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)