Puppet on a String
Clearly, Saddam Hussein’s death isn’t going to stop the violence. From a spiritual perspective, Saddam was a just a puppet on a string.
“The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1).
More than 3,000 American soldiers have already died in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed by their own countrymen. In both cases, the numbers are increasing even as you are reading these lines. Iraq is a sad reflection of the current state of the world.
According to Kabbalist Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag (1884-1954), this is just the beginning. In his “Writings of the Last Generation,” he wrote that if humanity did not change its course, it would be dragged into a third and even a fourth world war, and those remaining would still have to make the necessary change we are facing today.
It is not a question of good or bad political choices; there is no single evil individual leading the world to doom. There is a reason why the world is in crisis, and the sooner we understand the reason, the better our situation will become. As King Solomon said, it is not in the hands of kings or rulers to determine where the world is going, it’s in the hand of the Force that created and guides the world. This is why it is written, “To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord, He is God; there is no other besides Him” (Deuteronomy 4:35).
Kabbalist Ashlag also wrote that the phrase, “there is no other besides Him,” means that everything that happens, all the good and bad experiences and all the friends and foes we see before us are His messengers. If this is how we relate to them, we will discover the Creator through our relationships with the people around us.
Toward the end of his days, Ashlag wrote a series of essays describing how events will unfold as humanity achieves spirituality. Today we call those writings, “The Writings of the Last Generation.” While describing that these events must unfold, he wrote that we could choose to experience them as spiritual processes, in which case they will not materialize in the physical world, or as physical processes, in which case they will manifest as conflicts and clashes among people and between humanity and nature.
Ashlag also explained that the human ego continually develops in quantity and quality. This is why we constantly want more money, more power, more sex, more of everything. But at the height of egoism, he writes, we will want to control the entire world, know how everything works, and govern it. In short, we will want to become godlike.
The Kabbalah, and practically all spiritual texts, explain that the Creator is good and therefore wants to do good to us, His creations. Because there is nothing better than the Creator Himself, He wants to give us everything He can of Himself: all His knowledge and all His powers.
To accomplish that, He created a “school,” a “playground” where we can practice at being Creators. This is our world. The rules of the game are really quite simple:
1. He is good and therefore wants to do good to you. Granted, you don’t feel it. If you did, you wouldn’t have to choose between being good or not; you’d know what to do to be like Him. But there’s a hitch: when you know what to do, you become a copycat, not a student who learns through your own scrutiny.
2. If He is good, and I want to be like Him, I, too, have to be good. To whom can I be good if I can’t see Him? I can “practice” being good on other people.
3. Every time I discover a bad quality in me, and learn how to turn it into a good one through practice on other people, I “graduate” and move on to an even worse quality. This is actually a positive development. Realizing you are worse than you thought doesn’t mean you have become worse; it means you have grown, and have “earned” the right to know yourself better. Ironically, the recognition of your own evil is a reward for your good behavior.
We progress in spirituality by trying to build a better world and a better society. The Creator helps us by sending harder tests for us to pass. This is why the human ego continually develops—the greater the ego, the harder the test. With each test we pass, we become “owners” of another degree; we gain the ability to relate to it from the Creator’s perspective. At that degree, we are no longer puppets on strings because we have gained the knowledge and the power of the Creator.
The atrocities in our world reflect our overblown and uncontained egoism. But these ordeals don’t have to manifest as natural disasters, terrorism, or global pandemics. If we channel our egos in the right direction the moment they arise, they will not have to manifest in such horrendous displays.
The human ego only points to qualities in our souls that are not (yet) similar to the Creator. At first, these qualities may feel like minor inconveniences, like a mild headache. As the ego grows and dissimilarity with Him continues, the headache becomes a migraine. But if we work on ourselves within when it’s still just a headache, it won’t turn into a migraine, and we won’t have to deal with colossal tragedies. We will feel life as an ongoing revelation, a series of countless possibilities of being like the Creator. Our relationships with others will reveal infinite opportunities for similarity with Him. As a consequence, we will feel love for others, instead of hate. Thus, the harsh school will become a cheerful playground.
For this to happen, we need a teaching method. Kabbalah states that if there is none other than Him, then He is the one who put the ego in us, and He must have done it for a reason. Instead of suppressing the ego, Kabbalah offers study books (and other, more modern means of schooling) that teach us how to channel our egos in the same way the Creator channels the hearts of kings.
This is the great revelation that Kabbalah introduces to the world. Instead of killing each other, we can all learn how to be omniscient, almighty, Godlike…and happy.