Big Think Interview With Michael Laitman
Dr. Laitman received his PhD In philosophy and Kabbalah from the Moscow Institute of Philosophy at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and his MSc in Medical Cybernetics from the St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, in the faculty of Biological Medical Cybernetics. In addition to being a scientist and a researcher, Dr. Laitman has been extensively engaged in Kabbalah for the past thirty years. He has published thirty books on Kabbalah and numerous publications on Kabbalah and Science.
Dr. Laitman was the disciple and personal assistant to Rabbi Baruch Ashlag, son of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, author of the authoritative Sulam (Ladder) Commentary on The ZOHAR. Dr. Laitman follows in the footsteps of his mentor's mission in life - promoting the dissemination of the wisdom of Kabbalah throughout the world. Laitman's scientific method provides individuals of all faiths, religions and cultures the precise tools necessary for embarking on an inspiring path of self-discovery and spiritual elevation focusing primarily on inner processes that individuals experience at their own pace.
In 1991, after his mentor's demise, he founded the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute. Bnei Baruch is a non-profit organization that welcomes people of all ages and lifestyles to engage in the rewarding process of studying Kabbalah. The organization charges no fee for any of its diverse activities.
Bnei Baruch produces daily live TV broadcasts of Kabbalah lessons and programs for various channels throughout the world. Bnei Baruch also broadcasts live daily video and audio Kabbalah lessons over the Internet with simultaneous translations from Hebrew to English, Russian, and Spanish.
The organization established and sustains the largest, most extensive content site on Kabbalah, hosting more than half a million unique visitors, with more than 2.5 million page views a month, as well as a Newsletter in five languages with 28,000 subscribers. Available on the site are authentic Kabbalah texts in twenty-two languages, and a comprehensive web-based media and text archive, all of which is provided gratis.
Today, Dr. Laitman's thirty years of research into the science of Kabbalah is recognized among renowned scientists and researchers in hard science that adhere to the classical scientific paradigms. In the framework of his scientific and educational program, Laitman participates in international conferences alongside scientists from the world over. He is the founder and the president of the Ashlag Research Institute (ARI), established to research interconnections between the sciences of our world and the science of Kabbalah.
Dr Laitman is a member of the World Wisdom Council, a think tank organization headed by Prof. Ervin Laszlo in conjunction of the Club of Budapest. Prof. Laszlo was one of the first representatives in the area of systems philosophy and general theory of evolution, and published nearly 70 books translated into as many as 18 languages.
*Note: The title "Rav" was given to Dr. Laitman by his students in respect for his teachings and his dedication to spreading the wisdom of Kabbalah throughout the world. Rav Laitman was not ordained as a rabbi by a rabbinical school and does not serve as an orthodox rabbi.
Question: What are the basic precepts of Kabbalah?
Michael Laitman: The wisdom of Kabbalah originated in ancient Babylon, where people discovered it for the first time. It talks about the foundations of the universe of the world. And thus far, only very few people have engaged in it through the generations, but it’s been around for four and half thousand years.
But now, it is evolving and emerging because, now, we need this wisdom. And because it was hidden and closed all those years, around it, all kinds of beliefs and incorrect rumors were made about it, all kinds of misconceptions, like the wisdom of Kabbalah is a science about our lives, about the universe, about the world.
And because it was hidden for so many years, people thought that it was about mysticism, magic, misconceptions.
In the wisdom of Kabbalah, there is knowledge about the whole universe, as I said. Currently, it is taught in 1,800 faculties worldwide, in universities. I, myself, did my PhD in Philosophy in Kabbalah and have been with students who study in universities who’re also doing PhDs in that.
It is not the red bracelet or holy water Kabbalah, type of Kabbalah, or the celebrity type. It’s totally not that, it is incorrect.
Kabbalah is a very serious, vigorous science. And in our organization, we have many scientists from all fields of science, Psychology, Physics, Medicine, etcetera, and as of late politicians too and economists. Because the recent crisis, actually, demands of us to provide an answer why this is happening from the Kabbalah perspective and how it can be resolved.
Question: What is ego in Kabbalah?
Michael Laitman: Kabbalah says that we are in an enclosed nature. We are under one law and the whole of humanity is like one family. And we need to get along as members of the same family.
And the current crisis is revealing that picture to us. And Kabbalah, therefore, explains how we should build ourselves, our relationships. It explains about the laws that exist in the whole of nature, how we can implement them, how we can achieve harmony among ourselves and with the whole of nature.
And the wisdom of Kabbalah explains that human evolution comes through augmentation of ego from one generation to generation, and still vegetative inanimate inanimate in nature. Their egos don’t increase, don’t augment overtime.
But human beings from generation to generation, their egos constantly grow even through one’s personal life. Hence, or changing our technologies or societies. We’re changing the world around us and it’s all because your augmentation of the ego.
But now, we’re in a situation that our ego has become so overblown, that it’s become global, integral. And that forces us to understand that we have this reciprocal relation between us and we have to find a new kind of order between us. Not based solely on competitive and exploitation but also how to connect correctly with each other. Otherwise, we’ll destroy the world.
Question: Is Kabbalah monotheistic?
Laitman: And as for the conception of God in the wisdom of Kabbalah, by engaging in Kabbalah, we begin to see matter as transparent. We begin to see the forces that exist around our universe, how they governed the universe, how they manage it.
It’s a lot like an embroidery; a picture of an embroidery, where on the one side of it, you see the picture itself and on the other side, you see the threads that create the picture. So what Kabbalah does is enables us to see those threads, those forces that create a picture of the world and how we can, using this knowledge, tie the picture in the correct way.
Because what’s happening today is that we touch certain places in the world but we don’t know why we get the wrong kind of feedback in other places. That’s why when Kabbalah reveals the picture of the world to us, it positions opposite nature in a very realistic manner and helps us maintain our correct sort of life.
If people knew today what Kabbalah suggests, we would not be in this current crisis or in previous crises. We have a crisis in education and culture and family life. There are divorce rates that are soaring; children leaving home. Depression rates are soaring too; drug abuse; terrorism and global terrorism. All these problems are because we don’t feel the world. In other words, what nature wants of us.
That’s why, today, Kabbalah is emerging as a means to explain that so we can conduct a life of harmony among ourselves.
Question: How can Kabbalah help confront the economic crisis?
Michael Laitman: Well, in terms of application, it's very simple and it applies to everything that we have in this world.
First of all, by studying the force that exist around our world, which is this kind of conclusive or inclusive force of nature, which is what we call God, but it’s actually a physical nature force, but one that is higher than our own nature because it is all about love and giving. And that’s why we don’t feel it because we’re opposite from it.
But when we begin to come closer in our nature to that, and that’s what Kabbalah teaches us, then we begin to employ that power on ourselves. It gives us a chance to permeate it. And then, it’s expressing all of our actions in family and education of children in the way we perform our jobs and in the professions that we study to.
And I learned a lot of things through it because we learn how this force kind of dresses in matter, how it acts in the inanimate, in the plants and animals and people. It helps us understand all of life systems, political systems, economical systems, psychological ones, human relations, family relations, how to have a better education where culture comes from, say, now, for example.
Now, in my current visit to New York, I met with psychologists, musicians. Just today, we meet Moby, politicians, and people who really engage in every area of human engagement. And I find that it have a lot to talk to them about. And I see that they got something to say to them and they have something to add to me. And with my experience in all the places in the world that I’ve come to and engage with people, we, later on, have a lot of work with people from all walks of life and any fields of expertise.
This comprehensive knowledge about the force of nature, which Kabbalah adds to us, we can add it. It’s like a spice that you add to every way of life and especially to education. Because our problem is that if we could educate just a single generation in the right way, they would educate their own kids correctly in the right way. And Kabbalah explains how we can approach education in a way that brings them up as good people.
And I’m very happy that; actually, precisely, because of the current crisis that is affecting the whole world, people are finally beginning to be more attentive and to understand that the main problem is human education, to stop using our egos so wildly like, for example, the financiers and all those folks.
And I can see that it produces good results, actually. Let’s hope that we will see our children and grandchildren having a better life as a result.
Michael Laitman: Our whole world should behave basically as it does. You just have to add a few corrections to it.
Kabbalah says that before we have now coming to the state in the evolution of our egos over the generations and now that we’ve evolved to a state where we’re all kind of closed in together. It’s like cogwheels all tied together, working together. And that’s the state of the whole world right now and it will be even more so.
So we need to learn what is a cybernetic closed system, what kind of laws apply in it, by which formula we have to manage our lives right now. The result is, and that was my first profession, biocybernetics. In such a system, you cannot succeed if you have no consideration of the entire system.
But how can I be considerate of 7 billion people? It’s very simple. What we learned from the science of system biocybernetics and from the wisdom of Kabbalah, you have a very simple formula. Every person, every business in the world from this stage onwards can succeed only on condition that it works without any surplus profit, only when it needs to sustain itself in a kind of normal way. Only in this way can we move forward.
I’m hopeful that, at one time, economists will understand it and, especially, those who are in business just because they won’t have a choice.
Because either we learn it out of troubles and crisis or we will see using science and Kabbalah, both of which speak of the same thing. But there’s a very basic simple formula.
You have a business, you got to pay your employees, you got to pay your insurance, you got to pay your own salary, you got to pay for pension and for holiday, for whatnot, and for vacations but that’s it, not more than that. Leaving nothing that is surplus profits. The rest will come back to you in a negative way.
That’s the law of closed systems, which humanity, today, is kind of emerging into. You’re going to have to learn it in the coming years and let’s hope we learn it not out of troubles but just by obtaining it, perceiving it.
Question: What’s the best way out of the Israile-Palestinian conflict?
Michael Laitman: Well, of course, Kabbalah teaches us how we can approach world peace.
And there’s a big problem here. That we need to teach the whole of humanity, that connection between us is something that comes out of nature. In other words, it is not something we can detach. It is not something that we can control. We can’t control each other by force.
We’re going to have to find a mutual solution here.
We’re talking about the Middle East, for example. Both sides will have to understand the conclusive picture of the world and that harmony between those parties is the only solution and nothing else.
It is even written in the Book of Zohar, the fundamental book of Kabbalah which was written 2,000 years ago, that in our generation, around the year 2000, using the wisdom of Kabbalah, as we discovered the picture of the world, to Jews and to Arabs, through it, we will come to a mutual understanding, of how we can get along and achieve peace.
Let’s hope it’ll help not only to the Middle East but to the whole world.
There’s plenty of trouble in South America, with Iran, and other countries.
And in general, people need to see the real picture of the world. So that will compel them to behave in the right way. Until the person sees how the whole world is kind of round, in other words, interconnected and is placed under very deterministic laws of nature, he thinks that, with our foolishness or blindness, we think that with our egos we can be triumphant.
But when you see these forces and you feel their power, you’re left with nothing else to do but go along with them.
So I’m truly hopeful that through the emergence of Kabbalah, which is what we’re doing, we will achieve peace and perfection the world over.
Michael Laitman: All religions and belief systems, all kinds of esoteric and mysticism stem from the fact that a person doesn’t see the world. If the whole world had been open to us and we could see the full picture of what is happening, there would be no room for blind faith or for religion. Everything would be visible.
And that’s why we need to realize the wisdom of Kabbalah to implement it because it leaves nothing closed, unseen, or miscomprehended. It makes you understand everything and be able to use everything. And that elevates us, really, to the degree of God, meaning to the highest degree of nature.
As it is actually written in the Bible, they show, all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them.
In other words, it’s about knowing this higher force, the force of God. And that’s what people need, every person. And then, we will not make mistakes and we won’t be able to make mistakes.
Recorded on: May 7, 2009.
A conversation with Kabbalah expert Michael Laitman.