You are here: Kabbalah Library Home / Michael Laitman / Books / Kabbalah Revealed / Chapter 6: The (Narrow) Road to Freedom / The Ego’s Inevitable Death

The Ego’s Inevitable Death

The love of liberty is the love of others;

the love of power is the love of ourselves.

–William Hazlitt (1778-1830)


Let’s take a moment for another look at the basics of Creation. The only thing that the Creator created is our will to receive, our egoism. This is our essence. If we learn how to “deactivate” our egoism, we will restore our connection with the Creator, because without selfishness, we will regain equivalence of form with Him, as it exists in the spiritual worlds. Deactivating our egoism is the beginning of our climb up the spiritual ladder, the beginning of the correction process.

It is Nature’s ironic humor that people who indulge in selfish pleasures cannot be happy. There are two reasons for that: 1) As we explained in Chapter One, egoism is a Catch-22:if you have what you want, you no longer want it. And 2) A selfish desire enjoys not only the satisfaction of its own whims, but the dissatisfaction of others’.

To better understand the second reason, we need to go back to the basics. Phase One in the Four Basic Phases wants only to receive pleasure. Phase Two is already more sophisticated, and wants to receive pleasure from giving because giving is the Creator’s state of being. If our development had stopped at Phase One, we would be satisfied the minute our desires were fulfilled and wouldn’t care what others had.

However, Phase Two—the desire to give—compels us to notice others so we can give to them. But because our basic desire is to receive, all we see when we look at other people is that “they have all kinds of things that I don’t.” Because of Phase Two, we will always compare ourselves to others, and because of Phase One’s will to receive, we always want to be above them. This is why we take pleasure in their deficiencies.

By the way, this is also why the poverty line changes from country to country. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the poverty line is “a level of personal or family income below which one is classified as poor according to governmental standards.”

If everyone around me were as poor as I am, I wouldn’t feel poor. But if everyone around me were wealthy, and I only had an average income, I’d feel like the poorest person on Earth. In other words, our norms are dictated by the combination of Phase One (what we want to have) and Phase Two (which is determined by what others have).

In fact, our desire to give, which should have been the guarantee that our world would be a good place to live in, is actually the reason for all the evil in this world. This is the essence of our corruption, so replacing the intention to receive with an intention to give is all that we need to correct.

The Cure

No desire or quality is naturally evil; it’s how we use them that make them so. Ancient Kabbalists already said: “Envy, lust, and (the pursuit of) honor bring a man out of the world,” meaning out of our world and into the spiritual world.

How so? We’ve already seen that envy leads to competitiveness, and competitiveness generates progress. But envy leads to far greater results than technological or other worldly benefits. In the Introduction to The Book of Zohar, Ashlag writes that humans can sense others, and therefore lack what others have. As a result, they are filled with envy and want everything that others have, and the more they have, the emptier they feel. In the end, they want to devour the whole world.

Eventually, envy brings us to settle for nothing less than the Creator Himself. But here Nature’s humor plays a trick on us once more: The Creator is a desire to give, altruism. Although we are initially unaware of it, by wanting to take the driver seat and be Creators, we are actually craving to become altruists. Thus, through envy—the ego’s most treacherous and harmful trait—our egoism puts itself to death, just as cancer destroys its host organism until it, too, dies with the body it has ruined.

Once again we can see the importance of building the right social environment, because if we are forced to be jealous, we should at least be constructively jealous, meaning jealous of something that will bring us to correction.


Kabbalists describe egoism like this: Egoism is like a man with a sword that has a drop of enchantingly luscious, but lethal potion at its tip. The man knows that the potion is a venomous poison, but cannot help himself. He opens his mouth, brings the tip of the sword to his tongue, and swallows…


A just and happy society cannot rely on monitored or “channeled” selfishness. We can try to restrain egoism through rule of law, but this will work just until circumstances toughen, as we’ve seen with Germany—a democracy until it democratically elected Adolf Hitler. We can also try to channel egoism to benefit society, but that has already been tried in Russia’s communism, and failed miserably.

Even America, the land of freedom of opportunity and capitalism, is failing to make its citizens happy. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, “Annually, more than 46 million Americans, ages 15-54, suffer from depressive episodes.” And the Archives of General Psychiatry announced: “The use of potent antipsychotic drugs to treat children and adolescents… increased more than fivefold between 1993 and 2002,” as published on the June 6, 2006 edition of The New York Times.

In conclusion, as long as egoism has the upper hand, society will always be unjust and will disappoint its own members one way or another. Eventually, all egoism-based societies will exhaust themselves along with the egoism that created them. We just have to make it happen as quickly and as easily as we can, for everybody’s benefit.

Fake Freedom

Kabbalists relate to the absence of the sensation of the Creator as “concealment of the Creator’s face.” This concealment creates an illusion of freedom to choose between our world and the Creator’s (spiritual) world. If we could see the Creator, if we could really sense the benefits of altruism, we would undoubtedly prefer His world to ours, as His world is a world of giving and of pleasure.

But because we do not see the Creator, we don’t follow His rules, and instead, constantly break them. In fact, even if we did know the Creator’s rules, but did not see the pain we inflict on ourselves by breaking them, we would most likely still break them because we would think that it’s much more fun to remain egoists.

Earlier in this chapter, in the section, “The Reins of Life,” we said that the whole of Nature obeys only one law: The Law of Pleasure and Pain. In other words, everything we do, think, and plan is designed to either diminish our pain or increase our pleasure. We have no freedom in that. But because we don’t see that we are governed by these forces, we think we are free.



Baruch Ashlag, Yehuda Ashlag’s son and a great Kabbalist in his own right, wrote down in a notebook words he’d heard from his father. The notebook was later published under the title, Shamati(I Heard). In one of his notes, he wrote that if we were created by an Upper Force, why is it that we don’t feel it? Why is it hidden? If we knew what it wanted of us, we wouldn’t be making mistakes and we wouldn’t be tormented by punishment.

How simple and joyous would life have been if the Creator had been revealed! We wouldn’t doubt His existence and we could all recognize His guidance over us and over the whole world. We would know the reason and the purpose of our creation, see His reactions to our actions, communicate with Him and ask His counsel before every act. How beautiful and simple life would be!

Ashlag ends his thoughts with the inevitable conclusion: Our one aspiration in life should be to reveal the Creator.


However, to really be free, we must first be freed from the reins of the pleasure-and-pain law. And because our egos dictate what is pleasurable and what is painful, we find that to be free, we must first be liberated from our egos.

Conditions for Free Choice

Ironically, true freedom of choice is possible only if the Creator is concealed. This is because if one option seems preferable, our egoism leaves us no choice but to go for it. In that case, even if we choose to give, it will be giving in order to receive, or egoistic giving. For an act to be truly altruistic and spiritual, its benefits must be hidden from us.

If we keep in mind that the whole purpose of Creation is to eventually be liberated from egoism, our actions will always be heading in the right direction—towards the Creator. Therefore, if we have two choices and we don’t know which of them would bring more pleasure (or less pain), then we have a real opportunity to make a free choice.

If the ego does not see a preferable choice, we can choose according to a different set of values. For example, we could ask ourselves not what would be more fun, but what would be more giving. If giving is something we value, this will be easy to do.

We can either be egoists or altruists, either think of ourselves or think of others. There are no other options. Freedom of choice is possible when both options are clearly visible and equally appealing (or unappealing). If I can only see one option, I will have to follow it. Therefore, to choose freely, I have to see my own nature and the Creator’s nature. Only if I don’t know which is more pleasurable can I make a truly free choice and neutralize my ego.

Back to top
Site location tree