Now You Can Understand Spiritual Advancement and Acheive It
Developing an Awareness of Good and Evil
There are two methods of feeding a child. One method is by force. It brings the child no pleasure, but still provides the nourishment necessary for growing and building up strength. In Kabbalah, this kind of spiritual nurturing of a person is known as “on account of the Higher One.”
However, the “child” may wish to grow spiritually by taking spiritual nourishment independently. This may occur after having developed an appetite for it (realizing the necessity or experienced the pleasure from the Light). Then, not only does one grow spiritually, but one also enjoys the process of living, that is, of developing spiritual perception.
An acute sensation produced in us by the awareness of good and evil is known in Kabbalah as “the process of nurturing”: just as a mother raises her infant to her breast and gives it food, so a Kabbalist is given the Light contained at an Upper Spiritual Level so that one clearly sees and feels the gulf between good and evil.
And then, just as the mother takes the infant away from her breast, so a Kabbalist loses the bond with the Higher Source, as well as the clear distinction between good and evil. This process is designed to induce a person to pray to the Creator to acquire the same capabilities for perceiving (Kelim) the good and evil as are possessed by the Higher Source.
Taking Spiritual Steps Towards the Creator
We receive both egoism and altruism from Above. The difference is in the fact that human beings receive egoistic desires upon birth, while one must persistently ask for altruistic desires.
First, we must reach a state in which we want “to please the Creator,” the same way as the Creator pleases us, irrespective of our egoistic desires (ascending the levels of the worlds BYA). Then, we should determine what will please the Creator.
Consequently, we will see that we can only please the Creator by experiencing pleasure. This is called “receiving for the sake of the Creator,” and denotes the level of the world (Atzilut).
Attaining the different degrees of intensity of the desire to give selflessly to the Creator is called “the steps of the worlds BYA” (Beria, Yetzira, Assiya). Acquiring the power to receive pleasure from the Creator for His sake is known as “reaching the level of the world” (Atzilut).
What matters most for us is the importance of our pursuits. Therefore, the most important thing is to realize the importance of perceiving the Creator. There will never come a time when an individual will be able to reach the spiritual realm without any efforts, for these efforts are the vessels for the Light.
Walking the Spiritual Path of the Kabbalists
Prior to Ari, the spiritual ways were closed, and there was no actual readiness from Above to confer the Light on creations. Ari slightly opened the source of the Light. This made it harder for people to battle their egoism; in fact, the egoism became stronger and more sophisticated.
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) has introduced such corrections into the world that now an individual cannot deceive oneself, thinking that one is perfect, but must follow the path of faith above knowledge. Though the path has become somewhat clearer, this generation is incapable of making the required quantity and quality of effort, the way the previous generations could. This, despite the fact that the perception of individual shortcomings is clearer than before.
But this generation does not elevate the spiritual to the level it deserves, that is, above the material, the way previous generations did, when the majority of people were willing to do anything for the sake of spiritual ascent.
A significant correction was introduced into the world by the Kabbalist Baal Shem-Tov. Even the masses could feel a slight increase in the amount of the spiritual in the world. For a while, those who desired it found it even easier to reach the spiritual.
In order to select worthy students for his Kabbalistic group, Baal Shem-Tov instituted Admorut—a division of Jewish society into sections, with each section having a Kabbalist as its own spiritual leader. These leaders (Admorim) selected individuals whom they deemed to be worthy of studying Kabbalah in their Heder (room) classes. Here they engaged in raising the next generation of Kabbalists and leaders of the people.
Perceiving ourselves as beings that were created means perceiving ourselves as being separate from the Creator. Since our egoistic nature causes us to instinctively withdraw from anything that causes us suffering, the Creator uses this to lead us to the good. He removes pleasure from the material world that surrounds us and awards us pleasure only through altruistic acts. This is the path of suffering.
But through the practical method of Kabbalah we can choose to proceed towards the same goal proactively and faster, always a step ahead of the sufferings. This is the path of Kabbalah, our “path of hastening”.