All three of these desire-types …
That is: animalistic desires, lesser human desires as in desires for respect and domination, and loftier desires as in desires for knowledge and the like.
… are present in everyone, for the most part. It’s just that they’re within us in varying degrees and in combination, which explains the difference between people.
Ashlag’s point is that since we’re ratzon l’kabel– and pleasure-driven, it follows that even the best of us (with the exception of those scant few souls who have indeed achieved a ratzon l’hashpia in the here and now) have some base and small desires; and also that even the lowliest among us are drawn to higher ideals since all three desires-types are human archetypes.
The difference between us thus lies in the intensity with which we express those desires; in whether we express them in thought, speech, or action, or in combination; and the degree to which we express them in each of those realms.
For while the more-righteous want nothing better than to draw close to God (which is still-and-all a personal desire, don’t forget) and they think, talk about, and do things that will help them do that, they also harbor a thought or more, say something or another, or do a thing or two that thwarts that. Most of us think and talk about, and do more things to thwart closeness to God, and think and talk about, and do a number of base and meaner things. And the lowliest among us think and talk about, and do a great deal of base and coarse things, and few lofty things.
(Know that) we can deduce things about the makeup of spiritual phenomena — depending on their spiritual stature — from the makeup of physical phenomena.
We’ll begin to discuss this in detail in the next chapter.
(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).