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Transforming Egoism to Altruism

One who wants to experience the true taste of life must pay special attention to the spiritual point found in one’s heart. Everyone has a point in the heart. However, it does not generally show signs of life and does not illuminate, and because of this, we are not aware of it.

In such a situation it is called a “black point.” This point is a seed of a soul. The characteristic of this point is altruistic, because it is a seed of the future vessel of the soul and its Light, a portion of the Creator.

However, in its initial state it is hidden from us, since we do not appreciate it, and for this reason this state is called “Galut (exile) of the Shechina” (the Divine Presence). Such a state of the soul is called a "point."

If we elevate the importance of that point above our own "I," above our heads, like the crowns above the letters, in this way we make it comparable to a crown on our heads, rather than dust at our feet. Then Light is emitted from the center into the body, and from this potential center it becomes the source of strength for our spiritual elevation.

Hence, instead of all our appeals for help from the Creator, our only prayer should focus on realizing the importance of perceiving the Creator as a means to our improvement for His sake.

The ability to perform acts of goodness (altruistic acts) is not a means, but a reward for a person who wishes to resemble the Creator.

The sequential order of the process by which a person shifts away from egoism and towards the spiritual world can be found in the Bible as the exodus from Egypt. The appearance of vessels of bestowal in a person is called “the exodus from Egypt.”

However, altruistic desires (vessels of bestowal) mean that a person would rather follow the path of faith than the path of knowledge. To exit from egoism is only possible when we feel spirituality, perceive the Creator; and the Light of wisdom splits the yamsuf (Red Sea) in the middle. At this point, one passes over the boundary between two worlds.

In order to do this, the Creator performs a miracle. He gives us the Light of wisdom (ohrhochma), despite the fact that we do not possess the appropriate vessel to receive the Light. With the help of this Light, we can break the barrier (machsom). Afterwards, when the miracle passes, those who have entered the spiritual world do not return to the level of our world.

In the next stage, we must acquire a vessel for receiving the Light of wisdom, and this is accomplished on the difficult path of advancement in the spiritual desert until we merit receiving the Light of the Creator by ascending onto "Mount Sinai." In this state, we observe the commandments by virtue of faith above knowledge, when we place our own thoughts and wishes below the faith.

A so-called lesser state, katnut, that is, Malchut in this case, connotes only the center or Keter ("crown"). In such minimal presence, our evil egoistic dispositions cannot sway us because we have placed faith above knowledge and perception.

This is considered to be a lesser state because in it we do not take into account egoism, since we have no strength to counter it. This situation can be compared to a case in which we are unable to consume only a small amount of food, and refuse the entire portion altogether.

However, a bond with the Light of the Creator can only transpire if we are able to receive that Light into ourselves; that is, to work altruistically with our own egoism. As we transform our egoism into altruism, the altered vessel will be filled with the Light of the Creator.

That state of our spiritual vessel (of corrected egoism, kli) is called “the greater state, gadlut.” Malchut descends from Keter to the level at which we can withstand the pull towards self-gratification and be able to receive, but not for the sake of our own pleasure.

To fully receive the Light of the Creator, to perceive the Creator to the full extent of one’s ability, to completely cling to Him, is possible only by fully utilizing our egoism for the service of altruism. Such a state is known as “the end of the correction process,” and is the goal of creation.

All our perceptions are strictly subjective, and the view of the world open to us depends entirely on our inner spiritual and physical states, our moods, etc. But in spiritual perception, sensations comprise reality itself, since we understand the present in accordance with our spiritual position.

Our world is considered to be our immediate sensation. The future world is that which will be felt in the next instant. There is no dimension of time, but only a change of sensations. If we perceive everything by faith above knowledge, then we live entirely in the future.

For example, in ordinary life, if we own a business, we systematically assess the outcome of our work and our profits. If we see that our expenses and efforts are not justified, that is, the profit is less than the investment, then we close down the business and open a new one, because the anticipated profit stands before our eyes.

Under no circumstance do we deceive ourselves, but clearly assess our benefits in the form of money, honors, fame, tranquility and so on – in whichever form we want our profit to be.

One might ask, why don’t we sum up the general outcome of our lives, for instance, once a year, and consider for what purpose did we live and spend the year? Yet, if we deal even slightly with our spiritual development, then why do we need to ask ourselves about every single moment?

Our world is a world of falsehood.

As a result, our bodies do not want to face these questions because they cannot provide the answers. In truth, what can our answer be as the year comes to an end, or as the end of life itself approaches?

All is passed, the good and the bad, and what are we with? Why have we worked for the needs of our own bodies? There is no answer, because there is no reward for the life that passed. Because of this, the body does not permit us to ask these questions.

Spirituality, on the other hand, since it is true, and the spiritual reward is eternal, poses to us the question of our spiritual reward with the aim of arousing us to receive even greater benefits from our efforts. In this way, we will correct ourselves to a greater degree and will receive a greater eternal reward.

Why, then, does the Creator give us false preoccupations with life in this world? The process of creating a spiritual vessel is very complex and lengthy. We believe that we must experience the entire spectrum of worldly egoism, to experience it all, in all of its lowliness, and to taste all of its false pleasures, down to its lowest levels (of egoism).

During our work, as we approach the boundary between the physical and spiritual realms, we accumulate experiences until we reach the spiritual realm. This process of gaining experience does not occur in one single revolution of life in this world. All information is stored in our souls and exhibited at the appropriate moment.

But until then, the process of acquisition is hidden from us, and we only experience our present state. Since our entire essence centers on our desire to gain pleasure, the Creator gives "life," known as “falsity,” to those who are not yet ready for spiritual ascent, so that they will have a source of strength in order to live.

There is a Light that brings the lessening of the desires vessel, and there is a Light that brings knowledge and pleasure. In essence, it is one and the same Light of the Creator, but we ourselves extract from the Light the particular quality we want to use for our spiritual aims.

"Abandon evil and do good." The first stage of the correction is called "the realization of evil," since as soon as we become convinced that egoism is our most dangerous and deadly enemy, we will hate it and abandon it. A situation like this has now become unbearable.

However, it is not necessary to run away from the evil, but just to feel what the evil really is, and afterwards we will instinctively separate from the harmful. Our realization of what is evil occurs precisely while under the influence of doing good acts – while observing the commandments and learning the Kabbalah, because when we are under their positive influence, we begin to long for spiritual perfection and to sense what exactly is preventing us from experiencing a spiritual life.

The concealment of the Creator from us, which is experienced as suffering, questions about the Divine Providence, lack of confidence and trust in the Creator, and interfering thoughts – all of these are called "night." The revelation of the Creator to the person, which is experienced as pleasure, trust in Divine Supervision, a sense of being connected to the eternal, understanding of the Upper Sources of all the laws of nature – all of these are called "day."

While the Creator is still in a state of concealment, we must work towards acquiring faith in the fact that such a state is to our benefit, because in all states the Creator does only what is most useful and beneficial for us.

If we were ready to receive the Light of the Creator without harming ourselves, undoubtedly the Creator would reveal Himself to us.

But since we are unable to control pleasures that we already feel, the Creator does not give such immense pleasures as these from His Light, since we would immediately become a slave to them, and would never be able to escape from the chains of our egoism. For this reason, we would become even further distanced from the Creator.

Each new generation and its majority determine the value and beauty of things, objects, events and categories. Each generation rejects the norms of the previous one. Therefore, there are no absolute norms; rather, the majority in each group of people and each generation dictates its own norms, so that the rest can follow them.

For that reason, there always exist new trends and new role models to which one can aspire. Therefore, all that is dictated by the majority is considered to be beautiful, while those who uphold these values receive respect and honors. Consequently, one is willing to devote great effort in order to attain that on which the society places great value.

As a result, it is difficult to acquire spiritual qualities, since the majority does not hold this aim in high esteem as they do the current trends. In truth, is it so very important to perceive the spiritual? In fact, spirituality is exceedingly important.

Yet, if this is so, why does the Creator keep it hidden? The answer is, in order that we should not spoil it, He created a special "trick" called “concealment.” This prevents all of the greatness of the spiritual world from being seen, since we cannot control feelings we have already felt, as explained above.

And since it is now hidden from us, we are only able to rely on faith concerning the immense importance of perceiving the Creator. However, according to the majority opinion, the value of spiritual appreciation amounts to zero; thus, it is loathed practically by everyone.

This process occurs despite the fact that clearly the standards of beauty, order of priorities, norms of behavior, and laws of society are determined by contemptible personalities who constantly change their principles, thus proving that they lack substance and that their norms are groundless and false.

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