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Michael Laitman, PhD

The Historical Aspect of the Science of Kabbalah

The origin and time of the emergence of Kabbalah is considered to be one of the most difficult issues in its history. Anyone who has ever tried to tackle this question agrees that this topic is a constant object of dispute. Some scientists claim that Kabbalah is a new creation dated XII-XIII CE, while there are others who state that Kabbalah appeared much earlier. Both of these views are valid and can be fully explained because they are based on different approaches towards the investigation of the history and writings of Kabbalah. The question regarding which point of view has priority is practically irresolvable. The likely starting point of the tradition is in fact way beyond the historical periods for which we can establish a chronology that would have at least a certain degree of accuracy.

One of the hypotheses that Kabbalists, those who attain the Spiritual World, adhere to is that Kabbalah, as a science about the surrounding Universe, dates from the ancient Chaldean (Mesopotamian) city of Ur. The chronicles of that time recount the story of a Mesopotamian resident by the name of Abraham, who was the first to research the relation between the perception of the surrounding reality and the volitional development of a new, sixth sense.

The method of such a development received the name “Kabbalah” and began to spread among Abraham’s descendants and disciples. With time the group grew to become a nation of around 3 million people. People were not becoming part of the nation by birth; only the adherents of this method were joining it. Thus, it is impossible to call this group a nation, based on the features and definitions of "what the nation is". This was simply a group of Kabbalists, meaning, a group of investigators who researched that which was attained and sensed in the sixth organ of perception. The group started to call itself the "The Nation of Israel" after all of its members at the same time acquired an adequate sensation of the world in the sixth sense. What is said here so commonly represents a new approach to the history of humankind, and only a psychological inertia prevents us from adopting this perception of ourselves and of the world. The members of this Kabbalistic group developed an additional perception of the Supreme reality in their children, who took it quite naturally.

This continued until a certain historical point in time, when the entire group instantly lost the ability to perceive the Supreme reality (the explanation of this historically indispensable moment will be presented below). Until that moment, the nation had constituted a group living in the sensations of the Upper World. However, after the sensation of the Upper World was lost, the group turned into an ordinary nation. But since the group’s existence is only justified by the degree of the spiritual perception, it ceased to be a special phenomenon in the world. On the contrary, it immediately acquired the corresponding form of a nation scattered among all nations of the world. Without the sensation of the Upper World this group had no right to call itself "the Nation of Israel", that is, nation, living by the laws of the sixth organ of perception, where Israel means "Yashar – El" (translated from Hebrew "aspiring to the Creator"). Having lost the sensation of the Upper World, instead of the spiritual actions the group began to practice their physical interpretation, continuing to use the names of spiritual actions.

The development of egoism – the necessary stage in the history of the development of mankind

In accordance with a constantly growing desire to be filled with more pleasure, or as Kabbalah puts it, with the growth of egoism in every generation, humanity strives to satisfy its desires. This determines our progress, change of state formations, social relations, way of life, technological advancement, cultural development, etc.

Our history began with the appearance of a human being with an egoistical desire to receive of zero degree (coarseness, depth). This is a tiny desire, in which the person only feels an impulsive urge for the bodily pleasures that are present in an animal: sex, food, family and limited environment. Humankind has been developing in this desire for thousands of years.

As the desire was growing more and more egoistical, the time period of its realization and replacement with another one was contracting accordingly. In our life we can observe a dramatic speed of transformation, whereas a hundred years ago the same change would have required a lot more time.

When the person started evolving from his bodily desires to those of higher levels, he went through cravings for wealth, honor, power and knowledge, until the fourth stage of the will to receive (a spiritual desire) came along. Thus the desires:

supersede one another in the process of the human evolution.

Today we have come to a stage that the Kabbalists have described since the emergence of the wisdom of Kabbalah in the 20th century B.C. They assert that from 1995 and on, humankind will feel an inner urge to spirituality, because man exhausted all of his previous desires in many consecutive incarnations. His egoism has developed sufficiently and although all his previous desires are still present in him, the spiritual aspiration prevails over the rest. The person begins to feel that nothing else can really fill him anymore.

It is said in the book of Zohar that by the end of its development, humankind would come to the realization that the Upper world is in fact the realm in which we are destined to exist. Then why could we not understand it before, and only now begin to feel this desire? Such an opportunity to develop, starting from the level of original egoistical desires, existed long before the age of the ancient philosophers of the 8th – 10th centuries B.C. when the Zohar had been written. For a number of reasons, Kabbalah could not demonstrate the need for correction of egoism at every stage of its growth to the nations of that time. Ancient philosophers studied Kabbalah, but it was not accepted as a practical method of correction of human nature, so the world continued evolving by the power of its uncorrected egoistical desire. The book of Zohar (3rd century A.D.) clearly states that it would be concealed from humankind till the end of the 20th century, when human egoism grows so tremendously that people will realize how evil it is. On the other hand, man will not be able to find anything in this world that will somehow fill his egoism. Both of these sensations will compel him to listen to the advice provided in the wisdom of Kabbalah.

A will to receive pleasure constitutes our essence. It is called soul. How can it be filled? This desire to receive pleasure feels five kinds of filling through our five senses:

Through these five “openings” in his body, man receives information from outside and absorbs it with the help of his mind, memory and brain analytical systems in accordance with his education, character, mood, momentary whim and many other human peculiarities. He then either enjoys it or suffers from it, subsequently attracting or repelling it.

Any research of what is outside the person is accumulated inside him. Man is absolutely unable to transcend himself and feel the external reality. We can only expand the range of our natural senses, increase their sensitivity, and broaden their perception by using a microscope or a telescope in addition to our own eyes, sonar instead of our ears and so on.

Although everything is constantly changing in the world, my five senses remain the same. Whatever new devices and instruments we may design and whatever knowledge we may acquire about our body, we would always be confined to mere reactions pertaining to what is outside of us. At the end of the 20th century, scientists finally exhausted the existing system of learning. By researching everything inside ourselves and by registering his reactions to something external, man cannot possibly control his reality and existence.

Natural sciences teach us that every living cell or a whole organism should bring itself in balance with its environment in order to survive and exist. Its inner properties should be harmonized with the outside reality. It is obliged to comply with the homeostatic principle. In the absence of such equilibrium, an organism feels discomfort or even perishes.

From this principle, it transpires that acquiring the knowledge about the outer world beyond our bodily sensations, the way it really is, will enable us to become similar to it and thus achieve an optimal state of existence.

Hence, the logic of a developing desire becomes clear: passion for knowledge is the strongest among the earthly desires and precedes an aspiration to the spiritual. This is because it leads man to the necessity of attaining the Upper world, demonstrating to the person that he cannot survive without it. The knowledge of the laws and nature of the Upper world will give people a chance to get acquainted with the forces of nature that affect them. Provided we enter homeostasis with them, our existence will become perfect.

One of the consequences of reception of the spiritual information will be disappearance of the notion of time. We will acquire absolute knowledge of the future and control our destiny. Today’s science understands the need to go beyond our five senses, but lacks a method of such an inversion. It discovers the fourth stage of its approach to the research of reality.

  1. For thousands of years, the development of science has been based on the assumption that there exists some objective reality observed and researched by man. Even if there is no observer, reality continues to be. In classical mechanics, events occur regardless of an onlooker. Reality objectively exists whether I perceive it or not. Similarly, traditional quantum mechanics only analyses the changes that take place in an object itself.

  2. Further analysis leads us to conclude that this is not exactly so: our perception of reality depends on us. Einstein introduced a velocity correction pertaining to an onlooker. This merely takes into account the processes that occur in the universe and that have no manifestation in man’s daily life.

  3. An observation of any object happens to be an interaction between the observer and the observed object. At that, the observation immediately transforms the inner state of both the observed object and the observer. It is impossible to speak of the researched object without taking the researcher into consideration. The changes in the object will always be determined by the changes in the observer. A change of condition not only depends on the information, but also on the observer. Probability is as characteristic of the future as it is of the past, because it is conditioned on the observer’s personal psychological time. Hue Everett was the first to demonstrate this by mathematical calculations in his article “Formulating quantum mechanics through the notion of ‘corresponding state’”. In other words, in his theory of quantum mechanics, both the object and the observer change their state.

  4. A higher perception of the object is based on the fact of invariability of the entire universe, on the oneness of Cause and Purpose, on the uniqueness of the property of the Upper force – goodness and bestowal. All the changes take place only in the observer, in his dual property of reception-bestowal with regard to the only property (bestowal) of the Upper force. Only the comparison of these properties generates the creature’s self-awareness and the sensation of the surrounding world. That is, the perception of the universe is made up by two influences on man:

From this, it also follows that the absolutely perfect Upper force has created man in all the magnificence that befits it and in perfect harmony with its own properties, for if it is perfect. It cannot possibly create something imperfect. So our mind makes it incumbent on us to understand and accept the opposite to what we observe and decide that we are really perfect, eternal and majestic creatures well matched with the Upper force that created us.

Moreover, all the exalted properties are bound to emerge from our current low and insignificant ones. Therefore, one should look at the end of an action, and from it attain the entire conception of our creation.

Kabbalah adheres to the fourth approach: there is no reality in the absence of an observer! Outside of man there is only the so-called Upper light, some supernal force. This light is one, unique and homogeneous. There is nothing in it, and whatever the person perceives is just the result of his reaction to this external invariable influence. By changing his own properties, the person feels a changing environment, although all the transformations occur within him. In other words, reality is but a copy of man’s inner properties.

If the person becomes similar to the Upper force in its property of bestowal, his sensations transcend the bounds of his desires, stops depending on life and death of the body, on space, time and movement. Modern science is ready and willing to adopt this approach, hence the age-old, long-forgotten wisdom of Kabbalah resurfaced at this time.

The wisdom of Kabbalah suggests that we should not be dealing with the earthly human properties, because they cannot be corrected directly. However, the very difference between our properties and the spiritual ones evokes in us the sensation of suffering.

The wisdom of Kabbalah makes this offer: if the person wishes to achieve perfect existence, he must copy the spiritual law of bestowal in himself, so that the outer and the inner laws would become equivalent.

Historically, in the course of our development (i.e. growth of an egoistical desire from level 0 to level 4) we oppose ourselves more and more to the Upper law of bestowal. While being on levels 0, 1 and 2 our opposition is not too extreme. However, after reaching levels 3 and 4 of our egoistical development, which coincided with our time, we become an exact antithesis of the Upper force and expose ourselves to much greater sufferings than ever before. These sufferings are of a different character; they manifest as depressions, disorientation and fear of destruction.

For further development of sciences, their various representatives should begin to closely co-operate with the Kabbalists. This way at least two amazing opportunities will be open to us:

There is an urgent need to create an integral science with its institutes, specialists, etc. Up to now we have been attaining the world within ourselves, more or less broadening the scope of our sensual perception. The wisdom of Kabbalah opens before us the outer reality; with its help we discover the laws that affect us. As much as the person can equalize his inner structure with the outer force, so will he be able to use it for his benefit.

By connecting research of nature with the achievement of equilibrium with its general law, we will return to the point where the ancient philosophers parted with the Kabbalists and went their own ways. From now on we can continue together.

During the last few centuries, materialistic psychology began to develop instead of philosophy. The science that studies our properties, feelings and outlook exposed limitations of our perception and proved that we only perceive everything within ourselves. This brought up a chance to understand what Kabbalah offers: to transcend the bounds of our senses.

Similarity of properties with the general force is achieved step by step. Gradual comparison of man’s properties with the Upper force’s characteristic property of bestowal is referred to as ascending the levels of the spiritual worlds Assiya, Yetzira, Beria, Atzilut, Adam Kadmon and finally the world of Infinity, where we reach absolute equivalence with the Upper force (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

This ascent includes 125 levels: 5 worlds containing 5 Partzufim with 5 Sefirot in each of them. All in all these are 125 degrees of comparison between man’s properties and the property of bestowal of the Upper force. The person can positively influence himself and his surroundings to the extent of his similarity to the general law.

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