Monday, September 12, 2005

The Dim Spark

Dear Kristi, Maria and All,
More on light: Here are some thoughts from pages 32 and 33 of Daniel Matt's book The Essential Kabbalah.
"The essence of faith is an awareness of the vastness of Infinity," Matt wrote. "One may speak of goodness, of love, of justice, of power, of beauty, of life in all its glory, of faith, of the divine - all of these convey the yearning of the soul's original nature for what lies beyond everything. All the divine names, whether in Hebrew or any other language, provide merely a tiny, dim spark of the hidden light for which the soul yearns when it says God." Matt goes on to say that if the consciousness is torn from its source, it becomes useless, without value. The only remedy, according to Matt: To "shine vibrantly," the consciousness must be joined to the "illumination of faith."
My own interpretation of that is that God's light is actually within us, and we must let it shine by living our lives in harmony, so there is balance in our interior lives and balance in our relationships with family, friends and others with whom we come in contact. When there is not balance in our lives - and when we're not acting in the best interest of the greater good - the light within us gets muted, and covered up, and when that happens, we can't find our own way, nor can we reach our potential as a guiding light to others.
One thing Matt challenges his readers to do is to get rid of any preconceived notion of God in any particular form. In other words, God is far too great for the human mind to imagine.
"All the troubles of the world," he wrote, "especially spiritual troubles such as impatience, hopelessness and despair, derive from the failure to see the granduer of God clearly."
Matt is saying, I believe, that the best we can do is shine our own little light in our own little corner of the world. And because that light is part of God, it is not little at all. Instead, it is great beyond what we can conceive.
More later.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Kindled Candles

Dear Kristi, Maria and All,
As we explore the meaning of light, here are some thoughts from Daniel Matt's book The Essential Kabbalah:
First, consider this fundamental concept: The Kabbalah teaches that all spiritual energies flow from an infinite source referred to as Ein Sof. The term Ohr Ein Sof means "light of infinity." While Matt cautions against fashioning metaphors for Ein Sof, there are other Kabbalists who refer to Ohr Ein Sof as a metaphor for God. Since our minds are limited, very little about God can be intelligible to us.
Here is what Matt says on Page 29 of his book:
"Everything is from Ein Sof; there is nothing outside of it. . .You can compare Ein Sof to a candle from which hundreds of millions of other candles are kindled. Though some shine brighter than others, compared to the first light they are all the same, all deriving from that one source.''
More later.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Going Back to the Beginning

Dear Kristi, Maria and All,
As I mentioned, after reading an article on the ABCs of the Kabbalah, I got the idea to assemble ideas in this blog on the deeper meaning of light. Since ideas from the Kabbalah led to this discussion in the first place, let's start out by exploring teachings of the Kabbalah that relate to light. I need to be clear from the beginning. I'm no expert. I'll simply share some things that experts on the Kabbalah have to say. Being an expert on the Kabbalah is a life-long endeavor, and my own exposure is limited to having read a handful of books - which equates to very little.
Having said that, let me first offer a thumbnail explanation of what the Kabbalah is, for those who may be unfamiliar with it.
The teachings of the Kabbalah essentially represent Jewish mysticism and Orthodox Jewish thought. The word itself means "tradition" or "received knowledge." No one knows the origin of the Kabbalah, but some believes it goes as far back as Abraham. One Jewish woman I know described Kabbalistic teachings as the secrets the angels whispered to Abraham. Keep in mind we're talking about mysticism - as opposed to facts that can be proved. Jews believe that the writings in the Torah were accompanied by an oral tradition, and that the teachings of the Kabbalah come from this oral tradition.
The Kabbalah teaches that God is perceivable as ten different forms of light, together known as a serifot. Further, Hebrew characters are associated with each of the 10 serifot. The Kabbalah then becomes a way of understanding both scripture and the very meaning of life.
To start out, we'll review concepts from the book The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, by Daniel C. Matt.
We'll start with the next post.