All through our years of formal schooling, we learn a great deal about the world around us: We study history, geography, biology, chemistry, physics, foreign languages, music, and so on. Through studying all these sciences, we gain a great deal of knowledge about the world. But sometimes we find ourselves wanting to learn about a different aspect of reality – ourselves, and for some reason, information about this is very hard to come by. So when we find ourselves wanting to know more about who we are, or what we are, where do we start?
The wisdom of Kabbalah is a science that studies precisely this – our very nature, and it asserts that in order to understand anything in the world, we must first understand our own true nature. When we begin studying our nature through this science, we realize something that is a bit hard to accept: Everything we do – we do for ourselves.
In other words, our prime motivation for doing anything is that we want to receive something in return for our action. It doesn’t really matter what that something is, as long as we consider it to be some sort of benefit. In fact, we wouldn’t even lift a finger unless there was something in it for us. In Kabbalah, this is called “egoism,” our inborn nature.
However, the fact that we always act with the aim of self benefit is not always evident, because this aim can be disguised by what we perceive to be altruistic acts, such as donating to charities, establishing and supporting organizations that do good works, and generally “doing the right thing.” Yet, underneath the physical actions, the fact remains that we would not do these things unless they made us feel good about ourselves, even if it’s just by a bit.
For example, by donating to charity and helping the disadvantaged, one draws pleasure from knowing that others appreciate his actions. And even if this is done anonymously and no one else knows about your “good deed,” you still feel an inner sense of worth and pride, because…