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Article "One’s Future Depends and Relates to Gratitude for the Past"

Shamati, Article 26
Lesson by Rav Michael Laitman, Bnei Baruch, Israel
September 1, 2006
Lecturer: Michael Laitman, PhD

Reader: We are reading from the book Shamati, page 41, Article 26, One’s Future Depends and Relates to Gratitude for the Past.

It is written, “The Lord is high and the low will see,” that only the low can see the greatness. The letters Yakar (lit. Precious) are the letters Yakir (lit. will know). It means that one knows the greatness of a thing to the extent that it is precious to one.

We are basically just a will to enjoy. A will to enjoy is a desire and it’s built in such a way that a person cannot want a thousand things. There is always one desire which is more than the others, if it’s a scrutinized desire. Therefore, it is most important to examine the desires. In total there are 613 desires, but the question is, what are they aimed at? According to the extent of the desire and its scrutiny, our clarity is in how great it is. Accordingly, we can weigh our situation, and ourselves.

What does it mean that "One’s future depends and relates to gratitude for the past?" Everything is built on the past. The only state that exists is Ein Sof (Infinity), from which we are in concealment below five concealed worlds. We return to that state we were in at the beginning according to our effort. We follow the same path we descended from, by the same Reshimot that are in us. Everything is predetermined and written for every single one; his place in Ein Sof.

In all the phases along the way, only a person determines when it will happen according to his effort and by his desire. To the extent that it is precious to him and that each phase that he wants to rise to, (to come back to), is important, then accordingly a person receives this ascent back and thus progresses and comes to the state of Ein Sof.

That’s why he says that the "the low will see." Why low? Those who think about their state as bad compared to the desirable state, are called the "low." Those who think that the progressive state is the important one and what they have now is nothing compared to it. Therefore we are talking about the power of motion with which one progresses and besides this one needs no more. Only the desire determines (it’s like the fuel), the speed of our motion.

How is that connected to the past? When he says that the "future depends on the past," how can we use the past in order to progress? Actually, no one would object to progressing, but when we have to make an effort we don’t have the strength. Thus, how can we use the past in order to find the powers for progress, the fuel for it? Let’s see what Baal HaSulam advises.

One is impressed according to the importance in the thing that impresses. The impression brings one to a sensation in the heart, and according to the value of one’s recognition of the importance, to that extent the joy is born in him.

Thus, if one knows one’s lowness, that one is not more privileged than one’s contemporaries, meaning that one sees that there are many people in the world who were not given the strength to work the holy work even in the simplest of ways. Even without the intent and in Lo Lishma (lit. not for Her Name), even in LoLishma of LoLishma, and even the preparation for the preparation of the clothing of Kedusha (lit. Sanctity).

He, on the other hand, was imparted the desire and the thought to nevertheless occasionally do holy work, even in the simplest possible way.

If one can appreciate the importance of it, according to the importance that one ascribes to the holy work, to that extent one should give praise and be grateful for it. This is so because it is true that we cannot appreciate the importance of being able to sometimes keep the Mitzvot of the Creator, even without any intent. In that state one comes to feel elation and joy of the heart.

How in fact do we progress? It is possible to progress only on the condition that we are drawn to the future state. According to the desire, when we prepare the Kli (vessel), to what we feel the Kli is ready for. By the necessity in it and according to the joy and the appreciation that the next phase will clothe us. How can a person desire something that one does not appreciate or feel? Where will a person receive the strength and fuel from? The signs are that a person will be joyful and elevated when thinking of the next state. They are signs that a person already has a desire. But where does one get the desire from?

All the more progressive states are the states where the souls are more connected. The lowest, worst state is when we’re all separated in the way that it appears in the world now. Where, on the one hand, everyone discovers that he is connected to everyone. That’s what we are discovering today, that the whole of humanity is connected to each other, like a little village.

On the other hand, we are discovering that we hate and we can’t stand each other. People can’t even stand themselves. They fall into despair, drugs and they can’t stand their family members. They divorce them, stay away from them and they don’t care where they live, whether or not it’s among their own people. It’s all becoming obscure and confusing. People don’t even care about their country.

Everything is becoming very relative. The world is becoming unidentified with the key things that used to characterize us. Why? Because of the ego that grew in us to such an extent. That’s why Kabbalists determined that now is the time of the correction and the method of correction is the wisdom of Kabbalah, because now there is beginning to be a need for it to appear in the world.

However, what is the correction? The correction is first of all to see that we are in the will to receive, which is the only bad that exists in nature and that distances us from one another. That is what gives us the sensation of hatred toward one another. The condition for us to exist is only one, of love of man. Only on that condition will people be certain that they and their children will exist and have confidence in whatever happens tomorrow. This means instead of hatred, we need love to appear. That is the correction.

According to the wisdom of Kabbalah we learn that this is called "a return to the structure of Adam ha Rishon." Adam ha Rishon is when all of the souls rise together as one system, and in that system everyone cancels himself, relinquishes his self and operates only to benefit the system like cells in the body. Although in the beginning we are in a situation where we’re all egoist and in order to exist we have to relinquish our ego and connect together. Then we will come to the existence and life of the general system, which is called "the next world." Subsequently we’ll feel not our own little egoistic lives, detached from everyone but rather the life of the whole body, of all the souls.

This is like a cell that is in the body at the animate level that connects to the whole body, relinquishes itself for the life of the body and then receives from the body a different degree of existence, the speaking degree. That’s how we come from the animate degree to the human degree, to resemble the Creator. We do that by recognizing that in that state there is something transcendent, great and special.

Where do we take that importance from? Because it’s not in us; all that is in us is a desire to receive, so that perhaps now we’ll begin to see that we feel bad. But to what state should we progress and how do we relinquish ourselves and come together? We can receive that only from the system.

That’s what Baal HaSulam writes in his article Freedom. That is to say if a person enters such a society whose purpose is to reach the same state of Adam ha Rishon,where everyone is connected as "one man in one heart." Then the Upper Light appears in the system that's called Torah, a spiritual life, eternity and perfection. Subsequently a person who enters such a society receives from it something called "the importance, the essence." He writes that "he recognizes his past and the terrible situation he was in and accordingly by receiving the impression from society he now anticipates the future."

That the gap between the past, between where he is in his own attributes, hating everyone and limited in his ego and by receiving from society the powers and the importance to reach the sublime state, the spiritual state. Out of the gap between the two states, he receives the motivation, the fuel and the power, the direction that brings him from this world to the Upper world, from this state to a more progressive, spiritual state. Therefore, this incorporation in the group is as if he entered a higher system, a more connected system, closer to the real one and from there he receives the impressions.

However it’s not enough. There is a need for great effort on the part of a person so that this awareness, this sensation, the gap between these two states and the difference between them (where he is alone, hating everyone, egoistic), to between being connected to everyone, and incorporating himself in everyone; that sensation should give him joy. The importance, the key is that he’ll measure the extent of joy that he feels about it. If a person comes to a state where he’s filled with joy, that joy is like his preparation of Ohr Hozer (the Returning Light) to receive the Ohr Yashar (the Direct Light). It indicates that a person is ready to receive the progressive state and then he’ll receive it.

That’s why there are several phases here in our preparation to reach the revelation and the discovery of the spiritual world so it will clothe us. Furthermore the last sign before we receive that spiritual state is joy. It’s called "the joy of the heart." It means that in all of our desires, we feel how desirable this correction is and this indicates our willingness to connect to all the souls, to be with them in the system of Adam ha Rishon.

Question: How does one who is on the way and recognizes the greatness of the goal and feels this joy, how can he also feel low?

In this world we don’t recognize the two states as opposite, as they are in spirituality. Those who embark on the spiritual path start to feel that they observe their situation. These observations are bitter and sweet, if one is happy or unhappy, and along with this there is the scrutiny in knowing the situation itself. Is that state purposeful? Does a person care about the goal? How important is this goal to him? Is it more important than the sensation of unpleasantness or discomfort that he may feel? Or does one not really care about the goal? A person is willing to stay in falsehood just as long as he feels good and comfortable, as much as he is able to relinquish.

These two forms of scrutiny—bitter and sweet and true and false—bitter and sweet in the sensation in the heart and true and false in the mind, build within us our whole state. That’s how we measure ourselves as to how we have grown; how ready we are for something, how much we have strength, understanding, awareness and how much we don’t care if we suffer because of our nature. This is as long as we know the evil in it because the recognition of evil prompts one to receive the more progressive state.

So the whole progress consists of these opposite states. Just as now humanity is beginning to realize it’s progressing like one person, it’s the same law. On the one hand we feel that we cannot get rid of or be away from each other because it’s the system that nature puts us in and we don’t have a choice since we are all connected. What happens in some place in the world effects a person and the whole world is coming to him and pressuring him, and he is dependant on them for better or for worse. On the other hand, he discovers that everyone hates him and he hates everyone. One is dependent on everyone and even that dependency is negative, a person is in a hostile world; he hates them, they hate him.

Can we advance and live this way? It’s not just theoretical, it’s the world, my neighbors, government, authorities, country, our neighboring countries, the whole world, everyone. Look at what’s being exposed and it’s only the beginning of this final appearance. Previously, people thought that they would progress to a better situation, that technology and evolution would bring them to a better state, (now it's bad, it will get better).

Today, we’re not seeing this and we don’t think that it’ll be better. Why? Because we are discovering the hatred among us even more and that’s the sign of the last stage of the human evolution. If hate appears more and more, then wherever we are advancing to, it’s not progress anymore. We are afraid of tomorrow.

You can’t plan anything; if you are dependent on everyone and no one wants to consider you, you don’t know what’s going to happen the next minute in the world economy, or in everything. Systems that we built, we can seemingly change. However, you cannot change anything because you suddenly discover that you are dependent on people, you are among people each of which is a felon, a robber who cannot and will not be in touch with anyone else and will take nothing into consideration except his own whims. That’s how the states are, nations, civilizations (there are seven or eight civilizations in the world today).

So what do we do? From not having a choice, just like you say, "How can these two things appear?" But that’s exactly what appears. On the one hand, there is mutual hatred and on the other hand, the interdependency. It’s like in a family. Suddenly we discover that we hate each other; we can’t help it, it’s all connected and we’re all together. What do we do? In such a case there is an explosion and we kill each other. Baal HaSulam writes that if we continue with this evolvement there will be no choice and we’ll end up in a Third World War.

But precisely when these two discernments appear a person feels how low he is and how this state can be sublime and complete. It brings a person into his private work (and that’s how it’ll appear with respect to the world). It’ll bring one to a state where he will really want the more corrected state. Even if one is told to relinquish his will to receive, he will relinquish it because he sees what it’s doing to him. Soon everyone in the world will agree that only love, only a good connection between us can help save the world and give us some hope for our children and for us, in order to have a good future. Baal HaSulam writes here, what our good future depends on.

Nevertheless, the question is how do we do it? This is why the revelation of the wisdom of Kabbalah comes to us now, because without this method people won’t know how to correct it. There’s the gap. So how can it happen at once? But in fact it’ll appear at once: the lowness of the present state and some degree of vision of the situation in which we can exist and have a good, reasonable life and not be threatened every moment.

How do we progress? Baal HaSulam says we have to come to a state that the next state is "precious," that it’s important and the sign for it is joy.

Question: In the past our nation received a very serious blow and six million people were killed. Will we have to suffer an even greater blow if there is to be a change? Otherwise, there won’t be a change.

We can progress through affliction but that’s not progress because as we said, progress can be through two forces: a person is suffering now and he identifies a better state that he runs to, that he wants to switch to. If a person is just suffering now that’s not going to help because he is like a beaten animal that has nowhere to run. At the same time, we have to reveal the good state that can be and has been prepared for us.

Therefore, first we need the expansion of the wisdom of Kabbalah. That somehow, seeing the previous state will come to humanity; that there is somewhere to go, there is a solution and a power that will make that change in us. It depends on the explanation.

Question: It seems that it’ll depend on the people with the point in the heart awakening. They’ll do the job because if it doesn’t happen, this force will not come by itself.

That’s obvious. This is why there’re many verses about it and it's written as to how it should be. There has to be dissemination because we need to educate people and to explain to them how to be cured. The fact that a person feels ill, doesn’t tell him what to do. He can just sit and cry like a baby or like some poor fellow because he doesn't see how this is possible. First of all we have to explain that this situation is purposeful and that there’s no such thing as only evil in the world. But that this evil is actually the appearance of the present state as compared to the next state, which is a good state and how we reach the good state.

Again, we are returning to the same principle that these two forces have to appear. Rejection of the present state is the bad, when we feel bad. The reason we are feeling bad is because the ego appears within our nature. The good, the attraction to the good, (a push from behind and a pull from ahead), leads to a more progressive state where a person feels that there are two forces in him. And the future state, the enlightened one, the desirable one, is like Baal HaSulam writes the "precious," the important one and then joy is born in him.

Why does he say that the future is connected to the past and depends on it? Because the more a person knows the bad in the present state, the more he has the strength, the fuel to escape it to the next and good states.

But the question is, what does it mean that the future depends on the past? If a person tests one against the other, what exactly should he change? He doesn't just want a good state. It’s when he begins to understand that the good state depends on changing his nature. This is why the connection between the two states is a connection in the essence of the Kli, the present Kli compared to the future Kli. Because the Upper Light is in complete rest and all he needs to change is his Kli. This means the ego is bad, this is called "my state being bad," and the next state is good because the Kli is corrected there.

Question: Baal HaSulam mentions holy work three times here. What is holy work?

Holy work is the work to change our nature from egoistic to altruistic. It’s work because we have to labor against our nature. It’s called "holy" because we acquire the attribute of bestowal. Bestowal is sanctity, Bina is called "sanctity," the attribute of Bina, bestowal, giving and love of fellow man that is expressed this way. Giving to a man is the act itself. All of that is called "sanctity," "the Temple," "the holy land," the holy land from the word desire. Hence the desire to bestow is called "the holy land."

The people of Israel, that is to say those who have a direction straight to the Creator, their place is in the holy land, in the desire to bestow. That’s how it is in spirituality, that’s how these terms are connected to one another. Holy work is in order to go from our state, from our attributes of reception to the attribute of bestowal. It’s all about within a person’s desire, which is deliberately corrupted and was given to us this way so that we would understand how bad it is and want to correct, to feel life, ourselves in other desires in which we will feel other states, called "states of Light" and the "Upper World."

The praise and the gratitude that one gives for it expand the feelings, and one is elated by every single point in the holy work, one knows whose worker he is and thus rises ever higher.

Servitude doesn’t mean that a person becomes a slave or humiliated but on the contrary he feels the importance, his ascension. Rather compared to the present state, in which he receives a new attribute of bestowal on top of the natural attribute of reception (which he felt before), it is considered that he receives it as work, as servitude, as necessity. Actually, it’s just an expression with respect to his corrupted attributes.

That’s why it’s called, "as an ox to the burden and as a donkey to the load," without mind and reason, without acquiring such possession, and when he acquires it, it is as if he is moving with his eyes shut. These are all expressions we use to show how we come to the gap between the two states, how the will to receive in us is dominating and doesn’t allow us to feel and to appreciate the will to bestow, the next state where acquiring the next degree is possible only by receiving it above our whole situation.

In our situation there is no preparation, no foundation to receive the next degree; we can only hate our present state. We can’t receive the next state in the same Kelim and in the same understandings because it’s all built on the ego, on the will to receive, to enjoy at someone’s expense, to exploit others. With this attitude toward others, we can’t appreciate the situation where we are incorporated in everyone, where we exit our own desire outwardly, when we live in the external system like an egoistic cell that receives the software of the body and becomes giving to the body. Only the importance of the body, the importance of the comprehensive general live, common life now determines what it will do.

Therefore, in the software that is entirely for self-fulfillment, it cannot have any kind of ability to understand and to switch to the software that is entirely for the service of the whole body, service of others. That’s why he says that this reception of the new software is brought up in the books of Kabbalah as servitude, as unconditional surrender, something that happens absentmindedly, as we are told about the crossing of the Red Sea. In such a way that a person becomes detached from the previous state and has nothing left over from the previous state, no sensation, no intellect because he completely changes his nature to the opposite.

This is the meaning of what is written, “I thank Thee for the grace that Thou hast made with me,” meaning for the past, and one can confidently say, and does say, “and that Thou will do with me.”

This precisely indicates that he knows the past and because of that wants the future. He can’t appreciate the future without understanding that his past was pre-prepared for him. How does he put it? "Ones future depends on gratitude for the past," where he understands, and appreciates what the Creator has prepared for him. Where all the degrees, the situations he’s been through which were felt in his desire as bad states (confused states that he feels in his intellect). All of them are actually necessary foundations on which he wants to build his progress, where out of each and every such state he can progress and not from any other.

The bad situation which appears as bad is the basis for the good state. Furthermore, we see it in humanity’s progress. Baal HaSulam explains that every situation we arrive at seems good to us at first and then gradually all it's elements begin to appear and we see how incomplete they are, even how bad they are, how there’s nothing about them that one can tolerate. A person can’t stand it, he can’t stay in them. Subsequently, the situation becomes loathsome and hateful, such that he can’t stay in for another moment. He can move to the next state only on that condition.

In corporeality it’s not felt so much because we see everything within the same desire to receive: a little less desire to receive, a little more. If we feel better over there, I go there; if not, I remain in my present state because the gap between the degrees is a little better in the same desire. That’s how it seems to me.

However, in spirituality the gap between the degrees is extreme and completely opposite. That’s why a person can’t progress from one degree to another except only on the condition that he is cut off from the previous state. One leaves his desire there, his life, namely everything that he feels within the desire and opposite that moves to the next spiritual degree. The gap between the degrees is like a cessation between two Partzufim where the Keter of the lower becomes Malchut of the Upper One, where one reaches the end of the present degree and the next degree begins from total darkness. It’s the worst of all states that have been and this is called "entering the Upper One."

It just shows us how we are progressing by two forces and we progress by negating the will to receive. The will to receive gets bigger every time and a person turns it into a bigger will to bestow. And the next time the will to receive grows even more and we turn it into a greater will to bestow. So the degrees are completely detached and totally opposite.

That’s why a person can’t go from degree to degree unless he receives the fuel from society so that it becomes important to him, precious and brings him joy. The discovery of that state gives one the powers to move to the next state. This is why the recognition of the present state and gratitude for the past builds a persons’ future.

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