You are here: Kabbalah Library Home / Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) / Shamati Articles / 3. The Matter of Spiritual Attainment / 3. Comprehending the Spiritual - lessons / Article "The Matter of Spiritual Attainment", 06.22.06 - 06.26.06 / Article "The Matter of Spiritual Attainment" - Lesson 2

Article "The Matter of Spiritual Attainment" - Lesson 2

Shamati 3
Lesson by Rav Michael Laitman, Bnei Baruch, Israel
June 23, 2006
Lecturer: Michael Laitman, PhD

He is called Ein Sof because this is the connection between Atzmuto and the souls, which we perceive as “His desire to do good to His creations.” We have no utterance except for that connection of desire to enjoy…

In other words, there is the Creator and there is the creature. The connection between them is what the creature senses. The first connection that the creature feels as the highest connection with the Creator, it determines as Ein Sof (infinity) because that’s how it feels His power, that this connection on the part of the Creator is unlimited.

…and this is the beginning of the study.

It is called Light without a vessel, yet there begins the root of the creatures...

“(It is called) Light without a vessel” because there are no deficiencies there yet. Everything comes from Above and this state is designed only by the Upper Light. This world of Ein Sof has no interference on the part of the creature yet. The first time the creature interferes, is in Tzimtzum Aleph (the first restriction) when the world of Ein Sof acquires a different form and a different name, “the world of Tzimtzum.”

…there begins the root of the creatures, meaning the connection between the Creator and the creatures, called “His desire to do good to His creations.” This desire begins in the world of Ein Sof and extends through the world of Assiya.

All the states the creature experiences from this first highest state of Ein Sof through all the worlds, with the breakings, restrictions, limitations, the creation of the worlds of Klipot (shells), all of that comes only from that Thought of Creation “to do good to His creations;” from the world of Ein Sof, which reveals a deficiency in this state, that something still needs to be completed, to be added. Although there is this unlimited attitude in the Creator's relation to the creature, this unlimited attitude compels the connection between the Creator and the creature to cascade and to reach even a higher state where the creature also reaches an unlimited recognition of the connection with the Creator.

Therefore, even though Ein Sof is the highest place, the first connection with the Creator, the creature who feels the Infinite state, immediately finds a deficiency, a flaw in it, and begins to experience all the states in order to compliment this deficiency and return to that state of Ein Sof with the corrections.

The state of Ein Sof can be called as such only with respect to how the creature perceives the attitude of the Creator toward it. When one begins to discover one’s own attitude toward the Creator, it brings him to restriction, to building the degrees, the worlds, Partzufim, Sefirot and to all kinds of measures of attitude toward the Creator. He returns to the state of Ein Sof with that endless attitude on his own part with respect to the Creator. Then we can say that Ein Sof is reciprocal. Both on the part of the Creator and on the part of the creature there is an attitude of infinity toward one another.

All the worlds are in themselves considered Light without a vessel, where there is no utterance. They are discerned as Atzmuto, and there is no attainment in them.

What does that mean? A person or a creature who feels in every state of his own existence, “Who am I? What am I? Where am I?” - in the end he feels the Creator. There is no one else to sense, because other than the Creator and the creature there is nothing else, there are no other forces or parts in reality.

It seems to the creature that there are still, vegetative, animate degrees, the speaking level, other people, that there are some spiritual parts of all sorts, forces both negative and positive. The creature pictures all of that because internally it is made up of many desires. Inside each and every desire that is impressed by the Upper Light, by Atzmuto, that desire seemingly pictures a different impression. Then it seems to him that the world, meaning his own impressions, is filled of still, vegetative, animate, speaking parts, and this is how he perceives reality.

But if he corrects himself, his desires, when they become unlimited and accept the Upper Light as is, without any limitations, receiving in order to bestow, then he returns to a state of one Kli, one Light, and all the worlds disappear.

So we have to understand that all these worlds are a question of degrees, when the creature is partially impressed by the Upper Light. Through his own limitations he pictures within himself all kinds of pictures of discernments in phases Shoresh, Aleph, Bet, Gimel, Dalet in him, which depict within him a picture of reality that consists of many details.

It is indeed only the impression within our desires. When the desire is corrected and comes to the state where it is similar to the Light, he sees that in the end “there is none else beside Him.” Actually there is nothing more in the world, in reality, than the creature and the Creator, the will to receive that the Creator created and the Creator who fills it.

This is why on the one hand the names of all the worlds come from the degree of concealment of the simple Upper Light that fills the whole of reality. And to the extent each and every world conceals the Upper Light, it depicts instead of the simple Upper Light, all kinds of pictures, details and components of reality. They are actually the desire itself that, being incomplete, not similar to the Light, perceives the eclipses, the differences between itself and the Light.

What seems to us now as still, vegetative, animate degrees or other speakers in this world besides us, all disappears in the end to the extent that a person corrects himself, ascends and changes his own perception. Then he sees that all of these things don’t exist. That’s why it is called the imaginary world (the word world (Olam) comes from the words concealment (Alama) and disappearing (Elem)). What remains is only that Ein Sof state, that is, one creature that receives within it the inspiration of one Creator, the simple Light.

There is a reason why the ARI wrote and Baal HaSulam explained to us that before the creation of the worlds “…the Upper simple Light filled the whole existence.” When there are no worlds and nothing but Light that fills the Kli. Afterwards, when the Kli wants to improve, discover and test all the desires in it, when it begins to change and work with each desire, then this work, this internal attitude on the part of the Kli toward its own attributes and its attitude towards the Light builds all kinds of impressions in the Kli. We sense these impressions as still, vegetative, animate, and speaking and as all kinds of items in reality.

But again, we must understand that all of these impressions do not exist in reality, but rather they are a replica of the absence of the correction of the Kli. To the extent that the Kli is corrected, this whole fictitious reality disappears. The worlds disappear and reality returns to EinSof, which is the one, true state that exists in reality. All the degrees, impressions, sensations that are less than Ein Sof, are partial states that the Kli experiences through some lack, through some deficiency in its recognition of Ein Sof.

You can compare it to a person who is unconscious and imagines all kinds of pictures that are unreal. When he regains consciousness, they all disappear and he has only the one healthy stable state. With respect to us it’s only the world of Ein Sof. This is all that exists. Everything else is impressions of the Kli from its inconsistency with the Light.

Do not wonder that we discern many discernments there. This is because these discernments are there in potential. Afterwards, when the souls come, these discernments will appear in the souls that receive the Upper Lights as they have corrected and arranged. Thus, the souls will be able to receive, each according to its ability and qualification and then these discernments appear in actual fact. However, while the souls do not attain the Upper Light they, in themselves, are considered Atzmuto.

We always speak of what the soul or the totality souls perceives or we speak of a degree of their perception. But we cannot say anything not in relation to the souls, because then, who feels and who says that it exists? That’s why even with respect to the souls we say that something exists, which is called Atzmuto (His Essence).

We have to define it by some name. So we say the Upper Force that is outside of our attainment and sensations is called Atzmuto. Other than that word, everything that we can name or define is Azmuto, which expands in our Kli. Our impression of it is how we call things, for instance: green, black, man, beast, or any particle spiritual or corporeal, it doesn’t matter what.

In the end it is all Light within the Kli that the Kli feels and is impressed by. The Light that appears in that Kli gives it a certain depiction in attributes, sensation, and perception. We call that perception by name. That’s how we name the parts of reality.

Question: With respect to this idea about reality being in me, besides reminding myself about it, there is nothing for me to do. I don’t feel it.

Why do we say that? First of all, because it is true. Second, so that a person will understand that he must correct his Kli to a measure that he’ll return to the correct reality. The corrections in each desire should be according to the Light. Then in each desire he will feel the attribute of the Light Itself and not the gap between the desire and the Light, which depicts all kinds of limited pictures for him, in the degrees of still, vegetative, animate, and speaking, even the spiritual.

The right attitude to the perception of reality positions us correctly with respect to this world, so we don’t focus on it, on this outer coating of still, vegetative, animate, speaking that we see here. We should try to somehow penetrate it, to perceive a more internal reality, a more spiritual one, a more original one, until we return to Ein Sof. We should understand that all of these pictures that we now see before us are felt within us, not outside of us because they don’t exist. They exist within us only because our Kli is not corrected.

To the extent that we adjust our Kli more and more correctly, closer to the attributes of the Light, we will see the simple Upper Light in it and only that. This will be the correct picture. You might say then, “What will we see? Some mist, something white?” No. Then we will see the opposite. We will see not from the negative side of the limitations between the Light and the Kli but from the perspective of perfection. That’s the picture we want to reach and acquire because it’s the only one that’s real.

Question: What can we do so that we will not fall into this illusion?

We are in this illusion. It seems to us that our world is what exists, is the real thing and other than that nothing exists. If you had spoken like that to people fifty years ago, much less a hundred or two hundred years ago, they would have laughed at you.

Today, because of technology, we have some kind of understanding that there are different senses; that animals like elephants, bees and birds see the world differently, and if we change our senses, we will perceive the world differently; that if a person is programmed, if he understands, then he perceives things that he didn’t see before things that didn’t exist for him. Einstein tells us that energy and mass can change one instead of the other, that time and distance are relative.

We are beginning to accept these things even though they don’t exist in our senses as something that really happens, that exists in reality. Currently we rarely relate to the picture of reality as that’s it and there is nothing else. Even when we build computers and screens, we begin to see the pictures that are built as combinations of forces. That is how it appears to us, but inside they are electronic forces which I perceive as a picture. Outside of my eye and my brain that analyzes the situation this way, the state itself is not a picture. It’s a combination of forces.

Through all this research, through technology and science, we are beginning to understand that the whole reality just seems that way to us. It’s my perception of it. If I change, it will change. People are becoming more prepared to accept the relativity in the world.

How does this world appear to someone who is at a spiritual level, to someone before he is born, after he dies? We are already beginning to see that our world is not that static and safe, or always existing. It’s some impression within us, in our senses. When the senses change, the situation changes. When I acquire these senses it is called being born. When I lose them it’s called dying. But I am born and die from the same senses. If I replace them with other senses, I may perceive reality differently. Who knows? That is, we are approaching a more objective and true perception.

Question: This perception that our reality is so individual, relative, subjective confuses me. How then do we sense things as common to all of us and as permanent? How come I see things like everybody else?

The common sensation is created by being incorporated with one another. We don’t know about it but Kabbalists, those who rise into high degrees of perceptions, tell us..

What does spirituality mean? It’s when you are detached from your five senses and perceive reality in additional senses. Then you see this world, meaning what you perceive in five senses and an additional reality, which you perceive in additional senses called Sefirot, spiritual attributes. It doesn’t matter what you call it.

What you discover is that in each of us there are impressions from others. This is because first there was one Kli, one desire, that was divided into many parts and each part is incorporated with the others. That’s why it seems to me that I see others, the still, vegetative, animate, and speaking, that I am in contact with them. It seems to me that I perceive them, understand them, affect them and they somehow affect me. These are all impressions in my own desire which is made of this incorporation of all the other desires.

In my desires all kinds of things occur and suddenly I discover that I see an animal or a person, now I meet someone, then I forget about him. It’s all impressions inside of my own desires. Only the desire changes and it seems to me that the outer picture changes.

If a person tries to move the perception of reality to himself and to understand that everything depends on changes within his own desires, it is a very important phase. Because as a result, he understands that everything depends on his own correction. He (needs to) exit this false picture and begin to perceive reality realistically. That‘s why it is called “a fictitious world.” It appears this way from within our desires.

It’s not that a week ago I didn't see you and now I discover that you are here. Rather, my desires have changed to such an extent that some willpower appeared in them. This existence of the Light appears with respect to the desire called you, for example. That’s it. So do you exist or not?

Question: Jerusalem, does it exist or not in me, in you, in everyone? Does it exist commonly to all? Is it always there, because that’s the state of humanity that it needs a Jerusalem or what?

No. That’s a state, because in our desires this notion (of Jerusalem) is registered in some form. When it is registered it is sustained by the Upper Light in some measure of awareness. If the Upper Light diminished, this concept would disappear.

You can’t even say if it exists or not. It’s incorrect to phrase it this way. It exists in us, within us, within our desires. Just like taking an instrument, like a computer, and in it there is a memory that can be retained as long as electricity runs through it. You can say that reality exists in this computer. Pull the plug and there is no reality there, no Jerusalem and no other picture either. That’s us.

Question: I get up in the morning and I read the paper, all these discernments are my discernments of Light. What changes in the paper if I correct myself?

I get up in the morning, I turn on the television, or I take out the paper from the post box and I read what happened in the world. Did it happen in the world and I’m reading about it now? Or is it some paper that I’m taking and I’m impressed by it?

What you are doing now is making a certain discovery of the Upper Light through your own internal connection to additional Kelim. You meet a neighbor who tells you about something. That is, a certain desire appears to you which you call the image of the neighbor and when you connect to him, in the relationship between you, you discover an additional phenomenon when he seemingly gives you some knowledge or some news.

If you are to work on it at all, you must try to explain the whole reality as perceived only within your desires. Your desires, the way they are impressed, that’s reality. Outside of us there’s unchanging Atzmuto, the Upper Light is in complete rest.

We, each of us, are incorporated with everybody else. We keep changing internally, the Reshimot are constantly changing. That’s why it seems to us that something changes and appears on the outside, (becomes) more concealed or more revealed. It is all our own internal impressions.

Baal HaSulam says that we have a photographic machine in our mind. It seems to us that what happens in our brain is happening outside of us. The fact that we don’t feel it de facto doesn’t allow us to experience it. A person who exits these senses, who acquires additional senses, for him a reality that’s divided into two parts is a fact and makes it’s easier for him to perceive these things. How did Baal HaSulam write this article, The Matter of Spiritual Attainment? Only by attaining spirituality and correspondingly corporeality and analyzing one from the other.

Before that it is very difficult. You can explain it with all kinds of examples and say that it happens but you can’t stay in it. That’s our whole life. I’m in it. The Light that governs the Kli, that measure of perception of the Light that now controls my Kli, controls it. I can’t say that I’m not impressed, it’s this way or that way. That’s good theoretically, for research. It’s not that I can really relate to it as to impressions of the Kelim from the Light, because this sensation controls.

Question: The minute we are born, all kinds of patterns are imprinted in us. They tell us: “That’s a table, that’s a chair,” and we believe that it's true. So why does a baby die from poison that he finds if no one told it that it’s poison?

We operate by predefined rules from within the general Kli. From that we operate consciously or unconsciously within these Kelim, within these rules. We are in them. You perform an action; your action might be more or less conscious. There is a special mechanism, and to the extent it is hidden from you, you’re given the right to exist. To the extent it is not hidden from you, you are punished from Above.

That is why there are things that sustain a baby and don’t let it just fall off a high place as it may let a grown up. On the other hand, there are things that are not hidden from it. When it touches something it is harmed and dies. It all depends on the system of governance over that item, in this case an infant.

You want to bring our world to a state where it must exist by definite rules, but in this way it wouldn’t be able to evolve. There’s a conscious and unconscious part and a part in between, which we have to move from unconsciousness to consciousness through correcting the Kelim.

That part will later seem to us as a place for free choices, the middle third of Tifferet, KlipatNoga. Over that part we seemingly have freedom of action and punishment for it. There are no punishments in what I don’t see. Otherwise I wouldn’t exist right now. There’s also no reward for it because I can’t do it. But, where I am allowed I must function because reward and punishment, to some extent, bring me closer to the purpose.

For the souls that receive from the worlds, the worlds are considered Ein Sof. This is because this connection between the worlds and the souls, meaning what the worlds give to the souls, extends from the thought of creation which is a correlation between the souls and Atzmuto.

This connection is called Ein Sof. When we pray to the Creator and ask of Him to help us and to give us what we want, we relate to the discernment of Ein Sof. This is where the root of the creatures is, which wants to impart to them delight and pleasure, called “His desire to do good to His creations.”

The Creator should always be pictured by us as Ein Sof (infinity) because that’s His measure, beyond all our other impressions. Less than Ein Sof is already a Kli that pictures all kinds of states to itself. It doesn’t picture the Creator’s attitude toward it but how it senses, how it is impressed by the Creator.

That’s why if I pray to the Creator, I pray to Ein Sof, that is, to His attitude toward me without any obstructions and diminutions and all kinds of flaws that I put in between us in His picture, but to His real attitude towards me. That’s why we say that all our prayers go through all the worlds, through all the degrees to Ein Sof. What are these degrees? They are degrees within me only. There are no worlds outside of me. All the worlds are inside us. As Baal HaSulam says in The Introduction to the Pticha “all the worlds, Upper, lower, everything is within man.”

The word “world” comes from the word “concealment.” The measure of concealment, Ein Sof is called the world. Then there are 125 degrees of concealment of Ein Sof from us, because our will to receive consists of five degrees of Aviut: Shoresh, Aleph, Bet, Gimel and Dalet and each of them is divided into another five and another five. So there is a total of 125 degrees of Aviut in my desire.

The more my desire is corrected, the more I perceive Ein Sof. When I correct my Aviut by another degree I perceive it as even closer to what it really is. Until I correct all of my Aviut and then perceive Ein Sof as it is. It turns out that all the worlds are in me. My own corrupted Kelimpicture the worlds, these concealments, for me.

Because of that I have to understand that what I feel in my Kelim is one thing and where the Creator is and how the Creator relates to me is a completely different thing. He relates to me endlessly. I can see, feel and relate to Him according to where I am right now. But to pray, to turn to Him, to connect to Him, I must connect to Him, to the attribute by which He relates to me: to Love, to His attitude, thought, unlimited by my Kelim. It is just like we turn to our mother or father. If I turn to them, it’s not that I think that they are wrong in the way they treat me. I turn to their attitude toward me. Then it’s really turning toward them.

It turns out that a person should understand that he’s praying to Ein Sof. He’s turning to the Creator toward that attribute by which the Creator turns to him, meaning unlimited love. It’s very hard, because if I turn to the Creator from my state, then I cry that I’m suffering. Otherwise, why turn to Him?

But if I begin to think that I have to turn to Ein Sof, to His unending love, and that He does everything, then whom to turn to? He does everything to me because He loves me, because He’s good to me and I feel bad. So if I turn to Him, it’s as if I’m blaming Him for harming me. How can it be that the absolute good will do bad? The minute I turn to Him, I have to turn to Him with only one thing: with a request to correct my Kli so that I’ll discover His real attitude toward me. This incorrect attitude is my own impression because of my lack of correction.

There is only one prayer for the correction of the Kelim and not, “Do good to me. Why did you do bad to me?” He didn’t do bad to you. But the request for Him to do good is the right thing to do. Meaning, “Correct my Kli, make me the right Kli.”

Relating to the Creator as an unending attitude of love towards us, after the thought and the work on this attitude, brings a person to the right prayer. When he doesn’t cry and condemn the Creator for having harmed him, but when he begins to ask the only thing that can be asked of the Creator: correction, a special correction to be similar to the Creator.

Question: Baal HaSulam talks about the Thought of Creation and creation of the world. The fact that we’re discussing these degrees, can we say that we’re not discussing Atzmuto (His Essence)?

We perceive ourselves in a special certain reality where we exist, that’s how I feel it. That’s how every Kabbalist felt himself. Then it began to evolve. What did they see? “I have a mother a father, I was born, I grew up, that’s my environment, my people.” (He saw reality that was) in the time, in the state, in the society that he existed. From that he began to evolve further. What did he develop? He developed his own impression of reality, his own Kelim, its own perception of reality, until he began to perceive a higher reality than a person naturally, without developing himself, perceives.

The first to do it was Abraham who discovered a method by which every single person can develop himself to perceive the actual reality, a broader one, an eternal one. What is eternal? That even if my five senses disappear, I remain in perception of reality, I still exist in another reality. Actually, it’s the same for each of us, but for him that fact was attainment in his ordinary life. He just discovered it in addition to the ordinary senses.

Then he went on to discover the rest of reality. He discovered that this whole reality that he perceives doesn’t depend on him opening some clouds and seeing beyond the stars or behind galaxies, discovering something else. No, he discovered that by changing his own attributes, by expanding them and changing them qualitatively, he discovers a new reality.

He then began to feel that reality is not reality, that there’s infinity before him. And according to the measure of correction or corruption of his various attributes, he perceives either fragments of Ein Sof, some distorted part or clothing of it called “worlds”, or he can perceive this reality as is, without any limitation on one's part. He expanded his Kelim to the fullest, corrected them to the fullest and they perceive the whole reality.

That’s what it’s about. Then you feel the Upper Force outside of you called Atzmuto. You don’t know what it is, who it is, but you perceive it as good and benevolent. That’s it. That’s what Abraham discovered. After that he began to teach others.

This method came to us just as it is now before us. Anyone who begins to develop himself, this additional reality opens up to him and he begins to progress. This is called “the spiritual world.” He begins to see the relativity of perception. Not like Einstein who in this world expanded our changing axis of perception, but beyond it. As Rambam wrote, the whole spiritual reality is above the speed of light, whereas in our world it’s all up to the speed of light.

However, it’s all what a person perceives in his own senses. We cannot see anything outside of him. We learn it in the four phases of the Direct Light. We learn that the Light of Ein Sof creates the desire and works on this desire and everything happens only within the desire, nothing outside of the desire. When that desire feels that there is something outside of it, it’s the internal Kelim that are felt this way, as if something exists outside of them. But it’s the internal Kelim, it’s this impression outside.

This impression comes to a state, say like mine. I feel that there is me, made of all kinds of parts and that there is something outside of me. We learned in Talmud Eser Sefirot, Part 3 , that there is Shoresh, Neshama, Guf and then Levush and Heichal.This is how our perception is divided, our own five Kelim: Shoresh, Neshama, Guf, Levush and Heichal.What are those? Those are impressions, my own internal Kelim. Aviut Shoresh, Aleph, Bet, Gimel, Dalet of my desires. Within these desires we feel something called Shoresh, Neshama, Guf and two other desires, Aviut Gimel and Dalet that feel Levush, something close to me, and Heichal something outside of me. These are impressions of my internal Kelim.

Is there something outside? I don’t know what’s on the outside. I only know what I feel in my Kli.If I could cut this Kli, this last Kli called Heichal, everything on the outside would disappear, I wouldn’t feel it. This is how as one evolves, he develops his Kelim and thus expands his reality. What does a newborn baby, a little child or a grown up feel? Or what does a person who develops or who became a Kabbalist feel? It’s all evolvement in the Kelim. There’s nothing else but that.

The difference between Kelim a person develops in this world and in spirituality is the Masach (screen). In this world he develops the Kelim that he was born with; he only develops them. But it is also possible to not develop his Kelim, to leave them as is, to let them evolve as they will, it doesn’t matter.

Now we are experiencing the world’s disappointment; that it doesn’t give us anything, but we can develop our attitude to Ein Sof, to the Light. Then in the development of these relationships you perceive a different reality in your Kelim. That’s what the wisdom of Kabbalah deals with.

Back to top
Site location tree