Christianity · Kabbalah

Word of the Lord

There is a known passage from Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

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Probably this is the most common quote from the New Testament.. I pondered about it many many times, what all these mean? What is the spiritual meaning of this “Word”? In the Book of Zohar with Sulam commentary (of Yehuda Ashlag) we have the answer:

11) Rabbi Shimon said, “Elazar my son, cease talking, and you will discover the concealing of the uppermost secret that the people of the world do not know.” Rabbi Elazar went silent. Rabbi Shimon wept and said, “Elazar, what is ELEH [these]? If you say that it is the stars and the signs, are they always visible? And in MA [what], which is Malchut, were they created? It is written, ‘The heavens were made by the word of the Lord.’ The heavens were made by Malchut, who is called ‘The word of the Lord.’ And if ELEH was said about the hidden things, it should not have written ELEH, since they are disclosed stars and signs.

— Hakdama Zohar, MI Bara ELE deEliahu

Many times I thought that “the word” is about light of the Creator, we could say light of hochma. But here it’s written that “word of the Lord” is malchut! And malchut is kli, container of light, a vessel. We also know that it’s written in the Talmud Eser Sfirot: “In the world of Ein Sof, He and His name are one”. And “His name” is malchut, so in the olam (world) Ein Sof there is actually no difference between light and kli, because there is no duality here.

We know also that “there is no light without kli”, so in order to receive light, to be conscious of it, there must be something to receive this light, because light without kli can’t be known.

So light can be known only in a vessel (kli), in emptiness or darkness. There is emptiness in us because we made tzimtzum (restriction) in ourselves. And this darkness is already awareness of light. This is the space in which we are aware of God, but from the side of darkness/emptiness. And this emptiness is created in us by light of God. There is a reshimo in it, trace about the light that was before, but now is gone. The kli was full of it and now it is empty. But neverthless it shines, we are aware of his boundaries, possiblity of being filled completely once again, etc. And this is why it’s written that “light shines in the darkness”.
We can abide our mind in this space, in “her”, because darkness has feminine qualities, it’s “she”. So this darkness is very precious thing, it’s a gift from God.

In other words we could say that this is our “new heart”, above mundane things, thoughts, etc. There is a second heart, with old habits, uncorrected wishes, etc. But new heart is a holy space, it’s above it, it is in inner man, second heart is in outer man.

The divine darkness is not the kind of blackness we experience stumbling into an underground room with no lights. This darkness is a positive reality that helps us to discover God, and hence is called “luminous.” Although it sounds like a contradiction in terms, a luminous darkness is one filled with God’s presence, and by faith, the soul can begin to perceive God in darkness. In fact, the closer that God comes to the soul, the more intense the darkness becomes; it is then that all other things of this world are cleared away. The soul looks up to the Lord and never ceases to desire him.

— St. Gregory of Nyssa

In this darkness there is a part of us that don’t want to stay in this dark room, this part want the light of day and not darkness. Raising above this with faith (strengthening masach/screen in our kli) is a correction and brings change in consciousness, it gives light of faith (hasadim), it may actually mark a new day for us (light of hochma dressed in the light of hasadim), new revelation, because now we have strength to receive it.

This emptiness is created by four levels of light expansion in the mystery of the name HaVaYaH, as is explained in the first chapter of the “Pticha le hochma de kabbalah”

4) The reason why the will to receive must cascade by the four above-mentioned discernments in ABYA (Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, Assiya) is that there is a great rule concerning the Kelim (plural for Kli): the expansion of the Light and its departure make the Kli fit for its task. This means that as long as the Kli has not been separated from its Light, it is included in the Light and is annulled within it like a candle in a torch.

This annulment is because they are completely opposite from one another, on opposite ends. This is so because the Light extends from His Essence existence from existence. From the perspective of the Thought of Creation in Ein Sof, it is all towards bestowal and there is no trace of will to receive in it. Its opposite is the Kli, the great will to receive that abundance, which is the root of the initiated creature, in which there is no bestowal whatsoever.

Hence, when they are bound together, the will to receive is annulled in the Light within it, and can determine its form only once the Light has departed thence once. This is so because following the departure of the Light from it, it begins to crave it, and this craving properly determines and sets the shape of the will to receive. Subsequently, when the Light dresses in it once more, it is regarded as two separate matters: Kli and Light, or Guf and Life. Observe closely, for this is most profound.

— Pticha, Yehuda Ashlag

This quote above is one of my favourite from Pticha, and these parts from book of Zohar which I quoted above for me are the most important. They are the key. All the Hakdama Zohar, but this maamar (article) “MI Bara ELE” and the next “MI Bara ELE Elyahu” are essence of the wisdom of kabbalah.

In kabbalah there is a rosh (head) and guf (body) and together they are called “partzuf”. Of course these are pure spiritual terms, there is nothing here about physical body or head, it should be obvious. This is our inner being.
Rosh is the light of pure consciousness and guf is a vessel. This vessel has two parts: toch and sof.

So word of God is malchut. There is no creation without malchut, without the wish to receive light. And actually this creation is unfolding in us. Now. The more light of consciousness we can receive in our vessels, the greater spectrum of reality we perceive. Even in mundane things there is a infinite depth. Why? Because God is infinite, and our spiritual vessel has no boundaries, no limits, etc. I every sfirah there is another 10 sfirot and another 10 and so on..  You don’t believe in angels or heavenly beings? You think that they don’t exist? You have right, because you don’t perceive it yet, for you they don’t exist, because today you have limited awareness. But still there is possibility to perceive it tomorrow by expanding your awareness, this is the only way.  And by raising vibrations, because there is law of similarity between spiritual objects. You can’t perceive angels unless you have similar qualities.. And remember, there is no light without a kli and there are spiritual laws of  receiving the light correctly  (laws of tzimtzum, masach, or hozer, three lines, etc.). But this is another story..

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Vedas

Filling the gap

  1. All this is for habitation by the Lord, whatsoever is individual universe of movement in the universal motion. By that renounced thou shouldst enjoy; lust not after any man’s possession.
  2. Doing verily works in this world one should wish to live a hundred years. Thus it is in thee and not otherwise than this; action cleaves not to a man.
  3. Sunless are those worlds and enveloped in blind gloom whereto all they in their passing hence resort who are slayers of their souls.
  4. One unmoving that is swifter than Mind, That the Gods reach not, for It progresses ever in front. That, standing, passes beyond others as they run. In That the Master of Life establishes the Waters.
  5. That moves and That moves not; That is far and the same is near; That is within all this and That also is outside all this.
  6. But he who sees everywhere the Self in all existences and all existences in the Self, shrinks not thereafter from aught.
  7. He in whom it is the Self-Being that has become all existences that are Becomings, for he has the perfect knowledge, how shall he be deluded, whence shall he have grief who sees everywhere oneness?
  8. It is He that has gone abroad—That which is bright, bodi-less, without scar of imperfection, without sinews, pure, unpierced by evil. The Seer, the Thinker, the One who becomes everywhere, the Self-existent has ordered objects perfectly according to their nature from years sempiternal.
  9. Into a blind darkness they enter who follow after the Ignorance, they as if into a greater darkness who devote themselves to the Knowledge alone.
  10. Other, verily, it is said, is that which comes by the Knowledge, other that which comes by the Ignorance; this is the lore we have received from the wise who revealed That to our understanding.
  11. He who knows That as both in one, the Knowledge and the Ignorance, by the Ignorance crosses beyond death and by the Knowledge enjoys Immortality.
  12. Into a blind darkness they enter who follow after the Non-Birth, they as if into a greater darkness who devote themselves to the Birth alone.
  13. Other, verily, it is said, is that which comes by the Birth, other that which comes by the Non-Birth; this is the lore we have received from the wise who revealed That to our understanding.
  14. He who knows That as both in one, the Birth and the dissolution of Birth, by the dissolution crosses beyond death and by the Birth enjoys Immortality.
  15. The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid; that do thou remove, O Fosterer, for the law of the Truth, for sight.
  16. O Fosterer, O sole Seer, O Ordainer, O illumining Sun, O power of the Father of creatures, marshal thy rays, draw together thy light; the Lustre which is thy most blessed form of all, that in Thee I behold. The Purusha there and there, He am I.
  17. The Breath of things is an immortal Life, but of this body ashes are the end. OM! O Will, remember, that which was done remember! O Will, remember, that which was done remember.
  18. O god Agni, knowing all things that are manifested, lead us by the good path to the felicity; remove from us the devious attraction of sin. To thee completest speech of submission we would dispose.

— Isha Upanishad, Sri Aurobindo transl.

Christianity

All the virtues…

1. CONCERNING exterior discipline, and what practice is best and first, know this, beloved, that all the virtues are  bound up together. The one is linked to the other, like a kind of spiritual chain ; prayer to love, love to joy, joy to  meekness, meekness to humility, humility to service, service  to hope, hope to faith, faith to obedience, obedience to  simplicity. And on the opposite side, evil things are bound one to another, hatred to anger, anger to pride,  pride to vainglory, vainglory to unbelief, unbelief to hardness of heart, hardness of heart to carelessness, carelessness to sloth, sloth to sullenness, sullenness to want of  endurance, want of endurance to love of pleasure. The other parts of vice likewise are dependent upon each other;  so also on the good side the virtues are dependent on each other and connected.

2. But the chief of all good endeavour, the topmost of right actions, is perseverance in prayer. From it we may daily gain increasingly the rest of the virtues through asking them of God. By it is formed, in those to whom it is vouchsafed, the fellowship of the holiness of God and of spiritual energy, and the attachment of the disposition of the mind to the Lord in love unspeakable. The man who compels himself every day to persevere in prayer is enflamed with divine affection and fiery longing by spiritual love towards God, and receives the grace of the sanctifying perfection of the Spirit.

— Pseudo-Macarius, “Fifty spiritual homilies of St. Macarius the Egyptian”

Christianity

Why the Holy Scripture was given to us by God

As a king writes letters to those upom whom he whishes to confer patents and special gifts, and signifies to them all, “endevour to come quickle to me, that you may receive from me royal gifts”; and if they do not come and receive them, they will be none the better off for having read the letters, but, on the contrary, are liable to be put to death for not choosing to go and be honoured by the king’s hand; so God; the King, has sent to men the holy scriptures as His letters, declaring by them that they should pray to God and believing should ask and receive a heavelnly gift of the substance of His Godhead; for it is written, That we should be made partakers of the divine nature.

macariusthegreatBut if the man will not come, and ask, and receive, he is none the better off having read the scriptures, but is rather liable to death, because he did not choose to receive from the heavenly King the gift of life, without which it is impossible to obtain immortal life, which is Christ. To whom be the glory for ever. Amen.

— Pseudo-Macarius, “Fifty spiritual homilies of St. Macarius the Egyptian”

Kabbalah · Tantra

Similar concepts in lurianic Kabbalah and Kashmir Shaivism

There are some similarities between kabbalah concepts expounded in many sources like “Etz Chaim” and these from Kashmir Shaivism. I’m not expert of the latter, but I know kabbalistic teachings enough to explore some deeper concepts in tantric traditions.

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I know that both these traditions are not popular, they are hermetic, esoteric and these concepts may seem difficult to grasp. In reality we must try to find these teachings inside us, because it’s how it should be. This is something that we already know, we only reaveal that which we temporarily forgot (as a Divine Being).

Of course these teachings are very deep and require experiential knowledge far beyond our senses and wordly mind.

Below is a quote from Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta (with commnetary of Yogaraja). This is the quote that is particularly similar with the kabbalistic concept of tzimtzum.

“The supreme Lord, who is of the nature of pure consciousness and who as such underlies the universe  has the self-experience in the form of “I become the universe”. Subsequently he negates [his absolute nature] and thereby creates void in himself. This void, created by following the negation of his absolute nature, is the foundation of all existence, the world, to be manifested subsequently, and the blissful state in which this occurs is called śakti tattva. This level of the supreme Lord’s involution, which is one of both negation and fullness, on account of the dissolution and the creation of the universe, has been designated as Śakti in all secret doctrines [the Agamas].”

These are actually the words of Yogaraja,  from commentary. He was the disciple of Abhinavagupta.

And now “Etz Chaim” from Arizal:

“Know that before any emanations or creatures were fashioned there was an Upper Light (Or Elyon) that simply permeated all Existence, and there was no empty place, in the sense of atmosphere, merely space. However, everything was imbued with Infinite Light (Ayn Sof Or), to which there was no beginning nor yet any end; all was Light permeating everything evenly. This is called the Infinite Light (Ayn Sof Or).

And when He wished to create worlds and cause emanations, to bring into being His perfect works, names and attributes–which was the reason for the creation of the worlds, He then contracted (tzimtzum) Himself into the middle point, in the very center. He contracted that Light and removed Himself far to the perimeter round the midpoint, so that in that very midpoint there remained an empty place and air and a void.”

I think that these two quotes are very interesting. For me Arizal words have more power, it’s like he writes from very high level, beyond any doubt, with such uncomparable precision.. Every word here has deep meaning..

What he explains here is about Ayn Sof (blessed be He), where all creation is only in potentiality, we could say it’s Unmanifested yet.

In Talmud Eser Sfirot from Yehuda Ashlag (commentary to the Arizal teachings) there is the explanation of the meaning of this “empty place, in the sense of atmosphere”, that this is not particularly material place or atmoshphere, but a kind of spiritual light (in hebrew text this “atmosphere” is called avira dahia which is also translated as “empty air”]. And he warns us that in spirituality there is nothing about material space, time, etc. This is very important.

“You should know that that Ohr Hassadim is called Avir or Ruach. When it is by itself, without Ohr de Hochma, it is called “empty Avir,” meaning empty of Ohr Hochma. Then it waits for Ohr Hochma to clothe it and fulfill it.”

Ohr – means light.

“Bear in mind, that the entire wisdom of Kabbalah is founded on spiritual matters that do not take up time or space. They are not subject to change or absence and all the changes that are spoken of in this wisdom do not imply that the first form becomes absent and is replaced by a different form. The above change rather implies an additional form, while the first does not move from its place, as absence and change are corporeal conducts.” Talmud Eser Sfirot, chapter 1

I hope that this give some key about such superficial matters… There is more things to reveal. Maybe later (with God’s help)  I’ll write something about letters of alphabet, and give some keys from Zohar and compare this with Matrikacakra concept from Kashmir Shaivism. Or maybe concepts from Vedas and Torah, like sacrifices, which have also spiritual meaning and are explained in the wisdom of kabbalah. These traditions to be honest are not so far from each other, there are probably both part of one old teaching… (I mean Vedas and Torah)