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

 

Jun 092013
 

stress-chant-omRadiant in his light, yet invisible in the secret place of the heart, the Spirit is the supreme abode wherein dwells all that moves and breathes and sees. Know him as all that is, and all that is not, the end of love-longing beyond understanding, the highest in all beings.

He is self-luminous and more subtle than the smallest; but in him rest all the worlds and their beings. He is the everlasting Brahman, and he is life and word and mind. He is truth and life immortal. He is the goal to be aimed at: attain that goal, O my son!

Take the great bow of the Upanishads and place in it an arrow sharp with devotion. Draw the bow with concentration on him and hit the centre of the mark, the same everlasting Spirit.

The bow is the sacred OM, and the arrow is our own soul. Brahman is the mark of the arrow, the aim of the soul. Even as an arrow becomes one with its mark, let the watchful soul be one in him.

In him are woven the sky and the earth and all the regions of the air, and in him rest the mind and all powers of life. Know him as ONE and leave aside all other words. He is the bridge of immortality.

Where all the subtle channels of the body meet, like spokes in the centre of a wheel, there he moves in the heart and transforms his one form unto many. Upon OM, Atman, your Self, place your meditation. Glory unto you in your far-away journey beyond darkness!

He who knows all and sees all, and whose glory the universe shows, dwells as the Spirit of the divine city of Brahman in the region of the human heart. He becomes mind and drives on the body and life, draws power from food and finds peace in the heart. There the wise find him as joy and light and life eternal.

And when he is seen in his immanence and transcendence, then the ties that have bound the heart are unloosened, the doubts of the mind vanish, and the law of Karma works no more.

In the supreme golden chamber is Brahman indivisible and pure. He is the radiant light of all lights, and this knows he who knows Brahman.

There the sun shines not, nor the moon, nor the stars; lightnings shine not there and much less earthly fire. From his light all these give light; and his radiance illumines all creation.

Far spreading before and behind and right and left, and above and below, is Brahman, the Spirit eternal. In truth Brahman is all.

Mundaka Upanishad

May 122013
 

sunCertain old initiations were often described as a search for the ancestors; and between the seeker and his ancestors were the waters of the womb out of which he had been born.

Initiation awakened the ancestral memory (latent in all people) by teaching the neophyte to extend his ordinary memory beyond the moment of his own birth; and there came to him dim pictures of earthly history – even the visions of the great geological catastrophes or the deluge.

But in this spiritual consciousness all this was experienced not merely as ‘history’ but as the search for the birth of the soul out of the Divine; and so led to a realisation of immortality. Such experiences have been recorded in legendary form and in many ancient mythologies.

Eleanor C. Merry, The Flaming Door

 

 

Jul 042010
 

A cruel folk you are, unmatched for jealousy, you gods who cannot bear to let a goddess sleep with a man, even if it is done without concealment and she has chosen him as her lawful consort. You were the same when Rose-fingered Dawn fell in love with Orion. Easy livers yourselves, you were outraged at her conduct, and in the end chaste Artemis rose from her golden throne, attacked him in Ortygia with her gentle darts and left him dead.

And so again, when the lovely Demeter gave way to her passion and lay in the arms of her beloved Iasion in the thrice-ploughed fallow field, Zeus heard of it quickly enough and struck him dead with his blinding thunderbolt. And now it is my turn to incur that same divine displeasure for living with a mortal man – a man whom I rescued from death as he was drifting alone astride the keel of his ship, when Zeus had shattered it with his lightening bolt out on the wine dark sea, and all his men were lost, but he was driven to this island by wind and waves.

I welcomed him with open arms; I tended him; I even hoped to give him immortality and ageless youth. But now, goodbye to him, since no god can evade or thwart the will of Zeus. If Zeus insists that he should leave, let him be gone across the barren water. But he must not expect me to transport him. I have no ship, no oars, no crew to carry him so far across the seas. Yet I do promise with a good grace and unreservedly to give him such directions as will bring him safe and sound to Ithaca.

Homer, The Odyssey