"May Adonai bless you and protect you! May Adonai deal kindly and graciously with you! May Adonai lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace!" (Torah, Numbers 6:24-26) And Jesus said, "Allow the little children to come unto me. Forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly, I say unto you, unless you receive the Kingdom of God as a little child does, you shall not enter therein." (New Testament, Mark 10:14-16)

Sojourning at an Oasis Paradise

My purpose for living this life, and for writing this blog, is to understand the faith that links us to God. I wish to explore and discuss the reality at the heart of all of the world's religions. This is an immense task, but I know that God also has faith in us, trusting that we do desire the truth, as well as freedom, love and wisdom. Thus, as always, He meets us halfway. Even as God has given us individual souls, so we must each of us trace out an individual pathway to God. Whether we reside in the cities of orthodox religion, or wend our solitary ways through the barren wastelands, God watches over us and offers us guidance and sustenance for the journey.

Most of what you will see here is the result of extensive personal study, combined with some careful speculation. Occasionally, I may simply offer some Scripture or an inspirational text. I am a wide reader, and the connection of some topics and ideas to matters of faith and religion may not seem immediately obvious, but perhaps I may spell it out in the end... or maybe, you will decide that it was just a tangent. Anyway, I hope that you will find my meanderings to be spiritually enlightening, intellectually stimulating, or at least somewhat entertaining.

In the coming weeks and months, I intend to transcribe a series of essays that I wrote about 20 years ago in the hope that I might get them published. They represent the nucleus of my spiritual life and the focal point around which my wanderings revolve like an electron in an atom. I hope that they might eventually serve as a springboard for discussions about the common spiritual heritage of humanity. May we come together and embrace each other in peace.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tikkun Olam: a personal speculation on the ideas of Isaac Luria (1534-1572)

Before God (Baruch haShem) created the universe, He was alone and his Being filled every possible coordinate of undivided existence. He was all that was necessary for Being, and completely sufficient for Himself to sustain his Being - unlike everything else which exists only by drawing its being from God (BhS). But somehow, God (BhS) was still not satisfied. When He thought to Himself there was no echo, and the thought passed away. So God (BhS) decided that He desired for there to Be some other, and that He would create a universe that would contain Beings that could echo and respond to his Voice.

In order to make room for this universe, God (BhS) began to withdraw within Himself (tsimtsum) so as to create a region where He was not, an empty space which He could thereafter fill by the simultaneous processes of self-revelation and creation. Basically, God (BhS) had put a limit on Himself and in so doing had created the formless void, out of which the universe was created.

During this process of creation, God (BhS) began to recognize the various apects of his own Being, discerning their differences and potentials. He was disturbed to discover a harshness in his own Judgment (Din) and sought to isolate this aspect, pushing it away into the emptiness He had just created. But He did not abandon it there forever. Rather, He saw its potential for becoming destructive, and sought to temper it with Mercy (Chesed). Thus creation itself became an act of infusing the universe with the various aspects of Divinity - even unto the emptying of Himself also of his "person-ness" so as to create an "other" person to whom God (BhS) could speak and listen to an "other" voice. In effect, this creation was intended to allow God (BhS) to be able to communicate with a mirror image of Himself. This "other" person would be differentiated from Himself only by its separation within a capsule, a bubble of God's own divine light.

But the aspects of God cannot be contained discreetly. His powers are too immense - even though He would differentiate his potentials into as many as ten different aspects. [The sefiroth: Crown (Keter), Wisdom (Hokmah), Intelligence (Binah), Judgment (Din), Mercy (Chesed), Patience (Netzakh), Compassion (Rachamim), Majesty (Hod), Foundation (Yesod), and Kingdom (Malkuth)] AS God (BhS) filled these capsules with His own sublime incandescence, to create the "other person" with whom he could share his thoughts, the sefiroth BURST! It was an unprecedented, unimaginable catastrophe... and it scattered sparks of His Divinity explosively throughout all of creation, leaving them trapped in the formless void which He had separated from Himself.

After this, God (BhS) collected to himself as many of the sparks as He could, and decided that the best way to gather the rest would be to create the universe that we now know and are a part of. He created Adam and Eve to be vessels containing the sparks that would otherwise be lost, and gave to them that quality of "person-ness" that He had intended for his mirrored other. Thus they had the powers of speech to be able to pray, as well as fragments of all the other aspects of God (BhS). And if Adam and Eve had not sinned, all would have been well. The catastrophe would have been mended, and God (BhS) would have had the companions He so desired.

But as we know, Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden, whether from disobedience or because of God's design that they should choose to become like God (BhS) doesn't really matter. Humanity now has scattered sparks within each and every one of us. This world suffers from the lack of perfection which will come eventually as the sparks are gathered unto God (BhS). And we are left with a longing to return (teshuva) - a longing we can neither define nor fulfill until we learn to seek and find God (BhS).

And God (BhS) also is actively seeking for us. He speaks to us and guides us, and we remember and teach about Him in our religions. But not everyone can believe in the same religion. God (BhS) has given us many to choose from. The ones that become too corrupted will fade away. Yet human beings are unique, and their conceptions of Divinity are also unique - even when many agree on what they think is important. So there remain some who cannot join a religion. That is why we have been given the open and all-inclusive ways like the Laws of Noah, Sufism, gnosticism, theosophy and even the direct and simple ways of mysticism and intuition. And of course, the rigorous and rational ways of science and philosophy can also lead to God (BhS), if that is what one seeks.

It is the brokenness of the world, and the longing in our hearts that leads us to seek the solace that can only be found in God (BhS). And it is our task to help each other to repair the world (tikkun olam), and to lead each other back to God (BhS) by paths best suited to the individual's needs. We are given the task to gather the sparks of Divinity and return them to Him. And when that is done, we shall become his mirror companions, individual and unique, absorbed in our devotion and fulfilled with Divinity eternal... at least until this universe is filled with Life.

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