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From Chaos to Harmony

From Chaos to Harmony

Rav Michael Laitman, PhD


It is hardly a secret that humanity is in a deep crisis. Many of us already feel it. Sensations of meaninglessness, frustration, and emptiness engulf our lives. Family crises, a troubled educational system, drug abuse, personal insecurities, and fear of nuclear war and ecological threats, all cloud our happiness. It seems we have lost control of our lives and are unable to head off problems as they unfold.

It is common knowledge that correctly diagnosing an illness is half its cure. Hence, to resolve our problems, we first need to understand their causes. The safest place to start is by understanding human nature and the nature of the world. If we understand our own nature and the laws affecting us, we will know where we are erring and what we must do to end the predicament we’re in.

When we observe our surrounding Nature, we discover that the inanimate, vegetative, and animate levels of Nature are all driven by inherent instincts. These actions are not considered good or bad; they simply follow the rules imbued within them, in harmony with Nature and with each other.

However, if we observe man’s nature, we will find that it is essentially different from the rest of Nature. Man is the only creature that can take pleasure in exploiting others and in seeking sovereignty over another. Only man receives pleasure from being unique, apart from, and superior to others. Thus, man’s egoism breaches Nature’s balance.

The desire to receive pleasure evolved in us over time, following the growth of human desires. Its first manifestation was in simple desires, such as wanting to eat, to reproduce, and to experience family. The appearance of more advanced desires, such as craving wealth, honor, sovereignty, and knowledge, prompted the evolution of human society and its social structures: education, culture, science, and technology. Humanity marched proudly forward, believing that progress and economic growth would satisfy us and make us happier. Alas, today we are beginning to realize that this protracted “evolution” has reached a standstill.

The reason for this is that our desire to receive pleasure cannot remain satisfied for long. We’ve all, at least once, wanted something very badly, sometimes for years. But once we received what we wanted, the pleasure faded shortly afterward, the emptiness returned and we found ourselves chasing new goals, hoping they would give us satisfaction. This process occurs on both the individual level and on the level of all humanity.

Now that we have accumulated experience for thousands of years, we realize that we don’t know how to reach sustainable happiness, or even basic inner security. We are bewildered. This phenomenon is at the basis of the crises and the challenges that plague us.

Moreover, the natural, egoistic human predilection to seek self-centered pleasures at the expense of others has intensified over time. Today, people are trying to build their successes on the ruin of others. Intolerance, alienation, and hatred have reached new and terrifying heights, jeopardizing the very existence of the human species.

When we observe Nature, we see that all living creatures are built to follow the principle of altruism, or caring for others. This is a fundamentally different principle from the one that motivates humans.

Cells in organisms unite by reciprocal giving for the sake of sustaining the whole body. Each cell in the body receives what it needs for its sustenance, and spends the rest of its energy tending to the rest of the body. At every level of Nature, the individual works to benefit the whole of which it is part, and in that finds its wholeness. Without altruistic activities, a body cannot persist. In fact, life itself cannot persist.

Today, after researching many different fields, science is arriving at the conclusion that humanity, too, is actually one whole body. The problem is, we human beings are still unaware of it. We must wake up and understand that the problems that cloud our present lives are not coincidental; they cannot be resolved by any means that we know from the past. They will not stop, but will worsen until we change direction and begin to function in accord with the comprehensive law of Nature—the law of altruism.

Every negative phenomenon in our lives, from the most specific to the most general, stems from disobeying Nature’s law. If we jump off a high place and are harmed, we know we acted against the law of gravity. Thus, today we must stop and examine ourselves to see where we are not following Nature’s law. We must find the right way of life. It all depends on our awareness: the better we understand Nature’s system, the less suffering we will experience, and the faster we will evolve.

At the animate level, altruism is the law of existence. But at the human level, we ourselves must build this kind of relationship. Nature has left it for us so that we can elevate ourselves to a new and exalted level of existence. This is the essential difference between man and all other creatures.

In this book, we will discuss how to implement altruistic relationships, since it is no small task to change human Nature. We were created as egoists, and we cannot go directly against our ego, as it is our Nature. So the “trick” is to find a method that can make each of us egoistically want to change our attitude to others, to bond to one another as parts of a single body.

It is not by chance that Nature created us as social beings. If we look deep into our behavior, we will find that every action we take is intended to bring us society’s appreciation. This is what sustains us, and its absence or, worse, the denunciation of society, causes us the greatest suffering.

Being shamed is the most terrible thing a person can experience. This is why we tend to abide by the values that society places before us. Thus, if we succeed in changing the values of the environment we live in, bringing altruistic values such as caring for others, sharing, and bonding to the top of the ladder, we can then change our attitudes toward others.

When society values a person solely by his or her devotion to society, we will all necessarily strive to think and to act in favor of society. If we eliminate the awards we give for individual excellence, and appreciate people only for their concern for society, if children judge their parents by these standards, if friends, relatives, and colleagues examine us only according to how well we relate to others, we will all want to do good to others so we can win society’s appreciation.

Thus, we will gradually come to feel that expressing altruism, or unselfishness, toward others is a special and sublime value in and of itself, regardless of the social recognition it grants. In doing so, we will find that this attitude is actually a source of perfect and unbounded pleasure.

Even though today’s society is egoistic, it is quite prepared to advance toward following Nature’s law of altruism. Education and culture have always been established on altruistic principles. In our homes and at school, we teach our children to be compassionate, kind, friendly. We want our children to be nice to others, and we feel that such an attitude toward others is the proper way, and that it protects those who follow it. Hardly anyone would declare opposition to these values.

Additionally, thanks to the progress in communication, today we can transmit new messages and values to society very quickly throughout the world. This is a crucial factor in increasing the awareness of humankind’s escalating crisis and the need for a comprehensive resolution.

Although our current problems may be prompting us to change, there is more to it than that. When we build a correct attitude toward society, we are gradually admitted into a whole new level of existence, superior to anything we’ve known before. It is a higher form of existence, supernal, a sensation of Nature’s wholeness and perfection.

Now, after numerous generations of evolution, we have accumulated sufficient experience to understand where Nature’s evolutionary law is leading us.

The picture we will gradually present to the reader is founded on principles from the ancient wisdom of Kabbalah, along with contemporary science’s latest discoveries. This book is intended to teach us how to resolve the crisis, and pave a way to prosperity and success. With it, we will be able to take our first real steps toward realizing Nature’s law. Only then can we feel we are all part of Nature’s single, comprehensive system, and taste the perfection and harmony within it.

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