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Freedom of Will

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

At the previous lesson we talked about how the individual relates to the majority or the crowd, and that the crowd or the surrounding society suppresses the individual.

Now we will examine the following section:

Society should follow the Law of "Going with the majority"

"Now we have come to a clear understanding of the sentence of the freedom of the individual. For indeed there is a question of where did the collective take the right to expropriate the freedom of the individual and deny him of the most precious thing in life - freedom. Seemingly, there is no more than brute force here."

Why has nature constructed things this way, from the Creator's point of view? Why has nature manifested in our world in a way that the majority has a supposedly lawful right to suppress the freedom of the individual? How can a person realize himself, if the surrounding society makes a monotonous puppet out of him?

"But as we've clearly explained above, it is a natural law and the decree of providence, that because providence compels us all to conduct social life, it is obvious that each and every person is obligated to secure the existence and well-being of society."

If we are dependent on the life of society then obviously each one of us is obligated to take care of its prosperity, in order that the society, in turn, would create normal conditions for us.

"And that cannot exist but through imposing the conduct of "Going with the majority"." that is, each person cannot act the way he wants to, rather, he is obligated to obey the law that has been accepted in his society "...and ignoring the opinion of the individual."

It follows from the aforesaid that this is the source of the right and justification of the fact that the majority compellingly deprives the individual of his freedom and enslaves him. Thus, it is completely clear that in every case when the interest of the society's material life is not concerned, there is no right and justification for the majority to infringe on and limit in any way the freedom of the individual. Those who do this are criminals and culprits who prefer force to any right and justice. Because in this case, the Governance does not obligate the individual to obey the wish of the society.

What does Baal HaSulam want to say by this? He is saying that a person must observe all the laws that determine the well-being of society on the material level in our world. A person must work, give his efforts to society, and do everything from his end to enrich the society. Any person who works in an enterprise, besides earning for himself, also gives a profit to the enterprise.

I remember when I was still an engineer in Russia we once made a very simple calculation that determined what profit each of us gave to the enterprise. It turned out that by earning, for example, a ruble an hour I gave the enterprise 14 rubles an hour. That is, a person must ensure that he is giving a profit to society from his work, so that the society would become stronger and wealthier, and in turn would provide a comfortable environment for him.

In this category a person must obey the society and carry out its laws. This condition comes down to us from above. That is why, as you have heard me say many times, a Kabbalist is obligated to serve in the Army, have a family, work in an enterprise, and be a law-abiding member of the society in which he lives. This is exactly what the society demands from him.

However, the society has nothing to do with a person's personal, inner spiritual development. I am not talking about the material level of our world, but about the vertical connection with the Creator. The society has nothing to do with this inner work of a person. The society is not concerned with this at all, and the law of nature offers total freedom to a person here. In this category each of us does not depend on society.

We must clearly divide this into two concepts. On one hand, we must be citizens of a government, a part of society and humanity, and think about their material well-being. That is, in the material world we must act in accordance with the laws of the state. However, we must correlate to the Creator according to our inner necessities, or the Reshimot that emerge in us.

This is what Baal HaSulam writes about this: "Thus you see that this is the origin of every right and justification that the collective has to expropriate the freedom of the individual, against his will, and to place him under its authority. Therefore it is understood that with regard to all those matters that do not concern the existence of the material life of the society, there is no justification for the collective to rob and abuse the freedom of the individual in any way."

That is, society must suppress the freedom of the individual in whatever concerns the material aspect and the benefit of society on the level of our world.

Those people who limit a person's freedom of will in his vertical relation to the Creator are really criminals and culprits. For example, Stalin and those like him, who penetrate into a person's soul and try to enslave him spiritually "...because here the obligation of the individual to obey the will of the collective does not apply."

In Spirituality "Take after the Individual"

That is, besides the law that declares that a person does not have to obey the society in his spiritual life, there also exists a completely reverse law in nature: "The society must obey the individual and follow him".

Now we have a very interesting dependency. On the level of our world I must obey the majority. However, in whatever concerns my spiritual development I do not have to listen to the majority at all; I have an individual connection with the Creator. Moreover, if I am spiritually above the society then it must listen to me.

What does "must" mean? This means that this is how the laws of nature are made. Whether we want to observe them or not does not matter.

Baal HaSulam says:

"It turns out that as far as spiritual life is concerned, there is no natural obligation on the individual to abide by the society in any way. On the contrary, here applies a natural law over the collective, to subdue itself to the authority of the individual. And it is clarified in the article The Peace (this is an article by Baal HaSulam, where he says that), that there are two ways in which providence has enveloped and surrounded us, in order to bring us to the end. And they are:

1. The path of suffering, which imposes that development upon us, regardless of our opinion (this is how we develop by simply running away from suffering).

2. The path of Torah (light) or wisdom, which develops us consciously, without any agonizing or coercion. In this case we liberate ourselves from the obligation to develop under the influence of suffering; rather, we strive towards the Upper goal ourselves.

And since the higher developed in the generation is definitely the individual, it turns out that when common people want to relieve themselves of the terrible agony, and take upon themselves conscious development, which is the Path of Torah, they have no choice but to subdue themselves and their physical freedom to the discipline of the individual, and obey the orders and remedies that he will offer them."

In other words, although in quantity the masses are incomparable with the individuals, nevertheless, in whatever concerns our spiritual development and not our material world the society must obey the individual. Otherwise it will develop under the influence of great suffering.

The society has no possibility of becoming liberated from suffering, other than by accepting the law of submitting to the individual who will point the way and lead a huge society, as a huge mass of blind people who follow the only person who can see. Then they will really have a hope of arriving at an infallible and worthy goal.

"Thus you see that in spiritual matters the authority of the collective is overturned." That is, whereas before the majority had a right to subordinate the individual, now its obligation becomes to submit to the individual.

...the law of "Taking after the (developed) Individual" is applied. For it is plain to see, that the developed and the educated in every society, are always a small minority. It therefore turns out that the success and spiritual well-being of society is bottled and sealed in the hands of few.

Therefore the collective is obliged to watch meticulously the opinion of the few, that they will not perish from the world. For they must know for sure, with absolute certainty, that the more developed and true opinions, are never in the hands of the collective in authority."

What does he mean by saying: "the collective in authority"? This includes the government as well. The government is not individual people. The government is those people who are chosen by the masses, or those who answer to the demands of the masses. There are rarely individuals in government who have ideas, an Upper goal and who lead the masses.

Usually the ruler does not differ from his citizens, and he is not better but even worse than they. People become rulers only because they can manipulate the majority, that is, they understand the majority, indulge it and know how to use it. This means that they have an even greater egoism. That is why we are not talking about the head of the society, but about spiritually developed individuals who may be completely unknown and unnoticeable.

That is why Baal HaSulam says that obviously, the progressive and true ideas are not in the hands of the ruling majority, but in the hands of the weakest, the unnoticeable minority. Because all wisdom and truth comes into this world in insignificant amounts. That is why we are called on to protect the ideas of each individual, because the ability of the overwhelming majority to sort them out is very weak.

That is, the society must be organized in such a way as not to suppress the internal spiritual freedom of every person. Then there is a possibility that individuals will develop into a state when society will discover them among itself and strive after them. The society will be compelled to strive after them under the influence of suffering. At least the society will have someone to strive after, if it will not suppress these individuals.

If we notice the way in which Kabbalistic knowledge was passed on from generation to generation we will discover that there existed a so-called nation, which mechanically observed some commandments, had some religious attributes, traditions, and existed within specific boundaries. Within these boundaries it was clearly established that everyone must carry out specific and necessary laws.

These laws did not change over the course of centuries and thousands of years. The society was ruled by laws that were written thousands of years ago. Why was this done only for the Jewish people? - Because in this nation there were special individuals, Kabbalists, who had to develop individually from generation to generation, until the time came when they would become apparent to the society.

The carrying out of commandments and traditions in our world is necessary in order for individual freedom to not be suppressed. This is why the laws of earthly behavior were created. They are necessary for and exist only in order that the masses follow them, occupy themselves with this and inside all of this create the conditions for the individual to not be suppressed. This is all on the one hand.

On the other hand, this carrying out of commandments and traditions in our world is also necessary in order that the individual develop correctly in the direction of true spirituality. If the spiritual development was ruled by anarchy and arbitrariness then it would lead to the emergence of millions of various faiths and all kinds of paths into other directions.

The paths would be disordered and false, and there would be an absolute spiritual anarchy. The pressure from society on the spiritually developing individual is so selective and unique that it has always caused the correct spiritual development of Kabbalists.

On one hand, these laws of society's behavior provide a completely clear ritual to the masses of how to behave every day of their entire lives on the earth. In relation to this the law "the individual follows the majority" is in effect. It compels everyone to arrive at a homogenous mass that is unchanging along the course of all generations.

On the other hand, this mass is absolutely unchanging along the course of all generations. We are not talking about today. Right now we are in a specific phase of the passage to spiritual development. However, if we take, for instance, the Jewish mass of the 18th and 8th centuries we will see that there is no difference between them.

In both eras people read the same exact books and spoke the same holy language, Hebrew. I am not talking about its dialects: Yiddish, Ladino, etc. I am talking about the fact that for 1000 years nothing changed. As well as for 2000 years, nothing changed.

The mass still remained the same mass. People followed the same traditions and judged by the same laws. The relationships between people everywhere were regulated exactly the same way. Why was it necessary that it be done this way? Why did Kabbalists, the forefathers, introduce this to the masses?

This was done specifically in order to give individuals the opportunity to correctly break into the spiritual world. So that the masses correctly developed on the animal level and pressured Kabbalists to the exact degree necessary to give them the correct spiritual development and to limit various other, supposedly spiritual, freedoms.

This is the way in which the spiritual laws were created: following the majority and following the individual. In addition, they give the mass the opportunity to remain a mass and the individual the opportunity to develop. Now the next section.

Criticism Brings Success, the Lack of it Causes Degeneration

"We must further add, that reality offers to our eyes extreme contradiction between the physical matters, in the concepts and ideas regarding the above subject. For the matter of social unity, which can be a source of every joy and success, is practiced only between bodies, and bodily matters in people, and the separation between them is the source of every calamity and misfortune."

That is, if we wish to have a normal and healthy society then we must unify people together as tightly as possible.

In our world, if we bring people physically closer to each other, combine them, place them in one space, and organize meetings, then this arouses a feeling of community in people and ultimately heals their relationships with each other. That is, the closer we are physically to each other the, so-to-say, healthier we are on the physical level.

"But with matters of concepts and ideas, it is the complete opposite. That is to say, that because unity, the similarity of opinions and lack of criticism is deemed the source of all failure and the greatest obstacle to every progress and didactic fertilization. For drawing the right conclusions depends mainly on the multiplicity of disagreements and separation, between opinions. The more contradictions there are between opinions and the more criticism there is, the more the knowledge and wisdom increase and matters become more suitable for examination.

The degeneration and failure of intelligence stem only from the lack of criticism and disagreement. For it is plain to see that every basis for physical success is the measure of the unity of society, and the basis for the success of intelligence and knowledge, is the separation and disagreement among them."

This is the difference between, for example, totalitarian and democratic societies. Democratic society is ultimately much more capable of functioning and surviving, because it constantly finds itself in contradictions, parliamentary and societal debates, elections and referendums. It constantly finds new, more correct and more harmonious ideas. It can also make transitions into new phases of its development more calmly, obviously, on the earthly level or the level of the masses.

Whereas the totalitarian society, contrary to the law of following the majority, compels everyone to follow a single person or the minority. The society follows some leader or Fuhrer who is not a spiritual individual and thus acts in a direction opposite to the law according to which the individual must follow the society.

It turns out that under this kind of a regime, in the boundaries of this world, the majority follows the non-individual. That is, it acts in a completely different direction from the natural law, and this leads to great distortions.

For example, this is what happened in Russia, which became accustomed to compellingly following a non-spiritual leader. It became accustomed to this and the normal societal development became distorted to such an extent, that today that nation is not able to return to the normal and natural development.

That is why, no matter what is happening, such a country returns to an unnatural process. There is no leader and the mass does not know where to go; it does not understand that the power is in its hands and it must command the leaders where they must go. We read in the previous passage:

"It follows that the society must cherish individuals as the apple of the eye, in order that they do not vanish from the world i.e., the spiritual individuals, and society must follow them. Because they must know with total confidence and indubitable obviousness that the progressive and true ideas in this world are not in the hands of the ruling majority i.e., the government or a leader, but specifically in the hands of the weak and unnoticeable minority.

Thus, it is obvious that the basis for the physical success that is, on our earthly level, consists in the greatest possible unification of society." What does "in the unification" mean? This means in the existence of identical laws for everyone. That is why Kabbalists did everything this way for the society in which they had to develop.

"For drawing the right conclusions depends mainly on the multiplicity of disagreements and separation, between opinions" and intellect.

"It therefore turns out, that when mankind succeeds in the matter of success of the bodies, meaning by bringing them to the degree of complete love for the fellow man, all the bodies in the world will unite into a single body and a single heart." i.e., we will feel each other's needs and will feel the physical closeness to each other on our earthly level (as the article "The Peace" says about this) And only then will all the happiness intended for humanity will be revealed in all its glory."

How can we come to this? "But against that, we must be careful not to." Here he is talking about the level of complete perfection. He is talking about what would be if we would begin to develop it only within the boundaries of our world, without the spiritual ascent.

In this case, "But against that, we must be careful not to bring the opinions of people too close together, for that might terminate the disagreement and criticism from among the wise, for the love of the body bring with it the love of the mind."

We would have to be careful to make sure that spiritual development, that is, criticism and arguments, does not yield to physical closeness. "And should the criticism and disagreement vanish from the world, all progress in concepts and ideas will cease too, and the source of knowledge in the world will dry out.

That is the proof of the obligation to caution with the freedom of the individual regarding concepts and ideas." That is, even by some implication or through some extraneous paths, even by creating a comfortable coexistence on the physical level, you can still harm the rigid formation of a person as an individual with regard to his arguments, demands and disagreements.

Things must be done in such a way that good physical relationships will not harm the "bad" spiritual relationships between people, so that they would remain spiritually true to their ideas and defend them, despite the fact that they like to be personally and physically close to each other.

This is a very complex dependency, and that is why Kabbalists instilled such rigid laws into the nation. They did this in order that with their help there remained very small boundaries of freedom for those who wanted to spiritually grow as Kabbalists from this nation.

I will give an example. Let's suppose there is a box with soil in it, and seeds must grow out of this soil. A screen is placed above the box and there are only a few small holes in it. Only those shoots will grow that will be able to get into the holes.

The screen with a few holes: these are the limitations which society must place on everyone who wants to develop spiritually. That is, place such limitations on them that would make them grow directly towards the Creator.

That is why, on the one hand, the laws that Kabbalists instilled are intended for the society to observe them, to exist normally along the course of all history until its very end, or the current time, when the societal picture is beginning to change completely.

On the other hand, these laws were instilled in order to create such conditions in the society for the developing individuals that would enable them to develop only in one direction and that the society would exert a constant pressure on them.

It is difficult for me to explain the whole dependency between the individual and society and to explain how it was done by Kabbalists for their internal development. This was created many thousands of years before our time.

It is very difficult for us, who are outside of this society and outside of these boundaries (this society does not exist today even among religious Jews) to be able to understand the extent of the wisdom that created the conditions and the base for Kabbalists' development thousands of years before our time, ones that would really ensure the most optimal ascents in the future.

These boundaries no longer exist in our time. We can see this in the crisis of religious Judaism as well as in the crisis of Israel's society, which is in a state of absolute disorientation and a complete lack of understanding of the path of its development.

Religious masses completely lack leaders. There is nothing to follow and nowhere to go, there is a worshipping of the "golden calf" and no greater ideals exist. The Talmud said that "at the end of times the face of the generation will be like the snout of a dog" and it will remain like that until its fullest correction.

"That is the proof of the obligation to caution with the freedom of the individual regarding concepts and ideas. For the whole development of the wisdom is based on that freedom of the individual. Thus, we are cautioned to preserve it very carefully, in a way that each and every form within us, which we call the "individual", that is the particular force of a single person, generally named the "will to receive"".

We must become filled by this general desire and preserve every human property, if these desires and properties are used for the individuals' spiritual development.

This concludes our studying of the article "Freedom of Will" for today.

Now I would like to talk about the following. After our Congress I received letters from you, and the main question they contain comes down to one thing: how can we advance further most effectively by using the perceptions, knowledge, and energetic charge that we received from each other while being together in a common Kli, in our common lessons and in the awakening towards the highest goal.

How to preserve this? How to develop it further? This is a good question. It is dictated by the fear that what was received can disappear.

How good it is to be in the awareness of the fact that you are under the governance of upper laws, that you are following them, that you are developing in conjunction with them, and that in conjunction with them you pass into the Upper spheres. Ahead of you awaits eternity, perfection and all-knowing. This is wonderful. But how is it possible to constantly be in this spiritual elevation?

Baal HaSulam partially talks about this in his book "Pri Hacham". This is a collection of letters, and in one of them he gives a very interesting example of how the Creator advances a person.

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