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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

82. All Worlds

All the worlds with their numerous levels exist only with regard to the souls that receive the light from them. There is a rule, “That which is not attained cannot be named”, because a name constitutes attainment. Hence, all the names, designations, and numbers are defined only relative to those who receive (attain) them.

The Kabbalists distinguish three main categories:

  1. The Creator’s essence (Atzmuto), which we avoid discussing because it is utterly unattainable. The point where we begin our research is called the “Thought of Creation”. At this stage we only exist potentially, in the Creator’s thought, before He started acting. “The final result is embedded in the initial thought”, because the desire to achieve the result necessitates the action.

  2. The thought of creation called the “World of Infinity” (Ein Sof) is a connection between the Atzmuto and the souls in the form of His “will to bestow delight upon the creatures (souls)”. We attain nothing but this connection; hence we cannot discuss anything else.

  3. The worlds Adam Kadmon and Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya.

Since everything we distinguish and attain in the worlds exists only with regard to the souls, we cannot say anything about the worlds per se. Therefore in themselves they are totally incomprehensible and refer to the Atzmuto. The souls are sustained by the worlds. The worlds are defined by the souls only in the form in which they apprehend them.

When we talk about the Upper Light, we simultaneously imply two categories, the receiver and the received as one, i.e. the way the receiver feels the received. But in itself each one of them is not included in the definition of Infinity: that which is attained is called the Atzmuto, whereas the one who attains is called the soul, meaning the desire to be filled with pleasure that was “created from nothingness”.

All the worlds in themselves are defined as a simple invariable unity. It is said, “I, the Creator, never change”, meaning that there are no changes, parts or Sefirot in the Creator Himself. Everything we give a name pertains not to the Atzmuto, but to the souls that apprehend the Upper Light.

The Creator wishes us to grasp and understand the delight that emanates from Him as “His desire to please the created beings”. Therefore He gave us such senses that can distinguish numerous sensations in the perceived Upper Light. Our commonly shared sense organ is called the “desire to receive pleasure”. We distinguish many different parts and nuances, rises and falls in the received light.

From the point where desire becomes conscious, the person acquires the ability to describe what he perceives. This already constitutes the relationship between the Upper Light and the desire, the Ohr and the Kli. There can be no perception of the light outside the Kli because without the attaining vessel the light still refers to the Creator’s essence, the Atzmuto, of which it is forbidden to talk due to its inscrutability. So how can we talk about something we cannot attain?

As a consequence, when the spiritual Light and the Kli are still in the thought, this state is called the World of Infinity. Prior to the Tzimtzum Aleph (First Restriction) this state is referred to as the root, the potential thought destined to be realized in action.

Between the Tzimtzum Aleph (TA) and the World of Assiya there exist many worlds and parts that were in the thought prior to the TA. Further on, the person attains them and really feels all this multitude of parts and actions.

When we say that the Creator helps, cures, delivers us from evil, or sends us gifts, we imply the two following categories:

  1. The Creator, defined as the Atzmuto of which it is forbidden to speak because He is unattainable; and

  2. The light emanating from Him that spreads to the creatures and fills our Kli, our will to receive pleasure. This is called Infinity, the Creator’s desire to bestow pleasure upon man, the contact between them. The will to bestow is defined as the light emanating from the Creator which reaches the will to receive, i.e., the recipient of the spreading light.

This light called Infinity finds its way to the receiving Kli through many concealing filters that diminish the power of the light and enable the Kli to receive it. Therefore, all attainments and changes occur only in the recipient of the light, i.e., to the extent of his ability to feel the received (redemption).

All the numerous names and definitions pertaining to the worlds are given only in accordance with the person’s perception. In themselves, they are defined as “potentially existing”, and only in the sensations of the light’s recipients are they felt as real.

That which attains and the attained appear simultaneously. Indeed, the attained can assume its form only relative to the one that attains. It is impossible to tell what form the attained has prior to its manifestation in the sensations of the attaining one. So if one can neither apprehend the Atzmuto nor feel “it”, then how can we say anything about the phenomenon per se and about the forms that it assumes outside our perception?

Therefore, we can about our sensations and how much we are affected by the light that spreads in them. In this way, a table is perceived as solid in our tactile sensation, or as having certain dimensions in our visual perception. This does not mean in the least that the same table will be perceived similarly by some other creature with different sense organs, for example, by an angel. Its perception of a table will certainly be different from ours. We cannot possibly know what a table looks like in the angel’s sensations because we have no idea about its sense organs.

Hence, just as we cannot attain the Creator’s essence, so too are we unable to speak about the form of the worlds as regards the Creator. We are the only ones who attain the Upper Worlds in our sensations because such is His wish.

It is said that the attainment of light is possible only through the changes it makes in the Kli, i.e., in our senses. We measure and estimate everything only with regard to our sense organs.

So if many people are looking at the same spiritual object, each one of them perceives it in his own way. If this spiritual object changes regarding someone, this happens only due to the change in the person’s state. Consequently, every time he perceives a different form of the same object. This is because the light is simple and formless, whereas all forms are determined by the person’s perception.

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