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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

The Quality of the Wisdom of the Hidden in General

There are two parts in any understanding (recognition of reason). The first is in material elements, meaning the nature of the objects in the reality before us. The second is in the figurative elements devoid of those objects, meaning forms of mind and reason itself.

We shall call the first, “material learning,” which is empirical, and is called “physics” ... and we shall call the second one, “figurative learning,” which is theoretical, and is called “logic.”

Material Learning Is also Divided into Two, which Are Four

Sometimes we can minimize it into speaking of what is above nature. This is called “the wisdom of what is beyond nature,” meaning according to specific subjects of the superior mind.

There are four parts here:

1) Material learning from the part called, “Nature’s Law,” which is empirical;

2) Material learning from the part called, “Nature’s Law,” which is the wisdom of what is beyond nature;

3) Material learning from the part called, “ancient,” which is empirical and practical;

4) Material learning from the part called, “ancient,” which is only the wisdom of what is beyond nature.

Figurative Learning

Figurative learning is one whose predicate is the Upper One. In material learning, the predicates are the degrees called “worlds” and Partzufim.

And yet, it is empirical and practical. Clearly, the superior principle in the wisdom of the hidden does not become any clearer now because it requires complete study in and of itself, and I have already shown that it is the revelation of His Godliness to His creatures, as explained in the essay, “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah,” as I have elaborated there. Once you understand that, you will understand my explanation of the quality of the wisdom in general.

This Superior Principle Is Defined as One Unique, and Unified

One: It is obvious that the Upper One is one. He comprises the whole of reality, and all the times—past, present, and future—for one cannot give that which one does not have. Had the whole of reality and the existence of reality not been included in Him, they would not have emerged from Him, as is evident to scrutinizer, and without minding that we find corruptions in the manners of existence of reality.

Indeed, know that this is the study that the sages of the hidden call, “one.” The first to study it was Abraham the Patriarch. (This is explained in the Book of Creation and is therefore attributed to Abraham the Patriarch.) This means that there aren’t two authorities here—good and bad—but only good.

Unique: This indicates that He is still united and does not change because we feel the bad, not even in the relation between Him and His creations. For example, when a sick person comes to a physician to pull out a thorn, the physician who pulls it out hurts the patient. This is not considered that he has now changed and is doing harm. Rather, the physician and the patient, who loved one another before, are still loving even during the painful cutting. This is called “unique.”

Unified: This indicates that His attitude toward creation, as a Creator, is only to disclose His uniqueness, for all the pleasantness, all the wisdom, and all the Dvekut (Adhesion) are expressed in this unification.

Material Learning and Empiric One

Material learning is to know the approach of the whole of reality of people, and their manners of existence, and manners of their development, from the first cause through their arrival in this world, both from above downward and from below upward. The main thing to know about them is the cause and consequence that applies to them, for this is the picture of every wisdom, like nature’s law and the law of life.

Practical Learning

It is the nature of those degrees that one who attains finds in them tremendous pleasure and delight. This extends literally from one’s coming by the will of the Upper One, since the ways of His guidance over the existence of the world are by no more than two equal forces, where one who desires their work, draws them by enjoying during the work, and that pleasure compels them to it. When not wanting them to work, one repels them through suffering, when the creature suffers during the work and therefore leaves it.

This law is observed in full by animals and humans, as it serves the purpose. For this reason, its guidance becomes complicated and must change every single moment. Sometimes, the law is denied through the law of habit that becomes second nature for it.

The Nature of the Degrees

The nature of the degrees to the attaining is as the nature of animals. That is, the law of reward and punishment is observed strictly and inexorably, and even habit will not change it.

Two Parts to Material Studies

There are two parts to material studies: 1) reality; 2) their existence—the quantity and quality of their sustenance, and how they are attained: by whom and by what. For this reason, there is a very bitter taste in the spaces between each two degrees, and those who attain them loathe them vehemently. It is made and drawn upon them so they will not remain there in the middle, as is the case with simple animals. However, sometimes the attaining turn back when they remember the great delight that is there.

Klipa (Shell/Peel): No Turning Back in Spirituality

When they return, it is already a different degree, and is called Klipa (shell/peel) in relation to the initial degree.

Two Parts to Practical Learning

There are two parts to practical learning: the first sanctity; the second is Klipa. Sometimes, for some reason, sages, too, return to the place where there is the taste of a great delight in order to do something. However, they promptly leave it and resume their place. For this reason, the return is also called “sanctity.”

And yet, for the most part, only the cowardice and those of weak desire return there, wishing to avoid passing through the bitter path between the degrees, so they remain stuck there because they cannot rise to their aspired height.

The Manner of Work in the Names

The manner of work in the names is extension of much pleasantness. At that time one can draw that spirit in one’s friend, as well, who is very inspired. By that he can heal him or command him and force him to do his will.

2. Practical Kabbalah

The Loss in Every Proliferation

We have explained above, concerning practical learning, that the Creator compels the creature through the light of pleasure in the work that dresses in him. What the Creator does not want, He prevents through the light of suffering that dresses in him. This is the meaning of the loss in every proliferation. “The more possessions, the more worry,” etc., since there is a limit to every will of the Creator, as He desires many works up the ladder of development. Were there no limit to every pleasure, the creature would have become immersed in one work for the rest of one’s life, and would not have climbed up the degrees. For this reason, Providence limits him by pain that results from any excessive pleasure.

Beastly Repayment and Human Repayment

There is immediate pleasure, in which there is no issue of hope, but is rather repaid instantaneously, and then there is remote, anticipated pleasure, whose repayment is aspired for at a later date. The former is called “Sensual Repayment,” and the second is the “Intellectual” one. The first applies to all living beings, and its conduct is sustainable and undisrupted. The latter is suitable only for the scrutinizing human, and the ways are disrupted. It is so because since its repayment is delayed, he becomes suitable for disruptions and preventions that confuse him in his work.

The Power of Payment Is the Power of Reward

Conscious repayment, sensual repayment: These are human repayment and beastly repayment, which are the two forces of Providence, by which animals do the tasks they are assigned by His Providence.

The Standard for the Sages

Indeed, there are many degrees in the human species itself, for it is measured by the sense of development of each one, and by the measure of one’s retreat from the beastly world and into the human world. When one is insufficiently developed, one cannot wait for the payment very long, and chooses works with instantaneous reward, even if for a lower price. A more developed person might wait and choose works that pay better, even if the payment comes after a very long time. Know that this is the standard for the sages, for it depends on the material development of each one, and anyone who can prolong the repayment can get a bigger reward.

What Is Development?

Therefore, you will see that the majority of the learned ones, as soon as they have completed their learning and can enjoy the fruits of their work, they abandon the study and go out to trade with the people and be rewarded. But the minority, restrain themselves and continue to learn, each according to one’s own talents. It is so because they want to receive a greater reward, such as to be among the greatest in the generation or innovators. Naturally, after some time their peers become very jealous of them.

The Power of the Goal

Know that this is the standard for development of the generations, meaning the power to restrain and prolong the time of repayment, and choose the higher sum. For this reason, in those generations great innovators proliferated because in our generations there are more with this kind of talent. Their exertion is immeasurable because their sense of restraining is highly developed, both for prolonging the time, and for exerting.

Returning Power or “Causal Power”

There is no movement among all the animals that is not repaid. It is called the “Power of the Goal,” and the degrees are evaluated only according to the sensation of the reward, meaning by development. The more one is developed, the more one senses. Hence, the power of the goal acts in such a person to a greater extent, and can significantly increase and enhance one’s effort.

The second one is the above-stated, meaning the “power of anticipation for the time of repayment.” That causal power is evaluated by two: the first is the sense of the price. That sensation is the sum of the price, where one who is more sensitive is also more expensive and the causal power is increased.

The second is the power to wait for a later time, for even a higher price requires having a more developed body, which can sense the remoteness. Also, any development that unfolds in the human species is only those two abovementioned sensations: the sensation of price, and the sensation of remoteness, and the measure of wisdom rises through them to its apex.

Practical Kabbalah

Know that the governance of the abovementioned sensations are sensed primarily in those who attain, since the pleasantness of each degree is so great, and its reward is always near, so one has no reason to be in pain and climb to a higher degree.

The Spirit of Pleasure and Intellectual Pleasure

Moreover, there are spirit and wisdom here, and they are one. But in regard to the receiver, who consists of body and mind, they are sensed as two forces: the body has a calm spirit, and the mind has great intellect. For this reason, the body must lose of its spirit when it rises to receive knowledge and reason.

3. The Essence of Mystery and Its Departments

Below, I wish to give the reader a clear understanding of the prohibition to use practical Kabbalah, as well as witchcraft and forms of prevalent esotericism, in order to provide a sound basis from which to extend scientific research.

In our time, many scholars have delved over this issue, exerting to lay a scientific, empiric basis under this matter. Indeed, they have given it much thought. To the best of my knowledge, they have not found any scientific basis that is worth consideration due to their lack of knowledge concerning the origin of this esotericism, which the human mind cannot reach.

What has brought me to touch upon that topic is that I saw the ignorance of the masses as far as discerning such matters, causing them to mix together various forms of esotericism. For this reason I have now come to show the origin and foundation of this type of esotericism.

I have already explained in part one [here] that there are three parts in the wisdom of the hidden, being material, figurative, and practical learning. In the third part, called “practical learning,” I explained how practical Kabbalists work not according to nature, since they have retreated to the initial degrees where there are plentiful pleasantness and sweetness. For this reason, their vital spirit significantly increases, such as you see among ordinary people, whose strong will power activates the ones whose desire is weaker, forcing them to act as they wish, and without any thinking or understanding, or any benefit for themselves, they follow and obey their every wish.

Similarly, when one who has attained exerts to attain those degrees that yield great vitality and spirit, they can activate it in their friends to a certain extent, as well. It is so because the nature of the spiritual is as the nature of the fish at sea, where the big swallows the small when it thinks of it. And here, only thought acts, and the rest is indeed not thought but desire and spirit, since a thought does not move even the thinker himself, so how will it move another? Instead, the desire receives and is depicted according to the image of that thought of the one with the bigger desire, and acts in the smaller one. Psychologists define it as “power of thought,” but it is a mistake because it is a desire and not a thought.

Also, know that this active power is so mighty that it can induce imaginations in one’s friend to the exact same extent that every person has the power to imagine in one’s own mind. And as far as dominion, it is much more powerful than the one who imagines in one’s own mind. It is so because one who depicts by himself has the power of intellectual critique opposite the imagination. If it denies that imagination, that imagination is weakened and cannot work at all.

This is not so when one is activated by another. At that time, one is in a state of anarchy, without any work of one’s machine, called “the brain.” For this reason, there will never be any criticism, but the imagination he has obtained from the other works in him as though he had long ago agreed to it wholeheartedly, and above any criticism, as though it is a type of prejudice.

Moreover, one can clothe and suck the spirit of one’s friend inside until he feels his feelings—to an extent—and even his memories, and can contemplate them and determine which of them is desirable and notify him. This is why it is written that they “deny the household of above,” for although only the foul ones have come to them, they remain and use them permanently, and intensify their vital spirit more than genuine sages.

Three Thirds in the Concealment of the Wisdom

There are three thirds in the concealment of the wisdom of truth. The first is the unnecessary; the second is the impossible; and the third is “The glory of God is in the concealment of a matter.” I will clarify them one at a time.

The First Third: Unnecessary

This part has no loss in it at all, of course, except for the matter of cleanness of the mind, since we find that triviality is the most harmful saboteur. All the destructors the world are “triviality” people, meaning contemplate trivial matters and announce trivial announcements. This is why we do not accept a disciple before he has sworn to remove himself from these saboteurs.

Second Third: Impossible

This part, of course, requires no oath. However, because it is possible to disclose it by mistaken words, and to take pride in it in the eyes of the masses, it is included in the oath, as well.

Third Third: The Glory of God Is in the Concealment of a Matter

This part is the gravest in the concealment, for it has caused many casualties. Know that all the sorcerers that ever were, and all the cunning ones, come only from such disclosures, where immature disciples erred in the matters and went out to teach anyone they came across, without considering if they were fit for it. They went out and used the wisdom for human purposes—for lust and honor—and they have taken the sanctities of the Lord to secularism and to the street. This is what is called “practical Kabbalah.”

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