To perceive the actual reality, the world of truth, we must come out of ourselves and begin to know what really exists. Then we will discover that life does not depend on one’s body, one’s senses, one’s inner, egoistic will, or one’s memory. Rather, life depends only on the extent to which one is connected to all that exists outside—to others’ desires.
The correct perception of reality is of paramount importance to us. It is not merely another theoretical topic for sophisticated discussions. What we see is only a projection of our inner qualities.
“PERCEPTION OF REALITY” from ch. 5 in “Kabbalah Revealed” by Rav Michael Laitman (2006)
Many terms are used to describe understanding. For Kabbalists, the deepest level of understanding is called “attainment.” Since they are studying the spiritual worlds, their goal is to reach “spiritual attainment.” Attainment refers to such profound and thorough understanding of the perceived that no questions remain. Kabbalists write that at the end of humanity’s evolution, we will all attain the Creator in a state called “Equivalence of Form.”
To reach that goal, Kabbalists carefully defined which parts of reality we should study, and which we shouldn’t. To determine these two paths, Kabbalists followed a very simple principle: If it helps us learn more quickly and more accurately, we should study it. If it doesn’t, we should ignore it.
Kabbalists in general, and The Zohar in particular, caution us to study only those parts we can perceive with absolute certainty. Wherever guesswork is involved, we shouldn’t waste our time, as our attainment would be questionable.
Kabbalists also say that of the four categories of perception—Matter, Form in Matter, Abstract Form, and Essence—we can perceive only the first two with certainty. For this reason, everything The Zohar writes about is desires (Matter) and how we use them: whether for ourselves or for the Creator.
Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag writes that, “If the reader does not know how to be prudent with the boundaries, and takes matters out of context, he or she will immediately be confused.” This can happen if we don’t limit our study to Matter and Form in Matter.
We must understand that there is no such thing as a “prohibition” in spirituality. When Kabbalists declare something as “forbidden,” it means that it is impossible. When they say that we shouldn’t study Abstract Form and Essence, it doesn’t mean that we’ll be struck by lightning if we do; it means that we can’t study those categories even if we really want to.
Yehuda Ashlag uses electricity to explain why the Essence is imperceptible. He says that we can use electricity in many different ways: for heating, cooling, playing music, and watching videos. Electricity can be dressed in many Forms; but can we express the Essence of electricity itself?
Let’s use another example to explain the four categories—Matter, Form in Matter, Abstract Form, and Essence. When we say that a certain person is strong, we are actually referring to that person’s Matter—body—and the Form that clothes his or her Matter—strength.
If we remove the Form of strength from the Matter (the person’s body), and examine the Form of strength separately, undressed in Matter, this would be examining the Abstract Form of strength. The fourth category, the Essence of the person in itself, is completely unattainable. We simply have no senses that can “study” the Essence and portray it in a perceptible form. In consequence, the Essence is not only something we don’t know right now; we will never know it.
In the material world, if I know what I want, I can see if I am getting it or not, or at least if I’m on the right track toward getting it. This is not the case with spirituality. There, when I am wrong, I am not only denied what I wanted, but I even lose my present spiritual degree, the Light dims, and I become unable to redirect myself correctly without help from a guide. This is why it is so important to understand the three boundaries and follow them.