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Freedom of Will

Based on the article of Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) "The Freedom"

I greet all our viewers and listeners. I wish the best to all of you. I am happy to see here also the new groups and the new people that are showing up on my screen and greeting all of us.

The topic of today's lesson is the article "Freedom of Will".

The most important thing for us to know is this. If we are puppets in all our desires as well as our actions (as a result of our desires), that is, if we are what is instilled in us originally by our nature and the surrounding conditions, then we shouldn't talk about man as some free creature. If this is true, then there is no need to talk about man at all; we should simply live, trying to avoid suffering, and that is all.

However, as Baal HaSulam and other Kabbalists tell us, the freedom of will does exist. There is a certain category, a quality in us that we are able to change by our free choice. Doing this, we are able to rise to a completely different existence, another world, a different level of being.

Baal HaSulam says that the entire issue of freedom of will lies in the realization of the environment. That is, I am unable to correct all my original data. Our path of development which we have to go through (that is, our path towards the Creator), the Purpose of the Creation are also unchangeable. It is also impossible to correct my general environment such as the world, nation, state, town, family, and family relations.

My only free choice lies in choosing a small society that has the same goal and whose members, supporting each other, share my aspirations. Thus, if I absorb their desires for the same goal, my desire, my longing for this goal will intensify and give me an additional boost on the path.

That means the only thing I can do (the path exists and I cannot change it) is to use my environment to accelerate the path previously prepared for me. This is possible only under the influence of the correctly chosen environment.

Baal HaSulam discusses this in the article section "The Must in Choosing a Good Environment". He tells of a famous Kabbalist, the ancient sage Rabbi Yosi, who refused to move to another town where he would be deprived of his environment. Despite the fact that he already was a great sage and attained the utmost spiritual degrees, if he ended up in the environment that would provide no support for his further progress (progress never ends), the lack of the correct environment would have lowered his degree. Even though the surrounding people would be small compared to him, environment (no matter what it is) still affects a person, and thus the lowest environment can lessen even the greatest person.

We have to understand that if I exist at some higher degree relative to those surrounding me, I nevertheless can build relationships with them. It makes no difference if these people are small, if they are still my students who just start their spiritual journey: I still can build a relationship that would allow me to accumulate their inspiration.

Someone who is just starting on his path, longing for the spiritual, and has an unspoiled, naïve, unconscious desire, can give a lot of strength and accelerate your progress in a very effective way.

Therefore, in no way should we ignore new groups. A person who is going to teach a new group should remember that it is not important whether he is surrounded by "old" students or by beginners. The most important thing is their burning desire towards this goal. If they have a burning desire, their level doesn't matter.

The example of Rabbi Yosi tells us about this. It didn't matter that he was a great sage; he merely did not want to move to the place where there was absolutely no one fit to be his environment.

In the next section "The Control of the Mind over the Body ", Baal HaSulam further elucidates how we can realize our freedom of will. He explains the general structure, that is, our inner, shared structure.

The Control of the Mind over the Body

"Some external contemporary wise men, after having meditated over the above matter, and having seen how man's mind is but a fruit that grows out of the events of life."

Our mind is a generalization of all the experience that we have acquired in the process of our lives. Thus, we create a databank: the cause-and-effect relations that we see, mistakes from which we learn; everything we acquire during our path on earth accumulates in our memory. This very record of data collected in a certain way is called our mind. That is, the mind is the accumulated information, collected in a right manner and ready to use. Scientists who studied the human mind discovered that it is a result of life situations that a person goes through. Therefore, the scientists.

"...came to a conclusion that the mind has no control over the body, but the events of life alone, imprinted in the physical tendons of the brain control and activate man. And a man's mind is like a mirror that takes the shapes before it, that although the mirror is the carrier of these shapes, it cannot activate or move the shapes reflected in it." (I.e. our mind is a result and reflection of those events and circumstances that happen to us).

"So is the mind. Although the events of life, in all their cause and effect factors, are seen and recognized by the mind (reflected in the mind; all our path on earth is reflected in the mind and collected in it), it is utterly incapable of controlling the body, to bring it into motion, meaning to bring it closer to the good or farther from the bad, because the spiritual and the physical are completely remote from one another. And there cannot be any intermediary tool between them to enable the mind to activate and operate on the corporeal body, as we've discussed in length."

On the other hand, the mind is not able to move the soul towards the spiritual goal. There is a very clear border between the earthy and the spiritual and there is no connection whatsoever between them. We can exist in our senses either on this or on the other side of this wall. However, when we exist on one side we are unable to extrapolate or make assumptions about what is going to happen further, how we can cross this wall and keep going on the other side towards our goal. It is impossible. Our mind is only a result of what our body senses in the dimension called this world.

When we reach the spiritual, the sensations of the spiritual world will give us the spiritual information that will form the spiritual mind in us. However, existing in one world, we are utterly unable to ascertain something about the other world or control any action in it.

"But where they are smart, they also disrupt. For man's imagination serves him no less than the microscope serves the eye, without which he cannot see any harmful thing because of its small size. But once he has seen the harmful factor through the microscope, man distances himself from the noxious factor." (i.e. the mind can serve as a magnifying glass, as a booster of our sensations, even in places where we are practically unable to sense - so Baal HaSulam said).

"It turns out, that it is the microscope that brings man to action, to distance himself from the harmful factor, and not the sense (allows us to escape the harm), for the sense did not detect the noxious factor (in reality, the microbe)."

Only our mind, investigations, results, and conclusions drawn from life, our life experience help us find the harmful agent. The same goes for our spiritual path. If we do not yet sense the spiritual, how can we use our mind and somehow uncover, in advance, the good and harmful causes, or circumstances on our path towards the goal?

"And to that extent the mind fully controls man's body to distance it from bad, and bring it near the good. Meaning that in all those places where the attribute of the body (the body means all our senses with our entire earth mind) fails to recognize the factor as beneficent or as harmful, it needs the wit of the mind (meaning the deep, wise penetration of the reason for everything that is happening to us).

Furthermore, since man knows his mind, which is a true conclusion from the experiences of life, therefore he can take mind and knowledge from a trusted person, and accept it as law, although the events of his life have not yet revealed these conceptions to him."

After I made sure that my mind can help me in the places where I am not able to see harm, warning me "Look, it is there, it's not worth it, avoid it, take a different path", after I see that my mind has control over my feelings, seeing more than my feelings, only then should I trust my mind more than my feelings.

After this I am finally able to switch to the mind of a "higher" person whose mind is broader and whose experience is greater. If I trust him, if I trust his mind, I will be able to foresee and avoid such circumstances that could stop my progress for a prolonged time, for many years. It would help me avoid unbelievable mistakes and anguish. Now, my biggest problem is to find a way to prove to myself that I have to go forward using mind that belongs to someone who is higher than me.

"It is like a person who asks the advice of a doctor and obeys him even though he understands nothing with his own mind (he trusts the doctor's mind). Thus one uses the mind of others as much as one uses one's own (but the problem of trust comes up here).

As we've clarified above, there are two ways for providence to make sure that man comes to that good and resolute goal. They are: the path of agony and the path of Kabbalah (meaning correction by the light).

All the clarity in the path of the Kabbalah stems from that. For these clear conceptions that were revealed and recognized after a long chain of events in the lives of the prophets and other men of God, there comes a man who fully utilizes them (without going through this entire path that the wise men passed before him; these wise men achieved the highest spiritual degrees as a result of their trials and errors, trusting each other, and gaining bigger and bigger minds from each other; now we can use the biggest mind that a person has ever obtained) and benefits from them as though these concepts came from the events of his own life."

However, the question arises: How can I be sure that the mind I am perhaps ready to rely on is indeed real, that it exists at the high spiritual level, and is absolutely positive for me? Where can I get the strength to let this mind direct me instead of my own mind, instead of my life experience? If these two minds, mine the higher one, agree in their advice, then I am ready. But what if they do not agree? What should I do?

For example, a small child is brought to a doctor and the doctor recommends making an incision so the child would feel better. The child will never agree to this because in his mind he understands that he will feel pain, but he does not see the next level, what is going to happen afterwards.

An adult understands that he should rely on the doctor's higher mind. However, this is in our world. One can find some support here, for example, I can go to a few doctors, or ask my family and friends who will persuade me that this is what I need to do. But what should I do if the mind of the higher Kabbalist calling me to his level is completely opposite to my mind. This is not even the mind of a doctor and a child. We can reassure a child and explain things to him. Here we have the Supreme mind. What power can persuade me that I am able to take my mind, which is under the Machsom, and replace it with the mind that is above the Machsom?

Here is an example. A mountain-climber suddenly slips while climbing a hill. At the last second he manages to grab the cliff and hangs on, holding onto it with one hand. So he is begging the Creator "Help me", and the Creator tells him "I will help you, just let go. What are you afraid of? I will help you, you are in My hands".

How can a person replace his mind when he knows by all reason that he will fall if he releases his hand? How can he replace his mind with the Creator's mind that is saying, "Let go. You are asking me - here is My advice. You called Me for help - I came for you. Let go!" How can I let go before I receive help from the Creator in a different way, egoistically real for me? Where can I find the power to replace my mind with the mind of the Higher? He is called a Higher mind because he is opposite to my level. He is a greater bestowal; there is a gap between my animal attributes and His attributes.

"Thus you see that one (a person in our world trusts a doctor, or his parents, replaces his mind with a higher one (higher only at this animated level of nature), however, this happens when he realizes that it is beneficial for him to listen to the advise of a wise man) is relieved of all the ordeals one must experience before he can develop that clear mind by himself. Thus one saves both time and pain.

It can be compared to a sick man who will not obey the doctor's orders, before he understands by himself how that advice would cure him, and therefore begins to study medicine. He could die of his illness before he learns the wisdom of medicine (meaning this is not a path of light and correction any longer, but rather a path of suffering).

So is the path of agony, vs. the path of Kabbalah. For he who does not believe the concepts that the Kabbalah and prophecy advise him to adopt without self-understanding (in his mind), must come to these conceptions by himself (as a person considers). Meaning, only through one's following the chain of cause and effect from the events of life (of course, he will be going through this in sufferings), which are very hastening experiences, capable of developing the sense of recognition of evil in them, as we've seen, without one's choice, but because one labors in acquiring a good environment that leads to these good thoughts and acts."

This means I am unable to replace my mind with a higher one if it is completely opposite to mine. If I analyze this in my mind and find that I do not understand the higher mind at all, I cannot accept it, it is totally irrational and illogical. I will not be able to absorb the Higher mind directly. This is why I need an environment, meaning that if I find a good environment, then my thoughts and actions will automatically become the same as the ones adopted in that environment.

The Freedom of the Individual

" Now we have come to a thorough understanding of the freedom of the individual. However, that relates only to the first factor, being the "bed" (in Hebrew, this is called Matza, meaning origin), which is the first substance of every man, meaning all the characteristics that we inherit from our forefathers, in which we all differ from one another.

For even when thousands of people share the same environment, in such a way that the other three factors act equally upon them.,"

That means the three factors such as the internal development, influence of the environment, and development of the environment constantly change and develop. The first factor is unchangeable, it always remains in us and we cannot change it. This is our Reshimot. Baal HaSulam says that despite the fact that we may exist in the absolutely identical environment which develops according to absolutely identical laws in relation to each of us, nevertheless..

" will still not find two people who will share the same attribute. That is because each of them has his/her own unique bed (the first factor). It is like the bed of the wheat, that although it changes a great deal by the power of the three remaining factors, it still retains the preliminary shape of the wheat and will never take on another form."

For example, wheat will never take the form of oats, or buckwheat, or millet. That is because this is the informational factor and it defines the form that is unchangeable.

The General Shape of Progenitor is Never Lost

What is Baal HaSulam trying to show us, what is he trying to say? He wants to show that we remain as "we"; each of us will remain as an individual. Then what's the benefit of obtaining the Higher mind? We only speed our advancement towards the goal that is set for us from the beginning and make it more pleasant. This is because we originate from this goal and it exists in us from the beginning in the shape of original Reshimot.

"So it is, that each "bed" that had taken off the preliminary shape of the progenitor and had taken on a new shape as a result of the three factors that were added to it (meaning that we can get either a good seed or a bad seed of the same kind due to the influence of external factors), and as a result of that has changed substantially, still retains the general shape of the progenitor and will never adopt the shape of another person who resembles him, just as the oat will never resemble the wheat.

Thus, each and every bed is a long chain in and of itself, c omprised of several hundred generations, and the bed includes the conceptions of them all. But they are not revealed in him in the same way they appeared in his ancestors, that is in the form of ideas, but only as abstract forms (in potential, we have all the attributes of our ancestors of all generations). Therefore, they exist in him in the form of abstract forces (not vector, but rather potential forces), called "tendencies" and "instincts", without him knowing their reason or why he does whatever he does. Thus, there can never be two people with the same attribute."

Thus, even though the primary attributes that include the second, third, and fourth factors can be identical, the first factor is different in each of us; therefore, there are no absolutely identical people. Absolutely identical means people with identical human and spiritual attributes, especially spiritual.

The Necessity of Preserving the Freedom of the Individual

"Know, that this is the one true possession of the individual."

We have nothing of our own except for this first factor. This needs to be treasured because this is my distinctive feature, my information like my passport, the record for my soul stating which cell or part of Adam it comes from. The Reshimo that exists in me is the only thing that is personally mine; this is my part of that collective soul. It is unique for each of us. This is what Baal HaSulam is trying to say.

"Know, that this is the one true possession of the individual, that mustn't be harmed or altered. For finally, these tendencies in the bed will materialize and take the form of conceptions, when that individual grows up and attains a mind of his own."

That means we should never force a person to do something against his will either with our education and attitude towards him or her. We have to give him an opportunity to have as much freedom to progress as he feels is needed. This also applies to children. To tell the truth, we haven't established such a framework as of yet, but anyway, let us see what he says further.

"And as a result of the law of evolution that controls that chain and pushes it ever forward. We learn further, that each and every tendency is bound to turn into a sublime concept of immeasurable value.

It turns out that he who eradicates a tendency from an individual (meaning, a natural tendency) and uproots it, causes the loss of that sublime and wondrous concept from the world, destined to materialize at the end of the chain (when this tendency develops and becomes useful nothing else will be able to replace it and it will not be expressed in anyone else) for that tendency will never again be in any other body but that particular one.

Thus we understand that when a particular tendency takes the form of a concept, it can no longer be distinguished as good or bad. But such distinctions can only exist when they are still tendencies or immature concepts, and in no way is any of that recognized when they take the shape of true concepts."

By forcing someone to develop in an unnatural way, we suppress all his individual, analytical potential: how he should treat himself and his inner possibilities.

"From the above we learn what a terrible wrong inflict those nations that force their reign on minorities, depriving them of freedom, of the ability to live their lives by the tendencies they have inherited from their ancestors. They are regarded as no less than murderers."

History shows us that any nation that tries to enslave another by forcing its culture fails at the end. It has never happened in nature that one could impose his development or his mind on someone else. Why? It is because nature established from the beginning that every Reshimo, every attribute has to reach its complete correction. Therefore, the one who oppresses another and does not let him develop in the correct and free spiritual way receives a backlash and suffers himself. However, the one who was oppressed before rises and begins his correct development.

It is absolutely impossible to force someone to develop according to my law. This contradicts the essence of the universe and therefore such an approach cannot succeed. Particularly we can see this in our time when many colonizers tried to force their culture, spirit, and their ways of development onto the so-called undeveloped nations, and thought that they literally gave them a gift. However, these "good deeds" have brought nothing good either to the so-called undeveloped nations or to the progressive ones. As Baal HaSulam says, they are considered to be murderers of souls.

"Even those who do not believe in religion and purposeful guidance can understand the must of preserving the freedom of the individual, out of watching the systems of nature. For we can see that every nation that ever fell, did not come to it but due to the oppression of minorities and individuals, which had therefore rebelled against it and ruined it. It is therefore clear to all that peace cannot exist in the world if we do not take into consideration the freedom of the individual. Without it, peace can never be, and ruin shall prevail."

This is simply because the Highest law of the universe, which covers everything around, is against violence against individual. Otherwise nobody would be able to achieve the Final correction. If even one person, one part of the 600,000 souls, is not able to achieve its correction freely, following the chosen way, then all of humanity, all the souls will not be able to get together in this united perfect Kli.

Therefore, the law that controls the entire universe also controls each individual. After all, any violence is rejected, sooner or later, and the development takes free way again.

Thus, Baal HaSulam says that destruction will multiply if violence to an individual continues.

"Thus we have clearly defined the essence of the individual with utmost accuracy, after the deduction of all that he takes from the general public. But we now face the question - where, at last, is the individual himself? For all that we've said thus far, is taken as the property of the individual, inherited from his ancestors. But where is the individual himself? Where is he who is the heir, who demands that we guard his property? (Meaning everything he has is not his; this is something he received from the previous generations like a baton. What does he have of his own?)

But from all that has been said thus far, we still haven't found the point of 'self' in man, which will place him before our eyes as an independent unit (if I receive my original data from my ancestors then it is not me, it is not my "me", I am not unique in this, I merely received it). But finally, what do I need to do with the first factor, which is a long chain, comprised of thousands of people, one after the other, from generation to generation, that set the image of the individual as an heir? (And this is all that I represent? Meaning, "me" is something that derived from them, without anything of its own?)

And what do I need to do with the other three factors, comprised of thousands of people, standing one against the other in one generation (all of them around me)? The bottom line is that each individual is but a collective machine (mechanism), waiting to be used by the collective, as it sees fit. Meaning that he has become subject to two types of collective:

A. From the perspective of the first factor (his origin), he's become subject to a large collective from past generations, standing one after the other (everything that has ever existed in the past generations now exists in him).

B. From the perspective of the other three factors, he has become subject to his contemporary collective (meaning, we represent a consequence of the past generations and this one, and nothing more).

And that is indeed a universal question. For that reason there are many who oppose the above natural method, although they recognize its validity. And they take in its place metaphysical methods, or dualism, or transcendentalism, in order to create for themselves a picture of some spiritual object, and how it sits within the body or the soul. And it is that soul, which learns and which operates the body, and that is the essence of man, his 'self'.

And perhaps these interpretations could ease one's mind, but the problem is that they have no scientific solution as to how is it possible for a spiritual object, to have any kind of contact with physical atoms, to bring them to any kind of motion. And their wisdom did not help them find a bridge on which to cross that wide and deep crevice that spreads between the spiritual entity and the corporeal atom. Thus, science has gained nothing from all these metaphysical methods."

Baal HaSulam means the true science, Kabbalah, not just philosophy.

I really recommend that you read what we covered today one more time. Also you can read the entire article from the beginning. We will continue it the next time. This is a very profound article. When a person reads it the first time, obviously he cannot understand it. Now we are studying it for familiarity. Later, we will go into it deeper and deeper. As we feel our individual point, our "I" we will understand better what he tried to tell us.

However, our goal is to replace our mind with the mind of a doctor, a great sage, or even the mind of the Creator. This is our goal and we have to find out how we can achieve it.

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