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Inner Motion and Development

In this world, we advance physically by using our organs of motion – the legs. Once we have moved forward, we then use our organs of acquisition – the hands.

In contrast, spiritual organs are opposite to ours: we can ascend the stairs only if we have consciously rejected all support of reason. In addition, we can attain the purpose of creation only by opening our hands and giving, rather than taking.

The purpose of creation is to bestow pleasure upon us. Why, then, does the Creator lead us to this goal by such a painful path? Let us try to find the answer.

First, the Creator has, in His perfection, created human beings.

One attribute of ultimate perfection is the state of rest, for movement is induced either by a lack of something, or by an attempt to reach that which is considered desirable.

Human beings also like to rest, and will only sacrifice it when they are lacking something vital, such as food or warmth, etc.

The more they suffer from the lack of what they want, the readier they are to make greater and greater efforts in order to obtain it. Therefore, if the Creator makes people suffer from the lack of the spiritual, they will be compelled to make an effort to reach it.

Once they have attained the spiritual, which is the purpose of creation, people will experience the pleasure that the Creator prepared for them. For this reason, those who wish to advance spiritually do not consider the suffering the ego brings as punishment, but only as evidence of the Creator’s good Will to help them.

Therefore, they view their suffering as a blessing, rather than a curse. Only after having achieved the spiritual will they understand what it really is and what pleasures are found in it. Until then, they will only suffer from the lack of it.

The difference between the material and the spiritual is that our lack of material pleasures causes us to suffer, while our lack of spiritual pleasures does not. Therefore, in order to bring us spiritual pleasures, the Creator imparts to us a sense of suffering from our lack of spiritual sensations.

On the other hand, when experiencing material pleasures, we will never reach the complete, infinite fulfillment that is present even in the smallest of spiritual pleasures. As soon as we begin to acquire a taste for the spiritual, there is a danger that we might receive pleasure from perceiving the spiritual as an egoistic desire, and will consequently move further away from the spiritual.

The reason for such a turn of events is that we begin to pursue the spiritual after we find much greater pleasure in this pursuit than we had previously experienced in our entire distasteful lives. We now see that we no longer have a need for faith – the basis of all spirituality-- for it has become clear that pursuing the spiritual is worth doing for our own benefit. But the Creator uses this approach only with beginners, in order to attract and then correct them.

Each of us feels that we know better than anyone else what we should do and what is good for us. This feeling stems from the fact that in an egoistic state, we perceive only the self and nothing else. Therefore, we see ourselves as the most wise, since only we know what we desire at each moment of our lives.

The Creator rules our world in strict accordance with the material laws of nature. Therefore, it is impossible to get around these laws or to counteract them: if we jump off the cliff, we will fall to our death; if we are deprived of oxygen, we will suffocate, and so on.

The Creator has confirmed such laws of nature in order to make us understand that survival requires effort and caution. In the spiritual world, where we cannot foresee the consequences of events and do not know the laws of survival, we must at the very outset understand the principal law. This law cannot be evaded, just as the laws of nature in our world cannot be evaded.

The principal law states that we cannot be guided by sensations of pleasure, since it is not pleasure, but altruism, that determines whether a spiritual life is beneficial or harmful:

Lightthat which emanates from the Creator and is perceived by us as immense pleasure. Comprehending the pleasure or perceiving the Creator (which is, actually, one and the same, for it is not Him we perceive but the Light reaching us) is the purpose of creation.

Faith – the power that gives an individual confidence in the possibility of attaining a spiritual life, coming alive after being spiritually dead. The more clearly we realize that we are spiritually dead, the more strongly we feel a need for faith.

Prayer effort made by an individual, particularly in the heart, to perceive the Creator and implore Him to grant the individual confidence in the possibility of attaining a spiritual life.

Any work, any exertion of effort, and any praying is possible only if the Creator is concealed from human beings. A genuine prayer asks the Creator to grant one the strength to counter egoism with closed eyes – without the Creator revealing Himself to the person, since this is the highest reward. Our level of spirituality is defined by our willingness to proceed selflessly.

When we gain confidence in our own altruistic strength, we can gradually begin to experience pleasure for the sake of the Creator, for by so doing we are pleasing the Creator. Since it is the Creator’s Will to bestow pleasure on us, this congruity of wishes brings the Giver and the receiver closer together.

Apart from the pleasure we receive by perceiving the Light of the Creator, we also experience infinite pleasure from perceiving the Creator’s stature, that is, from our union with the Ultimate Perfection. Attaining this pleasure is the purpose of creation.

Since egoism – our desire to receive – is our essence, it predominates on all levels of nature, from the atomic-molecular to the hormonal, animal, and higher levels.

Egoism extends all the way up to the highest systems of human reasoning and the subconscious, including our altruistic desires. It is so powerful that we are incapable of deliberately opposing it in any situation.

Therefore, if we want to escape the power of the ego, we must fight it. We must act contrary to the desires of our bodies and our reason in everything relating to our advance toward the spiritual, even if we cannot see any benefit to ourselves.

Otherwise, we will never transcend the limits of our world. In Kabbalah, this principle of work is known as, "Force him until he says ‘I want.’"

Once the Creator helps us by imparting to us His Own Nature, our bodies will themselves want to function in the spiritual realm. This condition is called “the return” (teshuvah).

The transformation of our egoistic essence into an altruistic essence happens as follows: In His wisdom, the Creator generated a desire for self-gratification and implanted it in human beings. This desire represents egoism, a black point in one’s essence. It is black as a result of the contraction of Light (tzimtzum), which took place when the Light of the Creator departed from it.

The correction of the egoistic essence takes place with the aid of a screen (masach), which transforms egoism into altruism.We are incapable of understanding how such a miraculous transformation can take place until we experience it ourselves. It seems incredible to us that the general law of nature would change so that we were suddenly able to act where previously we could not.

In the end, we will discover that our actions have remained the same as before, and that there is nothing we can give to the Creator, since the Creator is perfect and His only desire is to fill us with His perfection.

In return for the immense pleasure that we receive from the Creator, we are incapable of giving anything back to Him except the thought that, although we continue to perform the same acts as before, now we are performing them because doing so pleases the Creator, rather than us.

But even this thought is not for the Creator, but for us. This allows us to receive unbounded pleasures without being ashamed of getting something for nothing. We may become more like the Creator by becoming altruists. When we do so, we are able to receive infinitely and experience pleasure, since altruism is not for the self.

Although we can force ourselves to commit a specific physical act, we cannot change our desires at will, because we cannot do anything that is not for the self. Kabbalists say that a prayer without the right motivation is like a body without a soul, for actions pertain to the body and thoughts to the soul.

If we have not yet corrected our thoughts (soul), for the sake of which we perform an action (body), then the action itself can be said to be spiritually dead. Everything is comprised of both the general and the particular. The general, the spiritually dead (domem), demonstrates that for most people, there can only be a general movement, but not a particular spiritual movement, for they have no inner need for it.

Therefore, there is no particular, individual growth, but only general growth in accordance with the general Providence from Above. For this reason, the masses always perceive themselves to be right and perfect.

Being spiritually organic(tzomeach) means that individuals possess a unique degree of inner movement and development. At this point, a person becomes known as Man, or Adam, as written in the Bible: "Adam – a tree in a field." Since spiritual growth requires moving forward, and movement can only be caused when one senses a shortage of something, Man is constantly aware of those shortcomings that compel him to seek ways of growing.

If Man stops at any level of spiritual development, then he is pushed down in his perceptions. This is intended to urge him to move, rather than to stand still.

If, subsequently, he rises again, it is to a higher level than before.

As a result, one either ascends or descends, but one cannot stand still, for this state is not characteristic of Man. Only those belonging to the masses stand still and cannot fall off their levels; thus, they never experience falling down.

Let us mentally divide space with a horizontal line. Above the line is the spiritual world. Below the line is the egoistic world. Those who prefer to act contrary to their reason can exist above the line.

These individuals reject earthly reason, even if it gives them an opportunity to know and to see everything. They prefer to proceed with their eyes closed, by means of faith, and to pursue the spiritual (altruism instead of egoism).

Every spiritual level is defined by the measure of altruism present within it. We occupy the spiritual level that corresponds to our spiritual qualities. Those of us who are above the line are able to perceive the Creator. The higher above the line we are, the stronger the ability to perceive.

Higher or lower positioning is determined by the screen within each of us. This screen reflects the direct egoistic pleasure that can be derived from the Light of the Creator. The Light above the line is called “Torah.” The screen, or the line separating our world from the spiritual one is called a “barrier” (machsom).

Those who pass this barrier never again descend spiritually to the level of our world. Below the line is the realm of egoism, while above the line is the realm of altruism.

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