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The Purpose of Egoism

Interview with Kabbalist Michael Laitman
by Journalist and Anchorman Vladimir Molchanov
April 5, 2007

V. Molchanov: I am a Russian journalist. Today I am in Israel, greeted by Michael Laitman, a bio-cybernetic, PhD, professor of ontology and the theory of knowledge, as well as a very famous Kabbalist.

I can’t say that I really respect my profession, journalism. But in any case, it gives me an opportunity to travel around the world and to meet and converse with very interesting people, whom I would probably never get to meet in everyday life.

I grew up in a very well-known musical village, called “Old Ruza,” a hundred kilometers away from Moscow. The population included Russians, Jews, Armenians, Georgians, and Turks. All the children were together. We never discussed our nationalities. Unfortunately, I don’t recall when and for what reason I first felt that I was Russian, but something probably prompted this sensation. If I may ask, when did you feel that you were Jewish and what was the reason?

M. Laitman: More than likely it was when I was finishing up my studies in a university and started to think about the future. I was interested in medical cybernetics, a science about the functioning of living organisms and studying their inner program—how they are arranged and how they operate.

This turned out to be a closed subject in Russia. It was very difficult for me to find myself among the people who studied this science. I had some contact with these people while working in an institute of blood transfusion and communicated with the scientists that worked in the army medical academy of St. Petersburg. I came to understand that the issues that were of interest to me were not studied there. Even the curriculums of these classic, fundamental scientific establishments do not provide for deep review and scrutiny of such a concept as the meaning of life.

What is studied is merely the system of functioning of living organisms and nothing more. They do not learn why an organism is arranged in such a way, why particularly such a program is employed while it is being created. And that was what interested me most of all. I understood that it was necessary to search for other opportunities, and I emigrated.

Even today I can’t say that I feel particularly Jewish, or only Jewish. I study Kabbalah. It is a science that examines the Upper world and the forces that govern over our world. Kabbalah studies the history of development of all of humanity and the purpose of its existence. Therefore, although I live and work in Israel, and the broadcasting of our lectures to the whole world occurs also from there, this science itself does not allow me to retreat to a narrow circle of national interests.

V. Molchanov: Did you begin your studies of Kabbalah here, in Israel, or did you already study it in St. Petersburg?

M. Laitman: No, not in St. Petersburg, there I knew nothing at all about Kabbalah.

V. Molchanov: I went through a closed circle of sorts in the very beginning of my career as a journalist. I spent about seven years investigating Nazi criminals. One of them was put in jail for fifteen years and the other was blown up by a league of Jew defenders in New Jersey. Then I stopped doing that for a long time, and in the last two years, together with my wife, I took part in two very serious Jewish projects. One of them was a movie that we shot called “Melodies of the Riga Ghetto.” The other project was a theatrical act in Kiev, in honor of the 65th anniversary of the events in Babi Yar.

Six surviving prisoners of the Ghetto are still alive in Riga. We filmed five of them. The sixth could no longer get out of bed. During an interview with one of the prisoners who also was a great bandmaster and a professor in a conservatory, Mendel Bash, whose entire family perished in the Ghetto, repeated the following words several times: “Where are you, God?” He respects the feelings of religious people but is no longer able to turn to the Creator in prayer.

From your point of view, why didn’t the Creator answer the prayers of the people who appealed to Him during those horrid and monstrous minutes?

M. Laitman: We have no examples at all from history where the Creator responded to people’s prayers. If you trace the history of humanity, you will find that it is a history of running away from suffering. This continues to this day. And why only among the Jews? It is so with regard to all the nations.

We need to understand the plan of nature, the Creator’s plan. Then maybe we will find the answer to what is happening and what awaits us in the future. However, I don’t see any “light” periods in history except for a few periods of slight rest when humanity did not suffer. I don’t see a Creator that treats us with mercy—not only the Jews, but everyone in general.

I think we need to stop imposing our understandings of what happens, on the Creator. He has His own program of actions. The Creator is Nature, or the Upper force, which covers the entire universe, governs over it, and leads it by a specific path. We don’t know this path. We don’t know its beginning, its middle, or its end. We simply involuntarily exist in this world. However, if we were to learn what Nature wants from us, we would understand that a completely different form of action is needed in order to feel happy, sublime, and harmonious.

V. Molchanov: But isn’t it characteristic of human beings to appeal to the Creator, especially in minutes of suffering, in tragic minutes?

M. Laitman: Such questions are what brought me to Kabbalah. It’s true, on one hand, when we study how living organisms function, we see the wisdom with which each cell and the whole organism are created. Nature provided various systems in order for the functioning of all elements of nature to occur in a good, comfortable, and proper manner, and for all elements to support each other. But on the other hand, we see that each element is constantly suffering, and its entire life is satiated with problems and searching for ways to survive. And in the end, there is death. In other words, it seems like a completely irrational existence of all living organisms.

I found the answers to these questions in Kabbalah. I found the formula, according to which the universe exists. Kabbalists described these laws back in the times of Ancient Babylon. We need to treat Nature, or the Creator, simply as a law. If a person stumbles and falls off a roof, without doubt this person will hit the ground, and no prayers along the way will help. The law of universal gravity will act and what happens to the person will be in accordance with this law. The same happens with all of humanity. If we knew the laws according to which our world is governed, by using them correctly, humanity would surely make its life more comfortable.

V. Molchanov: Do you have an explanation for the submissiveness of Jews? We began to talk about the Holocaust. I am well-informed about the stories of the Yanovsky Concentration Camp in Lvov, the ghetto of Riga, and Baby Yar. Tell me, why did the Jews so obediently go to be slaughtered? Why didn’t they sink their teeth into the throats of the Hitlerites who pushed them into their pits?

M. Laitman: According to the interpretation of Kabbalah, this is completely natural. Even approximately twenty years prior to the beginning of this catastrophe, a great Kabbalist of our times, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, known as Baal HaSulam, predicted these events. He warned people and wrote about what must be done: the Jewish people need to carry out the mission that is placed upon them. They need to reveal—first to themselves and then to the whole world—the science that tells us how to become a happy, integrated society and to bring humanity closer to its predestination, to harmony with the nature that surrounds them.

However, no one listened to him. And unfortunately, what he predicted openly and with pain (Baal HaSulam was born in Poland and left in the 20s), came true. When the law of nature goes into effect, there is already nothing that can be done.

V. Molchanov: When we filmed “The Ghetto of Riga,” I was astonished by the last words of a famous historian, Simon Dubnov, who created a ten volume encyclopedia about the Jewish people. When he was led to his death, he turned to the Jews standing beside him and said, “Shrayden Iden, Shrayden,” which in Yiddish means “write Jews, write.” The Jews must write, but they do so less and less frequently.

M. Laitman: Unfortunately, there are no people left among the Jews that are great in spirit and able to bring knowledge to humanity, as in previous generations. This is a consequence of the exile from the spiritual world, which the nation is experiencing now and has for the last two thousand years. Before the destruction of the Temple, the entire nation was on a spiritual level. The people were in perception of Upper forces. In the book that we now call “the Torah” or “the Old Testament,” almost the whole nation that filled that territory, was able to see the instruction and perceived itself and the whole world as being on the level of prophets.

But then a catastrophe occurred, and instead of love for the neighbor, which allows one to feel the harmony of nature (since nature is in fact a feeling of love, balance, and mutual connection between all of its elements), people suddenly fell down into a feeling of unfounded hatred toward each other. Egoism flared up and this determined the exile of the Jewish people from their land. First this is an exile from a spiritual level to a regular, corporeal level, and then, as a consequence, it is an exile from the territory of this country.

Now, after many thousands of years, we received an opportunity to return here. However, this just afforded us an opportunity to rise to that spiritual level that we lost. People don’t understand and do not wish to comprehend this. The Jewish people wish to exist on the corporeal, egoistical level, like all the other nations. What is happening to the Jews is a consequence of not fulfilling this mission of theirs.

V. Molchanov: You began to speak about egoism. I read some of your (I believe it is thirty) books. In every book, you say that egoism is cancer. Are you an egoist by nature?

M. Laitman: Everyone is!

V. Molchanov: Everyone? And you too?

M. Laitman. Yes, me too. All of us are born as egoists. Such is the nature of our world.

Egoism appeared first in ancient Babylon. It was then that the science of Kabbalah emerged. Science says those bursts of egoism, or its constant growth from generation to generation, are imperative and provided by nature only for human beings and not for any other still, vegetative, or animate bodies. This constant egoistic growth is necessary in order for a human being to rise above them and to try to reestablish a connection between all those similar to him, so that everyone would be like brothers in one family.

Kabbalists are those who understood the necessity for this even in ancient Babylon and tried to present this method to the ancient people who lived in Mesopotamia. However, only a small group of people followed them, and afterwards they formed the Jewish nation. Everyone else took the egoistic path.

The Jewish people were on a spiritual level over the course of one and a half thousand years, until they too fell down into egoism. And now, a counter motion needs to begin. To the extent that it is possible, we need to reestablish Kabbalistic knowledge. First this needs to happen in the Israeli society, among those who have a predisposition to attain the Upper world and the spiritual or altruistic level. Then we need to try to deliver this teaching to all of humanity.

Our time is special. It is a time of crises. Crises occur on all the levels: global, ecological, political, cultural, scientific, and so on. Just look at the crisis on the social level! All of them are meant solely for the purpose of bringing a person face-to-face with the need to change the sole essence of one’s existence, to force one to realize that egoism is evil and to free oneself from it.

The problem is that humanity does not see how to do this. I participate in many international meetings and conferences. I see that everyone realizes this but they do not understand how, with the implementation of what tool or what force, humanity can change its nature.

We are all egoists. You were right. However, we can change by studying Kabbalah. Only Kabbalah tells us about the force that is able to change humanity, a force of love that acts upon us. However, because we are opposite to this force, because we are egoistic, this force is manifested in us in such a cruel fashion. It is because of this that the Creator seems cruel to us. It is because we wish to remain opposite to Him and want Him to act upon us the way we see it best in our egoistic attributes.

V. Molchanov: I was very intrigued by your assertion that only a Kabbalist is capable of seeing and determining circumstances ahead of time, before they manifest on Earth (these were your words). We already spoke about the Holocaust. However, absolutely horrifying acts of terror are happening even today in Israel, Russia, and the United States. You are a Rav, a teacher. What awaits Israel, which exists in an atmosphere of pure hatred coming from a line of neighboring Muslim countries?

M. Laitman: Such forecasts are possible the same way that forecasts are possible when studying any other phenomenon, which is subject to laws known to humanity. The laws of nature are absolute and objective. What the Bible tells us, what it asserts, needs to be the foundation of life for everyone. If the people of Israel do not change themselves on the inside, let’s say over the next seven or ten years, if they do not cross the barrier from egoism to bestowal, from hatred to love, the Jewish nation will have no place on this land. Just like in the past, this land will “expel” us, and we will be compelled to leave, if we’ll make it in time.

V. Molchanov: “Will be forced to leave, if we’ll make it in time”. That’s a very scary comment.

M. Laitman: Yes. Kabbalah tells us this. These are not my own speculations. This land will be filled with the Arabic population. Everything will continue as it was for thousands of years before. However, as a consequence, due to the scheme of forces, the whole world too will experience a third, and then even a fourth, world wars.

Humanity will still have to come to such a realization of the need to change itself, where it will see this as a vital necessity. This will either occur through realization or through the path of suffering. But, of course, we have very unpleasant events in store for us if we do not come to understand that we need to change our nature.

In the near future, Nazi regimes will begin to be reinstated in all countries. Anti-Semitism is native in human nature and it is just because people unwillingly feel that the Jewish people have a certain key to suffering, or, on the contrary, to their happiness. The Jews also understand this deep down. You asked why the Jews went to their death so submissively. People understand that they are supposed to suffer for something they are doing. They don’t know the answer, since they don’t understand Kabbalah, but somehow they have this presentiment.

Just look! All other nations, in all the countries, all over the world, wherever you come across people, they have a certain negative attitude toward Jews, even if they never really came into contact with them. This is instilled in a person because one has a subconscious feeling that he depends on them.

V. Molchanov: More than anything, your remark about Nazi regimes beginning to be restored in almost all countries in the near future, really frightened me.

M. Laitman: This will follow the crises, which are now continuing to intensify. It seems to us that we will find some way out of them, but we will not. The intermixing of the people of Israel with the other nations of the world over the course of the exile that lasted for two thousand years, has come to an end. Now the time has come to rise to the level of balance with nature—for us, as well as for the rest of humanity.

V. Molchanov: You say, “to rise,” but the number of Muslims on Earth in comparison to those who leaders call “unfaithful” is growing geometrically. Is a battle with the “unfaithful,” with you and me, pleasing to the Creator? Can you say something in opposition to this?

M. Laitman: Such is the way of the forces of nature, which govern over us. I don’t blame any nations in any way at all. All of them are governed from above. Our world is merely a consequence of Upper governance. The forces act upon us in a way that leads humanity through a realization of evil, of egoism, so that people would wish to change themselves on their own.

In this movement, Muslims, just like all other nations, play a role. We shouldn’t blame anyone. After all, people act according to what the laws of nature compel them to do. I don’t feel any hatred toward anyone. I see to what extent everything is governed from above by a single force.

We are only comfortable when we are in balance with the world or the environment that surrounds us. We are opposite to nature on the mental, moral, and psychological levels. Nature is altruistic. It is on the level of bestowal, like one great mother, and we are egoists in regard to it. We are willing to swallow up each other as well as nature.

Until we enter the same level as nature and achieve balance with it, we will constantly feel its influence upon us. This may happen through Arabs, or again through German fascists, or through anyone else—it doesn’t matter who will play what part in this process. We will suffer. We will feel nature pressing down on us.

V. Molchanov: You just said, “I don’t feel any hatred toward anyone.” However, that’s you. Maybe I also feel the same way, and many other people do too, but not everyone does. I was really confused by your words, “One who loves the Creator undoubtedly experiences a loathing toward egoism.” How does that compare to the behavior or the practice of religious leaders—Catholics, Orthodox Christians, or Jews, each of whom asserts that only his religion is correct? It is the twenty-first century, after all.

M. Laitman: Religion was invented by human beings. It merely provides a psychological comfort of sorts. It somehow justifies people’s existence in this world of suffering. It gives hope for a world to come, although all of this is groundless.

I treat religions as inventions of the human society. They are simply human culture and nothing more. They were thought up by man and have no foundation and no connection to Kabbalah or the real Upper World, from where the governance over our world occurs. Kabbalah is separate from all religions.

V. Molchanov: You just spoke about the likelihood of a third, and possibly even a fourth world wars. Do you think the cause of these wars will be interfaith hatred?

M. Laitman: No. The fact of the matter is not hatred between faiths. Islam too is not being presented to us in its true form, but for the sake of some political or economical goals. These wars are not religious. These are wars of our enormous egoism, which has flared up in us in its final stage.

There are a total of five stages of egoistic growth, which determine social-economical formations: the renaissance era, technological and cultural revolutions, and so on. We have reached the last stage, when we are becoming convinced that there is generally nothing left to fill our egoism with, and therefore we are at a dead end of sorts. Whichever way humanity chooses to move ahead now, it does not feel anything bright or pleasant ahead.

For the first time, we feel that our children will not be better off than we are, and maybe they will even be worse. We feel that this world has reached its completion, so to speak. This is actually an inner feeling of hopelessness, which is partially conscious and partially unconscious, and it leads to terror—an explosion and consequently, war.

V. Molchanov: Yes, an explosion of hatred. Professor, we are people, and it is typical for people to love and to hate. I am very interested about what you felt when your compatriots, people who lived in Israel, killed Itzhak Rabin and encouraged a killing of Ariel Sharon. As a Jew who lives in this little wonderful country of Israel, can you somehow explain these phenomena?

M. Laitman: People are experiencing a horrible state here. They are driven into this country, and I would say, a large portion of the population would gladly leave if only they were given an opportunity to make a better living somewhere else. People don’t realize why they are here. And those who want to live here are guided by some artificial, made up goals. They think that they will be able to save themselves and this land with the force of arms or through some artificial spiritual values.

People fail to understand that they need to rise to a spiritual level, that they need to be ready to correct themselves and to pass this method of correction to all of humanity. They don’t understand this.

Do you understand why religions emerged? This happened when the nation of Israel fell from its spiritual level to the corporeal or egoistic level. Instead of a spiritual method of existence on the level of nature, in perception of the Upper forces and the Upper world, the Jewish people began to imagine only this world. As a consequence, they made up today’s religion, Judaism, from which Christianity and Islam formed later as well. Everything that is present today in human culture is a consequence of the descent from a spiritual to a corporeal level of existence.

If now, the nation of Israel, would be able to begin to set an example for ascending from a corporeal to a spiritual level, it would hence neutralize all the interfaith and international problems. After all, Kabbalah addressed the people of ancient Babylon—that small civilization, from which today’s great civilization originated, and Kabbalah has the power to tie all of us together again into that same, single, Babylonian nation.

V. Molchanov: Tell me, from your point of view, can Kabbalah become a national concept, or is it supranational?

M. Laitman: Kabbalah is supranational. In fact, Jews became a nation only based on an ideological characteristic. The group that formed in ancient Babylon, came out from Babylon, and began to exist based on spiritual principles. They, in time began to be called “the nation of Israel.” Then when this group fell from its spiritual level, the name stayed, but it is merely a name.

V. Molchanov: How do rabbis treat you in Israel?

M. Laitman: Like an alien body.

V. Molchanov: Really?

M. Laitman: Of course.

V. Molchanov: Do you feel like an alien body in this country?

M. Laitman: No, not in this country, that is only their opinion. Kabbalists have always felt that way. Throughout all of history, Kabbalah developed alongside with religion, parallel to it, without really running into it in any way. Kabbalah is concerned with the inner stream of attaining the world—not with faith but with attainment, with perceiving the Upper system of governance over our world and entering this system. This is contradictory to religion; it goes against it.

V. Molchanov: I heard that you live in a neighborhood with a lot of religious Jews nearby. Does this bother you?

M. Laitman: No, we simply have no contact with each other. The path of Kabbalah and the path taken by religious people (Jews or others, doesn’t matter) are opposite.

V. Molchanov: You claim that there exist objective laws of society, and no one, including Bush or Stalin, can do anything. What are these laws? Are the millions of people who were destroyed by Stalin and Hitler a consequence of these objective laws? Do they fall into these laws?

M. Laitman: Unfortunately, yes. If we talk about laws, we need to part from our feelings. We just need to learn what happens with the forces that influence our world.

The picture is the following: a single, all-encompassing and absolutely altruistic force directing humanity toward equivalence with it. Like any physical force, it performs actions without taking our feelings into account. This is the state we are in.

You are talking about a kind God, feelings, and the fact that He takes care of His creatures. There is no such thing. Objective laws of nature are described in Kabbalistic sources, as well as in my books and our translations, which are all recitations of old books. A scientific description of Kabbalistic knowledge was first done in the times of ancient Babylon, when The Book of Creation was written. This whole conception, the whole scheme of Upper governance, is already described there.

If we look at what is happening to us from aside, not like creatures that experience various feelings and suffering, we will see that it is the influence of forces. And they will continue to lead us further ahead in this manner. If we don’t come to understand them, and if we don’t begin to know precisely how to act, like in physics or chemistry, how to implement and realize these laws with a benefit to us, we will continue to suffer further.

V. Molchanov: I hope that I don’t offend you with my questions. I am a curious person and I’m interested in figuring this out.

I would not want to feel lower than some level in my life, lower than the knowledge I receive. This is not why I lived, not why I was brought up in a good family, and not why I read many good books. I was very perplexed by your words (and I quote), “The lower a person feels, the closer he is to his true state and to the Creator.” What does “lower” mean according to you?

M. Laitman: When we come across great people, while talking to them we suddenly discover a lack of confidence in their knowledge. If one is truly a great investigator, he understands that he is merely in the beginning of something eternal. We need to reach such a state, when finally we will understand that it is essential that we make sense of the world we exist in, since we actually know nothing about it.

From the crisis that sciences are experiencing, we see that they are incapable of disclosing the Upper level of existence to humanity. These sciences arise from our nature. We discovered them. We perceive the world through our five senses, and the whole picture of the world is revealed to us in such a way. For a different observer, it would be completely different. Rather than treating this world in a haughty manner, as we are used to, like we know and understand everything and do everything correctly, if we were to really treat this world correctly, we would be able to reveal additional, enormous, upper layers of governance. This is imperative for us.

Nature beats on us constantly. Why can’t we ask what the purpose behind it is? After all, everything that happens is purposeful. It is done only so that people would begin to investigate the causality and the purpose of all of these blows and our entire existence in general. Nothing disappears without a trace and nothing is created in vain. Only human beings believe that they have the power and the reason to do anything. As a consequence, they came to such a crisis.

V. Molchanov: When I was reading your books, I got an impression that you are disaffirming official sciences. You emphasize that we need more psychologists, and that is the only thing we need from science. But tell me, what should a sick person do? Should he see a doctor? What should people who live in seismic zones do? Should they go to seismologists? I was very surprised by this. Are you not from the world of science?

M. Laitman: No, no. Under no circumstances do I deny the greatness of sciences created by humanity, or the revelation of all these interconnections in the world that surrounds us. My first profession was bio-cybernetics, then philosophy and ontology. I am interested in all the news in science; currently I am a member of the “World Wisdom Counsil.” No, I don’t neglect science at all. Maybe you’re referring to a wrong translation somewhere or a phrase taken out of context.

One needs to understand that modern sciences reveal corporeal properties rather than forces that govern our world. Our sciences are only practical supplements to our world, and they don’t change the substance of our lives.

We see that humanity is constantly trying to find new medicine and tries to make our everyday life and our living environment more comfortable, but we are still unable to outrun the influence of nature on us, its development with regard to us. On the contrary, we are behind, so to speak. Nature constantly increases its pressure upon us.

Just look at the amount of people suffering from depression today; currently, stress is the number one illness. Cancerous diseases are precisely pure egoism. Cancer develops in us when a cell wants to “eat up” its surroundings. This is a precise consequence of our spiritual state! Conflicts in families, birth rate falling, divorces, drugs… This has never happened before. People have never wanted so much to relinquish this life and this world, to forget everything and to turn themselves off somehow.

Where should we look for the forces that will help us to exist somehow? Earthly sciences will not give us answers to such questions. They are purely utilitarian. From studying the construction of electrons (although it is correct and we should do this), we will not cease to suffer. On the contrary, we will become worse and worse with every coming generation. Today scientists openly discuss the crisis at scientific conferences. It is what I spoke about fifteen years ago and people laughed it off. About six or seven years ago, in America, we began to write a book with an American philosopher, but he told me straight out, “It is forbidden to write about the crisis in the philosophers’ guild.” But today everyone already writes and talks about it.

V. Molchanov: You just began talking about drugs. I consider drug abuse a great evil and a vice. However, you write (and maybe it’s an incorrect translation again) that “drug addicts are people who don’t intervene with society and are submerged into their own inner pleasures. Then why don’t we allow these people to receive pleasures that are not harmful for society?” Furthermore, you suggest giving out free drugs along with unemployment benefits.

M. Laitman: I wanted to convey a different idea. I wanted to say that drugs don’t harm society. They provide some pleasure and disconnection from reality for a person, but they don’t make one dangerous to society. When I ask, “Why don’t we give out drugs to everyone?” I am not suggesting that we do this; I am asking, “Why are we against drugs?”

Drugs turn a person off from reality and from searching for a meaning of life. Our negative attitude to drugs is instilled in nature’s program because they consequently turn a person away from the purpose of his existence—a person turns away from society. Despite everything, humanity still continues to create, to suffer, and so on. Development continues to lead humanity forward somehow. Meanwhile, drugs turn a person away from everything. For this reason, humanity is against drugs.

The society needs to present an opportunity for a person to rise above this world and to understand why he exists. After all, turning to drugs comes from a feeling of meaninglessness.

V. Molchanov: People accustom their children to drugs and do so consciously…

M. Laitman: Yes, this is already the next stage in drug usage.

V. Molchanov: If I understood you correctly, you do consider it a vice, or an evil, right?

M. Laitman: Of course.

V. Molchanov: Here are your words: “Realization of evil is a realization of the vice of one’s desire.” What is a vice, in your opinion?

M. Laitman: We were created by nature as a single organism. This seems like an overused phrase, but it is reality. Just look at our body—all of its organs, cells, and systems exist in perfect interaction, in godly harmony, where each cell feels the whole organism and works for its benefit. A cell consumes only as much as it needs for existence and for the support of the whole organism. Particularly such interaction allows the whole system to exist. As soon as any cell begins to consume instead of giving, it becomes a cancer cell.

Nature consists of the still, vegetative, animate, and human levels. “Human” refers to our consciousness, or our attitude to the world. That is what’s human in us. The body is animate. All of us, the people and all other parts of nature, on all the levels, need to be the same; we need to be interconnected in an absolutely integrated way. Nature—everything but the “human” level in us, which is our consciousness, our attitude toward each other, to the world, and to all of nature—is this way already.

Our bodies belong to the animate level. It is necessary to lead a person to a state where he will realize that he is obliged to become an integral part of all of nature. By so doing, a person reveals eternal harmony. One experiences perfection and merges with the harmonious and enormous organism. Humanity is obliged to rise to such a state.

There are two opportunities to achieve eternity and perfection, which we must come to according to the plan of nature. One opportunity is the path of suffering, which is the long path taken by all of humanity over the course of millennia. The other is the path where a person reveals the Upper system, or the Upper world, and sees that “Yes, this is how we were created. Look, there’s Light ahead! What a great, eternal, and perfect state.”

Kabbalah is only meant to teach one to see our world as transparent, and through it to see a picture that we must enter. However, if humanity does not take advantage of this, then very slowly, under the influence of blows, it will still ripen to a level when it will realize the need to change. The biggest problem today is whether we will be able to present the method, the scientific method, of advancement to humanity. You see that Kabbalah is a science. Just look at the amount of graphs and drawings. It is the physics of the Upper world. Will we be able to present this method to humanity? Will we take the good route? If not, there will be blows.

Nature acts upon us in the same manner all the time. Advancement depends on us: if we are able to take advantage of Kabbalah, we will move ahead comfortably; if we aren’t, we will receive blows like foolish children. By running away from blows, we will still move in the direction that we are led to by the law of development. The only vice is our disparity with nature, our egoism. I don’t mean everyday, small egoism. We need to recognize egoism on the global, human level.

In the Bible, this is described very well. A civilization, which began its existence in Ancient Babylon, wanted to build a tower of “pride” to the sky. People “lost their common language,” ceased to understand each other, and there occurred an “intermixing of languages,” so to speak. The ancient population dispersed all over the world because people were unable to further exist with one another. This is indeed a vice, the only vice.

We need to understand that the egoism that alienates and sets us against one another, was actually created so that, without running away from, suppressing, or crossing it out, particularly above it and together with it, we would begin to unite with each other, like in a family, where each person understands the weaknesses and various problems of the others. It is specifically above this that there exists a connection and love between them.

If we would try to unite this way, we would immediately feel that we are in harmony with the surrounding world and would immediately feel its eternity and infinity. We would not feel the animal body. We would feel that we are on the “human” level, on a completely different level, the level of the eternal flow of life. There would be no problems with this life or this world. The sensation of ourselves would vanish (it would only exist in some minor dimensions, such as movement, place, space, and some seventy years of existence). We would develop a completely different attitude toward each other, ourselves, and the entire universe as a whole.

V. Molchanov: Thank you. Professor, I probably made lots of mistakes in my life, but there is one mistake for which I reproach myself, to this day. In the end of the 80s, my show, “Before and After Midnight” was probably the most popular show in the country. Once, in this show, I showed an episode about the so-called Vissarion, who called himself (or was called by others) the new Jesus Christ. The topic wasn’t mine, and it wasn’t me that spoke to this person. But I think I made a big mistake. A great number of people became interested in Vissarion and there occurred horrible human tragedies. I wanted to ask you, how do you feel about sectarianism, the sect of Habbad, about people like this Vissarion, Aum Shinrikyo, and Sai Baba?

M. Laitman: Humanity is looking for paths to perfection, a comfortable state of being, and a rise to some spiritual level. People want to feel higher than the corporeal bounds. They don’t want to be weighed down by time, space, and the other forces that surround us. Since olden times, people have been drawn to this. Of course, there are those who take great pleasure in selling this to others. And there are also those who, without understanding, begin to take interest and become hooked.

I see that all of these crazes about philosophy, eastern methodologies, etc. should pass rather quickly. It is already beginning to die out today.

V. Molchanov: Maybe it’s dying out here, but not in Russia.

M. Laitman: In Russia, this process is slightly behind schedule. The style for various so-called “spiritual methodologies” in Russia began later than in the rest of the world. The Beatles were into this in the 50s, while in Russia such an opportunity emerged only in the 80s. They are behind by thirty years or so. However, it will pass quickly regardless. Humanity needs to go though a period of involvement in all these things. Sai Baba and others are carrying out a particular function, so that humanity would quickly pass this stage of being interested by all these methodologies and realize that they are inadequate. I view this process as a normal flow of time.

You probably know of those pictures, where if you refocus your viewpoint, you begin to look through the image and suddenly the multidimensional or the three-dimensional layers are revealed. First there are these seemingly meaningless lines, and then when you look through them, so to speak, instead of looking at them directly, a picture is exuded from within.

If we could refocus the viewpoint of a person in such a way that one would look through our world and see the next dimensional existence, where one actually exists already, if one could exist in that dimension while being in this world at the same time, all of these methodologies would cease to influence us. We would understand that we will not be able to achieve harmony through wars, hatred, or pressuring one another. In fact, we are actually just punishing ourselves by doing so. After all, if an individual, a nation, or an organization exists in contrast to the principles of love and interaction, while in actuality all of human society exists by these principles, those people are destroying themselves first and foremost. We would be able to see this.

When humanity will open its eyes, there will be no opportunity to act incorrectly, in the same manner as one would not stick his hand into fire.

V. Molchanov: May I ask you a, possibly silly and tactless, question?

M. Laitman: Yes.

V. Molchanov: But first, a brief history. I already told you that last year my wife and I shot a film called “Melodies of the Riga Ghetto.” After this, the federation of Jewish communities awarded me, a person without a droplet of Jewish blood in me, the title of “Person of the Year.” However, my wife was not. We were joint authors of this film. I went onstage alone to pick up the prize. After me, a wonderful director, Mark Rozovsky, came on stage. His wife is the manager of his theater, as well as his chief musical accompanist. Her piano was placed behind the curtains and she was not allowed to appear on stage. What is your attitude toward women? Don’t you like them?

M. Laitman: All the religions place women second in relation to men. This is a problem of the human race, when the lack of harmony between people improperly affects the interactions between the sexes. If we were to see (again I come back to the same issue) the picture of the harmonious human society, we would see how a man and a woman complement each other. We would then build interactions in the family, in society, at work, and in creative work, in accordance with our knowledge. Everything would be different.

In spite of the fact that Americans are fighting so hard for equality, I don’t believe that humanity will ever be equal in rights. We don’t understand what equal rights mean. It does not mean making everyone unisexual or sexless. Equal rights means understanding the meaning of these creatures called a man or a woman—the spiritual, inner meaning, rather than taking into account the needs of the physiological organism. When one organism has one type of circumstances, and the other has another, a comfortable existence on the animal level is possible. We will not be able to achieve this without the knowledge of our upper root—the male as well as the female.

In Kabbalah there is a precise, very rigid separation between the male and the female parts of creation. The forces of nature are separated into the male and the female, the positive and the negative, for instance, and so on. There is no need to mix them up or equalize them. When a person understands these two roots, he sees how they bring humanity to harmony in a joint and mutual action.

V. Molchanov: When I go to a Christian orthodox church, I notice that a great percentage of the people there are lonely women without families, or with some problems in the family. I am curious, is the percentage of such lonely and unsettled women also great among your students?

M. Laitman: There are no women among my students. Kabbalah is primarily meant for men. Knowledge and spiritual attainments are passed over to the female part from the male part, and for this reason I teach only the male part.

There is a multitude of women in the world who study with us. They listen to lessons, study from our books and lectures, etc. Women help us work with the materials. The female part in our organization consists of thousands and thousands, or I would even say hundreds of thousands of women. However, I personally only teach the men. I am not ashamed and will not keep silent about this. A great force of evil was placed into the male part by nature, and for this reason, there is great potential for correction. But a woman is closer to nature, there is less evil in her and less opportunity or necessity for correction. Therefore, first we need to work with the male part. We see that all the evil in the world comes though the men rather than the women.

V. Molchanov: This is why my wife and the wife of Mark Rozovsky were not allowed on stage. And you don’t allow women to attend your lessons. Is there a possibility for this to change in the future?

M. Laitman: The differences will not go away. In the future, when great masses of humanity will pursue attainment of the structure of the universe, the Upper forces, and the realization of this knowledge, the cross between the male and the female parts will simply obtain the proper form, but it will not change. We cannot neutralize nature. By understanding nature through Kabbalah and revealing the picture of the male and the female Upper forces, which influence our world, we see that the male forces (particularly the male) influence, control, and realize all of development. Meanwhile, the female forces help them and balance them. However, because of this, it is particularly the woman that provides a continuation of progress and birth, and not the man.

If the male force is not balanced out by the female force and does not accompany it, or if the female force does not accompany the male force, there are no perspectives for them. I can’t describe this in a couple of phrases right now, but I purposely want to underline that Kabbalah primarily addresses men as the main source of evil and the main force of influence on our world. It is precisely the men that require correction. Therefore, the attitude toward them is somewhat negative.

V. Molchanov: Thank you. I understand that Kabbalists have a hierarchy. Do you occupy a certain degree or level on it? Also, how is it possible to distinguish a true Kabbalist from a fraud?

M. Laitman: The science of Kabbalah originated in ancient Babylon. The first Kabbalist, Abraham, was actually a Babylonian priest. He produced and sold idols and was an idol-worshipper. He was respected by people. When a sudden growth of egoism occurred, which is allegorically described as the building of the Babylonian tower by the people, Abraham—particularly because he was a smart and developed person of that time—managed to realize the purpose of the egoism that was revealed and to disclose the science of Kabbalah. Kabbalah says that a person needs to rise above egoism, and then an attainment of the higher layers of nature will occur.

Abraham formed a Kabbalistic group from some of the ancient Babylonians, and this group existed over the course of many thousands of years. The next great Kabbalist was Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (RASHBI), who wrote the well-known Book of Zohar. This is a fundamental book in Kabbalah. The first volume was translated by me into Russian. Of course, rabbi Shimon and what is described in this book pose absolute authority. The next great Kabbalist (and of course there were many other Kabbalists in between) was the ARI. This was already the sixteenth century of our era. He lived in Tzfat and left behind about twenty books.

V. Molchanov: Why did Tzfat become such a Kabbalistic center?

M. Laitman: Yes, it was a Kabbalistic center at that time. There were several Kabbalists after the Ari as well, but I am naming only the main ones. Up to the twentieth century, there were practically no Kabbalists like rabbi Shimon and ARI. Only in the twentieth century did a Kabbalist come about, who summarized all of the ancient Kabbalah and described it in a clear and, I would say, scientific language—the language of a college text book, which all of us can read and understand. In his works, he commented on and described all the Kabbalistic sources that existed up to his time. Then ame of this great Kabbalist was Baal HaSulam. He died in 1955. His older son, RABASH, was my teacher.

I found my teacher in approximately 1979 and was with him until 1991. I studied from him all the way up to his death. He died in my arms. Since his name was Baruch, we named our Kabbalistic academy “Bnei Baruch” (the sons of Baruch), after him.

Together with my teacher, we often visited other Kabbalists who seriously studied Kabbalah, here in Israel. I accompanied him, being merely a beginner student at the time. I met these Kabbalists, asked them questions, and began to understand who a Kabbalist truly is and how to recognize him from others.

Either I lack the appropriate knowledge today, or I no longer come across such people. Those who I met with my teacher are no longer alive. We visited them, and they came to see him. I was constantly next to my teacher, and therefore, I accompanied them, was present while they conversed and at the Kabbalistic scientific talks. Today these people are no longer in our world, and unfortunately I don’t see anyone to take their place.

But after all, The Book of Zohar tells us that humanity must come to a state when Pnei ha Dor Ki Pnei ha Kelev, which in translation means “the leaders of generations will have faces like the face of a dog.” In other words, the best in the generations will be as small and materialistic as a regular person. This is what we have come to.

V. Molchanov: I met people who called themselves Kabbalists in Moscow and even Kiev. However, as I noticed, their interest in Kabbalah was tied to certain amulets. I understand this. In a Russian Orthodox Church, one takes pleasure in looking around at the beautiful icons. An icon is also a thing, and it is completely unclear what is has to do with faith. This is my opinion.

Why do we pray to an icon drawn by a human being?

M. Laitman: In previous generations, an icon was a necessary attribute for the dissemination of faith. After all, people did not know how to read. In order to convey some message, they would draw. If they drew Jesus, they drew him next to a mule; if they drew the Apostle Paul, they drew him differently. Icons emerged because it was necessary to communicate a story about faith to people who did not know how to read. Therefore, it was disseminated in the form of drawings. People then developed a clear understanding of what was being discussed.

V. Molchanov: Do all of those amulets that are being sold have a serious relationship to Kabbalah?

M. Laitman: No, not at all. In our world, there is nothing at all that has anything to do with Kabbalah—not the Jewish, the Christian, or the Muslim amulets, or anything else that you can put your hands on.

Kabbalah tells us of a state when a person exists outside of a body, so to speak. Leave your “animal” alone. It doesn’t matter what you do with your arms, legs, or what you say with your tongue. All of that is completely incorrect, untrue, and possibly a complete lie. People don’t know how anything works or exists. They treat these amulets as being special and valuable. However, the amulets themselves are insignificant.

Kabbalah doesn’t assign any power to any objects in our world. They are meaningless. None of them have any supernatural forces.

V. Molchanov: Please allow me to ask one question that may seem silly. I wasn’t able to find the origin of a Russian saying, “to bond another is to fall into bondage” [in Russian, this is a play of words that sound like “Kabbalah”].

M. Laitman: I don’t think this expression has anything to do with Kabbalah. The verb Lekabel means “to receive” in Hebrew. Kabbalah tells us how humanity can receive the infinite and eternal attainment and pleasure, which is ahead of us, but which we cannot receive due to the fact that we are opposite to it. After all, if I want to receive something, I need to have an adequate and proper desire toward it.

In order to hear, our ear needs to be attuned to a particular frequency; in order to see, it is the same thing, and so on. As a consequence of being attuned, all of our senses respond to certain ranges from the world that surrounds us. In a radio, we need to “create” a particular wave that corresponds to an outside wave, and only then does it hear it. I also have a kind of “oscillating circuit” that regenerates a wave similar to that on the outside, and then when I turn this circuit, I create various waves and hear those waves that are similar to my own from all those that exist outside.

It is the same with respect to feeling the Upper world. I need to attune myself on the inside and create such vibrations in my “oscillating circuit” that are similar to the Upper world. Then I will begin to feel it.

Kabbalah tells us how to receive higher information—fulfillment and saturation. It tells us how to make a spiritual “receiver” out of ourselves. I don’t see any connection between that expression and the word “Kabbalah.” It may be that other languages, such as Khazar or Turkic, came into play there.

V. Molchanov: Tell me, how many children and grandchildren do you have?

M. Laitman: I have three children. My son lives in Canada. He is married to a French woman and they have three children. In addition to his main job, he helps us in the dissemination of Kabbalistic literature in America. My older daughter is in Israel. She is a doctor of biological sciences. She works in a large laboratory and studies the genetics of cancer. She was interested in this her entire life, and she is realizing herself in this area. Her husband studies with us. He is one of my students, and he manages the Russian department. My younger daughter is getting her doctorate in philosophy and Kabbalah in a university in Tel Aviv. She is not married.

V. Molchanov: So, you have three children and three grandchildren?

I asked you this for a reason. You wrote somewhere that if a Kabbalist was to be a leader of a nation or, possibly, of all humankind, he would change nothing except upbringing. What are your principles for the upbringing of your children?

M. Laitman: There are no principles. The only correct upbringing is through example. None of the problems or anything else that we as grownups experience, should be hidden from our kids. We should show them, so that on their level, they would understand why grownups act the way they do, what governs them, and would draw conclusions accordingly.

V. Molchanov: What should we show them? Please explain.

M. Laitman: Above all, my children see that their father has one goal in life, and it is to study Kabbalah, to teach, to lead my students and to disseminate this knowledge as broadly as possible, because this is our salvation. This may seem like a strong statement, but I am convinced that the salvation of all humanity rests on this.

V. Molchanov: Sorry, did they come to understand this as they became older?

M. Laitman: No. They know that it is what our family exists for. They know that it is what I live for and my whole existence is only for this. They feel and understand this. The twenty-four-hour work, the lessons that have started at three in the morning for the past thirty years, working on books in different languages, the travel, the conferences—everything revolves around this goal.

V. Molchanov: When do you sleep?

M. Laitman: I go to sleep early. I am already asleep by nine - nine thirty.

V. Molchanov: Let’s come back to your children. In some countries, such as Japan for example, children (small children) are allowed to do everything. As a rule, in Russia we constantly hear, “Don’t touch, put that back, no!” What did you forbid your children to do when they were little?

M. Laitman: I don’t even know if I did the right thing back then. I had no time to raise my children. I came to Israel in 1974. In about a year or two I already saw that the answers to my questions about the meaning of life were particularly in Kabbalah. As a bio-cybernetic, I strived for and wanted only that. I was considering combining bio-cybernetics and Kabbalah and creating a synthesis, so to speak (after all, all progress occurs at the junction of disciplines). I wanted to create a new breakthrough in science. I was drawn to that as a scientist. That was until I realized that bio-cybernetics only got in the way and fully submerged into Kabbalah, studied it twenty-four hours a day.

I had my own business. My parents, who were health professionals, came to Israel. I then opened up a clinic and made enough money in just a couple of years to be able to constantly be at the side of my teacher while he was still living. I worked only a couple of hours a day. My teacher was eighty years old, and I needed to receive everything he had.

Therefore, my kids’ whole childhood passed by unnoticeably for me. I did not notice as they got older and became big. If you were to ask me then what grade my daughter was in, I would not be able to tell you.

V. Molchanov: I understand. Your kids were raised by your wife—one of those women you don’t allow into your classes.

M. Laitman: She understood. She was beside me. My wife knew my teacher well, and he valued her a lot. When he became a widower, she prepared food for him and helped me to support him in every possible way. She performed great work, being beside me and him.

When we spoke about the upbringing of children, I was referring to the section in Kabbalah, where these issues are illuminated. Kabbalah asserts that it is impossible for a person to educate anyone—in society or one’s own children—any other way than though example.

V. Molchanov: What a shame it is that it doesn’t happen very often in life…

Professor, you are describing very interesting spiritual problems. You speak in very elevated terms, but you don’t seem like a person who is detached from life.

M. Laitman: Kabbalah doesn’t allow it.

V. Molchanov: I wanted to ask you about that. Do you like to have meals? Can you drink a glass of wine or a shot of vodka? Do you like music? Do you dance, maybe?

M. Laitman: I like everything.

V. Molchanov: Everything?

M. Laitman: Absolutely.

V. Molchanov: You’re a person just like me?

M. Laitman: Yes, forgive me, but maybe even greater.

V. Molchanov: Even greater?

M. Laitman: Yes.

V. Molchanov: Then answer my last question, if you can. Why is everything that surrounds Kabbalah tied to a mystery of some sort? Why are Kabbalists so closed off? Didn’t your great teacher, Kabbalist Baal HaSulam say seventy years ago that Kabbalah needs to be revealed to a wide range of people?

M. Laitman: But who wants it? Where is this wide range of people? Give it to me!

I released approximately thirty books (I even lost count!), they are translated into dozens of languages. Our website is open to everyone. We give lectures; disseminate free newspapers in Russia, America, Israel, and now India. But where is that wide range of people that is expressing interest?

Kabbalah was concealed until the end of the nineteenth century. The twentieth century, and especially the twenty-first century, is a time of revelation. In previous generations, there were so many myths surrounding it. People still wanted to know what it was and tried to make up something on their own. But now Kabbalah is open to all. It was called a mystery before because Kabbalists purposely concealed this teaching. They were waiting for humanity to ripen to today’s crisis and to demand particularly Kabbalah rather than amulets and the like. This period is now beginning. On the other hand, Kabbalah is called a mystery because it speaks about the part of nature that we don’t feel in our five senses.

V. Molchanov: And this is why the sixth sense is formed?

M. Laitman: We need to develop it. Every one of us has it in a rudimental state. Kabbalah attunes a person on developing it. Suddenly, a person begins to additionally perceive how the universe is breathing. He feels how forces penetrate through matter, influence us, and we, in turn interact with them. A person begins to feel in harmony with the entire universe.

Physicists and biologists also talk about the existence of universal harmony, and at the same time, existence of dark matter. In actuality, they are merely guessing through their five senses. However, Kabbalah opens up an opportunity for actual attainment through the sixth sense. An individual comes to perceive eternal, harmonious, and complete nature, where his spirit exists in actuality. Therefore, I wish that all of humanity will achieve this state as quickly as possible.

V. Molchanov: Thank you, professor. You know, you disclosed many interesting things to me today. A lot of it will cause me to think. I hope that the people listening and watching our conversation today will also have something to think about.

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