Exploring the boundary between science and spirituality
Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, the scientist from the movie What
the Bleep Do We Know!? and author of five books including The Quantum
Brain: The Search for Freedom and the Next Generation of Man, met with
foremost Kabbalist, teacher and founder of Kabbalah International, Michael Laitman, PhD to discuss science,
spirituality, and the boundary between them.
Dr. Satinover, who represents the perspective of
quantum physics, opened the discussion by disagreeing with the link made
between quantum theory and spirituality in What the Bleep Do We Know!?
He immediately drew a line between the two worlds - physical and
spiritual - saying that while modern quantum theory invites one to
spiritual questioning, it cannot say anything about the spiritual realm.
The film encourages people to focus on one of life's
fundamental questions: "What is reality?" It also stimulates people
to think beyond a commonly accepted scientific worldview; one that treats
everything in our world as coming from, in Satinover's words, "a dead,
mechanical object." In other words, it is a worldview that considers
every living thing to be unfeelingly machine-driven, as if under the control of
We have depended on this outlook to bring us nearly all of
our technological and medical advances. Materially, it has brought us nearly
everything we rely on in our modern existence. Spiritually, however, it only
allows us to imagine some lifeless material-generating machines.
beyond the mechanistic worldview
Satinover believes that this has contributed to a
common human longing to understand the nature of reality differently. Moreover,
this longing, mixed with the tenets of science, can demonstrate to us that
there is something to life beyond the mechanistic worldview.
Here, Satinover disagrees with the movie's claim
that quantum theory is the border-crossing science that unites scientific
and spiritual perspectives.
In his viewpoint, quantum theory shows that there
is something working beyond mere mechanism, outside the physical world.
Furthermore, it is inherent in quantum physics that this "something
else," as Satinover emphasized, "cannot be described at all,"
and it also cannot present us scientifically analyzable characteristics.
This is why Satinover calls quantum physics
"a boundary science." It brings us to a boundary where, on the
one hand, the material world reveals that there is something beyond it that is
not just some dead machine; and on the other hand, quantum theory says that you
cannot use scientific methods to decipher what that "something else"
boundary of our own perception
Satinover's talk embodied a man's quest for
freedom. Where we humans have freed ourselves from so many boundaries
throughout our history, we now seek to free ourselves from a boundary that is
inside us - the boundary of our own perception.
At the end of Satinover's talk, this is all we
were left with - our perception. Although quantum theory indicates that
there is something beyond the physical world, it objects to a scientific
investigation into that "something." Satinover concluded that quantum
theory leaves it entirely up to us to make that judgment about what that "something"
Therefore, with regard to spiritual conclusions,
quantum theory (as Satinover presented it) fails, since it lacks analytical
approach to this "something." Quantum theory ends in one's
perception, which, as Dr. Laitman went on to clarify, is the place where a
Kabbalah student begins.
Laitman talks about Kabbalah
Dr. Laitman centered his talk on human
perception. Put aside our theories, discoveries and technologies, and you are
left with a person, an individual, who perceives reality through five senses.
One can only perceive as far as the senses allow.
Although we have expanded the range of our senses with instruments such as
microscopes and telescopes, we still feel that something is hidden from us.
Whether it is science that brings us to this conclusion, as Satinover
discussed, or whether it is just one's own life; we (for the most part) feel
that there is something more that is hidden, and whatever it is, its appeal is
growing in our time.
Laitman cited the renowned Kabbalistic text The
Zohar as stating that, from the end of the twentieth century onward, the
desire to know the forces imperceptible to our five senses will evolve and
"the world will begin to feel that the knowledge in the wisdom of Kabbalah
is necessary for its very existence."
the wisdom of Kabbalah compare to other teachings?
The main difference, Laitman stated, is that
while all of our teachings evolve naturally, through our five senses, Kabbalah
nurtures a sixth sense. The desire to know what is hidden from the five senses
is like the nucleus of the sixth sense, what Laitman defines as "a point
in the heart." The wisdom of Kabbalah develops this desire into a sense
that can perceive an additional reality that our five senses cannot.
Laitman made the point that this is why Kabbalah
is called "the wisdom of the hidden": it discloses the part of
reality that is hidden from our five senses. In such a state, one engages in a
new reality, experiencing existence outside one's own body, beyond the range of
our five senses, and ascends in levels of perception that Laitman called
One who attains the sixth sense, according to
Laitman, perceives and researches different worlds - upper, spiritual worlds
which complement one another. They become a reality for that person. One
is said to lose sensation of time, space, and motion as he or she feels an
endless stream of life, independent of the five senses. Since a Kabbalist
acquires a different sensation outside the five senses, he or she lives with a
different approach to life and to reality.
This view of spirituality that Laitman discussed
blended two age-old disparate approaches to reality: the scientific, which
relies on research to bring observable, veritable results; and the religious,
which relies on the revelation of one or many individuals, and following
interpretations of those revelations. The Kabbalistic method of attaining a
sixth sense promises revelation through research where the subject of research
is one's own perception.
Satinover's and Laitman's discussions came into
contact on the point of everything boiling down to our perception. They also
agreed on a spiritual reality existing beyond a certain boundary. Whilst
Satinover described quantum theory's inability to analyze beyond this boundary,
Laitman first described the boundary - the five senses - then introduced
Kabbalah as the area of research which delves into this hidden arena. Quantum
theory expresses something of a limit of enquiry in the five senses, while
Kabbalah doesn't deal with the five senses at all, offering instead a method to
develop the sixth sense.
So at the end of the discussions, Satinover and
Laitman left us with two choices regarding spirituality: either make up your
own mind about what it is, or develop another sense and research it.
Michael Laitman's Theory for Altruistic Evolution
The December 2005 World Peace
Lectures, aired live as part of the daily Revealing the Upper World television
and internet broadcasts, featured Dr. Michael Laitman discussing problems
humanity faces, and what steps are needed to solve them.
In the December 2005 World Peace Lectures, one of
the principal discussions was about interconnectedness. How should we relate to
each other and to the world in our ever-integrating global-technological
Dr. Laitman mentioned one of humanity's major
problems as being that we have connected the world through global technologies,
economies, and all kinds of common systems, but our inner, mental development
has not yet reached this level of technological integration.
Primarily, Laitman was saying that technological
development in and of itself is not the problem, but that the problem lies only
in its applications; in the intention with which we use the world.
In other words, the technological systems we've
built are interconnected, but its operators, us, are not connected, and we
therefore use these systems contrary to their setup.
The solution to this problem looks very simple in
theory: to connect in one common intention toward the world and begin to
cooperate. But when we look at the continual subdivision of ideas and
worldviews, connecting in a common intention seems like some unrealistic
concept beyond our reach.
The need to change our intention and attitude to the
Laitman has two things to say about this: One, that
the only aspect of the world needing correction is the person's intention
toward it; and two, if we don't correct our attitude to the world, we will
experience more and more suffering until we realize that we have to correct it.
This means that while our attitude to the world
remains corrupted, as Laitman puts it, globalization will continue working
against us, and we, and our future generations, will therefore experience
We are faced with opposite extremes: On the one
hand, we build globally integrated systems, discovering how we are all
connected on a technological, superficial level; and on the other hand, we find
how the whole world except us is connected.
What causes these opposite extremes?
In Laitman's words, there is an inbuilt
"corruption in our senses" that we are gradually growing aware of,
and which we will have to correct. This "corruption in our senses" is
an innate quality designed to limit our perception, hiding nature's complete
picture from us. The concealment prevents us from seeing that "all of
nature besides the human being is altruistic." In other words, it
hides nature's intention toward us. Consequently, we cannot see nature's
ultimate aim with respect to us.
The 'Egoistic Systems'
Behind our five senses there are what Laitman terms
"egoistic systems." These operate contrary to altruistic systems,
imperceptible to our five senses. Laitman describes it as "the general law
To correct our intention toward the world, Laitman
puts forth that we will have to change our inner structure - the egoistic
system - so that it is merged with nature, the altruistic system.
Until now, humanity has been trying to change
external structures, systems outside of the person, to attain peace and
Now, says Laitman, it is time to start changing the
inner system - our attitude to the world, to nature - and use these external
If the inner system remains as it is, we will be
faced with a growing imbalance between two systems - technological and mental -
one atop the other. Neither system can sustain itself in such a state.
Improving our awareness to improve the world
In our egoistic state, lacking perception of
nature's altruistic mode of operation, our main problem is that we are unaware
of our inequality with nature and the harm it causes.
Once we realize that we need to change ourselves to
equalize with the altruistic system - and this is where Laitman's
conclusions reached into something of a spiritual nature - we develop a
sensation for a different dimension of existence.
Laitman supports this statement by saying that, if
it had already been revealed to us that we are egoists and that everything
outside our sensation is altruistic, we would then be no different to animals;
merged with nature, keeping nature's laws without any freedom of will.
The difference between human beings and animals,
according to Laitman, is that we are given a will to transcend nature, which we
come to recognize by seeing our opposition to it.
In other words, the more we evolve, the more our
egoism increases; when we want more, we suffer more. Couple this suffering with
the recognition caused by our innate nature, and we humans are given a place
for free choice: We can voluntarily welcome ourselves into the laws of
nature - something animals have no option of doing.
By realizing our opposition to nature's laws, and
working toward them, Laitman concluded that this will bring unprecedented
collective spiritual consciousness in our earthly existence:
"If nature's laws were disclosed, we would be
like animals. But since these laws are hidden, it enables us to reach the
spiritual degrees. For the time being, we are neither one nor the other. We are
more afflicted than animals, we suffer more than animals can ever suffer, and
it is because we haven't reached the spiritual level."
Laitman spoke of a next phase of discovery in the
same way we have discovered imperceptible forces throughout history, each time
revealing them to be more powerful (for example, electricity, X-rays, atomic
power, nuclear power). Through inner change aimed at matching nature in its
altruistic mode of operation, we can reveal an even mightier force - altruism.
The spiritual altruistic force
Thus, Laitman's word on world peace is that by
changing our egoistic sensation of the world into an altruistic one, we can
reveal the force that will make world peace a reality: the spiritual altruistic
In addition, Laitman envisions that an altruistic
sensation of the world will open us up to a whole new dimension of existence.
Where pains intensify from our trying to change the external world to suit
ourselves, Laitman talks about another place for us to apply our efforts: to
change ourselves to match the external world. All it takes is an inversion of
the focus of our work.
One Man's Search for Meaning in Life
by Ed Stedman
The desire to find
meaning in life, or what Kabbalists call "the desire for
spirituality," is the final stage of desire emerging in humanity today.
Kabbalah now comes to us in order to provide a method for fulfilling this
Three years ago I was riding a subway train in Toronto when a short
announcement in the newspaper caught my eye. There was to be an introductory
Kabbalah lecture at my local library and although I was totally unfamiliar with
Kabbalah, I somehow felt that it was an ancient wisdom that might have
something to offer me.
This initial lecture by Tony Kosinec (lecturer for the ARI
Online Kabbalah Education Center
and spokesperson for Bnei Baruch
USA) was a mixture of technical diagrams and an assertion that there was some
sort of potential power in a unified group of students. I felt compelled to
check out this assertion.
That was three years ago and my life has now changed so radically that it seems
like another lifetime. What have I learned in three years?
Most people believe that the troubles that we experience in our lives come
in a random manner of good or bad luck. If they get sick or lose their job then
the tendency is to say "Well that's life, what to do?"
Kabbalists will tell you otherwise - that there is nothing random about any of
life's events: every single thing, good and bad, is sent to us purposefully in
order to prompt us to eventually question the purpose of our lives and to try
to get to know the upper power that is orchestrating our world.
Just as we organize all aspects of our schools in order to maximize the
learning progress of our children, so this upper power organizes all things within
our world to hasten our progress through the stages that will culminate in an
enlightened state of "loving our neighbors as ourselves."
We can refer to the upper power as Nature, the Creator, God or whatever suits
us. Kabbalists explain that we can never know the essence of this upper power
but can only understand its qualities by the way it treats us.
Kabbalists say that Nature acts towards us in absolute goodness, kindness and
benevolence. Moreover, Kabbalists don't just say this, but speak from their
attainment of Nature's laws, where these qualities exist on a completely
different level of perception to ours. Kabbalists give us their method of
attaining Nature's laws, inviting us to reach the same perception as them.
Through undertaking the method, we eventually come to understand that Nature
is uniformly benevolent to every single one of us. Therefore, all the painful
events that are inflicted on us are actually intended only to help us to an
eventual transition from our inborn selfish egoism to the altruistic qualities
of Nature itself.
I accepted this new framework for our world very readily and thankfully. Is it
not infinitely better to live in a totally purposeful world rather than one
based on random chance? I realize that the reason that I accepted this new
order so readily is that for years I had been desperately seeking to find more
purpose to life.
In Kabbalah it is understood that we all progress through different stages of
desire. A person begins with seeking the ordinary necessities of food and
shelter. When one feels that one needs more than this, then this person may
progress to a desire for money. When money is no longer sufficient, so may
begin the search for fame or status, and if one needs more than this, then one
searches through all kinds of higher forms of pleasure: art, music, philosophy,
sciences, and so on, which characterize the next stage of desire, the desire
for knowledge. The desire to find meaning in life, or what Kabbalists call
"the desire for spirituality," appears in the final stage.
The fact that I am in this last stage does not mean that I am better or smarter
than others. Is a child in the fourth grade smarter than a child in the first
grade? No, he is just older. In fact, the younger child may be a lot smarter
than the older one.
However, we see that many people do not appear to progress through these desire
stages but remain in one of the earlier stages. This introduces another major
revelation from Kabbalists - reincarnation.
Advanced Kabbalists tell us that the desires that define the "I" are
actually part of a higher spiritual world, disconnected from this world we see
and know. Thus, these desires survive physical death. It is these desires that
allow us to be reincarnated over and over again.
We reincarnate until we pass through all our stages and reach a final
enlightened form. Every single one of us has to pass through a program of
millions of developmental stages in a prescribed sequence.
This is similar to the developmental stages that we see our children go
through. It is a mistake to think that a child can go straight to the walking
stage and bypass the crawling stage or go directly from grade one to grade
three. Every stage introduces something that is needed for the final product.
This concept of stages has helped me to "love my neighbor" more
truly. For instance if I see somebody acting in an antisocial or disagreeable
manner then I can find tolerance or compassion by remembering that they are
just passing through a phase that every one of us will have to pass through.
Kabbalists tell us that spirituality is attained gradually in 125 discrete
stages. Where am I? I am still struggling to reach the first stage! Three years
ago I felt that I was getting old and my life was drawing to a close but my new
perspective is that I am just at the embryo stage with a very long path ahead