Rav Ashlag teaches that the true spiritual path, what he calls the Central Column path, is exact and narrow; so much so, he says, that it is possible for a person who is moving on the spiritual path to actually be worse off than somebody who is not moving on the spiritual path at all. Why? Because taking one step away from the real path can cause more damage than not taking any.
"Devekut, complete reunification with the Light of the Creator."
And what is the consciousness and understanding of this path, he asks? The secret, he tells us, and what the Zohar says, is that the Light of the Creator, the Torah (meaning, the wisdom and the tools), and the individual doing the work, are all one. However, most of us don't view it like that. Most of us view it as three separate things; there's the Light of the Creator, which we want to reach, there is our self, who is trying to do the work to reach the Light of the Creator, and there are the tools and wisdom that we use to reach the Light of the Creator. Yet, those three things, we learn, are not actually separate.
The purpose for the soul’s entering this physical world is to come to what Rav Ashlag calls devekut, complete reunification with the Light of the Creator. Reunifying the soul with the Light of the Creator, however, takes a tremendous amount of work, such that we have to make sure every step we're taking is on the path that will bring us back to this devekut. But, what are these steps towards reunification with the Light of the Creator?
There are 620 steps our soul has to take from the time it comes into this world to the point of reunification with the Light. These 620 steps are made up of what’s called the 613 mitzvot in the Torah, and the seven tools not written in the Torah that the kabbalists later awakened. The Zohar calls the Torah the wisdom and tools, the pathways to the Light of the Creator. They are like directions from where our soul starts to its arrival point of reunification with the Light. Imagine a Google map, and there are 620 roads; we go on one road, make a left, and then we have a new road, go right, arrive at a new road, and so on. For our soul, there are 620 roads, and the only way it can get from its birth in this physical world to reunification with the Light of the Creator is through these roads.
"The Light, the Torah, and the individual doing the work, are all one."
For example, one of the seven tools that is part of these 620 roads is Hallel, a prayer we say on holidays and on Rosh Chodesh, the new moon. We say it thousands upon thousands of times in our lifetime. Why? Because each time we say it, it is like we are creating a road. So the first time we say it, we make a little hole. The second time, it’s a little bit bigger, by the 1500th time it is even bigger, and so on. That’s the reason for this repetition and the use of all of the tools; they are all like drills we use to create the pathways. Ultimately, we create 620 of them, each as wide as they need to be for our soul to go through and eventually reunify with the Light of the Creator. It is clearly very important, therefore, that we create these pathways.
It’s also important to understand that the effort to continue the spiritual path, even when the body fights against it, is necessary. Without the body, the soul would not be making these pathways; in order to create the roads, it needs the body consciousness to fight against the connections and the use of the tools. Only that struggle can create the pathways. And then, body and soul are able to achieve devekut and reunify with the Light of the Creator.
So, again, the three different aspects of the spiritual work, which in reality are truly only one, are: the individual who's trying to fight against body consciousness and reconnect with the Light of the Creator, the Light of the Creator to which the soul is desiring to reunify, and the 620 pathways that need to be created between the body and soul in order to achieve this reunification. When a person develops in his spiritual connection and is on his true path, Rav Ashlag tells us, he begins to see these three things as one. It is an understanding, hopefully, that can really fill our spiritual work with an entirely new and exciting purpose.