The True Essence of the World
In his commentary on Ten Luminous Emanations, Rav Ashlag teaches us that everything in our world stems from the Creator’s Desire to Share endless Light with us. This Desire was the very Thought of Creation from which our entire world was created. Everything that was, is, and will be encapsulated in that one Thought. This means that the entire DNA of our world is built from the same essence – the people and places around us, the situations we find ourselves in, the wisdom we study. Even pain, suffering, and death, things we think of as negative, are of the same essence. It all stems from this single Thought of Creation.
We know the Creator is an endless source of love and Light, so how can this be? How can there be pain, weakness, and darkness in the world if everything good comes from the Creator? Rav Ashlag uses a very famous example to explain the answer. In the story, a wealthy man visits a poor man and gives him food, drink, gold, and silver – completely overwhelming him with gifts. Every day, the wealthy man gives the poor man even more and more gifts. Though the poor person is incredibly grateful, he also feels guilty and unworthy, because he has done nothing to earn these gifts. It is a phenomenon we often refer to as Bread of Shame. Essentially, the poor man receives two opposite emotions at the same time: pleasure and discomfort. The pleasure comes directly from the wealthy man, who is giving him the gifts. The discomfort, on the other hand, is not something the wealthy man is directly giving to the poor man, but he is, on some level, still causing the feeling through his gift giving.
The same is true of the Creator. Everything we experience comes from the Creator, either in a direct or roundabout way. The Creator designed us with a Desire to Receive, which often tends to push us further and further away from the Light, causing us great pain and discomfort. We try to satiate our Desire to Receive with selfish things, not understanding that true fulfillment comes from sharing, and this causes our soul incredible pain. So, while the pain is not directly from the Creator, our Desire to Receive is, and so, the Creator’s hand is still behind it.
All the opposite aspects we perceive in our world, positive and negative, joy and pain, strength and weakness, all stem from the Creator’s intention to give us fulfillment. Knowing this, we can understand that there are actually two levels to everything we experience. First is the illusionary, false reality that we see around us. On this level, we believe that a certain person or situation is the source of our pain, because they are creating conflict in our lives. But the second level is the true essence of everything - the reality where we see that all these situations are from the Creator, born of His Desire to Share with us. We sometimes believe that there is a source of good and source of evil in our lives, both influencing us. But Rav Ashlag explains that there is only one source: the Creator.
Our physical world, and everything in it, is necessary for our spiritual work. Before the Creation, the Creator only wanted to share with us, but we, as the receivers, still had the essence of the Creator within us, which meant that we inherently wanted to become like the Creator: beings of sharing. The Creator understood that we would never have true fulfilment until we transformed our Desire to Receive into a Desire to Share. So, He designed the physical world so that we would have the tools we need in order to make that transformation. This is the whole reason for the Creation. There is nothing in our world or in our lives that isn’t meant to assist in this process of transformation. Every detail of our lives is geared towards that goal.
This allows us to understand and appreciate why things happen to us. The things that we perceive as negative in our lives are really opportunities for us to transform ourselves in order to fully receive the Light of the Creator and find lasting fulfillment. This is all the Creator wants for us, and it is what our souls want as well.
We are meant, as humanity, to achieve a level of global transformation, and this is something that we cannot stop. It is our ego that makes us think we can fight this process of transformation. Fighting this process, however, is like a grain of sand fighting a hurricane. We have no choice whether or not the process occurs - our only choice is in how we face it. So many of us try to get off the track that the Creator has set us on towards our goal, because it is a difficult track. It is filled with hardship and lots of work. We think we want to go the other way. But it isn’t possible! Everything brings us in that direction. When we resist, we don’t get where we want to go and we don’t enjoy the process, because we don’t understand where we are meant to go. All of our frustration, disappointment, and pain comes from a lack of understanding that we can’t run from this process. Everything in our lives is meant to bring us back to it.
We are meant to come to the point where we see the goodness of everything. Part of our spiritual work is to get to the understanding that everything, even things we perceive as negative, are part of the same unified essence, the Thought of Creation. Once that truly becomes the way we see the world, we no longer see negativity in others nor ourselves, only the true essence.
None of us has this ability completely. We have to develop it. Through the study of the wisdom of Kabbalah and use of the spiritual tools, our Desire to Receive can be transformed into Desire to Share. The more we transform, the more we are able to receive the Light. Of course, once that transformation occurs, the Light we receive is still the essence of the Thought of Creation, the same Light that is in everything. The Light does not change, but how we receive it changes.
Understanding the truth in this helps give us a sense of peace and understanding. But more importantly, it actually has the power to draw us and the world one step closer to realizing full transformation and lasting fulfillment.