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Article "One Law" - lesson 1

July 25, 2004
Lecturer: Michael Laitman, PhD

This is what Baal HaSulam writes:

He, who fulfills at least one law of the above world, wins himself and the world over to the virtue of goodness.

This is not quite clear. If I fulfill just one law, by this I already completely correct myself (“win myself and the world over to the virtue of goodness”). So what else do I have to do? Perhaps, this is the only law that exists in the Upper world? Or, if I fulfill one law, then I automatically fulfill all the other laws, and it is impossible to observe one law without observing all of them?

Let us see what this means: how many laws are there in the Upper world; which of them I have to observe; and in what order. Naturally, if the matter concerns the laws of the Upper world, then, willingly or not, I am destined to reach the state, when I will be obliged to observe them.

Correction of Creation Lies in the Intention

The correction of the authentic human nature, the egoistical desires, should be carried out only for the purpose of merging with the Upper Force, by means of a similarity in attributes and by acquiring the quality of unconditional bestowal, i.e. for bestowing upon the Upper Force in the same way it wishes to bestow upon us.

There is only one law in the entire universe. It is called “absolute bestowal.” The sole purpose of our correction (all that we have to do and the entire universe) is to make us similar to the Creator. Therefore, all of our actions and thoughts should be directed only to the attainment of that purpose.

Human desire to attain pleasure is created by the Upper Force and it is by no means opposite to it. The opposite is the INTENTION to receive pleasure “for the sake of one's own self.”

The Creator created desire. One might say that in itself this desire is neutral. The Creator made it this way, to aspire after pleasure. If so, then desire is its nature, and nature can be neither good nor bad. Nothing of what the Upper Light emanates (even though it may be opposite to the Light) is bad. The will to receive pleasure per se is in no way worse than the Light.

The intention to enjoy for the sake of one’s self, the use of one’s nature, is opposite to the Upper Force. In fact, it is the desire for pleasure for the sake of one's self that is called egoism, not the pleasure itself. The will to receive or, as Kabbalists say, to be fulfilled, is unchanging: it is exactly that one and only thing that has been created. There is nothing else in creation except the will to receive and the Creator Himself. This desire was created by Him to enjoy His Light, to receive the delight with which He wishes to fill it.

Our desire is in no way opposite to the Creator. It is created by Him and, while existing within our desire, we should not try to change it. We should perceive it as nature. In other words, this is something that we need, but we have to use it correctly. The desire itself is neither good nor evil. Only our use of it can be good or bad – “for the sake of the Creator” or “for one’s self.”

The only change that we are able to make for creation is in the way we use our uniquely natural quality, i.e., the will to receive - either “for our own sake” or “for the Creator’s.”

Receiving pleasure “for one's own sake” is restricted by the limits of our world.

Thus, we can receive fulfillment only within the framework of this world, i.e., we can receive pleasure for our own sake in the small desires that manifest within us.

This micro-desire can receive just a “little spark” of the pleasure prepared by the Creator, Ner Dakik. This desire is so infinitesimal that it is beyond control of Tzimtzum (restriction) and is not subject to change.

We should not take into consideration our desires in this world and the way we use them because the desire, which we have to direct to the Creator and check whether we receive pleasure for our own sake or for His, is above our world. This is the desire in which we feel not only pleasure, but also the source of this pleasure - the Creator. In this case, we can already work not only with desires, but also with intentions.

A host is standing in front of me. I don’t give a damn about him and receive pleasure regardless of the fact that I see him. This state is called Klipa (impurity). The state, in which I do everything to please the host, is called Kedusha (holiness or spiritual purity).

Therefore, my relations with the Creator (both for His sake and for my own) begin above our world’s level. Our world does not change. Here we receive pleasure by means of our five sense organs. This way we fill our tiny egoistical desire, which is appropriately called earthly egoism or our physical body. In this desire we feel our nature, ourselves, society, and everything else that exists around us.

Even the greatest Kabbalist has the same desires, exists in his body and is in contact with us. These desires are invariable and one should not pay attention to them because all of our actions ought to be directed to the Creator. When we search for Him and reveal Him, then we begin using the received pleasures with regard to Him.

Reception of pleasure “for one's own sake” is restricted by the limits of our world. As a matter of fact, such reception is impossible because as soon as pleasure fills desire, it annuls it, and the pleasure disappears.

This can be explained by the following simple example. We start eating with great appetite, but the moment we swallow the first bits of food, our appetite begins subsiding gradually. In other words, pleasure (fulfillment) eliminates desire and consequently annuls itself.

Therefore, our world’s micro-desire, which can receive just a tiny spark of pleasure ( Ner Dakik), exists only to make life possible for a person, until he begins to take hold of the true intention and becomes able to fill himself with unlimited and everlasting pleasure. Infinite fulfillment can only be achieved via the intention “for the Creator,” meaning in the desires that are above this world. By directing these pleasures to the Creator we make them spiritual.

From this, we see that the desire to receive is not intended by the Creator to be used in a direct way “for the sake of one’s own pleasure”, but, quite the contrary, “for the sake of Him.” In that case, we become similar to Him. By changing the egoistical intention of “receiving pleasure for one’s self” to an altruistic one of “receiving pleasure for the sake of the Creator,” a person becomes identical with the Upper Force, because it is the intention that determines the action.

We exist in the small egoistical desire of our world. At the same time, we develop the desire, which is above our world and in which we feel the Creator, the Giver. He cannot be felt in the desires of our world.

As we get the sensation of the Creator, we begin to acquire an increasingly greater intention for His sake, and by comparing ourselves to Him, we ascend the levels of worlds. While our world remains the same, man periodically leaves the physical body (dies) and returns to it. This way he continues advancing on his ascending path until he reaches the Final Correction.

When we completely correct our spiritual desire by means of the intention “for the sake of the Creator,” we no longer need to exist in the earthly desire and return to the state in which we perceive the world through five senses (feel our existence in this world through a small egoistical desire).

In one of his articles Rabash describes the level which the person has to reach in order not to return to this world again: the person will have to continue descending to this world until he completely corrects all of his desires with the intention for the sake of the Creator (from the Machsom up to the Gmar Tikkun). Naturally, every time he will start from a different level and in a different role.

However, it is impossible to make an immediate transition from the egoistic intention “for one's self” to the altruistic one “for the Upper Force.” Such a change in the person’s thoughts, habits, and lifestyle requires a gradual transformation. A person’s choice to receive pleasure is influenced by society, public opinion, and fashion. Therefore, only by changing the environment and by setting priority in giving instead of receiving, can a person make the transition from the intention “for the sake of one’s self” to the intention “for the sake of others.”

Why is this gradual transformation necessary? Transition from the intention “for one's self” to “for the sake of the Creator” is possible only under the influence of an environment. Such an impulse cannot appear within us. We exist inside a small egoistical desire created by the Creator, and by ourselves we will never be able to acquire the intention to act for His sake.

Question: How should we deal with the pleasures of this world, if at the same time we aspire to the Creator?

By suppressing these pleasures, we in no way correct them. There is a notion, “ Nazir” (hermit) that means a person who vows various restrictions (e.g., celibacy or abstinence from wine, meat, etc.)

Kabbalah flatly forbids such things. A man is obliged to be married, lead a normal sexual life, eat, and sleep. In principle, everything we do physically is normal except one thing – we do not allow our intentions to begin correcting us. It is the intention that requires correction, not desire itself. If you defy your desires, you constrain yourself. This is no correction, and we see that it does not help.

We only need to place the Creator above everything else in this world. Then naturally, certain desires will be replaced by others and all of our problems will be solved. In this way, a person constantly reorders his priorities and acts in accordance with his desires.

This happens not because he restricts himself and confines certain desires, while at the same time forcibly pulling out and using others. This is not correction and it will not work.

The genuine correction takes place inside the soul, in the heart. You have to correct your intention. You should long for it with such intensity that you will be obliged to ask for it.

Did the Creator arrange it so that you cannot form the intention for His sake, for bestowal, in order to let you formulate the request for the higher level? This request will enable you to attain the Creator’s level.

This is an important point. Let’s suppose that I have reached a certain level with specific desires and intentions. I realize that I want to change my intention and start working for the sake of the Creator, and my intention changes. In other words, I do everything independently.

At the same time, I cannot reach a deeper level – the Creator that is within me. I am created in such a way that by myself I cannot change my intention. I arrive at the realization of evil and subside to the lower level - to the Creator – and cry to Him: “Change my intention!”

This way, from the point of my birth, from my nature I, as it were, descend to the point where He created me and demand: “ You must correct me.” That is to say, I go back in history, to where He conceived me and tell Him what He should do within me. This request of mine elevates me to the Creator’s level.

Why can’t we change our intention?

We see how deliberate and voluntary these changes should be. By restricting my desires outwardly, I simply do not allow myself to create the right intentions.

For example, I would like to eat something tasty, but at the same time restrict myself to bread and water. Since I do not receive these delights, I have nothing to correct from the intention “for myself” to “for the Creator.” In other words, restriction and elimination of desire are against nature.

We see that when a person is to be elevated to the next level, he receives additional egoistical desires so that he will have something to correct. Thus, he transforms egoism into altruism (“the intention for one’s self” to the intention “for the Creator”).

Therefore, elimination of desires is a wrong path. It is called “ Musar” and is utterly ineffective. It is suitable only for very small levels of Aviut (small egoism) and serves to suppress it and enable the masses to live normally. When, as a result of development, society reaches considerably higher levels of egoism (as in our time), this path becomes inappropriate.

We see that no convictions hold, that everything falls to pieces. A person cannot receive answers to his questions and stops listening. The penitentiary system is helpless. Society slowly begins legalizing things for which people were punished, imprisoned, executed in the past. Capital punishment is abolished almost everywhere – everything is allowed.

We cannot do anything with our desire. However, if we realize that a person is utterly unable to curb his desires, how can we punish him for it? It turns out that willingly or not, we come to the realization of this law anyway: desires per se are neutral and only intentions should be corrected.

However, it is impossible to make an immediate transition from the egoistic intention “for one's self” to the altruistic one “for the Upper Force.” Such a change in the person’s thoughts, habits, and lifestyle requires a gradual transformation. A person’s choice to receive pleasure is influenced by society, public opinion, and fashion. Therefore, only by changing the environment and by setting priority in giving instead of receiving, can a person make the transition from the intention “for the sake of one’s self” to the intention “for the sake of others.”

What is that swift and clear-cut method that enables a person to obtain this attribute of the Upper Force? The only way to acquire the intention of bestowal is by thinking about his own personal needs only to the extent of his primary necessities, and for the rest, about the welfare of society and its citizens. By doing this, a person becomes akin to the attribute of the Upper Ruling Force. Such drastic change is only possible in a special society that creates for a person the right environment to undergo this improvement.

We return to the same problem again: nothing will work without society, group, environment, which will compel you to transform your intention from “for one’s self” to “for the sake of others.” The opportunity of correction is given to us and to our environment. We cannot get away from that. This intention will never appear within me unless I can create normal relations with the group (which constantly cultivates in me the importance and improves the quality of the intention for the sake of the Creator).

Two Advantages of Fulfillment of the Law of Bestowal in Society

1. Everyone understands that he fulfills the law because society, or indeed humanity, encourages him to do so. A person has enough energy to observe the law because he feels everyone’s support.

2. The fulfillment of the law of bestowal for the sake of humanity prepares one to carry out the law of giving for the purpose of merging with the Creator.

Society is created in such a way that it can transform me. It shows me what it expects from me (to serve it) and, at the same time, encourages, inspires, and elevates me. Gradually, it makes me realize that I need to work not for the sake of society or reception of a reward. If I selflessly serve the Creator, the reward will come from Him.

Question: What should be my attitude towards the desire that interferes with my advancement to the Goal? If I must not suppress it, what should I do with it?

There are no desires that interfere with one’s advancement to the Goal and need to be suppressed. By restricting yourself you cannot correct your desire. You only have to reexamine your priorities constantly and cultivate the desire for better, more exalted things.

Let’s say that every evening I drink beer and play snooker. What should I do to stop using these desires? If I simply give them up, I will plunge into depression, gnaw at my heart, and find no peace. This way I will not correct myself. When I used to drink beer and play snooker, I felt grateful to the Creator. Now I will curse Him for making this world such a wretched place.

Once, when my Teacher and I were driving past a stadium, he said to me: “This is a very special place. It should be revered because it brings much pleasure to people.” I was astonished! A stadium?! What do they enjoy? Drinking, eating, shouting… He explained patiently, “They receive pleasure!” Pleasure is not opposite to the Creator. Quite the contrary, this is what He wants to give us.

We should understand that our goal is to move towards greater and more sublime pleasures. Hence, instead of opposing desires, we should always work on our intentions.

I never reproach myself or anyone else for being under the power of certain desires. This is not our field of action. We should work on exalting the Creator, acquiring the intention to bestow upon Him; then everything else will become insignificant.

When you establish these priorities by yourself, your desires will change. To restrict yourself and suffer from it is no correction because your desires remain within you.

Therefore, whatever desires we may have today, we should not take them into consideration. I am not interested in how a person uses this or that desire. What I consider important is how much that person contributes to the group in order to receive from it the importance of intention. It is utterly unimportant which earthly desires the person has because until he reaches the Gmar Tikkun (the state of Ultimate Correction), he will not lose taste for them.

It is said that the people who work for the sake of the Creator develop greater taste for sexual pleasures (“ Ta’am Biya Nishar le Ovdey HaShem”). How can we understand it? The same goes for the pleasure one derives from food, etc. We see it on ourselves: the further we advance, the more desires we have.

One seems to contradict the other, but in fact it does not. You should simply learn to disregard these things. You have to act based on your innate properties and concentrate only on developing the right intention. The correct distribution of desires within you will create the right picture.

We love our children. When a child comes up to you and snatches something from your hand, you do not get angry. You may even like it because the child acts naturally. If a person could develop naturally and correctly in a corrected society, this would be the best, optimal path of evolution.

Question: How can we use concrete desires for the sake of ascending to the Creator?

We should not use any concrete desires, sort them out or think about them. We need to think only about the importance of the Creator and acquiring the proper intention for His sake.

Question: Should a person receive pleasure during his study and what is it like?

A person is obliged to enjoy studying. Our study should bring us the pleasure of being connected with the Upper Source, of advancement towards the Goal, spiritual elevation and reception of the Upper Light. Kabbalah is also called “ Torat Chaim” (The Light of Life) because it fills the person with the ultimate delight.

We say that human desires develop from those for food, sex, riches, honor, fame, knowledge, and finally lead him to the desire for spirituality. This means that the spiritual pleasures are incomparably greater than everything else! The first, smallest spiritual level is way above all the combined pleasures of our world felt by all souls in all times.

Every spiritual level includes all the previous, lower ones. The way one plant includes within it the entire inanimate domain, one person includes everything at the animate, vegetative, and inanimate levels.

Therefore, the smallest spiritual delight is far greater than all of our earthly pleasures. However, one does not annul the other.

So the person who studies Kabbalah should enjoy it. That is why we should cultivate this state in our group. Joy comes as the result of contentment from the advancement towards the Goal. Even the slight progress in that direction brings immense joy.

Question: Can one say that the Creator is inside the deepest, innermost point of our “I?”

This is absolutely right. The Creator is inside our “I,” hence Kabbalah is called the inner part (core) of the Torah. The spiritual resides inside, and everything else is clothed on it as garments or spheres.

In other words, the Creator exists inside our desires, Reshimot, and activates us and the entire process from that level.

Question: The Creator relates to me through various situations and desires of this world whereas I have to relate to Him through spiritual desires. How can one understand that?

The Creator relates to me through the desires of this world and I am obliged to relate to Him through the spiritual world. Where is justice?

The Creator manifests in the desires of this world. Out of all the diversity of forms in His attitude towards me I pick only this world. This world is the Creator’s manifestation with regard to me in this minimal form. The rest of the universe (all the other worlds) constitutes the Creator’s part, which is concealed from me.

How am I supposed to treat Him? If I relate to Him from inside this world’s sphere, this attitude of mine will be called religion, science or something else that man invented. If I relate to Him from the Upper Worlds’ levels, then I will reveal a totally different attitude of the Creator towards me, which is completely concealed from me today.

In other words, there is a dual system of relations between me and the Creator: revealed and concealed. The revealed system is represented by our world, the concealed one – by the spiritual worlds.

Question: If we say that the will to receive is neutral (meaning it is not ours) and that we cannot change the intention from “for our sake” to “for the sake of the Creator,” then what is the point, from which we ask for correction?

Our desires for pleasure are very small, but they will gradually grow. Our egoistical intention is the consequence of “ Shevirat Kelim” (breaking of the vessels, screens).

How can we possibly want to change our intention?

This desire will emerge from a point in our heart. This point is otherwise called Nitzutz (spark). This spark is a remnant of the broken screen. It pulls us forward and compels us to change our intention. It does not push us toward bigger desires. Instead, it ubconsciously drives us towards the realization that our intention is wrong.

Have you ever asked yourself why the sparks of the broken screen fell into desires? This happened because only by means of these sparks we are connected with the Source. The Ohr Makif (surrounding Light) shines upon this spark and makes it feel its opposition to the Source. It realizes that it is broken, that it acts “for its own sake” and not “for the Creator.”

“For one’s self” or “for the sake of the Creator” in no way refers to the egoistical, earthly desires. In them I do not have any intentions “for myself” or “for the Creator.”

When a person approaches the last stage of his desires’ development and the spiritual desires begin to manifest within him, a point in his heart (the intention for “one’s self”) starts growing simultaneously. The person, as it were, becomes the reverse side of the spiritual, turns into a small Klipa (impure, uncorrected desire). It is not yet the genuine Klipa because he is still below the Machsom, but, being under the influence of the system of the impure worlds of ABYA, it is already related to the real Klipot.

At this point a person begins to feel the difference between himself and the spiritual. He acquires a vague spiritual desire with an intention (spark) inside it and realizes how this intention makes him opposite to the Creator.

All the other earthly desires are utterly unimportant. The person crosses the Machsom, when in his spiritual desire he aspires to the intention ( Nitzutz) for the sake of the Creator. This way he attracts upon himself the Ohr Makif and reaches a state, in which he cries out to the Creator and receives correction. Correction means elevation, reception of the first intention for the sake of the Creator. This means that the person crossed the Machsom, became a spiritual embryo ( Ubar), and entered the Upper world.

Question: Can we say that a person needs to change his intention only with regard to a developed spiritual desire?

What is the intention for one’s self or for the Creator?

I wish to enjoy the Creator. If I use this desire for myself, it is called Klipa, if I use it for the Creator – it is called Kedusha. That is to say there is a system of relations not between me and a piece of chicken (or any other pleasure), but between me and the Creator.

Try to understand what this means. Only the system of relations between me and the Creator requires correction. The rest is the animate level and we do not take it into consideration. The spiritual world is above ours. What does “above our world” mean? This means my relations with the Creator, and it is the only thing that I need to correct.

So why then do we exist in this world? The purpose is to reach these levels by ourselves, independently of the Creator. That is why we exist in this world and can freely enter the spiritual realm as independent individuals.

Question: Why do we need two opposite sensations – the Creator’s greatness and abhorrence of the egoistical reception? Doesn’t the reception for one’s self also relate to the Creator?

What does “to receive for one’s self” mean? When I see food on the table and the host, who prepared it, and prefer the food, I don’t give a damn about the host.

If the host is not there, everything is fine, you may help yourself. Go ahead, eat; there is no problem. This world was created for you and you can do whatever you want in it. At some point you will realize that there is a host, a Giver, above this world and understand how to begin interacting with Him.

When the Host appears, you start working with Him. At the same time, you see that reception for one’s self (i.e., in opposition to the Host) is the worst possible thing because you neglect Him. This is called “ Klipa,” the impure forces within you. They do not exist anywhere else. On the contrary, when you start correcting your attitude towards the Host, this is called “ Kedusha."

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