Perception of Reality, Part 1
With Rav Michael Laitman, PhD
Regular: Transcription of dubbed commentaries of Rav Laitman
Capitalized italics: transliteration from Hebrew
The subject I’d like to talk about is our perception of reality.
We want to know the world that we live in because without knowing it we are not able to progress, survive, or enjoy ourselves. Questions awaken within a person even when he feels good. As well, questions awaken within us because bad things happen to us from all directions. Maybe things are difficult, hence we need to get things in order; we want to be more successful. All of these questions—the curiosity from within, and the questions that stem from our desire to better understand the world—all these, are driving us to get to know the reality that we live in.
We examine this reality just like a little child, walking around the room, analyzing things. Just as the child, we grow older and older, and then later we move on to creating different instruments. We develop all sorts of means to examine ourselves and the world around us.
All of reality is made up of two parts—I, and everything that exists outside of me.
There are those who say, “I’m better off developing myself and changing myself and then the world around me will change as a result of that. I will perceive it differently. I will calm down and thus I will attune myself to see it as better.” And there are those who say, “Don’t change; just go on the way you are, you know, tear it apart, so to speak—make it so that it is attuned to you.” We can clearly see that either way we do not really manage very well, no matter what.
The best state for us to be in—which is to really get along with the world—is referred to as a state of “complete balance” with it, to be in a state of complete understanding, equality of forces, desires and thoughts. A state of being that reveals to me, that everything within me—my desires, thoughts and intentions—also exists in the world outside of me; meaning, everyone understands me and everybody wants the same things that I do. This is what is referred to as a state of “complete balance.” There is no more perfect state then that of feeling oneself in complete balance with the world.
It is like a fetus in its mother’s womb. Everything is intended to care for it, and go along with it; it feels the same, inside and out, transparent. It does not require any kind of resistance, to raise protective walls, not anything. This is what we are truly searching for.
In science this is called “homeostasis.” Homeo means “similar” and stasis means “status,” or equality of states, to which every living thing, plant, animal and certainly man, is drawn.
We are drawn to that state, with every level of consciousness, reason, matter, liquids and thoughts. Each and every level of matter, whether it is inanimate, plant, animal, or human, desires equality of form with the world that is around the “I.”
In order for me to find out how to reach equality of form, to equalize with nature and reach adhesion with the world around me—so that everyone will know and want everything that I do; in order for everyone to think like me, and to have nothing against me, as in forcing things on me, or out of me; in order for everything to be loving and peaceful—I need to know who I am, what exactly is the world around me, and how to achieve what we refer to as, equality of form. And that is what the wisdom of Kabbalah is intended for.
Kabbalah teaches us how to reach tranquility—a state where my feelings about the world outside of me and inside of me are in total peace with each other, in complete perfection.
All of our investigations of the world and of ourselves are done by science. And we have many means, methods and instruments that we keep developing for this purpose.
Year by year and from generation to generation we progress more and more in our investigations. But we have come to realize that although everyone desires to reach some form of perfection and tranquility, to be comfortable and to feel good, we end up in the opposite state, even though our means are becoming seemingly more developed from one year to the next.
So where does the problem lie? Everyone wishes for good, each and every person in the world. This is all that man wants. The problem is that we do not know the universal reality, how it behaves, or what it is. We do not know how it is constructed, how it affects us, what we must equalize with, come close to, connect, and adhere to.
The problem lies in the fact that we are actually missing the proper tools—the finer tools—no matter how deep we penetrate substance in order to understand nature: our nature and the nature of the external world. We are still unable to find out what nature wants, what it is there for, what the purpose is of each plane, each cell and each part of reality.
There are researchers who investigate matter in an external form: solid, gas and liquid. And there are those who dive deeper into substance, into the molecules and the chemistry between them. There are those who penetrate the atoms and the sub-atoms at their innermost level, and investigate them. And then there are those who are more advanced, and say that all these things are hidden, unknown, and incomprehensible beyond a certain level of depth and beyond. They are completely unable to understand what exactly is taking place.
This has nothing to do with their lacking of tools, but with the fact that man is created in such a way that he isn’t able to grasp more than that said level. Why? Because man’s grasp of reality occurs on various planes—the simple plane, in which he simply exists within reality, and feels that he does what he wishes with reality; an inner plane—in which he already feels that reality does what it wishes with him; and the deeper innermost plane—where he begins to see that it is neither, but that he himself creates reality and that reality is some sort of a replica of him.
This type of perception is already the subject of research of many modern scientists who tell us that there is some sort of limit, beyond which our grasp of reality becomes unreachable.
And here lies the actual meeting between the sciences and the wisdom of Kabbalah. Meaning that there are such research methods that enable us to delve right into the cause of things, the source of things, and completely understand the reason for the existence of the world—what the world wants from us—and the manner in which we are able to be at peace and tranquility with it. And those who have already investigated it and those who share with us their conclusions are telling us magnificent things.
First of all, they say that the substance all around us isn’t just matter, but thought; it is desire, the universal desire. They say that this universal desire is all-encompassing, enveloping all of reality, and that the purpose of this universal law of reality is to be kind to everyone, to all parts of reality, and that it is actually benevolent with all of us from without and from within, into matter. But that this matter of reality—whether it is inanimate, plant, animal or human—must also take a step forward towards this benevolent force, towards this thought, in order to equalize with its form, to adhere to it, to comprehend it, to feel it and connect with it.
That is why this wisdom is called Kabbalah, (which means “to receive,” in Hebrew) because it allows us to find out how to “receive” that same aptitude from reality, and thus reflect back our aptitude towardsit. This approach to discovering the true reality consists of various levels called worlds.
Just like researchers are able to delve deeper and deeper into matter using microscopes, or farther and farther through distances using telescopes, so too, the ones who explore reality, by means of the wisdom of Kabbalah, are able to delve deeper into substance, into this thought, into reality.
I would even go so far as to say, that the process of exploration of reality itself is a real adventure, since the person begins to feel and see his own past and future due to a sudden realization that there is no time, but that all of these things are present. It is as if he were moving back and forth along the time axis, even beyond his present time.
He realizes that all parts of the current reality, all the people around him are living according to a specific time pace, and that he is able to move forward in the course of one year, the distance of several thousands years, or backward a thousand years, in a matter of seconds. This is the reason why these men, who are able to make these leaps in time, are called prophets. Not because they have some wild imagination, but because they have advanced several levels forward and they are able to participate in those situations that humanity will eventually arrive at. Thus, they explain to us what it feels like. They can also become good historians, by descending to situations of the past, living within all those states, and telling us about them.
In a very same manner, we can read in the books of Kabbalah about Abraham who used to go from here to there, meeting so and so, who said this and did that. How do they know?
It’s simple. That investigative Kabbalist made a reverse move on the time axis, arriving at the same situation Abraham was in, at that same level, that same state, and he told us about that reality because he witnessed all of it, all the details. He can actually take all of his impressions from there, and pass them on to us. The only problem lies in our ability to understand it correctly since we are not present in that same adventure, that same excitement.
In addition to their ability to move back and forth in time, they also discover additional forces that exist in reality. It is not for nothing that the legends write about spirits, demons and angles. All of these forces do exist. Hence a Kabbalist, who delves into the research of nature, also begins to understand what these forces are. He connects with them, uses them, takes advantage of them for our benefit, for the benefit of his personal development and our universal development, and then he tells us all about them.
Where am I going with this? Entering this quest into the exploration of reality, though difficult, captures all of our soul, our inner selves, and fills us with everything there is. And then the man who explores reality, discovers as well what it is we must reach, and the reasons for problems in every generation and every situation. Meaning this isn’t just theoretical research, some sort of pure science, but it is also practical and relevant to the appropriate moment in time and the situation where one exists.
The wisdom of Kabbalah is intended to help man. How exactly does it help? First of all by revealing the past and the future which shows him the attributes he has descended to this world with, so many lifetimes ago, and the path he must follow. And then, by seeing both ends of it, he is able to figure out the best way to move through them.
And in whichever situation he examines along this time axis, he is able to see what forces influence and affect him, why he must marry this woman and have these children. Everything is preordained. There aren’t any surprises, but everything originates in what we refer to as Reshimot (imprints, remembrance, spiritual genes) from our innermost preparations, just as scientists are discovering today.
We can even see that in very simple things like a pair of twins separated at birth. Thirty years later, you see one of them in Australia and the other one, let’s say, in Norway. Both married wives with the same names, right? Gave the same names to their children, you’ve heard of that, haven’t you, about cases like those? Choosing the same professions, and even living in houses with the same numbers; it is simply astounding. Why is that? Because we are unfamiliar with reality and thus are unable to make the connections between all these occurrences.
But what makes this happen? It is the fact that our attributes determine everything that happens to us, within every situation of our lives.
In psychology for instance, it is a well known fact, that there are people who always get the short end of the stick and for others, it is quite the opposite. The person creates his own destiny in a primitive and simple manner. However, if he has the ability to know himself and the forces affecting him, he is then able to address all of these situations in advance. He cannot escape from destiny entirely, but he can prepare for it. Meaning, he must go through certain situations.
How can he avoid certain situations? In each and every situation he must learn something, acquire something in order to be prepared to attain the future purpose. Thus, if he already knows what he must acquire in every situation, the type of knowledge, experience, the bad impressions and the good impressions, he then prepares himself in advance, so that reality itself, changes.
There’s a beautiful article about this, by Baal HaSulam called Revelation and Concealment of the Face—the Face of the Creator—which states that according to the level of proficiency of a man, in switching this universal law of reality, from the back-side to face (meaning from bad to good) he is able to see the world and everything that happens with him in a completely reversed manner.
Now we have come to address the other side of things. The wisdom of Kabbalah is not intended to be used as a pure scientific knowledge about reality, where one can engage in endless discussions over what can be found in those worlds, but quite differently. We can change those worlds. We can rise above them, and become those who determine our day to day destiny in addition to being in a state above everything else.
And all the occurrences and forces that pressure us and push us are there for one reason only—to bring us to a state where we can govern reality.
What does it mean to govern? It means to reach a state of complete balance within reality, in each and every moment of my existence in it. We only need to find out what it means to be in a balanced state.