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Michael Laitman, PhD

Surpassing the Teacher

Q: While reading the materials on the site, I stumbled across something that aroused my interest. It concerns whether a disciple can surpass one’s teacher in one’s spiritual quest, and the answer was “yes.” But how can it be? A teacher is always at a higher level, and what the disciple “imagines“ comes from one’s egoism, like in a growing child who feels superior in achievement to its parents. But isn’t this just self-deception?

A: A disciple can surpass one’s teacher. Baal HaSulam discovered that he had “grown out” of his rabbi’s (the rabbi from Porsov) spiritual level. Hence he left for the land of Israel.

If teacher and disciple work with full cooperation, they can be either as teacher and disciple, or as two friends. They can switch places. The difference is rather insignificant.

Take for example, the rabbi that Baal HaSulam began to study Kabbalah with – the rabbi from Porsov (a small town near Warsaw). My rabbi told me that once, when Baal HaSulam came to bid farewell to his rabbi, before he came to Israel, he clearly saw that he had risen higher than the degree of his teacher in his attainment. He spoke about this with his eldest son, who was fifteen at the time.

Thus, it doesn’t matter if you are a teacher or a student. But teachers, just like at school, guide the students, show them how to enter the spiritual world and give them the skills necessary for the spiritual work. A brilliant student can become greater than one’s teacher, yet a teacher remains a teacher.

Between a student and a teacher there remains a spiritual contact, through common attributes and vessels. Thus, in the spiritual world, the two individuals are not considered as two separate bodies, but one collective vessel.

That is why, if I give something to a student of mine who rises higher than I, based on all I have offered, that student retains what I gave, and yet that something bonds the student with me as well.

There is common work that takes place even if my student performs it and not I. At the end of correction, all our common efforts will unite into one.

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