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May 21, 2024

The Art of Overcoming Egoism

The Art of Overcoming Egoism

What “There is none else besides the Creator” Means

The entire spiritual body of law is intended to help us overcome our egoism. Therefore, the spiritual law, “love thy neighbor as thyself” is a natural result of attachment with the Creator. Since there is nothing else besides Him, when a person understands this, all the creations, including our world, merge in our perception of the One Creator.

Thus it becomes clear how our forefathers were able to obey all the spiritual laws long before they were actually passed down. A consequence of spiritual elevation is found when we begin to love our worst enemies and the foes of all the nations. Thus, the greatest work can entail praying for our enemies.


Adhering to the Creator above Everything

When Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev was attacked for his extensive work in teaching the correct manner of serving the Creator, the rumors of this reached Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk. He exclaimed, “What is there to be surprised about! This happens constantly! If this did not occur, not a single nation could ever enslave us.”

There are two stages of battle against egoistic desires: First, we pursue them. Then, we attempt to escape them, only to realize that these desires continue to pursue us.

Those of us who deny the Oneness of the Creator do not yet sense that He and all that happens in the world, including all that happens to each individual, are one and the same. Rabbi Yichiel Michal (Maggid mi Zlotchiv), a Kabbalist of the last century, lived in great poverty.

His students asked him, “How can you recite the blessing to the Creator for having given you all the necessary things when you have so little?” He answered, “I can bless the Creator who gave me everything, because apparently it is poverty that I need to come closer to Him, which is why He gives it to me.”


Receiving all States with Joy

There is nothing that denies the Rule of the Creator more than depression. Notably, every person arrives at this feeling for different reasons: suffering, a feeling of personal helplessness, absence of what is desired, etc. It is impossible to feel joy over the blows one receives unless one realizes their necessity and immense value; then, every blow can be taken as medicine.

A person’s only worry should be why one is worrying. “One should not consider suffering to be bad,” explained Rabbi Moshe of Kovrin, “since there is nothing bad in the world, but rather that it is bitter, because medicine is always bitter.”

The most earnest effort should be made to “cure” the feelings of depression, because the consequence of faith is joy, and only by increasing one’s faith can one save oneself from dejection. For this reason, when it is said in Mishna that, “A person must be grateful for the bad,” the Talmud immediately adds: “And must receive it with joy,” because there is no evil in the world!


Only the Creator Can Change a Person

Because we perceive only what actually enters our senses and not what remains outside us, we can grasp the Creator only to the degree that He acts upon us. Hence, we need our senses to deny the oneness of their source; they are specifically in order for the person to ultimately sense and reveal the Oneness of the Creator.

It is said that after the crossing of the Red Sea, people believed in the Creator and began to sing. Only faith allows one to sing out. If an individual feels that through self- improvement he will be able to correct himself, he should examine his attitude towards the belief in the omnipotence and the Oneness of the Creator, because only through the Creator, through prayer for change, is it possible to alter something in oneself.


Acquiring the Senses to Experience the Spiritual

It is said that the world was created for the delight of the created beings. Olam (the world) derives from the word he’elem or ha’alama—meaning “concealment.” It is by experiencing the opposing tendencies of concealment and revelation that a person experiences pleasure. And this is the meaning of the expression, “I created a help against you” (ezer ke-negdo).

Egoism was created as an aid to humankind. Gradually, while struggling against it, each person acquires all the senses necessary to experience the spiritual. For this reason, each person should look upon all obstacles and suffering with a full consciousness of their purpose, that is, to induce one to ask for the Creator’s help in receiving redemption from that suffering. Then, egoism and other unpleasant aspects transform into “help against you”—which is actually against egoism itself.

Attaining the Worlds BeyondThe Art of Overcoming Egoism” is based on the book, Attaining the Worlds Beyond by Dr. Michael Laitman.


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