European MTV host Eden Harel asks Rav Laitman whether or not a Kabbalist can also live as a Buddhist, which leads to an explanation of two approaches to the ego.
Eden Harel: If Kabbalah is really the development of the spiritual soul, can a person live, say, as a Buddhist?
Rav Michael Laitman, PhD: If I am going to develop my personality according to a certain system, then I am called a Buddhist, a Kabbalist, or someone else. But you can't belong to several places. The system has to be such that a person can acquire what is close to him.
Eden Harel: So all the systems are actually good.
Rav Laitman: Your question is: how do I compare the systems? I’d put it this way: all the systems, other than the wisdom of Kabbalah, are based on suppressing us.
Eden Harel: That’s not true. I was a nun for a year, a Buddhist nun in Tibet.
Rav Laitman: Yes, so you entered some kind of a closed place. Did you do anything with your body?
Eden Harel: No, meditation. I sat and meditated. In Kabbalah you also have meditation.
Rav Laitman: That's not true.
Eden Harel: You don't have meditation in Kabbalah?
Rav Laitman: No.
Eden Harel: Okay, fine.
Rav Laitman: It’s totally opposite, it’s a completely opposite system. No matter how you put it, all the systems, and the systems of the East in particular, are based on destroying the desire to receive, on destroying the ego.
Eden Harel: Right, the ego. Kabbalah says that you should increase the ego?
Rav Laitman: Sure.
Eden Harel: To increase the ego?
Rav Laitman: Yes. The wisdom of Kabbalah is the wisdom of receiving, the wisdom of how to be filled, of how to grasp reality.
Eden Harel: But what’s so good about the ego?
Rav Laitman:That's why what we see is also the opposite, because what seems like grasping some higher reality when you meditate, what you are actually grasping are the smallest particles that any living creature can sense. It is because you don't have a large vessel.
In order to feel reality, you need to have a vessel that can grasp all of reality. And for that, you need the largest ego, to its fullest depth. One has to be cruel, and to feel himself as tight fisted and as a careless spender and as lustful and everything, and he has to go on living with all this and not to suppress anything, but on the contrary, to develop it.
Oh, you see? So can you be a Buddhist and a Kabbalist at the same time?
Eden Harel: No, of course not. But according to what I hear, perhaps it's better to be a Buddhist. I don't know.
Rav Laitman: And here we can see that these wisdoms cannot really exist in the long run, because people throughout history…
Eden Harel: Buddhism's existed for 3000 years.
Rav Laitman: In the past.
Eden Harel: It still does.
Rav Laitman:Why can’t it keep developing? It is because we are developing. Our desire to receive, our ego, is constantly developing. And we can see it in China, for example, in Japan, and we can also see it in India, that in recent years, from one year to the next, there have been huge changes. People are beginning to leave the life they led for thousands of years—you're right about that—and now they begin a new life.
Why? The ego that develops and starts burning in them is beginning to demand new kinds of fulfillment. A cup of rice a day just isn’t enough anymore. Now they need more and more, so all the systems of suppression that you call their religious systems, do not work anymore.
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