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The Spiritual Worlds

Creation is made entirely of a desire to receive pleasure. This desire evolved in four phases, the last of which is called “a creature” (Figure 1). This template structure of evolution of desires is the basis for everything that exists.

Figure 1 describes the making of the creature. If we treat that making as a story, it will help us remember that the drawings describe emotional, spiritual states, not places or objects.

Before anything is created, it has to be thought out, planned. In this case, we are talking about Creation and the thought that caused Creation to happen. We call it “the Thought of Creation.”

In the first chapter, we said that in the past, people’s fear of Nature urged them to search for its plan for them and for all of us. In their observations, they discovered that Nature’s plan is for us to receive pleasure. And not just any pleasure, like those we can feel in this world. Nature (which we’ve said is interchangeable with the term, “Creator”) wants us to receive a very special kind of pleasure—the pleasure of becoming identical to Itself, to the Creator.

So if you look at Figure 1, you will see that the Thought of Creation is actually a desire to give pleasure (called “Light”) to the creatures. This is also the root of Creation, where we all began.

Kabbalists use the term Kli (vessel, receptacle) to describe the desire to receive the pleasure, the Light. Now we can see why they called their wisdom, “the wisdom of Kabbalah” (the wisdom of receiving).

There is also a good reason why they called pleasure “Light.” When the Kli—a creature, a person—feels the Creator, it is an experience of great wisdom that dawns on a person, as if something has dawned on me, and now I see the Light. When that happens to us, we realize that whatever wisdom has manifested, it has always been there, albeit hidden from the eye. It’s as if the night’s darkness has turned to daylight and the invisible has been made visible. And because this Light brings knowledge with it, Kabbalists called it “Light of Wisdom,” and the method to receive it, “the wisdom of Kabbalah.”

Four Basic Phases

Let’s go back to our story. To put the thought of giving pleasure into practice, the Creator designed a Creation that wants to receive the specific pleasure of being identical to the Creator. If you’re a parent, you know how that feels. What warmer words can we say to a proud father than, “Your son’s the spitting image of you!”?

As we’ve just said, the Thought of Creation—to give pleasure to the creature—is the root of Creation. For this reason, the Thought of Creation is called “the Root Phase” or “Phase Zero,” and the desire to receive the pleasure is named “Phase One.”


Note that Phase Zero is shown as a downward arrow. Whenever there’s an arrow pointing down, it means that Light comes from the Creator to the creature. But the opposite is not true: whenever there’s an upward arrow, it doesn’t mean that the creature gives Light to the Creator, but that it wants to give back to Him. And what happens when there are two arrows pointing in opposite directions? Keep reading; you’ll soon find out what this means.


Kabbalists also refer to the Creator as “the Will to Bestow,” and to the creature as “the will to receive delight and pleasure” or simply “the will to receive.” We will talk about our perception of the Creator later on, but what’s important at this point is that Kabbalists always tell us what they perceive. They don’t tell us that the Creator has a desire to give; they tell us that what they see of the Creator is that He has a desire to give, and this is why they called Him “the Will to Bestow.” Because they also discovered in themselves a desire to receive the pleasure He wants to give, they called themselves, “the will to receive.”

So the will to receive is the first Creation, the root of every single creature. When Creation, the will to receive, feels that the pleasure comes from a giver, it senses that real pleasure lies in giving, not in receiving. As a result, the will to receive begins to want to give (note the upward arrow extending from the second Kli—the cup in the drawing). This is a whole new phase—Phase Two.

Let’s examine what makes this a new phase. If we look at the Kli itself, we see that it doesn’t change throughout the phases. This means that the will to receive is just as active as it was before. Because the will to receive was designed in the Thought of Creation, it is eternal and can never be changed.

However, in Phase Two the will to receive wants to receive pleasure from giving, not from receiving, and this is a fundamental change. The great difference is that Phase Two needs another being to whom it can give. In other words, Phase Two has to relate positively to someone or something else besides itself.

Phase Two, which forces us to give despite our underlying desire to receive, is what makes life possible. Without it, parents wouldn’t care for their children and social life would have been impossible. For example, if I own a restaurant, my desire is to make money, but the bottom line is that I am feeding strangers in whom I have no long-term interest. The same is true for bankers, cab drivers (even in New York), and everything else.

Now we can see why Nature’s law is altruism and giving, and not the law of receiving, even though the will to receive lies at the basis of every creature’s motivation, just as in Phase One. From the minute Creation has both a desire to receive and a desire to give, everything that will happen to it will stem from the “relationship” between the first two phases.

As we’ve just shown, the desire to give in Phase Two forces it to communicate, to seek someone who needs to receive. Therefore, Phase Two now begins to examine what it can give to the Creator. After all, to whom else could it give?

But when Phase Two actually tries to give, it discovers that all the Creator wants is to give. He has absolutely no desire to receive. Besides, what can the creature give to the Creator?

Moreover, Phase Two discovers that at its core, in Phase One, its real desire is to receive. It discovers that its root is essentially a will to receive delight and pleasure, and there is not an ounce of genuine desire to bestow within it. But, and here lies the crux of the matter, because the Creator wants only to give, the creature’s will to receive is precisely what it can give to the Creator.

This may sound confusing, but if you think of the pleasure a mother derives from feeding her baby, you will realize that the baby is actually giving pleasure to its mother simply by wanting to eat.

Therefore, in Phase Three, the will to receive chooses to receive, and in so doing gives back to Root Phase, to the Creator. Now we have a complete circle where both players are givers: Phase Zero, the Creator, gives to the creature, which is Phase One, and the creature, having gone through Phases One, Two, and Three, gives back to the Creator by receiving from Him.

In Figure 1, the downward arrow in Phase Three indicates that its act is reception, as in Phase One, but the upward arrow indicates that its intention is to give, as in Phase Two. And once again, both actions use the same will to receive as in Phases One and Two; this doesn’t change at all.

As we’ve seen before, our egoistic intentions are the reason for all the problems we are seeing in the world. Here, too, at the root of Creation, the intention is much more important than the action itself. In fact, Yehuda Ashlag metaphorically says that Phase Three is ten percent a receiver and ninety percent a giver.

Now it seems we have a perfect cycle where the Creator has succeeded in making the creature identical to Himself—a giver. Moreover, the creature enjoys giving, thus returning pleasure to the Creator. But does this complete the Thought of Creation?

Not quite. The act of reception (in Phase One) and the understanding that the Creator’s only wish is to give (in Phase Two) make the creature want to be in the same state, which is Phase Three. But becoming a giver doesn’t mean that the creature will be in the same state, thus completing the Thought of Creation.

Being in the Creator’s state means that the creature will not only become a giver, but will have the same thought as the Giver—the Thought of Creation. In such a state, the creature would understand why the Creator-creature circle was initiated, as well as why the Creator formed Creation.

Clearly, the desire to understand the Thought of Creation is a whole new phase. The only thing we can compare it to is a child who wants to be both as strong and as wise as its parents. We instinctively know that this is possible only when the child actually steps into his or her parents’ shoes. This is why parents so often say to their kids, “Wait until you have children of your own; then you’ll understand.”

In Kabbalah, understanding the Thought of Creation—the deepest level of understanding—is called “attainment.” This is what the will to receive craves in the last phase—Phase Four.

The desire to acquire the Thought of Creation is the most powerful force in Creation. It stands behind the whole process of evolution. Whether we are aware of it or not, the ultimate knowledge we all seek is the understanding of why the Creator does what He does. It is the same drive that urged Kabbalists to discover the secrets of Creation thousands of years ago. Until we understand it, we will have no peace of mind.


One of the most common terms in Kabbalah is Sefirot. The word comes from the Hebrew word, Sapir (sapphire) and each Sefira (singular for Sefirot) has its own Light. Also, each of the four phases is named after one or more Sefira. Phase Zero is named Keter, Phase One, Hochma, Phase Two, Bina, Phase Three, Zeir Anpin, and Phase Four, Malchut.

Actually, there are ten Sefirot because Zeir Anpin is composed of six Sefirot: Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod. Therefore, the complete set of Sefirot is Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, and Malchut.


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