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Michael Laitman, PhD

Chapter 2.8 – The Right Way to Advance

The society we live in is flooded with perpetual pursuit of beastly (corporeal) pleasures such as: money, glory, and sex. It is impossible to sin in such a state, and it is just as impossible to keep Mitzvot. This is simply not spirituality.

However, there is hope in that situation, provided we are willing to restrict the use of these desires, or to better phrase it, direct our desires for spirituality. When that happens, we are admitted into the first degree in the spiritual world, where there is a Light many times stronger than the one shining in our world.

We ask for a screen in order to resist the animate pleasure and refrain from receiving them for ourselves, but only with the intent "for the Creator." We obtain a screen and thus correct our first degree. After that we ascend to the next degree, in which he is faced with an even greater will to receive and consequently a greater Light. By acquiring a screen with a greater anti-egoistic power, we correct that degree as well, and continue to climb.

Let's picture our world as a horizontal line of zero value. The first egoistic will to receive in the scale of degrees will be considered as –1 (minus one) and will be felt as a decline, or a fall. The screen and the Light that is received with the intent for the Creator will be worth +1 and will be considered an ascent. The distance between –1 and +1 is equal to the size and height of the Partzuf.

When one completes the first degree, he is then given –2 worth of egoism. That necessitates a +2 worth of screen. This is how the ascent to the next degree occurs. The higher one climbs, the lower he falls, but only in order to rise even higher.

Malchut of the world of Ein Sof broke after having failed to receive the Light ‘for the Creator’ in the world of Nekudim. That was the breaking of the vessels. As a result, the vessels of bestowal and the vessels of reception were mixed, and every egoistic desire absorbed sparks of the Creator's altruistic desires, which enable the egoistic desires to bond with the Creator and with spirituality.

The greater the task that one is destined to carry out, the higher the level of vessels one is equipped with, and the deeper and higher are one's descents and ascents. Because of that, we must never judge a person by their acts, because we cannot know what corrections others are currently going through.

The best thing to do is have the following picture before us: the soil and the earth are the egoistic level, where we are. The sky is where the Light comes from. If the Light has no contact with us, we cannot detach ourselves from the ground, as though we'd never been off it. We have no powers of our own to rise above it. Only the Light of the Creator can lift us.

The higher one’s place is in the spiritual world, the greater the distance between the ups and downs. Thus, the fall in the world of Atzilut can reach almost as low as this world. That is why the great Kabbalist, Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochay, when he was one degree before last, suddenly felt himself (and called himself accordingly) as “Shimon from the market.” All the knowledge and the corrected properties, everything disappeared and he became completely ignorant. That is how he described his situation in the book of Zohar.

It happens to everyone, even to a person who has just begun his spiritual ascent. How does one rise after one falls and get back on track? One does it by participating in the group, even without a shred of desire. In that state, one must continue to act mechanically or automatically, because when in descent, it is impossible to even read a book. Sometimes, the only way out is sleep, detachment from everything, just letting time do its work.

The most dangerous state is when a person we are at the highest spiritual point and begin to enjoy the pleasure we receive, the security, the stability, and the clarity, all the pleasure that comes with eternity.

That very moment can be the cause of the fall. It is very important to remember that this state was given to us precisely so we can continue focusing on delighting the Creator precisely in that situation.

It is impossible to refrain from falling altogether. The falls are necessary for progress, because if it weren’t for them, we would have no other way to acquire additional desires to receive, with which to rise again.

The term Partzuf describes our attitude toward others, which reflects the degree of our development. It is impossible to obtain good without first obtaining evil. For example, when we rise in the spirituality by fifteen degrees, and we fall on the 16th, it is because our actual attributes have been disclosed in their worst shape, since in the ascent we are exposed to a greater Light, and that enables us to see ourselves compared to the corrected properties of a higher degree.

The spiritual degrees we go through continue to live in us. We can only see the evil when we ascend to a higher spiritual degree. The greater the Light that shines, the worse we see ourselves compared to it. That is how it goes until the last degree, the end of correction.

Rabash (Rabbi Baruch Ashlag) writes in a letter to his disciples (letter No. 2): “The truth is that there is another reason for it: Baal HaSulam explains in his book, The Study of the Ten Sefirot, that the Ari describes why Melech HaDaat (King of Daat) in the world of Nekudim, who was the degree of Keter and the highest Melech (king), fell lower than all other kings when the breaking occurred. That is because he who has the greatest coarseness is also the highest when in possession of a screen. But when they lose their screens, they become the worst, and consequently fall lower than all other kings.

His words can also be interpreted to describe those who follow the ways of the Lord: those people have a desire for both corporeality and spirituality, as it is said, that those who were close to Baal HaSulam had a screen and Aviut (coarseness), but now that he was gone, they had no one to submit to, and were left with coarseness but no screen, and were only looking to become rabbis and ‘pretty Jews’. Therefore, I (Rabash) suspect everything that comes out of their hands, for there is no one to restrain them.

I am speaking briefly here, for I do not want them in my thoughts, for you know the rule that “One is where one’s thoughts are,” but because I know your fondness for the truth I am compelled to bring to my mind the coarseness that hasn’t a screen, which are broken vessels that are as yet not on the path of correction, and may God have mercy.

Let me give you a short example so that you understand the above: it is known that each and every degree has a middle part that consists of both. Between the still and the vegetative there is the coral; between the vegetative and the animate there are the stones of the field, which are animals that are connected to the earth by their navel and receive their nourishment from it, and between the animate and the speaking there is the ape. That raises the question: what is between true and false, which is the point where it consists of both.

Before I clarify this, I will add one known rule, that something small is hard to see, whereas a large object is easier to see. Consequently, when one lies only a little, one is unable to see the truth that he is on a false path, but thinks that he is going in a truthful path. However, there is no greater lie than that because he hasn’t enough lies to see his actual state.

But in one who has acquired a great deal of lies, the falsehood has increased within to such an extent that if the person wants to see his actual state, he can now do it. Thus, now that he can see the falsehood, meaning that he is on a false path, he sees his real state, meaning he sees in his heart the truth of how to get on the right track…”

An observer who hasn’t any connection to the wisdom of Kabbalah will always think that he or she is doing nothing wrong, and is just like everyone else. This person believes that he or she is taking the right path because of the very small amount of recognition of evil that he has obtained. But once a substantial amount of falsehood has been accumulated, the person will be able to see the truth of the situation (provided this is the person's true desire).

At that time, it will be recognized that the person has been on the wrong path all along. This will allow the person to change to the right path - the path of truth. This will allow the person to change to the right path - the path of truth. When we recognize the fact that our current state is intolerable, and that we have come to the end of our rope then we will ask for the Creator's help.

“…It turns out that this point - which is a truthful point that he is taking a false path - is the middle between true and false, it is the bridge that connects between true and false. It is the bridge that connects between truth and falsehood. This point is the end of the lie, and from here on begins the path of truth. We can similarly understand what Baal HaSulam wrote, that in order to attain Lishma we must first obtain the greatest Lo Lishma, and then we can come to Lishma.

In the same manner, we can interpret the above, that Lo Lishma is considered falsehood and Lishma is considered truth. When the lie is small, meaning when the Mitzvot and the good deeds are few, then one has a small Lo Lishma and is unable to see that truth. Therefore in that state one says that one is on a good and truthful way, meaning working Lishma.

However, when one engages in Torah and Mitzvot day in and day out in a state of Lo Lishma, one can then see the truth, because the multiplicity of lying magnifies it. Thus, one can see that in fact, one is on a false path, and at that time begin to correct one's actions. It means that in that state one feels that everything one does in only Lo Lishma.

From this point on, one moves to the path of truth, meaning Lishma. Only at this point begins the transition from Lo Lishma to Lishma. How could one change one's situation previously, while arguing that one was working Lishma? Thus, if one is idle in the work it is impossible to see the truth of being immersed in falsehood. Nevertheless, by accumulating Torah and Mitzvot in order to bring contentment to The Maker, we can see the truth that we are on a false, called Lo Lishma, this is the middle point between the true and false." (Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag, Shamati, Igrot, letter No. 2)

The Creator operates in any situation we are in, whether good or bad. One does not and cannot make any decisions. One can accelerate one’s development, but certainly cannot change it. If we look at this path through the eyes of egoism, we will be terrorized and terrified. But if we perceive the egoism as an evil thing that must be destroyed, if we look at it from the outside, we will immediately want to uproot it and replace it with altruism.

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