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The Way to a Man’s Heart

Conversation of the Kabbalist Michael Laitman with the artist and director Armen Dzhigarchanyan
Moscow, Russia, August 18, 2006

Michael Laitman, PhD, is a prominent Kabbalist, scientist of bio-cybernetics, professor of ontology and of theory of knowledge, founder and director of the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education and Research Institute, and the Ashlag Research Institute (ARI.) He is the author of more than 30 books, which are translated into 9 languages. Michael Laitman is a member of the World Wisdom Council, an elite gathering of experts that devote themselves to solving global problems of the modern world. Annually, thousands of students around the world watch lectures by Michael Laitman, transmitted live through cable channels and on

Armen Dzhigarchanyan, a national artist of the USSR (1985). There are more than 200 roles to the actor’s credit. At the end of 1990 he decided to create a theater with his students from The Belgorod National Institute of Culture (BNIC). This is how Moscow Drama Theater under the direction of Armen Dzhigarchanyan was born.

M. Laitman: I am an old fan of yours. You are a very special person. You have lived a long life and you have great life experiences. I have heard that you also are interested in the philosophy of life. I would like to know your impressions about the direction in which society is currently moving. Human egoism has grown to such extent that one is not only incapable of studying with another person, but he also cannot live with himself. Youth is disappointed, devastated from the beginning, and they do not understand whether it is worth existing in this world altogether. Humanity needs a key idea, a concept, and certain motivation; otherwise they feel inner emptiness, heartlessness. What do you think? Is it possible to change anything in this world or it is a very exhausting, long, and even hopeless process?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: If at this moment we risk saying this out loud for everyone to hear, in the form of some kind of an advice for people, then it is very important for you and me to be honest. And even though the definition of “being honest” is very primitive, it is the most difficult thing. This is because everything that you speak about exists and can develop in the most catastrophic manner, in absolutely uncontrollable forms.

I can talk about this, but it is best if I speak about it in my language, in the language of what I do—language of the arts. People say: “Help one return to one’s own self.” However, art is a great herd-like phenomenon, and we need to attempt (which is extraordinarily difficult to do) to find a way to be closer to individualization of man. In what way is art good? [It is good] because it speaks to familiar, eternal things: love, death, hatred, adoration, children, animals.

I adore the postulate: “God gracious, help children and animals.” It is very important because, primitively speaking, our children are future adults. And the child will grow up according to the values that we instill in him. For this reason, if an opportunity arises we must not miss it, similar to the way that religion holds on to such an opportunity.

M. Laitman: Do you believe that religion has the power to change things?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: Possibly, since religion today is the most powerful force in society. One of the classics used to say that if there is no God then it is necessary to invent one. I think that what they had in mind is that society necessarily needs a locomotive that pulls it forward, a leader whom the entire world would absolutely trust.

We should never disregard this, even if we are thoroughly convinced that such person does not exist. This person simply needs to be invented, created. Otherwise, football players will become our leaders. Please agree with me, this isn’t bad either, but only until a certain moment, until problems that we cannot solve, arise. Then we will run to church, and will cry and laugh. If it isn’t church, then we will run to the theater. Trust me, I am not popularizing theater, but theater is my life—an infinitely long path to the hearts of the audience. The slightest mistake, one wrong step and one stops believing us, and they say that we are misleading.

M. Laitman: Can art become an advocate of standards of proper behavior, relationships between people in society and love for one another?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: Let us, if we can, allow people to choose for themselves. I think that if we refrain from forcing people, pushing them in the “right” direction with a rifle, then they will chose for themselves and they will choose correctly. I love the English manner of laying the lawn first, then waiting for people to walk on it, and only then making a pathway there. This is the most correct method. And do you know why we don’t always turn to it? Because it takes time, and we want it right away; we want “a headache tablet for everyone,” so that everything would be fine in 20 minutes! It is always necessary to know that if a tsunami, an earthquake, a misfortune has occurred that at least one other generation will suffer from it. And regrettably we will not do anything about it. Someone (I am afraid of distorting his name) wrote that Chernobyl will continue to live in us for another 300 years, and there will still be times when we will hear the echo of this tragedy.

M. Laitman: Do you think that human egoism is to blame for everything? And is the popular commandment “love your neighbor as yourself” the only possible solution to this problem?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: All of these words require to be verified: what does “love” mean? Who do we keep in mind when we say “neighbor?” Who am “I” [in this picture]? Which words in this sentence do we begin with a capital letter, and which ones do we begin with a lower-case letter?

I fear mass consciousness, mass ecstasy, just like mass fascism. I believe in the power of a leader. But based on examples of our history we see what this leads to. When power falls into the hands of a skilled and talented leader, he simply uses it for his selfish ends, controlling the society through the help of some concealed instruments. Maybe these people where correct and it was only because of them that we managed to build our future. But still, I think that what we have received at the end is not worth such sacrifices.

With your permission, I will compare it to theater. Someone astutely noticed that theater is a miniature model of our society, which has leaders that determine the movement, and those that realize this movement. Both are necessary. A play affects us only because there is a leader that has directed, “smelled,” realized, “digested,” and felt. Do you remember the pyramids of the circus? Circus artists say that there needs to be a bottom one, who holds this pyramid. If he is not there, the pyramid will collapse.

M. Laitman: Even though today you work at a small theater, its impact on masses is enormous. When a spectator comes to see your play, he receives enormous information, even without realizing the way that it affects him. Do you think it is possible to tell people in this manner of what the purpose of life consists?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: Theater has been my life for an indecently long time. This is why I can boldly tell you a certain truth: people go to theater exclusively out of curiosity. But every person comes with his own problems, without even realizing it himself. Theater has a unique ability to touch this painful point in a person’s heart. Especially if we perform that what you call “receiving an answer.” But this phenomenon is concealed.

For this reason if theater touches this painful point in ones heart, then we have the luck of discovering three to five people out of a thousand curious ones that were touched by what they saw. In this case these were five people, next time [the number] is unknown, because these five will take their impressions further, to their kitchen, to work, etc. I think that both religion and church do the same thing.

M. Laitman: But still, what do you think the purpose of a person’s life consists of?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: What is the purpose of a person’s life? I really like what Lev Tolstoy said: “The purpose of life is to live.” He said: “To live.” And I comment further: “To live with the entire complexity and all the difficulties that one happens to come across…” But this response is too general. And if this problem, this question seriously arises before us, then I will be extremely cruel; we must consider each case individually.

In my opinion, if we set a goal for ourselves to help a specific person, then it is much more efficient, better than the goal to correct the entire society. By knowing the name, the last name, the gender of this person, we will understand what this person needs. I believe that our salvation is in individualization, even though this path is very long. Even though it is natural for a person to become tired half way through and say: “The hell with him…”

M. Laitman: Today, our world is in such a state that we simply do not have the time to think matters over. We walk on the edge of a disaster and we must change ourselves in some way. In your opinion, what can we do today?

A Dzhigarchanyan: Nothing. I think it is a dangerous thing to shepherd a herd. Imagine what will happen if active body-builders come and organize Gulags and gas chambers for us again. It seems to me that society needs a “sanitary rest.” Any good doctor will tell his patient in this condition: “The organism has adapted. Let’s avoid bothering it, let’s not give it injections.” Even though all of us understand that recovery in our case is a very long process, such that sometimes we lack patience.

And again with your permission I will give an example from theater life. We rehearse a scene and it is not working out. All of a sudden everything annoys me and I tell the actor: “Listen, go there, stand this way, turn your back to this, and that is it.” It seems that I have solved the problem, right? No, I have not solved it! I have created one more unsettled person. If you cannot solve the problem, then you should not even undertake it!

M. Laitman: Another question arises: does one have freedom of will? We see that we are not born through our own will and that we each have specific attributes; we receive the education that we ourselves do not choose; we become adults with prejudices, inclinations, habits and values imposed by the society. Where do we go next? All that we do in life, we do it on the basis of what was instilled in us from the beginning, the way we were made. It turns out that it seems that I begin to live, but actually it is not I that lives, but some small person that was pushed forward like a mechanical toy, and he continues to do things mechanically.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: The problem of “gravity flow,” inertia of personal development in Russia is not that relevant, because of the example of Danko. He has torn his heart out with the purpose of lighting the path ahead with this “little one.” This is closer to us. With a personality, mentality like ours, “gravity flow,” and especially calm holiday resort life are out of the question.

Freedom of will is something else. After all, freedom of will is a very selective thing. This is why I speak about leaders as a social locomotive. But to expect that freedom of will all of a sudden miraculously appear in everyone… It simply will not happen! There are biological leaders in whom this passion lives; they have different results of incarnating these properties into life. If individual dodgers desire to become leaders, then they already possess specific skills, that is, the potential for this, beforehand. But if everything is to be treated according to the principal: “Let’s do things anyhow…” then nothing will work out! Even king Lear used to say: “Nothing will come of nothing.”

M. Laitman: I think that this is precisely what dodgers are.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: Not exactly. There are those like Anna Karenina, for example. The fact that she will throw herself under a train does not bother her; there are other things that worry her. People like this can become leaders. But this is only when speaking about private individuals. In general terms, what is “Cinderella” based on? From the beginning we propose to wonderful girls to wait for a prince instead of killing their opponents. Regrettably, princes do come and they take all “Cinderellas” away to some other city to work where they use them for their own interest.

M. Laitman: I will tell you why this happens. I study a very ancient science that originated around 5000 years ago in the ancient Mesopotamia. From ancient times this science tells that the entire evolution of humanity is based on the development of egoism in a human being. The time will come when humanity will reach such a level when on the one hand it will feel like it is very small and closed in, like a small village, and on the other hand it will reach such egoistic development that people will not be able to exist and to live at all. The world will be swamped with drugs, depression, suicide, absolute rejection, and hatred.

“It is precisely then (this science tells us) that I will open up to people and I will explain how to reach real fulfillment.” Because in reality the only thing that interests man is receiving pleasure, or “fulfillment.” We cannot, however, become fulfilled egoistically, because pleasure immediately disappears as soon as you receive something egoistically. And in the result of this emptiness that has appeared once again you must run after something new. This merciless law is basically the area of my research and my work.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: What you are speaking about is very important. Can I ask you a question? Are there ways through which one can enter the heart of a human soul?

M. Laitman: There is. In order to do this one gradually needs to explain to people that they live in this closed egoistic little world and feel only that which is convenient to them, but that which is not convenient to their egoism falls outside the borders of their field of vision. It really is a long way, as we have already said. In history, everything happens gradually, through a long dialectic process, without coercion. And when man begins to understand this, we must gradually pull him towards realization that there exists an enormous area of the Universe, which is not yet examined or perceived by us. And we do not perceive it only because we want to “seize” everything for our own sake, to become fulfilled.

If we rose above our constant egoistic concern about fulfilling ourselves, and began to think about how we can give instead of receiving, then we would begin to feel absolutely different levels of the world, which do not relate to our egoism, and exist outside of us. Then, to us, the world would become transparent, large and wide. Naturally we would change our attitude towards others. But the main thing is that we would see how all objects of nature are interconnected—how we are all interconnected.

Here you say: “In my theater I affect a thousand people. Among them maybe three to five people will leave inspired by something.” We would see the way that we are joined together and connected, like the thread on the reverse side of an embroidered picture of this world. We would find out why we affect the world in this way, and why on occasions we receive a completely unpleasant “response.” That is, we would learn to live correctly.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: Do you exclude endowments of perception? Or do you expect that everyone will understand those things that you are now telling me about? Can we expect that at least 80 percent of humanity will understand this?

M. Laitman: One in a thousand will understand. Expectation is that this is a gradual and cumulative process: one, two, three people for example, will develop gradually, and this information will be passed on to their children and their grandchildren. It is impossible without enlightenment, since this approach—without egoism—needs to be developed in a person in some way. Otherwise people, by constantly trying to fulfill themselves egoistically, will continue to make mistakes.

In our world we only see this on the example of the relationship between a mother and a child. If she loves someone, then through “fulfilling” the other, she receives pleasure, and her pleasure and her joy is because another, a person close to her receives pleasure; there are no limits. If in the same manner we could see the picture of the world, that is, our mutual connection with each other—that you, and I, and he, and everyone else are an inherent part of an organic system—then we would receive this opportunity of infinite pleasure through the fulfilling of one another. In reality this is the way that it is, only we cannot see it by virtue of our egoism.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: That which you speak about does not even call for an argument. This, however, is what worries me: it is known that the skill of creation is closely connected to the skill of perception. For example, I read a book: here I read two pages and then I understand that I have not understood anything from what I have managed to read. It is clear that in the best-case scenario I will reread these two pages. In the worst-case scenario, I will throw this book away.

M. Laitman: I think that there is no alternative solution but to take this book and read it again. Because we, the people, are sensible elements of nature and it is very easy to force us to take advantage of this solution against our own will. We naturally run from pain and suffering, and seek pleasure and happiness. It is similar to the way that our body subconsciously chooses the optimally comfortable position for us; just look at the way that you are sitting now. In this way nature leads us forward, it forces us to understand that we can not continue to exist through suffering, and that our egoism drives us into a hopeless situation. Our children, from the earliest age, no longer want to live! If such is happening in the world now, can you imagine what will happen in the future? Even more drugs and depression?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: Who are we relying on?

M. Laitman: We are relying on people that feel pain. And today there are more and more of them.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: Pain?

M. Laitman: Yes. Pain. They feel that it is impossible to continue to live like this. But they do not yet have the perception of what makes them feel pain. It is precisely this addition, [the solution to this] that we must introduce [to people.] How? I think that this is simply the way of enlightenment. This is the explanation of the picture of the Universe for man. Only then will he suddenly begin to see connections behind all of the elements and forces that surround him and that affect him. I came to this realization, per se, from a very material science, medical cybernetics.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: But as we have already said, this is a very lengthy process and that means that there will be those that fall-away. What can be done about this?

M. Laitman: This is precisely why I wanted to meet with you. Please tell me do you think that is it possible to open the hearts of people and to impart something to them with the help of theater and art?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: My life suggests to me that even after a “surgical operation” a seizure happens. And it could happen that our good intentions will not bring results. But if we have a chance to save at least seven out of ten, we must put ourselves to the task. The things that you speak about are very important. After our meeting today I will be thinking about how I can help people to hear them.

M. Laitman: The sufferings that are now pushing all of humanity ahead must help us, so that readiness to hear would appear in people, so that their hearts would open up. Anything can be done with humanity through suffering.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: Are you sure that it will not push people towards revenge and hatred?

M. Laitman: Yes, this is the obvious reaction. But not in the very last stage: strong suffering simply brings one to the point that he agrees to anything only so he would no longer suffer. He no longer has the force to resist remaining in him.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: For me, those words that you speak are very high. G-d willing let it be this way.

M. Laitman: So, if we take art, not in this allegorical form, when you show people some unfolded part of life, but you seemingly allegorically show it for others. Some understand and perceive all this close to them, and others don’t. If we show people in a more obvious way, (as if for people that are not sophisticated,) someone that completes everything, that already perceives it close to him—nevertheless it may be that method of letting people hear and understand that which is happening to them? I do not imagine another method through which it is possible to approach the masses in such an easy manner, with the purpose of standing before them and explaining accessibly that we are at a dead-end and everyone needs to listen to himself, to his heart.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: I simply know through my own life experience that if art can reveal any person within five minutes, then it’s bad art. For example if a woman is suffering and she does not know whether she should have the child or not, and we convince her in five minutes, then it is no longer art, it’s coercion. Art gives an opportunity to think about it and choose for yourself.

M. Laitman: Well, fine. Then give this opportunity after you develop the personality through your own art! Now he will have something to think with and to choose with. Tell me, who has this reason, this freedom of will and choice today?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: I think that what you are speaking about is the most difficult and I will be infinitely rude: it is almost unfeasible. The entire humanity dreamed about creating a society of understanding, like-minded people. But both you and I know that this is unlikely. I, you, theater, art, music, painting can only expect that someone’s heart will slightly open up, not more. One should not hope that everyone that walks into the museum of Pushkin today comes out enlightened from there. G-d willing, let someone be slightly touched [with enlightenment.]

M. Laitman: Why do you think people are so unreceptive?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: To the extent of their endowments. This is why I say that one can be going up, and another one can be going down with the same success. For example, it was recently broadcasted in the news that someone threw himself at the canvas: “Ivan the Terrible Killing His Son” with a knife. Do you see the paradox? One comes out of the museum with a decision to have a son, and another one throws himself at the masterpiece with a knife. There is even a memorial to the best spectator and the best actor: the spectator shoots at the performer of the part of Eliahu, and as he understands what he has done, he shoots himself. As a consequence they were buried together. That what you speak about is so grand!

M. Laitman: Are you saying that art is regrettably weak here?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: No! Not weak. But is it strong enough to have result within five minutes? For example people tell a pregnant woman: “Listen to more music, because music will positively affect your future child.” But we will not expect for this child to become Mozart.

I will think more after our meeting.

M. Laitman: It is necessary for this to be inside a person, for it to become his essence. I would like to give you my book.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: This will make me very happy, because that what you speak about is very important. Very important! Because I have understood that it concerns me!

People must understand that it primarily concerns them; understand that they should not take some bitter pills just because problems suddenly arise, but know that these are only consequences. One needs to become aware of the causes.

I do not write books.

M. Laitman: You create them on stage!

A. Dzhigarchanyan: Thank You. Yes, it is interesting, very interesting! Thank You. [M. Laitman is presenting A. Dzhigarchanyan his book].

M. Laitman: Thank You.

M. Laitman: Is this the same Kabbalah that you have heard about?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: No. You know what I have just thought about? There is a book that I like a lot; it’s by Erich Fromm, called To Have or To Be? He writes about that which you speak. But understand, we should not expect that absolutely everyone is “talented” in their perception.

M. Laitman: I understand you. You are thinking of a way to not ruin the natural path of development. It is the most reliable and overall, the only one that is correct. In your opinion, should it be corrected?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: Necessarily. It is necessary to correct. But sometimes it is very important to not agitate.

M. Laitman: Thank you so much. I have seen you so many times on TV.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: I will ask you to come to theater later. I already stopped performing, but it seems like there is some spirit there, and we are trying to tell the people about it. Besides, you know, it is expressed very well: “ways are inscrutable.” One can laugh, be vulgar, and speak about serious things. Speaking the language of theater: “There are plenty of genres.” There are people that say: “get out of here… I don’t need this drama,” so one can try explaining to these people through funny things, through the way that you are speaking about, i.e., “to open a person’s heart”

M. Laitman: Through the process of self-knowledge?

A. Dzhigarchanyan: Of course, I think that this is the best and the most natural way. If I could understand that it is my organism that tells me to do or not to do this, then of course I would act the way that it is best for me. This is more correct than to act according to someone’s decree. But undoubtedly, it is a long path.

M. Laitman: It’s okay; I still hope that we will still see the way that it will actually happen during our lifetime.

A. Dzhigarchanyan: We will win. Our side will win. Thank you! Thank you very much! I am very glad that we have met! I will invite you to the theater and I hope that we will speak some more.

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