The Universe and Man: Rules of Interaction
based on Baal HaSulam’s article “The Peace” (1933)
“Where you stand, there stand all the worlds.”
I am attending this exhibition because its name — “The Universe and the Man: Rules of Interaction” — caught my attention.
Universe — the word itself sounds like thunderclaps: mightily, mysteriously, fascinatingly.
What if I come to understand how our life works? Not from the point of view of a fish swimming in a glass jar but beyond it …
The large, spacious hall was hidden in pleasant semi-darkness. The projections of distant stars shone around me.
“How harmonious everything is!” the thought flashed through my mind. “Like in a magnificent temple.”
I noticed some movement, and the glowing figure of a humanoid robot appeared beside me. It was silver-colored, of average human height. Its eye sensors looked straight at me. The robot seemed to scan my emotions, and even more … to analyze how best to present information.
“Hello! I’ll be your guide today,” said the robot. “What I’m going to tell you may change your perception of the world. But on one condition: you must be willing to change. If not, you can just watch it as a light show.”
“I must change?” I wondered to myself.
The fear of disappointment made itself felt inside me. So many teachers, practices of all kinds, and abstruse books have already been in my life … But yet no deep understanding.
We need to gain an understanding of how everything works, right? What should be done not to be sick, not to kill yourself or those around you? How to stop running in circles and go straight to the goal — knowing well where we should get in the end?
“I’m ready!” I responded with trepidation.
The robot raised its hand, and the surrounding space began to transform. The planets of the solar system became visible in the dark. Quiet, regular sounds resembling the beating of a heart were heard from somewhere.
“Feel …” said my guide. “This is the breathing of the Universe! Do you see how harmoniously and perfectly everything is arranged?”
I was captivated by this beautiful, shining world.
Noiselessly, the robot drew near one of the hall walls, and I saw numbers and letters right before me.
“Every law of the Universe can be represented by an equation in which the right and left sides always stay in balance. Nature maintains the state of equilibrium that is ensured by constants, the numerical values of which don’t change under any circumstances.”
“Something like the speed of light?”
“Exactly!” The guide nodded, rejoicing at my erudition. “The number π, Avogadro’s number, and other constants belong here, too. They are the points of support of this ever-changing world.
If their numerical values shifted just a little, the existence of life would become impossible. That’s why we say the Universe is finely tuned. A bit to the left or a bit to the right — and the whole structure will collapse.”
“Just like a tightrope walker …” I smiled.
“That’s right! A tightrope walker will confidently pass across the abyss only if one end of the pole doesn’t outweigh the other.”
The space changed again: a green forest was now rustling around me. I saw the sun rays shining through the foliage, bumblebees, birds, moss on old trees. Long threads of a mycelium were glowing under my feet. It got warmer. The air became moist and filled with the smell of pine needles. And it was marvelous, too!
“Not only cosmic bodies but to all Nature is fine-tuned,” the guide said. “A forest is a complex ecological system of plants, animals, and microorganisms. They are co-adapted. They get everything they need from the biosphere and, at the same time, support it. The living matter must also be balanced — otherwise, it dies.”
“Does this law of balance apply to human life?”
“Of course!” agreed my guide. “People have difficulty understanding how exactly it works, but they experience its manifestations, and very vividly at times.”
“To be honest, I don’t understand either,” I admitted. “Maybe as children, we feel cared for and safe, but when we grow up, we get an impression that our connection with Nature broke off.”
It seemed that the robot smiled.
“This can’t happen. Since people are always inside Nature, subject to its laws.”
There was silence. The guide gave me time to reflect on this important point and then continued:
“Everything is very wisely thought out and arranged: first the baby develops inside the mother, then in the family. When the child becomes an adult — in society. An adult must learn to act in accordance with the law of balance: to accept what society gives and to give it something equivalent. The same law of the maintenance of balance applies to everything.”
“But people think like this: I’m giving and receiving all the time … I’ve been working all my life, investing time and energy …”
The robot’s eyes began to shine a little brighter.
“That’s not enough! Do you remember the fine-tuned Universe and the points of support? When it goes about society, a person’s intention is its pillar. The intention is ‘something inside you that takes you to where you want to go.’ The inner vector of your desire. The answer to the question: “What’s the purpose of this action?”
The robot moved its hand in the air, and the shiny bluish letters appeared before my eyes.
“What kind of formula is this?” I asked.
“The formula of balance in society,” the guide replied.
“R (Receive) is what a person receives from society.
G (Give) is the person’s contribution to society.
i (Intention) is the intention to do something that will replenish the balance of harmony in society.
This is the most important thing, and I’ll now explain why.”
A three-dimensional image of a violinist appeared in front of us.
“This man was born a musician,” said the guide. “Music is his contribution to society. But if he just plays a concert, there will be no contribution. He must touch with his art the listener’s soul, awaken, fill it with harmony. Because this is the most natural state of people.”
“I think I’ve understood! It’s like in childhood: Mom gets home, hugs everyone, cooks dinner, and the whole family feels good. The home is warm and full of joy; anxiety disappeared. She lavished care upon all of them and encouraged.”
The robot’s face expressed approval.
“That’s how it should be! The mother’s intention was to make her family happy, and reality changed instantly. And not only toward the loved ones; a person should strive to add with every action as much harmony to society as possible.”
These words sounded like a clue.
“So, the intention is a magical element? If we build it into the general mechanism, will everything start working?”
“Indeed! It feels like the care a person shows for other people. They gain confidence, and, as a result, harmony and balance are created — in the family, at work, and in society. Nature no longer needs to apply its methods of influence. And they are known: epidemics, wars, earthquakes, fires …
As soon as the robot said this word, I smelled the tarry smoke. The scorching wind blew, and the ‘rain’ of sparks fell. The crackling of trees and the rumble of approaching fire were heard. The forest, so beautiful a few minutes ago, has turned into hell. It did not last long, but enough to feel complete powerlessness … Bodily fear.
“You can’t escape Nature,” probably this is what I had to learn.
I got back to reality again. And it was so far from picture perfect! In our life, we constantly experience anxiety, hopelessness, fear of the virus and military confrontations.
“But we cannot give the command to all people: ‘Take care of each other! Do everything with good intentions!’ Who will obey?”
“I see what you mean,” said the guide. “It seems that any changes should be global: only a revolution, only a great turmoil! But they shouldn’t. It’ll be enough if everyone does their job wherever they are. As soon as one person starts setting an example for others, his or her reality will begin to change.”
“It’s hard to care for people! Especially outsiders. Do we really have to force ourselves to do it?”
“There is nothing wrong with that. It’s hard when you have no habit, but over time, you’ll surely develop it. Think about the parents: they may be at odds with each other, feel bad, be busy or tired. But for the sake of their child, they forget about all this. If the child feels fine, they feel fine, too. This is how the natural state of harmony is achieved.
You can do the same toward neighbors, partners, and even strangers. Care is all what matters!
If you’re a doctor, your intention would be to restore balance in the human body and show how to maintain it.
As a teacher, you will try to uncover the child’s abilities and help him or her use them properly; teach being a personality in human society. An equal among equals.
Your task as a politician is to ensure an equilibrium state between countries. For the common good.”
“That’s true!” I realized suddenly. “A balance at every level: in the body, society, and nature!”
The picture of an incomprehensible analytical system appeared before us.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Accounting in accordance with the law. Nature accounts for people’s efforts: they must give exactly as much as they received from society.”
“And if someone isn’t aware of it?”
“There is no getting away from it. If the balance isn’t maintained, Nature will start to put pressure on people, forcing them to do everything the way they should. But if people strive for harmony themselves, the result will be as follows,” the guide wrote a glowing formula on the wall:
“Look: E is Efforts, and A is Assistance. You get as much support from Nature as the effort you put in.”
I thought to myself, “Help equivalent to efforts … It gives hope!”
“Life isn’t a duty,” my guide concluded. “It’s an opportunity to benefit fully from the gifts Nature gives.”
“Benefit from the gifts Nature gives,” these words echoed in me.
The exhibition did not disappoint. It became clear what I … no, we have to do.
Acting in accordance with the laws of the Universe is the only way out.
Rising above the doubts: what if we — as a society — do not cope? Because we have to join our efforts …
But what do we have to lose? There is no time left to hesitate and ignore the inducements of Nature. We have to act right now.
For the sake of our children. Our loved ones. For the sake of all people.
What would it cost us to try? Why not just take this psychological step …
Caring for each other is the most important thing.
“I do it for you; you do it for me” — it’s like a dance: I take a step towards you, and you — towards me.
And we — in unison with Nature.
“But this relates only to the creatures, whereas regarding the Creator, it is completely impossible and unacceptable. And this is the reason He has prepared for us the toil and the labor of Torah and Mitzvot, to produce our exaltedness by ourselves, because then the delight and pleasure that comes to us from Him, meaning everything that is included in the Dvekut with Him, will all be our own possession that has come to us through our own efforts. Then we will feel ourselves as the owners, without which there cannot be a sensation of wholeness.” (Baal HaSulam “The Giving of the Torah”).