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Kabbalah and Chassidus:
Let us speak about the difference between Kabbalah and Chassidus, which differ in the same way as Chochma and Bina. Chochma is compared to water, which descends from above to below [top-down, principal to application] and Bina is compared to fire which rises from below to above [bottom-up, detail to principal].
This means that the revealations of the Ar”i are a revelation of Kabbalah in a way of “above to below,” i.e. from the Infinite Light [descending down] till the lowest world [Olam Ha’asiya], according to the order of the Eitz Chayim. And in this way, [Kabbalah] has an advantage because it is much better equiped to specify and explain all of the Aspects and all of the Levels. However, the drawback is that it begins from a place that is distant from the one who is lower, and the lower one has no comprehension of it. Therefore, the majority of people have no grasp of the words of the Ar”i… The holy Ar"i was the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef, as Rav Chaim Vital said, and Yosef is the aspect of Chochma which descends from above to below. And in truth, Rav Chaim Vital should have been Moshiach ben Dovid, because he was the aspect of Bina. Therefore, he had the ability to write, and the Ar"i did not have the ability to write because Chochma is the aspect of “Light” and Bina is the aspect of “Vessels,” which are the letters of writing which contain the light of Chochma.
This is why the holy Ar"i said to Rav Chaim Vital that the verse states about him [Rav Chaim Vital], “And to you is the desire of Israel.” He did not explain what he meant. But the Komarner Rav zy”a explained that that Rav Chaim Vital had the Neshoma of the holy Baal Shem Tov (Moshiach ben Dovid). However, we were not meritorious, and the Baal Shem Tov was required to complete the revelation of Kabbalah in the way of Bina, meaning, in a way of “below to above.” [This means that he] began from the perspective of Avodas Hashem and the emotions of people to elevate people up from there to [to allow them to] cleave to that which is above. [He did this by] revealing that everything below is rooted above, and every trait within a person is a chariot of that which is above. [Merkava, chariot is the concept that we can be a mere vehicle of the One Above. Just like a car's movement is not of its own volition, but instead is merely an expression of its driver’s will, so too our goal is to be the merkava/chariot/car of the Holy One, where every thought, word, and action are merely an expression of the will of the One Above.]
[Chassidus] has the advantage that it is able to bring the whole world to this type of revelation, as reflected by the statement of Moshiach to the Baal Shem Tov, that the whole world will be able to make unifications and elevations through you. This means that a person can understand that all of his emotions that he feels in himself are the chariot of the emotions above. [This is the meaning of]the unifications and elevations which it will be possible to easily teach the whole world.
Click here for Part 3, Chassidus and the GR"A
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