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Michael Laitman, PhD

Chapter 7. From the Afterword to the Zohar

Kabbalah explains that the correct, consistent observance of spiritual laws leads to adhesion with the Creator. Yet, what does the word “adhesion” mean? Indeed, because of the limits of time, a three-dimensional space, and bodily desires, our thoughts cannot grasp the Creator. Therefore, as long our thoughts are bound by these limits, we cannot be objective.

As we transcend our egos, the will to receive and the definitions of time, space, and motion change. They acquire a spiritual dimension. In that state, we control our will to receive and are not governed by it. Therefore, our thoughts do not depend on the will to receive, and hence are objective.

As a result, Kabbalah offers the attainment of equivalence of properties and actions with the Creator as a means of nearing Him. It says: merge with His actions; be as kind, caring, and as humble as He. Yet, how can one be sure that the Creator’s actions and the Creator Himself are the same? Moreover, why should I merge with Him by imitating His actions?

In the material world, we imagine merging, or adhesion, as shortening the distance between bodies, and understand separation as moving away from one another. However, the spiritual realm lacks such concepts as time, space, and motion. This is why the equivalence of properties between two spiritual objects draws them closer to one another, and the difference in properties moves them apart. There can be no adhesion or separation (in contrast to the adhesion or separation in space) because the spiritual object itself takes no place.

Just as an axe divides a physical object, the appearance of a new property in a spiritual object divides it into two parts. That is, if the difference in properties is insignificant, then the spiritual objects are close to one another. The bigger the distinction between their properties, the more remote they are from one another. If they love each other, they are spiritually “close,” and the distance between their corporeal shells is unimportant. The relationship between them is determined by their spiritual affinity.

If one likes something that is disliked by another, the distance between them depends on the difference in their views and sensations. They are considered completely opposite if one of them likes everything the other hates.

Thus, we see that in the spiritual world (the world of desires), similarity or difference in aspirations, desires, ideas, and properties plays the role of an axe, dividing the spiritual into parts. The distance between spiritual objects is determined by the extent of incongruence between their sensations and properties.

Therefore, by following the Creator’s will, feelings, and thoughts, we approach Him. Since the Creator acts only for the sake of His created beings, we, too, have to wish our fellow beings well and be good to all of them. Since we exist in the material world, the necessary minimum for the existence of the body is not considered a manifestation of egoism.

Can we do good to others with absolute selflessness? After all, the Creator created us as absolute egoists, possessing a will to enjoy. We cannot transform our nature, and even by being good to each other, we will consciously or subconsciously try to derive benefit for ourselves. Unless we see any self-profit, we are unable to make even the slightest movement for the sake of another.

Indeed, people are powerless to change their nature of absolute egoism, let alone transform it into something completely opposite (being good without receiving honor, rest, fame, health, or money in return). This is why the method of observing the spiritual laws through Kabbalah was given. There is no other means by which our nature can be changed.

The body and its organs make a single whole and constantly exchange sensations and information. For example, if the body feels that one of its parts can improve the general condition of the whole body, that particular part immediately feels it and fulfills this will. In case some body part suffers, the whole body instantly knows about it and tries to improve the situation.

From this example, one can understand man’s state, or rather, the state of the soul that attains unity with the Creator. Before dressing in the body, the soul is seemingly a single whole with the Creator. However, once dressed in the body, it completely separates itself from Him due to the difference between the properties of the Creator and those of the body.

This means that by imparting the sensation of egoism to the soul, the Creator created something else besides Himself, because different desires separate objects in the spiritual world. Therefore, the object (the soul) and the egoism (the body) become separate parts. Similarly, man is remote from the Creator, like an organ that was cut off from the body. They are so distant from each other that man does not feel the Creator at all. Indeed, the distance is so great that he can only believe in Him, not know Him.

Hence, if we attain unity with the Creator by making our properties equivalent to His (i.e., by observing the spiritual laws and transforming egoism, which separates us from the Creator, into altruism), we attain His thoughts and desires. We also reveal the secrets of Kabbalah, as the Creator’s thoughts are the secrets of the universe!

There are two parts to Kabbalah: revealed and hidden. Both constitute the Creator’s thoughts. Kabbalah is like a rope thrown from above to a drowning person in a sea of egoism. By observing spiritual laws, a person prepares for the second, main stage when the one who observes and the one who obliges spiritually merge.

Those who observe spiritual rules go through five levels: Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Haya, and Yechida. Each level consists of five sub-levels, which are then divided into five additional sub-levels. In all, the ladder of spiritual ascent, or closeness to the Creator, consists of 125 steps. The five main steps of this ladder are called “worlds.” Their sub-levels are called Partzufim, which consist of Sefirot.

All that exists in a certain spiritual world perceives the objects in that world and below it. However, they cannot even imagine or feel anything from a higher world. Therefore, one who reaches one of the 125 levels attains all the souls that exist there from the past, present, and future generations and remains there with them. We, who exist only in our world, are unable to imagine or feel anything existing at other levels or other worlds, including those that populate them.

Kabbalists that reach a certain level on their path to the Creator can describe that level with expressions that only people who attained it can understand. Those who have not attained the described level can be confused by such descriptions and be led away from the correct understanding.

As was said above, our path to the Creator is divided into 125 levels/degrees, but one cannot ascend all of them prior to completing one’s correction. There are two distinctions between all the generations and the last, completely corrected one:

  1. Only in the last generation will it be possible to attain all 125 levels.

  2. In past generations, only a few people could attain the other worlds. In the last generation, everyone will be able to ascend through the spiritual levels and merge with the Creator.

The term “last generation” refers to all human generations from 1995 onward because, according to The Book of Zohar, that was the time when humankind entered a new phase – that of The Final Correction. In Kabbalah, this period is also called the “time of deliverance,” when humanity is destined to come out of the lowest state.

Rashbi and his disciples ascended all 125 levels. This is why they were able to write The Book of Zohar, which encompasses all 125 levels of the worlds. It is therefore said in The Zohar that the book will be revealed only at “the end of days,” meaning on the eve of the end of correction. Other generations couldn’t reach the end of correction. Thus, they could not understand this book because they were unable to surmount all 125 levels from which the Book of Zohar is written. In our generation, we can all reach the 125th level; at that time, we can all understand the Book of Zohar.

The fact that a contemporary Kabbalist succeeded in fully commenting on the Book of Zohar is a sign that we are on the threshold of the last generation, and that anyone can understand the Book of Zohar. Indeed, not a single commentary on the Book of Zohar appeared before our time. Today, we have available to us the clear, complete Sulam commentary on the Book of Zohar written by Baal HaSulam, just as it should be in the last generation.

However, we should understand that spiritual actions do not occur the way physical actions do: that is, cause and effect do not directly follow. In our time, the spiritual state of the worlds is ready for the coming of the Messiah (the force that pulls Creation out of egoism and leads it to altruism). Yet, this merely gives us an opportunity for attainment, whereas actual attainment depends on us and our spiritual levels.

We can unite with the Creator by equalizing our properties, desires, and goals with His, by completely destroying egoism and selflessly doing good things. However, a question arises: where will a complete egoist (one unable to make a spiritual or physical movement unless it offers personal benefits) find the strength and motivation to live for the sake of others?

The answer to this question can be easily understood with an example from life:

Imagine a situation in which you wholeheartedly wish to give a present to someone who is important in your eyes, someone you love and respect. Suppose this person agrees to accept your gift, or agrees to come to your home for dinner.

Although you spend money and work hard to treat the important guest well, you enjoy it as if it is not you, but the guest who does you a favor, giving and entertaining you by consenting to accept your treat. Hence, if we could imagine the Creator as someone we respect, we would gladly please Him.

We can observe the laws of the universe only if we attain the Creator’s greatness. Then, when we work for His sake and realize His grandeur, it is as though we receive from Him. Yet, since thoughts depend on the influence of society and social environments, everything that society praises also becomes elevated in the eyes of the individual. Hence, the most important thing is to be among as many people who exalt the Creator as possible.

If our environment does not elevate the Creator to the proper level, it will not allow us to attain spirituality. A student should feel like the smallest of all the students. In this way, the student can absorb society’s views, and in that state, the student considers society’s views as important. For this reason comes the truism, “Buy for yourself a friend.” Indeed, the more people influence me with their opinions, the more diligently I will be able to work on myself, on correcting my egoism, in order to feel the Creator.

It is said that every person should attain the Root, the source of his or her soul. In other words, the final goal should be to completely merge with the Creator. The Creator’s properties are referred to as Sefirot. This is why, while studying the Sefirot and their actions, it is as though we learn these properties, merge with them, unite with the Creator’s mind, and become one with the Creator.

The importance of Kabbalah stems from the fact that by studying it, we learn how the worlds were created and how they are governed. By studying the Creator’s actions and properties, we discover what we should be like in order to unite with Him.

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