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Shamati, Article No 153 Thought Is a Consequence of Desire (Thursday August 12 2004)

"A thought is a consequence of desire. Therefore a person thinks only about what he wants and never concentrates on something undesirable." He cannot act differently because desires control him. Our mind and properties are guided by desires. This means that contrary to widespread view, man's head is not the superior organ of the body, but the inferior one. If a person feels pain, all he can think of is alleviating the pain. Any of his desires, to get rid of pain or enjoy something, command the mind what to do.

Like the mind of an animal, the human mind concentrates on how to receive more pleasure and avoid suffering. "For example, man never thinks about the moment of his death; on the contrary, he believes that he is immortal because such is his desire." Thus, our mind is a slave to our desire, which always dictates to it what to do. It is not just a cold and intelligent calculating machine, disconnected from desires. It conceals both truth and falsehood, and does everything that desire subconsciously demands from this mind system.

We have no way of programming the mind separately from our desires. Hence, instead of saying "the person's thinking is right or wrong," it would be more correct to say "the person's desire is right or wrong," because his thinking is totally unimportant. Desires not only determine thoughts, but they also determine correct or incorrect processing of desires. Our mind is in the power of the heart, stomach, hormones, etc., and hence we cannot even claim that we have one.

Therefore, the spiritual Partzuf starts with zero, whereas our entire world - with all of its desires and the mind - is below zero level, because the mind does not dominate over desire. The spiritual world is based on the fact that the Rosh (head) grows above desire and opposes - suppresses it. First, it makes a restriction (Tzimtzum), and then it begins thinking how to use this desire for the sake of the mind. In contrast to that, in our world - the mind - is used to serve desires.

These words may seem like simple moral teaching, but they are based on the correspondence between two Partzufim - earthly and spiritual.

"However, the mind has its special role, which consists of increasing desires. If the person has a small wish that is unable to be manifested and fulfilled, then by thinking about this desire he can increase and intensify it to such an extent that it will demand satisfaction. From this, it follows that the desire is the essence of man, and the thought only serves it." The mind can control desire by imagining it as big or small.

"If the desire is big enough, it dominates over other, smaller ones. If the person wishes to strengthen some particular desire, he can achieve this by constantly concentrating on it. The more he thinks about it, the stronger it will become. Therefore - by studying Kabbalah - through a continuous mental effort, the person can heighten the spiritual desire so greatly that it will grow to prevail over all the others."

If a person enters a certain environment that convinces him of the importance of Kabbalah, he will eventually have the same thoughts and desires. There is a proverb: "Call a person a dog hundred times and he will start barking." So, with the help of the mind, one can develop one's desires. The preference of certain desires over others is completely in the hands of society. Therefore, the person's work consists in finding the environment which will develop his small desire for spirituality and elevate it above all the others. As these small desires grow bigger, his mind changes automatically. It begins serving these better, more important desires. In this way, the connection between the mind, desire and environment is realized.

An environment cannot directly influence the person. Instead, it affects his mind and through it compels the person to reappraise his values. After the proper rearrangement of desires, the best of them will rise above the inferior ones. The mind begins acting accordingly; it prefers the higher desires and realizes them much faster than the lesser ones.

How can it be if we started by saying that desire precedes a thought? Here we can use an external source - a group, Kabbalah lessons, books that will affect our mind, and the mind in its turn will influence desire.

Question: You say that in the spiritual the mind determines desire. However, when a person enters the spiritual realm, his nature changes. In other words, all of his desires become bestowal-oriented.

In the spiritual realm, we acquire a new desire for the Creator. This is a longing to enjoy Him and attain his level. At the same time, the desires for lesser pleasures remain as they were. Rosh (head) appears above this new desire. It gives the person an understanding that this desire for the Creator can only be realized with the intention for His sake. This intention constitutes a spiritual Partzuf.

In our world, the realization of desire to receive pleasure with the help of the mind, consists in a simple sorting out of various choices: how and where to enjoy more and pay less. Hence, the level of the head in our world is below our desires; it works beneath them. In the spiritual world the Rosh of Partzuf is above its Guf (body).

Question: How can the growth of an egoistical desire lead to the birth of an altruistic one? Where does a revolution or inversion occur?

This happens irrespective of our desire, according to the rule, "Yagati ve Matzati." That is to say, by applying efforts a person eventually acquires an entirely new quality. He cannot possibly imagine the spiritual and the process of its attainment in advance. A person cannot desire spirituality while not being in it; he simply has no idea what he is supposed to long for. He can fantasize, but without actually being in the spiritual, it is utterly impossible to imagine what it is like.

Hence, the person can never agree to the inversion, which is bound to take place in him. This means an immense phase leap from the intention for one's self to the intention for the Creator. This leap depends not on us, but on the Upper Light, which creates this property in us. However, we must come to this moment (as much as we can imagine it) by ourselves, with our own aspiration to reach this state.

We can neither imagine it clearly nor desire it the way it is. We are like children in this respect. In this way a little boy wants to be a pilot, thrilled by the opportunity to fly, see everything from above, and hang in the air upside down. The child imagines everything not the way it really is. We know that when the boy grows up and begins to realize his dream, he will see that it is quite different from what he had in his young mind. In reality, this turns out to be an extremely strenuous work, with very complex and sophisticated equipment, and an enormous responsibility that leaves practically no room for any pleasure. Yet, at the moment his eyes see it all differently, and until he reaches the next level, his perception will remain the same.

Thus, we see that even in our earthly states the difference between "dreaming to be a pilot" and "becoming a pilot" is enormous. We have no idea of the next level before we ascend to it. In our egoism today, it appears in an idealistic and attractive way. These are the conditions in which we have to exist in this world.

When we pass from one world to another, everything changes drastically. We err in everything that relates to the spiritual world. However, while being on a small, childish level, it is more important to desire something spiritual (no matter how one imagines it). In that case, the person will change in the same way a child does, without realizing how it happens. These changes are the work of the Upper Light, even within the limits of this world.

"All the levels descend from above; they have been prepared in advance. We just need to make an effort to rise from one level to another. Man does not have to jump over his head. He simply should do what he can."

Question: Do I have to imagine spirituality as something perfect in order to be able to bestow?

You should imagine that spirituality (it does not matter how you see it) is above our world and that it is worth disregarding all the pleasures of our world for the sake of spiritual attainment.

It will attract you and you will aspire for it. Under this influence you will gradually begin to feel that your outlook on reality changes. Today, you imagine the spiritual as greater happiness, wisdom, wealth, confidence, etc. Think of all that and remember that the spiritual is higher and greater.

Question: How does a change of assessment in the mind lead to a change of desire? We say that desire affects the mind. How does the reverse process take place?

The mind cannot determine desire. If I have a desire and a mind, desire always dictates to the mind what to do. It turns out that I can in no way change my desires, but I just said that the mind is a slave of desire. If my mind receives information from external sources (from books or the group), it perceives it as the most important thing.

By exposing himself to the influence of books, Teacher and environment, a person's mind gets reprogrammed. It begins developing the desires, which he considers very important, and diminishes the significance of those desires that he regards as less valuable.

Environment can change the person's desires and generate new ones. The person has a certain number of desires, and his mind is made to serve them to the best of its abilities. The mind "dresses" desire and realizes it in accordance with its significance.

However, if the environment (Teacher, books and friends) transforms the scale of the person's values, then his mind changes under this influence and begins to alter particular desires and their combinations accordingly.

Thus, the mind happens to be a mediator between man's inner desire and the outer desire of the group, books and Teacher. By acting between these two desires, the mind can adapt the person to the environment.

Baal HaSulam says that by putting ourselves inside the spiritual environment we can enhance our desire for spirituality so greatly that it will dominate over the rest of them. This is because such constant effort will transform our thoughts.

Question: How is it connected with desires and thoughts and what is the construction called Adam Rishon?

The construction of Adam Rishon, which enables us to understand such influence, is very simple.

Besides the person's desires and mind, there are 599,999 other souls that are connected with him. With respect to man, they are considered as the external desire. He cannot feel them. Each desire is individual and originates in the common soul of Adam Rishon. Two different desires cannot come from the same spiritual root. Hence, desires do not come into contact with one another. Nevertheless, they can communicate with the help of the mind. Each desire is connected with its mind, through which they can connect and understand each other.

The person lives by his desires and mind, in the environment that has desires and the mind of its own. He is unable to understand the desires and the mind of the environment. It indicates to him what desires it considers preferable (e.g., the aspiration to knowledge is more valuable than the desire to watch a soccer match), and he changes his thoughts and adapts them to this gradation.

The environment cannot pass the person its desires. However, it begins to reprogram his mind, and with its help the person reprograms his desire. Consequently, desires do not dictate to the mind what to do, but rather the environment influences desires through the mind.

In this way we accelerate our development. We choose the desires that are closer to the spiritual, while preferring them to others, more remote from it, and thus we develop faster than without having contact with the environment.

Therefore, the person needs such an environment that would redirect his mind to the spiritual so that he would not be able to object - even if he wanted to. Man is created as an integral part of environment, and nothing can be done about it. This means that the person's desire cannot limit the mind to such an extent that it will not be able to be influenced by the environment.

Man is connected with the other 599,999 souls through his mind. This circumstance enables him to affect his desire purposefully with the help of his environment. That is what the method of correction of desire is all about. Unless such an opportunity existed, we would only be evolving as animals.

Question: Is the mind an integral part of the general mechanism of desire's correction?

Precisely so; the mind constitutes the only available mechanism of correction.

Question: What does it mean, to think by the categories of the spiritual world?

This means to imagine the property of bestowal as the most preferable one, which should be acquired at any price. The spiritual world is nothing else but bestowal.

Question: How can Kabbalists influence people's desires, if the connection among the souls is possible only through the mind?

Kabbalists have no other way of influencing people than through their minds. Sometimes, a Kabbalist can directly influence his disciple, but as a rule it is done through the group (it is much more natural).

Question: Environment affects an individual's mind. Can an individual influence the environment's collective mind?

This question should be rephrased differently. We say that a person is placed in a certain environment that influences his mind. In accordance with his mind he changes his priorities. A person enters this environment with the help of his mind. This means that he initially wanted to change his mind, so that it would transform his desires. That is the way this chain works.

Everything starts with the realization of evil. Sufferings force the person to look for a reason, to ask, "What is the meaning of my life that is so hard, unhappy and empty?" This sensation has to be present in the emerging desire; then this desire will demand its fulfillment from the mind. Since it is futile to appeal to desire, the mind will start searching for the proper environment, which will provide it with an answer to this question.

In the end, this search brings the person to the realization that there is a way to grasp the meaning of life. However, this cannot be done unless he acquires the property of bestowal. If we begin to want to give, then our mind turns to desire and starts wondering if it is possible at all to think of bestowal. This way the person commences on his spiritual ascent.

It should be emphasized that the awakening of a point in the heart (aspiration for the attainment of life's meaning) must precede such work because otherwise a person will not start looking for a good environment

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