The most important aspect of the process of self-improvement is the cultivation of one’s sense of humility before the Creator. This, however, should not be an artificial undertaking, but a goal of one’s efforts. If, as a result of working on the self, an individual gradually starts to develop this quality, then it means that he is proceeding in the right direction.
(Talmud, Avodah Zarah)
A human being is born as an absolute egoist, and this quality is so visceral that it can convince him that he has already become righteous and has rid himself of all egoism.
The Torahis the Light of the Creator, and only a person who receives this light is considered as learningTorah (rather than just acquiring mere wisdom).
The Torah is concealed. It is only revealed to those who have reached the level of the righteous.
When a person, by means of his studies, reaches the level at which he wants nothing but spiritual elevation and at which he accepts only the bare necessities of life in order to sustain his physical existence, not for pleasure’s sake, this is the first step of his ascent to the spiritual world.
The lower a person feels, the closer he comes to his true state and to the Creator.
It is forbidden to study Kabbalah for any purpose other than spiritual elevation.
A person’s highest spiritual potential is to reach the level of maaseh merkavah ("the act of rule"). He is able to correct himself to such an extent that Divine Providence over the world can be executed through that person.
A necessary condition for spiritual elevation is a continuous quest for a bond with the Creator.
(Rambam, Ilchot Yesodot Torah)
Do not despair once you have entered the path, for the Creator assures us of success if the direction of our aspirations is correct.
The most important aspect of a person is his aspirations, rather than his achievements, because it is egoism that requires achievements.
(Talmud, Yavamot; Talmud, Sota)
Just as a person should strive to feel the insignificance of his inborn characteristics, so too should he be proud of his spiritual work and purpose.
A person who strives toward the Creator is known as His child (Talmud, Shabbat), in contrast with those who want to be rewarded for their studies (by respect, knowledge, or money).
Grasp the Creator. Kabbalah is known as the teaching of the hidden (nistar) because it can only be grasped by a person to the degree that he is able to alter his inner qualities. Therefore, he cannot pass along his perceptions to others, but he can and should help others to overcome the same path.
(Rambam, Ilchot Yesodot Torah)
Who can imagine a world that is not filled by the Creator?
An individual must imagine that he is alone in the world with the Creator. The various characters and stories in the Bible signify the different qualities of one person and of all people and the different stages of this person’s spiritual path. The qualities and the stages are denoted by people’s names, their actions, and geographical locations.
An individual need not despair when, as he studies and works on improving himself in an effort to attain spiritual elevation, he comes to see himself as being in an even worse condition than prior to studying Kabbalah. The true nature of egoism is revealed to a person whose level is higher than that of others, and for this reason a person becomes worse in his own eyes, even though he has actually become better.
Do not pay attention to the fact that the entire world is continuously chasing pleasures while only a few ascend to the Creator.
(Talmud, Rosh Hashanah)
The most important aspect of a person’s spiritual progress is a plea for help addressed to the Creator.
The worst manifestation of egoism is arrogance and conceit.
A person must draw strength from the understanding of the purpose of creation, rejoicing in advance in the inevitable reformation of the entire world and the arrival of peace for humanity.
Faith is the only way to redemption. In all other qualities a person can become confused by egoism, but faith is the only basis for a person’s ascent to the spiritual realm.
Faith cannot manifest itself in a person without being accompanied by fear, for egoism bows only to fear.
Even if an individual is not doing anything, his egoism urges him to commit all kinds of evil deeds. Thus, a person who has not sinned can be compared to a person who has done good deeds.
(Talmud, Bava Metziah)
An individual’s unification with the Creator can only be achieved through the congruity of their qualities.