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Fundamentals of the Science of Kabbalah

Rav LaitmanAn introduction by Rav Laitman to the study of the actual science of Kabbalah: each evolutionary stage of Creation (defined as the will to receive) from the very first stage down to our world. By studying these stages, we can understand how the material world, time, space, and motion were all formed, and how the will to receive will evolve.

The wisdom of Kabbalah has evolved over thousands of years and been disseminated among Kabbalists throughout history. The following is a brief review of key points in this process:

  • The first Kabbalist was Abraham the Patriarch (approximately 1,800 BCE). Sefer Yetzira (The Book of Creation) is ascribed to him.

  • 500 years after Abraham, Moses wrote his Book of Torah (The Pentateuch), around 1,350 BCE.

  • In the 2nd century CE Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai wrote Sefer ha Zohar (The Book of Splendor).

  • Kabbalah thrived in the 16th century Israeli town of Safed, led by the Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Luria Ashkenazi, the Ari (1534-1572). He presented his method in his books, and today the wisdom of Kabbalah is founded on the Lurianic Kabbalah (the Kabbalah of the Ari). Lurianic Kabbalah relates to Kabbalah as a science - there is no meditation, chanting, charms, amulets or magical drawings of letters.

  • Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag (1884-1954), known as Baal HaSulam (owner of the ladder) for his Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Zohar, paved the way for our generation. His writings enable all of us to connect to the ancient, authentic sources that the past giants left behind.

The Kabbalah that we study today contains the same knowledge that was passed on from Abraham through all the generations. I was privileged to spend twelve years beside Baal HaSulam’s eldest son and successor, Kabbalist Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag, and from him I received this knowledge.

The wisdom of Kabbalah is a method for discovering the hidden part of reality, that imperceptible realm of reality that our five senses cannot grasp. It develops another sense in us, one that perceives the reality that exists beyond our present perception.

Kabbalah says that the whole of reality consists of a substance called “the will to receive pleasure.” This will to receive pleasure is essentially a desire to be filled with delight, enjoyment; it is what we so often refer to as “egoism.” This will to receive operates on all levels of existence: still (inanimate), vegetative, animate, and speaking.

Although the will to receive is the substance of all reality, the desire in itself is neither matter nor atoms, which came later. Everything that was created, that exists as the basis of reality, is based on the desire to enjoy, an aspiration for pleasure. In each level of reality, this aspiration takes on different forms.

Every Kabbalist, without exception, from Abraham to the last great Kabbalist, Baal HaSulam, maintained that the entire substance of Creation consists of a desire to receive. Every Kabbalah book speaks of the same thing, and all Kabbalists are in agreement in that regard.

Kabbalists are people who attain the Upper World; they speak from tangible attainment, not from theory. The word, “attainment,” refers to the ultimate degree of understanding. Let me make things easier to understand by using some drawings.

We said that the will to receive is the basis of Creation. It is created by the expansion of the Upper Light. (In Kabbalah, the term “Light” designates giving, bestowing, love; it is referred to as “the Creator”). Thus, the Light created the will to receive that wants to be filled with the Light. Hence, the will to receive is also called Kli (vessel/receptacle), see Figure 1.

Fundamentals of the Science of Kabbalah - Figure 1
Figure 1

In other words, the desire to give creates the desire to receive, meaning the Light wants the Kli (vessel) to receive what it wants to give it.

The desire to enjoy is the beginning of matter; Kabbalah calls it “the primordial matter.” However, it is still not a complete matter because at this point, it is created entirely by the Light’s action. This process precedes the formation of any matter known to us, long before the material formation of our universe.

Since this will to receive stems from the Light’s action, it senses the Light (the pleasure) at a very minimal level. At this point the will to receive has no independent desire for the Light. To make it independent and further develop the will to receive, we must add another element: the will’s awareness of its own existence.

The Creator (Light) gives the will to receive the sensation that it exists, that there is “a Giver,” meaning something that gives it the pleasure it is experiencing. Thus, once the will to receive senses pleasure, it begins to sense the giver of the pleasure within the pleasure.

Similarly, when we receive a gift, we feel the giver’s attitude toward us beyond the gift itself. We should note that when we refer to the Creator, we actually refer to the giver. In this state of things, the created being (creature) begins to feel that there is a collision between the pleasure and the sensation of the giver of the pleasure (Figure 2). This collision stirs a reaction in the creature, making it want to be like the Creator because the Creator is higher than the pleasure itself. At this point, the will to receive evolves to the next degree.

Fundamentals of the Science of Kabbalah - Figure 2
Figure 2

The will to receive then chooses to be a giver, like the Creator (the giver). This is the first reaction of the creature, though it is still not an entirely independent choice. It is rather a reaction that stems from its sensation of the giver, which makes it a compelled reaction, derived entirely from the presence of the giver. Thus, the will to receive has no free choice in the matter.

Now the creature begins to contemplate what it can give to the Creator. The Creator gives because He is the source of the pleasure. But when the creature wants to give as well, it finds that it has nothing to give in return.

Thus, through its need to give to the Creator, the creature discovers the nature of the Creator. The creature finds the Creator’s love for it. Yet, if the Creator loves the creature and wants to please it, it follows that the Creator should want or need something. The creature realizes that the Creator’s need is His desire to delight the creature; when the creature enjoys, so does the Creator. But when the creature does not enjoy, neither does the Creator.

To realize its desire to give to the Creator as the Creator gives to the creature, the creature decides to receive the pleasure from the Creator. This process is somewhat similar to a child who eats to please its mother. In this way, even when the child receives food from its mother, it acts as a giver to its mother.

When the creature is in this state of being, we can say that it is similar to the Creator - it receives what the Creator wants to give, but only to give back to the Creator. The creature gives just as the Creator gives. However, this is not the end of the process. Now that the creature has performed a similar act to the Creator’s, it experiences an additional pleasure - the pleasure of having the status of the giver.

This pleasure creates a new desire in the creature: a desire to enjoy the status of the giver, as well as the desire that the Light first created in the creature. This new desire does not come “from Above,” and for that reason it merits the title, “a created being,” “a creature” (Figure 3).

Fundamentals of the Science of Kabbalah - Figure 3
Figure 3

The root of the Hebrew word Nivra (created being) stems from the word Bar (outside). Thus, the term “creature” or “created being” refers to something or someone outside the Creator’s will.

Once a creature is formed, it undergoes a sequence of interconnected states resulting from cause and effect. These states are referred to as “Upper Worlds.” The Upper Light and the will to receive descend through the Upper Worlds to the lowest degree, called “our world.”

At the degree of our world, we are totally controlled by the will to receive and we are completely detached from the sensation of the Upper Light, the Creator.

Once the will to receive descends to our world, it becomes independent from the Creator’s domination because only by so detaching can the purpose of Creation--to make the will to receive identical to the Creator--be realized. In Kabbalah, this identicalness is referred to as “Equivalence of Form between the creature and the Creator.”

The wisdom of Kabbalah depicts each evolutionary stage of the will to receive from the very first stage of Creation down to our world. By studying these stages, we can understand how the material world, time, space, and motion were all formed, and how the will to receive will evolve.

Our entire history is determined by the evolution of our will to receive; this can help us understand how humanity evolves. Every process in reality, with no exception, is a result of our ever-growing will to receive.

Once the spiritual structure just described materializes, the matter that forms our world is created. Our world has experienced several evolutionary eras, and today we are at a stage where we are starting to understand that spiritual evolution must begin.

Today, humanity is facing a series of crises on both social and scientific fronts. Many signs point to today’s bleak state of humankind and the global crisis it is experiencing. Drug abuse is perpetually increasing and begins at an increasingly younger age; depression is spreading like a plague, and international terrorism has become uncontrollable.

There is but one purpose to all of the above: to help humanity realize that the root of all our troubles is the intensification of our egoistic will to receive, and that we must mend it. Kabbalists wrote about the intensification of the ego ages ago, explaining that when humanity reaches this state, it will be time to disclose the wisdom of Kabbalah as a means to correct the ego.

Let’s reiterate what we have discussed thus far. There is a Creator who wishes to give. This is the Root, or Zero Phase. In order to give, He must have someone to give to, and because the Creator wants to give, He creates a Kli that receives the “gift,” meaning the Creator gives to the Kli. This is State One.

For this to occur, the receiver must first want the pleasure. If I build in you a desire for something and then give you what you want, you will not enjoy my gift because this is not your own desire. You must feel that it is your own desire before you can define it as “pleasure.” Thus, at the end of State One, the creature begins to sense the Giver and His nature.

The will to receive evolves by sensing the Giver (State One), and consequently wanting to be like the Giver (State Two). In that state it becomes worthwhile for the creature to be like the Giver (State Three). However, this is only a phase in the formation of the will to receive, and the creature is not really aware that it is receiving anything.

In fact, the creature isn’t aware of any of these observations; they are merely phases in the evolution of the crude will to receive. This crude desire must still descend, formulate, and drift far from the Creator until it stops sensing Him altogether. It must descend to the level of our world, and only then will it sense the desire in it as its own independent will (State Four). In this way, it will believe that it’s free and does not submit to the Creator’s guidance.

In this state, when an individual in our world wants to discover the Creator, the desire will seem to come first. Thus, a person will be able to give to the Creator out of free will, and this will constitute one’s form of free giving. You might say that from the perspective of the Creator it is nothing but a fantasy, and that the Creator really runs the show. Although this is true, it does not diminish the fact that from the perspective of the creature, the concealment of the Creator enables the creature to feel independent.

At the end of State Three, the creature decides to receive from the Creator in order to resemble Him. Although in State Two the creature already has a desire to give, this is still not its own desire; this is not a “Creator-like” desire, as in State Three, but a desire that stems directly from the Creator.

Let me give you an example to explain what I mean. Assume that I am serving you a piece of cake. You might say that you don’t know what this is, you have no initial craving for such a cake, but then I convince you that you really should try it because it’s a fantastic cake. In this process I give you both the desire and the satisfaction, the fulfilling of the desire.

Therefore, there is an evolution in the transition between the stages where “this thing” (the craving) suddenly “wakes up” and becomes aware of itself. It is as though it begins to converse with the Creator. This evolution results from an interior collision in the creature between the two factors - the pleasure and the Giver of the pleasure. In reality, all that exists is these two elements.

State Three also marks the awakening of a new desire in the creature: envy toward the Creator. In this respect, envy is a positive and useful element because it propels us to evolve further.

Finally, at the end of State Four, the creature feels that it is bringing pleasure to the Creator. Thus, it considers itself holding the same status as the Creator, and feels the pleasure that comes with having achieved the Creator’s status, the pleasure from giving, from being a creator.

This state of being creates in the creature a desire to enjoy that status, relish in this pleasure. Because this desire does not come to the creature directly from the Creator, but evolves as a result of its own actions, it is considered a new desire, one that we ascribe to the creature. This is what we refer to as “the desire to enjoy” (Figure 4).

Fundamentals of the Science of Kabbalah - Figure 4
Figure 4

In this last state, the creature receives pleasure from sharing the Creator’s status, and indulges in it. Thus, the creature indulges in two pleasures: the pleasure that comes from the Creator, and the pleasure that comes from sharing the Creator’s status. This state of being is called Ein Sof (No End), and refers to a state where there are no limitations on the desire.

This does not refer to distance, time or space in the physical sense. Rather, this is an observation that pertains to the nature of the desire, meaning that the desire itself is unlimited.

Upon receiving these pleasures, the creature finds once more that there is a source of the pleasure. It discovers that the Giver is the source of the pleasure, and feels itself as the receiver. This time the sensation is valid because the will to receive in this state is the creature’s own, not one that came to it from the Creator.

Consequently, the creature feels that it wants to escape its own desire. It shuns it, and does not want to belong to its own desire any longer. The rejection that it feels toward its own desire induces it to “restrict” it (avoid using it). The desire is still there, but now the creature refrains from using it. Hence, the sensation of fulfillment - the pleasure - ceases.

Having remained with a craving, the creature resolves to reach the status of the Creator, the only status that the creature now wishes to have - that of the Giver. It senses that it must give to the Creator without receiving any reward for itself. From this point onward, all its actions will be aimed solely to attain this goal.

To reach this objective, the creature executes a complex series of operations: It builds a chain of concealments (coverings) on the Upper Light, called “worlds” (the Hebrew word for “world” is Olam, which stems from the word Haalama, concealment). At the bottom of the chain of worlds stands “this world.” Because the process that created the creature was comprised of five parts, the lessening of the Upper Light occurs through five degrees of concealment, five worlds whose names are Adam Kadmon, Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya.

In the process of constructing these worlds, the creature builds a surrounding environment for itself. In the world Atzilut, the will to receive is split in two: an inner part - soul--and an outer part - environment (surroundings), in which the soul operates. This stage still does not pertain to our world.

As a result of later events, the soul and its environment will experience a process of shattering, and consequently decline several degrees down to the degree of “this world.” Only now begins the formulation of the matter that makes up our world.

From this stage onwards, from the broken will to receive, begins the historic evolution of the material world we are familiar with. Once the universe has been created, the still (inanimate), vegetative, and the animate degrees are made, and following them, the speaking (human) degree is formed (Figure 5).

Fundamentals of the Science of Kabbalah - Figure 5
Figure 5

At its preliminary evolutionary stage, humanity has physical desires for sustenance, reproduction, and family. The body always has these elementary needs to sustain itself; we would need them even if we lived alone on an island.

The second stage in our evolution features a growing desire for wealth, followed by a desire for power and respect. These drives for wealth, power, and respect are considered “social desires,” thus called for two reasons:

A) We absorb these desires from our social environment. Had we lived alone, we would not want them.

B) These desires can only be realized within a social framework.

The final evolutionary stage is the craving for knowledge and erudition. We want more and more knowledge, and want to know and research everything--hence the evolution of science.

Today, as we are nearing the conclusion of this evolution, which has taken us thousands of years, we are beginning to realize that it really did not yield anything. We find ourselves in a unique situation: we want to be filled with pleasures, but can’t find around us any sources of true pleasure. Additionally, we cannot accurately define what it is we want. Thus, we find ourselves perplexed and disoriented, like lost children, not knowing which way to turn. Although we want something, we don’t know what it is or where to find it.

We assign the word, “heart,” to the sum of desires that have evolved in us through our life cycles: physical desires, social desires, and the desire for knowledge. Opposite these desires stands “the point in the heart,” a “speck” of a new desire that evolves above all other desires. In fact, the point in the heart is the awakening desire to know the Upper Force, and it is the awakening of this desire that brings one to the wisdom of Kabbalah as a means to realize this desire.

The awakening of the point in the heart brings confusion, a by-product of this point’s origins in the Upper World. The laws of the Upper World pertain to a reality where time, space, and motion do not apply.

Naturally, our brains are arranged so that we always think in terms of time, space, and motion. But in this new stage, we begin to feel that what determines everything is how we personally sense reality, and that reality in and of itself is unchanging.

Thus, we gradually come to sense that reality is static and that time, space, and motion don’t really exist at all. We begin to realize that all our past experiences happened only within our sensations, that everything depends on how much we have cultivated our abilities to sense.

We need time to adjust to the concept that nothing changes except the measure by which we open our “tools of sensation.” When we have done that, we will begin to sense the world we live in very naturally, simply, without any limitations, preconceptions, rules, oppression, coercion, or exterior pressures.

The point in the heart is the beginning of the desire for spirituality. Today, relatively few people are at this stage, but their numbers are increasing all the time. Eventually, every human being must come to the point where a craving for the Creator is uppermost, a point initiated by the above-mentioned envy, meaning the inherent need in every creature to reach the status of the Creator.

We must understand that when we said that the Creator is good, we meant that the Creator created us with the intention of bringing us to the best possible state of being, i.e. the Creator’s own state. Hence, this is the state to which we must be brought. Any lesser state than this one will therefore not be considered adequate. It follows that the purpose of Creation is to allow us to reach the status of the Creator (see Figure 6).

In order to reach the level of the Creator, however, we must come to feel that our desire is totally opposite that of the Creator, that the Creator wants only to give, and that we want only to receive. This is the emptiness and darkness of the Kli (vessel) as opposed to the Light. Acknowledging this oppositeness builds us as creatures. For us to know the Creator, we must first know the opposite state from his, the “anti-Creator,” a state of unbearable torments that poses a big question mark about our ability to endure these torments.

It is fair to say that we haven’t yet begun the process of knowing the anti-Creator. To feel our complete oppositeness from the Creator, we will have to emotionally decline to much lower degrees. The wisdom of Kabbalah is surfacing now because it is impossible to experience these states physically, and Kabbalah is a means of easing our way through the states of oppositeness from the Creator, to experience them in our consciousness and our minds, not in our bodies.

We can compare this process to a person in pain. That person can either wait until the pain becomes intolerable and then turn to a physician, or turn to the doctor as soon as the pain appears. In the latter case, early diagnosis of the problem will spare one the suffering that comes with the actual breakout of the disease. In other words, a clever person takes medication as soon as symptoms of an illness appear, thus preventing its onset.

By so doing, one can evolve consciously, through reasoning, and thus the Kli (creature) learns to become aware of its oppositeness from the Light. The wisdom of Kabbalah is a method that helps us evolve through knowledge instead of through pain, and it is appearing today to allow humankind to acknowledge the evil that lies in egoism before it fully manifests itself, inflicting horrendous ruin in all aspects of life.

Hence, the wisdom of Kabbalah as the means to achieve both our evolution and the purpose of Creation should reach all of humanity. The more people engage in Kabbalah, and the more we circulate it throughout the world, the better off we will all be. Baal HaSulam writes about it very clearly in his Introduction to the Book of Zohar.

The first researcher to ask about the universe and the forces that conduct humanity was Abraham. He was one of many people who lived in Mesopotamia (ancient Persia), and in those days there was no division into nations. He discovered the method by which we can know the reality beyond our ordinary perception, and described his research and discoveries in his Sefer Yetzira (Book of Creation).

Abraham began to gather students and teach them the wisdom of Kabbalah. In time, this group of Kabbalists became a nation. Many years later, after the ruin of the First and Second Temples, this group of Kabbalists lost its perception of the Upper Reality; they fell from their degree of spiritual consciousness and were able only to perceive their physical reality.

This was actually a gradual process. Some lost their spiritual perception with the ruin of the First Temple, and the rest lost it with the ruin of the Second Temple. Rabbi Akiva was the last great Kabbalist to attain the degree of the spiritual law, “Love thy friend as thyself.” The intensification of egoism induced unfounded hatred, and only religion remained for people, instead of the wisdom of Kabbalah.

Yet, despite the decline, a select few remained Kabbalists, and they passed the wisdom on from generation to generation until a time when all of humanity would need it. Today, we must rekindle the ancient science, revive the study of Kabbalah, discover the Upper Reality through it, and pass it on to all humanity.

It is important to note, however, that Kabbalah has nothing to do with religion, and does not imply that we need perform any physical actions. As we have mentioned previously, Kabbalah speaks only about desires and intentions with respect to the Creator.

This might lead us to conclude that, since the solution to our future challenges lies in the dissemination of Kabbalah to all humanity, we might have to convert everyone into Kabbalists. In truth, we don’t have to.

Humanity is built like a pyramid. As in any other field of human engagement, ninety-nine percent of the world population is passive. They do not research or develop, but simply rely on the fruits of scientific discoveries.

Therefore, we should turn to those who are disturbed by the fate of our world and the future of humanity. We do not expect billions of people to study Kabbalah, but if we can use science to present humanity with the picture of reality, it will compel everything to change, as we are all parts of a single structure.

As we have said above, the Kli (vessel/creature) that the Creator created became a soul in the world Atzilut. This is the collective, or general soul, called Adam ha Rishon (The First Man). In the beginning, all its parts were bonded in wondrous harmony, and it was filled with the Upper Light. In that state, the sum of the parts created perfection. Later on, the soul experienced a process of shattering and fell to a degree called “below the barrier,” where the spiritual sensation ends. The pieces of the single soul continue to exist below the barrier, but feel detached from one another (Figure 6).

Fundamentals of the Science of Kabbalah - Figure 6
Figure 6

To clarify these words we can say that they remain in “the same place” as they were before, but another sensation is added to them. This is the sensation that they exist within themselves. In spirituality there are no places and the changes are merely in the quality of their perception and their sensations. Thus, each of the parts now lives within itself and senses nothing but itself.

Such a state of being is called “this world,” which is the situation we are in today. The Upper Force is operating on us (the detached parts) to bring us back to the corrected state, and this will be the realization of the purpose of Creation.

Actually, the Upper Force “threw” us down to this world to acknowledge how different we are from It. We must come to want to rise back from this lowest point to the correct state of existence, where we are all connected. The gap between human nature and the Creator’s nature is evident through millennia of sufferings, a complete process of descent and ascent designed to enable us to see how hateful we are to one another. In other words, every person’s egoism must be exposed, and only then will we realize why we must willingly reconnect with one another.

We must understand the problem that arises when we want to satisfy a desire. For example, when a hungry person sits in a restaurant and waits for a meal, the minute the meal is served and the person begins to eat, the appetite begins to decrease. The more that person eats, the less hungry the person becomes, and with the lack of hunger, pleasure diminishes. Even if much of the food is left on the table, and even if the food is delicious, without a desire (appetite) for it, the pleasure ceases.

This scenario repeats itself in the fulfillment of every desire. If a desire appears in us, we are motivated to satisfy it. We strain and exert to fulfill our craving, but once we have achieved our desire, it vanishes. It might take a few minutes, a few hours or a few weeks, but sooner or later (mostly sooner) the fulfillment fades away. Thus, the same pleasure that satisfies the desire also eliminates it.

Moreover, obtaining one pleasure builds a desire that is twice as strong as before. Kabbalists have said that “One who has one hundred wants two hundred,” one who has two hundred wants four hundred, and so on and so forth. As a consequence, when we obtain a certain pleasure, we remain twice as empty as before. If we could only find a way to always be filled with pleasures, we would be feeling eternal life.

There is one way to do this: to separate the “sensing unit” into two parts. One part will receive the pleasure, and the other part will sense it. In other words, if there were someone else to whom the pleasure would flow through me, my pleasure would not be quenched. If there were another person in the process of my receiving pleasure, the sensing unit would be split in two.

In such a case, I could separate the receiver of the pleasure from the one who feels it. The receiver would be another person, and the one who senses the pleasure would be me. In so doing, the sensing of the pleasure can become unending and yield a sensation of eternal living.

We can compare the above situation to a mother and her child. The mother enjoys her child’s pleasure and can therefore give without restraint and delight in it. If I could love someone in such a way that pleasing him or her would feel like my own pleasure, my delight would be unlimited. In order to recognize that principle, our souls had to break and come down to this world.

When the point in the heart - a genuine desire to reawaken the sensation of the spiritual world - awakens in people, they come to the wisdom of Kabbalah. The study of the wisdom of Kabbalah is the study of our true state: the pre-shattering state. This is the only state that exists. Even now we are in it, though we are unaware of it. By wanting to come out of the dark state we are in and awaken to feel our real existence, we draw to ourselves the effect of the Light within that state.

Our efforts to unlock our tools of sensation and to perceive our actual state of being, develop new vessels in us. Thus we begin to feel how we are all connected as parts of a single system.

There is endless Light and fulfillment flowing continually through each part of the system. The reason for all the suffering and troubles the world is experiencing today is to force humanity to return to its true, perfect state, called Gmar Tikkun (“The End of Correction”).

Returning to the natural, perfect state is a process that the Creator has predetermined from beginning to end. Each phase is dictated from top to bottom. In each of us is a spiritual gene in which all our past, present, and future states are imprinted. The soul must move up the same route and stages from which it had fallen from Above. However, the way back depends on the extent to which we recognize that our egoistic state is bad, and our understanding that being closer to the Creator is the preferable state to experience.

Thus, the predetermined stages built in the spiritual gene evolve through the Light, namely through the Upper Force, and lead us from state to state. If we realize that it is in our interest to ascend and “invite” the Surrounding Light to work on us, we will accelerate our evolution and come to feel true spirituality. Hence, our freedom of choice lies only in accelerating the process.

The term “Surrounding Light” describes the Force that attracts us toward the attribute of bestowal. It draws us to the corrected state, which is the attribute of the Creator. All our future states exist within each and every one of us, even though we do not sense them. The projection of our altruistic, corrected state on our egoistic state awakens the attribute of bestowal in us.

Our corrected state is called Gmar Tikkun (“The End of Correction”). At Gmar Tikkun, every soul is filled with boundless pleasures and a complete equivalence of Form with the Creator. In our present state, the Light that fills our souls at Gmar Tikkun shines in the form of Surrounding Light; its power is determined by the intensity of our desire to acquire the attribute of bestowal.

The Light is the power of bestowal, the power of giving. If a person wants to reach the attribute of bestowal, that person must make the force of bestowal - the light that fills one when he or she is corrected - project upon one’s present state. The Surrounding Light corrects us and brings us back to the quality of bestowal. It is like a decent person who has gone astray and now reawakens to return to decency.

In fact, in order to cross the barrier that separates the corporeal world from the spiritual world, we must change our intention from relating to each other hatefully to relating to each other with love. The same rules apply to all parts of Creation, from the lowest element of reality to the highest. It all depends on the perspective of the observer who discovers the rules.

However, until a science is mathematically established, it cannot be considered a science. For example, quantum physics relates to a reality confined by time and space. But what we are talking about here is beyond time and space.

Hence, as long as quantum physics is not extended to include dimensions beyond time and space, it might be difficult for conventional science to proceed with the research. For this reason, it is important to find a tangential point, a connection between quantum physics and Kabbalah, for Kabbalah takes the research of reality to a place where physics cannot reach.

In other words, to progress to a higher level we must expand contemporary science to include consciousness, and this is a big step.

At this point, it might be beneficial to describe how Kabbalah relates to our perception of reality. We perceive reality through our five senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. However, all we really feel is our own reaction to whatever exists outside of us, with no perception of the actual, objective reality.

For example, a wave reaches my ear, which it interprets as sound. I know it because of the reaction of my ear’s membrane to the wave that presses it. In truth, all I am measuring is my own reaction; I do not feel the wave itself. I perceive a range of sounds according to the changes in my hearing abilities and the health of my hearing mechanism. However, I have no idea what is actually happening outside of me. All our tools of perception and our senses work similarly.

We can say that we are closed in a box, and all that we measure is our interior impressions, creating in us a sensation that reality outside us changes. We cannot know if anything at all changes; we cannot even know if anything really exists outside of us. We simply have no means to come out of ourselves and test it.

Prof. Tiller mentioned Tor Norretranders, the renowned Danish researcher who published a book entitled The User Illusion.1 Norretranders notes an intriguing point regarding the functionality of the unconscious and what it contains. It appears that the five senses perceive fifty million bits of information per second, gathered as streams of information in the consciousness. The subconscious processes the information mathematically, but it only processes a tiny fragment of the information - some fifty bits of information per second.

Evidently, there is a huge gap between the received fifty million bits of information and the processed fifty bits. The important element to note is that the subconscious sends to the brain only the information that the brain determined in advance would be meaningful. The rest of the information is dismissed by the subconscious. These findings appear to corroborate the Kabbalah perspective with regard to the will to receive.

It is still unknown whether cutting-edge science and prominent researchers realize that the evolution of research depends on our changing our own interiors--the interior of the researcher. At the end of the day, we are studying ourselves; our ability to progress in research depends on the extent to which we change ourselves.

In the film What the Bleep Do We Know? and in similar publications of popular science, we can find claims that there are infinite possibilities around us. The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that all that exists around us is the Upper Light in a state of complete stillness, and all the changes and the endless possibilities are inside us. All that we see is the reflection of ourselves in the fixed, unchanging Light.

I regard the concept that to progress in research we must change ourselves as the next perception that the world will come to understand. It is a process that began with Newton, continued with Einstein, and continued with Quantum Physics. Now it is time for the next phase. Research will eventually discover that nothing changes except our inner tools, something that Kabbalists have discovered thousands of years ago. Today, a growing number of researchers and thinkers are anticipating that science will reach that view.


1 The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size (Penguin Press Science S. 1991).



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ruleNever, if possible, lie down at night without being able to say: I have made one human being, at least, a little wiser, a little happier, or a little better this day.” -- Charles Kingsley

Keywords: kabbalah, what is kabbalah, introduction to kabbalah, kabbalist

Rav Michael Laitman is a Kabbalist, Founder and President of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute. Bnei Baruch is a non-profit organization that is spreading the wisdom of Kabbalah to accelerate the spirituality of humankind.

Dr. Laitman received his PhD In philosophy and Kabbalah from the Moscow Institute of Philosophy at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and his MSc in Medical Cybernetics from the St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, in the faculty of Biological Medical Cybernetics.

In addition to being a scientist and a researcher, Dr. Laitman has been extensively engaged in Kabbalah for the past thirty years. He has published thirty books on Kabbalah and numerous publications on Kabbalah and Science. For more information
Kabbalah, Science and the Meaning of Life
Kabbalah, Science and the Meaning of Life
by Rav Michael Laitman, PhD

Kabbalah, Science and the Meaning of Life traces the milestones of the evolution of science with which we are familiar, such as Newton's and Einstein's theories but goes further to present the science of Kabbalah as the basis for understanding the hidden parts of reality which scientists are now discovering.

While other sciences research the definable world around us, Kabbalah teaches us how the spontaneous changes occurring within us affect our surrounding reality. The wisdom of Kabbalah enables us to monitor those changes and control them, and in so doing change our world for the better.
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