From the "Preface to the Book of Zohar"
It is said in the book of "Zohar" that all the worlds – Upper and lower, and everything that exists in them, are created only for the sake of man. All these levels are created for one purpose only - to bring all the souls to perfection; to the adhesion with the Creator at the level that is missing in them from the moment of the Thought of Creation.
At the beginning of creation, five levels, or worlds, were formed from the Creator down to our world so that the soul can be placed into the material body of our world. The material body of our world is called a "desire to receive", without giving anything back. This is the final form of a desire for delight. This is why, in terms of his properties, a person in our world is absolutely opposite to the Creator.
By studying Kabbalah, man gradually acquires the property of bestowal and, accordingly, gradually ascends from below upwards. During this process man is acquiring the properties of the levels that descend from above downwards. These levels are characterized by the property of bestowal, up to the level, when one bestows without receiving anything back. As a result, a person completely merges with the Creator - reaches the state for which he was created. That is why it is said that all the worlds were created for the sake of man.
The soul passes through 125 levels on its way from the total concealment of the Creator to the state of His complete revelation. Each of these levels reveals the Creator to a different degree. The lower the levels, the more they conceal. In the exact moment a person lifts the lowest of curtains separating him from the next level, the Light of the Creator starts shining down on him. Then a person begins to see manifestations of the Upper force in everything that surrounds him or her in this world.
For such a person, nature (inanimate, vegetative, animated, and human), everything that happens around and inside of him or her, all desires for animal pleasures, wealth, power, aspiration to knowledge, and science becomes a manifestation of the Creator. A person feels how the Creator affects his or her "self" by the means of the surrounding reality and properties of the Upper Light. The first level of the revelation is the most difficult, but at the same time it is the most important. By overcoming it, a person immediately acquires connection with the Creator, even if minimal, and never looses it. Sometimes it seems to a person that he falls from his level and looses what he has attained. But this sensation is sent from above so that later a person can rise even higher. Concealment is given to the degree to which a person can overcome it.
All the spiritual worlds exist in man's soul, forming a ladder between man and the Creator. Man is surrounded only by this: an absolutely altruistic property of bestowal and delight. Man calls this property the Creator. The sensation of the Creator that fills a person, according to the degree of that person's correction, is called "spiritual ascent" from one level to the other, from one world to the other. Everything happens exclusively inside a person.
The surrounding world is nothing but the reaction of man's inner properties to the influence of the Creator. That is, all the worlds, Partzufim, Sefirot, - everything we think of, exists inside a person and nothing exists outside of him. One can say that only four properties of the direct Light exist outside of man.
The light coming towards a person builds him and all his inner properties. All the spiritual worlds inside of a person are only different measures of sensing the Creator. Initially, these worlds restricted themselves, level after level, world after world, and descended to the level of our world. This happened in order to place the soul into the body of our world. In other words, to clothe man's "self" into absolutely egoistical properties that are the most distant and opposite to the Creator. This is how these properties are called, - "properties of this world". Here we do not mean material objects around us such as fluid, gaseous, or hard matter. By "material world" we refer to the absolutely egoistical properties that characterize everyone, the least important and the "biggest" person alike. This can be a small baby or the most egoistical grown-up in the world. It doesn’t matter.
By "the body of this world" Kabbalists mean a desire to receive pleasure. There is "the body of this world" (an egoistical desire to receive) and "the spiritual body" (a desire to receive that has a screen), meaning egoistic desire turned into altruistic one.
The World of Beria (in Hebrew the world "Beria" has the same root as the word "bar" which means "outside", "exterior") is the first world beneath the world of Atzilut. Starting from the world of Atzilut, the souls start their transition to the state of "action". The world of Beria is the first world in which the souls, in a way, leave the Thought of Creation and become more objectified, existing "independently". All the thoughts and desires in our world and in the spiritual world come to a person from above. The Science of Kabbalah researches what man is required to do with these thoughts and desires.
Everything that exists inside and outside of a person is not created by him. A person reacts to any external irritation according to his animal nature. One can calculate person's reactions in advance and predict what he or she will do in a given situation. Then a question arises: "Is there any freedom of choice, or freedom of will?"
The entire world is enacting the will of the Creator and not a single atom can move against this will. The only difference is that a Kabbalist is consciously trying to align his own movements with the actions of the Creator. Meaning, internally, in all his desires a Kabbalist wants to stay in exactly the same flow that the Creator sets for the entire Universe. In this way a Kabbalist finds himself in the most comfortable state of absolute freedom and perfection.
Time disappears and everything is gone except for the sensation of Infinity, because there are no faults and no contradictions between the one who comprehends, the rest of the Universe, and the Creator. It is said that all the souls are included in the Malchut of the world of Infinity, called "the central point". This point is the Thought of the Creation: all the vessels, all the properties of the soul come out from it. However, this act starts at the world of Beria and continues in the worlds of Yetzira and Assiya.
Everything that exists in the worlds of Infinity, Adam Kadmon and Atzilut, still belongs to the Thought of Creation. This is described in the "four phases of the emanation of the direct Light": light emanating from the Creator is called "Phase Shoresh" (literally in Hebrew – "root phase", ground zero). Afterwards this Light creates a Vessel. However, this Vessel does not have any independent sensations yet and this is called "Phase Alef" (the first phase). Light emanates from the Creator in "Phase Shoresh", a Vessel in "Phase Alef". These two states are still under Creator's absolute control; they exist in the Thought of the Creation and are not separated from Him yet. The world of Adam Kadmon corresponds with "Phase Shoresh", the world of Atzilut or "Phase Alef". Partzuf Galgalta is the root of Lights, AB (the root of Vessels).
Man's task is to realize what is happening with him, to see the Creator's ways of working with him, and to come to a complete agreement with the actions of the Creator towards him. When a person reaches the state of complete self-sacrifice and delight, the Upper Light passes through him, returning to the same source. This is what is called "the reflected light". It descends from above down as "the direct light" and is reflected back, filling a vessel completely. "The direct light" is clothed in the "reflected light" and a person becomes one with the Creator.
At the moment a person receives spiritual properties, time and space merge into a point where there is no movement. Then a person sees that everything around him is absolutely static; that is, nothing is happening around him and everything happens only inside of him. Depending on his inner state, on his spiritual properties, a person starts seeing a completely different world around him. Each time his properties change in him, a completely different picture emerges in a person.
In other words, what exists is the unchangeable, amorphous, single spiritual light called "the Creator". Man perceives the Creator through his senses which creates in him an aggregate picture of the Universe, called "our world" or "this world". If the senses were to change a little, or become less opposite to this light by acquiring properties that are closer to those of light, then a person would perceive the light more correctly; meaning more in line with what the light really is. The world of Assiya is an example of such an aggregate sensation. In other worlds, the world of Assiya is nothing but a measure of sensing the equivalence to or the difference from the light, the Creator. This is why it is said that all the worlds exist inside a person.
If a person perfects his or her senses further, he receives a picture called the world of Yetzira, which is even more truthful and similar to the light, and so on. At the highest level this picture is perceived as the simple Upper light without any distortions. In other words, filling a vessel, homogenous light will enter it through five senses without being distorted by them. This will allow one to sense the Creator Himself; His true properties, thoughts, and desires directed towards the creation.
There are five levels of existence:
the highest level – the level of the Creator
These are five levels of nature. Five levels of the development of inner properties exist in the spiritual world as well.
What does it mean, "inanimate" level? The creation stays in the same, unchanging, "motionless" state, like still objects of nature. In other words, at the inanimate level the creation acts without its own involvement or without individual spiritual intention.
Transition to a higher (vegetative) level occurs when one takes advantage of the method of Kabbalah, which "pulls" a person out of this world and turns "a stone" into "a plant". Action is carried out only through the means of intention, by changing an intention to receive pleasure for "one's own sake" into receiving pleasure "for the sake of the Creator". The magnitude of intension determines what spiritual level a Kabbalist attains through the means of this action.
Interacting with the Creator, internally, a person becomes increasingly similar to the Creator until he reaches full equivalence of form with Him. The totality of interactions between a person and the Creator is divided into 620 different actions. These are 620 laws or spiritual actions that a Kabbalist performs while passing through all the levels, starting from our world all the way to the full adhesion with the Creator.
Man is born as any other animal in our world and meaning there is nothing spiritual in him. There is only one distinctive feature: a person can be given a desire that does not exist in our world. This is an altruistic desire to bestow, which is a spiritual desire. It is called "point in a heart" because, initially, it is not filled with light.
Developing, a point gradually enlarges and ten Sefirot appear in it. Immediately after the appearance of the first ten Sefirot, they are included into the higher spiritual Partzuf, and this is called "conception". This point is Sefira Keter, and it is the origin of the soul. The first ten Sefirot that surface in the creation are called "the soul" or "the vessel of the soul", and the light that fills them is "the light of the soul".
Thus, the following exist:
10 concealing Sefirot – screens;
If the soul exists behind the ten "covers", it does not feel the world of Infinity at all. The degrees of sensing the world of Infinity are called "worlds": Adam Kadmon, Beria, Yetzira, Assiya, or the spiritual ladder, to name it differently.
The souls acquire the properties of the light depending on the amount of light they receive as well as on what level of the ten Sefirot and under what "cover" they exist. However, the light inside the ten Sefirot is absolutely indivisible and unchangeable at all the levels of all the worlds. The souls receiving this light, on the contrary, are divided into ten levels that correspond to the properties of the names of these levels. What is meant here is that the Creator is one and unchangeable in Infinity. When a soul (existing at a certain level) receives light, it receives it through the screens or concealments of the Creator. Obviously, it follows that the soul receives distorted light.
Each of these names: Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gvurah, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, and Malchut refers to a certain property that it conceals and reveals. From one side, each name indicates how much it conceals the Creator, and from the other side, each points to how much the soul reveals the Creator by rising to the corresponding level.
The concealing screens under question operate only in the world of Beria and lower, because the souls that receive this light exist only in the worlds of Beria, Yetzhira, and Assiya.
In the worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut the souls exist only as the thought of the Creation and they are not yet separated from the Creator. That is why ten "covers" operate only in ten Sefirot that are present in three worlds: Beria, Yetzira, and Assyia. But even here the ten "covers" are seen as manifestations of the Creator, up until the world of Assiya.
In other worlds, there is absolutely no difference between Sefirot and the Creator, as before all restrictions. The difference lies only in the vessels of these ten Sefirot. The power of ten Sefirot is not manifested enough in the worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut. These ten Sefirot exist there as the Thought of the Creation. The vessels of ten Sefirot begin to manifest their concealing power only in the worlds of Beria, Yetzhira, and Assiya.
However, these covers or screens do not alter the light that exists in these ten Sefirot, as it is said: "I the Lord do not change", "the light is in eternal rest".
But then a question arises. If the souls receiving light do not manifest in the worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut, then why do ten Sefirot (ten vessels) exist in them? If there are no souls there, why do the worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut exist to begin with? If these worlds do not conceal anything, do not impede anything, then what's their role? If they confine different measures of their own light there, then for whom?
There are two answers to this question:
This is how all the worlds and Sefirot have to develop.
The souls will receive the light, which is the delight from ten Sefirot in the worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut in the future. This will happen after the three worlds, Beria, Yetzhira, and Assiya rise to the world of Atzilut, and later to the world of Adam Kadmon. In order for these three worlds, Beria, Yetzhira, and Assiya to ascend to the worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut (to join them), and to receive a greater revelation of the Creator, the worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut have to contain levels or places prepared for this process in advance.
Otherwise, the soul is not able to ascend. It rises only in conjunction with the worlds of Beria, Yetzhira, and Assiya. This is how the souls have to ascend there. The worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut will shine for the souls, rising to this level together with the worlds of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya. This way, the souls will receive their own level of these ten Sefirot.
Sefirot and Parzufim at any spiritual place are divided into three main parts: the essence of the Creator, receiving vessels, and the light. We can neither comprehend nor feel the Creator Himself. The light that exists in Sefirot is the measure of the light of the Creator that the souls receive according to their corrected properties. This is because everything emanates from the Creator, both the receiving vessels and the light that fills them.
We cannot distinguish between the light of the Creator and the Creator Himself. The Creator Himself (outside of the vessel of reception) is absolutely imperceptible. We cannot attain Him in any way. We attain only what enters our vessels; our corrected properties consisting of ten Sefirot. That is why everything that we perceive as coming from the Creator we call "the light". However, this is a subjective sensation inside the corrected properties of our souls.
The vessel feels itself as existing independently and this is its illusion. What can it possibly reveal in the Creator? It can only reveal its own corrected properties. It prescribes to the Creator the same properties that it uses to name its own corrected qualities: "mercy", "goodness", etc. This is the goal for which creation exists. Being completely one with the Creator and obtaining His full greatness; achieving eternity and perfection.