Before I go on to the concepts of “soul,” I want to raise one point. When I say that the connection between the self and the physical body is the mechanism called “will,”---what connects the two---I don't only mean “physical body.” What I really mean is that the connection between the self and its “garb,” or its external manifestation wherein it resides, is the will. In other words, in order to lift your hand, “self” wills it, meaning that a mechanism is triggered that fires the brain, and the hand moves.
The same idea regards “thought.” In order to think, the self wills it, and you think. Thinking is also a process of mind that has to be willed in order to start. Therefore, you can start thinking and stop thinking, but you need the will to do it. In other words, thinking, or any other thing that you can control with the will, is the repercussion of the mechanism that lies between the self and that event.
In other words, “self” controls physical action, thoughts, even those events or phenomena which exist on the mental plane. These are controlled by the “self” exerting will. There is a mechanism that exists between the thought and “self,” just like there's a mechanism that exists between the body or the brain and the self.
That mechanism is called “will,” so you can will yourself to think, will yourself to stop thinking, and will yourself to think about something else; it doesn't make a difference. You still have to employ the will to initiate any kind of action that you do whether it be in the mental plane or whether it be in the physical plane. For instance, if you want to imagine, you have to will the imagination to conjure up an image.
It is possible---and this is the realm of the unconscious, which I'll talk about when I talk about meditation---to ask: What do you mean? Many times, I think about something or I see things in my mind that I'm not even conscious that I'm willing!
Good question. The answer is that there is a part of self that you are not aware of, and there is a part of consciousness that you are not aware of which is ‘willing in itself.’ So as not to confuse you now, I will talk about that in a very clear manner when we’ll talk about meditation.
We see, therefore, that man consists of the following elements:
1- a self that is indivisible and discrete
2- a garb which consists of:
a- the mind which possesses many faculties, all operating in the mental plane or the mental dimension
b- a physical body
This is what we see that man consists of: the self and the mind. We can understand the spiritual components and the structure of man now that we know the concept of “self” and “mind.”
Man has two souls, two nefashos---souls (and nefesh is “soul”).
The first soul is called “nefesh elyona”---higher soul, the spiritual soul, an entity that is spiritual in nature. It's also called “nefesh ha’nivdelos”---transcendent soul, because it is not physical. It transcends the physical; it is a spiritual entity, purely.
The second soul that man has is called “nefesh tachtona”---lower soul. This is physical in nature---I repeat---physical in nature. Man has a lower soul which is physical in nature, but the soul which is physical in nature is extremely subtle. It’s ethereal. It's a very subtle form of matter. In Hebrew, it's called “dak she’b’gashmius,” the finest, subtlest, ethereal form of matter that cannot be detected by instruments. But it is still matter, still geshem---material, physical.This is the physical soul. That physical soul is also called “nefesh behamis”---animal soul, which I will explain.
We see, therefore, that man has two souls: nefesh elyona, the higher soul, and nefesh tachtona, the lower soul.
Nefesh tachtona, nefesh behamis
What is this nefesh tachtona, the lower soul, or the animal soul?
From this nefesh tachtona emanates the life force of the inert body. In other words, what gives matter its life force, its animation or its vitality? The answer is the nefesh tachtona. It invests in an inert substance, life and animation, what we know as “life.” If you do not have a nefesh tachtona, you do not live. If something has it, all of a sudden that thing becomes live, as we recognize life. Even a simple cell has a nefesh tachtona which animates it. This soul is physical in nature. From the nefesh tachtona also emanates the mind with all its accompanying faculties. The entity called “mind,” with all its mental faculties, emanates from the nefesh tachtona.
The nefesh tachtona gives rise to “life force” which gives rise to “mind,” with all the accompanying faculties. The faculties of the mind are:
3- dimyon---which is imagination
4- hargasha---feeling, affect, emotion
These are the faculties of the mind and all are part of the mind which itself exists or emanates from the entity called “nefesh tachtona,” which is a physical soul that man possesses.
The nefesh tachtona resides in, or is connected to, the body. The nefesh tachtona is a resident, a denizen of the physical body. These two components, the nefesh tachtona and the guf---body, are the physical aspects of man's nature.
Therefore, we see man has a physical body, has a nefesh tachtona which makes the inert body animated, alive. That's the chiyus---the life force. This is what gives us quality of mind with all the emerging faculties of mind.
All living things possess nefesh tachtona, not only man. Everything that lives, from man to the smallest virus, has what's called a nefesh tachtona. It gives them life, animation, gives them chiyut. Without a nefesh tachtona, there is no life force in any matter whatsoever. Nefesh tachtona is also called, as I’ve mentioned, “nefesh behamis”---animal soul, because all living forms possess it in order to live, move, and propagate the species of the same kind.
Man also has a nefesh behamis, as I said before, because his body also lives. In other words, the nefesh behamis, which is the nefesh tachtona, is called “nefesh behamis,” or the “animal soul” because all animals have it in common in order to live. That's the life force and they possess it. Man, who is also an animal in the sense that he has a body, also has a nefesh behamis and that's what keeps him alive and that's what he shares in common with all life-forms, all animals.
Obviously, there are tremendous variations in complexity of the nefesh tachtona or the nefesh behamis. There are, obviously, a tremendous number of variations in different kinds of nefesh tachtona. Each organism has a nefesh tachtona which is ordained for it and its species. It has the exact nefesh tachtona that it must have in order to achieve what's called the “tikkun”---rectification of the “beriyah”---Creation.
Man's nefesh tachtona is incredibly greater than those of other life forms. Every living thing has a nefesh tachtona but it varies in complexity. In animals or insects, it is obviously much more primitive. In man it is much more complex because it gives man not only his life, but gives him his intellect, his mind, the power to reason, to have conceptions, judgments and syllogisms, the power to have imagination. It gives him the power to have self-awareness, that I am a self, that I know that I am aware, that I know that I know. Animals do not have that. This is the power invested by the nefesh tachtona in man, and, in man, it is much more complex and sophisticated. In the lower life-forms, it is obviously much more primitive, but it is the same thing, nefesh tachtona.
Thus, all living forms---ba’alei chaim, including man, Adam, contain a nefesh tachtona and a body; a physical soul and a physical body. That is the definition of all “living things”: guf---body, and nefesh tachtona---life force and, in man, it is mind and the faculties of mind: consciousness, awareness, intellect, imagination and so on. That is the nefesh tachtona, nefesh behami, the lower soul, the physical soul.
There is a second soul, a spiritual one; it is spiritual in substance and it is spiritual in nature, which is present in man and only in man and no other living form.
This spiritual soul, the “higher” soul is called the nefesh elyona. “Elyona” means “higher.” Only man has a nefesh elyona which immediately distinguishes man from all Creation. Man is different from the animals because he is composed of a body, the nefesh tachtona, which is physical, but he is also composed of a spiritual entity: nefesh elyona. They both are integrated in the same being called “man.” The spiritual entities, for instance angels, only have a spiritual entity; they have no physical entity. Man bridges two different existential planes in that he is spiritual and physical simultaneously, and that is what the Ribono Shel Olam---master of the universe wants and we’ll understand why later.
What is the nefesh elyona? We understand what the body is, what the nefesh tachtona is, the mind. What is the nefesh elyona?
The nefesh elyona is the “self.” It is placed in, or connected to, the nefesh tachtona, which itself is connected to the physical body. That's it. Nefesh elyona, the “self” is connected to nefesh tachtona, which is mind (that's why the “self” resides in the mind), and nefesh tachtona is connected to the body.
According to esoteric disciplines, kabbalistic ideas, the nefesh tachtona is connected where in the body?---to the blood. So, if you lose enough blood, you die because your nefesh tachtona left it. Technically, that's why you die.
That is why, when the Torah refers to “blood,” it refers to it as “nefesh.” As it it written, “ki ha’dam hu ha’nefesh---because the blood is the soul. Why does it call it nefesh?---because the nefesh tachtona, this very subtle form of matter, in some way which we are not aware of, is connected to the blood. And when one person bleeds a sufficient amount, he dies. He dies other ways because obviously the nefesh tachtona can leave the body through other ways which are ordained for it. But the blood is where it resides and that is the most obvious form death takes, when a person bleeds to death.
Man consists of three components, one spiritual and two physical:
1- nefesh elyona, the self which is spiritual in nature
2- nefesh tachtona which is physical in nature, subtle, giving the life-force and the emergent mind
3- guf, the body.
The body is a gross physical form, whereas the enfesh tachtona is a fine, subtle, physical form.
Connection to the olamos---Worlds
If it's true that man is composed of guf, nefesh tachtona, and the nefesh elyona, what we see now is that man is now connected to olam Asiyah---World of Action, physicality, because the physical world is the world of the body and the world of the mind, the mental plane. So, if the nefesh elyona is connected to the nefesh tachtona, which is connected to the body, then the nefesh elyona is now connected to olam Asiyah. In fact, “self” resides in the mind.
We are now connected to the olam Asiyah so, if that's the case, we now exist on the level of olam Asiyah, therefore we can mesaken---rectify olam Asiyah. We can correct it, can remove the concealment of the Divine essence in olam Asiyah and we can restore olam Asiyah to a state of tremendous gilui of yechudo---revelation of His Oneness and that's exactly what we do.
That is the way we got the essence of man, the self, the nefesh elyona, to be able to mesaken olam Asiyah, because the self is connected to the nefesh tachtona which is connected to the guf. And the self, the nefesh elyona, resides in the mind, on the mental plane. Once it resides in the mind, on the mental plane, it now can mesaken, can correct, can fix the area of olam Asiyah. Now we understand how we can mesaken olam Asiyah. It’s because we exist in olam Asiyah.
Man must be connected to all other olamos---worlds existentially, in order to mesaken---rectify the hester---concealment of these worlds. In other words, in order to remove the concealment of G-D, or the concealment of the Oneness of G-D, we must be connected not only to olam Asiyah, but to all other worlds, and, as far as we know, the self is only connected to the Olam Asiyah, residing in the mind.
The question, then, is: is man connected existentially to all other olamos in order to mesaken the hester of these worlds? Also, by the way, in order to be able to enjoy the spiritual enlightenment of the olamos, you have to be existentially existing on those worlds. In other words, not only must you exist on the other worlds in order to change those worlds, to mesaken those worlds, but in order to be the recipient of enlightenment or the recipient of perceptions of other worlds, you must exist existentially there also.
So, the question arises: how is man connected to the other worlds in order to mesaken it and also to experience enlightenment and perception so as to transcend this world and journey to the other worlds? We can do it through certain procedures, but how? We have to be there. The self must be there and, so far, we see that the self exists only in olam Asiyah. So, how do we do this?
What the Ribono Shel Olam did is an incredible thing that only He could do. He took “self” and he stretched it like a rubber band. He took the nefesh elyona and he extended it---the “self,” mind you. He took the self which we know is connected to olam Asiyah through the nefesh tachtona, extended it into olam Yetsira, stretched it into olam Briyah, stretched it into olam Atzilut and shoved it into Adam Kadmon, which means that we actually spread through five existential planes. It's incredible! That means the self extends itself through five essential planes. If anybody thought that they had to reduce (as in “go on a diet,”) this is it; you extend through five existential planes.
That is how you are connected to five existential planes. In other words, the nefesh elyona has five major parts, each part being on a different level. The nefesh elyona is the self which is extended to be existentially present in all five existential planes, all five olamos. Thus, nefesh elyona or the self exists, is manifest, in all five dimensions of being and it is called by a specific name. The self assumes different names depending upon which olam it resides in, and depending on which olam you want to refer to it. In other words, depending on which olam the self resides in, or is ontological rooted to, it has a different name.
Therefore, when it is in olam Asiyah, the nefesh elyona, the self, is called “nefesh”---soul. That's the nefesh elyona. So, “nefesh elyona” is a collective term for the upper, higher soul, but it also refers to a specific term, “nefesh,” that which is used to designate the self or the soul when it is in olam Asiyah.
When the self, the soul, is in olam Yetsira, we call it “ruach”---spirit.
When we are in olam Briyah, we are called “neshama” or “breath.” Sometimes, neshama stands collectively for all the components of mans’ self, just like nefesh also means that. In any case, the specific term of “nefesh” means the soul, or the self, as it resides in the Olam Briyah.
When you reside in olam Atzilut, you are called “chaya”---living, and when you reside in Adam Kadmon, you are called “yechida”---unique, singular because you can see the term “yechida” means “yichud,” because that's intimations of the connection that you have with G-D at that point in time.
What we see, therefore, is that there are five dimensions of self in every Jew, because all five dimensions of “self” exist on five existential planes. This is really the idea of an “extended self,” a self stretched out throughout all existential planes of being. In other words, the self has been, in some way which is unknown to us, stretched out far beyond this world. The self actually manifests its own presence in every single dimension of reality. What we see so far is that all five parts of self, all five parts of the nefesh elyona, are really one entity, one “self.” It's not five parts or five different entities; it's really one specific entity that is extended through every dimension of being, every existential plane.
A good metaphor is the example of a chain that has five links. One end is hooked up to one area and the other end is hooked up to another area, another spot. That's a very good symbolic analogy to understand the concept of nefesh elyona, the concept of how the being of man is “stretched out.”
Let's take a look at a chain and its links. The chain, and the links of the chain, is symbolic of nefesh elyona, the self. The five links of a chain are equal to the five parts of the nefesh elyona. Each part of the nefesh elyona has a separate manifestation in different worlds. All five links of the chain are connected or linked to one another. The same idea applies to nefesh elyona. Every part of nefesh elyona, even though it manifests itself separately in every dimension of reality, are really linked together, connected to one another. Also, just like all five parts, five links of a chain, form one entity, the same idea applies here, that all parts of nefesh elyona which are connected to one another, like a chain, form one entity. That is the idea of nefesh elyona or “extended self.”
We also see that, just like one end of a chain is connected to one area and the other end of a chain is connected to another area, the same is true of nefesh elyona. The lowest nefesh, nefesh elyona, is connected to olam Asiyah----world of action, and the uppermost part, called the “yechida,” is connected to Adam Kadmon---primordial man.
The analogy, the symbol of a chain with five links is very appropriate to explain the concept of nefesh elyona. Therefore, we see that nefesh elyona extends itself through all dimensions of reality and, at the bottom-most level, the nefesh elyona is connected to the nefesh tachtona and the nefesh tachtona is connected to the body in olam Asiyah.
This gives us a basic, adequate understanding of the concept of soul and the higher soul of nefesh elyona. It is important to note that even though “self” is connected to every existential plane, and since it is connected to every existential plane and every dimension of being, it can perceive any entity in that dimensional plane. Not only can it perceive the entities on that plane, it can perceive the yichud manifestation, the amount of giui yechudo---revelation of Oneness perceptible on that plane. It can perceive the amount of Divine revelation, the amount of revelation of the Divine essence in every plane, because it is a resident of that plane. It can perceive entities extant on that plane as well as a state of gilui of yichud that is manifest on that plane.
What I want to point out, however, is that, even though it exists in every plane and can, therefore, perceive the entities and the amount of revelation of yechudo, the awareness, the consciousness of these worlds is denied until a future appropriate time for such a perception.
Even though you could perceive the entities of these worlds---the yichud manifestations of these worlds and so on---that awareness of those worlds are denied you at present. You're not aware that your “self” is extended throughout dimensions of being. You're not aware of what you really can perceive. It is only in potential; the actual awareness is denied to a person but, at a future appropriate time, the self is to be made aware of the actual planes in which it exists. This is what happens later on. Of course, the future appropriate time is olam Ha’ba---Future World.
The avodah---Service of Jewish Meditation
Three Methods: Future Time, Meditation, Divine Intervention
We see that the self-awareness of these existential planes is denied it until a future appropriate time. In addition, the self can achieve an awareness of these various existential planes in which it actually resides in another way. There is a meditative avodah that leads to ruach ha’kodesh---holy spirit (insight) and nevuah---prophecy. This also will give access of the self, the nefesh elyona, to perceive what it actually can perceive.
By means of meditative avodah, via an actual task whereby a person meditates and performs certain processes, he can perceive the different areas of the existential planes in which he exists. That's a second way that a person can perceive those areas. The first way by which a person will be granted access to those areas, to actually have an awareness of those areas, is at a future appropriate time.
Another way is to perceive it here, but you must employ specific procedures that will enable you to perceive those worlds.
There is a third way an individual, a “self,” can perceive the olamos elyonos, the upper worlds, the upper existential planes. By means of a special Divine intervention, mankind can be enabled to become aware of these olamos wherein he really exists. G-D has to interfere with reality as we know it, with the physical world, to enable man to perceive the world that he is connected to. That is the third way, but that takes Divine intervention which, of course, does not occur on a regular basis; that occurs very infrequently.
If the future appropriate time is not yet here, you will not perceive, not be aware of what you are connected to. If you are not involved in meditative avodah, prophecy, and/or Divine inspiration, you also will not perceive what you are connected to. If the Ribono Shel Olam does not give you the ability, does not intervene in the physical laws of nature to enable you to perceive to where you are connected, you will not perceive those worlds. Therefore, there are actually three ways for a person to transcend his physical body, at least in terms of awareness. You do not leave the body, but you are aware of upper worlds, different existential planes, in one of three ways.
Just to give an example: when was there a Divine intervention? Was there a time when G-D actually allowed Jews to perceive worlds or existential planes, even though they were not worthy? Even though it was not the appropriate time---it wasn't Olam Haba---and they certainly didn't engage in any meditative avodah---that process, procedure that leads to prophecy or to a Divine inspiration---was there a time that G-D intervened and allowed Jews to perceive other worlds, even though they did not merit it?
The answer is: matan Torah, the giving of the Torah itself. Matan Torah was a special circumstance for historical transmission of the yichud of the Ribono Shel Olam, even though they were not worthy by themselves. What does that mean?
What the Ribono Shel Olam wanted to do at matan Torah is give Jews the Torah. Jews, therefore, would accept the Torah and transmit this Torah down through the generations. In order for Jews to successfully transmit that, they would have to become aware not only of the Torah but of Who the Ribono Shel Olam is. They would also transmit that down through the generations. So, the Ribono Shel Olam revealed Himself in a manner which was far beyond how He normally reveals Himself in order that the Jewish people can say to their descendants: We saw God; we had a prophetic experience. That is really what happened at matan Torah, at the giving of the law at Mount Sinai. They can say to their descendants: we perceived this. Their descendants can say to their descendants: my father told me, that his father told him, that his father told him….. that he was present when G-D appeared, revealed Himself to the Jewish people. That is true transmission and that really is the basis for belief among the Jewish people.
We Jews believe in G-D for two reasons, basically. We believe in G-D because of an historical event that occurred 3300 years ago, and we also believe in G-D because we can reason out that there must be a G-D in this world.
Focusing on the first idea, we believe in God because of a historical transmission which is very accurate. An historical transmission has to contain two fundamental strengths. The first strength that a historical transmission has to contain is the transmission itself: how valid is the transmission, the process of one giving over the ideas to another? The second idea is the validity of the event itself that is being transmitted. Who or what was revealed, and what is being said about the event itself?
The Jews’ transmission of this event has a very strong historical validity, both in the event that occurred---the event that is being transmitted---and also the transmission process itself. What Judaism says is that over two million people witnessed a revelation of G-D Himself. The first two commandments of the Ten Commandments were given by G-D Himself, not through Moshe Rabbeinu. The first commandment that “I am the Lord, your God, who has taken you out of Egypt” and the second commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me” were given by G-D Himself, not through Moshe. When G-D Himself gave those two commandments, it was a prophetic experience which was beyond imagination.
G-D actually revealed Himself to the Jewish people in a way which is not comprehensible. They felt G-D, knew Who G-D was, and who they were vis-à-vis G-D. In other words, they had what's called “hasagas yehudo.” They actually perceived the unity of G-D, the Oneness of G-D, at Mount Sinai. That was the event that really happened. In other words, at matan Torah, the giving of the Torah, the Jews received---first of all---the Torah itself.
The second thing they received was a prophetic experience of Who G-D is. That event was witnessed by over two million people. That is the event that Judaism says occurred 3,300 years ago. The rest of the Torah was given by Moshe Rabbeinu because the Jews could not tolerate that prophetic experience. In fact, the midrash---exigetical commentary says that the Jews died. Every Jew died after the first two commandments were given. It says that G-D then, of course, had to resurrect the Jewish nation. Why did they die?---because the revelation was so intense. The desire of the soul to reunite with G-D after perceiving who it is in relationship to G-D, was so great that the soul burst the bond of the physical and it flew back---so to speak---to G-D. They were not used to that kind of prophetic experience because they were not worthy of it. Moshe Rabbeinu, who was accustomed to that that kind of experience, didn't die. He gets it all the time, but that's because he worked on himself to separate the physical from the spiritual. The Jewish people did not work on themselves so they died as a result of the prophetic experience.
But they had to get that prophetic experience in order to be able to inculcate their experience of that event to the generations. Therefore, what Judaism says is that over two million people heard G-D Himself, witnessed the Being of G-D. It is this which is transmitted from Jew to Jew down through 3300 years. That is the event that Judaism says occurred and that is the transmission. In other words: I heard from my father and, if not from my father, from my teacher who heard from his teacher, who heard from his teacher and father all the way back. What did they say happened?---that G-D revealed Himself on Mount Sinai to over two million people. He revealed Who He was in relationship to them. The truth is that Moshe Rabbeinu says, “Ata horeisa lada’at”---you have been shown that you may know.” Where have we been shown this?---at Mount Sinai. Moshe says, “Ki Ha’Shem hu Elokim---G-D is the Master,” and “Ein od milvado”: there is nobody but G-D. That's the pasuk---verse I referred to before, but that pasuk is being stated by Moshe Rabbeinu to the Jews right after the giving of the Torah. Moshe is expressing: what have you been shown? Not only were you given a Torah, but you were shown Who G-D is. It is that event that Jews transmit.
Therefore, Jews can claim the greatest validity compared to other religions because, if you notice, other religions transmit events which have no concrete legitimacy compared to the Jewish event. Christianity says that Yeshua, Jesus, arose from the dead. That's when Christianity started. Who witnessed that resurrection? Basically, several people claim to have witnessed it but did they witness the resurrection?---no. What they saw was an empty cave, but what could have happened to the body? Anything could have happened to the body. So who are the people who witnessed the event that they say started the entirety of Christianity?---very few people---two, three, four people. The others who say they witnessed it say that they had an experience, they imagined, or they saw Jesus who appeared to them---for instance, Paul. But that's his mind; that's Paul relating an event. Judaism says over two million people witnessed G-D while only a couple, a handful, say that it was an empty cave. Look at the difference between matan Torah and the content and manner being transmitted by Christianity.
Take a look at Islam; what does Islam say? Who witnessed G-D?---only Mohammed; Mohammed said: “G-d spoke to me.” Nobody else witnessed such a thing and, based on that, an entire religion gains credibility. What is thought about it is absurd! How did Mohammad convince people of the justice or the righteousness of his cause, that he truly witnessed G-D and that he was a prophet?---the sword. You believe?—good. If not, then you die! That's basically how he converted the Arab world. Look at the events that each religion says that it is based on. Look at the difference!
The second area is the area of transmission, a transmission that has been very carefully guarded. The event of the giving of the Torah, with the prospect and obligation to transmit it to future generations, is carefully guarded. People actually count the letters of the Bible to know, if you take a look at the text, to be certain of the exact, very careful transmission, down to how many letters there are. For those people who have learned the Talmud, many times, when passages are quoted, three or four sages, scholars, are quoted with: so-and-so said in the name of so-and-so. If there is a claim, then: so-and-so said in the name of so-and-so and maybe it's somebody else that said it in the name of somebody else. Each contributor will record every person who they think contributed a statement in order to make sure that the transmission is accurate.
Judaism is incredibly accurate in its transmission regarding the process and the event itself. That's the difference between Judaism and all other religions. In any case, matan Torah is this: G-D had to reveal Himself to the Jews so that they could now pass this on and transmit this to their descendants because G-D cannot expect anybody to believe anybody based on his own personal experience; there's no obligation. That is why G-D had to reveal Himself to the Jewish people at the giving of Torah in order that this event should be transmitted. Based on that, we believe in G-D. That is the basis of emunah---belief that we have, the historical transmission of ma'amad Har Sinai, what occurred 3300 years ago at Mount Sinai.
We see therefore, in summary, that there are three ways a person can experience the existential planes that he actually exists in:
- The first will only be in a future time, olam Ha’ba.
- The second way it’s possible to experience other worlds while still in olam ha’zeh---this world, assumes he engages in the correct procedures to access prophecy and Divine inspiration. If he engages in these correct process or procedures, he will be aware of the existential planes wherein he exists and be able to see the Divine manifestations on those planes and the entities that exist of those planes.
- The third way is extrinsic to man, not controlled by man. G-D decides that there has to be a Divine revelation in order for some fundamental idea in Judaism to continue, so He will reveal Himself to people at that point in time to ensure that this happens. The classic event, as I had mentioned, was matan Torah. Not only did G-D give the Torah to Jews, He also revealed Himself to Jews, revealed Who He is via the first two Commandments; the rest was given by Moshe.
In fact, the numerical value of “Torah,” if you add up the letters, is 611. The tav is 400, resh is 200, the heh and Vav are 11, which totals: 611. “Torah” adds up to 611 commandments because two commandments were not given by Moshe; they were given by G-D Himself. The gematria of “Torah” does not add up to 613 because two of the Commandments were given by God Himself and not by Moshe Rabbeinu.
The idea of “self” not being conscious of a spiritual reality that it truly can perceive because it resides there means that there is a phenomenon that exists whereby reality can be concealed from the self on one level, yet, as we shall see, this reality still profoundly influences the self, even though it is concealed from the self. In other words, there is a phenomenon obviously that exists that can conceal from the self the existential planes wherein the self exists.
There is a phenomenon of the denial of awareness or perception to the self of aspects of reality that it truly can know (and the reason why it can know, obviously, is because it exists in those existential planes, that it can know what goes on in the spiritual planes). This phenomenon is the psychic phenomena called “repression,” which places ideas or feelings or thoughts beyond conscious awareness of the ego itself, even though the self can know these ideas. The self does not know all the areas wherein it exists. That means there is a mechanism, a phenomenon, which conceals from the self this area of knowledge. That mechanism which exists on the spiritual plane also exists in the physical plane; it’s the same mechanism.
In other words, on the physical plane---meaning here---it is possible for me not to know all areas of reality that I can know of. This phenomena or mechanism is called “repression.” The origin of repression as a concealing device or a defense mechanism from the self, and the subsequent idea of the “unconscious” where this information them lies is, in reality, the same phenomenon of repression of a spiritual reality to the unconscious area where this information also then lies.
What does that mean? The idea of “repression” has its origin as a spiritual phenomenon. “Repression” simply means that the self is able to conceal aspects of reality that it does not want to look at. That is what “repression” is. It is able to push information out of its own awareness which it normally would be privy to. We see that the concept of “repression” exists spiritually because the self is not aware of the spiritual world that it exists in. It's not aware of entities or the yichud manifestation of those worlds. The idea of a concealing device, a device whereby the reality of other worlds is concealed from it, also exists in the physical plane.
The idea of “repression,” on the physical plane is an emotional phenomenon. If a person does not want to know certain information, ideas, thoughts, or feelings which it finds threatening, he is able to push it out of his mind, push it out of awareness and, as a result, is unaware of those ideas. The self has the ability to hide, conceal various aspects of reality that it does not want to know. It has what's called a “selection process.” The self has to have the ability to do this; it has to have a device. The device that it has is the repressive mechanism. That is the same device that is used by the spiritual worlds, that the self be unaware of the spiritual worlds wherein it actually resides.
This device, repression, is also utilized on the emotional plane, here, that if it doesn't want to know an idea or thought it finds too threatening or too intolerable, it just throws it out of mind. That's what repression is. It is a mental phenomenon; it’s a concealing device, a defense mechanism wherein the self is able to hide aspects of reality that it doesn't want to look at, be aware of.
We now see that there is the existence of this mechanism, repression, because the self is not aware of many worlds that it exists in so, obviously, there exists a mechanism which can hide from the self that information or knowledge which it normally would be privy to. This same mechanism exists here also, on this world, in the emotional plane. The origin of repression has its origin in spiritual realities. Therefore, since the self can hide aspects of reality which it exists in, namely spiritual planes, since it can be hidden from the self through repression, the self has this repressive mechanism available to it. If it wants to utilize it to hide information, it can do that. The origin of repression, which the self uses, exists in the spiritual world and is, therefore, available to the self on the emotional level here as well.
Repression Exerted by G-D vs. Repression by Self and Its Influence
But, there's a difference. In the former case, when we have a self that is not aware of the worlds that it exists in, the repression is from the Ribono Shel Olam. G-D forces the self not to be aware of the worlds that it exists in. The repression is from G-D and He makes a person unaware of the spiritual worlds that this person really is connected to. Therefore, of course, the person becomes totally unaware of it. The person becomes unconscious of it whilst, in the latter case when the self denies access to information which it does not want to see, the repression is activated automatically by the self, by the person, not by the Ribono Shel Olam; and, of course, it activates that in order to avoid seeing material which is threatening and intolerable to itself.
The material which becomes repressed becomes unconscious to the self which then loses the awareness of that material. Also, what's important to note is that, just as in the former case of spiritual repression, the unconscious, repressed material which G-D makes so, or conceals from itself, continues to exert a strong influence on self. Just because the self, the individual, is not aware of the fact that he resides in spiritual worlds, doesn't mean that the spiritual worlds don't have an influence on him, or that he does not have an influence on the spiritual worlds. So, just like the phenomenon of repression on the physical plane, the unconscious, repressed spiritual material exerts a strong influence on the self. The same can be said of emotional repression which, of course, is unconscious. This unconscious or repressed material continues to exert great influence over the self.
I should define these three ideas: “conscious,” “subconscious,” and “unconscious”---what they are, how you can better understand them.
Anything which you are aware of, which the self is aware of, is conscious; you are aware of it.
If you are not aware of something because you are thinking about one thing and, therefore, you cannot possibly think about everything, then that material is in the subconscious. Why?---because you are not thinking of it. It is, therefore, not presently aware to you. We say that that material is “not conscious” to you, or it is in the subconscious.
There is also material which is unconscious, material which you forced out of the mind. The reason why you are unaware of this material is not because you're thinking about something else and the mind can only think about one thing at one time therefore it doesn't know this material. The reason why things “go into the unconscious” is because you force it there. In other words, you have the ability to conceal reality from yourself. That's a device that is inborn to the mind. That's one of the mental activities or faculties of the mind, the ability to repress. When the individual uses repression, the material becomes unconscious. In other words, conscious, subconscious, and unconscious are not three places but three levels of awareness to the self. It's not a place, it's a state. Repression makes for the unconscious state.
There are three levels of awareness: conscious, subconscious and unconscious.
If you are aware of something presently, then we say that that material is “conscious.” If you are not aware of the material, we say that material is in the “subconscious” or is “on a level of awareness of the subconscious” because you are thinking of something else and you cannot have more than one idea in your mind. You can recall this information if you want by diverting attention to the other area.
The third area, or third level of awareness, is called “unconscious,” but material is unconscious because the mind pushes it out. It is not accessible to the mind except through certain various means but, normally, unconscious material is not available to the conscious mind because you are actively pushing it out. Unconscious material is unconscious not because there's a place called the “unconscious,” but because it is not conscious; therefore, it is unconscious. In other words, material which is not conscious is unconscious if it cannot be called back to the mind because the mind is pushing it out. Material is in the subconscious if it is not conscious, but it is readily available as soon as the mind will attend to it.
We see that the repressive mechanism has its origin in spirituality; that the Ribono Shel Olam conceals from the self the fact that the self exists in many planes and, therefore, could be aware of all the different areas wherein it exists. The device or the phenomenon is called “repression.” That mechanism of repression is also used when one doesn't want to know information and it is thrown out of the conscious mind and becomes unconscious because it is a repressive mechanism. When does the self, when does a person, use that? It uses that when the material is too threatening, too intolerable to look at. This information can be ideas, feelings, wishes, thoughts, desires, anything that the self finds objectionable or threatening – it will repress it and throw it out.
That idea, by the way, is the basis of all psychopathology or all abnormal behavior and actually explains a great deal of behavior, even in a normal sense.
The Unique Specificity of Tikkun---Rectification or Kilkul---Destruction
We see that man, the nefesh elyona, or the self, is connected to all Creation, every olam, all olamos. He is attached to every existential plane, every ontological dimension. At this time, “man” means, of course, Jews. Since the Jew is connected to all this, he can mesaken---rectify every area of reality, both physical and spiritual, because he's connected to all the physical and spiritual worlds.
Just like a person can mesaken, can rectify or restore, Creation to its original state in all worlds---and we know what that is, to restore the perception of the Oneness of G-D to what it used to be before G-D concealed it---man can also mekalkel---destroy, annihilate every area of reality because he is connected to every area of reality.
If you have the power of tikkun, then you also have the power of kilkul in the same exact areas. Just like it can create a state of gilui yechudo---revelation of Onenessthroughout all the worlds, man can also increase the state of hester yechudo---concealment of Oneness throughout all the worlds. If he creates a state of gilui yechudo, revelation of God's Oneness throughout all worlds, this is tikkun. If, however, he creates a state of hester yechudo, of concealment of the Oneness of God, concealment that G-D is the source of all being, then this, o