Thus, superiority dictates comparison, and hence forces the egocentric human of Stage Four to perpetuateconnections with others. And the more egocentric we are, the more we want to feel superior to others, and are thusforced to tighten our connections to others.In fact, the very word, “egocentric,” implies that there can also be another center to our thoughts. And the negativestigma attached to egoism implies that we instinctively know which direction is best for us—altruism, being “other-centric.”The question is, “Why are we not acting like the rest of Nature, in the way that seems to be in our own best interest,as well?” The answer is that it seems it would be best if everyone were altruistic, but (save for very few) because of our egos, we want everybody else to go first. We all agree with the idea of altruism, but are paralyzed when it comesto executing it. Until we see that everyone else is doing it and know for certain that we will not lose by giving, wecannot give. As a result, altruism does not seem like a good idea, but like a naïve one, even dangerous—if I were to go first andthen were exploited. In consequence, Nature’s way, which seems like the right way for us, actually appears to be thewrong way in practice. This is why it seems unreasonable that we should choose it.
Are You Ready to Become an Altruist?
But at the same time, only the altruists survive. We are already connected, and we already affect one another,therefore harming each other with our treacherous intentions toward others. Put differently, our egoism is alreadytaking its toll on us, so as we can see, the choice of altruism is both mandatory and utterly unappealing.Yet, it is this unattractiveness that makes it a free choice. If it were appealing, we would do it automatically, followingour egocentric intentions, and it would no longer be altruism, but disguised egoism all over again, which would lead toour eventual destruction.But there is another reason why free choice is a must for us humans. According to Kabbalah, the purpose of Creationis to become like the Creator, just as the purpose of a child is to become a grownup, like its parents. And just as achild must learn to make choices freely on issues that concern corporeal life, Creation, meaning we, must learn tomake choices freely in regard to spiritual life.When Kabbalists refer to the spiritual life, they refer to choices whether to act out of egocentric motives or out of socio-centric or Creator-centric motives. In choosing to be socio-centric, one attains the purpose of one’s existence of becoming Creator-like, with all the capabilities and responsibilities that go with it.
You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Start Imitating the Creator Today
Meltzoff and Prinz’s book,
Perspectives on Imitation
, describes the importance of imitation and identification with rolemodels in rearing children. Yet, not only children learn this way; it is how we all learn. If we were not affected by eachother’s wishes and behaviors, fashion would have been impossible, since no one would follow anyone else.Moreover, we would not progress, since nothing in our neighbors would evoke our envy and drive us to improve our own lives. This would halt the wheels of progress instantaneously. By performing acts of altruism we imitate theCreator—the life-giving force that creates and propels everything that happens. And just as children learn how to begrownups by imitating them, we will learn how to be like the Creator by imitating it, as well.It could be argued with a great degree of merit that many people perform acts of altruism, yet none of them seems tohave acquired the qualities or capabilities of the Creator. Indeed, the difference between the altruism we find on a