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Article "The Essence of One’s Work"

Shamati, Article 12
Lesson by Rav Michael Laitman, Bnei Baruch, Israel
July 21, 2006
Lecturer: Michael Laitman, PhD

The essence of one’s work should be how to come to feel taste in bestowing contentment to one’s Maker, since all that one does for oneself distances him from the Creator, due to the disparity of form. However, if one performs an act to benefit the Creator, even the smallest act, it is still considered a Mitzva (lit. Precept/good deed).

Hence, one’s primary exertion should be to acquire a force that feels taste in bestowing, which is through lessening the force that feels taste in self-reception. In that state one slowly acquires the taste in bestowing.

It’s a short article. Baal HaSulam probably said it without interpreting or maybe he didn’t have much time or under certain conditions. What is the essence of the work? The Upper Force sees what It created as a collection of souls called Adam ha Rishon (the First Man). His purpose is to bring the souls to know this Force, to the status of this Force, to that same attribute.

What does He do in order to give the souls the possibility of free choice to obtain the greatest possible eternal and complete state, which is resemblance to the Creator? He distances them to the worst degree called Olam ha Zeh (this world) and then begins to provide them conditions. Through these conditions, the souls that are already scattered feel only themselves and they feel others only in order to exploit them. Now the souls begin to see what the force of breaking—the will to receive in them—does. They begin to fight among themselves.

This is what we see in this world: everyone’s fighting everyone else, fighting for his ego, for his egoistic status. That’s the situation we see here on Earth.

If in our perception of reality when turning to our world and to ourselves, we were aware that this situation comes in order to show us our nature, then we would quickly see that, even though there are wars and suffering, all of this seems like a game from Above with conditions that the Creator set up according to our degree of corruption so we would recognize the corruption in us and want to change it.

Instead of doing that, we are fighting against the game itself. We want to fix everything up according to our own ego, so that from the situations that appear to us in our world, there will be something that appears to our ego as good.

This means we completely invert the situation. Instead of accepting and understanding that here the Upper Force is working so that we’ll just learn our nature and ask of Him to rise from this level to higher ones (up to His degree), we seemingly don’t want to accept the rules of the game, the situation that He set up.

We are fighting to fix the situation according to our own ego. That’s the picture that we don’t understand. We don’t perceive the reality correctly according to what’s expected with respect to the purpose, with respect to the Thought of Creation.

This is why the primary part of man’s work (which is the title of the article) is to understand the Olam (world) he is in. The Creator designed it for him only for the purpose of the recognition of the evil of the person himself. The whole world is an expression of our own ego and one should try to see that everything that happens here—situations created by the Upper Force—is only so that we would know the evil in it and would want to rise above it.

This approach brings a person to deal with the reason for the situation and not the situation itself. This is the design of the forces, the broken forces which appear this way in our egoistic attributes.

Concerning the process of the recognition of evil, Baal HaSulam says (although he skips a few stages), “The essence of one’s work should be how to come to feel a taste in bestowing contentment to one’s Maker…” From this there are still a few stages left before a person begins to realize that both he and the situations he is in are set up by the Upper Force out of love and thinking only of the souls and not of the bodies.

A person, especially through his hard life, will see that the sensations of difficulties in life are in order that he would want to rise above them and cling to the Upper Force that waits for him. Then through that, one will discover the love that comes to him from Above and that the love cannot appear in any other way from the perspective of the Creator and from the perspective of the individual.

By that, one will also want to bring contentment to the Creator as the Creator really arranges and does it for him, although if he judges through his egoistic Kli (vessel), he sees the opposite. If he penetrates deeper through this picture into the goals, i.e., the Thought of Creation, then he sees that there is only love for him that rules, and from that he comes to love and its expression, which is bringing contentment to his Maker.

Question: If, in the end, only a very limited group of people will be clearly aware about what happens in the world, while the rest might or might not know, how does it all fit?

Your assumption is incorrect. It says the opposite. “They shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them.” You are looking at bodies. So for the time being you are right. For the past five thousand years only a few Kabbalists realized the true picture and the actual reality, and for today there are groups.

It’s true that it is still nothing compared to all the bodies of people who are roaming the world, but that’s the way to evolve. The calculation is not about the bodies, but the souls, the inner part in us that always adds impressions and awareness of the situation it is in. From generation to generation, as the bodies change, the soul is enriched in all kinds of impressions and comes to the recognition of evil, of its own nature, and thus comes to know the Upper Force that still exists besides itself and the environment.

It begins to feel that within it and around it there is an Upper Force which arranges and builds everything only to bring the soul to the understanding and sensation of being in the situation, to want to be in the situation as He is.

Every soul—the farthest and smallest, the weakest also—has the same goal. In Gmar Tikkun (the end of correction),no one will be left who does not reach the Dvekut (adhesion/ adherence) and equivalence of form with the Creator completely, according to the power and volume of his own soul.

What we see as we look along the way is that we are just now beginning. What humanity had up until the 21st century is just a preparation period. Only now we are beginning to take the first line of humanity and gradually are beginning to enter the awareness of what the situation is: what is this world; the situation we are in; who we are and where we are.

First we have to know that, and only then this process begins. It’s true that this process seems very slow to us, unpleasant, and it begins from especially pure souls, from pure to thick. The correction process is from light to heavy, but that’s what we have.

It’s all according to the laws of Light and Kli—the first action when the Light created the Kli. The contradiction between them determined all the rest of the process that would happen with the desire that was created, “existence from absence” (the Kli), and how within the Light it would change and equalize with the Light.

In this process, there are no incidental actions or ones that don’t follow a specific order. Everything runs exactly according to these two forces as the primary law, the biggest and strongest force in nature.

All of nature is below it, with all of its laws. That is why with this assumption we have to start relating to reality, to ourselves, that there is nature here with its laws in every incident, in everything we can only imagine, even desires, and thoughts that seemingly have no strong law and seem unstable and happening by chance. We have to see the regularity and the purposefulness of all these things that appear to us this way. By that, a person can accelerate his own evolvement compared to others.

It’s all about attention and to the extent that we pay attention to our evolvement: why we evolve, the purpose and who determines it. We should pay attention not to this game, but to what it’s for, what it’s made of. That promotes us to go through it quickly, because that is its purpose: to teach us to reach its reasons, to the Designer of the game. It all depends on our attention.

It follows that that’s man’s participation, like a child’s. Until man completes all the evolutionary phases, he doesn’t progress. That’s man’s work. If we relate to life as if there is anything else to do but that, then we only diminish and slow down our evolution.

Question: If there is a person who comes to perceive actual reality, does that accelerate and help with the process of perceiving reality where the rest of the souls are?

It’s a good question. Because all the souls are connected to one another, it is impossible that someone will perform an action that will not affect others for better or for worse. Thus, if besides the attention to the situations he is in, a person begins to pay attention to his participation, i.e., what it is and to what extent in his participation he can benefit or harm himself, then he begins to discover from the ego how connected he is to others and through them can accelerate or slow down the process because he belongs to the entire system.

It is because he belongs to the system (to the extent that he is aware of it and uses it) that through it he can reach actions in which he healthily and consciously acts. Because if he belongs to a cell, to an organ in the body of Adam ha Rishon,and he knows the system better and better, then he uses the other souls. He connects them through his own soul and uses the whole body of Adam ha Rishon and it becomes his Kli. Then he is like one creature opposite the Creator. It all depends on the level of connection to other souls that then accordingly follows the rule “love your friend as thyself.”

Question (cont’d): Sounds frightening, because the responsibility of every person is huge. You can ruin it for everyone or lift everyone.

That’s exactly what happens. Everyone today is ruining the whole of Adam ha Rishon because each of us is really this Adam, the only creature who stands opposite the Creator. Everything else is just, as it says, “to serve me, and I, to serve my Maker.”

I don’t know if it is frightening. We don’t even realize this status, but everyone is, indeed, unique, one creation. For in the breaking of the vessels there was a multi-dimensional breaking. It’s like a holographic picture. There is this technique that you photograph at a special angle with special lens, and what you see in each part of the picture is the whole picture, not just a part of the picture.

It’s the same with the person. On one hand, he is a part of Adam ha Rishon, on the other, when you relate to this part, it is a complete one. He is literally Adam ha Rishon. When he performs his correction with respect to others, it’s as if they have no free choice, only he does. Only he is the creature. Everything else is a system.

This is why the functioning of Adam ha Rishon (who is entirely corrupted) today, with respect to the Creator, is only a person’s own corruption. And it is at a level of Olam ha Zeh, the smallest and worst level. So don’t blame others; don’t punish them for that. It’s only you and vice versa: the correction is only up to you.

That’s why you cannot say that you have no free choice, that you are dependent on others, “why aren’t you correcting yourselves,” “I am dependent on you,” and all that. There is no such thing. It all depends on each and everyone internally, personally, regardless of the others. The others with respect to him are the corrected system.

That’s why we have to relate to the friends in the group. Rabash writes about it. Why is this so? Because with respect to your work, they are completely corrected. It all depends only on you.

From this also comes the rule that he who finds faults, it is in his own faults. What does it mean “in his own faults?” You say, “Just look at the others. Aren’t they corrupted? Look at their faces, look at their souls within.”

But if you begin to see the internality through the externality (if you can see the internality), you’ll see that you saw the externality this way because of your own attributes. If you penetrate internally, then you see according to your corrected attributes. They are all corrected with respect to you.

This is precisely the spiritual holography. For better and also for worse, on the one hand each person is a single, unique creature standing opposite the Creator, and, on the other hand the others are only to serve him. The meaning of “to serve me” is the extent that he understands that he should connect them as his own Kli with respect to the Creator.

Question: If one engages in bestowal, can he influence others in his environment to progress spiritually? How does the unity in Adam ha Rishon manifest?

We can continue from now on to talk about the work in the group. How does a person’s work affects others or are they really in Gmar Tikkun compared to him? Maybe they are like a system that doesn’t change, or is it all how he understands in his own mind? How does he know who they are? He is impressed with someone and he thinks it’s you. Who are you? Are you outside of him? If it is outside, then how can he feel? He only feels his own impression; what is inside of him.

This means that your image in him is you with respect to him, but who are you anyway? He can’t grasp it. He can’t attain you without absorbing you in his attributes, desires, understanding and consciousness. Someone else with other attributes will be impressed by you in a totally different way.

That’s why we should understand that the social system, the entire humanity, which is arranged around the person, is basically only a direct replication of a person’s own internal attributes. When he looks at humanity, it is actually his own corrupted attributes. To the extent that he corrects them, he doesn’t look at the bodies and begins to see souls. And then he begins to see that they are a part of him, and after that he begins to see that they are not a part, but that they are himself.

Previously he saw them as external to himself, even as his enemies against him, etc. As we learn in the perception of reality, everything outside of a person is not outside. It is an impression within him from his own attributes. His own attributes against the background of the white Light depict the whole reality that seems to exist.

Now you can begin to understand all those tips that Kabbalists write in their articles with respect to society, to the world. That’s exactly how a soul sees itself with respect to the world.

We also see this from studying the wisdom of Kabbalah. Malchut deEin Sof was restricted in order to create its own system, both corrupted and corrected (the impure ABYA (Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, Asiya) opposite the pure ABYA). It just shows itself this way between these two systems (i.e., the pure and impure, which are actually Malchut de Ein Sof), toward the souls who are inside. This is so they will be lead through the pure ABYA or the impure ABYA, according to what state these souls are in and to what extent they are in that state. With respect to themselves, there are no Olamot. There is only the world of Ein Sof, Dvekut, the only state of the Creator and creature.

Afterwards we also learn about the structure of the soul, how it perceives reality. Our Kli, our tool of perception, is divided as such: Mocha, which means marrow, bones, tendons, flesh and skin, and then Shoresh (root), Neshama (soul), Guf (body), Clothing and Hall. Thus we feel that our reality is divided into these spheres, Shoresh, Neshama, Guf, Levush (Clothing), and Hall. Shoresh and Neshama are the “I” and the Clothing and the Hall are seemingly on the outside of me. But these are only impressions from the situation. It’s not that the situation itself exists this way. We are impressed in this way from within ourselves. That’s how reality, i.e., existence, seems to us.

What the wisdom of Kabbalah does is to position us somehow on a truer status, so that from within it we will see our present state. We then criticize our attributes, observations, our perception of the world from the outside, from a more progressive state and see that we are in falsehood, and so from that we will be able to progress. The primary part of man’s work is to go through all these phases in order to determine himself in a corrected way, called “Creator.”

Question: Why do we need this piece of flesh, this body for the work? What is the thing about the body?

We need this body in the world that we see now in order to begin from scratch in the process of the spiritual evolvement. I am, we all are, actually from the beginning, in the state of Ein Sof—Dvekut, eternity, perfection. Everything is found here. That’s the only state.

The Light created the Kli and they are in that state. This is called phase Aleph (one). But in this state of Aleph, the whole eternity, perfection, Ein Sof, the Dvekut, all come from the power of Light, the power of the Creator, who designed this state, and that’s it.

We are in that state, but we don’t recognize it. We don’t feel it; it’s not our own. It’s as if we are in it and that’s it. We can’t know its size, its depth, or anything. We are here as existence from absence, as a point, and that’s it. There is no “us” here.

For us to feel that state we have to come to it from the complete opposite state. Instead of the situation Aleph, it will be situation Bet (two), so that it would be opposite to Ein Sof, which is called Olam ha Zeh. Instead of Dvekut, it is of maximum distance. Instead of eternity, it is death and loss and incompleteness in everything. This is Olam ha Zeh.

In between Ein Sof and Olam ha Zeh, there are what we call spiritual states. Spiritual states meaning the 125 degrees in which we are like a point here in Ein Sof (within the Kli) and the Creator is like the Ruler who does everything, and we have fallen to the opposite state (to Olam ha Zeh) where we are not the point, but only we exist. That’s how we feel ourselves and there is no Creator. That’s it.

We begin from that state which is the total opposite of Ein Sof, i.e., outside of the whole connection in the 125 degrees between us. Here we are in our bodies, which is called man’s heart, where all his desires are. And then, let’s say, in this special evolvement we also have the point in the heart from which we can begin to evolve above Olam ha Zeh.

From this point in the heart we begin to go through these phases of evolution, until we come to a state called situation Gimel (three) in which we return to the same situation as we were to begin with. But we built that state. We attained it with our own desires, with our own craving and with our own efforts. If here (in the Aleph state) we were a point of existence from absence, i.e., non-existent, then in the Gimel state we do exist in the complete stature that is equal to the Creator.

Your question was, why does one need the Olam ha Zeh? It’s impossible to do anything in one’s work along the way in the 125 degrees, if it’s not from within one’s corporal body, within the heart of flesh, from a situation where one is detached, and not in spirituality. From the outside one can determine and build since it’s existence from absence. One builds all the 125 degrees.

You are in a body. You have come to a certain degree. You have to change that state, so you die. Another body begins. You continue the process, that’s to say, the first reincarnation, then the second reincarnation, etc. Until you complete all the phases to the last phase, you’ll still have to reincarnate into a form called “Olam ha Zeh” because this existence, where you are in a body, in your corporal consciousness, is the first condition from which you determine your attitude toward spirituality, even if you are like Rabbi Shimon.

What does it say about him? Before Rabbi Shimon reached the last degree, and rose to the last phase, right before the ascent (at the top level), he felt himself as ‘Shimon-from-the-market.’ In other words, he still had to feel his own body as the simplest person in Olam ha Zeh from whom he makes the final climb. Otherwise, it is not he who does it. This is why the reality of Olam ha Zeh is mandatory, because it is outside the 125 degrees, outside of Ein Sof.

While we are studying, we should learn about these spiritual states so that from them we will get a certain luminescence that will help us rise to another degree, and another degree, and another degree. The connection between us and the ascents, spirituality and Ein Sof, is only the surrounding Light. You can be the greatest Kabbalist, it doesn’t matter. In order to rise from one degree to another, you’ll need that Light of that higher degree to affect you from afar and promote you. The principle is simple and it’s the only one that acts.

Question: The question is what is the body’s influence when one crosses the Machsom (barrier)?

When you cross the barrier then you begin to use everything in this world correctly. Yes, then as it says, the whole world is worthwhile.

Question: Should one desire his own personal correction or correction of the group? How does one divide my attitude toward his own correction and the general one?

You can divide your attitude to yourself, to the group and to humanity in a simple way. The most correct attitude from which you won’t err is to see only yourself as acting in the system that you see. There is no one else. Then you won’t have complaints, demands of others. You will feel that they sustain you to the extent that you sustain them; that they are a replica of your internal state.

Then you will also relate that way to the Creator. Who is the Creator? Is He here or not? If you don’t feel Him, then He is not there? Who told you He is there? The Orthodox believe that there is such a thing and the secular believe that He doesn’t exist. Both believe. We don’t believe. We have a simple rule: “only what his eyes can see exists” and that’s it.

When you feel something and you are sure that you feel something, that you didn’t imagine it, then it’s in your sensation, just as Olam ha Zeh is. Then in that measure of certainty, it exists. What you sense, exists. So, you name it according to your sensation. That’s what we learn in the wisdom of Kabbalah. This is our approach.

That’s why a Kabbalist doesn’t believe nor is he religious, nor ordinary. He acts from within his own Kli and cares only for the correction of the Kli in order to know for sure that what he feels is not imaginary. That’s it. It is the wisdom of Kabbalah: real reception.

Question: What are the means through which one can improve his sensations of his connections to other souls and to as many souls as possible?

Again, by the correct perception of reality. You position yourself with respect to the world. This positions a person in a state where he sees that the whole world is a meeting place between himself and the Creator.

The Creator designed the world around him like in a game, and plays within and outside the person so that a person will see who he is playing with, or who plays with him. In this way one learns.

To the extent that one begins to recognize, he begins to play more wisely. One sees that this game is not against the Creator, but is out of love, out of wanting to connect. Then he begins to see his own system, that it’s not his own and the external system is also meaningless. It’s just his system of connection with the Creator.

He begins to use himself and the world only for the purpose of this connection. The more he delves in it and learns “from your actions we know you” and studies the Creator through His actions, through this game, he thus progresses. That’s all there is.

We have only to understand what is called the Thought of Creation, and to constantly copy from there more wisdom. This is to grow to the degree of the Creator. It all depends on the attitude, on the point of relating to reality, to ourselves, and to the environment. We just have to go a little deeper. It is from that point when we want to see this situation correctly, and to read it correctly that we begin to see life every moment. That is a sign and a basis for success.

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