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The Profit of a Land

Based on the article of Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) Shamati, No. 34
Lesson of April 1, 2003
Lecturer: Michael Laitman, PhD

Today we will study another article from the book of Shamati (What I Heard). This is what my teacher heard from Baal HaSulam, his father. The Shamati contains fundamental articles that describe how one can enter the Upper world. This book sets forth our main work – what we have to do with ourselves in order to ascend to the Upper world.

Shamati No. 34 “The Profit of a Land”

“It is known that nothing appears in its true form, only through its opposite, “as far as light excelleth darkness.” Because we are created as opposite to the Creator, we have the will to receive while He has the will to bestow; we are a Kli, while He is the light, then everything that can be revealed in us is revealed in a contrast between our and His properties.

This is why Baal HaSulam says: “This means that everything [by itself] points [also] to another, and by the opposite of some thing, the existence of its opposite [of the thing itself] can be perceived. Hence, it is impossible to attain something in complete clarity if its parallel is absent. For example: it is impossible to estimate and say that something is good, if [beforehand] its opposite is missing, pointing to the bad. It is the same with bitterness and sweetness, love and hate, hunger and satiation, thirst and saturation, adhesion and separation.” Meaning, everything that we attain, we originally attain from its opposite property.

“It turns out, that it is impossible to come to love’s adhesion prior to acquiring the hate of separation.” Meaning, we first have to build a desire in ourselves, a Kli, and only from within will we be able to rise and attain that which is true and genuine. And to the measure that we attain our Kli, we also attain the fulfillment, its opposite. Meaning, by the depth, vividness of the Kli (deficiency) we can always predict the attainment, the strength of the light that would overflow the Kli.

“To come to hate separation [if we have to come to adhesion we first have to come to hate separation] one must first know what separation is, meaning what he is separated from…” That is, one is unable to feel an opposite property (one cannot build a Kli) without feeling fulfillment, the Creator. It follows that in either case I have to feel the Creator, I feel Him both building the Kli and also later, filling the Kli. But neither of them can be built without sensing an opposite, the Creator who stands and exists before me.

“…and then one may say that he wants to correct that separation [if he comes to hate the separation]. In other words, one should examine from what and from whom he is separated, and after that he can try to amend it and connect himself to the one he is separated from.” Therefore always, on every degree we collapse, feel bad, find ourselves in a state of estrangement, experience a lack of understanding, and have a total absence of orientation. This is a beginning of the attainment of darkness and contrast. Afterwards, in accordance to it, we experience the attainment of light, fulfillment and adhesion.

“… and after that he [a person] can try to amend it … [if he connects himself to the one he is separated from.]. If, for example, one understands that he will benefit from joining Him, then he can assume and know what one loses by remaining separated.” Meaning, building a Kli (the deficiency itself) also has to happen in certain light of the Creator. I have to understand what I lack or how bad my condition is. That is, I do not attain the Creator as existing inside of me, rather I attain Him as separated from me. However, one attains this separation, and this is why we call a Kli a reverse side of the light.

“Gain and loss are measured [always by us] according to the pleasure and the suffering. [because a person suffers. From what does he suffer?] One stays away from something that causes one to suffer, and hates it. The measure of the distance [from suffering] depends on the measurement of the suffering since it is man's nature [since we are created as desiring to enjoy] to escape from suffering.

Meaning, to the measure that I perceive a certain object as harmful; to that measure I distance myself from it. This resembles a piece of iron in a magnetic field, the closer it gets to it, the farther away it pushes itself off, always reaching a certain state of balance where it feels somewhat secure, farther away from the harmful, farther away from the suffering.

This way we see that “…the torments cause hate for that thing that induces torments, and to that extent one stays far from it. [from that thing]

It follows, that one should know what is equivalence of form in order to know what he must do to reach adhesion, called equivalence of form. By that he will come to know what disparity of form and separation is.” Meaning, even in order to know beforehand what a disparity is – how I differ from Him, what separation is – from Whom am I separated, I nevertheless need to somehow feel the Creator.

What do we want to say by this? From the very beginning, building a Kli obliges us to somehow feel the light, even if to correctly understand that we suffer from the absence of something right, the Creator in particular, and not of anything else.

“It is known from books and from authors that the Creator is benevolent, meaning that His guidance appears to the lower ones [to Kabbalists] as benevolence...” Since we haven’t reached this level yet, we do not feel, do not attain His providence, and can only believe them, and nothing more.

“Therefore, when one examines the comportment of the world and begins to examine himself or others, and how they suffer under providence instead of delighting, [we always see that our entire world is full of suffering, completely opposite to it] as is fitting for His name, which is benevolent, it is then hard for him to say that providence is benevolent and imparts abundance.”

We are not capable of saying or believing in this.

“However, we must know [for what purpose, in general, is this created] that in that situation, when we cannot say that the Creator imparts only good, we are considered wicked [because we accuse the Creator for governing incorrectly] because suffering makes us condemn our Maker.”

Meaning, whenever one feels that he is suffering, this is not his fault. The Creator sends him this, this is his degree. However, in such a case he automatically (without any need to admit it to oneself, or engage in self-analysis), just by feeling suffering condemns the Creator.

“Only when we see that the Creator imparts pleasure [in this case] do we justify the Creator…” and thus are called “righteous.”

“Thus, when one suffers one draws far off from the Creator since he naturally becomes hateful of Him who imparts him torments.” Meaning, any feeling of suffering is tantamount to saying to the Creator that you hate Him. “Consequently, where one should have loved the Creator he now becomes the opposite, for he has come to hate the Creator.” And this feeling is evoked in us by the Creator Himself. What for? In order to create in us contrast feelings.

“Accordingly, what should one do in order to come to love the Creator? For that purpose we are granted the remedy of engaging in Kabbalah and the Lighting it [while we engage in it, Orh Makif (the surrounding light) that shines from afar descends upon us and] reforms.” That is, it corrects our properties. In them, we start feeling the Creator’s providence as it is – benevolent, and, naturally, we start loving Him.

“There is Light there, which lets one feel the severity of the state of separation, and slowly, as one intends to acquire the Light of the Torah, hatred for the separation is created in him. He begins to feel the reason that causes him and his soul to be separated and far from the Creator.”

Wherein lies the problem? We experience suffering. And now, we need to clearly find out: what is the reason for this suffering? One can say, “the Creator” because He creates this situation. Naturally, this situation is created by Him. If one has a correct attitude toward Kabbalah, that is, if a person sees correction as a goal of his study, if he wants to find out what is really happening with him, he gradually begins to feel that the problem is not the Creator who emanates absolutely good governance. The problem lies within himself, in his own properties.

And then, instead of hating the Creator as the One Who sends him suffering, he begins to hate his properties (his egoism). That is, instead of a feeling pleasure as a result of what the Creator sends him, it evokes bad feelings in him. However, in order to start feeling this correctly, a person should start studying and do it correctly.

“One must believe that His guidance is benevolent, but since one is immersed in self-love, it induces disparity of form in him… [and therefore he suffers] The inability to receive the delight and pleasure that the Creator wants to give [but feels completely the opposite]. For example, a mother who wants to give a child something very tasty and good, but a child for some reason (he is ill or something is happening with him) is unable to accept it, cannot feel that it is good or nice, and thus rejects it.

So, when a person feels “The inability to receive the delight and pleasure that the Creator [is actually sending him], evokes in the receiver hate for separation...” Meaning, for his own properties that separate him and do not let him correctly feel the Creator’s providence.

In other words, feeling providence, feeling oneself in a comfortable and perfect condition in the universe or in suffering depends only on our inner properties, on our preparation, and nothing more. Kabbalah tells about it very simply: “We exist in the ocean of the Upper light, and the way we feel this light depends on our Kli.”

“In consequence, every form points to the other form. Thus, all the descents where one feels that he has come to separation are an opportunity to discern between something and its opposite. In other words, one should learn from the descents of the benefits of the ascents…”

We feel darkness, disorder, suffering, no interest in anything at all, removal from the study and the Creator, these are all unpleasant sensations to us. Particularly because they are also unpleasant to us and evoke suffering in egoism, we receive help from the Creator. That is, we start hating the separation from Him and aspire for the adhesion with Him.

“In other words, one should learn from the descents of the benefits of the ascents, or he will not be able to assess the importance of being drawn near from above, and the ascents that he is given. He would not be able to extract the importance that he could extract, as when one is given food without ever having felt hunger.

It turns out that the descents, which are the times of separation, produce the importance of the adhesion in the ascents while the ascents make him hate the descents that the separation causes him. In other words, he cannot assess how bad the descents are…”

Meaning, alternate contrasting transitions, such as descent-ascent, separation-adhesion, suffering-pleasure begin to produce in a person a correct relation to the Creator.

“Thus, it follows that precisely when one has both [opposite] forms that he can discern the distance between one and the other, “as far as Light excelleth darkness.” Only then can one assess and regard the matter of the adhesion by which the delight and pleasure in the thought of creation can be acquired, being “His desire to do good to His creations.” Everything that appears to our eyes is but what the Creator wants us to attain the way He does; these are ways to complete the goal.”

That is, the Creator has no other choice but to teach us to correctly relate and evaluate each property and state. He does this by giving us such alternate states that contrast in importance, sensation, and some purely physical parameters so that we ourselves begin to heap up these states within ourselves. Adhesion with the Creator is felt positively, and by contrast separation is felt negatively. Egoistic properties are the reason of negative sensations. Altruistic intentions are the reason for positive sensations. That is, in this way I am being taught as a little child, what is good and what is bad.

“Yet, it is not so simple to acquire adhesion with the Creator. It requires great effort and exertion to acquire the sensation and feeling of delight and pleasure. [that emanate from Him] Before that, one must justify providence, believe above reason that the Creator behaves in goodness with the creature and say, “They have eyes and see not.”

Meaning, despite of the fact that the Creator acts upon us with absolute good, those who are before the Machsom feel His influence negatively. Those who are beyond the Machsom feel His influence positively. And a person who is before the Machsom has no way of justifying the actions of the Creator. Much as after the Machsom, he has no way of claiming that the Creator is not good and does not wish him good. That is, we are an absolute function and consequence of what we feel.

“Our sages say, “Habakkuk[a prophet] came and ascribed them to one [principle that a person should stand on]:‘The righteous shall live by his faith.’” It means that one need not engage oneself in details…” By the way, people often ask me in private letters: “Tell me, what should I do?” So look at what he says: “…one need not engage oneself in details [that is, engage in this, then that, to somehow always jump from one thing to another] but concentrate his entire work on a single point, a rule, which is faith in the Creator. He should pray for the Creator to help him become capable of advancing with faith above reason.” That is, faith above sensation. So that even in the state in which he exists now – in the state of concealment and sensing the darkness, suffering, he would nevertheless had this goal, faith. “There is power in the faith, that when one comes to hate the separation it is considered that faith indirectly makes him hate the separation.

We see that there is a great difference between faith, vision, and knowledge. Something that can be seen and known, if the mind necessitates that it is good to do that thing and decides on that once, that decision is enough regarding that thing that he decided on.In other words, he executes in the form that he decided. This is so because the mind accompanies him in every single act so as not to break what the mind tells him…”

What does Baal HaSulam want to say? If I once did something and received a certain result that is clear, and as I feel useful to me, then I know exactly what to do the next time when I come across similar circumstances. That is, reason already leads me directly toward that action.

“However, faith is a matter of potential agreement. In other words, he overpowers the mind and says that it is indeed worthwhile to work as much as faith necessitates to work above reason. Hence, faith above reason is useful only during the act, when he believes.” What does “when he believes” mean? It is when he has power to act above reason.

What does this mean? Let us say, I have a certain egoism, and I acquired faith, meaning a power that helps me to act despite of my egoism. This faith as if lies on top of that egoism, it is above it, it restrains it and gives me strength to act despite of it. However, it is only despite of egoism that it exists right now. If egoism increases, uncovers itself in me, my previous faith, my previous power to go against egoism will not suffice, I will have to acquire greater faith.

Faith is a property of Bina to go against Malchut, against the will to receive. The will to bestow, to be above egoism is called faith. It follows that each time Malchut grows in me, desires increase more and more, and I, accordingly, have to acquire an increasingly greater corrections for them, which amounts to acquiring the property of Bina.

“We see the difference that exists between what the mind necessitates and what only faith necessitates and what is the reason that when something is based on faith we must first remember the form of the faith, otherwise he falls from his degree into a state of wickedness. These states might happen even in a single day...

We must know that the reason for the forgetfulness of faith stems from the fact that faith above reason is against all the desires of the body [egoistic desires].” If these desires increase, faith simply vanishes, faith means nothing already. This constant struggle between what a person receives from above (the properties to go against egoism) and egoism ultimately calls forth hate of egoism, “hate the separation from the Creator…

Now we can see that all the torments that exist in the world are but a preparation [in our world – just preparation] for the real torments…” Suffering in our world until the Machsom, and suffering after the Machsom. What suffering is there after the Machsom? Suffering from separation, suffering that a person does not give enough, that is, that there is little of the property of Bina in him. “…and these are the torments that the Creator accepts.” This is when “…one does not ask for help for his own vessels of reception…”

Unwillingly, we constantly ask only for this without controlling ourselves. Feeling uncomfortable in the world, not being completely fulfilled by anything at all, at all of our levels, these are all sensations of deficiencies. The unfulfilled Kli rise to the Creator automatically because the source of these desires as well as the source of their fulfillment is in Him.

Therefore, a person willingly or not, constantly prays with the Creator. That is, our desires unwillingly within us still rise towards Him. These desires can come either from egoistical suffering, or from altruistic suffering. This already depends on us. Our entire task is to begin controlling our prayers and our desires that the Creator feels.

And this is the difference in what one asks for: a simple fulfillment or “…One asks for faith, for the Creator to give him strength to overcome and acquire equivalence of form…”

Our task is to transform one’s inner desires so that instead of filling oneself, one would acquire equivalence of form with the Creator. We have to make this switch in ourselves. But how much strength and ability do we possess? This is accomplished through a light, gradually approaching a person during the study.

“It turns out that the suffering he feels is because he slanders providence.” And when a person begins to understand this, he comes to hate his egoistical desires and asks for the Creator to correct his intentions. “Therefore, when he practices Kabbalahhe wants to draw the Light of God not for himself, but since he cannot bear not being able to justify His providence, which is in benevolence.” In this state he attracts upon himself the Upper light and gradually receives the properties of Bina. “…and when he feels this suffering [for coming closer, acquiring equivalence of form] the Creator hears his prayer and brings him near Him.”

Meaning, everything is built on contrast. Before any good state there is its opposite, evil one. Only good and evil have a different quality.

Today if evil for me is not being satiated by all egoistic pleasures that I envision, while good for me is receiving them and filling oneself, then on the other, higher degrees my desires gradually transform into more and more spiritual ones. That is, torments remain, but they turn into suffering of love, I lack love, I love connection, I lack similarity. And naturally, to this measure, my demands are being gradually answered.

In any case everything is built on contrasts. There is not a state in the spiritual that a person achieved without first finding oneself in a completely opposite state of total removal, disarray, confusion, hopelessness, conviction that he can never achieve this. However, he rises from this particular state.

Therefore we too in a group by no means should think that we can progress only through good states, by treating each other well. On the contrary, we will always have clarifications, arguments. It will always seem to us that we hate each other, have some claims to each other, we will go through the states of envy and jealousy. All this is good because particularly out of these contradicting states we begin to feel how badly we need to be different.

And without such 'breakings' (Mashber, ‘breaking’ in Hebrew), nothing will happen.

Therefore the profit of a land (‘land’ is the will to enjoy) is that it shows us all contradictions, all of its sores. From them, we can grasp opposite properties, opposite characteristics, opposite states, and start seeing approximately what a connection, an intimacy, and the adhesion with the Creator really means and what it can give me. Particularly darkness by itself as it shows me all advantages of light.

The Book of the Zohar tells us that Rabbi Shimon, before reaching the Final Correction (Gmar Tikkun) felt himself as Shimon, selling goods at a market.

What is in a head of a person who sells things on a market? He thinks only about selling what he had brought to the market from his field or his cattle and earn the sustenance to feed his family. Then he goes to a market again, sell, and spend it on food. Meaning, he does not rise above the level of the animals with which he works and lives with.

The story tells that such a great Kabbalist after having traveled the entire path, falling on each degree, fell to the animate level, called in Kabbalah "Shimon on a market" (Shimon min a-Shuk). Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai before his ascent was in such a great descent.

The same goes for every one of us. Thus, even if we need to fear downfalls, it is just because fear is already a correction, this is already good. We have to understand and to always remember that downfalls are necessary, although despite this, by no circumstance one should enjoy this. If a person begins to enjoy downfalls, if he likes to "eat himself" and suffer that he is removed from the Creator, this is an impure force. These are horrible states and they absolutely distance one from the Creator.

Instead of enduring a state of downfall, we should try to come out of it as soon as possible. There is nothing useful in this state to remain in it a moment longer, than a moment when we realized that we had fallen. However, all these downfalls ultimately lead to their opposite.

The same takes place in a group. Suddenly, we feel totally estranged, opposite, as if completely not fit with each other. All of a sudden we begin to see that we do not have and never had a group, that it was all just an illusion. This is all true and good, it is revealed particularly for us to move forward in our closeness and strengthening our connection with each other.

That is, feelings and manifestations of negative properties are always a springboard for their correction and attainment of the opposite, receiving strength for correction and acquiring positive properties.

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