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Michael Laitman, PhD

Chapter 3.1 – Altruism

All holy books describe spiritual emotions that one should attain. They all deal with one thing only: choosing the spiritual over the physical; the greatness of the Creator. The Creator doesn’t need our respect because He is completely denied of egoism. The one thing he does need is to bring us pleasure, to the extent that we prefer Him over the corporeal world, and become like Him.

Recognizing the greatness of the Creator testifies to one’s degree of correction. Our pleasure upon unifying with the Creator can be infinite, eternal and complete, but only when it is not limited by egoism.

Altruism is a special characteristic that can be called forth to correct the vessel. Egoism brings nothing good - just consider the high percentage of wealthy people who commit suicide. Even if we give people everything and fill their cups of desire to the brim, they will still not feel that there is a meaning to their lives. In fact, receiving pleasure eliminates the desire for it. It is possible to feel the reasoning, the taste, only on the border between pleasure and pain.

The Creator set the demand to correct the vessel by turning it to altruistic instead of egoistic in our favor, not in His. Our current status is called “this world.” Our next state is called "the next world.”

Any person who begins to learn something new and leaves it after some time still gets something out of it. It remains alive within. Each and every one of us has unconsciously feels what is most important in life.

There are many different kinds of people. Some are shrewd and clever; they succeed easily and become rich and influential. Others are born lazy and evolve slowly. They are what we call “good-for-nothing”. They might, in fact, be working harder then the clever ones, but they attain less. Some of them may find it difficult to get up in the morning, but we can never accurately assess their efforts, because they depend on so many inner properties. We haven’t any tools for measuring one’s properties and internal efforts. I do not mean a physical effort, but an internal, mental effort.

Baal HaSulam wrote that 10% of the population is altruistic. Such people derive pleasure when they give to others. Just like an egoist can kill if he does not get what he wants, so an altruist can kill if he is does not give what he wants. It is a means for pleasure for him.

Such people are still egoistic because underneath they still aim to receive something from the giving, though it is concealed. Naturally, they too must be corrected. In fact, they have a longer way to go to become conscious of their egoism.

The fact they are not really altruists requires a longer period of self-recognition, at the end of which they will be compelled to face their own egoism. The coarser and more egoistic one is, the closer one is to spirituality. In that state, egoism is immense and ripe and can begin its path toward the spiritual world. All that remains now is to realize that egoism is harmful, and to ask the Creator to change one's intention from "receiving for the self" to "receiving for the Creator."

Shame appears in Malchut of Ein Sof when it understands the meaning of Behinat Shoresh, of Keter. It is a state where there is a sensation of absolute contrast between man and the Light of the Creator. Malchut itself cannot feel the Light itself, only the properties the Light evokes. The Light itself has no properties; it is abstract. Malchut discerns properties because of the influence of the Light on its own attributes.

All our reactions are compulsory and useful. This includes the spiritual reactions of our soul as well as our animate, physical reactions. It is a common concept that every disease is a result of the body's attempts to maintain its balance.

For example, let's say that a person has a certain illness. In response, the body deliberately raises the temperature in order to fight the bacteria and defend itself. A disease is regarded not as a state of sickness, but as an external expression of something that happens in the body, a breach of the inner balance. That is why it is not good to suppress the body's ability to defend itself.

Our egos are highly sophisticated. If we feel a desire that we cannot satisfy, the ego immediately suppresses it to prevent unnecessary anguish. But the minute the conditions ripen to attain that pleasure, the relevant desires awaken. That applies as well to an old or sick person. Such people have no other desires but to go on living. Our bodies suppress unattainable desires.

The wisdom of Kabbalah completely denies the theory of evolution. The creature evolved according to the four phases of Direct Light, when Behina Aleph became Behina Bet, which turned into Behina Gimel etc. But when Malchut of Ein Sof was created, it absorbed all the desires of the upper ten Sefirot (four Behinot). They are now in it and cannot be changed in any way.

The appearance of the worlds and the Partzufim does not testify to a change in desires, but to a change in intent. Desires are activated according to one's aim. The desires themselves remain unchanged, and do not create anything new. The same principle applies to thoughts we think today that we did not think yesterday. It is simply that they were concealed from us, but they were always within us. The thoughts appear gradually, but they are not new.

It is impossible to turn one degree of existence into another, such as breathing life into an animate object, or turning a plant into an animal. There are intermediary degrees between inanimate objects and vegetative states, such as corals. Then, between the vegetative and the animate there is a form of life that feeds directly off the ground called “Field Dog”. The ape exists between the animate and those creatures that can speak.

The only thing that could happen would be a Godly spark pulling one toward the spiritual, thus creating in one a desire to attain something greater than this world. At that point, one would become the "Son of Man."

Science and technology have been developed only to lead us to a dead end, to the understanding that technology is not the way to go. But before we look for the new way, we must first reach that dead end.

All the Kabbalists had students. It is strictly forbidden to classify students as better or not so good, or those who want spirituality more, or want it less. All of us were born with certain desires, and none of us can say why we were created this or that way, or why our desires are the way they are. The classification and sorting processes happen naturally in the group and produce a stable and strong group.

The Ari formulated a new system. But even his disciples did not quite comprehend his system, except for Chaim Vital. There were great Kabbalists in the Ari’s group, but none of them received his entire knowledge, except Chaim Vital. The method that the teacher uses depends on the kind of souls that descend to this world. There were other forms of study before the Ari, but from the discovery of his method, it became possible for everyone to study, provided they had a strong enough desire.

Baal HaSulam did not make any fundamental changes in the Ari’s method, but only enhanced and deepened it. He wrote a detailed commentary to the books of the Ari and to the Zohar. Thanks to this commentary, anyone who wants to study the wisdom of Kabbalah and enter the spiritual world can comprehend the inner meaning of the text and find the true meaning of the books of the Torah.

Souls that came down to this world before the Ari, received their spirituality on a superficial level. After the demise of the Ari, the souls that descended to the world studied and analyzed themselves and the spiritual world in a spiritual-scientific method. For that reason, the books that were written before the Ari are written as tales, whereas books that were written after his time are written in the style of The Study of the Ten Sefirot, in a language of Behinot, Sefirot and worlds. It is an engineered psychology, a scientific approach to the soul.

Kabbalists do not need to practice this or that science or make experiments. They can provide all the explanations from the perspective of the Kabbalah, the origin of all sciences. Each science has its own language. If Kabbalists are not scientists they will find it difficult to describe this or that phenomenon in the professional terms of that science.

Kabbalist feel the actual laws of the universe that are the origin of the material and spiritual essence. But what language should they use to describe the reciprocation between various phenomena? How should they describe the spiritual force that constitutes the foundation of this world, and what are the reciprocal relationships between spiritual objects?

There is no single formula in our world that can define these things. Kabbalists can convey these feelings to another, but they cannot convey them to those who have not yet entered the spiritual world. Even if there were some way to convey a certain feeling, it would still be impossible to use it in our world before one changes oneself. If people changed their qualities, we would be able to communicate in a spiritual language and perform spiritual acts.

We all receive and suffer according to the level we are on. Turning anguish into something spiritual requires a screen. This cannot be given at whim. Such a demand creates a barrier, a separation. That is why the wisdom of Kabbalah is also called “the wisdom of the hidden” (for those who have not attained it).

In the Preface to the Book of Zohar, Baal HaSulam depicts four levels of recognition: matter, form dressed in matter, abstract form and essence. Our science can only deal with what concerns the matter and the form clothed in the matter. A form without a matter is a completely abstract concept that cannot be clearly analyzed. The essence, the thing that brings life to objects, or creates responses, is completely incomprehensible.

The same thing happens in the spiritual world. A Kabbalist who learns something in spirituality, attain the matter and the form that is dressed in the matter, but a form that is not clothed in matter is unattainable. This means that the spiritual world also has its limitations in understanding and perception of the universe. But when Kabbalists reach a certain level, they receive a gift from Above that opens up al the secrets of the universe.

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