WHAT ARE THE LEFT AND RIGHT LINES?
Much confusion has been added to the subject of the Left and Right Lines, and by their inclusion, the Middle. People think that the Left and Right Hand Paths are in contradiction to each other, but this is only so when one makes the error in assuming that either can exist separately.
Show me ‘left’ without ‘right’, and I will show you ‘up’ without ‘down’. They only exist in relation to each other. So what is The Left Line? It by Itself is the state of operating from the rational intellect, which opposes the work of The Right Line, which is called ‘faith above reason’.
Having only The Left Line extended is a state of wanting to receive solely for one’s own benefit. In such a state, one cannot understand the concept of self-annulment or what it merits, because The Left Line only understands what it can see and sense, and what rewards await it for its work.
However, while The Left Line without The Right Line – called ‘Mercy’ – extended is called ‘wicked’, meaning it cannot hold onto the pleasure it seeks to attain, when one uses The Left Line appropriately, it reveals to one their ultimate deficiency, i.e. with what great disparity one is in with regards to all that is good. Hence, The Left Line is called ‘Wisdom’, because it reveals our true state. Wisdom is not intellectual knowing, but actual experiencing of the essence of Life through the flavors of the Light which shine in fit and corrected desires which can perceive It.
This is why The Left Line was extended to the world through a small ray, so that there could be choice, to continue operating for oneself or to annul oneself so that one’s only desire is to bestow contentment onto others. Reception of The Left Line for oneself is Death, while receiving it in order to bestow and adhering to The Right Line is called Life. One works in The Left Line solely until one comes to realize their true nature, which is completely opposite to Wholeness, Beauty, Love, and Truth, that one only takes and all that one gives is only for self-gratification, and is therefore also regarded as reception.
We see that we are created to receive through the deficiency perceived in our desires, which is the will to receive, but the intention of how one uses their desires is the correction. Until we receive from below upwards, we cannot be imparted bestowal. So our intention should be to bestow, even though we are only capable of reception. This draws us in partnership with the Upper State, since It wants to bestow to us the corrections necessary, and we have come with a prepared and single-pointed desire fit to receive.
In the beginning, we can only reduce and take, as one who receives nourishment, but if it is used to strengthen one’s connection and transform how we use our desires, it is called Correction. In the end, one learns how to add and can repair all the deficiency from when one only took, like someone who learns how to plant, cultivate and harvest wheat to restore for all the bread one has eaten. And one field of planting yields a harvest weighing as much as one received during their entire life, before and during Correction. And this brings nourishment to others, which is bestowal, and this brings contentment on High, as it fulfills the purpose of Creation, “To do good to His Creatures,” “The whole earth is full of His glory.”
The Right Line is called ‘Mercy’ because in annulling one’s selfish desires, one can no longer draw sustenance, and would perish, since fulfilling the desires of the body is necessary for life. However, The Right Line, which only gives, sees one who has given up everything as possessing the desire to only give and bring contentment. Hence, The Right Line extends to such a person and includes them in Itself, imparting abundance to the only utilized desire, which is of the intention to bestow and not receive.
But a desire to bestow cannot receive, at all. But yet, by being drawn up to the Light of Mercy, we receive Correction. How so? The desire to bestow makes us similar to it, and it lifts desires to receive in order to bestow contentment, which are also similar in their intention, and mingled there. Because receiving in order to bestow is still a desire to receive, it receives the Correction, but in order to bestow, i.e. not for one’s sake. A fit desire must receive the Light of Life, which is Wisdom, so through the corrections that come through the Light of Mercy, by similitude with the Upper One, one is rewarded a desire fit to receive Life, as well.
When one can successfully annul all of their desires which come from The Left Line, one clings to The Right Line and is brought up from the state of self-reception. It is said, “The Light in It reforms them,” because now one has extended both Lights, of “Mercy” and “Wisdom” in some measure and can receive both: Mercy, because one is drawn into it by similitude, and Wisdom, because it is received only in order to bestow contentment.
When both The Left and Right Line work in conjunction like this, it is called The Middle Way. The Left Line does not disappear, but one draws stronger Light of Wisdom and reveals stronger desires which one annuls to impart reformation into the form of bestowal by the Light of Mercy.
Before the first annulment, all the thoughts against the work come from the reasoning of those desires: “Who is it for, why is it being done, what good is in it for me?” etc. This is the meaning of the exile in Egypt under the rule of the Pharaoh, who says, “Who is The Lord, that I should serve Him?” But if one takes counsel from these thoughts, they have already fallen away from the Light of Mercy, called “faith above reason.”
It is so-called because one adopts the attitude of faith towards the Light, that it no longer concerns one if it’s seen as darkness – lack of pleasure and void of substance – or Light – bringing joy and contentment. Because in the beginning the work is darkness, there is no perception of reward, and the pleasures of the world seem greater, the ones operating in reason obey the counsel of the Pharaoh and run from the yoke of the Spirit and back to the yoke of bondage, which is enslavement to the will to receive.
It has to be this way, that one has no flavor in the work in the beginning; otherwise it would be coercion, the will to receive could perceive reward and would be included in It, and no changes could be made. One would operate in selfish reasons alone and wish to attain not only the desires of this world, but the desires of the next world, as well, and instead of taking a step towards spirituality, one takes two steps away from It, progressing further in their egoism without remedy.
Thus, before attaining the Light, though it shines in all its completeness without end, since there is no desire fit to receive it – our prayer is yet incomplete – it is seen as darkness; and this to protect one from the Second Death, that the ones from The Left Line, called Sitra Achra of Klipot, would not grasp there, and attain it within their own power, which is reason. Also, this is why alien thoughts come to deter one from the work, because they know that if they are overcome, one will move from their domain into the domain of sanctity, which is faith.
However, a righteous knows that even these alien thoughts come from Above, from the Light of Wisdom, in order to give one a place of work to overcome their nature and adhere to The Right Line in faith above reason. One’s attitude is adjusted towards the Source providing the abundance, to only bestow contentment and not concerned at all for one’s own state.
This disposition is already similar to the Upper Providence, and working with both Lines in this way draws one closer to the Light and Its Source. As explained above, if the Light above were revealed in our uncorrected state below, the Sitra Achra of The Left Line would grasp it, it would be for oneself, and it would be lost. This is called Death, and it is why the Light of Mercy does not reveal itself before self-annulment.
People of The Left Hand Path believe that they can take the Kingdom of Heaven by force; that is, through their own power and reason, they can attain it. This is why they never receive the abundance and why they always fall short of truth, but through their ways, the Light of Wisdom will reveal their deficiency and the necessity of their correction. This comes through pain and sufferings if truth is not sought, or quickly through a path of Mercy, if already there is some desire to be rid of their selfish inclination. In either regard, they are imparted some luminescence of the Light of Wisdom with which they can clearly and correctly perceive their state of being inverted with regards to truth. Thus, they will come to value The Right Line over the Left.
People of The Right Hand Path believe that acting in accordance with the Light of Mercy draws them closer to the abundance, and that because they can annul certain desires, they perceive in themselves no deficiency, and this brings them close to Providence. However, The Right Hand Path turns into the Left when one does not perceive deficiency – no place of work – or assumes that only annulling what they judge with their mind to be unworthy is sufficient – serving two Masters.
It is also an error to act through coercion, just as it is through compulsion. It is said, ‘there is no coercion in spirituality,’ but there is coercion with regards to the body, which is corporeality and opposes the work. If one does not yearn for the correction and does not desire Wisdom, one should work and yearn for the desire itself, and it will come. Because they desire righteousness, the actions of The Right Hand Path individuals is closer to truth, but if it is incomplete – meaning not full annulment – then it is no different from operating in The Left Line.
Further, even if one is granted work in bestowal through The Right Line, it is not completeness and does not fulfill the purpose of Creation, which is to receive the abundance. Rather, one works in bestowal in order to pull one’s desires of reception into the pure state, so that one can receive abundance, but not for one’s own sake; rather, to bestow contentment.
Therefore, one in The Right Line solely and by Itself cannot stand, but must draw down the Light of Wisdom, which is Life. And this is why it is extended, albeit only a faint posterior luminescence, to the whole world, even to the most wicked. But because they cannot hold to the Light of Wisdom, nor to Mercy, that is why the wicked (uncorrected), while they live, are called ‘dead’, meaning they perceive no work to attain this Upper Light, nor do they know how It exists in Its abundance and perfection. Workers in The Right Line know a portion of abundance, but not completeness or perfection, until the work is done.
Instead, true individuals of The Right Line also include the Left; that is, they use their mind to discern their deficiencies, to see clearly and not spurn the Light of Wisdom. Through this, they annul completely, recognizing that everything the mind, heart and body take from the Light is in the form of self-reception. Such a complete annulment creates The Middle Line, because one adheres to the Right through the revelation of what is the Left.
The world adheres to The Left without valuing The Right, because for one’s own sake, one can perceive and discern, but in The Right, not for one’s sake, there is no discernment. That discernment of why The Right is to be valued over The Left comes with full annulment; it is not to say it is more important, as both paths are used to elevate, but that it should be regarded as more important, meaning one turns from The Left and adheres solely to The Right. How is this using both? Because one is already in The Left, and lacks The Right; draw down The Right and The Left will be included in it. This is called ‘righteousness’, which is the virtue of self-annulment, defying the demands of the mind and the body by operating solely through the heart, which is directed in its desires only for the Above.
This is the meaning of “Three things broaden one’s mind: a Handsome Woman, a Handsome Abode, and Handsome Organs.”
Who is the Woman, Where is the Abode, and What are the Organs?
- The Woman is the Holy Shechina – Kedusha, the Life of Lives that comes to dwell only in a Handsome Abode and with Handsome Organs.
- The Abode is one’s Heart. ‘Handsome’ means cleansed and prepared, single-pointed and pure.
- The Organs are one’s Desires. ‘Handsome’ here also means purified. Since one cannot correct one’s desires for oneself, they are not used, but set aside and ‘put to death’, not sought to be fulfilled, since one cannot do it altruistically. Then, by necessity, one cultivates a single-pointed desire for the Above; this is called ‘a Handsome Organ’.
After one receives a measure of the Light, it reforms and corrects those desires that can attach to the desire for the Upper, meaning they are close to it, and only require a minor correction. Then, one is given more work from The Left, meaning discernment into what other desires are in need of correction. As desires are corrected to bestow contentment rather than receive selfishly, these are also called ‘Handsome Organs’.
Hence, work in The Left is given, not sought. Work in The Right is sought, and not given until the receiver has vanished. In this way we form The Middle Line, which adheres us to divinity. That is the only way to transform one’s desires, through partnership with the Light from Above.
This system was created so that there would be no coercion, but that one would come to their own correction gladly, either through Wisdom and Mercy, or through the pain of unfulfilled desires. Everyone is somewhere on this path, whether they are aware of it or not. Realization (Left Line) of one’s state as ‘evil’ – deprived of the Lights of Wisdom and Mercy – is the first step. From here, one exhausts all other attempts (Left Line) to correct until they come to annul themselves (Right Line) before the Upper Light. When the annulment is complete, the Upper Light descends and lifts one up, and they adhere as if one entity (Middle Line).
From there (Middle Line), a seed develops, which is one’s soul. Correction comes on the uppermost desire (Right Line), and bestowal is granted (Left Line). One can then use the cleansed desires in the work to bestow (Right Line), and more discernments (Left Line) are brought to them, as to what requires correction (Right Line). When these desires are cleansed (Middle Line), there is rest in the work, and the pattern continues from the finest to the coarsest desires; more work is given (Left and Right Lines) until all is cleansed (Middle Line), meriting the end of correction. Lastly, one can work in reception and bestowal (Left and Right Lines) completely, because they are now one thing (The Middle Line).
This Line of Wisdom expounded upon here has been extended through the grace of the Baal HaSulam (Husband of the Ascending Ladder), who is the Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, in his compilation of writings called Sefer Shamati (I Heard), as in the Shema Prayer: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord thy God is One.”
You can read more in Sefer Shamati here.
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