Jan 092015
 

sunriseGenesis gives an account of the history of the world’s gradual attainment of independence and inwardness, which culminates in the birth of freedom; and, further, it portrays the misuse of freedom and the consequences thereof.

In fact, what is the essence of the account of the creation according to Genesis? It is essentially nothing other than a description as to how the world in the first instance received its own existence alongside God, then its own movement (‘water’), then its own life (‘plants’), then its own soul life (‘animals’) and lastly – in man, as the ‘image and likeness of God’ – its own self consciousness, ie, freedom.

And what is the seventh day of creation – the cosmic sabbath, God’s day of rest? Is it not the level of freedom attained where God ‘rests’ from his deeds, ie, where he manifests his freedom attained where God ‘rests’ from his deeds, ie, where he manifests his freedom in relation to the world, while the world, the beings of the world, experience themselves as being left to their own freedom, ie, to experience their freedom?

The seventh day of creation is the day of freedom. The blessing of the seventh day is the divine act of creating the highest value of existence, the foundation of all morality: freedom. Here created being attains the highest level of inwardness: freedom. The seventh day of creation is the ‘day’ of the meaning of the world. Here the created world becomes something moral; here the world enters into a free relationship with God and God enters into a free relationship with the world.

However, since it is only in love that freedom is perfect, one may therefore also say that the seventh day is the day of the founding and sealing of the relationship of love between the creator and all created beings. Thus love is the foundation , the meaning, and the purpose of the world.

Valentin Tomberg, The Seven Miracles of John’s Gospel

Jan 112014
 

adamandeveAdam and Eve are not just two people. They are a metaphor for the primordial Vessel whose existence preceded creation. Just as all the colours of  the spectrum exist within a single beam of sunlight, the Vessel encompassed all matter, space, time and consciousness. And all the souls of humankind were also present in the Vessel.

The Vessel shattered because of a contradiction in its nature. It had been created only to receive, but, in being filled with the Creator’s Light, it had also received and taken on a degree of the Creator’s own nature: the desire to share. All of our existence now is predicated on the goal of transforming this duality into a single desire, the desire to receive for the sake of sharing, in order to be able to finally reconnect with the Creator and receive the fullness of His Light.

This can happen in only one way. The shards of the shattered Vessel – you and I – must choose to make it happen. We must choose of our own free will to transform ourselves into ‘beings of sharing,’ as the kabbalists say, first on an individual level, and ultimately as a collective transformation of all humankind. Not even God can do this for us. Transformation is the supreme expression and the only expression of free will. It is the choice we make in every thought, feeling and action. Adam and Eve faced this choice in the Garden. They chose wrongly, but, their intentions were good.

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The allure of evil makes that choice more difficult, and therefore more worthy. Evil, in its way, therefore serves the Creator. Indeed, by understanding this we can free ourselves from its temptations. A parable in the Zohar dramtises this teaching: A king forbade his son to consort with harlots, but the he hired a harlot to test the strength of his son’s character. The son was tempted – until he realised that the harlot was acting in the service of his father. She then lost all power over him.

The serpent in the Garden (acting in the service of our Father) is essential to our final transformation, but he certainly doesn’t make it any easier! At the time of his fateful encounter with Adam and Eve at the Tree of Knowledge, their state of being was fundamentally different from what ours is now. They embodied the pure energy of desire, and Kabbalah teaches that desire is inherently a positive force.

While the conventional view of our first ancestors portrays them as transgressors, the kabbalists point out that their motivation was to serve God. The serpent understood this also. In fact, he used their positive intentions to manipulate them for his own ends. He fostered the transformation of their pure, undifferentiated desire into desire to receive for themselves alone.

And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You are not going to die, but God knows that as soon as you eat of [the tree] your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings who know good and bad’. (Genesis 3:4)

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Because Adam and Eve were not fully constituted to receive the Light – because the Vessel had not yet earned an unmediated connection – they were overwhelmed by the moment in the same way that a weak electrical circuit will flash brightly and then burn out at the sudden infusion of a powerful current. The kabbalists literalise this principle through a startling addition to the narrative:

Adam and Even took a second bite!

In the interval, a fundamental transformation had taken place, but not the positive one that had been envisoned. Rather, their desire had lost its sharing intention and had become self-serving. They were farther than ever away from unity with the nature of God, and this is exactly what the serpent had intended. It is essential to understand, however, that the impasse is also an opportunity. By traversing it, we can truly prepare the Vessel. We can earn the Light. We can receive it and take fulfillment in it. Most important, we can share it.

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We have spoken of Adam and Eve as a couple, but until that second bite of the fruit they were not separate at the spiritual level. This detachment took place at the same instant that the divide widened between the Vessel and the Light. Where there had been unity and equilibrium, there was no dissimilarity and fragmentation. Where there had been eternal existence in Paradise, there was now mortal life in the physical world.

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After the Fall, immortality consciousness was gone, replaced by a consciousness – a knowledge – of death and evil that instantly expressed itself in the physical dimension of life. But despite all this, the plain fact of immortality remained untouched, but in the same way that the signal that carries a TV programme remains in the air even after the set has been turned off.

With the Fall of Adam, the bad news is that we stopped receiving the programme. But we also began the process of repairing the receiving mechanism and getting it tuned in again. This correction, this tikkun, is our task for however many years it requires and however many lifetimes. When an individual human being truly completes this process, immortality is restored.

The Essential Zohar, Rav P. S. Berg

 

Oct 182012
 

The balance of karmic justice is an exact balance; nothing remains unpunished, nothing unrewarded.

Jacob recognised this and separated himself from his family so that they might remain unscathed. He waited alone on this side of the river, because he knew that he was destined to death. But he did not succumb to the temptation of fatalism; he defended himself against death.

He did not allow himself to be led astray by the spiritual falsehood of fatalism, but set love against the knowledge of inevitable death. The power that preserved his breathing is expressed in the words indicating the successful issue of his wrestling: “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” (Genesis 32.26).

If he had yielded to the knowledge of death, his breathing would have ceased, and he would have died. The balance of the first principles of breathing – knowledge and love – would have been overthrown in favour of knowledge. But as he resisted knowledge with the whole force of love, at the “breaking of the day” the angel of death, the archai being, surrendered. Love proved itself stronger than death.

Valentin Tomberg, Christ and Sophia

Feb 112012
 

One can no longer deny the fact that, in the psychic domain, nothing dies and that the whole past lives present in the diverse layers of the depths of consciousness – the ‘unconscious’ or subconsciousness – of the soul….

…For this reason nothing perishes and nothing is lost in the domain of the psyche; essential history, ie real joy and suffering, real religions and revelations of the past, continue to live in us, and it is in we ourselves that the key to the essential history of mankind is to be found.

It is in we ourselves that there is to be found the ‘Edenic’ layer, or that of paradise and the Fall,  of which an account is to be found in the book of Genesis of Moses. Do you doubt the essential truth of this account? Descend into the depths of your own soul, descend as far as the roots, to the sources of feeling, will and intelligence – and you will know.

You will know, ie, you will have certainty that the Biblical narrative is true in the most profound and authentic sense of the word – in the sense that you must deny yourself, deny the witness of the inner structure of your own soul, in order to be able to doubt the intrinsic truth of Moses’ account.

The descent into the depths of your own soul in meditating upon the account of paradise in Genesis will render you incapable of doubt. Such is the nature of the certainty that one can have here….

….It expresses in symbolic language the first layer (first in the sense of the root of all that is human in human nature) of human psychic life, or its ‘beginning’. Now, knowledge of the beginning, initium in Latin, is the essence of initiation.

Initiation is the conscious experience of the initial microcosmic state (this is the Hermetic initiation), and of the initial macrocosmic state (this is the Pythagorean initiation). The first is a conscious descent into the depths of the human being, to the initial layer. Its method is enstasy, ie, experience of the depths at the foundation within oneself.

Here one becomes more and more profound until one awaens within oneself the primordial layer – or the image and likeness of God – which is the aim of enstasy. It is above all by means of the sense of spiritual touch that enstasy is effected. one can compare it to a chemical experiment undergone on the psychic and spiritual plane.

The second initiation experience – that we have designated ‘Pythagorean’ from a historial point of view – is based above all on the auditory sense or sense of spiritual hearing. It is essentially musical, just as the first is substantial or alchemical. It is by ecstasy – or rapture, or going out of oneself – that the macrocosmic layers (‘spheres’ or ‘heavens’) reveal themselves to consciousness.

Meditations on the Tarot, Unknown Author, Letter VI, The Lover

 

Jul 152011
 

The tragic ‘almost’ is a poignant commonplace of epic literature. The Iliad tells how the Trojan War was almost brought to a close by a single combat between Paris and Menelaos. How many lives would have been spared had not Apollo intervened, and for the most petty of reasons!

Paradise Lost shows us Satan seriously considering whether he is making a huge mistake by initiating the temptation in the garden….but, alas, he decides to go ahead with it after all. But nowhere is this motif more forcefully present than in the biblical narrative.

Since the Fall of Adam humanity has come close to ultimate fulfillment and redemption on several occasions. Even now just one small righteous action may be all that separates us from reentering Eden. Noah certainly had his chance to restore humanity. The Flood was like a huge mikveh – a ritual bath for all creation, in which evil was subjected to a series of irresistible hot and cold ‘washing cycles’.

Rabbi Yehuda said that in Gehenom the wicked are punished with water for six months and with fire for six months. Why, during the flood were they punished only by water for twelve months? Six months should have been enough. Rabbi Yosi told him that they were sentenced to both punishments: water and fire. They water that fell upon them from above was cold as snow. And they were also punished by fire because the water that spouted from the deep was scalding.

Thus, they were punished for twelve months, receiving the full sentence of Gehenom. This continued until they were completely removed from the face of the world. During this time, Noah was hidden in the ark. As a result, the Angel of Darkness did not approach him, and the ark roamed upon the waters, as it is written: “And they bore up the ark, and it was lifted above the Earth.” (Genesis 7:17), The Zohar, Vol. 2, pp. 388-390.

But when at last the waters had receded, Noah made a tragic mistake. It was, in fact, the same mistake Adam had made, and it came about in much the same way. Popular belief to the contrary, the forbidden fruit that tempted Adam and Eve was not an apple. it was a grape.

Come and behold: Adam’s wife pressed him grapes and bought death upon him, Israel, and the whole world. When Noah came upon these grapes, he was not well guarded, as it is written: “He drank of the wine, and was drunk; and he was uncovered within his tent.:” (Genesis 9:21)

After the Deluge: Temperance, The Essential Zohar, Rav P S Berg

Oct 162010
 

There is in man – notably in his soul, and not in his body – a seed of evil of his own, without which temptation coming from outside would not exert any action on him. Because temptation would be impotent if it did not find a terrain already prepared in the human soul.

The unfortunate misunderstanding locating innate human evil in the body instead of in the soul is due to a tendency towards a materialistic interpretation of our Biblical story of paradise and the Fall. It is the body which, rightly. has more reason to be ashamed of the soul inhabiting it, than the latter of the body.

For the body is a miracle of wisdom, harmony and stability, which does not merit scorn but rather the admiration of the soul. For example, can the soul boast of moral principles as stable as the body’s skeleton? Is it as indefatigable and as faithful in its sentiments as, for example, the heart, which beats day and night? Does it possess a wisdom comparable to that of the body, which knows how to harmonise such opposing things as water and fire, air and solid matter?

Whilst the soul is torn by opposing desires and feelings, this ‘contemptible’ body knows how to unite opposing elements and make them collaborate: the air that it breathes, the solid matter of food, the water that it drinks, and the fire (warmth) that it produces unceasingly within it….and if this does not suffice to change scorn into respect, admiration and gratitude, the one can recall, if on is a Christian, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, inhabited this flesh and that he honoured it to the point of uniting himself with it in the Incarnation.

Similarly, if one is a Buddhist or Brahmanist, one should not forget that Buddha and Krishna, also, inhabited this flesh and that it served them well in the accomplishing of their respective missions. Negative ascetisism, directed against the body and not for celestial things, is the practical consequence of the materialistic interpretation of paradise and the Fall. However, the fact alone that a Cherubim “was placed at the east of the garden of Eden, with a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life”  (Genesis iii, 24), suffices to drive away any shadow of a doubt: here it is a matter of a plane higher than the terrestrial plane, and it was therefore souls who committed the original sin – and the body had nothing to do with it.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XVI, The Tower of Destruction

Jul 232010
 

Adam then breathed in the essence of life,
Born with the earth of his Lord the Creator.
There in his eye was a land in the sun light,
Man was resolved by the rhythm of nature.

Genesis named and inspired the new creatures;
Two at a time did the first stand in line,
Once recognized by the style of their features.
All were made equal for each was divine.

Butterflies formed and then found in the meadow,
Adam in person, the dawning of history.
Then with their wings did the doves of his heir,
Crown him in silence with leaves from a prayer.

In twilight he saw the first stars as he prayed,
Kneeling as one who was yearning for symmetry.
Angels came down to take plots from his dreams:
Beauty and truth inside out; drawn was Eve.

Jul 212010
 

The posts of Emperor and Pope are realities beyond as well as on this side of the threshold which separates ‘day’ and ‘night’. And the Pope of the fifth card is the guardian of this threshold. He is seated between the two pillars – the pillar of day or prayer and the pillar of night or benediction.

The Emperor of the fourth card is the master of the day and the guardian of the blood or quintessence of the nocturnal reality of the day. The Pope is the guardian of respiration or of the reality of the relationship between day and night. That which he guards is the equilibrium between day and night, between human effort and divine grace. His post is founded on primordial cosmic deeds. Thus the first book of Moses says:

….and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. (Genesis i, 4 – 5).

And the act of separation of the intelligible from the mysterious signifies at the same time the establishing of cosmic respiration, which is the analogy of ‘the Spirit of God moving above the face of the waters.’ For the divine breath (ruach ‘elohim) above the profoundness of peace (‘the waters’ –  it is this which is the psychological as well as th e cosmic reality of nirvana) is the divine prototype of respiration.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter V, The Pope

Jul 052010
 

The Arcana of the Tarot, I must stress, are spiritual exercises. And the ninth Arcanum, the Hermit, is one of them.

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One undertakes the essential thing about this exercise, namely the endeavour to draw light from darkness, ie, an effort aiming at knowledge which appears to you to be not only unknown but unknowable.

In fact, every serious antimony signifies psychologically: “the light that I possess is polarised at two poles; between these two luminous poles there is only one darkness”. Now, it is from this darkness that the solution to the antimony, the synthesis, must be drawn. It is necessary to create light from darkness. One could say that it is a matter of an act analogous to the Fiat lux (“let there be light”, Genesis i,3) of the first day of creation.

Experience teaches us that there are two kinds of darkness in the domain of consciousness. One is that of ignorance, passivity and laziness, which is ‘infralight’ darkness. The other, in contrast, is the darkness of higher knowledge, intense activity and endeavour still to be made – this is  ‘ultra light’ . It is a question of this latter ‘darkness’ in instances where it is a matter of resolving an antimony or finding a synthesis.

Modern Hermetic literature takes account of the ‘neutralisation of binaries’, ie, the method where one finds the third term, or neutral term, for the two terms (‘binary’) corresponding to the active and passive principles….The method of ‘neutralisation of binaries’ is generally considered by Hermetic and occultist authors as the traditional method of Hermeticism.

Meditations on the Tarot, Unknown Author, Letter IX, The Hermit

Jun 122010
 

History – as, moreover, the life of the individual – is ‘worked’ by day and by night. It has a diurnal aspect and a nocturnal aspect. The former is exoteric, whilst the latter is esoteric. The silence and obscurity of the night is always full of events in preparation – and all that which is unconscious or superconscious in the human being belongs to the domain of ‘night’.

This is the magical side of history, the side of magical deeds and works acting behind the facade of history ‘by day’. Thus, when the Gospel was preached by the light of day in the countries around the Mediterranean, the nocturnal rays of the Gospel effected a profound transformation in Buddhism. There, the ideal of individual liberation by entering the state of nirvana gave way to the ideal of renouncing nirvana for the work of mercy towards suffering humanity. The ideal of mahayana, the great chariot, then had its resplendent ascent to the heaven of Asia’s moral values.

This is the formula of the twofold teaching – by the speech of day and by the knowledge of night; of the twofold tradition – by verbal teaching and by direct inspiration; of twofold magic – by the spoken word and by silent radiation; and lastly, of twofold history – ‘visible’ history by day and ‘invisible’ history by night.

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…and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night (Genesis i, 4-5)

And the act of separation of the intelligible from the mysterious signifies at the same time the establishing of cosmic respiration, which is the analogy of ‘the Spirit of God moving above the face of the waters’. For the divine breath (ruach ‘elohim) above the profoundness of peace (‘the waters’ –  it is this which is the psychological as well as the cosmic reality of nirvana) is the divine prototype of respiration.

Unknown author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter V, The Pope