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"Kabbalah Revealed" Episode 5: Introduction to the Four Phases of Direct Light


Anthony Kosinec introduces the four-phase template that stands at the foundation of our ״I״ and everything we perceive in reality.


Kabbalah Revealed #5
Introduction to the Four Phases of Direct Light

Lecture presented for the American television channel, Shalom TV
Anthony Kosinec
July 4, 2006

•    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.

Let’s begin by reading a quote from Baal HaSulam, from the Introduction to the Talmud Eser Sefirot (The Study of the Ten Sefirot). He says:

Therefore we must ask: why then, did the Kabbalists obligate each person to study the wisdom of Kabbalah? Indeed there is a great thing in it, worthy of being publicized: There is a wonderful, invaluable remedy to those who engage in the wisdom of Kabbalah. Although they do not understand what they are learning, through the yearning and the great desire to understand what they are learning, they awaken upon themselves the Lights that surround their souls.
While one has not attained perfection, these Lights that are destined to reach him are considered Surrounding Lights. That means that they stand ready, and wait for one to purify one’s vessels of reception. At that time these Lights will cloth the able vessels.

Hence, even when one does not have the vessels, when one engages in this wisdom, mentioning the names of the Lights and the vessels related to one’s soul, they immediately shine upon us to a certain measure. However, they shine for him without clothing the interior of his soul for lack of the able vessels to receive them. Despite that, the illumination one receives time after time during the engagement draws upon one grace from Above, imparting one with abundance of sanctity and purity, which bring one much closer to reaching perfection.
In this lesson we will look at the four phases of the creation of a creature. This is the macro-template for everything that exists in creation: the way in which the creation came into being; the way in which a creature is created; and the way in which everything that stems from that is created in every aspect of the creation.

Here’s what the Kabbalists tell us. [Tony drawing] First of all we need to know that there are secrets of Torah, but we are not going to speak of these secrets and they are above our ability to convey them. No Kabbalistic book talks about the secrets of Torah, only about the tastes of Torah.

These secrets are called His Essence, or Atzmuto. It’s forbidden to speak about this. What forbidden means is that it is impossible. There are no words for this. We have no Kelim (vessels) for it. This can only be known by attainment.
We start here [Tony draws the symbol for infinity]. We start with the Creator. The Kabbalists tell us that the initial Thought of the Creator, those who have attained this level, tell us that everything began with an intention, and this intention is to create a creature and to bring pleasure to the creature. This is what’s called Behina Shoresh. This is the root of all reality.
Now since this will to create a creature and to give that creature pleasure is the initial thrust of the creation, immediately what occurred is that there was a will to receive this pleasure. So this thought is now what we call “Light,” and this is a will to receive. This is our vessel. This is the initial creature. This phase is one in which the total Light of creation fills a vessel capable of holding the entire Light, but this vessel is almost nullified against that, it’s so incorporated with it that really these things came into existence at the same time and they depend on each other completely.

You have here a giving force, a desire to give, that presses into a reception and creates this opposite desire, the desire to receive. These things are locked together. They are sort of part and parcel of the same idea, but opposite. This is called the second discernment, which is Behina Aleph. Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and it has the value 1, and this is the first discernment.

What happens when the Light enters this first Kli, the will to receive, is that the will to receive feels the pleasure, but the Light also imparts something about its own nature into the Kli, and something happens as a result of feeling this.

When this Light goes all the way down and reaches the total filling within this will to receive, the vessel begins to sense something about the nature of the Light itself. Since this is only a will to receive, it makes a movement based on its programming, and it notices that there is a Giver, so that the first discernment is “there is a Giver”; in other words, this is the first thing that is not the Creator. It has the sensation that there is a giving mode and there is a receiving mode. It’s in existence, in relation to something. 

Let’s look at this first and second part here in terms of Sefirot.
The first discernment is called “Keter” or “crown.” The second discernment is called “Hochma.” Hochma means wisdom. So this Light that is felt by the first creature here, this first phase of the creature, is a delight that is a response to the qualities of the Creator, and this Light that it feels, that enters it, is called “the Light of Wisdom” (in Hebrew, “Ohr Hochma”). So anytime you hear the word “wisdom” in Kabbalistic texts, it’s talking about this quality of this Phase.

Now something happens here, and as a result of feeling that there is a Giver, it also feels the pleasure of the desire to give, and it wants this pleasure because it is a will to receive. So in this desire, a new discernment appears. In order to reach this—because it felt this lack within it (first it was filled completely, then it felt a lack for what it sensed in the quality of the Light)—in order to reach this, to try to attain this for itself, it realizes that it doesn’t want to receive. What it wants is the pleasure of giving, so it makes that move to be able to experience that pleasure of giving, but since it’s only built to receive, the only thing that it can do is to not receive. In other words, it rejects the Light. This phase is called “Behina Bet.” Bet is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet too, and the perception that it has is that to give is better than to receive. It is a desire to give.

Now here we have a very interesting thing occurring. We have two phases that have moved (Phase 1 moving to Phase 2), has moved to its complete opposite. Phase 1 is a desire to receive and Phase 2 is a desire to give. This Sefira (Phase 2) is called “Bina.” Bina comes from the word Hitbonenut which means “to observe.” And what it really observes and what it discerns is a quality of the Creator, that the quality of the Creator is to give. So this is the quality of giving, this Sefira Bina, this Behina Bet, this Phase 2.

In this state of emptiness there is another discernment that comes to the vessel. Now I want you to notice that what is being spoken about in each one of these Behinot, in each one of these discernments, is not about the action of the Light. The action of the Light is always the same. It always only uses this primary law—the will to create a creature and to fulfill that creature. That’s the only thing the Light does. What we are speaking about are discernment changes within the Kli, within the desire, within the creature. So here inside the Behina Bet, in the lack of Light, there is a discernment that happens, that its nature is actually to receive, and that it can’t exist without the Light of Wisdom.

This rejection of the Light, this passing back of the Light, is called “the Light of Mercy” (in Hebrew, “Ohr Hassadim”), so it knows that it can’t exist like this, it must receive. But it doesn’t want to be a receiver, so it has to find a way in which its reception is actually a form of bestowal. And this brings about the next discernment.

This is Behina Gimel—the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This discernment here brings about a dual phase. That is, this phase incorporates these two opposites, both the reception of Ohr Hochma, and it also includes—Ohr Hochma and Ohr Hassadim. So these two opposite desires are included here in this mixed phase. Why? What’s going on here? In this mode of reception, Behina Gimel has found a way to turn its reception into a way of giving.

The only thing that exists in creation is the creature and the Creator—the Light and the vessel—that’s it. And even if the creature feels that it is doing an act of giving just within itself, really, the only one that there is to give to from the point of view of the creature is the Creator. Behina Gimel makes the decision that it will copy the act of the Creator, that it understands that the Creator wants it to be filled with pleasure, that it must receive this pleasure, and that part of the Thought of Creation is to create a creature and to give to the creature. Well the only kind of creature that it can really create is something within itself. So it makes the decision that it will receive a portion of the Light, say 20% of the Light, under the condition that it only does it in order to fulfill the Thought of Creation, this desire of the Creator to create a creature and fill it with delight. So it will receive it with the intention that by its reception it fulfills this Thought. And this is the only mode in which reception can be giving. But giving is an intention. It doesn’t matter what the act is; it’s an intention. So this is really in similarity of form with this Phase 0 (Keter) to a certain degree.
This 80% of Ohr Hassadim (Returning Light) it’s still pleasure, it’s still Light coming into it, but she pays no attention to it here. This phase, in Sefirot is called Zeir Anpin, and it really consists of a number of Sefirot: of Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod. It’s a mixed phase that allows for reception in order to bestow.

In this simulation of the act of bestowal that Behina Gimel does, a new discernment is born. She feels here another quality of the Light because of her action and that quality is actually the Thought of Creation itself. She comes to the attainment that it’s not just to give, and it’s not just that she receives a certain portion in order to fulfill the desire of the Creator to give to her, but that the Thought of Creation is to fill the creature completely with unbounded delight and she then realizes that she must accept this Light in order to fulfill the Thought of Creation. She must accept the whole Light.

So here, the Light enters and fills the entire vessel. This is Behina Dalet, 4, but this is very different than Behina Aleph. Even though it looks the same, something very different has occurred here because here, [Tony points to drawing] in Behina Shoresh, Aleph, Bet, and Gimel, all of these actions were not independent actions. These were all actions done by the Creator. The Force of the Light, the response and the desire created in each one of these were actions done by the Creator. In Behina Dalet something entirely new happens. This is an independent desire to be and do precisely what the Creator had placed there. Here, in the intention to receive all of this Light, there is the possibility of the equivalence of form with the very Thought of Creation itself.

At this point, everything changes for the creature. There is a restriction, a change in the nature of desire that happens here. Instead of receiving, as she did, Direct Light, and trying to achieve this for herself, she feels here, because of this last discernment that she had, she feels the stature of the Creator. And now, she no longer wants the doing part of creation, the Direct Light, what she wants is the mind of the Creator, the thinking part of the creation. She wants to reach equivalence of form with the Creator, which is, in fact, the intention of the Creator in the first place. So here we have the beginning of everything else in creation. We have an independent creature.
Hence, this fourth phase in Sefirot is called “Malchut.” Malchut comes from the word “king” or “kingdom.” It means that everything is ruled here by desire. Now here, this new intention not to receive for herself alone, because she feels the stature of the Creator, she feels ashamed at the manner of reception, and this is called a restriction—the First Tzimtzum—and from now on she pursues the Thought behind creation, and not the actions of creation.

So here we have this Malchut, the beginning of creation. And this vessel, this number four Behina, is called “Olam Ein Sof,” that is, “World Without End,” and all the Worlds and souls extend from here.

Every part of creation uses exactly this form. This process, this macro-template, is also the four-letter name of God. You have seen it. There is the tip of the Yod, Yod, Key, the Vav, and the lower Hey—the HaVaYaH. When we see this name, it represents these series of forces.

All names and words in Kabbalah are like formulas in physics. They talk about relationships of Light to Kli. So, here you see that the Kabbalists have given us a map from Above downward—how we came into being. But it’s not only that. It also describes the states that a person must attain on their ascent upward. It gives us the purpose, it gives us the root, and it gives us the places along the way. And that’s what the creature does once it makes this restriction. It starts to build a system of worlds so that it can attain the Thought of Creation, but as an independent desire, and become equal to the Creator.

This is a quote from Rav Laitman:
“Man includes everything inside of him. If man does corrections, it means that accordingly the entire creation approaches the Creator. Therefore, man has to correct only himself. Man who elevates, brings up with him all of the worlds. That is why it is said that all worlds were created for man.”

Join us again next time when we will learn about the primary tool of attainment—the building of a screen, the sensor that allows us to feel the Thought of the Creator and to attain equivalence of form with Him. See you then.


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