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Michael Laitman, PhD

Egoism in Society

Q: When we begin to study Kabbalah and advance toward spirituality, we discover within us hidden egotistical traits that hadn’t been apparent before. Will those traits affect ours whole behavior, increasing our selfishness towards others?

If that is true, how can groups of people that advance together exist? How can people maintain relationships if they become so “evil” during the study?

A: You are right. When a disciple advances, the will to take for oneself grows, otherwise how can there be any advancement? Each degree exposes another layer of uncorrected desires with the intent “for myself” and one rises by correcting the intent from “for me” to “for the Creator.” The newly corrected desires consist of the new degree to which the person has now risen.

But then, Kabbalists would always feel themselves “bad” compared to the people around them. And that would have been true, if that were an addition of desires to take pleasure in material things. Indeed, one discovers such desires, too, but they are neither the most important nor the biggest of man’s problems; they are not the ones he should wrestle with.

If you want to eat, drink or sleep more, don’t worry about it; it is a temporary phenomenon during a spiritual descent, when there are no other pleasures.

The situation is that man is given more egoistic desires to enjoy the spiritual world, and we should wrestle with what rebels against the Creator, or as Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice” (Exodus 5, 2).

The most important thing is to confront thoughts against faith and doubts about Providence or the uniqueness of the Creator.

It is true that the physical desires grow as well, but that is done on purpose, in order to divert us from the correct battle against that which really distances us from the Creator.

The most important thing is not to change the object against which we are fighting. We must fight not the desires of this world, the desires of the animate nature, but rather the disturbances that keep us away from the Creator.

A shell is an impure thought, an impure aim against the Creator. It exists only in the spiritual world, along with—and against - purity (sanctity), not against physical temptations. Therefore, in a study group, although the egoism increases, it is expressed in personal interferences in the aim toward the Creator, not as ambitions to become a leader, for example. It is simply that, out of the awakening yearning for the Creator, each person wants to contribute more to the group.

Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag writes that the group must form the basis for the future society. Today such societies can be established on a small scale and the Creator rewards such a society with great help and personal care.

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