The Soul Is Ageless
In times when the education system is being criticized for its inability to turn children into mature, confident adults, Kabbalist Rav Michael Laitman, PhD, believes that now is a unique time to introduce a new concept into our schools—the wisdom of Kabbalah.
According to Rav Laitman, to bring about a true and lasting change in our education system we must look two generations into the future, and begin today by explaining life’s purpose to the young. “If we do that,” says Rav Laitman, “many things will change for the better.”
Kabbalist Rav Michael Laitman, PhD is a scientist and a Kabbalist who has been studying and teaching Kabbalah for the past thirty years. He is certain that the challenges our education system is facing can be solved, and solved well. “The surprising thing about it,” he adds with a smile, “is that the solution is right in front of our eyes.”
The Power of Education
To correct the world means to correct the education.
Q: Rav Laitman, how do you, as a Kabbalist and a scientist, regard the purpose of education? What values do you believe we should bequeath our children?
A: Education is not about “stuffing” the child’s brain with knowledge and data. Education should connect children to the unique process called “life.” Where does life come from? Why do things happen the way they do? What are we living for? Where do we have freedom of choice in our actions and thoughts, and where do we not? All these questions should be answered as part of the education process of our youth.
To provide our children with practical tools for coping with the reality we live in, we must teach them the rules that govern nature, and where nature is leading us. In other words, we should be teaching our children the purpose for which nature has created humans.
Q: Indeed, what is that purpose?
A: We already know that nothing is created aimlessly. There is a reason for everything. But what about people? Why were we were created? Could it be that humans, the height of creation, were created with no purpose? Of course not. The only problem is that we cannot recognize our own purpose.
If we explain to our children the purpose of creation, it will change their attitudes towards life. They will see that when they go against one of nature’s objectives, they will suffer. Next time, they will know how to avoid it.
We have many such examples from our own lives: if you put your hand in the fire, if you jump off a high building, you will suffer; there are no two ways about it. The additional benefit in Kabbalah is that it explains to us that besides the rules we already know, there are rules we cannot see, and at present, cannot discover. So let me ask you, what could be better than to show our children right at the beginning of their lives how to guarantee their best future?
Q: In days when students’ grades are dropping, when drugs and alcohol consumption soar, it is hard to find people who still believe in the possibility of change. Where do you feel we should start?
A: Kabbalah explains that humanity is progressing in such a way that each generation is more evolved than its predecessor. Put differently, the new generation has new desires, higher aspirations, and new dreams. According to Kabbalah, the level of egoism in the youth is always higher than in their parents. This is why the values that predominated in the parents’ generation are cast away in the next. The old values seem empty and meaningless since they do not fulfill the new and greater needs of the youth. This is also why they reject the education we provide them and find no interest in life.
The problem is that we have yet to acknowledge this process and learn how to cope with it. Only if we adapt our education system to the level of evolution (egoism) of our children will we be able to change today’s poor state of our youth.
Kabbalah for Kids
If my generation had listened to my voice they would begin to study the book of Zohar at the age of nine.
--Rabbi Isaac from Kamarna, Notzer Chesed
Q: Everything you’ve said so far sounds like a fine theory; but how do you accomplish it? How do you reach today’s young?
A: The message of the wisdom of Kabbalah should be adapted to suit each generation. It can be conveyed through games or stories. If we begin to explain to children how things work beneath the surface, they will feel that they are being taught how to succeed and how to better understand their own world. They will feel that they are being exposed to new channels and new avenues in life.
You don’t need to talk to them about spiritual matters or about abstract issues, but simply hand them the right approach to life, teach them how to see life on a slightly deeper level. They will get the message naturally and easily. In truth, it is not at all difficult to explain that behind the scenes of this life lies something hidden from our senses, that there are subtler forces in our world than the ones we perceive, and that we should consider them. As they live their normal lives, children will begin to sense the existence of an inherent tier to nature, one which we, adults, have grown accustomed to overlook.
Q: And what will happen to them once we teach them?
A: Children will still live their normal lives, except now they will know that there is a higher, systemic order, and this will give them a fuller consciousness, a broader outlook on life. They will no longer be frustrated and disoriented, and they will not need pop stars as role models. Instead, they will grow up finding their own paths to self-fulfillment.
Q: Do you believe that children really can understand such a complicated and abstract concept?
A: I have no doubt. Kabbalists through the ages have instructed us to teach Kabbalah to children. As I have already said, children accept Kabbalah very naturally; they understand it more easily than us. From my own experience, I can tell you that in 1979, when I began to study with my teacher, Rabbi Baruch Ashlag (the Rabash), I tried to explain what I was learning to my seven-year-old son. I was amazed to see how effortlessly he caught on. He would ask me questions about things that I didn’t even notice, much less knew how to connect. Now that he is a grownup with a family of his own, he retains the approach to life that he had received back then.
The same thing happened with my two daughters. In fact, children naturally feel that life doesn’t begin or end with the present physical existence. They sense that there is something beyond. Their enthusiasm for fantasy novels and science-fiction films such as The Matrix testifies to their readiness for this message.
Q: How would you recommend that parents begin?
A: We must understand that the soul is ageless, that there is only one means to correct it, and that that means is authentic Kabbalah books. This means, called “Surrounding Light,” is evoked to promote one’s soul as one reads these books. It is the topic itself, not necessarily understanding it that enhances our spiritual development.
Even if we do not understand what we are reading, the spiritual force hidden in the writings guides our souls toward the perfect state.
While there is still a need for books that will explain wisdom in a manner suitable for children, and while it may seem confusing or intimidating for children, this is not the case. Contrary to what happens to some grownups, children will not be deterred; they will absorb the knowledge naturally and directly. When parents read to their children from the Kabbalah books and try to explain it to them, they will see how effective it is. Therefore, I would advise parents to take greater interest in Kabbalah, visit our site, www.kabbalah.info, read our material, and watch lessons. And by the way, all the material is free.
There is immense power to this wisdom. From the moment one begins to engage in it, this power takes effect and changes our lives for the better.
Q: As an ending, can you summarize your vision in a sentence?
A: We need to provide our children with a “ticket to life,” and Kabbalah can help us do that. When our children understand the processes they are experiencing, many things will change for the better in their lives. They will discover a new world, a new dimension of existence beyond the physical, and they will grow in an atmosphere of confidence and love. I am certain that if we begin, we will succeed.