Yael Chaya Miriam Gray

Nullify your ego, not your desire

~ Who/What are we? According to the Baal HaSulam, the essence of any being is that which it most ardently desires. R. Yehudah Ashlag, Commentary On The Zohar explains regarding; “We were created to receive, not to give. “Kabbalah awakens us to the necessity of transforming from desiring to receive to desiring to give.”) “Our working to become givers is part of the process, but it is not the purpose.” Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Gottlieb, Hakdama Le Chochmat HaEmet p. 430, Inner Work, p, 105.

~ Why did G-d create us? “G-d created us to give us goodness. There is no situation, thought, or reality that does not come from G-d’s desire to bestow goodness. [We are not speaking here of the transient pleasures of the material world; we are speaking of the ultimate goodness.] The [ultimate] goodness is experiencing G-d.” Id., pp. 453, 482 and 109, respectively.

~ Goodness must be desired. But one cannot desire something unless one is conscious of the lack of it. Satiety extinguishes desire. Lack is the sine qua non, the midwife of desire, that without which G-d’s desire to bestow goodness upon humankind cannot come to fruition. So what did G-d do? He created the universe incomplete, so that a man can feel and experience the sensation of lack in his everyday life. “The Baal HaSulam writes that lack itself is the completeness. Without lack there is no vessel to receive the supernal light. Every lack is part of the perfection.” Id., p. 415 and p, 101.

~ The desire to receive pleasure is specific to mankind. Just as the desire to bestow goodness can be said to characterize G-d’s every action, it is the G-d-given desire to receive pleasure that characterizes man’s every action. The desire to receive is what makes man, man. (It bears reiterating that we are not speaking here about the selfish and evanescent material pleasure of receiving for one’s own sake, but of the altruistic and eternal spiritual pleasure of desiring to receive in order to give back what we have received, to others and to G-d.) The simple desire to receive pleasure cannot and should not be eradicated. For all spiritual progress depends upon the strength of a person’s desire to receive it and is measured by how much he suffers from the lack of it. This measure contains what he gives up or is willing to suffer to obtain it. Id. Cf. (pg.?) Zohar.

~ The “ego” desires, but the ego is not desire. As used here, “ego’ means that self-centered, self-generated, fictional mental entity which is concerned with pursuing the experience of sensual pleasure merely for the sake of its own temporary gratification. A man’s ego is the portrait he paints of himself from his thoughts, words, deeds, emotions, and motivations, for the consumption of “the other.” Ego is the false face we would like the world to see. It is not the accurate description and representation of a man’s living soul. Like evil, the ego has no substance other than what we cede to it by our free-will thoughts, speech, and actions. At best, it is an irrelevancy and at its worst, it is a sort of “Dorian Gray” depiction.

~ Desire, on the other hand, is the lynchpin of creation. For, as previously stated, G-d’s purpose for creation cannot be accomplished unless a person actually desires the goodness which G-d desires to bestow upon him. It is necessary for a man to desire the goodness that G-d desires to bestow upon him. But a person has no desire for G-d’s aforesaid spiritual gifts without first feeling the sensation of lacking. Satiety extinguishes desire, because desire is born solely out of a person’s reaction to this sensation of lack. This is why G-d created the creation incomplete, so that we would feel this lack, turn to Him to fill it, and thereby accomplish the world’s true purpose. We see from this that both desire and lack are important components of G-d’s plan for the creation, it’s maintenance and it’s transformation of Asiyah (this lower realm) in order to a fit the co-habitation for us in His Presence.

~ In this context, it bears worthy of emphasis that “when doing spiritual work, it is not necessary to nullify one’s desires. [It is necessary only to nullify the ego.] On the contrary, we are comprised of desires. If they were to be nullified, who would remain?” Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Gottlieb, Hakdama Le Chochmah HaEmet, p. 428, Inner Work, p. 105. Desire for G-d is the kli (vessel) which draws down and holds God’s light. Without a vessel to hold it, there is no experience of G-d’s goodness.

~ “That’s why the desire to receive does not disappear (even though we sometimes pray for this because we want to be complete without struggle). If the desire to receive were to disappear, we would be in need of a very big spiritual doctor. The Sages teach that the higher the spiritual degree, the greater the desire to receive. The desire to receive remains, but we become able to transcend it. Then G-d becomes more important to us than our desire to receive.” Id., p. 446 and p. 109, respectively.

~ The effort is not to eradicate any desire: The effort is rather to transform our selfish will to receive pleasure solely for our own sake into a sincere and altruistic desire to receive pleasure only for the sake of giving it back, to others and to G-d. In so doing, a man achieves similarity of the ethereal form of the Creator. This is to say, similarity of good desire, likened to his Creator, is a prerequisite for his union with Him. And man’s uniting with G-d is the entire purpose of creation and the reason we are here to begin with.” Id.

About the Author
Jewish Mystic.