As we study the wisdom of Kabbalah, a fundamental question arises. We hear repeatedly throughout our studies that we are meant to become like the Creator, aligning our thoughts and actions with His. We are told it is the root of all the spiritual work we do. But the question is: Why? Why is it so important that we become like the Creator?
There are two answers to this question that Rav Ashlag gives us in his commentary on the Ten Luminous Emanations. One answer is relatively simple. It is the concept that like attracts like. In other words, the more like the Creator we are, the more we can receive the Light of the Creator. The opposite is also true. When we are different from the Creator, we are blocked from receiving the Light. Without the Light of the Creator, we cannot experience the joy, happiness, and fulfillment that is the Light of the Creator. This is the answer we often hear when discussing why our spiritual work is so important, and while it seems like it would be the logical and simple answer, there is a deeper reason, Rav Ashlag explains. One that speaks to the core of who we truly are.
Rav Ashlag teaches that our souls are made of the same exact essence as the Creator, with the same exact unlimited potential. Because of this, our souls inherently want to be like the Creator, endlessly sharing and selfless. If we were to hear what our souls truly desire, it is to share. Therefore, even if the Creator could devise a way for us to still receive Light without us being connected to Him, we would never be satisfied in our selfishness, because we would not be connected to ourselves! So, while it is true that aligning with the Creator allows us to receive the Light and the Creator’s blessings, it is really aligning with ourselves and nourishing the soul that allows us to be fulfilled. We cannot be at peace when we are in difference of form from the Creator, because it means we are not being true to ourselves.
Unfortunately, many of us still enjoy things that are opposite to the Light of the Creator. We often find momentary pleasure in the physical world by acting selfishly. We get what we want and sometimes that feels good. However, when we enjoy being selfish, we should understand that we are disconnected from the things our soul wants, and this limits our ability to achieve lasting fulfillment. We are not living the reality of our essence, and we can never be happy like this.
This is the source of all pain and suffering that we feel in our world. Think about all of the things one maybe uses to try and bring themselves happiness: money, careers, alcohol, drugs. Those things will never make us happy as long as we operate from a place of selfishness, because it isn’t who we really are. It is not just because we are out of alignment with the Creator and therefore can’t receive his Light, although that is true. But rather, on a deeper, more profound level, we can never receive lasting fulfillment, because selfishness is not who we inherently are. The real source of pain and suffering is difference of form from ourselves.
This is an incredible lesson that Rav Ashlag urges us to think about again and again. It is so important to have clarity on this, because the more clarity we have about our selfish Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, the more strength and consciousness we have to push against it. That is what our soul wants and that is what brings lasting fulfillment.
*Adapted from Michael Berg’s course on Ten Luminous Emanations, lesson 18.