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Talks

Why There Has to Be Death?

Interview with Journalist Sharon Atia
July 23, 2003


Question: Why do we come into this world? And on the other hand, if it took so much effort to bring us into this world, then why do we leave it? Why do we have to die? Can we exist in this world forever? If a human being is destined to live for 100-120 years, wouldn't it be better if he lived for 600 years and died, after finishing all of his incarnations? Why do we have to come back into this world and revive it again? And the last question: if the soul is some sort of entity that continues to live after physiological death, then why do we relate to death as to something that happens to us and at the same time, not to us? That is, we do exist at the place where the eternal soul dwells - we die and have no idea what happens next. Is it a fact that although we perceive only this world, our soul exists simultaneously in some other dimension which is on another side of the verge that we call death?

Where did such phenomena as death originate from? Death occurred as a result of breaking of Adam HaRishon (lit. First Man). The Creator created the soul, consisting of 613 (Taryag) desires. We also call them ten Sefirot. The Creator's goal is for this creation (called the will to receive pleasure) to attain eternity, perfection, equality with Him - to reach the state called "Good and Doeth Good.

This goal can be reached only if creation is one-hundred percent similar to the Creator, for the Creator's state alone is perfect and eternal. In order for creation to reach this state, it must realize the lowliness of its own condition, opposite to that level and also develop an urge to become similar to the Creator.

We can realize how opposite we are to the Creator, suffer through sensing this oppositeness and develop a desire to correct only by the means of prolonged, consistent, systematic implementation of numerous actions.

Each of 613 desires, in turn, is divided into a host of parts. In order to correct one desire after the other and afterwards connect all desires to every other desire - literally to each of the 600,000 souls that divided into billions of souls - one needs to work slowly and gradually.

The stages of this work are such that when a person is desperate because of intolerability of his present state, or has reached certain correction and even corresponds with the Creator to some degree, or has undergone some sort of inner, qualitative (not quantitative) development, all of his foundations turn upside down.

To turn them completely, it is necessary to sever the previous states and ascend to a higher one. This can be achieved only when one is freed from the previous perception of reality and slowly, gradually enters a new attitude towards the world, starting once more from birth and continuing on. This includes development on the animated level (i.e., development of human body), as well as individual, inner development.

Hence, life that seems to us lost in vain has to look exactly like this. Attaining the entire system of creation, a Kabbalists sees that it could have not been made different. However, we are unable to justify what is happening.

If we consent that we are created from matter opposite to the Creator, and thus have to undergo a series of corrections so as to reach the peak of creation the ultimate state there is it follows that we allegedly have to live for a thousand of years, ascending the levels of development and enriching ourselves with various properties, perceptions and insights.

Our life should be different (not the way it is now) than when we sleep for seven hours a day, look after ourselves and our body for a few hours, devote a few more hours to children, take care of them or go around with our business. Even a person who wants to immerse into the spiritual life completely can dedicate to this end probably 2-3 hours a day in total.

Why are we able to dedicate to our spiritual needs merely a tenth part of our day? These needs are, in essence, the basis of our entire life, its most important and major purpose? Why is our life so irrational?

The answer is pretty simple. There are many systems in the universe that exist, function, develop and perfect themselves without our intervention. For example, now I see something and within me all sorts of processes are taking place, various wisely built systems are at work. I'm not even aware of them; they are not accessible to my comprehension; we cannot investigate, trigger them ourselves, control or govern them. The body lives.

Similarly, there have to be multiple systems outside and inside of a human being that would function both in human and spiritual aspects. They have to be inaccessible to a person and he should not deal with them. He has to work, be a head of a family and take care of various things. Thanks to this, he also undergoes correction, without knowing how.

What we are entrusted with is utilizing these two free hours a day for studying the authentic method of correction which we indeed can (and are obliged to) realize independently. This method is called Kabbalah and explains what we should do. It is enough for a person to learn for two hours a day in order to bring the spirit of Kabbalistic sources into the rest of everyday life.

From this moment on, advancing spiritually a person starts revealing the reality as some unified, complex, interconnected system that brings all still, vegetative, animated, and speaking levels of nature towards the single goal. He sees that if he gives up all activities that do not relate to the attainment of the goal, and situates himself inside of this process correctly, he will succeed in all walks of life, attaining the peak of perfection.

In the process of coming closer to the world of eternity and perfection, we always move from imperfect to perfect and therefore are unable to evaluate our state correctly; we cannot justify it. To us, it seems unclear, unattainable. For not having another choice, we must progress each time. This is why the main questions are always left unanswered.

They can be resolved only when one attains a higher level and, turning back, really sees what happened before. But, directing his sight forward, he is left with the same questions once again and has no other choice but to ascend to even higher level. This is because the process of our development is carried out from imperfect to more perfect.

Besides, liberation from beastly life and subsequent existence only in the form of a soul between incarnations allows one to connect with other souls. As a result, one acquires a special combination of properties and continues his life in the next incarnation differently, correcting the structure that was formed.

In our earthly life we are unable to connect with each other in souls, because our bodily beastly sheath separates us, hindering this connection. By liberating ourselves from a body, its ego and existing only in a form of the souls, we are able to unite and later, incarnating a new body, resume correction of the collection of properties acquired while being outside of our body.

By correctly examining the process of interchange of live and death in numerous reincarnations that the entire humanity goes through, we will clearly see that in this world one carries out a special correction of one type, while in "the other world" one carries out special correction of the other type. Later, one again goes through a specific correction in this world and undergoes another type of correction while in the other world.

In other words, there have to be transitions whereby existing in a body, one independently performs his work, interacting with the other people through the bodily cover, and relating to them from the position of their ego. On the other hand, existing in one's soul, in the period between two earthly lives, one relates to the others in a different fashion: there the form of connections is more spiritual.

Thus, from incarnation to incarnation, the form of connections becomes more elevated both in the spiritual and corporeal sense.

We see that in our world the entire Earth is turning into a global village. We witness unification of various nations, ideas, opinions The same in the spiritual world - regardless of whether we exist in the bodies or not - the souls are becoming increasingly closer. At the end, we will reach the state when remaining in our bodies all people will connect in their souls. Then the entire humankind, as one man with one heart, will merge with the Upper force.

Many processes, cause-and-effect relationships are at work here, although they cannot be explained in a simple form. Here we touch upon the questions of why each of us is born with our specific properties, tie our lives with one particular person, becomes a couple with him or her, why we are born to the specific parents, in particular circumstances and so on. We will be able to test, calculate, measure, comprehend this only if we fully see the common chain of corrections of all the souls and participation of each soul in the rest of them.

Then it will become clear to us that each person undergoes his or her own series of incarnations in the most correct, optimal and effective manner. As a matter of fact, only these two hours a day belong to a p erson himself and they are given to him in this life to obtain the method of correction. This is necessary so that we treat the entire process of correction wisely, consciously and attain it, being an active part of it ourselves.

Question: Is death a conscious process? Subconsciously, we know

Why subconsciously? If we asked a Kabbalist about death, he would answer that he perceives death as a necessary, integral part of all transformations that he undergoes in the process of correction from the beginning till reaching the final goal. Each of us, even those who now hear me for the first time have an opportunity to complete the entire process of correction in the course of this lifetime and never incarnate again.

We, in essence, go through all of these incarnations in order to eventually reach the goal equality of form with the Upper force. It can be done even in present reincarnation. Once we hear that this is quite realistic and doable, and learn what we should do, we have to exert efforts, try each moment so as to never incarnate again.

Question: Souls (i.e., we) come and go from this world by our own choice with the aim of attaining the final correction?

A Kabbalist, naturally, determines his path and agrees to it. He lives at the level above life and death of physical body and looks at the existence in it as to life form at the lower level in relation to the spiritual. This is why a Kabbalist identifies himself with the spiritual life and existence, and pays no particular importance to the life of body.

I remember when I came to my teacher Rav Baruch Ashlag and asked him one of my first questions: "How does a person who attained the spiritual relate to life and death? He answered: "I see that today you came to my lesson in a white, new, nice shirt, and later you will change it. You know that you have to change your shirt. This is exactly how a person that exists within his soul, looks at his body, knowing that the time will come when it will have to be changed. And do not relate to this in any other way than to decision of the soul."

A Kabbalist identifies with the Upper force, a higher degree so much that he treats the level of existence in the corporeal body as something still.

Question: Can certain actions here, in this world help us be worthy of a better existence after death, in the other world?

I would phrase it differently: in the spiritual world one no longer has what he attained living in this world, except for insignificant additional sensation that occurred as a result of freeing oneself from the bodily problems. If one is not engaged in the spiritual, why would it appear in him? Why on earth would he acquire the degree that he has not deserved and has no relation to it whatsoever?

Baal HaSulam, Yehuda Ashlag, who wrote "Commentary to the book of Zohar" and many other books on Kabbalah, explains that as one is unable to exist in this world without knowing its nature, so cannot the soul exist without knowing the nature of the spiritual.

We have to investigate nature in which we exist. Otherwise, we will not be at peace with this world, will not know how to obtain food, from what materials to make cloths. We have to study the phenomena of this world, and I would say, control them. To the extent a person masters the existing reality he can provide himself with all that he needs. The same applies in the spiritual world: as my body is unable to exist in this world without knowledge about it, so is my soul unable to exist in the spiritual world without knowledge the spiritual world. This knowledge can be given only by the science of Kabbalah.

Hence, if one wants to attend not only to the period called life in a body, but also to the future portion of time called the spiritual life, he has to simultaneously take care of both of them. This is why our life consists of material and spiritual. Existing in that world, outside of body, a person who hasn't yet completed his or her correction also has to look after his soul and the future body. That is, he has to take care of his future life in this world, into which he will soon be born to resume the process of correction.

There is a reason why we received the knowledge about what happens outside of our bodies, when only the souls exist. This knowledge is transmitted to us by people who attained the spiritual world. They say that we will not manage to establish ourselves either in this world or in the world to come, without comprehending the spiritual in a way we perceive the material.

The book of Zohar explains this literally on every page. All the Kabbalistic sources are given to us for this purpose. They are most suited to be applied by a human being. Really, what do we need in this world? Knowledge about how to adapt to life, how to build houses, how to provide for ourselves. We need the sacred books for things like that.

Kabbalistic books are necessary in order to make up for the unknown about the spiritual world. Ultimately, if we unite complementing each other, the two parts of our existence, both in the body and in the soul, we will become worthy of the attainment of the Goal called the Thought of creation: "to delight the created beings. We can say that we are connected to the state of "delight the created beings" only at this highest, final degree. Only this degree is eternal and perfect.

This is why Kabbalists turn to each individual regardless of sex, nationality or age, explaining in all the languages that there is no other way not to incarnate again and prevent all blows, misfortunes, suffering except for comprehending the spiritual world.

Moreover, Kabbalists tell that all events of this world are, in essence, consequences of the spiritual world, from which all forces and phenomena descend. Here, in this world, they appear in front of us the way we see them. Even if we want to change our life in the material body, to this end we need to ascend to the spiritual level and make changes there, in the roots.

As a result, beneficial impulses, signals descend on us from there, and thanks to this, we will ultimately reach a better state. And on the contrary: suffering that we go through comes to us in order to hasten our study of the spiritual laws, knowledge of the spiritual reality as controlling and governing the entire creation.

Question: Does the soul stay as independent in the future stage of its existence as it is presently? Does it determine its next incarnation while without a body?

The soul is the basis of one's inner part, one's "I. A body, in which it incarnates, is born and exists in this word exclusively for the purposes of helping the soul to elevate and attain its true state. A body is so insignificant in comparison to the soul that we can change its parts and live, G-d forbid, without half of the organs. This does not matter because the body exists only for the sake of the soul. This is why, completing its correction, we completely free ourselves from the need to incarnate the body.

Humankind is familiar with the phenomena of the soul's existence outside of a body; many religions and belief systems realize and understand it. However, only the method of Kabbalah gives a person an opportunity to use it effectively. Kabbalah is a science that supplies knowledge and a way to change one's destiny. The soul delights so much that one no longer has to descend into this world, into the beastly, impure body and to continue his years of suffering. Rather, one exists in an absolutely different eternal and perfect state.

 

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