Learning Modes

Our tools of perception can never perceive the Essence, regardless of our degree. Although what we perceive is indeed the Essence, we can only perceive it through Matter, and we cannot even imagine what the Essence itself is like. Moreover, we cannot even want to perceive the Essence.

For example, none of us feels that an additional sixth finger would be welcome. However, if we could imagine that we once had a sixth finger, and that we could do something with it that we cannot do today, then we could talk about a need for a sixth finger. But if we never had an additional finger, we could not even imagine how it would benefit us. This is why we will never want a sixth finger.

Similarly, since we never felt an Essence, we cannot want to perceive the Essence. Attainment of Matter, the manifestation of the actions of the Essence that is present within the Matter, is quite satisfactory.

The above discussion raises an important question: If we cannot perceive the Essence, how did Kabbalists know that it exists? For the time being, we will leave this question unanswered, but we promise to return to it later.

The will to receive is the Matter. It is divided into five degrees. When the will to receive is integrated with the intention to bestow, it adopts different Forms, from the most opposite from the Creator to the Form of the Creator Himself. While spiritually evolving, we gradually study all the qualities that Matter might assume. This is called "Formative Learning."

We have a genuine desire to acquire the Forms of bestowal that are dressed in Matter. A genuine desire means that it is a desire that stems from having had this Form before and not having it now.

Our Matter, the will to receive, was first created in a corrected Form, meaning the Form of bestowal, which was then inverted to reception. Reacquiring the Form of bestowal through our own efforts is the essence of our correction. This process should be carried out using the same pattern that was created while we had the Form of bestowal, and is based entirely on practical experimentation. Hence, this process is entirely reliable.

Philosophy, however, engages in ideals abstracted from Matter. It is completely opposite to the method of Kabbalah because it is founded on the study of Abstract Forms. Philosophy discusses qualities such as truth, falsehood, anger, and valor while not clothed in Matter, ascribing Abstract Forms titles such as "truth is good, lying is bad." This creates a concern that people will relate to such declarations as ideals and will adhere to them fanatically.

Baal HaSulam demonstrates this with a parable about a person with such high regard for the quality of truth that, when faced with an opportunity to save people from death, he chose not to because it involved telling a lie.

This parable demonstrates the mistake of engaging in Abstract Forms because we have no means to judge a certain quality as good or bad when it is not clothed in Matter. Only when the Form is clothed in Matter can we determine if it is beneficial to the evolving of Matter or detrimental to it. The only criterion is the evolution of Matter toward realization of the purpose of Creation.

While we could erroneously imagine Abstract Forms, the Essence is something completely unimaginable for us. We logically assume that behind the Form that dresses Matter and the Abstract Form, there is a foundation that sustains all other Forms, which we call "Essence."

Thus, we see that our ability is limited, that we can only attain Matter and the Form clothed in it. Yet, we cannot avoid asking why the Creator did not create us with the ability to perceive the Abstract Form and Essence.

The answer to that is simple: If we could attain the Abstract Form and the Essence, we would see the Essence clothed in everything, operating everything, from the very first to the very last state. Such a clear picture would rob us of the sensation of freedom of choice; it would prevent us from studying the image of the Creator and building It within us.

Having shown that nothing exists outside one's Kli, we can now define the terms "this world" and "Upper World," as depictions of the modes of perception of reality. "This world" is the perception of reality within the Kli while we are working in order to receive. The "Upper World" is the perception of reality within the Kli while we are working in order to bestow, altruistically.

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