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29. Transformation of Our Nature

Every feeling we have emanates from Above. If we experience a striving, a love, and a pull towards the Creator, it is a sure indication that the Creator is experiencing the same feelings towards us (in accordance with the rule that "Man is a shadow of the Creator"). Thus, whatever a person feels toward the Creator is the same as what the Creator feels toward that person, and vice versa.

After Adam’s spiritual fall as a result of his sin (which symbolizes the spiritual descent of the primordial soul from the world of Atzilut to the level known as "this world" or "our world"), his soul divided into 600,000distinct parts. These parts clothed themselves into the human bodies that are born into this world. Each part garbs itself in a human body as many times as it is necessary for it to correct itself completely.

When all the distinct individual parts complete their independent process of correction, they will once again merge into one collective soul, known as "Adam."

In the alternating of the generations there is the cause, known as “the fathers,” and the effect, known as “the sons.” The reason for the appearance of sons is to continue the correction of that which has not been corrected by the fathers, meaning the souls of the previous incarnation.

The Creator brings us close to Him not because of our good qualities, but because of our feelings of lowliness and our desire to cleanse ourselves of our "filth." If we were to experience pleasure from the state of spiritual exhilaration, we might reason that it is worthwhile to serve the Creator to gain such sensations.

Therefore, the Creator usually removes pleasure from one’s spiritual state in order to reveal why one is seeking spiritual elevation: either from the wish to serve, to receive the pleasures that would come while doing so, or because of one’s faith in the Creator. In this manner, a person is given a chance to act for other than the sake of pleasure.

The removal of pleasure from any spiritual state immediately plunges one into a state of depression and despair, in which there is no desire for spiritual work. However, it is in this state that one gets a real chance to move closer to the Creator by virtue of faith above reason.

Feeling despair helps one realize that the present lack of attraction towards the spiritual is merely one’s subjective perceptions. In reality, there is nothing greater than the Creator.

From the above, we can conclude that the Creator deliberately prepares a spiritual fall to elevate us quickly to an even higher level.

This is also an opportunity to increase our faith. Thus, it is said: "The Creator prepares the cure before the illness" and also, "With the same thing that the Creator strikes, He also cures."

Although every endeavor to remove our life force and our life interest shakes our entire being, if we truly desire to ascend spiritually, we will welcome the chance to uphold faith above reason. By so doing, we will affirm our wish to liberate ourselves from personal pleasures.

A human being is usually self-absorbed, focusing on personal feelings and thoughts of suffering and pleasure. But when striving to attain spiritual perception, we must refocus our interests on selfless matters, into the space filled by the Creator, so that the existence and desires of the Creator are one’s total life focus.

We must correlate all that happens with His design; we must transfer ourselves into Him, so that only our bodily shells remain within the physical bounds.

However, our inner feelings, the essence of the person and of the self, all that is designated as the soul, must be transferred "outside" the body. Only then will we constantly feel the force of goodness that permeates all of creation. This feeling is akin to faith above reason, because we attempt to transfer all our feelings outside, beyond the boundaries of our bodies.

Once we attain faith in the Creator, we must remain in this state regardless of the obstacles that the Creator may send, to increase our faith and gradually begin to receive the light of the Creator into the vessel created through faith.

The entire creation is built on the interaction between two opposite forces: egoism, the desire to receive pleasure, and altruism, the desire to please. The path of gradual correction is the experience of transforming our egoistic desires into the opposite desires, and this path is built by combining the two forces.

Gradually, small quantities of egoistic desires merge with the altruistic desires and are thereby corrected. This method of transforming our nature is known as "the work in three lines." The right line is called “the white line” because it contains no faults or defects.

After we have gained possession of the right line, we can obtain the greatest part of the left line, the so-called “red line,” which contains our egoism. There is a prohibition against the use of egoism in spiritual actions, since it is possible for us to fall under its influence.

The impure forces/desires strive to receive the Light of wisdom, ohr hochma, for their own sake, to perceive the Creator and to indulge in self-gratification, using these perceptions to satisfy egoistic desires. If we, by virtue of faith above reason, (by striving to receive, but not into our egoistic desires), refuse the possibility of perceiving the Creator, His actions, and His domain, and refuse the gratification from His Light; if we decide to go beyond our natural aspirations to know and to experience everything, to get prior knowledge of everything, to know what reward we will receive for our actions; then we will no longer be bound by the prohibition of using the left line.

When we choose this course, it is called "the creation of a shadow," because we are isolating ourselves from the Light of the Creator. In this case, we have the option of taking a small part of our left desires and connect them with the right.

The resulting combination of strengths and desires is known as “the middle line.” It is precisely in this line that the Creator reveals Himself. Subsequently, this whole process repeats itself on a higher spiritual level, and so on, until the end of the path.

The difference between hired help and a slave is that in the process of working, the hired help thinks of the reward that will be received for the work; the size of the reward is known, and it serves as the reason for that person’s work. The slave, on the other hand, does not receive any reward, but only the bare necessities for survival. A slave owns nothing; the master owns all. Therefore, if a slave works hard, it indicates the slave’s desire to please the master, to do something nice for him.

Our goal is to feel towards our spiritual work the way a slave does who works without any reward.

Our spiritual journey should not be influenced by any fear of punishment or any anticipation of reward, but only by a selfless desire to carry out the will of the Creator.

Moreover, we should not even anticipate perceiving Him as the result, because that, too, is a form of reward. We should carry out His Will without wanting Him to know that we did it for His sake, without even thinking that anything special has actually been done for His sake, without seeing the results of our work, but only having faith that the Creator is pleased with us.

If our work should truly be as described above, then we should eliminate notions of reward and punishment completely from consideration. In order to understand this, it is necessary to know what Kabbalah means by the notions of reward and punishment.

We receive a reward when we exert a certain amount of effort to obtain something we desire. As a result of these efforts, we receive or find that which is desired. A reward cannot be something that exists in abundance in our world and is accessible to everyone else. Work translates into our efforts towards receiving a particular reward, which we cannot obtain without these efforts.

For instance, one can hardly claim to have performed “work” by finding a stone, if stones are in abundance all around. In such a case, there is no work and no reward. On the other hand, in order to possess a small precious stone, one must exert a great effort, because it is very hard to find. In such a case, real efforts are made, and a reward is received.

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