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The Science of Kabbalah and Modern Sciences

Representatives of Science

The scientist engaged in scientific research (at this level of desire) does not care for material welfare. He uses his precious time to discover and invent, and does not waste it in the chase of life’s amenities.

Nothing that exists in this world – bodily pleasures, family, children, riches, recognition, fame and power – interests him anymore. He is after knowledge, understanding and attainment.

When this longing is living inside the person, it really prevails over his other desires. Such is the image of a true scientist who craves for knowledge. He wishes to know himself and the world in which he lives. This cognition brings man the most intense and exquisite pleasure as all the puzzles and opposites form one harmonious picture.

What happens at our earthly level? The Kli (desire) and the Ohr (fulfillment) become balanced. As they miraculously merge, complementing each other, the person feels enormous delight of cognition. That is why the Tree of Life is also called the Tree of Knowledge. Ultimately, the Light fills the Kli that is at the most egoistical level of our world. Only the spiritual Partzufim are above it.

Question: How can the Light be received in the egoistical Kli after the Restriction (Tzimtzum)?

We do not say that the desire for knowledge appears after Tzimtzum. Cognition is the ultimate desire of our world, and it appears not after Tzimtzum, but before it. When a scientist attains something, all his inner contradictions disappear, just as the Kli merges with the Light.

By choosing to neglect material life’s amenities, a scientist uses all his time to acquire knowledge. A true scientist is ready to sacrifice everything for it. Pleasure takes the form of knowledge for him. There are people who take more interest in football t han in knowledge. Naturally, the matter concerns people who during their previous incarnations have really reached the greatest desire of this world – the desire for knowledge.

There are not so many people like that, because all the desires have a pyramid structure. Therefore, those who aspire for “pure” knowledge, and will never trade it for money or power, are very few. They are called genuine scientists.

Yet, even they cannot resist one of the strongest earthly temptations – recognition in society.

The greatest Kabbalist of the 16th century, the Ari, wrote in his Introduction to the book “The Tree of Life” that one should choose only such students who long for “pure” science because in that case no one will be able to buy them for money, fame and honor. They will remain scientists and will not sell their knowledge to people who may use scientific achievements to the detriment of humankind. Hence, a scientist should aspire for nothing else but knowledge.

Besides, there is another problem - the desire for recognition in society. A scientist is unable to withstand this most powerful of all earthly delights.

People waste all their efforts to satisfy it. They are ready to give up all the other pleasures just to fill this need. The best representatives of every generation are riveted to it.

Very few people can resist this powerful longing. The person can spend days and nights in a solitary cell without bread and water, make incredible efforts and even sacrifice his life, in order to be recognized in society. If not now, then after death, but society must admit that he rose above all.

Representatives of the Science of Kabbalah

The conditions that are valid for any science can also be applied to Kabbalah. However, the science of Kabbalah requires from a student not only to depreciate material life, but in addition to that, the Kabbalist is obliged to devaluate recognition in society.

A Kabbalist who wishes to ascend to a spiritual level must relinquish all the desires of this world. Yet, how can he give up recognition in society, if it is the ultimate desire? The person always calculates which of the two present desires he should prefer. When he reaches the desire for recognition, it begins to dominate over all the other less important ones. He will not barter it for money or honor.

Only the Creator Himself can help him in that case. Usually, when the Creator wishes to elevate someone, He humiliates this person in society’s opinion. This happened to practically all known Kabbalists. Moshe (Moses) knew disgrace. Shimon Bar-Yochai fled from his so-called friends to hide in a cave. Ramchal was forced to leave his native city of Padua. The Baal HaSulam and my Teacher were also persecuted by the contemporary society.

The Creator puts the person in such conditions that he completely frees himself from the desire for recognition. This comes as a result of extremely unpleasant humiliation, but in just this way a person is detached from society.

He is obliged to move away from people and isolate himself. He cannot advance spiritually unless he demonstrates that he is really free from any influence. Usually the people, who intensively advance, go through this formidable correction.

However, until a person devalues this desire in his own eyes, he is not ready for the attainment of Kabbalah. He will try all the time to win such recognition, and in this he will not differ from those who waste their time on the acquisition of material welfare. This will not allow him to open his heart for the attainment of Kabbalah and the Upper Force.

If a person reaches this level, society (including his group) will be unable to help him. Only then will the Creator help him, by putting him in unfavorable circumstances with respect to society, so that it will stop affecting him.

Question: We say that cravings for power and honor are inferior to the desire for knowledge and here the Baal HaSulam asserts that recognition in society is the ultimate pleasure. What is the difference between the desire for recognition in society and the aspiration to honor?

Let’s assume that there is no difference. When a person reaches the desire for knowledge (including for pure knowledge, although he achieves this through envy) and satisfies that desire, he longs for recognition. This is because man’s Kli is only partially within him; mostly, it is outside.

The aspiration after knowledge is as egoistical as all the other desires, and there are very few Kelim that correspond with what the person attains. Hence, he wishes to be recognized by society. This gives him the sensation of genuine attainment. He can measure his own attainment only in society. Having no other Kli, we continue measuring everything in our egoistical Kelim (desires).

Question: Why were the Kabbalists who were at the highest spiritual levels (Rabbi Akiva, Rashbi, and the Baal HaSulam) humiliated by their societies?

When such great Kabbalists as Rabbi Akiva, Rashbi, and the Baal HaSulam, who rose high above the earthly definitions and reached great spiritual levels, tried to accomplish something, they had to take the laws of this world into consideration because they wanted to do it within the framework of these laws.

We do not speak about what they did in the spiritual worlds. How can we possibly know what corrections the Baal HaSulam performed in the spiritual worlds? We only know his biography in this world and have no idea about his inner biography and spiritual accomplishments. We do not know whether he asked any reward for his work or not.

With regard to us the Kabbalist acts as is generally accepted in this world. To nullify himself and begin influencing people in our world, the Kabbalist needs to remain in contact with it, which can be dangerous. For example, the well-known Kabbalist Rabbi Yossi Ben-Kisma rejected a generous offer to move to a city with no Kabbalists because he feared that by living among sinners (egoists) he would become like them.

How can a person fall from such a level? He is bound to fall because the person is determined not by his own small Kli (even a great Kabbalist only has his small corrected Kli), but by the common Kli with which he interacts.

The great sage could not have done anything, if he had joined a corrupt environment and exposed himself to its bad influence. Therefore, to enable him to participate in this environment’s undertakings and, on the other hand, to isolate him from its influence and allow him to remain completely independent, he suffers disgrace in the eyes of society or is sent other problems.

This enables a scientist to act even in a bad environment, because by its disdain for him it will erect a wall between them and will have no influence on him.

On the other hand, in this case he cannot directly influence his environment and can only affect it indirectly by means of his books. There is no other way than to put every person in the situation in which he can and must influence others.

Question: Does the Kabbalist have to isolate himself from society? If yes, then how does this reconcile with the rule, which states that the Kabbalist has to be like everyone else and is obliged to live in society?

We should be isolated from society, but at the same retain contact with it. We should be connected with society in all of our earthly activities, such as work, study, family, social obligations, etc. No one should even suspect that I have other goals in life.

On the other hand, we should aspire to put the spiritual goal at the head of our interests, while participating in other aspects of life only by perforce.

The person should isolate himself from society only in accordance with his inner aspiration. This does not require any outward actions. Willingly or not, as the person concentrates all his thoughts on something, he does not care about what happens around him and feels no fear.

However, we already know the aforementioned example of the Kabbalist n amed Yossi Ben-Kisma, who lived two thousand years ago. This renowned sage was invited to another town to teach Kabbalah to people who had never heard of this wisdom. He was offered a substantial remuneration for his services. However, he refused to move to a place where no one had heard about Kabbalah, explaining that even an avowed Kabbalist will become degraded in the absence of a proper environment.

How can we live in society and at the same time be isolated from it? This is possible only if the person is influenced by a group. When he is exposed to the influence of two forces, (on the one hand, he can move around in the field of this world, on the other hand, he belongs to a strong group), then his group supports him with its desire, keeps him above all obstacles. This is the only factor that can help the person to be correctly tuned, both inwardly and outwardly.

Question: Does the Kabbalist have need for his students?

It is written: “I have learned much from my teachers, I have learned even more from books, but most of all, I have learned from my pupils.” Of course, this sentence should be interpreted in the spiritual sense. Nevertheless, one might say that because students expand their teacher’s Kli by adding new desires, they help him not to attain knowledge, but to express it.

Question: It is said that there is no coercion in the spiritual. On the other hand, we see that Kabbalists are subjected to the Creator’s severe pressure in the form of society’s persecution.

Naturally the bigger desire (at the inanimate, vegetative, animate, and human levels) that creation uses, the more distinctly its elements and restrictions manifest. Therefore, the Kabbalist acts within a much harsher framework than any other creature because the Creator judges the righteous “by a hair's breadth.”

Nevertheless, this does not signify the Kabbalist’s limitations. On the contrary, he is quite free in his actions, because we are created in such a way that only the equivalence of form with the Creator gives us freedom.

What is the meaning of “freedom”? We simply copy the Creator’s actions – take over His functions because there is nothing new in existence. Malchut of the World of Infinity is in the state of absolute calm, eternity, and perfection.

We should achieve the same condition, feel it and consciously exist in it. We are destined to take control of the entire universe, of ourselves – while being equal to the Light and completely filled with it. There is no new action in this.

This is what happens. At the beginning, the Creator’s rule over His creation is absolute. Then the creation gradually begins to take over His governance, until it finally reaches the complete equivalence of form with Him and takes full control of itself.

Was the creation similar to the Creator when He was ruling over it? The creation was doing everything necessary under the Creator’s control. Consequently, all these actions (when the Creator’s rule over His creation is absolute and when we gradually take over the control and reach the complete equivalence of form with Him) are the same.

These states take different forms only in our perception since we see a distorted picture of the world. We see only our own part above the world’s picture.

Similarly, by looking at a film, we can see the soundtrack alongside the frames. The picture of the world is constant and invariable, the Light controls the Kli. However, we can see only a narrow track of our conscious participation in this universal picture. We perceive this narrow track as our world.

Concealment of the Wisdom of Kabbalah

The Kabbalists never tried to advertise their science in society, because the person approaches this wisdom under compulsion of an inner call. Only then does he become ready to disregard the bodily desires, material welfare, and society’s recognition.

It is impossible to compel someone to study Kabbalah. In our world, the person can coerce himself into changing occupations, because this way he chooses a certain form of enjoyment.

For example, if I want to make a lot of money, I calculate where I can apply my efforts best. If I believe that car washing will bring me good money, I go to wash cars. If I think that I will earn more money by becoming a specialist in some field, I act accordingly.

Man in this world is constantly trying to achieve some fulfillment, and this determines the form and extent of his participation. Unless the person feels drawn to Kabbalah, he receives no pleasure from it and, naturally, will never engage in it. He can do all kinds of things in this world. For example, he can be a professor or wash cars. If he is after money, he passes from one occupation to another.

One cannot study Kabbalah in order to gain something that exists in this world. Therefore, when a person finds Kabbalah, it means that most probably he has exhausted all passions of this world. He stops seeing his reward in money, honor, power, and knowledge. Instead, something else begins to attract him, although he cannot understand exactly what it is.

It is impossible to promote a science that brings people no pleasure. For example, we can advertise the prestigious status of a professor, because it gives the person certain privileges and pays well.

That is to say, I can advertise an occupation and what it gives a person, if the society considers it prestigious and well paying.

However, when I promote Kabbalah, I can mention none of those advantages. What can I explain to people, that Kabbalah studies should be preferred to other things? Why? What is so special in it?

For one thing, there is no way to explain something that people cannot feel. Besides, one should hardly expect material welfare or a prestigious status from Kabbalah. Therefore, the very notion of advertising Kabbalah does not exist. Promotion is based on the conviction that the offered merchandise brings special pleasure, for which society initially has desire. However, no pretty tag can be attached to Kabbalah.

While advertising something, manufacturers often use the images of little children or pretty women. In this way, we are subconsciously lured by the animate, natural pleasures that we desire.

Nothing can be compared with Kabbalah. The person becomes ready for this science only when he can neglect material welfare and recognition in society.

Hence, Kabbalists did not reveal this method of spiritual development to the masses. They knew that only those who are ready and who do not need anything else in this world will come to Kabbalah and understand it correctly. Otherwise, the revelation of the essence of Kabbalah will deprive society of pleasure. It will stop enjoying bodily pleasures, wealth, power, and honor.

We have no right to tell the person, who is at the preliminary stages of his development and still desires bodily pleasures, wealth, power, fame, and knowledge, that all of his activities are worthless and base, and that he should aspire to attain spirituality.

If we say that, we will bereave man of the opportunity to advance. Until he goes through all stages of development in his consecutive aspirations after these pleasures, until his disappointment leads him from one desire to another and makes him realize that nothing can be enjoyed in this world, and until he starts longing for the spiritual, he will be unprepared for the study of Kabbalah.

If we tell the person at the wrong time that this world is worthless, we simply drive him to depression and hopelessness, in which case he will have nothing to hold on to while moving from one pleasure to another. He will not be able to advance.

Hence, it is said: “Do not put an obstacle before a blind man,” meaning one should not tell the person that his life is insignificant, transient, and imperfect. Like a child at play, he needs all these “playthings.” Billions of people living in the world gradually advance towards the purpose of creation.

We can influence the speed of their advancement through these preliminary stages in a roundabout way. However, they still have to pass them all.

Until people have realized the necessity to give up the aforementioned delights in exchange for contact with the Upper Force, it is forbidden to deprive them of their enjoyment. The development of the earthly desires gradually leads to the emergence of the spiritual desire.

According to the signs that show in society, it has reached disenchantment in pursuit of bodily pleasures, wealth, power, and honor, and is ready to establish contact with the Upper Force.

That is the reason why the science of Kabbalah is being revealed to the wide circles of society.

All the same, Kabbalah has to do it passively, without imposing itself, but only showing what it has to offer to those who decide to master it.

Question: What should a teacher of Kabbalah be like?

A genuine teacher is a source of nothing but a method. Upon receiving from his teacher necessary knowledge and understanding, a person has to realize it all in his work with the group and the Creator.

Therefore, the more “transparent” and “invisible” a teacher is (in no way overshadowing the group, books, and the Creator), the better guide he can make. As we see from the Kabbalistic books, people always became teachers not because of their special qualities, but only thanks to their understanding of how to work with society.

It is said that Moses was chosen to lead the nation because mercy was his characteristic property. While still being a young man, he was wandering in the desert and saw a wounded kid. Moses took the animal in his arms and carried it for a very long time. Since mercy and compassion were his special characteristics, he was chosen to be the leader of the nation.

People need to be given a method and be guided. As I see it, a leader in no way has to be before his students’ eyes. On the contrary, the students should feel his presence as little as possible; otherwise they will rely on him more than on themselves. They have to realize the need to develop independently.

Unless the student reads genuine Kabbalistic sources and attains his own comprehension in study and work, he will not become independent and will not enter the spiritual world. A teacher should raise his student and try to make him independent of himself.

Look at the teachers who are near you. Only according to this factor can you say whether they are genuine teachers or simply use their students to satisfy their egoistical desires.

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