We often talk often about our yearning and desire for devekut, complete unification with the Light of the Creator, but what are the practical ways to achieve this? In order to take this concept of unification of our soul with the Light of the Creator and make it much more practical, Rav Ashlag writes that there are two sides to our spiritual work. One side is an emotional or a spiritual connection to the Creator we are hopefully all working towards. And that is coupled with a knowledge, a knowing, of the Creator. That knowledge, as my father Rav Berg would always remind us, has to do with connection.
But a connection that leads to knowledge is not just a spiritual feeling that a person has; there's an actual knowing that comes with it. Rav Ashlag says this is the ultimate state of knowledge that we need to be striving for. More importantly, he tells us, is how we get to the ultimate state of knowledge, consciousness, and awareness: through the constant retelling to one's heart, or the constant reminding of one's self, of the Light of the Creator. That's how we get to unification with the Light of the Creator, to a true knowledge of, and connection to, the Light of the Creator.
The relationship between ourselves and the Light of the Creator should get to a state where our perception and consciousness of the Light of the Creator is obvious and clear, rather than faith-based or based on belief, like a real visceral knowledge of the Light of the Creator, where we get to the state as if we’re talking to the Creator like we’re talking to a friend. When we’re standing in front of our friend, having a conversation, we don't have to tell our minds that our friend exists, because it's obvious to us. He's standing in front of us, we’re conversing with him, and there is that relationship and connection. There's no doubt in our mind surrounding that interaction and connection; we’re clear about it and then we start building upon it by having a conversation. Why? Because our eyes, which we trust, are telling us that our friend is there. We feel that he's there, that he can hear us, and that his ears are open to us. We have come to believe that visceral proof makes it so. There's no doubt in our mind about our friend being there in front of us. The knowledge of our friend who we’re conversing with is clear, there is neither belief nor doubt. It is as certain in our mind and heart as anything else that we know to be true. Therefore, as we’re talking to them, it's a flowing conversation.
However, think about, for example, when we have a bad connection on the phone. The conversation doesn't flow, because we say something, and we’re not sure that our friend heard us or that he is still even on the line. Then our friend says something and we’re not sure we heard him… that is not a flowing conversation. And a flowing conversation is very necessary, because a flowing conversation is dependent on certainty in connection. It is based on certainty in the knowledge that the person we are conversing with and connecting to is there, absolutely, without any doubt. This, as Rav Ashlag calls it, is the knowledge within our mind and heart.
Rav Ashlag used the example of sitting in a chair with a friend whose back is to us, so our eyes don't see our friend there, and our ears don't necessarily hear him so well. And so although we know that he's there, our certainty about the communication is diminished. In that moment, our conversation is the manifestation of a level of connection that is no longer going to be clear. It's not going to be a flowing conversation, even though we know in our mind that of course he's sitting there right behind us
So, let’s imagine that reality. We try to have a conversation with somebody sitting behind us. We’re not any further away than we would be if he was sitting in front of us, but already our conversation is all messed up. It's going to be a completely non-flowing conversation, disturbed by the lack of clarity of the five senses that our friend being right in front of us would bring. This type of conversation won't work well, Rav Ashlag says, because our heart is not settled in this connection. However, when our friend is sitting in front of us, and our eyes see him and we know that his ears will hear us, our heart is clear and it's settled in that connection, and therefore, we can have a flowing conversation. Yet, the disturbance in clarity of our friend’s existence when he's sitting with his back to us and our eyes don't see him cause a conversation which can no longer flow. Because of that doubt awakened within the heart, the conversation can no longer be forward.
And this is what it says in the Torah, that the purpose of spiritual work and the purpose of spiritual study is what's called the constant bringing into our heart, which means awakening that constant connection and certainty… Constant knowledge. It needs to be that constant bringing back of the Light of the Creator into our consciousness and heart, so that conversing with the Light of the Creator becomes a flow and not a disturbed connection; a disturbed connection doesn't always bring Light.
It says in the Talmud that if our prayers flow, we know for sure that our prayers will be answered. When our connection to the Light of the Creator is a flowing one, which means that we’ve come to a level of knowledge without doubt in the connection that we have with the Light of the Creator, then all of our prayers will be answered, and every connection we make will reveal Light. When it’s a disturbed connection, when it's a connection where there's doubt or lack of clarity on the level of the Creator’s existence, not all the prayers will be answered or revealed.
So, this is what it means when it says we need to know and bring to our heart. It means that the ultimate state of spiritual existence is when our relationship, certainty, and knowledge of the Light of the Creator is awakened by constant reminders. Therefore, throughout the day, we have to keep reminding ourselves, telling ourselves, and keep focusing ourselves on both the existence of the Light of the Creator and that everything is the Light of the Creator, and that therefore, the work has to be focused.
Rav Ashlag uses the term ”the hard work.” We have to do the difficult work of reminding ourselves of the existence of the Light of the Creator around us and in everything. That brings us to the level of knowledge of the Creator. And therefore, Rav Ashlag says if we're working hard and diligently to awaken that level of knowledge of the existence of the Light of the Creator, we’ll come to the level of what's called emunah, the ultimate level of certainty. And that it will then become so strong that we will achieve the ultimate state of devekut, the ultimate state of unification, with the Light of the Creator.