Sunday, May 19, 2013

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Eye to the Infinite - Four levels of Perception

We are pleased to offer Eye to the Infinite, a Torah Guide to Jewish Meditations for Divine Awareness, in a weekly serialized form.

Eye to the Infinite – A Torah Guide to Jewish Meditations to Increase Divine Awareness. Copyright © 2013 by Aharon Rubin – serialized on the Mystical Paths blog with permission.

The soul has four distinct levels of awareness: [1]

1. Prophetic awareness: aware­ness of and communion with the spiritual realms;

2. Intellec­tual awareness: soul awareness through the medium of pure intellect;

3. In­tui­tive or emo­tional awareness: an intuitive, emotional level of soul awareness, without the in­put of the intellect;

4. Physical awareness: the soul’s consciousness of being, existing apart from the rest of the world, gained through the interaction of the five physical senses with the world.

These four levels are mirrored in four levels of hu­man experi­ence: aspiration, thought, speech and ac­tion, which re­late to spe­cific Di­vine mani­festa­tions or “worlds,” the soul en­counters in its jour­ney of in­car­na­tion from its emanation in G-d until its ar­ri­val at its physi­cal abode (see fig. 1).

The source of all aspiration, will and distinctive am­bi­tion is the soul’s thirst for its Di­vine ori­gin; the natu­ral, sub­conscious de­sire to reat­tach to G-d, to ex­perience the pro­phetic state, to re-attain the per­fection of the Al-mighty, even the uniquely human fac­ulty of crav­ing,[2] are all a re­sult of the soul’s es­sence, the “AYiN”, the “nothing­ness” of self[3] longing to be re­united with its Source, the Ulti­mate AYiN.[4] Liter­ally “Noth­ingness”, AYiN is the pri­mary level of G-d’s revela­tion vis-à-vis His crea­tion: it is the ulti­mate self-sacrifice, the removal of self (see Chapter 2). Conse­quently, any­thing less than the purely al­truistic Di­vine, anything re­motely physi­cal or ego­is­tic, will not and can­not truly satisfy this need.

As the highest manifestation of per­sonal expres­sion, it is spe­cifi­cally in this will and determination that constitutes the drive of mankind, that G-d can be most in­tensely experi­enced – consciously so if that will is in harmony with its Source. Through medita­tion and mind­ful ac­tion, this longing ex­peri­ence can be drawn into the physi­cal awareness of self, the ulti­mate abode of the Shechinoh (Di­vine Pres­ence), creating a singu­larly sub­lime state of spiritual unity and congru­ence, a state called שלום SHoLOM (peace). [5]

The second level of human expression – thought, based on a combi­nation of intellect and emotion – is the first lan­guage of the soul. Basic thought-patterns, or arche­typal imagery, re­flect the com­mon source of the soul, while their myr­iad subtle permutations, a tongue of tones and nuances, echo the infinite spec­trum of Di­vin­ity as it meta­mor­phoses and in­car­nates. Thought is the penultimate vi­bration to the soul’s source; it is here that the soul’s individu­al­ity, source and purpose can be expressed and ap­pre­ciated. [6]

imageSound, speech[7] and various forms of en­ergy vibra­tion relate to the an­gelic sphere, angels be­ing the ar­ticula­tion of G‑dly thought.[8] Speech in this sphere has the spiritual effect and final­ity of ac­tion vis-à-vis thought. Physical ac­tion is the tan­gible mani­fes­tation of this en­ergy vi­bra­tion, presenting the material world as we know it. These four categories corre­spond to four spiritual worlds,[9] key lev­els in Di­vine en­ergy. They are: the G-dly, the Soul realm, the An­gelic sphere and the mate­rial world, otherwise known as the worlds of Ema­na­tion, Crea­tion [ex nihilo], Forma­tion and Ac­tion, in Hebrew, Atsiluth, Brioh, Yetsi­roh and Assiyoh.

The correlation between hu­man ex­pres­sion and lev­els in spiri­tual en­ergy can be observed in what is known as the law of sym­pa­thetic reso­nance. This law states that ob­jects at­tuned to the same fre­quency will auto­mati­cally trans­fer their vibra­tion from one to the other.[10] Thought can interact with thought, speech “energy” with speech energy. On the meta­physical level, this takes on dra­matic over­tones. Everyone is con­stantly in­ter­acting with cosmic lev­els reso­nant to their own spiri­tual vi­bra­tions.[11] Everyone is af­fected by the spiri­tual en­ergy that reso­nates with his own,[12] and every act cre­ates reso­nance in the spheres pe­culiar to the spiritual frequency of that act. This has vi­tal conse­quences in the practice of To­rah, the per­form­ance of the Mits­vos, and Jew­ish medi­ta­tion.


[1] Zohar, Vol. II, 262b. See though three categories in Zohar, Vol. I, 99b, 161a. These four categories correspond to four distinct levels of soul, namely, ‘chayoh’, ‘neshomoh’, ‘ruach’ and ‘nefesh’, respectively, ‘Life’, ‘Soul’, Breath’ and ‘Spirit’ [see diagram below]. These levels of soul correspond to the four worlds enu­merated in fig. 1.

1.

Chayoh

Life

Transcendental Soul

2.

Neshomoh

Soul

Intellectual Soul

3.

Ruach

Breath

Emotional Soul

4.

Nefesh

Spirit

Physical Soul

[2] This is as opposed to the animalistic drive. The spiritual drive was finally recognised as a behavioural force by early 20th cen­tury pioneers in psychology but needs to be appre­ciated as a tre­mendous catalyst towards a holistic, per­sonal ad­vancement at a core level, a key aspect of the psyche, driving thought, emotion, speech and action. See though note 51.

[3] See Job 26:7 “תולה ארץ על בלימה” - He “suspends” the world on “the absence of any­thing.” This is the “AYiN” (nothing­ness) - the absence of anything the mind can grasp, the nihilo of creation.

[4] Carl Jung quoted Psalms 41:2 - “As the hart longs for brooks of water, so my soul longs for you, O G-d” - as the real and only reason for addictions. (See Alcoholics Anonymous p.26, and G-d Of Our Understanding: Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addic­tion by Rabbi Shais Taub - Ktav Publishing, pp. 13-19 for a facsimile of Jung’s letter.)

[5] See Chapter 8. The word שלום (Sholom) is related to שלם (sholaym) per­fect and שלוה (shalvoh) seren­ity. As such, sholom suggests a status-quo, where one party accepts the rule of the other, rather than the modern nota­tion of peace.

[6] כשם שאין פרצופותיהן דומין זה לזה כך אין דעתן שווין זה לזה – Just as people’s faces differ, so do their thought-patterns (Bamidbor Rabboh 21:2. See also Sanhedrin 38a).

[7] Talmud Shabbos 58b implies that speech and matter are con­nected.

[8] Psalms 103:20-21. See also Chagigoh 14a: “Every word that G-d utters creates an an­gel”. This in­cludes not only words ‘said’ by G-d but also ‘G-dly words’ uttered by man (bearing in mind that man with his G-dly soul acts as an extension of G-d). Words create and in­teract with angels. This is an important concept. Hence we find that whereas G-d hears all thought, angels only hear speech; therefore, speaking aloud, or pray­ing ver­bally, interacts with the angelic realm, creating spiritual entities or angelic spiritual en­er­gies. Shemoneh Es­reh is thus said quietly because it in­teracts with the pure G-dly Realm (At­siluth), whereas the rest of prayer ought to be said audibly. See Zohar Vol. II, 210b.

[9] See Sha’ar HaQedushah (Gates of Holiness) Gate 3; Nefesh HaChaim, Gate 1.

[10] “If you pluck the low E-string on a guitar, you’ll see the high E-string vibrate along with it, thrumming as if it had been plucked by a phantom finger. This happens be­cause the specific vibration rate of the high E (660 Hz) is an even multiple of the E two octaves lower (165 Hz). The same thing happens if you place a tuning fork next to a piano and strike the key for A above middle C; the tuning fork will vibrate too. This is called reso­nance, a word that literally means ‘sounds again.’ When the vibrations of two different phenomena have a similar shape or frequency, we say “they resonate with each other.’” (Code to Joy by George Pratt.)

Scientists are now saying that the entire universe is based on this law of resonance, an idea expressed in the Zohar over two thousand years ago. This law underscores the im­por­tance of praying, or performing any spiritual exer­cise, together with other people. The spiritual effect of any activity is ex­ponentially increased in a quo­rum of ten, or even in a group of three (Ohr HaChaim Deut. 33:2).

[11] See also Talmud Bavli, Krisus 6a, and Shnei Luchos HaBris (Meseches Rosh HaShonoh ad loc.) quot­ing RaMaQ HaQodosh. As we shall see later, a person’s soul spans many, many spheres and levels, so the cause and effects of actions, etc, are not localised and are much, much more expan­sive than one might realise.

[12] Some people may actu­ally be aware­ of this. However, as we shall see later, awareness does not presume focus. Those who wish to de­velop spiritu­ally must aspire to the high­est vibration, always aiming to be in harmony with the soul’s Source; anything less is a trav­esty of the soul’s true nature and calling. Hence, the Torah warns against psy­chic or mediumistic prac­tices. These seemingly inno­cent practices are the antithesis of true spiritual growth, focusing on the per­son’s ‘ener­gies’, thus leading in the opposite direc­tion to coming close to HaShem, the True Name.

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