I-MAGICK: The Path to the Self
A work of art carries its proof in itself. Artificial, strained
concepts do not withstand the image-test; all such concepts crumble,
they are revealed as puny and colourless, they convince nobody. But
works which have drawn on truth and presented it to us in live,
concentrated form, grip us and communicate themselves to us
compellingly - and nobody, even centuries later, will ever be able to
refute them. The same is true of the authentically lived spiritual life in any
of its formats:
One artist imagines himself to be the creator of an independentspiritual world, burdens himself with the act of creating and peoplingthis world, accepts complete responsibility for it but he breaks down,because no mortal genius is capable of withstanding such a burden;just as, in a more general ense, man, who has declared himself to bethe centre of existence, has been unable to create a balancedspiritual system. And if he is overwhelmed by failure, he lays theblame on the eternal disharmony of the world, on the complexity of thedistraught contemporary soul, or on the lack of comprehension of thepublic.Another artist knows there is a higher power over him and will workjoyfully as a small apprentice under God's heaven, although hisresponsibility for everything he paints and draws, and for the soulswho apprehend it, is even greater. But on the other hand this worldwas not created by him, is not uled by him, there are no doubts aboutits fundamental principles; this artist has only the gift ofperceiving more acutely than others the harmony of the world and thebeauty and ugliness of man's contribution to it, and the gift ofacutely conveying this to others. In failure and even in the lowestdepths of existence - in destitution, in prison, in sickness, theconsciousness of this steadfast harmony cannot forsake him.However, the whole irrationality of Art, its dazzling convolutions,its unpredictable discoveries, its shattering influence on people aretoo magical to be plumbed by an artist's philosophy or scheme ofthings or by the labour of his unworthy hands. This is the way of nometa-narrative, standing in the Mystery of Naked Awareness.
In the process of investigation and self-investigation, it is necessary to figure out the M.O. or motivating factors that lead to behaviors. These are our basic life patterns. We all make decisions based on our internal map of reality and unconscious hierarchy of values. Values and beliefs drive our behavior.
If we make our own values and beliefs conscious and focus on them, we can direct our energy toward what we really want in life. Question WHY certain values are important to you, what situations you want and what you want to avoid at any cost. Have a friend prompt you with the comparisons to make it easier. List and relist them as you adjust their relative importance. Don't analyze it and don't overthink it or add any other strategy in this exercise.
THE WHOLE IN YOUR SOUL
1. WHAT IS IMPORTANT ABOUT LIFE?
2. Look again and add more values later; they may be more important than your first thoughts.
3. Think about when you were highly motivated and what values drove you.
4. Which values are most important? Rank them in order and re-compare them.
5. Compare each to all the others: If I could have this and not that...would it work for me?
6. IS THIS ME? What is the thing that generates what I ACTUALLY spend my time on, not what I think I should spend it on?
7. Identify conflicts in values. Am I moving away from any values? WHY is that important? Don't pretend or censor yourself.
8. Frame values positively.
What you FOCUS ON is THE secret of life. You can EXPAND your internal map of reality. The most important variable is how you spend your time and EVALUATE what you've done. You can feel bad or guilty if you act on others' values, not your own. Values tell you the deeper structure of how you create your life. Ask yourself WHY each value is crucial and what you fear without it. If a caring partner is important, have you had uncaring partners? If you crave financial security what would it mean to be poor? Would you rather be happy and poor or rich and unhappy? What do you want to avoid? What are you with or without it?
How do you rank the values of happiness, guidance, learning, career, money, reknown, success, good relationships, mentoring, balance, integrity, passion, creativity, spontaneity, self-expression, novelty, excitement, comfort, service, compassion, IF those are some of your values? Is balance or success more important than family or communication? Is peace of mind more important than a partner? than personal growth? Can you have money and integrity at the same time; money and family; money and happiness; freedom and relationship simultaneously? Health, avoiding failure, or avoiding pain?
WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT IN LIFE? If you could have balance but not family, or family without health or health without family, what would you choose? Family or security; success or family? Which would you choose first? Family but not love; fame but not family? Family or financial security? Family or social commeraderie? How do you rank your values? Is excitement, challenge or opportunity more important than balance, honesty, integrity, security? Using your own values, make your own comparisons between them to determine your own ranking. Are there any values you are trying to avoid? Dig deeply within yourself.
Is security more important than challenge, excitement more important than love? Accomplishment more important than romance? Personal fulfillment more important than family? What works for you? What two are in conflict and how do you resolve that dissonance? Are security and excitement compatible for you? Are spirituality and financial security incompatible for you? Can you identify your conflicting values and the dissonance that creates in your mind/body and life?
We all have an M.O., a method of operating in the world at large.
How we act is governed by our motives and opportunities.
Beliefs and values direct our M.O. and WHY we do what we do.
Compare and contrast your values. Do you value excitement more than family, passion more than serenity, self-expression over partnership, inspiration over security, peace of mind more than truth or love or financial security; or balance, devotion, learning, honesty, integrity or friendship more than romantic love? Pair them and ask yourself which you want more, to be loved or to be honest? Can you be dishonest to be loved? Can you be loving if you are dishonest?
Whether you think your top values SHOULD rank that way or not, for example, peace of mind over family, it motivates you anyway. You need to know yourself, to know your M.O. in an accurate, considered way to achieve the life satisfaction you seek. If a value leads to another value, it ranks higher. Examine WHY certain values are more important to you.
Are you living an authentic life, doing what you really want? What do you move toward, and what do you move away from? Is that 90-10% or 50-50%? How much is what you move toward and how much away from? What makes you depressed, restless, frustrated, anxious? Behind what's important can be something you want to avoid. What's holding you back? Do you stand up for the values you hold?
If you focus on what you don't want, it's because you had a negative emotional experience, wounding, or trauma. You watch out for it by focusing on what you don't want - a negative experience. You focus harder on the path you don't want to go down. You must heal the emotional trauma and root causes, initial events and neutralize the emotional charge. This eliminates the emotional charge and you don't move away from it and you can focus on what you WANT. Once you remove the charge, it seems like something that happened to someone else - you no longer identify with it and aren't motivated by decisions you made about yourself or the world in that root cause. Coping mechanisms (ego) can buffer us from true feelings, creating unwanted outcomes and feelings.
Once you clear these charges, your values list may change; some things may drop off and others change their order, through resolution of conflicts.
Values and goals interact to create a MISSION infused with a deep sense of personal satisfaction. You can formulate your own Mission Statement with a few simple steps:
1. Identify a goal or desire, then ask yourself "What do I want or need from this selected goal? What is important about it; what do I value about it?
2. Higher. more important, values can be discovered by asking, "What will these higher values do for me?" They may reveal greater happiness, success or achievement, but will reveal the direction your motivation comes from: Toward (achieve, attain, gain) or Away From (avoid, relieve, out).
3. Your highest value is found by asking, "What will having the highest value do for me?" Your answer helps you determine your Mission, your creative passion.
4. Your MISSION includes and fulfills all of your highest values.
'Consciousness' is the final frontier for science, the 'hard problem' of philosophy, and mysticism's greatest mystery. It is the central focus of the philosophy of mind. But different scholars and different disciplines use that same word to mean very different things, from simple awareness to the very basis of existence. There is confusion among the very scholars, mystics, and scientists who make their careers exploring the nature of mind, matter and the nature of existence.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that investigates principles of reality, transcending those of any particular science. It traditionally includes cosmology, ontology and speculative philosophy. Cosmology is the general philosophy of the universe considered as a totality of its parts and phenomena subject to laws -- the origin, nature and structure of the universe. Ontology is the study of being -- that branch of metaphysics which deals with the philosophical theory of reality, universal characteristics of all reality.
Epistemology relates to "how we know what we know." This branch of philosophy critically investigates the nature, grounds, limits, and criteria of any particular theory of cognition. It helps us analyze facts, thought processes and value-judgments.
This personal synthesis helps us adapt or individuate and perhaps even self-actualize high well-being, or even extraordinary human potential. This comprehensive synthesis is mirrored in synoptic philosophy, which helps us fit the pieces of life into the whole mental jigsaw puzzle. Synoptic philosophy helps us achieve an all-inclusive view of our subject matter, seeing all parts in relationship to one another. To a greater or lesser degree, it erases the mental barriers that separate branches of knowledge in a holistic vision. Taken together, the personal synthesis of a holistic experiential worldview and the cultural synthesis symbolized by the synoptic wheel  is what we refer to here, in shorthand, as "metasyn."
This open-ended philosophic journey has certain milestones:
1). When you have any philosophical question proceed as far as possible with philosophical analysis, clarifying and drawing out all the hidden meanings that you can, dissolving the problem completely if possible.
2). If not, find out what philosophers of the past have thought about the problem.
3). Rephrasing the question in a variety of meaningful ways helps reveal what kinds of information will help solve it.
4). Develop an intuition for asking and reasking questions from different angles until they point to the data that illuminates them.
5). What fields most likely contain information related to the problem? Begin by asking questions about the problem and how it might connect one by one, to the various fields.
6). Go to these promising fields and gather information, looking for conclusions, hypotheses, and models currently used by field specialists. Keep asking questions relating the data to your central problem and cross-relating insights and drawing parallels from these fields themselves.
7). Network and integrate these insights refocusing new ideas on the initial problem to see what understanding and creative insights emerge. Weave these illuminative strands together into a glowing tapestry.
So, to envision our new paradigm we have to paint a multidisciplinary picture. We will draw on philosophy, physics, psychology, medicine, genetics, biology, politics, religion, anthropology, ecology, astronomy, geometry, mathematics, computer theory, economics, the humanities and the arts for our metaphors -- for our vocabulary -- to frame and reframe our questions.
Paradigms underlie the interplay of chaos and order in human culture, at the collective and individual level. They act as lenses through which all sensory data passes before it is experienced as perception.
Mysticism in Judaism & the Kabbalah
Throughout the ages, there has been a branch of knowledge, which focuses on the domain of the spirit. Spiritual existence is that which is never lost. The common core of most religions is devotional mysticism, based on the Sound Current, Word, or Holy Name. It is rooted in meditation (inner journeys) whether it appears in Judaism, Sufism, Tantra, Taoism, etc. While science explores outer phenomena, the field of mysticism explores the inner realms, which can be perceived only by our soul. A study of the different major religions reveals that each has an esoteric core. The essence of each religion is the union of the soul with God.
Mysticism is the study of how we can achieve this divine communion with the Lord. Martin Buber explained that the ecstasy is not a sudden absorption into the Universal Soul, but a steady progress forward, progress which is constant and well-controlled. God pervades the entire creation. The soul of man is a spark of Divinity and our principle duty is to take the soul back to its source. This can be done by the power of Shekhina, the equivalent of the Name or Word, which is described as the Emanation and Glory of God whose presence and power sustain every creature. The Masters or Zaddiks preached the banishing of all worldly desires and merging them in a single desire to meet God.
The purpose of this introductory essay is to familiarize us with some important aspects of the mystical tradition of Judaism. The Jews over the ages have tended to discourage the practice of magic or practical qabalah, choosing instead to keep their emphasis on love. Both Talmudic and Kabbalistic schools emphasize the need of mentors or Masters, well-familiar with the experiential territory. Nevertheless, an extremely useful generic map of the in-scape of mysticism was developed in Jewish Kabbalah, called the Tree of Life. Mysticism considers the human life as the fruit of the Tree of Life, and encourages meditation to unite with God on the path of Return while still living. It describes each of the domains of the inner planes on the soul's journey back to reunion with God in its true Home, Kether. Kabbalah is the study of the system of our spiritual roots which emanate from Above. There is none else but the Creator.
According to contemporary Kabbalists of B'nai Baruch, "The Kabbalah teaches the cause effect connection of our spiritual sources. Both mankind as a whole and each and every individual has to attain his highest point of understand the goal and the program of the creation in all of its fullness. In each generation there were people who by constant self work reached a certain spiritual level. In other words, while walking up the ladder, they managed to reach the top. In the spiritual world the main factor of discovery and comprehension is not time but rather purity of spirit, thought and desire." The part of Kabbalah that deals with the study of form without matter is totally based on experimental control and therefore can be verified and tested!"
The kabbalistic imperative is to transcend the bounds of the ego. "How can a beginner master this science when he cannot even properly understand his teacher? The answer is very simple It is only possible when we spiritually lift ourselves up above this world. This is possible only if we rid ourselves of all of the traces of material egoism and accept the spiritual values as the only ones. Only the longing and the passion for the spiritual in our world, is the key for the higher world. A person's main objective is to elevate the importance of the Creator in his own eyes, i.e. to acquire faith in His greatness and might, since this is his only possibility to escape from the prison of personal egoism, and into the higher worlds. The method of breaking free from the slavery of egoism is found in the Kabbalah. The worst egotism is arrogance and conceit. Only those who engage in the study of Kabbalah for self-improvement will benefit."
These kabbalists say we must reach spiritual levels in order not to be reincarnated. We must perfect the parts of the soul, Nefesh-Ruach-Neshama-Chaya-Yechida, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
Historical researches conducted in ancient Egypt have revealed that "what was known as the worship of the Word" was quite extensively prevalent during the times of the Pharaohs some 3,000 years ago. Moses, who organized a successful revolt of Jewish slave sin that country and led them on to the establishment of an independent state of their own, was brought up in the court of a Pharaoh, and seems to have been quite conversant with the worship of the Word.
(Excerpts from The Holy Name, Miriam Caravella, 1989, RS Satsang Beas)
According to the Bible, the prophet Moses communed with God "mouth to mouth." This implies a personal experience of the Divine -- a mystic experience. At God's behest, Moses brought the Torah -- the divine "teaching" or "revelation" -- to the children of Israel. Thus the early Israelites also had a direct mystical experience of God. Many of the patriarchs and prophets whose lives and teachings are given in the Bible are described as mystics who heard God's "voice" and "Word," who relied on His "Name," and otherwise had direct communion with Him. According to J. Abelson, an early twentieth-century scholar of Jewish mysticism, "Jewish mysticism is as old as the Old Testament...The Old Testament scintillates with sublime examples of men whose communion with God was a thing of intense reality to them."
It is important to remember that the Hebrew Bible as we know it today is not an exact and accurate rendering of the words of the mystics and prophets. Contemporary scholars, tracing the styles of several scribes in its narratives, have concluded that the Hebrew Bible is probably the work of several authors of different periods, with differing purposes and levels of spiritual attainment. Throughout history, scribes and scholars of all religions have subtly altered the teachings of the mystics, albeit unintentionally. Because they were not of the same spiritual level as the mystics whose works they were attempting to record, and because they were often writing from memory, these scribes may have unwittingly misinterpreted or obscured the mystics' teachings. In many places in the Bible, therefore, the mystical aspects or implications of the prophets' message may actually have been lost.
Mystics often couched their teachings in parables and symbols, so that the deeper meaning of their words would be hidden to all but their closest disciplines. In some instances, for example, where the prophets appear to be speaking about political or social issues, they may have also been speaking on a mystical or esoteric level, with the political or social situation used as an allegory or symbol.
During the period of the prophets, the priestly classes were the primary authority in Judaism. The priests performed specific religious functions in the temple in Jerusalem, and in daily Jewish life as well. With the destruction by the Romans of the second temple in the year 70 C.E., the role of the priestly classes began to change and their power started started diminishing. The institution of the "rabbi" (literally, "teacher," or "master"), as the primary authority in Judaism, arose during the first and second centuries C.E., becoming greatly strengthened during the period of Islamic rule, and continuing until today.
The discovery of the scrolls at Qumran and other long-hidden early texts reveals that, from the second century B.C.E. and possibly even earlier, there were several ascetic and possibly mystical sects coexisting with the mainstream of organized priestly Judaism. It is believed that John the Baptist, and probably even jesus of nazareth, came from one of these sects, the Essenes.
The teachings of Philo Judaeus, the first-century Jewish mystic of Alexandria, Egypt, are of great interest from the mystical point of view. Philo wrote about God as the Word or Logos. For many centuries, Philo had more influence on Christianity than on Judaism, because until the 1700s his writings were hardly known to Jewish scholars and theologians. In the same spirit as Philo, the commentators Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel, in their Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible, rendered the name of God Jehovah (wherever it appears) as the memra, or "utterance," clearly a reference to the creative Word, or Sound, of God.
After the Bible, the second great written work in Jewish history is the Talmud, which represents almost one thousand years of rabbinic thought. Its foundation were laid during the middle of the fourth century B.C.E. in the community of the returned exiles from Bab ylonia. The Talmud exists in two versions -- one Palestinian and the other Babylonian (both edited during the fifth century C.E.) -- reflecting the thinking of the two academies of rabbis. Most of the Talmud is concerned with law, but it also contains a good deal of moralistic, legendary, and mystical material.
The "Ethics of the Fathers," a collection of ethical and moral saying of the rabbis of the talmudic period, contains some highly mystical material as well. However, on the whole, from the period of the Talmud onward, most rabbis were suspicious of mysticism. Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser explains:
Some teachers of the Talmud cultivated the mystical life...[but] while recording the views of those teachers who sought to cultivate mystical interest, the Talmud indicates that the religious authorities of the time tried to discourage this tendency. . .In some instances mystical pursuits became intertwined with magic, which was, no doubt, an additional factor that inspired the effort to discourage it.
Contemporary rabbi David Blumenthal explains that during the talmudic period, some of the rabbinic tradition rubbed off on Jewish mysticism, hence the intellectualism or "bookishness" of Jewish mystic literature. He says that the general concept of Judaism that we have today stems from rabbinic Judaism. From then on, those rabbis who were devoted to the mystic life tend to be secretive about their teachings and practice, using esoteric symbols and stories that could be understood only by the "initiated." But still, Blumenthal explains, during the course of Jewish history there was often a give-and-take between the rationalistic rabbis and the mystics; and just as mysticism tended to be expressed in intellectual terms, often the scholarship of the rationalists became infused with a suppressed mystic yearning. "There is hardly a symbol, act, or belief in the rabbinic tradition which was not touched, and transformed by the mystical tradition."
The mystical side of Judaism during the talmudic period and continuing into the Middle Ages is represented for the most part in the heckalot literature. Heckalot literally means "palaces," or "halls." These works describe the meditation practices of Jewish mystic who were attempting to take the mystic journey through the iner regions or palaces on the merkavah, "chariot," of light and sound. The chariot metaphor is taken from the mystic experiences of Elijah and Ezekiel in the bible. Most of the works describing the merkavah journey were written between the first century B.C.E. and the tenth century C.E. and are called the greater and lesser heckalot.
Sometime between the third and sixth centuries C.E. appeared one of the most powerful works of Jewish mysticism to survive till this day. Only two thousand words long, the Sefer Yetzirah ("Book of Formation") is an attempt to describe the mystery and structure of creation by means of numbers, and as such it is similar to the teachings of Pythagoras. With a minimum of words, it describes the creation as series of emanations from the one divine Name, Word, or utterance.
The concept of creation by emanation is also found in the literature of the medieval Jewish mystics, many of whom were part of the Sufi mystic tradition in Egypt and Spain. Sufism was a mystic teaching which appeared in the Islamic world from approximately the tenth century. The focus of Sufi philosophy was God-realization through mystic practice and devotion rather than through intellectual pursuit or performance of ritual. The Sufis emphasized the need to control the mind and senses and eliminate the ego in order to travel on the spiritual path.
Jewish Sufi manuscripts discovered during the late nineteenth century in the Cairo Genizah (a hidden attic in an ancient synagogue) have shed great light on the close relationship between Jewish and Muslim mystics of medieval times. From the eleventh to fourteenth centuries, Jewish mystics translated and freely quoted from Sufi mystical writings, and some pursued the spiritual path under the guidance of Sufi masters. Similarly, during almost the same period, Jewish mystics in Persia and Turkey shared a devotional spirit with the Muslim mystics of their time. Many read Hebrew translations of the works of Rumi and Sa'adi.
The Jewish mystics in the Sufi tradition were sometimes called hasidim ("devotees," "pious ones"). Althought this movement, and the Hasidei Ashkenaz movement which arose in Germany during the thirteenth century, were not connected historically with what later became known as Hasidism -- the ecstatic religious movement which began in eighteenth century Poland -- they foreshadowed many of its elements, particularly the emphasis on devotion, spiritual inwardness, and personal experience of God.
Bahya ibn Paquda of eleventh-century Spain was a mystic in the Sufi tradition. His book Hovot ha-Levavot, "Duties of the Hearts," deals with the life of the true "servant," the devotee yearning for the mystical life. Solmon ibn Gebirol, also known as Avicebron, was Bahya's older contemporary; in his mystical work Mekor Haym, "Fountain of Life," he described the creation as a series of emanation from the primal source of light. This teaching was echoed by many later Jewish mystics, especially the Kabbalists, and parallels the descriptions of the creation given by mystics from many traditions.
Moses Maimonides, author of the philosophic masterpiece The Guide for the Perplexed, lived in Cairo during the twelfth century. Noted as a philosopher, physician, and rationalist, Maimonides was also a mystic who stressed the possibility of direct spiritual experience through mystic practice. His son Abraham and grandson Obadyah were mystics in the Sufi tradition, whose works have recently been rediscovered and published.
The most renowned aspect of Jewish mysticism, which has almost taken on life as a religious movement and influence in itself, is the Kabbalah, which literally means "receiving" or "tradition." The development of Jewish Sufism may have prepared the way for acceptance and growth of the Kabbalah. The term Kabbalah is normally used to refer to a large number of complex, esoteric works dating from the thirteenth century which draw on the Bible, the Talmud, and other texts. Its precursors were the Sefer Yetzirah, the works of Ibn Gebirol, and the twelfth-century work, the Sefer ha-Bahir ("Book of Brilliance").
But when most contemporary Jews think of the Kabbalah, they generally have in mind the Zohar ("Radiance" or "Shining"), the longest and most influential work of the Kabbalah. Although it had been widely believed that the Zohar was written during the more ancient talmudic period by Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai, recent scholarship has shown that, at the earliest, it was written in the late thirteenth century by Moses de Leon of Spain. At that time, it was not uncommon for authors of religious texts to claim that they had discovered manuscripts written in earlier periods. Such works are called pseudo-epigraphic. They seek the authenticity and credibility that come from authorship by an ancient, respected master.
However, although De Leon may have been the actual writer of the Zohar, many scholars and students of mysticism feel that he was indeed compiling, recording, and synthesizing mystical traditions dating from earlier times. Clearly, many of the Zohar's underlying principles coincide with universal mystic teachings -- for instance, the theory of creation as an emanation from the original divine light; the concept of spiritual, astral, and physical levels of creation; reincarnation, etc. But the Jewish mystics of the Zohar gave expression to their mystic experiences by linking them to biblical references and couching them in terms acceptable to Jewish tradition. Also enmeshed in the Zohar are accretions of legend, ritual, and superstition that reflect the influences of the many cultures in which Jewish mystics and seekers lived after their exile from Judea.
The Kabbalists maintained that God's real Torah, or teaching, is the Zohar, and that what we commonly know as the Torah is a hint to the Zohar's esoteric teachings. They felt that God gave the Zohar and other kabbalistic works for those initiated into "the inner mysteries," and that the Bible exists as a hint to those esoteric teachings. They often referred to the Kabbalah as "the hidden science."
Most of the works grouped in the Kabbalah teach a theosophy or cosmogony concerning the nature of God and structure of the universe. In contrast to the Sufi teaching, they do not generally urge a devotional approach in pursuing direct experience of and attachment to the Divine. In this sense, Kabbalah becomes what the Indians call gyana yoga, "the yoga of knowledge," where the Sufi or hasidic tradition is more like bhakti yoga, "the yoga of devotion." As Bokser explained, the Kabbalah "proceeds through an intricate web of esoteric symbols, and its offering is primarily a gnosis, an esoteric knowledge which in itself is said to yield man the highest rewards of divine commendation."
The Kabblah was an influence not only on the Jew; Christian scholars looked into its symbols and allegories and found symbols of Jesus and his teachings. The Kabbalah is also the focus of Freemasonry and other secret societies, which have as their goal the discovery of mystical knowledge they believe to have been handed down through the generation since the time of Adam [the 'Lost Word" in Masonry]. According to the Freemasons, the Zohar itself is the vehicle of the most profound religious mysteries, reveal only orally in previous ages, to which hints exist in secret manuscripts.
Abraham Abulafia, a mystic and student of Kabbalah of thirteenth-century Spain and Italy, taught his followers an actual system of meditation and concentration based on combinations and permutations of letters and words, with the goal of entering the inner spiritual realms. Abulafia was excommunicated as a heretic by the orthodox Jewish authorities of his time, and many of his manuscripts were lost for several centuries. Today modern researchers have been successfully unearthing and studying them, bring to light a lost chapter in Jewish mystical history.
Although some Jewish mystics claim success in following the complicated practices of letter and word combinations and permutations, as taught by Abulafia and other Kabbalists, there are many more stories relating the dangers and pitfalls experienced within by practitioners. Despite the dangers, however, some Jewish mystics continued to teach these practices openly until the sixteenth century, when it became more expedient to hide their use; and by the eighteenth century they had almost died out. Since the 1970s in the United States, however, with the resurgence of interest in Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah, a number of seekers have begun attempting these techniques once again, using old manuscripts as models and guides.
By the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many Kabbalists had gathered in Safed, palestine. Rabbi Isaac Luria, who was known as ha-Ari ("the Lion"), was the center of this circle of Safed mystics. Also known as "the divine Rabbi Isaac," he was said to possess "the holy spirit" and to have been given "the revelation of Elijah," Luria appears to have transformed the doctrine of emanation described in the Zohar into amore complex system and also taught name and letter combination techniques for concentration.
During the seventeenth century, a Jewish mystic by the name or Sarmad settled in India. Born into a rabbinical family of Kashan, Persia, he came to India as a trader and experienced a spiritual transformation. Sarmad is still revered throughout India, yet little is known about the details of his life, and western Judaism is largely unaware of him. From his teachings, however, we can see that Sarmad was a true mystic of the highest order, a sauna who transcended the outer formalities of religion and found the Lord within himself. He sang of union with the Name, the inner divine music. Some sources say he converted to Islam and then to Hinduism, but if one reads his rubaiyats carefully, it is clear that although he examined all religions, he rejected their external limitations, embracing the inner teaching which he recognized as only One. He boldly sang of his unconventional love for the Lord and taught others to do the same. Ultimately, in 1959/60 he was beheaded as a heretic by Aurangzeb, Mogul emperor of India.
The most recent flourishing of mysticism in Judaism is Hasidism, which appeared in Poland at the end of the eighteenth century, a time when Jews were being persecuted at the hands of the authorities. There was deep yearning for God to reveal himself, for a religious renewal which would lift the soul out of the sufferings of the world. Hasidism fulfilled this need and was the movement which quickly transformed Judaism. During this time, many spiritual teachers appeared, who were call rebbes or zaddiks ("masters") by their disciples.
The first hasidic master, the Ba'al Shem Tov (literally, "Master of the Good Name") was a simple, uneducated man -- the antithesis of the traditional rabbi, who was generally a scholar and an intellectual. The Ba'al Shem Tov communed with God internally and preferred the stillness of nature to the synagogue. It is said that he was able to speak to and understand the birds and animals. He spoke of seeing the divine Light and taught his followers the importance of devekut, "attachment" or cleaving to God at every moment of their lives. There were many other hasidic masters, like Rabbi Nahman of Batslav and Dov Baer, the Maggid ("spiritual channel") of Mezherich -- spiritual teachers whose legends and parables are quoted even in present times.
At first the Hasidim were considered as heretics by mainstream Jewish rabbis and the community at large; some were even excommunicated and their writings put in herem, "quarantine," and reading them was forbidden. Later, however, as the hasidic rebbes gathered more and more adherents, their teachings spread and gained strength amongst the people. Nowadays, the descendants of the Hasidim still follow the rebbes of their respective lines, but the teachings have for the most part become another form of orthodox ritual and study of scripture, though sometimes infused with an intensity, joy, and fervor that reflect their true hasidic origin.
At the end of the nineteenth century there was a decline in mystical seeking in Judaism, as the Haskalah, the 'enlightenment" movement, took over. All over the world, science became the new god, and people rejected religion -- especially mysticism -- as superstition. However, in certain parts of Europe there were small groups of mystics who continued to study the Kabbalah, while some hasidic lines maintained their integrity, if not always the purity of their original purpose.
And still today, there are mystic seekers practicing within the boundaries of traditional Judaism. During twentieth century, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Martin Buber, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, and others have emphasized once again the need for inwardness in spiritual devotion. Since the 1970s, there has been a resurgence in the study of Jewish mystics of the past, and some seekers have attempted to follow their meditational practices. This has led to examination of self and tradition. As Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser wrote,
The mystical spirit that craves for a direct encounter with God, for a fresh illumination of soul, is not content with pondering a tradition, even a mystical tradition. To gain this boon the mystic must travel the lone road of meditation, of struggling with his own opaque material self, to break the barrier that separates him from God and to enter directly into contact with the divine mystery.
Over the ages, mystics have used many metaphors to convey the state of the soul's longing to return to its. source. Rabbi Isaac Luria wrote of the soul as a spark of the divine light, from which it had separated at the time of creation and with which it longs to be reunited. He spoke of the lower self as a kelipah, a "shell" or "husk," that encases our souls, our holy spark. Although we are truly spiritual, our imprisonment in these shells prevents us from knowing and experiencing our spiritual essence. The purpose of human life is to break the shells and liberate the sparks, freeing them to reunite with the original, eternal light. This state of restoration was called tikkun -- "redemption" or "perfection."
The spiritual Master, the mystic, comes to this world to teach a method of freeing the soul -- the spark -- from the shell of mind and illusion, so it can merge back into God. This is the real unification, or yoga.
Some Kabbalists taught that each of the realms of Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiah was made of respectively higher and lower intensities of all ten sefirot. They envisioned the ten sefira of the world of Assiah as existing in the human body itself, with each sefirah corresponding to a particular function or energy center of the body. The Kabbalists used the image of the Tree of Life to describe the relationship between the sefirot when manifested in the human body. In various Jewish meditational practices, the tree serves as a diagram of the various steps or stations a practitioner needs to traverse in the course of his or her inner mystic journey to spiritual union. Similarly, Indian yogis and mystics describe a series of chakras or energy center in the body, upon which they meditate during certain practices of yoga. These chakras have a direct correspondence to the sefirot of the Tree of Life in the realm of Assiah (the Physical Plane).
All saints teach that the creation came from the Word, the holy Name of God, the Shabd -- the divine energy of life, the divine music, the audible life stream -- which activates the creation and manifests as sound and light, emanating from En-Sof -- the realm of pure Spirit.
The goal of spiritual practice is to reverse this process of creation on an individual level -- of the soul's separation from the divine source and imprisonment in matter. Jewish mystics call it tikkun, "fixing," but Indian mystics simply describe it as the merging of the soul into its divine source, so that it never again has to experience separation and imprisonment in the material creation.
The purpose of the creation cannot be understood at the level of intellect. The causal, astral and physical planes are composed of spirit mixed with varying degrees of matter, and thus are subject to change and disintegration. They are not eternal or true; love exists in limited quantities there, but negativity is also present. In Judaism, man is said to have two inclination or impulses: the good inclination (soul) and the evil inclination (mind and body/desire nature). What is good or evil can be distinguished easily, for one either moves closer to or further sway from the Lord.
Since the Lord, the pure spiritual being, is light, to obscure that light results in what we call evil. Though in many respects evil is only a lesser good an there is no such things as evil per se...it is but a show, a lesser light. Whatever pulls us away from the Lord and realizing Him within us is evil; whatever leads us toward Him is good. Just as there is one Lord for everyone, so the soul which is His essence, is one and the same in everyone. Though our bodies may differ, the spiritual essence that activates it and gives us life is the same. We must get in touch with the divine Name He has placed within us all.
When you examine the grades closely, you find that Thought, Understanding, Voice, Utterance are all one and the same, and there is separation betw
NO WAY QABALA
NO WAY QABALAH
Kabbalistic mysticism flowered within the syncretism of medieval and renaissance Spain when Christians, Jews, and Moslems lived in close proximity and exchanged philosophical traditions freely. Kabbalah was heavily influenced by the Sufi tradition.
Anyone can be a spiritual person even an atheist. Spirituality expresses as being in touch with your consciousness, that little voice you can hear right now in your head, and making an effort to improve your conduct and love of our fellow humans. On the other hand mysticism or gnosis is the direct knowledge of God, where individuals YEARN to have a direct, meaningful and above all fulfilling relationship with their creator.
Thus every religious tradition will have a certain cadre of believers who thread the Gnostic route which in fact is a methodology to meet and eventually annihilate into GOD. The universal theme of pining for the Divine is a spiritual wound that educates us – leads us from our status quo. The word ‘blessing’ is derived from the Latin for spiritual wound.
The objective of mysticism is Annihilation in the Godhead. In the former experience the veils are removed from the heart of the Mystic and he or she comprehends the naked Truth. Subject and object merge and all labels such as Muslim, Jew, or Christian dissolve. After this transformation, the mystic returns to this reality as a conduit for God and integrates into this cosmos. A mystic is someone who has completed the path and achieved mystical union with God and returned to this physical reality, whereas a student is known as a traveller or seeker.
We can facilitate one another as fellow travellers. Since, all the questions and answers are already within us and we merely assist in the unveiling of the heart. Every day around us we are literally bombarded by virtually limitless SIGNS from the DIVINE and at the core or heart of every mystical philosophy there are tools to train the five senses to pick them up. Mystics are merely experts in remaining / becoming the moment and facilitating others into it. Their healing effect is one of osmosis; teaching by example. In reality this is Nirvana, Fana, Godhood, the void. Their external features are immersed in light and intricate jewellery of those moments.
Any mystic, is in reality a nothing / nobody / zero. In the Bruce Lee movie ‘The Game of Death’, there is a scene where he moves up a pagoda. At each level he fights a master of each style. He beats all of them. Consequently, he encompasses all styles and therefore he has no style. Or put it another way if you mix yellow and blue you get green. However, at a subtle level the green does not exist because the blue and yellow are distinct!
Bruce Lee was an inconoclast who felt petrified tradition often hampered ‘best practice.’ He was a fan of what worked, and worked efficiently…effortless effort. Rather than breaking rules he moved beyond rule-boundedness to the no-boundaries consciousness, and reacted through essence in the moment, the here and now…effortless action which brings the force of the Cosmos along with it. It is essentially a FLOW state.
He accomplished his goals by harnessing force and momentum and turning them toward his advantage. It is the same in kabbalah if our slavery to or parroting of tradition ties us to inauthentic forms. We need to go beyond rote practice into the essence of living from that wellspring of joy and abundance, of nurturance that sustains our lives.
It is that stabilized connection that makes it “work”, not arcane keys or endless numerical ruminations, though they have their place in our contemplation. Remember the Go Master in the movie “PI” who told our protagonist that if he wanted to find secret codes, he could do it anywhere, even in the cracks of the sidewalk. We seek external signs and synchronicities to confirm what we already know. Still, we must continue to look within.
In sum, the culture and ethos of your inner being will fundamentally change for the better by facilitating the unfreezing of the umbilical cord with the divine. This is an ongoing process and the road to success is always under construction. ‘GOD IS WITHIN ALL OF US’, as a transcendental and immanent reality, inner and outer dialogue. Call it what you Will.
Before realization of annihilation in the Godhead, the mystic will initially dissolve in his Master and then into the Light. In the former experience the culturally superfluous personality veils are removed from the heart of the Mystic and he or she comprehends the naked Truth. Subject and object merge all labels such a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, or Christian dissolve.
After this transformation the mystic returns to this reality as a conduit for God and integrates into this cosmos. He or she will help all of humanity regardless of faith or (ir)religiosity and becomes a viceroy for God, i.e., the celebrated PERFECT ONE or Zaddik of kabbalism, the Sant Sat Guru of the east, the western Master. The essence of mysticism is being in awe and wonder of God, but not necessarily being conscious of it. i.e., PARADOX.
Quantum cosmology is now demonstrating scientifically that the old Hermetic axiom, “AS ABOVE, SO BELOW” is a living reality linking micro- and macrocosm. There is an archetypal identity between divinity and mankind, mankind and the Universe. Therefore we are capable of “cosmic consciousness.” When we look within we find that bit of cosmos that we each embody, and we are not separate from THAT, down to the fundamental metaphysical groundstate of our Being.
It is a WAY not a destination, an experiment that lasts a lifetime. If you don’t believe it, make the experiment for yourself. Ultimately, it is about access to and direct experience of discrete states of consciousness – all ways of Being and Becoming. It is everythingforever; there is no thing that is not God. It is “nowhere”…NOW-HERE. It is the Way of No Way.