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Michael Laitman, PhD

Foreword to the Book “The Tree of Life”

1) Sometimes no sense can be found in a seeming simplicity of the Kabbalistic texts. Their inner meaning is concealed from all, and only those who attain this true wisdom can understand it. It is gradually revealed as:

However, we may say that attainment starts not with the plain meaning, but with mystery, when everything seems unclear and hence mysterious, while the simple meaning is attained in the very end.

2) But regardless of the approach to the attainment of Kabbalistic knowledge, there remains an open question: “Why was this information so thoroughly concealed from the masses by the individual Kabbalists? How could they keep this knowledge from people, if it could have cardinally changed their lives?”

Yet we discover that similar restrictions were applied not only by the Kabbalists, but by many scientists of the past generations. This is one of the reasons for such a slow development of sciences in the past centuries. For example, Plato warned his disciples: “Never disclose scientific knowledge to those who do not see its greatness”. Aristotle also cautioned against passing the science into the hands of unworthy people, who may misuse it and cause enormous damage.

But the scientists of our time behave differently. On the contrary, they try to open the gates of science to all, without any limitations or preconditions. On the face of it, we may have a grudge against the ancient scholars, who only revealed their knowledge to a carefully chosen group of students, leaving the rest of the people to vegetate in ignorance.

3) The reason for the restricted access to the scientific information is that the humanity is divided into four groups:

They correspond to the four levels of the universe:

Accordingly, we distinguish three levels containing either useful or harmful power in them:

This law can also be applied to the four groups of the human level:

All of them obviously originate from the first level, but the significance and the right to exist of the popular masses are determined by three properties: vegetative, animate and speaking, which derive from it and are included in the human level.

For the masses to develop and reach the vegetative, animate and speaking levels they should have three inclinations:

With their help the masses gradually evolve to finally achieve the human level.

However, the people without a strong desire, who are not distinguished by anything special, use a combination of the three aforementioned inclinations: they crave for something, envy other people and sometimes crave for esteem. Their desires break into fragments, and, like children, they come to want everything they see and therefore can achieve nothing.

It is known that the useful and harmful powers are balanced: they can do as much good as they can cause damage. Accordingly, since the power of every individual person exceeds that of the entire animal world of all the generations and times, consequently the power of evil in man prevails over all. Until man becomes so spiritually evolved as to be able to use his powers strictly for good purposes, he needs to be safeguarded against acquiring too much knowledge.

This is why the scientists of the past generations concealed their knowledge from the masses. They feared that unworthy students would misuse the power of knowledge to the detriment of the world.

But as the moral standards dropped and the scientists began to crave for both knowledge and wealth, they started selling the scientific knowledge to the masses. Thus the guarding wall built by the ancient scientists crumbled and many unscrupulous people rushed to the universities, mastered science and brought shame upon it by using it to the detriment of humankind.

4) We may see how strictly the Kabbalists limited the access of the unworthy people to their wisdom. It speaks about the ultimate purpose of the universe and can only be used for the benefit of the humanity. Since this wisdom was first revealed in the 18th century B.C. it was thoroughly concealed from the masses. Hence so many misconceptions and false theories appeared around it.

Yet the Book of Zohar claims that a time will come and the science of Kabbalah will be revealed to all. There will be no need to test those who decide to study it; the sources of its wisdom will be open to all the nations. Such an unrestricted access to Kabbalah can only be possible if all the people are fully corrected for the adequate application of this knowledge.

However, as we know, during its thousand-year-long development the humanity has become so much more egoistical that, when Kabbalah is revealed to people, insolence will prevail and no one will fear sin. How then can these two contradictory statements be reconciled?

The fact is that it was necessary to protect Kabbalah from those who not only envied the knowledge of their colleagues (which is quite natural for scientists), but also craved for pleasures and honor. In our generation there is no more fear of dishonorable students selling the wisdom of Kabbalah to the masses, because very few people are interested in it. It is worthless in the eyes of the crowd and can provide them with neither wealth nor esteem. This is why only those who desire this wisdom will come to Kabbalah. All the restrictions are lifted and the study of the science of Kabbalah will help the humanity to reveal the true meaning of existence.

5) The Zohar and many other Kabbalistic sources say that dissemination of the science of Kabbalah among the masses will elevate people to the highest level of existence, because “everyone’s heart will be filled with wisdom”. Therefore it is so necessary to open Kabbalistic schools and write books to spread this wisdom among the nations of the world. The concealment of Kabbalah has been the major reason for a extremely painful development of the humanity over the centuries up to this day.

6) The science of Kabbalah explains that it is a method for the achievement of the ultimate level of existence for each individual and for all, when one becomes equal in one’s sensations and powers to the highest level – the Creator. But a question arises: “Why were we created by the upper force in such an imperfect state? Why should we correct and improve the Creator’s actions?”

The answer can be found in the ancient parable about a king, who lived in a castle filled with many beautiful things. But the castle was empty; no one came to visit the king. In order to fill the castle with guests, beings like us made of the higher and lower properties had to be created. The worlds were to be designed to bring man to the state of supernal knowledge and delight. So the worlds were created to please the created beings. Since neither future nor past exist pertaining to the Creator, as soon as He conceived the creation and decided to delight them, His decision was instantly realized in a state called the World of Infinity.

Potentially, all the worlds that originated in the World of Infinity are contained in it. So are all of the states that the person should go through on his way from being totally opposite to the Creator to a complete similarity to Him. A number of descending levels from the World of Infinity down to our world and the soul’s entering into the material body were prepared for the person’s correction. By existing in the body and correcting his egoistical desire, the person should gradually ascend the spiritual levels and achieve an absolutely equal with the Creator. Thus he should return to the primordial state of existence in the World of Infinity in the Creator’s plan. The Creator fills him with His light and the person merges with the eternal, perfect and infinite One.

7) There are two ways to achieve the described goal:

8) This helps us to realize how grateful we should be to our Kabbalstic teachers, who passed their wisdom and experience to us and by this considerably mitigated our sufferings. They save us from the existence that is worse than death and help us to rise to the heights of perfection and immortality. The founder of the method of correction was the Ari (Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, 1534-1572), the author of the Lurian Kabbalah. Thanks to him we can quickly and painlessly achieve the purpose of our creation.

9) Many Kabbalists after him have improved his method. Each of them adapted it for the souls that descended to this world in his generation.

10) As the great Kabbalist Ibn Ezra said: “All the person’s actions in this world should be aimed at the correction of his heart, for the Creator demands all the hearts”. In other worlds, the purpose of correction is to treat the Creator as He treats us, i.e. to achieve absolute love and bestowal.

11) The correlation of forces that lead the person to perfection is described as a parable by the Kabbalist named Simon in his book “The Big Midrash”.

“When the Creator wished to create man, who would rule over his natural properties, He asked their advice:

The reason for it:

Upon hearing this, the Creator sent Truth into the ground, so that it would later grow out of it”.

To understand this parable we need to know two opposite ways of ruling over our world:

12) The creation as a whole and each of its parts in particular consist of ten Sefirot, in which two contrasting properties are quite distinct:

Besides, there are also two kinds of the light:

Such a distinction is caused by the dissimilarity of properties in one source; different sources are necessary for the Inner and the Surrounding Lights.

However, they are not opposite in the spiritual world, since Malchut is bonded with the nine first Sefirot and acquires the property of bestowal in the form of the Reflected Light. But the uncorrected desires (properties) are not connected with the nine first Sefirot, being immersed in the huge egoistical desires for pleasure. Since the light cannot enter into the uncorrected desires, they remain empty and opposite to the parts of creation that are filled with the light.

The purpose behind the restriction of the light is to let the egoistical desires unaffected by the light (pleasure) to be corrected, to transform the egoistical desire to receive pleasure into the desire to bestow and to become similar to the Creator.

But how can a place devoid of the light become corrected, if the entire process of transformation of the egoistical desire into the altruistic one only occurs under the light’s influence. This is why the creature called “man in this world” is necessary. While developing, the person receives the light from the uncorrected egoistical desires and lives by them, thus acquiring bigger and bigger uncorrected desires. He then proceeds to their correction with the help of the upper light wishing to please the Creator and so achieves similarity to Him.

Being alternately under the rule of these two opposing forces brings forth the sensation of time in our world. When the person corrects everything, the notion of “time” disappears. Or we can put it differently: we need the existence of time to have these two oppositions appear in us one after the other, first in the process of development, and afterwards in the state of correction.

13) From this we may understand the Sefirot and their properties had to be broken. There are two kinds of the light in the ten Sefirot:

Both of these lights merge into one. After the upper light was restricted from spreading into the uncorrected desires, the Straight Light emanating from the Creator does not enter Malchut, while the Reflected Light, being unrestricted, can do so.

The necessity of existence of the uncorrected desires and the system of egoistical forces stems from the purpose of restriction. It is aimed at the creation in man of an enormous desire for pleasures, when he is sustained by the system of egoistical forces. This system requires an abundance (the light), which cannot come from a structure that constitutes the last Sefira, an empty space devoid of the light.

Therefore the breaking of the 9 first Sefirot is necessary and was prepared in advance. As a result, a part of the Reflected Light can descend into Malchut’s empy space and remain there.

The Reflected Light descending into Malchut consists of 10 Sefirot x 32 sparks of the light = 320 sparks. These 320 descending sparks are prepared for sustaining the existence of the lower levels and get to them through two parallel systems: egoistic and altruistic. At that, the lower levels can only be fed by one of the systems at a time: when one system is used (elevated), the other one remains inactive (falls).

After the breaking of the 10 Sefirot and the falling of 320 sparks of the light into egoistical desires, 288 of them (i.e. all those that descended from the first nine Sefirot) rose again and joined with the system of pure (altruistic) forces. The impure (egoistical) system of control and sustaining of this world only retained 32 sparks (320-288=32). This constituted the first minimal step in the creation of the system of impure forces. But in this form it is still unfit for playing its role, and its creation is finalized later as a result of the breaking of the 10 Sefirot of Adam.

Thus we found that the two opposing systems control and sustain the existing reality with the necessary amount of the light (320 sparks prepared by the breaking of the 10 Sefirot). This amount is sufficient for the functioning of the two systems.

For the altruistic system to be able to sustain the existence of the lower levels, it needs to contain at least 288 sparks to fill its first nine Sefirot. This is the way it used to function before the breaking of Adam.

14) Mercy, Justice, Truth and Peace make up the four principal attributes of the human soul that lead the person to a complete correction and similarity to the Creator. The soul consists of the 10 Sefirot of the Inner Light and the 10 Sefirot of the Surrounding Light.

As it was stated, the Inner and Surrounding Lights are opposite to one another:

Since these two lights are opposite, they require two separate parts of the creation:

The Surrounding Light shining in the restricted part should lead the creation to bestowal and make its properties similar to those of the Creator. This is referred to as the property of Truth. Truth claims that man is made of falsehood, because he initially lacks the outer part of the restriction. It separated from the light, so the property of Truth is unable to help the person in his attainment of the Surrounding Light. Therefore all the worlds that were specially created for this goal turn out to be purposeless, since man, who is supposed to be their only object, is not yet ready to fulfill his predestination.

However, the properties of Mercy and Justice that refer to the soul’s Inner Light could provide it with all the lights and perfection. Hence they agree to the creation of man (they constitute NHY that make a Zivug de Aka’a, therefore they refer to the Surrounding light).

The property of Peace stated that man is a source of discord, because he cannot receive the Surrounding Light. It would be in conflict with the Inner Light, since these two opposing lights can co-exist in one vessel.

From this it follows that Adam only lacked the outer part that referred to the property of Truth, but had an external Kli referring to the property of Peace. This is why the two properties agreed to man’s creation.

15) It is said that Adam and his wife were naked and felt no shame. This means they lacked the outer part and only had the inner part that originated from the system of the altruistic worlds. Hence they felt no shame, i.e. they were unaware of their deficiency.

However, as we know, the sensation of deficiency is a necessary prerequisite for filling a desire. It resembles a person, who discovers he is sick and is therefore ready to be treated. Unless he becomes aware of his ailment, he will avoid medical treatment. This function of feeling the deficiency is given to the soul’s outer part. It is empty in the structure of Adam, because it originates from an empty space and gives the person the sensations of spiritual emptiness, inferiority and shame.

Therefore Adam is obliged to return to the state when he is filled and attract the the missing Surrounding Light that is ready to fill his Kli. This is the real meaning of the words: “Adam and his wife were naked (i.e. had no outer Kli), and felt no shame”. Thus they were unaware of the purpose of their creation.

But being similar to the Creator in his desires to bestow, how could Adam and his female part err and fall into egoism?

16) There are two kinds of analysis at our disposal in order to reveal and achieve perfection:

“The good and the evil” is an active force of the body, whose actions are determined by the sensations of “sweetness and bitterness”. The person avoids the sensation of bitterness, because it makes him feel bad, and aspires to “sweetness”, for it makes him feel good. The power of such an analysis on the still, vegetative and animate levels is sufficient to lead him to the desired perfection.

“Truth and falsehood” is another analysis that only exists in man. In accordance with his development everyone pushes away the false emptiness and attracts the truth. This analysis stemmed from the egoistical desire, because initially the Creator only created the analysis called “the good and the evil”, which was quite sufficient for the time being.

If the person in our world were awarded for good, altruistic deeds and punished for bad, egoistical ones, the good would be perceived as sweet and the evil as bitter. Everyone would avoid evil, egoistical actions and would only aspire to perform good, altruistic deeds; thus the achievement of perfection by all would be guranteed.

This is the way Adam was initially created: pleasant sensations prompted him to perform altruistic actions, while unpleasant sensations prevented him from committing egoistical deeds. It turns out that Adam’s choice consisted in preferring sweetness to bitterness and this enabled him to know the Creator’s desire and to act correctly.

17) But it it was not that simple to impart egoistical properties to Adam. The question concerned the forms of analysis. It is known that reception of pleasure and the sensation of filling is the purpose of creation. It is just that the filling should be altruistic, aimed at bestowal.

Therefore the first contact with the receiving desires was justified. The desires by themselves are not forbidden, they are exactly where the person is supposed to receive the Creator’s delight. The egoistical intention above these desires is what actually hampers the achievement of the purpose. However, if these desires can be purified from their egoistical intention, they would be fit to be used altruistically. Such was Adam’s intent, when the will to receive was attached to him.

18) It transpires that Adam did not have the desires of reception deriving from an empty space, but only the desires of bestowal. But it was revealed to him that just by receiving in these enormous desires he will be able to bestow to the Creator. Hence he attached them to himself with the altruistic intention.

However, he could only withstand the first reception of (de)light for the Creator’s sake. He then desired to receive pleasure for himself, because before one tastes something it is still possible to resist the temptation. Afterwards, an irresistable craving appears for the already tasted delight and the process goes beyond control. It turns out that Adam’s first reception was with the intention for the Creator’s sake and the second one – for his own.

As a result of this, great empty desires rise in Adam, so instead of bestowing to the Creator, he cares about his own needs and forgets all about the eternal life. Thus a fragmentation of life into billions of tiny human lives occurs. They are evenly distributed among people in many generations, from the first to the very last one, when the purpose of creation is finally achieved. This resembles one long chain.

The Creator’s actions, however, remain unchanged: the light of life that completely filled Adam simply spread along this long chain unceasingly winding onto the wheel of changing properties until all of them are completely corrected.

What happened to Adam then spread to nature: from eternity and unity with the Creator everything fell down to the lowest level, and like Adam, everything must go through the process of correction of properties.

19) Two negative consequences took place as a result of attachment of the receiving desires:

From this the meaning of man’s egoistical desires becomes clear. They are like a hard rind of a fruit that covers and protects it from harm until it ripens. Without it the fruit would perish before reaching its purpose. Similarly, the 288 sparks that fell into egoism sustain the world’s existence until it achieves the desired goal.

The second consequence consists in the fact that man’s egoism uses bestowal for the sake of reception.

Let’s try to imagine the system of egoistical forces: any particle of the material world happens to be a branch that stems from its root in the upper world, which in its own turn grows from a still higher level, etc. The difference between branches and their roots is only in the material of which they are made.

However, all the processes in them are identical. Thus, by attaining a branch in our world we can learn about its root in the upper world.

The Book of Zohar says that all the ailments that strike the human body originate from the system of egoistical forces. Consequently, by studying the animate level of nature, we discover that everything that exists in the bodies is achieved with the help of pleasures that improve and enrich their life. Therefore Providence imprinted in the young the ability to find satisfaction and pleasure everywhere, even in the implicit form, because they are intended for multiplication of life, for reception of pleasure in order to grow and develop. This is the actual purpose of pleasure. Thus we find that the light of pleasure begets life.

However, this law is only effective pertaining to general level of pleasure. The delight felt by an individual on the animate level indicates an inverse regularity. For example, a person has a skin injury or irritation that compels him to scratch the itchy spot. The action itself brings pleasure and induces him to continue. However, this pleasure contains evil, and unless the person resists the detrimental temptation, his scratching would increase the desire and pleasure finally will turn into pain. As the wound begins to heal, there will be a bigger need for scratching than before, and unless the person manages to control this pernicious desire, the injured place will gradually deteriorate and come to a dismal end – blood poisoning and possibly even death. Thus we find that the person dies as a result of receiving pleasure, because it is a separate portion of pleasure received by an individual. Death occurs at this stage in spite of the delight generally felt by the entire level.

So an egoistical desire is a will to receive for oneself without an inclination to give to anyone else. It is impossible to satisfy it, and such attempts only lead to an increase of demands, as was illustrated in the example of the injured skin. The end of all the egoistic desires is like a drop of death, and the person is bound to open his mouth (since he must receive pleasure in order to exist) and dies.

20) As a result of the two aforementioned consequences, the structure of man’s desires (created to receive sustenance from the system of the upper worlds) gets transformed as well. This is because every complete action is carried out in such a way that its elements are neither excessive nor deficient. A partial action is performed so that its elements are not interconnected and we always find in them either excess or deficiency.

This law unequivocally demands that the perfect One should perform perfect actions. However, as man passes from the system of pure worlds to the system of egoistical worlds, many new desires are added to his own as a result of the sin and the attachment of additional parts to his spiritual structure. There is no need for them at this stage, because he receives nothing for his existence.

In accordance with this, the person is obliged to fill his desires more than he needs to, but since the additional desires cannot receive what they need, the excessive amount remains in the body and will later be bound to emerge. Therefore the whole organism works at full stretch towards death.

Let’s analyze the two contradictory kinds of Providence:

Since the system of pure worlds can no longer sustain their existence, in order to prevent the universe from destruction and to enable it to be corrected the general light consisting of 288 sparks were handed over to the egoistical system of control so that it would support humankind during the period of correction.

As a result of this, the order of the universe got rather tangled, because egoistical actions generate evil, but if the abundance of the light diminishes, it leads to destruction and suffering. The growing abundance of the light increases the force of separation in the receivers, according to the law: “He who receives 100 wants 200, he who receives 200 wants 400”.

The pleasure that separates was described in the example of the skin injury, when egoism grows and “they devour each other alive”. The life of the body shortens, since the increase of reception leads to the inevitable drop of death.

Only the study of Kabbalah is able to draw the upper spiritual light on the student gradually transforming his properties and making them similar to the pure worlds of BYA (altruistic system). People would then return to love and equality as before Adam’s sin, receive the upper light and merge with the Creator.

21) From the aforesaid it is clear why the answers of the 4 principal human properties pertaining to man’s creation were omitted (see item 11). The creation of such a man contradicts even the properties of Mercy and Justice, because he falls from under their influence and is “sustained” by the system of impure forces.

It is therefore said that the Creator “put the Truth into the ground”, but the remaining properties said: “Lift the Truth from the ground”, i.e. even Mercy and Justice repented, for they would never agree to humiliation of the Truth. This happened when the receiving desires were attached (the sin), when the Truth grew weak and stopped taking part in controlling the existing reality. The natural analysis of “sweet and bitter” was no longer used (see item 16), because the light providing for the existence from the 288 sparks was emanated by the altruistic system.

However, after the attached desires received the light (upon tasting the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge), an enormous will to receive for one’s sake appeared as well as two oppositions to the spiritual. The 288 sparks of abundance that sustained the existence passed on to the system of the egoistical worlds and got confused again. This led to the emergence of a new form in the universe with a sweet beginning and a bitter end, because the 288 sparks of delight bring death, falsehood, destruction and chaos.

It is said: “He took the Truth and threw it on the ground”. By this man received the power of the mind based on the analysis of the truth and falsehood. Man is bound to use it during the entire period of correction, because without it he is powerless (see item 16).

Only the upper light drawn with the help of correct actions described by Kabbalah, can man’s analysis be corrected and free him from the system of egoistical forces.

22) Since Adam fell into egoistical properties (committed the sin of the Tree of Knowledge), the upper light disappeared from him and split into many individual souls. Nothing changes, only a new form appears, when the light that previously filled the creation (Adam) spread through the endless chain of souls’ changing properties until the end of correction is inevitably reached. Each of us is connected with the entire chain of souls and generations. From this we see that in fact the person lives for the sake of satisfying the needs of all the souls, when each of the links conducts the light to the entire chain.

As was said in item 15, Adam was bound to fall into egoism, because he had to acquire external desires for the reception of the Surrounding Light, so that one by one the two opposites would emerge in one vessel. In his small state man is sustained by the egoistical system and his desire to receive grows until it reaches the desirable size. When he achieves the big state and begins to study the wisdom of Kabbalah he appears to be able to turn great desires to receive into bestowal. This is the main purpose called “the light of the Truth” (see item 14).

Yet we know that prior to joining with the altruistic system, man should once again give up any form of reception from the egoistical system. We are instructed to achieve the property of love with all of our hearts and souls.

But what is the use of corrections, if man loses everything he previously achieved? For this the power of the righteous and of the sinners is perfectly balanced in every generation. On the other hand, we see that tens of thousands of nonentities account for one righteous person. This is because there are two kinds of Providence ruling in the creation:

The powers of those who are governed by the egoistical system are small and insignificant. The created power of quantity does not require any quality. Let’s explain it on the example of a qualitative strength of lions and tigers, which surpasses that of any man. Compared with them we find the strength of flies to possess practically no quality. Yet no man would fight them because of their great number. They freely fly inside man’s house and sit on his table, while he feels too weak to oppose them.

However, pertaining to bugs, reptiles and other unbidden guests, whose qualitative power by far exceeds that of house flies, man would never relax until he drives them out of his apartment. This is because nature did not endow them with the power of quantity as it did with flies. In accordance with this, it is clear that a great number of ordinary people should certainly account for each righteous person so as to realize their low inclinations in the total absence of any quality in them. In this manner all the people help each other to achieve ultimate perfection.

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