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Michael Laitman, PhD

Kabbalah Vs. Asceticism

Q: If I understand correctly, the spiritual path begins with the formation of the screen within me, meaning with the restriction on reception of pleasures. Does that not lead to self-oppression? If I have to give up on pleasures, won’t that bring me to asceticism, which Judaism forbids?

A: Contrary to all other religions and philosophies, Kabbalah states clearly and unequivocally that spiritual ascent means increased pleasure. The beginning of the path includes the study of the Kabbalah, while the reader maintains a regular way of life without change or limitations. But since our desires influence our acts, if we want to achieve something sublime, we must act accordingly.

Thus, we see that the correction is a process involving the effect of the Upper Light on man, not of restriction by coercion. That is precisely the difference between Kabbalah and religion: Kabbalah activates the power of the Creator; it is not an oppressing force from the outside. Therefore, when we receive more and more strength from Above, it opens up the channels for greater desires, which can then be corrected and used appropriately.

We cannot live without pleasure. After all, our very essence is the will to receive delight and pleasure, and the purpose of creation is the attainment of perfect pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with the pleasure itself; it is only for us to correct its objective, not the desire itself.

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