You are here: Kabbalah Library Home / Michael Laitman / Books / Kabbalah Revealed / Chapter 4: Our Universe / Up the Ladder

Up the Ladder

When Kabbalists talk about spiritually evolving, they talk about climbing up the spiritual ladder. This is why Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag named his commentary on The Book of Zohar, Perush HaSulam (The Ladder Commentary), for which he was named Baal HaSulam (Owner of the Ladder). But if we flip back a few pages, we’ll find that “up the ladder” actually means “back to the roots.” This is because we’ve already been up there, but now we have to figure out how to get back there by ourselves.

The root is our final goal; it is where we are ultimately heading. But to get there quickly and peacefully we need a great desire for it—a Kli. Such a desire for spirituality can only come from the Light, from the Creator, but to become strong enough, it needs to be intensified by the environment.

Let’s make it a little clearer: If I want a piece of cake, I picture the cake in my mind, its texture, color, sweet fragrance, and the way it melts in my mouth. The more I think about it, the more I want it. In Kabbalah, we would say that “the cake shines” for me with “Surrounding Light.”

Therefore, to want spirituality, we need to acquire the kind of Surrounding Light that will make us want spiritual pleasures. The more of this Light we gather, the faster we will progress. Wanting spirituality is called “raising MAN,” and the technique for doing so is the same as increasing the desire for a cake—picture it, talk about it, read about it, think about it, and do whatever you can to focus on it. But the most powerful means to increase any desire is our social environment. We can use the environment to intensify our spiritual desire, our MAN, and thus accelerate our progress.


Is there a difference between naming the Light “Surrounding Light” or just “Light”?

The different titles, “Surrounding Light” and “Light,” relate to two functions of the same Light. Light that is not considered Surrounding is what we experience as pleasure, while Surrounding Light is the Light that builds our Kli, the place where the Light will finally enter. Both are actually one Light, but when we experience it as correcting and building we call it “Surrounding Light.” When we feel it as pure pleasure, we call it “Light.”

Before we develop a Kli, it is only natural that we will not receive any Light. But the Light is there, surrounding our souls just like Nature always surrounds us. So when we don’t have a Kli, the Surrounding Light builds our Kli for us by increasing our desire for it.


We will talk about the environment more in Chapter Six, but for now, let’s think of it this way: If everyone around me wants and talks about the same thing, and there’s only one thing that’s “in,” I’m bound to want it.

In Chapter Two, we said that the appearance of a Kli, a desire, forces our brains to search for a way to fill this Kli with Ohr (Light), to satisfy it. The bigger the Kli, the greater the Light; the greater the Light, the quicker we’ll find the correct path.

We still need to understand how the Surrounding Light builds our Kli and why it is called “Light” to begin with. And to understand all that, we must understand the concept of Reshimot.

The spiritual worlds and the soul of Adam ha Rishon evolved in a certain order. In the worlds, it was Adam Kadmon, Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya; and in Adam ha Rishon, the evolution was named after the kind of desires that emerged—still, vegetative, animate, speaking, and spiritual.

Just as we don’t forget our childhood, but rely on those past events in our present experiences, each completed step in the evolutionary process is not lost, but is registered in our unconscious “spiritual memory.” In other words, within us lies the entire history of our spiritual evolution, from the time we were one with the Thought of Creation to this day. Going up the spiritual ladder simply means remembering the states we’ve already experienced once more, and uncovering those memories.

Those memories are aptly named Reshimot (records), and each Reshimo (singular for Reshimot) stands for a specific spiritual state. Because our spiritual evolution unfolded in a specific order, now the Reshimot surface within us in just that order. In other words, our future states are already determined because we’re not creating anything new, just remembering events that already happened to us, of which we’re unaware. The one thing we can determine, and we will discuss it at length in the following chapters, is how fast we can climb the ladder. The harder we work at climbing it, the faster these states will change and the faster our spiritual progress will be.

Each Reshimo is completed when we have fully experienced it, and like a chain, when one Reshimo ends, the next Reshimo emerges. This next Reshimo originally created the present Reshimo, but since now we’re going back up the ladder, the present Reshimo is awakening its original creator. Thus, we should never expect to end our present state so we can rest, because when the present state is over, it will lead to the next in line until we complete our correction.

When we try to become altruistic (spiritual) we come closer to our corrected state because we awaken the Reshimot more quickly. And since those Reshimot are records of higher spiritual experiences, the sensations they create in us are more spiritual sensations.

When that happens, we begin to vaguely sense the connectedness, unity, and love that exist in that state, much like a distant, faint light. The more we try to reach it, the closer we come to it, and the stronger it shines. Moreover, the stronger the Light, the stronger our desire for it, and thus the Light builds our Kli, our desire for spirituality.

Now we also see that the name, “Surrounding Light,” perfectly describes how we sense it. As long as we haven’t reached it, we see it as external, attracting us with its blinding promise of bliss.

Every time the Light builds a big enough Kli for us to step to the next level, the next Reshimo comes along and a new desire emerges in us. We don’t know why our desires change, because they’re always parts of Reshimot from a higher degree than our current level, even when they don’t seem like it.

So just like the last Reshimo surfaced, bringing us to our present state, a new desire now approaches from a new Reshimo. This is how we continue our climb up the ladder. It is a spiral of Reshimot and ascents that end at the purpose of Creation—the root of our souls, when we’re equal and united with the Creator.

Back to top
Site location tree