Root and Branch, Part 2
With Dr. Michael Laitman
Bold and in quotes: Original text of Baal HaSulam
Regular: Transcription of dubbed commentaries of Dr. M. Laitman
Capitalized Italics: transliteration from Hebrew
Question: What is the connection between this abstract existence? How will this abstract existence benefit me, make me feel better?
Question: Does this ‘abstract thing’ above even care?
I don’t know what is just ‘abstract’ or what abstract means. Let me give you an example from my life. I had friends in school. I still see them sometimes here. We lived together, had parties, played, had fun like kids, young boys.
Later, one moved on to music, becoming a musician, and another to science; I went on to Kabbalah, and so forth. If we met today, each of our lives would seem very abstract to the other. That person lives in music; a world completely different than mine for which he has other fulfillments or concerns. Another person remained in a Kibbutz; a farmer. The third did something else. It all depends on the person’s desire.
There’s nothing that is abstract or not abstract; it’s only in relation to the desire.
If my desire evolved to sensing life as science, wisdom, then that’s fulfillment for me; there can’t be any other. Another person evolves so that for him, life is in making money. Thus, he can’t see any other thing that can fulfill him in a different way. For him, the entire world is more or less the stock market and bonds; he doesn’t see any other way except through spreadsheets. Therefore, this isn’t an issue. Each one seems abstract to the other; not understandable. And now when we’re talking about the evolution of a greater vessel, then surely we’re entering into a state that’s unclear to us. What does a Kabbalist live from? What does he or she get out of it?
Can you explain to a dog or cat what a person’s life is like? What fulfills him? They wouldn’t understand anything. It understands eating, drinking, sleeping, surviving, home, offspring; that’s what an animal understands; an animal can’t comprehend more than that. And you can’t explain or understand life at a level that’s not even within the boundaries of this world and between two worlds.
We and animals are quite close, very close to each other. But between two different worlds, it’s impossible to explain a situation. Yet out of an example you can realize that the desire evolves, and you don’t understand how life is in the form of a cat.
Try now to restrict yourself to the level of a cat. The sensation of life is called the sensation of fulfillment in the desires. If the desires already cross over to the level of the next world, to Assiya, Yetzira, Beria, a person can’t sense fulfillment of a world lesser than him or her, called life. For the person it would be death, worse than the loss of our beastly life.
In general, when we die, what is the life that vanishes from us? What vitality disappears from us? The vitality is almost non-existent.
Suppose you see a small insect; you kill it. It’s sensations of life and death are very near to each other. How much of life did it have generally? What power or sensation could it loose? Almost nothing. There are also people like that, with undeveloped desires, for whom the difference between living and dying is almost not felt. In previous generations, it was definitely so. The more a person develops, the more a person fills him or herself with livelihood, with life. The difference between life and death becomes a larger volume.
A person begins to see his or her life and how many things they actually live from. Sensing that if I loose all of this, I begins to think, “This is very difficult, how can it be possible?” When your life consists of several worlds, and then to loose it, the feeling is terrible, right? Thus, what would you say, we are abstract life or not abstract? What is an abstract life? For you, it’s a sensation of a life of fulfillment at a higher level.
You live at a level, say like an average person of this world, and there are people who have desires and a sensation of fulfillment, five or a million times greater than yours for example, that’s all, a little more; five million times more. So for that person, it is life. For you, not understanding what it is for him or her, you say that the person is living a life that’s abstract. But abstract is what you can’t understand in your vessels. Yet we’re evolving. We have no choice.
The will to receive is growing, and it demands from us that we fill it. And so from generation to generation, we attain every moment, a richer, more luscious life. And suffering pushes us; desire pushes us, to break through the sensation of the spiritual life. The difference between them—between life at the spiritual level, and our life—is that you attain an additional vessel called “soul,” where you feel in contrast to the five senses, to your current sensation of life—eternity and wholeness.
These are just words, but it’s possible to feel and to understand what is being discussed. It is an entirely different dimension. And so, it becomes unimportant for you if you’re here with your five senses, to feel this life in this world or not. You already attain another life, another form. Just as you live here at home with your family and work, there is also another double, additional thing. If one disappears, you have the other. That’s not abstract. It’s very tangible, especially since the vessel, meaning the sensation, the impression of reality, the spiritual vessel, is felt a billion times more than the vessel of this world. There is no comparison.
This is like the life felt by a tiny ant; without understanding, acting entirely according to instincts, according to what acts within it. It’s activated by all sorts of forces and has no understanding at all. The ant only acts according to inner instincts and so does a person in this world. You’ll see. You will reveal it and you’ll be happy to reveal how a person is 100% like an ant. Whoever is below the barrier is 100% activated in such a way.
What is the difference between an ant and a person? More so, what is the difference between a person and somebody who already has a degree of spiritual attainment? This is not so abstract.
What is the benefit from the Kabbalists using the language of branches? First of all, they have no other means that they could use if they live in this world. And out of this world, they begin to attain what is above, meaning they reveal some connection between what was before and what is now. What proceeded was a branch, and what I attain is its root.
Why is it so and not the opposite way? It’s as if what proceeded was the root. That's true according to the direction of attainment. But according to the Emanator, to what came out of it, who gives birth to it, I reveal, rising in my attainment and attaining something of the Upper World, and discover that this thing gives birth to what exists in our world.
That’s why I call it “root” and what preceded it “branch.” This means that in general, we reveal the roots. Therefore, in the Tree of Life, here are the roots, and here are the branches. It’s upside down, right? And the Kabbalists have a ready-to-use language, thus, that’s how they write for us.
A person opens up a Bible or the Gmarah or the Book of Halachot (The Laws), any book; the person should know that.
All these books are called Holy Books for a reason. ‘Holy’ is the property of Bina (bestowal),that a person acquires through his or her sense of Bina, and having sensed it, wrote about it in the language of branches. All of the languages in which the holy books are written are languages of branches.
If we relate to all these books in this way, we’ll see that behind the stories, behind the laws, is what happens in the Upper World, and that it is not our world that’s being discussed. It isn’t necessary to write holy books about our world. We write romances about our world. It’s different relationship. All of the holy books only discuss the Upper World. What were they written for? They are great, but why are these books so unique? Could it tell us how a beast should live in this world? There’s no benefit in that. The beast in this world just lives; how could it improve its life?
Why does man suffer in this world? Because man doesn’t behave according to the root, so man must attain the root. And then what is bad will become good.
Question: Is Hebrew the exclusive language of Kabbalists, and if it is, does it loose its meaning if it is translated into another language?
The language of Kabbalists is not related to Hebrew. I take a name of this world, and I use this name to describe some sensation that I have in the Upper World. Say any name you like, no matter what it is. Let’s say, “a table.” Thus, the concept he has of a table in the Upper World. I also call it by the same name; I call it Shulchan, call it tish, table. It doesn’t matter what language you use.
In four languages you have four names, but the concept remains a concept no matter how you pronounce it in your language. It’s not important. What is important is to relate what’s in your perception, sensation, to its root. If four people will stand there, each will express the same thing in a different external form, since, overall, what the person has here is a mouth and a tongue. Thus, a person will express it differently to the ear. But how is it different? What’s the difference?
If I feel love or hatred, must I express it in words? Or is this feeling already active?
And if I feel that it’s so, I’m not even able to give it a name? Moreover, now I discover why and from where. So why should I care about names?
.We need to differentiate the language of branches; it’s not a language that I spew out, it’s how I feel in my desire and the sensation inside the desire. It doesn’t matter.
There can be here an American, a Russian, an Israeli, and I said four names for a table, yes? It’s not important how they pronounce this concept. They’re inner feeling, whether it’s the same or not depend on the person who receives, not on the language he or she speaks externally.
Thus, what do we have here? If we want to exchange information between us, not my root but let’s say there are two people here. Why? They’re both sensing, and out of their sensation, they attract the roots. I, the X, want to relate to Y something out of my sensation. How do I do it? If I live in this world, I relate it in our language, and not in the language of branches. How can Kabbalists relate to each other?
If you live in the 15th century and I live in the 21st century, how can I relate anything to you? In order to do that, I need to write to you. Meaning this language of branches that I sense, which you also sense, is the connection between us in this world, and between the “I” in this world and the “I” in the spiritual world. But between us, I must create a language, a sequence of written symbols, unique codes, so as to express it in a way that you’ll understand. Thus, I have to express it in writing, in some form, based in some foundation which isn’t affected by time, in order to relate my impressions to you. But here there is already a problem. What’s the problem? To express spiritual information in a way that it will be visible to our senses.
Here’s where Hebrew is unique: this language is constructed according to impressions from spirituality. Therefore, what did the Kabbalists do?
It originated from Adam (the first man) who saw and sensed the spiritual root. And then he found what branch represented the root’s form. And that’s how he constructed his entire alphabet where each word is a picture made of letters describing states. Thus, the word conveys a state, patterns or blocks of various states. That gives us a picture.
We learn that overall, we have vessels of Zat de Bina, Zeir Anpin and Malchut. Thus, we have the 9 first letters in Zat de Bina; the 9 second letters, meaning Aleph to Tet, and from Yod to Tzedek; and Kuf, Resh, Shin, Tav. This is Malchut; four letters in Malchut. And there are the ending letters: Mem, Nun, Tzadek, Pey, Kaf, that are at the end of Malchut— MANTZEPACH—five ending letters.
Why is it so? Because here you have GAR de Bina, Hochma and Keter. Hochma, Keter and GAR de Bina are called GAR. That is, Light before it’s clothed in vessels.
And here is the clothing in vessels: ZAT de Bina, Zeir Anpin and Malchut. When rising to the Upper World, this begins to be the person’s vessel. ZAT de Bina, ZA and Malchut, and then the person reveals that there are 27 altogether; 22 + 5, MANTZEPACH, 27 types of impressions, which he names letters .
A letter is a symbol, a box, letters. Out of that results a sequence of writing that I feel. Since my feeling is always a part of ZAT de Bina, a part of Zeir Anpin, a part of Malchut, four multiplied by two here, and 2, 3, 4 here, it doesn’t matter. Always through a combination of 27; 22 plus the final ones, if required; depending on where the Partzuf reaches. If it reaches the end of Malchut, then we have MANTZEPACH at the end, one of them. But through the 22 boxes and their ordering, I can always express my feeling and how it flows. It’s not that an alphabet exists to begin with, or that there are symbols for the letters, but all letters result from the feelings of the lights in the vessels.
Here is the point of the Yod, its expansion. Here’s the Dalet. Why is there a Dalet? Why is it an axis and two doors? And why is there diagonal between—there’s Hochma, Bina, Malchut and Zeir Anpin? Why is there this diagonal between Malchut and Bina, which is Tzimtzum Bet? In short, each and every box, and each and every one of the letters constitutes a situation. It’s like a hieroglyph. And through these situations, you write my feelings. Apart from that, there’s above and below and within the letters. There are also additions, symbols, which no longer refer to the boxes themselves, but to their internality. And that’s how you convey the spiritual impressions. This is what the language was created for.
The language of Kabbalah, of the Kabbalists, is the language of branches. It’s structured according to the way the branches point to their roots, which originate their existence and must exist in the Upper World.
Thus there is no item of reality, or an occurrence of reality that you will not find its likeness in the world above it, as identical as two drops in a pond, and they are called “Root and Branch.” That means that an item found in the lower world is deemed a branch of its pattern, found in the higher world, being the root of the lower item, as this is where that item in the lower world was imprinted and made to be.
That was the intention of our sages when they said, “You haven’t a blade of grass below that has not a fortune and a guard above that strikes it and commands it to grow”. It follows that the root, called “fortune,” compels it to grow and robe its attribute in quantity and quality, as with the seal and the imprint. This is the law of root and branch in every item of reality in every single world, relating to the world above it.
The highest root is the Creator. For Him, thought and action are one and the same and therefore His desire, His thought to bestow upon His created beings originates from Him and becomes implemented. In His view thoughts and deeds are one and the same and therefore in His thought we are already at the goal. But we need to go through the feeling, the attainment, and the understanding of where we are. That is why we exist as we do in relation to Him.