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Michael Laitman, PhD

More for Me and Less for You

Save for humans, all of nature consumes only what it needs for sustenance. Humans crave more food, more sex, and more physical comfort than they need for their sustenance. This state is especially true in desires that are uniquely human, in the (endless) pursuit of wealth, power, honor, fame, and knowledge.

Desires for things that are necessary for existence are not considered egoistic, but natural because they come as nature’s commands. These desires are present in the inanimate, vegetative, and animate, as well as in humans. Only those human desires that exceed what is necessary for existence are egoistic.

In addition to the fact that human desires grow exponentially, they incorporate pleasure from degrading others or seeing others suffer. These desires are unique to the human nature, and they are the real egoism. We experience them through our connections with others, and this is why the only way to correct our desires is to work on them with other people, as discussed in Chapter 11.


Spiritual Sparks

If we were not all so interested in ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us would be able to endure it.

—Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), German philosopher


Our continuing indulgence in those desires indicates that we have not completed our evolution. But all desires can be considered altruistic or egoistic, depending on the purpose with which we use them. It turns out that the development of desires yields progress as well as crisis.

The Necessity of Luxuries

Open your refrigerator and see what’s in there. You’ll find food from dozens of countries. And what those countries produce comes to them from dozens of other countries. Look at your clothes, your shoes—they come from all over the world, too.

Do you have to have it all?

The answer is twofold: we don’t have to have it all if all we want is to survive. But if we want to have a life that we can call “life,” the answer is most definitely “Yes.” Moreover, we cannot control the evolution of our desires because they’re determined by the Reshimot. That means that those of us who already want more than needed to merely survive cannot suppress their desires. Even if we try and succeed for a while, those desires will resurface and probably in a much more unruly manner.

For most of us, having all that we have in our refrigerators, closets, and garages is a must, not a luxury. This will be even more so in the coming years because our desires keep growing. Actually, if you think about the purpose of creation—and remember that the final goal is to acquire the Creator’s mind—then what we want right now seems quite small in comparison.

The bottom line is that our will to receive is too great today for us to settle for providing for our sustenance. We want much more than that. We want cars and planes, we want to see the world. We want to vacation in resorts, we want to watch TV. So we don’t have a choice. The only way to have great pleasures is to have great desires for them.

Now let’s ask another question: What’s wrong with wanting all that? Whom am I hurting by wanting to go to Hawaii for a luxury vacation? The answer is that the one who is hurt most by my desires is me. It’s not that my desires are evil, it’s that they don’t give me true and lasting pleasure. And when they end, I am left twice as empty as before.

The recognition of evil we first mentioned in Chapter 3 is really the recognition that something is bad for me. What is not bad for me, I will never define it as evil. After all, every one of us is born completely self-centered and can therefore define something as bad only if it is bad for oneself.

So having great desires isn’t bad in and of itself. What’s bad is that when we satisfy them, we don’t feel happy and fulfilled.


Spiritual Sparks

Man’s heart is evil from his youth.

—Genesis, 8:21


But don’t worry, for there is a good reason for all our desires and wants. These desires exist within us whether we are aware of them or not. But their root is much deeper and higher than, say, the beaches of Hawaii, as beautiful as those beaches may be.

Why “Disguised” Desires Fail us

Our desires for material things are rooted in the desire to receive pleasure, installed in us by the Creator back in Phase 1 (as described in Chapter 7): the pleasure of knowing the Creator, of being like Him. This desire is concealed by the chain of Reshimot as we climb down the spiritual worlds.

Today we are already climbing up the ladder, re-exposing the Reshimot of our desires even if we’re unaware of it. Our decline has brought us to a state of complete detachment from the Creator, and in that sense, our egoism has fulfilled its role. In a world were the Creator is not tangibly sensed, we can freely choose between spirituality and corporeality, without any temptations to choose one way or another, except our own experience.

We explained in Chapter 7 that Reshimot are the soul’s unconscious recollections of its past states. Now that we have come to the end of our decline, they are resurfacing in us, and we are experiencing intensifying desires for both material things and for more spiritual fulfillment (hence the spirituality and New Age trends, especially in the developed countries). Because these desires are actually cravings to experience the Creator, “disguised” as desires for other things (sex, wealth, power, etc.), when we provide them those other things, we don’t experience fulfillment.

The trick—and here’s where Kabbalah comes to our aid—is to keep our minds focused on the ultimate goal: the Creator. Desires come and go. But keeping our minds focused on the Creator prevents us from feeling disillusion when the satisfaction of a “disguised” desire fails to fulfill us.

If you work with this in mind, questions such as bad desires or good desires, luxuries and necessities, won’t trouble you. Instead, you’ll be bothered with much higher issues concerning your relationship with the Creator. This is why Kabbalists say that this world doesn’t matter. Fulfillment exists only in spirituality, in your contact with the Creator.

In a sense, “bad” desires are actually good because they show us we haven’t completed our work and where we still need to focus our attention on the Creator. When a desire first appears, you don’t know that it’s a desire for the Creator. You experience it as a desire for something in this world. Only when you strive to focus your attention on the Creator, despite your mundane thoughts, does the true nature of your desire (Reshimo) appears. At that point, you will discover that the desire was actually another facet of your desire for the Creator. This is how spiritual work happens on a day to day basis.

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