CONDITIONS FOR FREE CHOICE
Ironically, true freedom of choice is possible only if the Creator is concealed. This is because if one option seems preferable, our egoism leaves us no choice but to go for it. In that case, even if we choose to give, it will be giving in order to receive, or egoistic giving. For an act to be truly altruistic and spiritual, its benefits must be hidden from us.
If we keep in mind that the whole purpose of Creation is to eventually be liberated from egoism, our actions will always be heading in the right direction—towards the Creator. Therefore, if we have two choices and we don’t know which of them would bring more pleasure (or less pain), then we have a real opportunity to make a free choice.
If the ego does not see a preferable choice, we can choose according to a different set of values. For example, we could ask ourselves not what would be more fun, but what would be more giving. If giving is something we value, this will be easy to do.
We can either be egoists or altruists, either think of ourselves or think of others. There are no other options. Freedom of choice is possible when both options are clearly visible and equally appealing (or unappealing). If I can only see one option, I will have to follow it. Therefore, to choose freely, I have to see my own nature and the Creator’s nature. Only if I don’t know which is more pleasurable can I make a truly free choice and neutralize my ego.
| -Rav Michael Laitman, “Kabbalah Revealed“
THE ESSENCE OF FREEDOM
Generally speaking, freedom may be referred to as the law of nature, which runs through all aspects of life. We see how animals suffer in captivity. It testifies to nature’s protest against any form of enslavement. Mankind fought in wars for hundreds of years until it achieved some degree of personal freedom.
In any case, our idea of freedom is extremely vague, and if we delve deeper into it, almost nothing will be left of it. Before we demand personal freedom, we should presume each person aspires to it. First we need to make sure this or that person can exercise his free will.
OUR LIFE BETWEEN PLEASURE AND SUFFERING
If we analyze man’s actions, we’ll discover that none of them are free. Both his inner nature and outer circumstances compel him to act according to an algorithm of behavior rooted in him.
Nature placed us between pleasure and suffering, and we are not free to choose suffering or give up pleasure. With regard to animals man has the advantage of being able to see the distant goal, therefore he can agree to a certain amount of sufferings anticipating the future compensation.
Accumulating experience, mankind gradually comes to conclusion that, in spite of all its efforts to change the course of history and the development of society, life gets its own way, and everything happens according to a scenario that does not depend on us. So are we doomed by fate?
The study of the universe by using the Kabbalistic method reveals that man’s essence consists of three parts:
– the first – animal – part, which is expressed in bodily desires for food, sex, family, home, present in all people regardless of their environment;
– the second – human – part, expressed in desires for wealth, honor (fame, power), knowledge, in which we are dependent on the society;
– the third – spiritual – part, which creates in us an aspiration for the upper world (it appears out of a sensation of death, emptiness in life, ignorance of the source of existence).
The wisdom of Kabbalah reveals for us that man is born in this world so as to discover the upper realm in the course of his life. Then he exists in both worlds and, after his body dies, feels the spiritual world as much as he could feel it while living in his physical body. If man failed to enter the spiritual world during his lifetime, his soul descends to this world again, incarnates in a new biological body with the same purpose. The soul can reveal the upper world only while being in a physical body.
From this it becomes clear that:
– this entire world and our existence in it are designed only to help us discover the upper world;
– the first (animal) and the second (human) parts do not exist in us by themselves, their role is determined by how much they contribute to the realization of the third (spiritual) part, i.e. how they assist us in fulfilling our mission, which consists of the revelation of the spiritual realm while living in this world. Man’s actions are evaluated only to the extent of their connection with spiritual advancement, because it is the spiritual part that has to be transformed.
– the first and second parts in us do not change by themselves. Nor do they depend on our desires. Realization of the third (spiritual) part determines their transformations.
– our actions related to the first and the second parts are not free, they are programmed by nature and make up a rigid frame of our structure. By choosing how to develop spiritually we determine our states in both the first and the second (animal and human) parts, and definitely in the third.
– By declining to perform futile and senseless acts related to our animal and human desires, and concentrating all efforts on the revelation of the upper reality, man acquires the ability to control everything in this world (in both 1st and 2nd parts). In other words, the road to ruling over this world is attainable through the upper world, since all signals; all events descend from above until they take their final form in this world.
This is [given] to demonstrate how predetermined all man’s actions and states in this world are; all but one, which determines everything else – the aspiration to the upper world, to its revelation, to mastering the laws of the Divine Providence.
|–cited from Rav Michael Laitman, PhD @ www.kabbalah.info