Óscar Reyes-Matute
Philosophy, kabbalah, screenwriting...

Kabbalah, play and laugher

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An interesting way to describe the behavior of the world around us, and us within it, is by thinking of it as a game, with rules, avatars, rewards, rises, falls, allies, opponents.

Economists have developed a whole branch based on game theory, with rules that try to describe, and above all predict, the behavior of economic actors at a particular time, situation and environment. This in order to promote behaviors, public policies and shared perceptions that can foster stability, wealth, redistribution, in general, the common welfare.

Role-playing games, video games, the ubiquity of games in our world is not simply a choice of post-capitalist playful life, but an epistemological approach, a re-writing of our mental maps and of the institutions and constructs that we create and follow according to those maps.

So, for example, to describe as part of a game the ascents and descents in the mechanics of the Kabbalah tree of life and in the five levels of the soul, in the goal of balance in the whole aspects of our human constitution, is already an old way of approach.

From the point of view of the game, let’s suppose that we are in a search for integral balance, for raising the levels of energetic perception of our being, let’s say that we look for more subtle lights to impregnate ourselves with them and flow in life without all those pains, fears, anger and other reactions that harass us from the front, from behind, from all sides every time we interact with others and with the universe in general.

Let’s say that we study the tree of life, in the applied version of Eduardo Madirolas, that we unravel and practice the meditation techniques of Abraham Abulafia through Aryeh Kaplan’s book “Meditation and Kabbalah”, that we participate in a group at Kabbalah Center, or at Bnei Baruch, and that we follow Baal HaSulam’s interpretation, and try to honor Hillel’s premise, that Kabbalah can be summed up in the mitzvah “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And that we do it with all our intellect and all our heart.

Shouldn’t this be enough? Isn’t it a clear and simple recipe, which you have to follow faithfully and naive like when preparing a potato omelette?

Well, no, and we all know that this is not the case, although we do not always identify the factor that dismantles the ascents that we are achieving.

Why does that happen?

Javier Wolcoff says, in his reading on Parsha Pinchas of 2016:

The angel of death attacks from within, from emotions, from anger, and makes you lose your memory. In this way all the spiritual work achieved is lost, because you cannot find the connection between all the things in the world.

Perhaps, if we review a basic principle of Kabbalah, we can trace that obstacle, that opponent or antagonist (I cannot avoid my job as a screenwriter), who has been described as “the angel of death.”

The teachers will tell you that the universe is moved by two forces, love and fear. Not love and hate, but the absolute trust in the goodness of creation, and the doubt that it is so, which generates fear towards the system, towards the world, towards others, towards our own faculties.

And it is from fear that the other reactions arise: rage, hatred, envy, what you can call deadly sins.

According to Wolcoff, that is the secret mechanic of the game. And it’s not unreasonable, from a psychological point of view.

The game has a design that makes it difficult for you to climb in a devious way.

You use your rationality to study, ascend, connect with your neighbor, with the universe, you meditate, you work day and night… You ascend one, two, three steps…

And suddenly, in an oversight, your emotional part, Zeir Ampin, the sefirot of the chest, betray you. You get angry because they didn’t serve your coffee at the temperature you like, because someone left you waiting and didn’t keep his word, for whatever reason, and a rush of anger runs through your chest.

Is a victory for the angel of death. The algorithm has erased ALL the spiritual work that you had achieved, and you do not remember the connection between a smell and a vision, between the phrase of your teacher and the colors of the sunset. And restoring those connections is going to take you weeks and efforts, until you have climbed another 2 or 3 steps, but then you have a new attack of anger and… Again…

I have heard Isaac Shapiro say that one way to reach the fourth and fifth levels of the soul, Jaya (life) and Yehida (unification) is through joy, which is the opposite of anger.

If you absolutely rejoice in every little thing you do in the day, if every gesture, every task, is a consecration to the order and harmony of the cosmos, then you will never get tired at work, and the angel of death will not be able to attack you from inside, from anger.

I remember hearing my master Michael Laitman saying that you have to laugh, and if you are not in the mood, then you pretend to laugh, and after a while you’ll really be laughing, like we do in laughter therapy.

I’ve red that it is a Hasidic recipe, perhaps from the Baal Shem Tov himself.

Can we combat these declines, this reactivity, with the use of rationality in depth, with all our intellectual forces?

Paradoxically, no. Rationality can function as a superiority complex -especially if you have studied philosophy, if you are a scientist or a smart person- and make fun of both feelings and laughter. Things of children, of crazy people, of women (the ones from old times, not the current ones in times of gender revolts), which are neither serious, nor can they be “explained” in terms of science.

It’s funny, but in these cases the angel of death disguises himself as rationality, superior wisdom, and flatters your ego so that you finally despise the simplest way, the smile and laughter. This little animal that Kabbalah calls the angel of death is cunning.

What can we do? Laitman insists that we have to try it with faith above reason, but the inner cunning animal can convince you, with very rational arguments, that it is a dangerous dogmatism, a kind of religious blindness, and that we should never deactivate or put on pause the rational apparatus (the ego), because it is our last line of defense so we don’t get lost, so we don’t go crazy.

But perhaps it is not necessary, in the first instance, a powerful faith above reason, but what in Saxon law is called a “reasonable doubt.”

Since I can’t find a solution by the rational way: What if I laugh? how about if I try? “Come and see that the Creator is good”, Kabbalists have always said. But of course, it seems very silly… The little animal is clever, I repeat, and the game is very cunning.

He convinces you that only he (the little animal, the angel of death, the ego), through rationality, can lead you through the arduous path of life. And, poor you! If you go up two or three steps, then the blow comes right away, and that is why the emotions of the chest, the sefirot of the middle of the tree of life (Zeir Ampin), are the core on which it is necessary to apply the most powerful lights, the most intense and at the same time the more subtle, the luminosity of game, smile and laughter.

One does not ascend to the subtle spiritual worlds if we do not control the sefirot of the chest, anger, fear, reactivity.

Yes, perhaps life and light hang on a smile.

About the Author
Óscar Reyes-Matute (Matu / מאתו), lives in Caracas. He's a philosopher graduated at Andrés Bello Catholic University, with a Master in Political Science at USB. He has been Fulbright Visiting Scholar at NYU on American Studies, and professor of political philosophy at UCAB and UCV. He has published academic papers in universities of Venezuela and Europe, and articles in several newspapers. Since 2008, he is dedicated to study Kabbalah at the Bnei Baruch Institute in Petaj Tikva with Michael Laitman, while works as writer of cinema and television screenplays. He's liryc tenor. Be aware, after a glass of wine, he suddenly can start to sing "Nessun Dorma!"
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