring the egoism that was destroyed upon achieving this level. That same egoistic desire that the righteous person returned to himself can be added to the desire to make theCreator happy, which was acquired through spiritual work.
Because of this, not only can one give pleasure, but this person can also receive pleasures in the returned egoistic desires, always with the intention to give happiness to the Creator. This situation can be compared to an altruist of this world who longs to do good for others, since these qualities were present at birth.
In fact, the altruist did not receive them from the Creator as a reward for work on the self. Indeed, it is as if the altruist wants nothing, since enjoyment from bestowing good on others fills the ego. The altruist is unable to act differently.
This is reminiscent of a situation where a person is a guest at a friend’s house. The greater the guest’s appetite and pleasure for what is offered, the more satisfaction is received by the host. This pleasure would not be received if the guest were not hungry.
But since the guest may feel shame at all the pleasure being received, he or she may decline further offerings. By declining often enough, the guest will begin to feel that when the offered delicacies are accepted, the host is receiving a favor. Then, all feelings of shame will vanish, and the guest will experience pleasure to the full extent.
In spiritual sensations, there is no self-deception, such as a pretense that a righteous person does not want to receive pleasure for one’s own sake. In earning levels of righteousness, one will, with the help of the Creator who replaces our egoistic nature with an altruistic one, truly refuse all egoistic pleasure and aspire only to benefit the Creator.
But when a righteous person realizes that the Creator receives pleasure only when His creations are delighted by the pleasures emanating from Him, pleasures that are not belittled or destroyed, that person is once again forced to turn to egoism. This time, however, there is a different goal: to experience pleasure for the sake of the Creator.
In the end, the Creator and the individual completely converge in their ntentions and actions as each party attempts to gratify the other, and through this gains pleasure. There are no limits to p receiving pleasure in this manner.
On the contrary, the higher the experienced sensation of pleasure, the higher the spiritual level attained. There is also pleasure from the recognition of infinite strength, power and mightwithout any concern for self.
Therefore, the level of a righteous person is not sufficient to fulfill the goal of the creation. Receiving pleasure from the light emanating from the Creator is crucial for the correction of our intentions: « the reasons for which we seek pleasure. »
The attainment of the level of the righteous only permits us to rid ourselves of the feelings of shame that we experience when we receive pleasures from the Creator. As much as egoism constitutes our nature in this world and altruism is considered to be a utopian notion, they are perceived as opposite by those who occupy the realm of the spiritual world.
The difficulties arise from the concealment of the Creator. We receive pleasures only when we fulfill our desires. But Kabbalah teaches that this is evil, and not good for us. We do not understand why this is so, since we can perceive no pleasure in suffering, and yet we must still believe that suffering is good for us. Thus, our every action or thought produces a multitude of deliberations.
Moreover, the closer we are to the entrance of the spiritual world (machsom), the more complex the situation becomes. Only one truth becomes evident: « There are many thoughts in the heart of a person, but only the advice of the Creator will be established. »
The difference between a person who wants spiritual elevation (that is, to acquire spiritual characteristics like those of the Creator), and a person who fulfills His Will for a payment (as a result of the education received), is this: the latter has faith in rewards and punishment, and for this reason fulfills the Will of the Creator.
The Creator is like an employer who pays a salary; the person is like a worker who does not care about the employer, but rather the salary: reward and punishment in this world, or in the world to come. This gives the “employee” the strength to observe the commandments without asking the question, “Why am I fulfilling the Will of the Creator?” The answer is, because the employee believes in rewards.
However, one who seeks to carry out the Will of the Creator without receiving payment in exchange constantly asks, “Why am I doing this?” and “If this is the Will of the Creator, why does the Creator need this? He is perfect and complete, so what do our actions add to Him?”
It would appear that these questions are just for the person in question, who then would begin to wonder: “What do I gain from fulfilling the Will of the Creator?” Little by little the person comes to realize that the reward for fulfilling the Will of the Creator is one’s own self-correction, until one receives from Above the Neshama (soul) – the Light of the Creator.
The Kabbalah teaches that evil inclination (egoism) appears to sinners as a wisp of hair (a small obstacle), while to the righteous person it appears as a high mountain.
The Kabbalah must be applied as if it were just referring to one person, in whom the characteristic thoughts and desires are called by various names of our world.
Therefore, under the categories of “sinners” and “the righteous” are described the states of one individual. Concealment refers not only to the concealment of the Creator, but also to the concealment of a person from oneself. We do not really know ourselves or our true characteristics. These are revealed to us only to the degree to which we are able to correct them. (In this matter, a person is comparable to a container of garbage: the more one searches within oneself, the greater is the stench perceived).
For this reason, the Creator shows those who are only at the beginning of the path, the sinners, that their egoism is not so formidable that it cannot be overcome. This is so they will not give up hope at the sight of work that is not appropriate to the task.
For those who are already on the path, the Creator reveals a greater measure of the evil (egoism) within them. This is done to a degree appropriate to the feeling of the importance of the correction, and the power of resistance to egoism that they have acquired.
Finally, to those who desire to be righteous, the Creator reveals the full magnitude of their egoism. Consequently, it appears to them as a high, unsurpassable mountain.
Thus, as a person progresses, the evil within is revealed more and more, in amounts that are correctable. Because of this, if a person suddenly becomes aware of something new within that is negative, this indicates that it is now possible to correct it. Rather than falling into despair, one should ask the Creator to correct it.
For example, when we begin to work on ourselves, we can only feel
10 grams of pleasure from all the pleasures of the world that surrounds us, and we are able to dispense with them. Afterwards, the Creator gives us a taste for 15 grams of pleasure.
In the beginning of our work, because of our additional taste for the pleasures, we feel ourselves more lowly (from the feeling of being drawn to things that did not previously attract us), and weaker (because of the difference between the strength of our attraction to the pleasures and the power of our own resistance to them).
However, in a situation like this, we must tell ourselves that since the Creator added 5 grams of pleasure to the taste of the pleasures we receive from the world around us, yet we are unable to correct ourselves, we must request strength from the Creator. But when we receive the strength to overcome 15 grams of pleasure, afterwards we receive an additional 5 grams of taste for the pleasure, and once again we feel that we are weaker and lowly, and this process continues.