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Michael Laitman, PhD

Is This All there Is?

Look around you. What do you see? What do you hear? Have you ever wondered if there’s anything out there that your five senses can’t detect? Perhaps other worlds and creatures exist within the space you can’t perceive—worlds that are transparent and unrecognizable from our point of view?

To a Kabbalist, we are living in darkness, unable to see the greater reality, although it is still there. Without knowing any better we take this view of the world as the only possible reality. But think of Kabbalah as a way of illuminating the whole of reality so that it is plain to see. Once that happens and we take it all in, our perceptions of reality are changed. We can no longer act the way we did when we were in the dark, and this is to the mutual benefit of ourselves and of others.

Beyond the Five Senses

Do you ever think that your hand feels odd because you have only five fingers? Probably not. Although we can increase the range our five senses perceive, we cannot really imagine what perceptions we lack. It’s impossible to recognize the true reality because it isn’t something that we feel the absence of any more than we feel the lack of a sixth finger.

Because imagination is the product of the five senses, we can never envision an object or creature that is not in some way already familiar. Think of the most creative children’s book illustrator or the most abstract artist you know. Do their designs in some way resemble things that exist in the physical world? Try to imagine the wildest thing, and you will still create something already known or that you can puzzle out from your experience of everyday reality.


Spiritual Sparks

Our five senses and our imagination offer us nothing more than the disclosure of the actions of the Essence, but not the Essence itself. For example, the sense of sight offers us only shadows of the visible Essence, according to how they are formed opposite the Light.

—Rav Yehuda Ashlag, “Preface to the Book of Zohar”


Quite possibly, you and I receive many sensations from external objects. But because our senses do not have the same qualities as those objects, we do not perceive them. We perceive only that part of the object that resonates to qualities we already have. For a complete perception of anything, we need to first be complete within. In other words, we have to be aware of all the forms of reality that exist in us, and then our picture of reality will be complete.

So how do we attain the sixth sense that enhances our perception beyond conventional reality? In fact, it exists in everyone but is hidden. Remember the intention mentioned in the previous chapter? With it, we can bring this dormant sense into action.

Through persistence and study, we begin to gain perception of the world of the Creator—the world of giving. In Kabbalah, that world is called “the Upper World.” By study and development of the sixth sense, we gradually begin to feel and to understand the Upper World.


Spiritual Sparks

You must therefore understand and perceive that all the names and appellations, and all the worlds, Upper and lower, are all one Simple Light, Unique and Unified. In the Creator, the spreading Light, the Thought, the Operation, the Operator, and anything the heart can think and contemplate are one and the same thing.

—Rav Yehuda Ashlag, The Study of the Ten Sefirot


Across the Barrier

Our perception of the Upper World varies depending on our spiritual state. Initially, we cannot perceive the Upper World because our qualities are opposite from the Creator’s. In such a state, we can only perceive the material world we presently live in, and everything we imagine the spiritual world to be is strictly a figment of our imagination.

But once we acquire the first spiritual quality, the first bit of altruism, we also gain the ability to see the spiritual as it truly is. Kabbalists call it “crossing the barrier.” Once we cross the barrier we can advance even without a teacher because in that state we are under the conscious guidance of the Creator. Still, in most cases, Kabbalists continue to study with a teacher even after they cross the barrier, but their relationship with their teacher changes drastically: the teacher no longer needs to lead a blind person by the hand, but the two walk together on an enchanted path of discovery.

Beyond the barrier, one learns from one’s own soul, through observation of the soul and its relationship with the Creator. To understand this learning process, think of how we hear. The hearing mechanism reacts to some pressure from the outside by working in the same way as the pressure but in the opposite direction, pressing back from within. This way, it keeps itself in balance, enabling you to measure, in this case, the volume and pitch of a sound. But here’s the hitch: for this type of perception to occur, there must be some uniting element between the perceiver and the object of perception. In the case of our hearing it’s the eardrum.

But what’s the uniting force that can tie our perception to the Creator? Perhaps what we need is a “spiritual eardrum,” which would have the same quality as what’s given out by the Creator? Well, such an “eardrum” exists; it is the intention introduced in Chapter 2. Whatever you do with an intention to give is considered “giving” in spirituality. The problem is to see where your intention is to receive and turn it into an intention to give. More on how this is done in Chapter 12: Studying Kabbalah.

The Only Reality Is Within

Our understanding of what we sense is based on the genes we inherit, our experiences, our socialization, and what we have learned. It’s all totally subjective. Regardless of what our senses take in, what we eventually understand of it and how we act as a result are very personal.

For example, if we were deaf, wouldn’t there still be sounds around us? Wouldn’t there still be music and the sound of jet planes roaring over our heads? Would birds stop singing because we wouldn’t be able to hear them? To us, they would. There is no way to explain to a deaf person what a nightingale sounds like. Moreover, no two people experience the same experience when they hear the same sound.

All that you and I believe to exist outside of us are actually experiences we sense within us. We have no way of telling what they are truly like in and of themselves. So when we think of reality, we are actually thinking of what we view as objective through the lens of our own perception.

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