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"Kabbalah Revealed" Episode 10: Free Will, Part 1


Anthony Kosinec describes the program that determines human nature, and where we have a choice in relation to this program.


Kabbalah Revealed #10
Free Will, Part 1

Lecture presented for the American television channel, Shalom TV
Anthony Kosinec

•    Bold and indented: Original text of Baal HaSulam
•    lowercase italics: emphasized words
•    Capitalized Italics: titles and transliteration from Hebrew

Hello again and welcome to Kabbalah Revealed. I’m Tony Kosinec.

In this lesson we will begin the first of two lessons on free will. We will look at what it is, where it exists.

Free will is an extremely important topic and when we give classes to new students on the basic concepts of Kabbalah, in a live situation, what we like to do is to hand out a questionnaire and have them answer a few questions so that they can keep a record of what their perception of things is at the beginning of these lessons. Then they can look at it later and see how their perceptions have changed.

One of the questions that is asked is, “Where do I have freedom of choice?” Almost without exception, hundreds upon hundreds of students, that’s all of them, answer, “I have freedom in everything,” because that is basically what this level of awareness is; the belief that we can choose everything. That is so because on this level the Creator is completely hidden. In other words, we don’t really have any sense of the laws that create and govern our situations, but knowing what freedom is, is extremely important because we spend a tremendous amount of effort pursuing things and building things, perhaps over an entire lifetime, based on what we think is an expression of our essence, something that we have chosen to be and build. Maybe for some people it is spirituality; for other people it is other things. But how can you express what your essence is if you don’t really know what your “I” is. The search for the “I”—“What is my I?” is really the search for that point of freedom—the experience of not to be restricted by what is not me, not to be coerced by forces outside of the “I” and to be able to direct the path of my life along the lines of what it is that I desire, to have the desired outcome that was intended.

In previous lessons, we have already learned that we are affected by both inner and outer forces in the whole structure of creation, and these inner and outer parameters are always working on us. The inner force, the inner parameter that is working on us, the fact that we work in a very narrow quarter between seeking out pleasure and avoiding pain—and this is the inner forces of my programming—but we really underestimate the effect of our created nature, of our will to receive. It is so powerful in terms of how we respond to things that we act really like a robot in every situation, as long as we are functioning according to that program because we may think that we are choosing to do certain things, but we can’t choose outside of those parameters of going towards pleasure and avoiding pain. And everything that we do is done for an egoistic reason. It doesn’t matter how it looks on the outside.

The degree to which our egoism controls the events in our lives—well it’s evident; just look at the world and you’ll see the kind of relationships that people have with each other. They look very nice on the outside, but what is really happening is that any kind of giving, anything that appears to be an altruistic act is really always a calculation for self-satisfaction. Even giving of great amounts of money or expenditure of personal effort to help the poor or to heal the sick, there is a calculation there that pleasure is going to be gotten by the person, as long as they’re working within the will to receive. Either it will be in the form of honor from others, or it will be in the form of a pleasure from thinking that I’m superior to others, even if I don’t tell them about it. It is always a calculation sought out to receive pleasure into the will to receive. It governs everything and as long as we function within that, it is a constant pressure that allows us to easily be guided from one situation to another, according to an inner pressure.

The outer pressure is in our environment. Our environment consists of all of the stages in our development prior to where we are, which include everything that went before, and also, the situation that we find ourselves in at the moment. So let’s just go over what our situation is in terms of where we came from.

[Tony drawing]

In our original first state as we were created in the creation of a creature, the four phases of Direct Light, in this condition, there was one soul in relation to the Creator, with no boundaries on that connection. This is the collective soul, Adam ha Rishon. Actually, this is the state we still live in, except that we have lost any sensation of our true condition.

As this state was lowered through a number of phases by the force of development, which is the development of desire and also the development of the will to receive rather than the will to bestow, it arrived at the independent desire of the creature.

[Tony drawing]

This is reflected in our experience this way [Tony drawing]. This state [Tony point to drawing – phase 1] is experienced rather as a kind of a matrix. A lattice that contains six hundred thousand independent parts, individual souls, all related to each other. The relationship, one to another, and the influence between them is enormous. They are all interrelated actually, in the way that they were related in their original state, but the awareness of this relationship is lost to each of the individual parts. Anything that is done in one of these parts—which is an individual desire—is felt through this interconnection in every other part. That is, there is an influence, an enormous influence that is felt throughout the entire system given the condition or the inner action of a desire of any one of these. So nothing inside here actually functions as an individual. We perceive that it does. This is our sensation of it as a result of the hiddenness of our real state from us.

Rather than feeling the interconnection, what we really feel is something more like this [Tony drawing]—that a person exists independent of others; is a user and an exploiter of others, but really the condition that we feel is more like this [Tony drawing]—connected to nothing. The truth is that this collective soul is our environment and it puts tremendous pressure on us in the form of our society—societal pressures; the way that everything in our environment affects us. So much of what we feel (and we will see how much), comes from this and not from this [Tony refers to drawing].

As you can see, we are influenced from all sides—inside and outside—and yet freedom is still achievable even in the material world, in this lifetime, and not in some other world as most religions say. But it takes a very special effort, and the effort is to rise above our nature, and that will become clear as we go on.

Let’s look at how this happens in the natural world. Animals can show us that there is a quality in nature that really hates slavery; it hates a lack of freedom. If you take an animal and you put it into captivity, especially a wild animal, it will weaken and in most cases it will die. Even our pets, domesticated animals, you have got to make a deal with them. You have got to compensate them for their loss of freedom by giving them a lot of food, giving them certain kind of shelter and a lot of attention, and sort of building up one side of the equation for their will to receive, otherwise they simply will not see what is going on as anything but a loss of freedom. This is the way that nature is constructed. Freedom is a powerful force and everything is guided towards that freedom.

Animals don’t make mistakes because they’re functioning completely within the law of nature. For instance, you will see a cat can jump up on a table or up on a wall, and if you look at it really closely, and I’ve seen this with slow-motion cameras, the cat will leap, but there is a point and which it seems almost to be lifted, and just land precisely on the place. It’s as though he is in the flow of some kind of energy that just takes him there. And animals don’t make mistakes because they are not moving by knowledge; they themselves are not evaluating anything.

An animal that is born knows what is good for it to eat; it knows where to find it. And none of this is coming from intelligence, it is all instinctive, it is all there ready for the animal. Even if it looks to us that an animal is making a mistake, like maybe one animal is eaten by another, for which animal is it a mistake? The one that was eaten or the one that did the eating?

We see it as a mistake because we are partially embedded in that level of animal, that a part of us is an animal, and we can’t see completely outside of the system, and we apply that aspect to it and we believe that we are seeing something losing and something gaining, where really the animal itself is working completely within nature and is part of a system that works like a cell within a body or an organ within a body—cell within an organ, organ within a body—that is working only for the fulfillment of the whole of the organism, not for the individual, and everything that happens including when it’s time to live and when it’s time to die, and all that is done in agreement with the law of nature because the animal is locked into it.

So, you can see how completely predetermined everything is on that level. Actually, what we call “instinct” is predetermination of that level.

You can look at the condition of an animal, at least a biologist can, look at where an animal may be geographically, look at the time of the year, and be able to determine, according, say, to the age of the animal, and all of those factors, what the next condition of that animal will be because we know the influential factors of the animal and we can see that to a certain degree because we are above that level of the system, but we can’t see that about ourselves. And the fact that we don’t see that is really what we call “free will.” For the human, free will really consists of a lack of information; it really consists of ignorance because we cannot see what the influencing factors are on us. We instead have the sensation that there really aren’t any, that all of these conditions that we have are kind of random, they’re a matter of fate and that a person has their own individual response to everything and completely makes their own way. This is really not to sense where the influences are on us.

So, we have this vague sort of sense of free will, but we can’t really define it. We keep seeking freedom in all kinds of ways within the human system. One of the clearest ways in which we can see this sort of turnover and seeking of freedom is in the evolution of political systems.

What happens in organizations of people is that everything is fine until we feel that there is some kind of restriction on our ability to fulfill certain desires. The system seems to fail us and then there is a kind of a revolution within it, there is a necessity for change, because we are feeling a kind of coercion from the outside. And so, we see the turnover of all kinds of systems over time, from hunter-gatherer and that kind of a system, to “that’s simply not enough and it doesn’t allow us to fulfill certain kinds of desires,” so larger organizations occur; kinships, and yet still the individual finds that he can’t fulfill what he wants to fulfill, and so forms of democracy occur. This constantly turns over, but it’s always an expansion only on the level of egoism. Even though we go through this process, it’s a predetermined process and we never really reach freedom because it’s always on the level of the expansion of our nature, and the place of freedom and the point of freedom apparently is not there.

You know, it may be that this point of freedom is not vast as we think it is; that it is really one tiny determining factor, something very small in the scope of our experience. But, it may be something small, but it’s something extremely powerful and really all that is necessary.

In Kabbalah there is a law that goes: “There is no coercion in spirituality.” It’s not possible to reach spirituality without freedom. In other words, a Kabbalist is not going to tell you, “you must do this and you must not do that.” The entire road to spirituality must be made of freedom. That is, you must feel free in it, the path itself must be free, and the goal itself has got to be freedom. That’s because you will only do what you consider to be good for you. That’s the way that this system is built and that’s how we develop. That is, you will only choose according to your desires. But the question is, “where do your desires come from, which ones are your desires?”

We are “installed” into this life. You find yourself in a family; you didn’t choose the family. And yet, there are all kinds of influences on you. Everything that you are, your character is shaped by the values of your mother and your father, your community, your school, your set of friends, and everything that develops in you in terms of your personality, what you value, what you dream, what you suppose the limitations of things are, they’re all defined for you by that situation. And you may, as a teenager, rebel, but that’s not freedom either because it’s always only in opposition to those things that are presented before you, because you are not creating those things; you are merely responding to the set of choices. In other words, if you are going to have a dream about what your life is going to be, it’s going to be one of a number set before you. It’s like choosing items on a menu. And even when you leave that sort of situation of your school and the heavy influence of your parents, and you step out to make your way in the world, you still find that that organization and pressure of society is still affecting a person.

The things that we find valuable are the things that are advertised to us. If we choose to value something else, it will be also one of the things on the menu. This is a matter of us working both according to our inner programming, that is, we are going to choose according to what we feel is desirable to us, according to bitter and sweet—what do we want and what do we want to avoid?—and we are going to choose it out of the things that are presented to us by society.

So, if I act according to that programming, is that freedom?

Even our most intimate thoughts and desires—geneticists are now able to show us—actually are not ours, they’re all predictable. From a tendency towards drug abuse or alcohol abuse, to whether a person would be criminal in nature or whether they would be a law abiding citizen, even states of elation that we consider to be religious experiences, can be determined by positioning probes into the brain.

So where is the freedom of those desires arising from an individual “I”? That’s natural science and that shows us how those things are determined in our egoistic nature. Kabbalah shows us something even further than that in a kind of spiritual genetic code, which we are programmed not just in one lifetime, but over a multitude of lifetimes, and our development is completely laid out for us in the system of Reshimot, that is, remembrances of the stages in which we descended from the root of our soul.

So, if all we are just robots fulfilling either our egoistic programming or our spiritual development, where is freedom in this system? The “I” of the person, the point of freedom does exist, but not in everything. We are completely subject to the forces that develop us internally and externally. But just as there is a means in Kabbalah to use our inner, created nature, which is the will to receive, and transform that into the will to bestow, there also is a point of freedom that exists within the environment around us. There is a way of learning how the system of influence works and harnessing it, to catapult us out of it into a higher level of life, into a bonding with the Creator. And that element is the root of our soul. The root of our soul is the desire to climb outward towards freedom, and it’s not influenced by any of the things of our egoistic nature, including all of the environment—internal and external.

If we cling to this parameter, this one parameter, if we cherish it and develop it and develop only by it, then we can ascend above that level of influence. The Kabbalists give us a means of doing that.

Next time we will continue our investigation of freedom by looking at an article called The Freedom by Baal HaSulam. In this article, it shows us exactly what the parameters of influence are, how they work on us over a multitude of lifetimes, and how to harness that one small part of it that will allow us to leave our limited perceptions and enter the spiritual world and fulfill the Thought of Creation, which is bonding with the Creator.

See you then. 


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