How Kabbalah Differs From Other Spiritual Paths

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The Short Path to the Creator

The path of Kabbalah is different from other paths. Even though there are pleasures in our world, we can break away from egoism by having faith (above reason) in the purpose of creation. In this way, we may go beyond listening to what our bodies and our reason tell us.

When we do so, we start experiencing love for the Creator, as well as feeling His love for us. This is the path of peace and joy, and of faith in the fact that the long way is, in fact, the short way without suffering. When we are not capable of receiving the Light into the self—the Inner Light (Ohr Pnimi)— our spiritual development will take place only under the influence of the Surrounding Light (Ohr Makif).

This path of spiritual development is called “the natural way” or “the way of suffering” (Derech B’ito). This is the path of all humanity.

Another alternative for our spiritual development is to establish a personal bond with the Creator, characterized by the work in three lines. This way is called “the way of Kabbalah” (Derech Kabbalah, Derech Ahishena). It is much shorter than the way of suffering.

The Process of Obtaining Faith

Thus, the Kabbalists say that an individual who wishes to go directly toward the Creator shortens the time of correction. Although it is difficult to have faith if suffering does not force us to do so, it is very important for us to believe that the results of our work depend only on our efforts.

That is, we should believe in the Divine Rule by reward and punishment. The Creator rewards an individual by awarding good thoughts and desires. We should obtain faith from fellow students and from books.

However, once we have attained faith—the perception of the Creator—we must convince ourselves that it was given to us by the Creator. The Upper Spiritual Power may be a medicine of life if it provides strength and the will to work. However, it is considered poison if we believe that all is determined from Above and nothing depends on our efforts.

The principal effort should be the preservation of the lofty aspirations given to us from Above. First, we are sent spiritual sensations from Above. Then, we are elevated, followed by a time of hard work, and of constant effort to remain on that particular spiritual level by our own strength. We should concentrate on appreciating the value of our spiritual elevation.

As soon as we begin to disregard what we have acquired, or derive self-gratification from it, we begin to lose the attained spiritual level. All that falls under the power of egoism is situated in the central point of creation (Nekuda Emtzait).

Light Builds the Desire for Spirituality

It is said that one who aspires to advance spiritually is helped by being given a soul—a part of the Creator—the Light. As a result, one begins to feel like a part of the Creator!

How does the Light of the Creator generate the desire to derive joy from Him?

For example, in our world, if a person were given unexpected honors, which were then taken away, that person would crave the familiar pleasures derived from those honors. The desire to get back the taken pleasure is known as a “vessel” (Kli). The Light gradually makes the vessel grow in order to fill it with pleasure (from the Light).

Abraham asked the Creator: “How can I be sure that You will save my descendants? How can I be sure that my children will be able to break away from egoism with the help of Kabbalah? Why give them the Light if they have no yearning for it?”

The Creator answered that they would be given a sensation of enslavement by their egoism, and so, for contrast, they would be given a sensation of the Light. In attempting to overcome our desires, we need to recognize that our bodies do not understand the dimensions of time, and thus do not perceive the past or the future, but only the present.

The Path of Redemption Through Kabbalah

Even when we remember the pleasure we previously attained after hard work, our bodies will still withhold the necessary strength to complete the task. This can be similar to a case where a person gets paid for work prior to its completion, and does not truly want to put forth a good effort to finish the job.

Therefore, it is important not to delay the struggle against the body, but instead to use every opportunity at a given moment to counter the body with loftier thoughts.

Since we are all 100% egoists, we will never voluntarily wish to form a bond with the Creator. Only when we are convinced that this bond will bring a certain benefit will we desire connection.

Thus, we can conclude that simply seeing our own evil and understanding that only the Creator can send help is still insufficient impetus to seek help from the Creator. Only by realizing that coming closer to the Creator, and forming a bond with Him, will bring redemption will we have the incentive to seek help.