Q: What do I do with my desires? I want a big, beautiful house, though a small one will do just fine. I want a new car, though the old one still runs. As for my job, I’m still interested in one that bears responsibility. Do I have to clear out these desires in order to make room for more study? (My relatives are already unhappy about the whole situation).
A: Anything in our lives - our choices, the steps we take, our preferences, and the way we evaluate our lives—is defined by how necessary we feel these things are. It is said that “All that a man hath will he give for his life” (Job 2, 4).
On the one hand, this quote can be interpreted this way: a person would sacrifice everything for life, health and the possibility to go on living. On the other hand, you can say that one would give everything away (life included) for something without which one’s life would be pointless.
We can find examples of this throughout history. Even in our materialistic time, everything depends on our appreciation of material and spiritual values. These values change with our development, making self-coercion unnecessary.
In the Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot, Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag explains that in the past, at the dawn of history, one who wanted to study Kabbalah and be introduced to spirituality had to restrict self and live on meager bread and water. But today, after corrections have been made in the world by more recent Kabbalists, and due to the development of the souls from generation to generation, all it takes to reach the Upper World is the study of Kabbalah.
Therefore, today asceticism and restrictions that people used to practice are no longer necessary. Kabbalists have drawn the Upper Light toward us, especially since the time of the Ari (16th century), as it says: “the light in it reforms,” meaning the study of Kabbalah awakens an invisible illumination of Upper Light that corrects man.
Kabbalists explain that the study of Kabbalah awakens that illumination within the disciple more intensively than any other study. Therefore, they advise anyone who wants to attain spirituality and the purpose of creation to study Kabbalah.
Of course you can go on building houses, buying cars and giving expensive gifts, but it’s important to maintain regular studies, read any time you can, and read only the writings of genuine Kabbalists. That study will bring you new internal situations, new values, by which you’ll make your decisions.
The primary and the secondary in your life will gradually change, but it must come from within you, not by coercion. There is no coercion in spirituality, and the source of the coercion in our world is the shells.
My advice is to keep studying Kabbalah and be yourself at all times. In time, your soul will guide you and tell you how much energy to put into spirituality and how much to expend on this world.