Revealing Returning Light
We learn from the kabbalists that, before the Creation of our world, there was a simple, perfect system: the Creator gave Light to us, and we received it without needing to earn it. After the Creation, however, this was no longer the case. The Creation was designed to allow us to earn the Light of the Creator through transforming our selfish desires into selfless ones. Therefore, we could not receive Light in the same way we once did. Instead of receiving Light directly from the Creator, the Light now must be drawn down through our spiritual work.
There are two important lessons that Rav Ashlag reveals about this process in Ten Luminous Emanations. He explains that there is no Light revealed in the upper or lower worlds that does not come from the Endless World. Sometimes we think the Endless World is a million miles away, but in reality, every spiritual action reveals Light from the Endless World. Furthermore, Rav Ashlag explains that this Light descends through many spiritual layers before it reaches us here in the physical world. As the Light descends from one spiritual level to the next, it does not disappear from the previous levels. The Light remains at each level as it passes through. Picture a candle that is used to light other candles – each one stays illuminated as the next is lit. Every spark of Light that we reveal has to flow from the Endless World through everything that existed before us - every spiritual world and every person that is our predecessor - our parents, our grandparents, our great-grandparents, and so on. It flows through this chain of humanity, as Rav Ashlag calls it, all the way down to us.
This teaches us that whatever small amount of Light we reveal or experience here in our reality, there is so much more revealed in the upper worlds. A truly righteous person puts a huge emphasis on even the smallest connections, because they know that every spark of Light we reveal actually reveals a tremendous amount more in the supernal worlds. Having this understanding should awaken an even greater appreciation for our spiritual work. The smallest spiritual actions we take resonate profoundly in the spiritual worlds in ways we cannot even perceive.
The second lesson is about the way that we earn lasting fulfillment. Rav Ashlag explains that, when we talk about Light coming through the different stages into our world, there are two types of Light that are revealed. The first mixes with the Vessel and becomes unified with it, while the other stays distinct and separate. When the Light is of a higher degree than the Vessel can handle, it cannot unite with the Vessel. It does stay with the Vessel, as we know Light never truly leaves, but it remains a passing, nonstable Light.
The secret here is that a person can receive the greatest Light, but if he didn’t earn it, if he has not transformed his Desire to a level that is high enough to unite with the Light, the Light does not become a part of him. We have the unique ability to transform our Desire to Receive for the Self Alone into the Desire to Share. That’s how we merit for the Light to remain with us as eternal and lasting Light. This kind of Light, which the kabbalists refer to as Returning Light, can only be revealed through our own spiritual work and through our process of transformation.
Throughout history, many people have merited revelations, great visions and prophecies, but because they didn’t do the work, the Light did not stay with them. Likewise, many of us have merited to receive Light, but if we don’t do the work to receive it, the Light will stay on the lowest level. When we put in the spiritual work and earn it, only then can we merit for it to be lasting.
These powerful lessons from Rav Ashlag should hopefully awaken a deeper appreciation for our spiritual work. Even the smallest connections that we make reveal a tremendous amount of Light in the upper worlds. And the more effort we put into earning the Light, the more it becomes part of us.
Adapted from Michael Berg’s Ten Luminous Emanations, Lesson 43.