Chapter 12. Conclusions
All sacred scriptures describe the feelings that we are expected to live out. The message is always the same: that we are to prefer spirituality to the lures of the material world, and to praise the Creator. The Creator does not need our praises, because He is totally devoid of egoism.
The only thing He wishes is to fill each one of us with delight. This is proportionate to our desire to choose Him amongst all other things, and to our aspirations to achieve attributes similar to His. The glorification of the Creator is an indication of the correct orientation of the Kli. The delights from bonding with the Creator can become infinite, eternal, and perfect and are only restricted by the intervening of a person’s ego.
Altruism is a specific attribute, a means of correcting the Kli. Egoism does not bring anything good or worthwhile. It is obvious that the more people have, the more likely they are to be dissatisfied. The most developed countries often have an alarming rate of suicides amongst young and old.
One may give everything to a person, but this often results in the recipient’s lack of appreciation for the simple tastes of life. Taste is sensed only when suffering and pleasure comes into contact. The fulfillment of a pleasure leads to the quenching of the desire to receive it. The Creator’s commandment to change the egoistic nature of the Kli into an altruistic one is given for our benefit, not for His Sake.
Our present condition is called Olam Hazeh (This World), but our next condition is Olam Haba (World to Come). This World is what one feels at the present moment. The next elevated, perceived feeling leads to one’s perception of the World to Come.
Even if every student attended a short course in Kabbalah and then walked away, those students would still receive something that would keep on living inside them. Each of us knows deep within us what is the most important thing in life. People are all different. Some were born smarter and are quicker, achieving success in business and in society. Often, they become wealthy and may begin to exploit others.
Others are born lazy, they grow and develop slowly. They are not very lucky. Some might even work harder than their smarter neighbors, but get little in return. We cannot assess each other’s efforts in this world, as they depend on a great number of inner qualities that we are born with. There are no devices that could measure the inner, moral efforts of an individual, nor the physical ones.
Baal HaSulam, Rav Y. Ashlag, writes that approximately ten percent of the people in this world are so-called altruists. These are people who receive delight from giving. Just as an egoist may kill for not receiving, an “altruist” may kill for not being able to give. Giving is just a means of receiving delight for that person.
Such people are, in a way, egoists as well, because their intention is to receive something as a result of their bestowal. Naturally, they, too, have to undergo correction.
With regards to the spiritual, they are all the same. They must go a long way in order to grasp the inherent evil in their not being genuine altruists. This is the period in which they realize they are egoists. The coarser and more egoistic an individual, the closer that person will be to seizing the opportunity to move on to spirituality. In this case, egoism is as mature as it is enormous.
Now, one further step is required: to realize that this egoism is evil to us. We must then plead with the Creator to change our intention from receiving for our own sake to receiving for the sake of the Creator.
The attribute of shame appears in Malchut of the Ein Sof, when it realizes what Keter, Behina Shoresh is like. It is the sensation of the sharp contrast existing between the Light and itself. Malchut itself does not perceive the Light, only the attributes and properties which are awakened in it by the Light.
The Light itself does not possess any attributes. Whatever attributes Malchut feels are the result of the influence that the Light has upon it. All the reactions of the human organism are useful and necessary, whether we speak about the spiritual or material organism.
Our egoism is very clever. If there are any desires impossible to satisfy, it suppresses them in order not to bring needless suffering. However, the moment certain conditions arise, these desires resurface. The above is true for even a weak, ill or old person, who does not have any special desires except one: to remain alive. The organism suppresses the desires that are not to be fulfilled.
The evolution of the world is divided into the four stages of Ohr Yashar, when Behina Aleph turned to Bet, Bet to Gimel and so on. But when Malchut of the Ein Sof was formed, it absorbed all the desires of the upper Sefirot, which live in Malchut and do not change in any way. The fact that other worlds were formed later on does not bear witness to changing desires, but to evolving intentions.
Depending on the intention, different desires are activated. But the desires themselves do not change. Nothing new that was not there previously is created. It is the same with the thoughts that came to us today, but not yesterday. They were there before, but yesterday they were concealed from us. Everything is in a latent state inside of us, and there is a time for the unfolding of each action. Nothing new is created.
It is impossible to transform two different things into one another. For example it is impossible to change inorganic nature into organic, or beings of the vegetative kingdom into members of the animal one, and so on.
Intermediate classes do exist. For example, halfway between the vegetative and animal worlds are the corals. Between vegetative and animal there is an animal called “The Dog of the Field,” which feeds on the soil. The ape is located halfway between the animal and human realm of existence. It cannot be simply an animal, but neither will it ever be a human being.
The only transformation that may occur is when a divine spark draws one to the spiritual and fosters the desire to attain, to reach for something higher. At this stage then, this two-legged creature becomes a true Man. There are very few people that may be called “Man” from the Kabbalistic point of view.
The development of science and technology is bound to reach an eventual deadlock and make us come to conclude that such is not the main goal. But first of all this state of deadlock needs to be reached.
Kabbalists have always organized groups of students. Under no circumstances are the students to be ranked or distinguished according to their desire to study. People are created with certain desires beforehand, and nobody knows why one is created that way and why another’s desires are displayed in a different way.
Before a permanent group is formed, ranking and selection take place. Nobody, except for Chaim Vital, understood the Ari properly. The Ari, Rav Isaac Luria, lived in the mid 16th century and taught in Safed.
It is known that Chaim Vital undertook to study by following the new method worked out by the Ari. There were already great Kabbalists in the group of the Ari, but he nevertheless transmitted everything to Chaim Vital exclusively. The way a master in Kabbalah teaches depends on the type of souls that descend to this world.
Prior to the Ari, there were other systems and methods of teaching. Following the disclosure of the Ari’s methods, it is possible for everybody to study; only a genuine desire is required. Baal HaSulam, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, did not modify the system of the Ari, he only extended it. He gave more detailed commentaries on the books of the Ari and The Zohar.
This is how those in our generation who want to study Kabbalah and draw closer to the spiritual realm may understand the inner essence of the studied material, and may establish analogies when reading the Bible (The Five Books of Moses, the Prophets and the Scriptures).
The souls that entered this world prior to the Ari perceived the spiritual as purely extrinsic. After the Ari’s death, souls began to descend, and they studied and analyzed themselves and the spiritual world by means of a spiritual and scientific method. This is why the books issued before the Ari, are written as a narrative.
The books subsequent to the Ari’s teaching, e.g. The Study of the Ten Sefirot, were written using terms such as Behinot, Partzufim, Sefirot, and Olamot. It is a psychological engineering, a scientific approach to the soul.
Each science possesses its own language. If the Kabbalist is not a scientist he or she will not be able to describe different phenomena using the required scientific terminology. The Kabbalist perceives the true laws of the universe, which are the foundation of the material and spiritual essence of all things.
In what language might one write the correlation between two objects? And what are the relationships between spiritual objects? How can one describe the spiritual force that holds this entire world together?
No specific formula in this world can convey all this. In the spiritual world, the Kabbalist may be able to pass on all his perceptions. But how can these perceptions be made available to the layman? Even if it were possible to somehow narrate them, nothing could be applied to our world until one has changed one’s egoistic nature.
If people could modify their attributes to a higher level, they would be able to communicate amongst themselves in a spiritual language and perform spiritual deeds. One receives and suffers according to the level on which one stands. To rise to a spiritual level, a screen (Masach) is required, which is no easy task.
We are trapped inside a vicious circle from which we cannot escape. We thus ignore what is beyond that circle. This is why Kabbalah is called a “secret science,” for those who do not know about its workings.
In his Introduction to the Book of The Zohar, the Kabbalist Baal HaSulam talks about the four degrees of knowledge: (i) substance, (ii) form clothed in substance, (iii) abstract form and (iv) essence. Science may only study substance and form clothed in substance. Form without substance is a purely abstract conception and does not lend itself to accurate analysis. The last, essence, which animates objects and triggers reactions, is unknowable.
The same applies to the spiritual world. Even a great Kabbalist may, while studying something spiritual, perceive substance and its makeup, in whichever form, though never the form without a substance.
Finally, when Kabbalists reach a certain required level, they receive a gift from Above: the disclosure of the secrets of the Universe.