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Psychological Counseling at the Time of Crisis (Part 2)

A Conversation between Rav Michael Laitman, PhD and Psychologist Anatoly Ulyanov
Moscow – Tel-Aviv Teleconference
November 27, 2008

A. Ulyanov: Hello, dear Professor! You know I’ve been preparing for this meeting with trepidation for a long time and I’ll tell you why. For a number of years I have searched for answers to the following questions: “What is the meaning of life? Why do we live? Why is the world designed this way?” A few years ago I found your books on Kabbalah. It turned out that I have drawn a lot of information and knowledge from them ever since. Things that I find there provide answers to the questions that I come across in the course of my psychotherapeutic activities and in my work with individual patients and groups.

I’d like to ask the first question and I am bursting with impatience. Tell me please is there a place for practical, materialistic psychology in the method of Kabbalah?

М. Laitman: First of all, you should know that I was amazed to read in the works of Baal Ha Sulam, the founder of the modern Kabbalah, that materialistic psychology is a foundation on which we should build man’s correct education, correct attitude to the world, and correct direction. It should show us how to rise above our world and perceive that outer part of the universe that is still concealed from us today. This will be done with the help of materialistic psychology that develops based on scientific data and real research. We can continue developing with its help. Kabbalah welcomes this part of science about man and says that with its guidance we can develop ourselves to the level of the Upper world’s perception.

A. Ulyanov: If I understood your books correctly, some of them (especially Baal Ha Sulam’s articles) describe the so-called “future society,” namely human society to which we should aspire. If we achieve this state, we will live in happiness and in harmony with nature. In this connection I have a few questions about this “future society.”

Most of his life man is preoccupied with this dilemma: on the one hand, I have my own personal interests that are characterized by my qualities, individuality, upbringing, and desires. Supposedly, if I spend a part of my life on sustaining my desires, psychology calls it “authenticity.” In other words, I am myself. This is one part. I can apply energy and effort in this direction or I can make an effort to serve the society and identify myself with a specific group of people.

I have an unanswered question, hence I am asking it and hope to hear the answer. What is the measure of my authenticity? Where can I realize my individuality and where am I obliged to neutralize my individuality and completely devote myself to society?

М. Laitman: According to the science of Kabbalah, all of humanity is one organism, and in general the universe is one organism. We gradually reveal this. The globalization that is being revealed to us now should lead us to the same result, to the same conclusion. If it is a unified organism, then all of its parts are interconnected just as they are in our physiological organism, in which each organ and each cell knows what it is doing, why and how it exists, and works for the whole organism. No organ works for itself; it receives what it needs to work for other organs. That’s where the formula of the division into “I and the others” lies. In other words, I must receive what I need to serve the whole organism. Ideally, that’s how man should divide his desires, aspirations, intentions, and efforts into self-sustenance and provision for others. Nature will compel us to do this. This, however, is a very gradual process and we have to consciously unite.

Hence, our education today should be focused on explaining to people how they should act correctly in accordance with nature. Another question arises: what does man benefit from this? Well, I will exist only to give everything to others, and then what? Well, what’s next? Where will I get energy to act this way if I am an egoist, if nature created me so that I think only about myself? I can’t separate “mine”, which, as you say, is authentic, from “the other” that relates to society. How can I make this division? I take everything for myself, but I also give to society, if it is demanded. I do so to avoid being beaten, thrown into jail, etc. Where can I get energy to act correctly in accordance with this global law (necessary minimum for myself and all the rest for others)?

Kabbalah says that by acting this way man starts perceiving his higher level: similarity to nature, to the Creator. If nature is a law of bestowal and love and if I really start acting this way with regard to all the others, then I start perceiving myself a part of this nature. A body cell or organ that gives the whole body doesn’t feel itself, but the life of the whole body. In the same way I won’t feel my own small and insignificant existence during seventy years. I will feel the existence of the enormous body, of the entire universe.

The reward of feeling eternal existence in the infinite cosmos will give man strength to exist this way. I receive a minimum for myself. What else do I need if I can give away the rest? What I gain in return is eternal harmony. This sensation must fill us; it is the purpose of our existence.

We need to explain to people that it is possible and that there is a desire for this within every man.

A. Ulyanov: I’d like to clarify this. I grew up in my country and I am forty now. I lived in the Soviet period and at that time very much was said about our shining communist future that never came. They said: “From everyone according to his potential, to everyone according to his needs.”

I still remember facing the following dilemma: suppose I can give up money and be content with a minimum sufficient for something small. Suppose I can give up a vacation in Sochi and spend my free time near Moscow. I agree to sit in the fifth or tenth row at a concert.

But the next question is: should I marry the ugliest woman and leave all beautiful girls to others? I remember that this dilemma remained unsolved. Will the delight of this sensation of unity outweigh all of those things that I mentioned?

М. Laitman: Does this mean that you agree to all conditions of communism except sharing women? So you take the best one and give the rest to others. Did I correctly understand you? (laughing)

Man should satisfy his bodily needs, i.e., everything that his physiological body requires (for food, sex, family, and home) in accordance with his nature. I should decide what food to eat, what house is good for me, and what woman suits me better in accordance with my nature.

When I satisfy these minimal needs, the rest of my efforts should be directed to the benefit of society. That is the way man is created. He should not give up a home or a wife and eat God knows where (such ideas were popular at the dawn of Soviet communism). These basic needs should be naturally satisfied. The main thing is man’s thoughts, intentions, and direction. He should direct himself to spiritual development. The sensation of belonging to nature’s unified organism will enable him to feel all of this immense nature, its eternal flow, motion. This will allow him to feel eternal life and his own eternal existence. What reward can surpass this one? Compare an eternal, perfect, and harmonious existence, in which he will live forever, versus this small, finite earthly life.

Hence nature prepared a lot of energy for us to use, to rise above our egoism, and retain only our basic animal-like needs. Our body is an animal, and an animal never eats more than it needs and never digs two dens. Everything they do is normal, natural. Even if it has everything, it will take only what it needs, without eating, breaking and maiming everything around.

That is how we should act because our body is animate, while our spirit should manifest in our attitude to others and in connection with them. From this connection with others we will feel a higher level of existence, eternal and perfect.

As people who work with the population (you as a psychologist and I as a scientist), we know what to say to people and explain to them that every man has an aspiration to feel himself as the only perfect and eternal creature. This aspiration will provide us with energy to act and it will lead us to the goal.

A. Ulyanov: Professor, I have one more very important question. While reading your books, I revealed a tremendous source of wisdom, great things which I had never known before, although I was looking for them and couldn’t find.

You see, when we conduct seminars and gather many people, they start asking questions. I realize that we should tell people that the answer is in Kabbalah, in these books. However, for some unknown reason I stop myself every time… I have doubts: do I have the right to thrust this knowledge on them? Nevertheless, I already have a need to connect psychology with Kabbalah.

Can it be realized? Can this be done?

М. Laitman: This depends on circumstances. I have disseminated Kabbalah for thirty years, in various languages and on all the continents. I have many students, I have authored many books, I have my TV channel. I use everything I can to circulate Kabbalah.

Yet I believe that the biblical commandment “Bring up a youth according to his own ways” is a true one. We should take into consideration people’s attitude to Kabbalah, their preconception.

Kabbalah was concealed for thousands of years. It waited until humanity became global, for people’s need to get out of this hopeless state. On the one hand, they have to discover the need to be interconnected with one another (otherwise they will come to destruction); on the other hand, they won’t know how to connect. Kabbalah was waiting for this very problem to arise before people. Hence, it is being revealed now.

During the time it was concealed, all sorts of mysticism, fantasies, and theories have piled up. No one knew exactly what it was, except for a few Kabbalists in each generation who kept silent and hid everything. Only today is it being revealed.

It turns out that it is a science, physics of the Upper World. What does “Upper” mean? It means the part of the universe that is concealed from us. It hides all laws of our world, all forces controlling our world, everything that will happen to me in the next moment. It hides the source of my origin and my destination after I leave this world. It turns out that people need this knowledge today. People are depressed, use drugs, and resort to terror because they have an inner aspiration. This emptiness exists, but man can’t find an answer.

In any case, when they are told about Kabbalah, their previous misconceptions (mysticism, black magic, etc.) about it emerge. That is why I prefer to approach the issue individually in each particular country and with regard to different levels of a particular society. I am speaking about South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe, where we have huge circulation branches. They all work very individually with each nation and with each of its parts or levels.

A. Ulyanov: The next question concerns aggression. Moscow and St. Petersburg where my colleagues and I work are very aggressive places. People have enormous desires there, and they are often realized in rather aggressive forms of gangster-like sort-outs. This is a typical model of behavior. Many (especially young) people got used to this; it has already become a norm of conduct. Even in trifles, I literally bully people to gain some space for myself and receive maximum comfort.

What should we aspire to? What will be taking place in the future society? My question is: Where will this aggression that literally overflows into streets outside our workshop disappear?

М. Laitman: Unfortunately, both Moscow and St. Petersburg are crime-infested cities. What is my advice? Well, we approach the question of education again; you see, we just can’t get away from it. I think it requires enormous work by the state. By the way, such work was more or less done in the Soviet Union. At least, after watching those naïve movies with correct behavior, people received images and standards of conduct different from today’s norms.

I’d introduce a very strict censorship of all violent, negative scenes because they merely show examples and turn such actions into generally accepted norms; hence they ultimately lead man to evil.

Freedom does not mean propaganda of evil. This is the same as you teaching your son to kill, rob and so on. You must teach him a profession, feed him, bring him up, and give him warmth, but not teach him to enjoy violence and murder. This indicates a totally distorted, sick society.

Therefore, I would remove such scenes from all screens. On the contrary, I’d introduce different educational programs. It doesn’t matter what he wants or doesn’t want. We speak about children. An adult understands nothing either. He doesn’t understand why, yet they stuff him with this junk and create secondary desires in him. This is because he was already brought up this way.

That is why such things should be controlled by the state. Such programs should be closed. No violence should be permitted. News should be accompanied by an explanation of the cause that led to this or that event.

Well, what can I say? We lack many things because our egoism drives us in a completely different direction. But at the same time it is its own grave-digger; it will bury itself. It shows us how limited we are in it. This is nature’s purposeful intent to let us learn that our egoism is only evil and conclude that we should get rid of it.

Hence, each of these egoistical manifestations will reach its extreme state and we will be obliged to break our egoism. By circulating Kabbalah I hope that we won’t have to reach these extreme states, but will see them in advance. In other words, even without encountering grave problems, sufferings, and blows of our egoism and mutual hate, we will be able to determine the source of evil in good time and choose positive way.

A. Ulyanov: Many of my colleagues say that modern psychology, especially the one that directly deals with people, has lost its basis. In the past it was based on some philosophical constructions explaining the meaning of life, our destination and so on.

Now they crumble one by one; they already fail to give answers to questions of man, of a specialist interacting with a living man. Can the wisdom of Kabbalah become this scientific basis for all the psychological methods of interaction, for psychology as a small element of the whole enormous world?

М. Laitman: Judge for yourself. Kabbalah tells us about the nature of the surrounding world (both ours and the one that is concealed from our sense organs), of the general universe, about man’s correct interconnection with humanity, about civilization’s interaction with nature. It tells us how we should balance ourselves at inanimate, vegetative, animate, and human levels of nature… In other words, it tells us about the entire closed system called “universe.” Based on this general law and on its particular manifestations at all levels of nature we can derive all the other laws of our social and personal behavior, of correct education, of interaction with one another, of a constitution and a state, of everything else…

I had a meeting with a prominent Israeli financier, the man who authored many books on finance, trusts, trust companies, etc. He says: “The problem lies in the crisis of relations between people. We don’t trust one another; we hate one another; we want to cheat one another. This reached a level where we already can’t control ourselves. Today, if I want to deal with my partner correctly, I should consider not myself but him, and also an unknown number of conditions and requirements. This is because the world is global, and it is unknown what systems will be affected and how.”

These are the words of people who understand only money. They suddenly discover the lack of this knowledge about our global interdependence inside finance.

Hence, I am sure that the science of Kabbalah will become a foundation, and not only for psychology. One will smoothly flow into the other. Psychology works at our level, only in our world, while Kabbalah works a little further, but both are parts of the same system. Even such artificial systems as finance will be in need of Kabbalistic knowledge.

This means that you and I are natural colleagues and partners.

A. Ulyanov: Thank you very much! I have received amazing answers, which I couldn’t get for many years. I don’t know, perhaps we’ll succeed in building this new future psychology and a future society in which people will be able to live in happiness and harmony with nature thanks to the science of Kabbalah. Thank you very much!

М. Laitman: Thank you! Good-bye!

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