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There is No Coercion in Spirituality

Interview of Kabbalist Michael Laitman with Journalist Sharon Atia
July 18, 2005

M. Laitman: What is the life of a Kabbalist? First of all, for him it is an ordinary life. Why is it ordinary? Because there is a law in Kabbalah that states “There is no coercion in spirituality.” Everything happens only according to what action one feels is correct. From outside, it is impossible to impose anything upon a person. So you may find a thousand and one books filled with advice, various laws and customs, all of which has absolutely nothing to do with the truth. Kabbalah says nothing about how a Kabbalist should behave.

A Kabbalist simply acts the way he does. His only concern is to attract upon himself the Upper Light, the Upper energy. This is a Light that Reforms, that is, it changes a person, his nature. And when one changes internally then accordingly, his behavior becomes different as well.

No one can tell a Kabbalist how to behave in advance. A Kabbalist is occupied with attracting upon himself a Light that Reforms. Later, naturally, without any coercion or orders directed at him, a Kabbalist becomes better by himself.

In essence, this is what Kabbalists teach others. Any other manner of behavior that restrains a person, without correcting him or her is false. For when one is ready, he does not reject or ‘run away’ from it. We see how ineffective this is in our world, as opposed to a Kabbalistic education.

A Kabbalistic education is not based on suppression or habit that becomes a second nature. The Kabbalistic method helps to change the very essence of a person; one is transformed from an egoist into an altruist, from a receiver into a giver. It is in this manner that one becomes like the Creator: Good and Doeth good for the righteous and for the wicked. One loves the creatures for now this is his nature.

Therefore, in spreading the science of Kabbalah, we simply introduce people to it. People are not obligated in any way nor do we engage in propaganda. Everything is based solely on what one desires.

S. Atia: Can someone who does not study Kabbalah be a Kabbalist? I mean someone who does study it a few hours a day. He is simply a nice person.

M. Laitman: No. There is no such thing as a naturally good person. Absolutely all of us consist of the same material with its essence being the desire for enjoyment. We all are egoists. And it is impossible that someone is "good" and he or she does not need to correct his or her nature. This is first. Secondly, is possible to change one's nature without studying the science of Kabbalah? Clearly, it is impossible.

By studying I mean that a person directs his thought, will, and effort towards a certain Goal, the essence of which Kabbalah explains to him beforehand. A person focuses on this Goal much like a person who aims to achieve something in this world. One literally evokes from this future state the power that pulls him there. This power is called a Light that Reforms.

To the extent to which one tries to achieve this Goal, and desires to see his corrected state, the Upper Force "radiates" the light from there onto him and draws him closer. For this, in essence, one does not need to study. Any person, after seeing a film on Kabbalah, listening to a talk, or being around people who talk about Kabbalah can advance this way.

In general, one can be in a society where he is attracted to the ideals of Kabbalah, such as the correction of oneself, the possibility of reaching eternity and perfection, and the "opening of eyes" that allows one to sense the Upper reality. As a person reflects upon this, he comes closer to such a state.

Not all the world will study the science of Kabbalah, drawing closer to the Purpose of creation with its help. Everybody must reach this Goal, however, literally just a few study Kabbalah. They aspire to understand, realize, and investigate nature. The rest do not; they will be a part of this movement in various forms.

S. Atia: Each according to the root of his or her soul?

M. Laitman: Each according to the root of his or her soul and in accordance with the principle that there is no coercion in the spiritual.

S. Atia: Do you believe that a group of Kabbalists should become the leaders of a certain commune? And even isolate themselves, live in some special neighborhoods?

M. Laitman: I do not think that this can be implemented, and I do not believe this is right. I do not think that any form of isolation and estrangement from the society, nation, state, and the entire world is good. Kabbalists must work, exert effort in the circulation of the science of Kabbalah, and through this invoke the correction of the entire world and the attainment of the desired Goal. And this is why we are not talking about escaping the world in order to make one's life better. On the contrary: we work hard in this world explaining to mankind the science of Kabbalah and the essence of its methodology. And indeed, this method serves as a remedy against all of our upheavals.

It should also be explained that today we are slaves of our egoism, our desire to enjoy. However, we also can become slaves of altruism, the desire to bestow, and we will not be able to "run away" from it. Bestowal can be one's nature too. The Creator sees no difference between one and the other. However, a person has the possibility to choose another form of existence in bestowal, in freedom.

Then, neither egoism nor altruism are imposed upon him. Rather, he is free and governs the forces of reception and bestowal himself, rules over the world instead of the Creator.

S. Atia: In essence, you claim that not everyone has to wake at three in the morning in order to study Kabbalah?

M. Laitman: In the article "The Last Generation" Baal HaSulam writes that only a small group of people selected by the entire society will study the science of Kabbalah, the Higher teaching. Besides them, all the rest of the people will continue their regular business, work, etc. As it is in our days: how many people really study the teaching about the Light?

S. Atia: So it follows that society's support of the people who study will lead to the correction of the society itself?

M. Laitman: Yes. For today it is enough that 99.99% of humankind enjoys the fruit of labor of scientists and various inventors who discover things. All the rest are simply doing their job.

The same applies to the science of Kabbalah, the same pyramid. A minority exists at its peak, and it must engage in research and in "high" matters. And the rest do not want this at the beginning; they have no need for it.

This is why if people are given a possibility to do what they want, everything will fall into place by itself, in accordance with a natural pyramid in which we all differ from each other. For all of us are only a certain qualitative pyramid of the desire within the souls.

S. Atia: Does it not contradict with what is said that every person has to be interested in the science of Kabbalah?

M. Laitman: This is correct. Let all be interested and allocate time for this, but for each to his measure. There are people who devote their time for working in some factory or the fields. But this does not mean anything. It helps them to buy a TV and enjoy contemporary life, although they are engaged in production as did people 5000 years ago.

Meaning, there is a measure of quantitative and qualitative participation in the common work of a person, and the degree of his willful participation depends on the structure of his soul. Once again: the law is that there is no coercion in spirituality. This is an "iron" law because the science of Kabbalah is, exclusively, the revelation of the natural program instilled in nature. This is why as far as man is concerned, there cannot be any coercion or compulsion: one person dictating to the other. Everything has to come from within each person.

We only reveal what is laid in nature. Thus, on one hand, there can be no coercion. And from the other hand, how will everything fall into places? This will happen naturally.

S. Atia: So, in essence, we are already in this state. There is a group of Kabbalists—Bnei Baruch—who study around the world…

M. Laitman: No. The problem is that in addition to this group, the entire world has to realize this Goal and correlate with it somehow, each at certain level of agreement with it.

S. Atia: Can this manifest as for instance, in giving financial support?

M. Laitman: Including financial support; it does not matter in what way. It is true, even today there are people whose agreement with this is expressed only in this form. All of this is described in Baal HaSulam's article "The Last Generation."

S. Atia: Can you give some numbers?

M. Laitman: What numbers?

S. Atia: How many Kabbalists should be engaged in the study?

M. Laitman: No, the number of Kabbalists is not important. What is important is that all the rest of the people acknowledge and accept this Goal.

You asked me how involved they have to be in this. Maybe one can simply agree with this in general, without studying it and being part of it. But a person must acknowledge and consent.

This is why there should be a general correction of the entire world. Each person, all of humanity must accept this; it is not only a certain group of people that has to study.

S. Atia: So you claim that Kabbalah has to be an accepted theme, talk…

M. Laitman: Kabbalah has to be an idea shared by the entire world. It must become the goal of each human being and the entirety of humankind. It is necessary that the Creator – this Upper force that we are approaching, clinging to, merging with, that we belong to, and acquire its properties—became the Goal for all of us. This has to be known and clear to everybody.

S. Atia: Basically, you assert that Kabbalists are scientists, who have remedy for all of humanity. The rest of the society has to support them from outside and not necessarily be an active element in this process…

M. Laitman: There is no such word as "must." To the extent one desires it he becomes a participant. But to what extent does a person participate in this, after this is known to all? A person becomes part of this to the degree to which he reveals this desire within himself.

S. Atia: So they should be supported, a least externally, based on our desire? You said that the society must develop a desire for this…

M. Laitman: You know, there is no such word as "must." We are talking about something else. I explain to the entire world what the science of Kabbalah is, and they understand it. Then everyone, according to the root of his or her soul yearns for it, realizes it, aspires to it, and exists in it. For this is how a person realizes his soul! He molds his soul according to the Upper Force and fills it with the eternal life.

S. Atia: First of all, everybody has to know about it?

M. Laitman: There is no other problem except for all to know about it. This is exclusively a problem of education. That is, if each would reveal what his or her life is, what is in store for him, the reason for his misfortunes and how to avoid it, and come to Good.

S. Atia: It follows that it can happen that a person will study Kabbalah according to his desire for 24 h a day, while the other will listen about it just a bit on a radio and this will be enough for his or her correction?

M. Laitman: Yes, correct. One person, according to his nature, will want to be in it day and night, while the other will say: "This is wonderful. I completely agree with this." And this is enough for him.

S. Atia: Does this mean that a person who simply listens to a lesson and supports this idea…

M. Laitman: He already has a relation to it.

S. Atia: So a person already reaches this adhesion that we are talking about now?

M. Laitman: No. Once again, a person has to clearly know what he wants to achieve. And this acquired knowledge will compel him, in a form that won't be forced upon him from outside, to act in this world in a way that is sufficient to merge with the Upper Force.

S. Atia: Does someone who studies Kabbalah have a certain daily schedule?

M. Laitman: A Kabbalist must work; live a normal earthly life knowing why he is doing all of this—in order to reach a certain Goal.

S. Atia: And he has to be religious?

M. Laitman: He is not obliged to do anything because it is said that ultimately the entire world must merge with the Upper force. And then, naturally, the entire world will change its behavioral norms from receiving to giving. But we are not talking about carrying out certain physical actions that today are called "commandments."

S. Atia: But if we take a look, for example at your group, we would see that they look the same from outside. They look like religious people, at least most of them. Does it make any difference?

M. Laitman: No. Think about it: we are saying that all people have to be one society, as one person with one heart – the entire humanity. So does it mean that everyone will have to fulfill the Torah and commandments at the corporeal level? Undoubtedly, this refers to the "correction of the heart", and not the study of some external actions. So what if one fulfills them? Will he become corrected in his desire, in love for his neighbor, in bestowing to his neighbor and will he be similar to the Upper Force? Is there a connection between fulfillment of customs and correction of properties?

S. Atia: Nevertheless, don't these traditions encourage one to move in this direction?

M. Laitman: No, they do not. We are becoming convinced that they do not.

S. Atia: "Honor your father and your mother"…

M. Laitman: Everything depends what meaning you ascribe to this! Are properties corrected through this? Does a person fulfilling this commandment without an intention to become similar to the Creator come closer to Him in his properties?

S. Atia: So, you are saying that "no"?

M. Laitman: Of course not. Everything depends on with what a person is preoccupied. Does he study the Torah with aiming to correct his nature? In such a case, he studies the Torah which, as it is said, contains the Light that Reforms.

But if he studies the Torah because he was told to do so, because he was brought up this way, it is called "Mitzvah Anashim Meuladam" (performing physical commandments thanks to the upbringing), or because the Creator commanded to study the Torah. So if he fulfills a commandment in such a way, the light that Reforms will not come to him. For his desire has nothing to do with this. This is why this is not called the study of the Torah at all.

S. Atia: Still, does a Kabbalist have to fulfill physical commandments? It is advisable that he fulfills them?

M. Laitman: It is advisable to follow the traditions that will bring one to the correction of the properties in the fastest possible way. For in essence, we are not talking about physical actions but rather about inner corrections of egoistic desire, instilled in a person.

S. Atia: Can a non-Jew become a Kabbalist?

M. Laitman: All people will come to correction and acquire altruistic properties of love for the neighbor. By this, they naturally will become Kabbalists. Who is a Kabbalist? A Kabbalist is he who changed his nature and becomes similar to the Creator.

S. Atia: Should there be a certain confirmation from above that a person became like this or a person confirms this himself or herself?

M. Laitman: No, this is not required. When a person becomes equivalent to the Creator in his inner state, by correcting himself, then by committing the act of correction he becomes a Kabbalist.

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