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.
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.
Sunless are those worlds and enveloped in blind gloom whereto all they in their passing hence resort who are slayers of their souls.
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.
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.
But he who sees everywhere the Self in all existences and all existences in the Self, shrinks not thereafter from aught.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
But 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”
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.
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)
“When the blessed Holy One adorns Himself in His crowns, He crowns Himself above and below. Above, from the site of deepest of all ; below, with what? With souls of the righteous. Then vitality is lavished above and below, embracing the site of the sanctuary on all sides. The cistern is filled, the ocean consummated, providing for all.
“It is written: Drink water from your cistern, flowing water from your well. Why first your cistern, then your well? A cistern is empty, unflowing, while a well bubbles with water. Yet all is one site. The site embracing the poor is called cistern, possessing nothing of its own, only what is deposited there. Who is that? ד (Dalet). Subsequently it becomes a well, filled from all directions. Who is that? ה (He), filled from above, bubbling from below. Filled from above, as we have explained; bubbling from below, from souls of righteous. [..]
“Desire of the female toward the male arouses only when a spirit enters her and she gushes water toward upper, masculine waters. Similarly Assembly of Israel arouses desire toward the blessed Holy One only by the spirit of the righteous entering Her. Then waters flow from within Her toward waters of the male, all becoming one desire, one cluster, one nexus. Rapture, total rapture! An amble ambled by the blessed Holy One with souls of the righteous.”
— Zohar, Noah 1:160a-b
As cloth, water, the ground, and sesame seeds are perfumed by association with flowers, even so are qualities ever the product of association. Verily association with fools produceth an illusion that entangleth the mind, as daily communion with the good and the wise leadeth to the practice of virtue. Therefore, they that desire emancipation should associate with those that are wise and old and honest and pure in conduct and possessed of ascetic merit. They should be waited upon whose triple possessions, viz., knowledge (of the Vedas), origin and acts, are all pure, and association with them is even superior to (the study of the) scriptures. Devoid of the religious acts as we are, we shall yet reap religious merit by association with the righteous, as we should come by sin by waiting upon the sinful. The very sight and touch of the dishonest, and converse and association with them; cause diminution of virtue, and men (that are doomed to these), never attain purity of mind. Association with the base impaireth the understanding, as, indeed, with the indifferent maketh it indifferent, while communion with the good ever exalteth it. All those attributes which are spoken of in the world as the sources of religious merit, of worldly prosperity and sensual pleasures, which are regarded by the people, extolled in the Vedas, and approved by the well-behaved, exist in you, separately and jointly! Therefore, desirous of our own welfare, we wish to live amongst you who possess those attributes!
Mahabharata, Vana Parva, 3:1
Average people think that muslims are rewarded in heaven with virgins (houris) for sexual gratification, etc. I just watched yesterday on youtube a video about that. There is such misunderstanding of holy scriptures in this world.. I’m not expert in islamic spirituality or mysticism, neither in Koran, but I’ve searched about this subject in google to find the answer, what is the spiritual (mystical) meaning of these virgins, because I believe that Koran doesn’t speak about anything material, anything in time and space, but about spiritual realities (higher worlds), about spiritual consciousness, etc. This is always the main thing in holy scriptures. And it doesn’t matter if this is Koran, Vedas or Torah, there is always a hidden message behind the simple text (for example in Judaism, Torah has 4 levels of understanding, pshat, remez, drash and sod). And this message is not something far away from us, but it’s hidden inside us, in our very soul. So I found one quote that is very interesting, because it speaks about this subject from sufi perspective. I think that everyone should have proper relation to the religion of Islam, and know that there is always inner meaning and our attention should be directed toward it.
Baha Walad constantly tells us that every sweet and desirable thing in both worlds rises up from the experience of God’s presence, though people are confused by the multiplicity of the names and think that the things are the realities. He questions the well-known proposition that paradise is the prison of the Sufi, who desires only God himself.
I was describing the houris and talking about the gardens and the paradises. A shaykh from among the Folk of Gnosis said, “Those who are busy with these things in this world will be busy with them in that world too. When will they go back to God? When will they see God?”
I answered, “It is proper that the ‘houris, palaces, gardens, fountains, and ginger’ [mentioned in the Koran] consist of the states of seeing God. Each time you see, you find a different taste. So, look upon the meanings — how God constantly keeps you in the palm of His hand and His breast. Belong to your Lord and be His companion! Be a stranger to other things and other states. Keep your gaze upon your Sovereign. Whatever you want, ask it from Him. Rub yourself against Him. Mix with Him like milk and honey. Then you will find all the houris, palaces, and sweetnesses of paradise in ready coin. You will find God. Your felicity is for this door to be opened to you — for you to know that He is with you wherever you are. For Baha Walad, as for Rumi, the vision of God in all creation takes place in infinite variety and never-ending joy.
— Sufism – A beginner’s guide by William Chittick
There is also a talk about 72 virgins in paradise.. But from the mystical perspective, for example in kabbalah the number 72 is related with the 72 names of God. Virgins are probably kelim (spiritual vessels) through which higher light of God can be perceived, because light is always perceived inside the vessel (kli), otherwise it can’t be known. And aspect of sexual union with these virgins mentioned in many sources is really about spiritual union or coupling (zivug), between female aspect of God consciousness (vessel) and male (light). The places like Jerusalem, Gan Eden (higher and lower), Paradise, etc. really talk about different states of consciousness. This is obvious for the spiritual seeker, but worldy people will always see what they want to see.
Five stations mentioned earlier are probably related to the five levels of soul or five lights: nefesh, ruach, neshama, chayah, yechida. As I know there is similar concept in sufism (islamic mysticism), and they call it, if I remember correctly: ‘hearing’, ‘smelling’, ‘touching’, ‘seeing’ and ‘tasting’ as a levels of closeness to God.
I’m not going further with this subject, but I wanted only to give some hints what it may be about. This is my intuitive direction and interpretation with such things from the perspective of kabbalah. Because every tradition talks about one reality and there are similar concepts everywhere. At least I can have respect for other spiritual traditions and see inside them true wisdom, instead of perversions or political matters.