It’s All about Pleasure
We all want to enjoy, or as Kabbalists put it, to receive pleasure. For some, a juicy piece of steak is the ultimate pleasure, for others, it is winning a game of checkers or the victory of one’s favorite sports team. You may want to win the lottery, while your friend will be happy only when she loses those extra five pounds she recently gained. Although we enjoy different things, we all share a common need to fulfill our desire for pleasure.
There is only one problem with this “pleasure issue”: if we honestly examine our lives, we will discover that memories are all that remains of what we have done so far. We chase pleasures, but as soon as we have them, they slip between our fingers.
When we are in kindergarten, we want to be in grade school. We think of it as such a fun place to be, where older kids “have a great time” and learn new and exciting things. But once we get to school, we can’t wait to get to high school. At high school, the new goal is college, and in college, it is a successful career. The next phase always seems better and more appealing. But is it really so?
And there is another issue: once we get what we want, the pleasure slips between our fingers and leaves us as thirsty as wanderers in the desert dreaming of a glass of water. And even if we find water, we savor that first sip, but the more we drink, the less we enjoy it. In the end, we even forget that we were ever thirsty. In short, we spend our whole lives chasing phantoms of delights. And even when we catch a phantom, it takes no more than a minute for it to slip away once more.
Five Degrees to Desires
Kabbalists discovered that there are five kinds of desires within us, arranged in order of intensity and complexity, according to the phases of their evolution:
- The first, and most basic desire, is that for survival, including food, health, sex, and family.
- The second phase of desires is the yearning for wealth, which we believe assures our survival and a better quality of life.
- The third phase of desires is the craving for honor and power, so we can control others as well as ourselves.
- The fourth phase initiates a desire for knowledge, as we believe that having knowledge will grant us happiness.
- It is only at Phase Five that we understand there is something higher than our awareness that controls our lives. We begin to realize that it is with this “something” that we need to connect.
The needs for food and sex are defined as physical desires, and exist in animals as well. Even when a person lives alone, he or she will still need food, health, and satisfaction of sexual needs.
The desires for wealth, honor, and power, however, are considered “human desires.” These desires evolve in us as part of our participation in the human society, and we satisfy them only through our contacts with other people.
Yet, when the fifth phase of desire awakens, we have no clue as to how to satisfy it. Kabbalists call this desire, which aims higher than this world, “the point in the heart.”
The Point in the Heart
Kabbalists refer to the sum of our desires as “the heart,” and to the desire for the higher, spiritual realm as “the point in the heart.” This desire makes us feel that life is meaningless and creates a deep need to search for a purpose in our lives. Someone whose point in the heart awakens suddenly asks, “What is the meaning of my life?” And no answer that relates to the material world will answer that question.
You can offer such a person lots of money, honor, power, and knowledge, but that person will remain frustrated nonetheless. This desire stems from a higher degree than the level of this world; hence, its satisfaction must come from that degree, as well. The wisdom of Kabbalah explains how we can satisfy this desire.
In recent years we have witnessed the awakening of the point in the heart in many people. This is the reason for the current popularity of Kabbalah—people are turning to it to find how they can satisfy this newly awakened desire in them.
Filling the Void
A person whose point in the heart awakens seeks spiritual pleasures, which Kabbalists describe as “complete and eternal fulfillment and satisfaction.” As we have said above, we can satisfy the desires for our earthly and human needs with fulfillments we already know, but when the desire for spirituality awakens, we no longer know how to achieve it.
Moreover, many people are frustrated because they have not yet realized that the desire for spirituality has awakened in them. They are unaware that this is the reason for their dissatisfaction and discontent. The inability to fulfill the desire for spirituality evokes sensations of helplessness, desperation, frustration, and purposelessness. This is considered the main reason for the ongoing increase in drug and alcohol abuse, as well as other means of escape from reality.
As children, many people ask themselves, “What am I living for?” But as the years go by, we are inundated by desires and temptations that divert us from this question, and our need to find a genuine answer withers away.
Nevertheless, the point in the heart will one day awaken, and with it the questions. Those who insist on finding the answers come to Kabbalah, where they find spiritual fulfillment and thus satisfy the need in their point in the heart. Fulfilling the spiritual desire imparts a sensation beyond the physical existence. Hence, a spiritually connected person can experience life as eternal and whole. This is such a powerful sensation that when one’s physical body expires, he or she does not experience separation from life, as that person has already sympathized with the highest fulfillment that exists—the point in the heart.