Sunday, June 30, 2013

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Eye to the Infinite - The Eye, the I and the Ayin – Part 2

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.

By medi­tating upon this idea, we can ap­proach­ His Infi­nite Es­sence[1] and by tun­ing in to that vibration of nega­tion – by mir­ror­ing G-d and ne­gating our­selves to Him – we are able to per­ceive His Light within the dark­ness.

Using metaphorical imagery to portray G-d’s creation and inter­act­ion with creation, the Ari Ha­Kodosh describes G-dly Light or “Divine En­ergy” as exud­ing from the eyes, ears, nose and mouth[2] of super­nal worlds that precede creation, forming a spiri­tual Soul, to comprise the life and inner struc­ture of all the lower worlds. This Light ema­nates through points – moments and places of self-ne­ga­tion and hiding – to impreg­nate finite creation with the Infi­nite.

Thus G-d reveals a spark of His Essence and Reality within the place of His concealment,[3] which then seeds crea­tion and is the Soul of existence. Likewise, our cog­ni­sance and (subjec­tive) knowl­edge, our in­ner self, influ­ences (our ex­perience of) the outside world: we are partners in creating our outer re­al­ity.[4] The world is in­fluenced by our observations,[5] what we see and hear is coloured by what we are; if our senses are clouded by a med­ley of emo­tions and subcon­scious ex­pecta­tions, formed by an im­bro­glio of in­ci­dents, per­sonal memo­ries and im­pressions, this distortion will be pro­jected onto (our perception of) reality.[6] By focus­ing on our true es­sence and Source through guided medita­tion, prayer, [7] or the pur­pose­ful per­form­ance of Mitsvos, we can ar­rive at an ex­peri­ential c­ogni­sance of true Real­ity, this reali­sa­tion then influ­enc­ing the col­lec­tive con­sciousness of the entire cos­mos.[8] By negating or reform­ing the self­ish ego, we may ac­cess, re­veal and manifest G-d’s Light, the Nesho­moh.[9]

The Hebrew word for eye, עיןAYiN, sounds like the word for nothingness, איןAYiN. In Hebrew, if a word sounds like an­other, they are related and inter­change­able at some profound level.[10] As previously mentioned, the eye sees through a point of emp­ti­ness. All types of sight – physical, emotional or spiri­tual – take place through some type of self-abnegation. In other words, the AYiN, eye (עין), works through AYiN, nothingness אין)). This self-ab­nega­tion is al­ways in propor­tion to the object viewed and the per­ceived need to see that object; accordingly, to look to­wards G-d, the self-an­nul­ment must be propor­tionately more complete.[11] The two words עין and אין are in­deed connected.[12]

Taking this a step further, we come to two types of seeing: seeing with empathy or looking with a critical eye, a seeing that stems from the ego. To see someone properly, to appreciate the other party without preju­dice, one must involve a degree of self­lessness. Empathy is an ex­pres­sion of love, since proper love always includes self-sacrifice. This is because true love and self-abnega­tion are absolutely related. אהבה, Ahavoh, love is the primary uni­versal life-force. King David says, “The world is built on kind­ness.”[13] In­deed, quantum research has shown that molecules keep together purely through the attribute of kindness: molecules are constantly giving to each other and it is this constant act of giving that binds them. Truly, love is the force that builds and binds the universe, even at the molecular level.

[1] Baal Shem Tov HaQodosh on (Psalms 92:10) כי הנה אויביך ד' (Toldos Yaakov Yosef; see also Kesones Pas­sim 27a).

[2] This is not to be understood literally. The second of the Ten Commandments says clearly that G-d has no form or body. However, as explained extensively in classical kabbal­istic litera­ture, our body, which is based on the structure of the spiritual worlds, our eyes and ears, etc, analogies to their spiritual counterpart, affords a way to under­stand G-d’s interaction with the world.

[3] See Kings I (8:12), ד' אמר לשכון בערפל – “G-d said to dwell in thick cloud.”

[4] One of the main principles advanced by the Baal Shem Tov HaQodosh. On the Mish­noh (Nego’im, Chap. 2), “he can see all blemishes except for his own,” he commented, “all [spiri­tual] blemishes a per­son sees [in others] are a result of his own.”

[5] Baal Shem Tov, see Tsofnas Pa’aneach, Chukas. This is echoed by the recent observa­tions in quantum physics, for example, Niels Bohr’s “Observer Effect.”

[6] Reb Nachmon of Breslav famously says that how we view a person – even ourselves – influences their behaviour; thus, our view of the world has a definite affect, positive or otherwise.

[7] It is interesting to note that the same part of the brain that deals with word memory and recognition, the left hippocampus, is also involved in writing our own per­sonal autobiography, the way we see ourselves and our past history. Thus meditation based on words might have a strong influence on our own view of ourselves and our ex­periences.

[8] See Liqutei MoHaRan 1:282.

[9] See Proverbs 20:27.

[10] A method of rab­binical exege­sis. See for example Rashi Pesochim 5a, “Ach chailek.”

[11] See Sotah 5a, Kiddushin 31a. The annulment must be according to the appreciation of the great­ness of the subject beheld. See also Seforno, Exodus 34:8.

[12] In a similar fashion, we might observe a connection between the Hebrew words עניו – humble, and נביא – a prophet. These two words can also be seen to have interchangeable let­ters. Again, it is the self-nullification of true humility that enables true prophecy; hence, Moses, who is described in the Torah to be the most humble man that ever lived, is also described as the greatest prophet. The Baal Shem Tov said, pride is like a little finger in front of the eye: it blocks all light.

[13] The Rambam writes that the attribute Chessed – kindness, is one and the same as Love – Ahavoh. This demonstrates that the true meaning of Love is primarily the giving of self. See also Zohar Vol. I, 45a, Vol. III 263b,


Anonymous said...

who gave haskomas to this book? - just interested to know

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