Master Kabbalists

The Meaning of True Desire

Rav Ashlag explains that the amount of Light we reveal in the world is directly dependent on the strength of our Desire to Receive the Light of the Creator - the greater our desire, the greater the Light we can reveal. Many of us believe we have this desire. We know, on some level, that we want the Light and a closer relationship with the Creator. However, as Rav Ashlag explains, if we had a true desire for the Light, we would have it! The reason why we lack the Light in any area of our lives is because we lack a true Desire for it, despite what we might feel. 

There are three possible reasons why we don’t truly have a desire for the Light. The first, most obvious reason, is that we have not yet discovered it. We don’t even know that we want the Light until we have experienced a taste of it for ourselves. If you were to go to a friend’s house who had just cooked a meal you had never heard of, you might not have a strong desire for it. But once you taste it and find out how amazing it is, your desire grows. The next time your friend makes that meal, you will be excited and look forward to it, because your desire has been awakened. This is why it is such a blessing that we have access to tools like the Torah and the Zohar, which allow us to understand and appreciate the power of the Creator, awakening our Desire for the Light.

The second reason is that, although we may want the Light of the Creator, we also have other desires. A famous kabbalist once said you cannot have two desires at the same time, just like you cannot be in love with two people at once. It cannot be that we have a Desire for the Light of the Creator and a desire for something else simultaneously. The desire for anything else will snuff out the flame of Desire for the Light of the Creator. If we are honest with ourselves and realize that we desire things other than the Light of the Creator, we must realize that we do not have a true Desire for the Light. Therefore, part of our spiritual work is to transform our desire for things of a physical nature into a Desire for the Light.

The third possible reason is that our Desire to Receive the Light of the Creator is not a lasting desire. You will notice that sometimes we get very excited about our spiritual work, but then a month or so later, our excitement fades. We start going through the motions again, or worse yet, lose interest completely in our spiritual work. If this is the case, it was never a true desire to start with, because a true desire does not disappear. If our Desire for the Light isn’t just as strong, if not stronger, in a month, six months, a year from now, then we have never had true Desire for the Light. 

Realizing that our Desire for the Light is not a true and lasting one is an important step in our spiritual work. Having a desire that isn’t true is like a vessel with holes in it – Light can come into it, but it cannot stay there consistently. It might feel like we have a real desire, but if it isn’t being fulfilled, there is something missing. Knowing this allows us to be honest and ask ourselves, “What is it about my Desire for the Light that is not a true desire?” When we are able to answer this question, we can start doing the work we need to do in order to strengthen our desire.

Rav Ashlag teaches us that this ultimate level of having the truest possible Desire to Receive the Light is one we must actively build for ourselves. This means that people can help and support us, but we must do the work. If we are being inspired by external sources rather than an internal commitment to the Light, it is not creating a lasting desire. If the reason we stay on our spiritual path is solely because of a certain teacher, a certain community, or a certain environment, for instance, it will never last. What happens if those factors are removed? If there were no Kabbalah Centre in the world and no spiritual community, would we still be doing the work? If literally everything in the world was against us, would we still be doing the work? If the answer is yes, this is an indication that we are owning our own Desire to Receive the Light of the Creator.

When we feel that we do not have the Light, it is important to remember that one of the reasons for our hardships and our struggles is to awaken our desire and appreciation for the Light. If the Light was always with us, we could never awaken that yearning for the Light of the Creator. The powerful lesson here is that the more work we do to awaken our Desire to Receive the Light of the Creator, the more Light we reveal in our lives and in the world.

*Adapted from Michael Berg’s Ten Luminous Emanations, lessons 22 and 23

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