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Chapter 4. Breaching the Balance

O Man! Seek no further for the author of evil; thou art he.

Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Creed of a Savoyard Priest

For man is the cruelest animal.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.

Mark Twain, Following the Equator


Except for the human ego, all of Nature’s elements operate according to the law of altruism. They are in balance with their environments and create harmonious systems. When the balance is breached, the organism begins to disintegrate. Thus, the ability to reconstruct the balance is a necessary condition for the existence of life.

In fact, the body expends its entire protective power on maintaining the balance. When we speak of a strong body or a weak body, we refer to its ability to preserve its balance. Preserving the balance requires each element to act altruistically regarding the system it is part of, and which provides the basis of Nature’s comprehensive harmony and perfection. If a certain element does not abide by life’s principle of altruism, it thus breaches the balance. These two terms—altruism and balance—are therefore intertwined by way of cause and effect.

In all creatures but man, there is a “balancing software” that makes them perform whatever is required to maintain balance at any given moment. Other creatures always know what to do, and hence do not stumble upon uncertainties or unfamiliar situations where they are unaware of how to behave within the new environment. They are not free to act at will, and are therefore clearly unable to change Nature’s balance. Human Beings are the only creatures in whom this balancing software is not installed.

Because Nature does not instill in us sufficient knowledge or instincts to exist in balance with Nature from birth, we are uncertain of how to behave correctly in human society, i.e. how to be in balance with the people around us. The balanced state is also the happiest—a perfect state where everything runs harmoniously, without the need to create resistance or erect protective walls.

The absence of a balancing software takes our social evolution in an egoistic direction, and this has intensified with each passing generation. In consequence, the way man tries to satisfy his desire to enjoy does not take others’ existence into consideration. We do not aspire to bond with others altruistically, as is done in Nature, and consequently, we do not know that it is in so doing that we will find the perfect joy we so crave.

If we look within, we will find that we truly consider only our own existence. All of our relations hips with others are simply aimed at improving our own state. To improve our lives by even the slightest bit, we agree to see those for whom we have no need disappear completely.

No other creature but man can plunder its surroundings. No other creature can derive satisfaction by oppressing others, drawing pleasure from their suffering. Only man can experience satisfaction at another’s sorrow. There is a well-known maxim that states that it is much safer to walk next to a satiated lion than next to a satiated human being.

The egoistic goals that have grown in us from generation to generation, often at the expense of others, are in sharp contrast to Nature’s fundamental aim: to give each and every element an optimal existence. This is why human egoism is the only detrimental force in the world, the only force that tips the balance in Nature’s overall system.

In his essay, “Peace in the World,” Baal HaSulam writes, “The equal side in all the people of the world is that each and every one of us stands ready to abuse and exploit all the people for his own private benefit with every means possible, and without taking into consideration that he is going to build himself on the ruin of his friend.” And he adds further: “man …feels that all the people in the world should be under his own government and for his own private use. And this is a law that cannot be breached. And the only difference is in the choices of people. One chooses to exploit people by attaining the lower desires, and one by attaining government, while a third by attaining respect. Furthermore, if one could do it without much effort, he would agree to exploit the whole world with all three together: wealth, government, and respect. However, he is forced to choose according to his ability and capability.”

It is interesting to see that to pave the way to a peaceful life we must first thoroughly understand our egoistic nature. In fact, says Baal HaSulam, it is no coincidence, and it is irreproachable, that our egoism is intensifying. It is happening to show us precisely how far off we are from the general law of reality, the law of altruism, which is at the basis of our lives, and to induce us to correct this distance.

The purpose of the intensification of the ego is to make us acknowledge the opposite orientation of our egos, which want only to receive for themselves at others’ expense, from Nature’s comprehensive force, whose quality is altruism, love, and sharing. From here on, we will relate to our oppositeness from Nature’s force as “imbalance with Nature,” or simply, “imbalance,” and to acquiring the quality of altruism as “balance with Nature.”


As we have said above, our desires are divided into physical existential desires, and human social desires. We will now focus on the human social desires to understand what causes imbalance in our relationships with others.

Human social desires are divided into three primary categories: desires for wealth, desires for honor and sovereignty, and desires for knowledge. These categories symbolize all the nonphysical desires that can surface within us. They received the name “human social desires” for two reasons: a) These are desires that one “absorbs” from society. If we lived alone, we would not want these things. b) These desires can be realized only within a society.

To be precise, we should say that what is required for existence is called “physical,” and anything beyond it is called “human social.” We can monitor how we use each desire for something that goes beyond what is necessary for sustenance. And actually, this is why such desires evolve in us.

Within each of us is a different blend of human social desires, and this blend changes during our lives. One may have a greater desire for wealth, another for honor, and a third for knowledge. Each of these represents a different kind, or level, of desire.

Each desire beyond the basic desires to persist comes to us from our society. Success or failure in satisfying these desires is measured only with respect to our society. The previously mentioned research conducted by Prof. Kahneman, revealed that when people are asked to quantify the level of happiness they are feeling, they assess primarily by social standards.

The research also showed that our happiness stems less from what we have, and more from comparing our situations to those of our neighbors. This is also the reason that the level of happiness is not increasing as we become richer. As we earn more, we compare ourselves to richer and richer societies.

Thus, the only way we can determine our happiness or unhappiness is by comparing ourselves to others. When another person succeeds, we become envious. Deep within, and sometimes even overtly, we wish for the other person’s failure. It is an uncontrollable, automatic reaction. When others fail, we are happy because it immediately improves our relative position.

In fact, human pleasures beyond the needs of the physical body depend on our attitude toward others, and on how we regard our relationships with others. It is not what we acquire that makes us feel good, but our superiority over others, the social esteem, and hence self-esteem, and the power to control that it grants us.

This egoistic attitude toward others creates imbalance and incongruity between us and the general law of Nature—the law of altruism. Our egoistic aspirations to rise above others, to enjoy at their expense, and to be separated from them contradicts Nature’s pull to bring all its parts toward the point of altruistic bonding. Hence, egoism is the cause of all suffering.

There are laws in Nature that affect us even if we do not know them. This is because Nature’s laws are absolute laws. If one breaks one of the laws, one’s deflection from the rule operates on that person and compels him or her to obey the law once more.

We already know most of Nature’s laws at the still, vegetative, and animate degrees, and in our own bodies, as well. However, in human relations, we are wrong to think that there are no laws. In fact, we cannot understand the laws of a certain degree while we are still within it. We only become aware of these laws when looking from a higher level. This is why we cannot make a clear connection between egoistic behavior toward others and negative phenomena in our lives.


The fact that the ego creates imbalance in Nature does not mean that we need to revoke it. We only need to correct how we use it. Throughout history, humanity has tried numerous ways to annul the ego or artificially reduce it in order to reach equality, love, and social justice. Revolutions and social changes have come and gone, but all have failed because balance can only be acquired by correctly combining the full power of reception with the full power of bestowal.

In the previous chapter, we saw that the common law for all living organisms is the altruistic connection among egoistic elements. These two contradicting elements—altruism and egoism, giving and receiving—exist in every matter, creature, phenomenon, and process.

On the material level, the emotional level, or any other level, you will always find two forces, not just one. They complement and balance one another, and manifest in a variety of ways: as electrons and protons; a negative charge and a positive charge, rejection and attraction, acid and basic, and hate and love. Every element in Nature maintains a reciprocal relationship with the system supporting it, and these relationships consist of harmonious giving and receiving.

Nature aspires to bring us to perfection, to unlimited bliss. Hence, Nature has instilled in us a desire to enjoy. There is no need to cancel the ego; we need only correct it, or more accurately, change the way we use our desires to enjoy, moving from an egoistic approach to an altruistic one.

The correct evolution uses the full power of the desire to enjoy within us, but in its corrected form. Moreover, since the ego is our Nature, it is simply impossible to counteract it or restrain it indefinitely, because that would be going against Nature. If we try to do that, we will discover that we are unable to do so.

Although our present state does not indicate that Nature wishes for us to enjoy, it is because, unlike every other degree in Nature, our egos have not completed their development.

This is how Baal HaSulam explains it in his essay, “The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose”: “From all of Nature’s systems, presented before us, we understand that in any being of the four types—still, vegetative, animate, and speaking, both as a whole and in particular, we find a purposeful guidance, meaning a slow and gradual growth by way of cause and effect. This is similar to a fruit on a tree, guided to a favorable purpose of finally becoming a sweet and fine-looking fruit. And go and ask a botanist, how many phases the fruit undergoes from the time it becomes visible until it is completely ripe. Not only do its preceding phases show no evidence of its sweet and fine-looking end, but as if to vex, they show the opposite of the final shape: the sweeter the fruit is at its end, the more bitter it is in the earlier phases of its development.”

The truth is, Nature’s perfection is not apparent in any creature before it reaches its ultimate form. In the case of humans, our present state is not the complete and final state. This is why our state seems negative. However, just like the fruit on the tree, there is nothing within us that we need to ruin, or it wouldn’t have been placed within us to begin with.

The ego’s force is a wonderful thing. It brought us this far, and thanks to it, we will also reach our perfection. It is the ego that pushes us forward and facilitates unlimited progress. Without it, we would not have evolved as a human society, and we would not be fundamentally different from animals. Finally, thanks to our egos, we are now arriving at a situation where we are no longer willing to settle for ephemeral, familiar pleasures, but want to have what lies beyond them.

The trick is to find the best and wisest way to use our ego to progress toward altruistic bonding with others. And the method that enables us to do that is the wisdom of Kabbalah. This is also the origin of its name. Kabbalah means to receive. Hence, the wisdom of Kabbalah is the wisdom of how to receive the perfect pleasure, in the perfect way.

Kabbalah does not require that we suppress our natural egoistic drives. On the contrary, it acknowledges their existence and explains how we can best and most effectively use them to reach perfection.

During our evolution, we are required to combine all the inclinations and elements within us harmoniously, and harness them to the process. For instance, we normally think of envy, lust, and honor in negative terms. There is even a well-known maxim that says, “Envy, lust, and honor bring a man out of the world” (Avot, 4:21).

What is not so familiar, however, is the deeper meaning of this maxim. The world that envy, lust, and honor bring us from is this world; but the world they bring us to is the spiritual world, a higher degree of Nature. However, there is a condition: it happens only if we channel these natural inclinations in a positive and beneficial direction, enabling us to attain balance with Nature’s altruistic force.

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