The following are excerpts from The Year of
Jubilee. The full text of each chapter may be accessed by clicking on
the title heading.
For all the gadgets it has placed at our fingertips, for all the appetites it has appeased, for the great mountains of information it has compiled and classified, the cult of Reason has not made Man happy. Not at all! In fact, there has perhaps never been an era of more intense human misery than our own. Evidently, Man is now less aware of himself than at any previous time in his history, and his loss of Self-knowledge explains his increasing wretchedness, even in the midst of unprecedented material plenty.
Freedom is the opportunity to transcend one's current state of affairs, to ascend to a higher level of being. Our society, on the other hand, defines "freedom" as a condition in which the individual can make a multitude of meaningless choices, all of which reinforce his/her dependency on the status quo. In effect, our culture denies the transcendent impetus of Time: Instead of a great Tree thrusting its branches upward toward the Heavens, we prefer a one-dimensional arrow into the future. But, alas, the vital forces of Gilgal are not so easily denied, and the blockage of genuine temporal renewal only engenders spasmodic, violent upheavals — revolution, war, and escalating social chaos.
But there is an alternative to "going down with the ship", at least for those who are willing to listen and understand. As the Hindus teach in their tale of the goddess Kali, Time is the frightful Destroyer of men only if we choose to live within the narrow confines of our ego-selves. But if we are attuned to the Self which abides in the redeeming Cycle, we can experience Time as endless bliss. India's sacred art depicts Kali wearing a necklace bearing 50 skulls of her male consorts — symbols of the inferior selves which must "die" so that the complete Man may be born. Again, the number 50 — the number of the Fish Nun — stands for the integration of our inferior selves into a transcendent Being, a Being whose multiple centers of Consciousness all serve one Body.
Chapter One: Fearful Symmetry
Starting out with the premise of one omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Creator, we immediately run into several logical contradictions which have long occupied philosophers and theologians. If God is All — that is, All that is or might be — then how does He/She engender a Creation distinct from His/Her own Essence? And how does He/She arrange for His/Her creatures to act other than as automatons carrying out His/Her predetermined Will? These questions were pondered by prominent Jewish sages in the early centuries of the current era, and their teachings have survived in a series of mystical texts known as the Kabbalah. Drawing upon the Torah, the Kabbalah endeavors to reconstruct the prelude to the Seven Days of Genesis, that is, to trace Creation back beyond the dawn of human Consciousness.
How does God maintain His/Her Presence in Creation without negating the autonomy of His/Her creatures? The answer which the Kabbalah gives us is consistent with the one we just derived from modern Chaos theory — the Divine Presence in this Universe issues not from "above", not from the ethereal planes of Spirit, as we might expect, but from "below", from the deepest core of Matter itself! ... The material Universe is not made up of dead, cold "things", as our demoralized culture would have it — the truth lies far closer to the belief of those we condescendingly call "primitives", closer to the perception that the Universe and everything in it is alive. And not merely alive, but possessed, as we humans feel ourselves to be, of a sentient Interior which connects, in an immediate and visceral way, with the very fountainhead of Being Itself.
Material Reality has an Infinite dimension — the realm of Malkuth — which we fail to perceive in our "ordinary experience". In our daily lives, we skim along the surface of Reality, never getting inside It, within its "mouth" where we may drink in its unceasing flow of permutations and possibilities. But the only way we may drink through this mouth, as Christ instructs us to do, is to make it our own mouth, to put on the body of the living Universe and, through it, join with the Body of the Supernal Man, so that we become as He ... and He becomes us.
Chapter Two: In Dubious Battle
When Einstein gave us a continuum of Space and Time, he pointed us in the direction of the next step up the great Ladder of Consciousness. He pointed us in the direction of a continuum of Space/Time and Eternity. It was this continuum which, according to Scripture, Jacob witnessed in his dream at Bethel. In his vision, the rungs of this awesome Ladder consisted of Angels, some of them ascending and some descending. Therefore, it would seem that Angels are States of Being which connect Space/Time and Eternity. It would also appear that each of these angelic States is accessible in only one direction — either "ascending" upward toward Eternity or "descending" downward into Space/Time.
Ezekiel uses the Prince of Tyre as a symbol for the leader of the Fallen
" Son of man, say unto the Prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart if lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit upon the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not a God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God."
Superficially, this particular verse appears to be saying that the Prince of Tyre (aka Lucifer) has sought to overthrow God and usurp His Throne. This is a popular misconception which has its roots in the myths of paganism, where the supreme gods were periodically toppled by rival gods. It's also an inherently dualistic idea, since it implies that the Rebel Angel can exist independently of the Most High. But, if we refer back to the original Hebrew, we find that the Lord GOD who speaks through Ezekiel is actually named Yahweh, while the God who Lucifer aspires to replace is called Elohim.
Yahweh is the Tetragrammaton YHVH, the ineffable Name that expresses the overall transcendent unity of the Divine Essence. On the other hand, the Elohim represent the collective Female aspect of the Godhead, associated with the Supernal Mother, Binah or Understanding. It is through the sexual Union of the Mother and Father on High that living Souls are conceived. And it is through this stream of living Souls that the divine Light is incrementally infused into the World so that it may be lifted up to the level of the World to Come. What the Prince of Tyre seeks, therefore, is not the place of Yahweh, because that place is unapproachable. Rather, he strives to insert himself into the role of the Elohim as the source of Souls.
If the Chashmal represents the threshold of our visionary experience — the veritable anteroom of our audience with Shekinah — then the Covering Cherub is barring our way. In a sense, therefore, the Rebel Cherub is "covering" the amber-like translucence through which the sublime Light of Shekinah emanates. Thus, he is the conscious aspect of the Qlippoth: He is the State of Mind which interposes itself between the profoundest center of the Soul — its mystical Heart — and the living Presence of God.
Chapter Three: Back to the Garden
When we talk about the Garden, we must be aware that we are talking about ourselves, that we are peering into our own collective psyche. And our ability to do this, to think about our own thoughts, is the one talent that sets us humans apart from any other intelligent being in the entire Universe. Except for God, that is. By looking at ourselves, therefore, we become like God -- or at least like that part of God which invests the material World. As it turns out, this last qualification is an important one to make. We must recognize that God in just as much within us as we are within Him/Her.
God is both Male and Female, as most enlightened religions acknowledge (if sometimes grudgingly). So when God created Adam in the Divine Image, She initially created "him" both Male and Female and not-till-later extracted the Female side, as we're told in the first two chapters of Genesis. After that, and until their own Fall, Adam and Eve continued to conform to the Divine Image. From this we may deduce that, when God divided Adam and Eve, God simultaneously divided the Male and Female sides of His/Her own nature.
This scenario presents us with a paradox, however. If the Godhead splits into Male and Female sides, how can It remain sublimely One? It must be that, on the highest level, God remains an inscrutable, ineffable Unity, and that His/Her multi-faceted nature proceeds from thence. That's precisely what makes the Tree such a perfect metaphor for the divine "anatomy", so to speak: because the Tree, like God, is both singular (in its trunk) and multiple (in its branches).
But any Tree must have roots, and those roots must be planted firmly in the
Earth. In that respect, the heavenly Tree we're envisioning here is no different
from its natural counterpart. Before divinity's Male and Female limbs can thrust
themselves upward, there must be an Earth to receive the reciprocal downward
growth of the "roots". Before there can be a Tree, there must be a Garden. No
wonder, then, that our collective Mind keeps bringing us "back to the Garden".
It's the proverbial "square one" of the spiritual, as well as the material,
Chapter Four: A Season in Hell
Throughout the course of this book, we've been exploring the teachings of the Kabbalah, yet it's only now that we've reached the point where we can understand what the Kabbalah actually is. Let's start by trying to comprehend what it is not. It's not a body of esoteric knowledge developed by a few ancient sages and passed down to us intact through the ages. It's not a compilation of established Truths to be passively assimilated by its students. Instead, the Kabbalah resembles a metaphysical "toolbox", providing us with the implements with which each of us can construct for ourselves a spiritual edifice from the words of the Holy Writ. The purpose of this edifice is to attract the Presence of God, the feminine Shekinah. The Shekinah is the aspect of the Elohim that becomes manifest in Space/Time. Only through intimate communion with Shekinah can the Soul be conformed to the Image of the Supernal Man and thus embrace its true transcendent identity.
When our innermost Soul is in the ecstatic embrace of the Shekinah, She imprints there the fractal pattern of Elohim's Eternal Forms. This pattern is infinitely detailed, infinitely "deep", and within it there is a unique dwelling place for each Soul. That's why the meaning of the word Shekinah in Hebrew -- "dwelling place" -- so perfectly expresses its relationship with the individual Soul. Settling into its to its own special "niche" in the intricate fractal pattern, the Soul is said to be "sheltered under the wings of the Shekinah".
The Jewish Festival of Booths, Succoth, is a ritual enactment of this "sheltering". It's an ecstatic celebration in which all members of the Community put aside their everyday activities, leave their homes and dwell for eight days in makeshift huts constructed of palm fronds. These crude booths are intentionally left incomplete, with gaps between the palm fronds affording a opening to the heavens. Here again we see repeated the archetypal motif of a structure -- like the Sephirotic Tree and the Torah -- purposely left unfinished so that the missing details can appear in the Light of Vision. Succoth's communal celebration of visionary experience was not restricted to poets, priests and prophets, but extended to all God's people. John's Gospel recites that, on the last day of Succoth, Christ had an ecstatic vision of a river of Living Water connecting all of the celebrants from within. While we've already established that Succoth is a festival of Vision, we can now go beyond that to assert that it's a celebration of the commonality of Vision.
It's precisely this communal dimension of Vision which the Kabbalah is
intended to enable. The Kabbalah's tools are made to be utilized by each of us
to draw our own particular visions from the infinite weave of the revealed Word
of God. When we learn to wield these tools, each of us can erect our own edifice
of dreams, wherein we may entertain the divine companion of our Soul. If we are
to attract the Shekinah to us and find shelter beneath Her fractal "wings",
however, what we construct cannot be a snare, a trap, or a prison. The sweet
bird of inspiration may alight upon the perch of a birdhouse, but She will not
willingly fly into a cage. If within our Heart we wish to exalt our own visions
above those of our brothers and sisters, if we aspire to delineate some version
of "absolute Truth" to be imposed upon others, then the divine bird will flee
from us, as an ordinary bird would from a hunter.
Chapter Five: The Hidden Time
All that happens in the lower World of manifestation is but a reflection of transformations in the upper World of eternal forms (aka archetypes). Thus, the disintegration of the World Soul (Pleroma) in the upper World — as mythically portrayed in the Fall of the Angels — has its counterpart in the breakdown of the primordial Symmetry of the physical Universe, which generated the “Big Bang” and propelled us down this one-way street of mundane Time. It stands to reason, then, that the work of restoration of the Pleroma necessarily involves a transcendence of strait-jacket of one-dimensional Time. It requires a “rectification” — Tikkun in Hebrew — of the defect in Time that was introduced by the Shevirah. As Shakespeare correctly observes, this labor of Tikkun to “set it right” is the reason why each of us was born.
Again, we must be mindful of the ineluctable linkage between the physical and metaphysical realms. If mundane Time is incomplete, it’s because our individual Souls are likewise incomplete. And the converse is also true: we cannot hope to restore the wholeness of the collective human Soul unless we also restore the Symmetry of Time. As we’ve said before, the restoration of the Pleroma crucially depends upon the unobstructed flow of Souls out of the supernal Treasury of Souls (the Sefirah of Binah) into incarnation through the Womb (the Sefirah of Malkut). This flow of Souls is described in Genesis as a “river that goes out of Eden [Binah] to water the Garden [Malkut]”. And, according to the visions of Isaiah and St. John, it is the fourth and final branch of that river — allegorically designated as the Euphrates — that we are to cross to complete the Tikkun and usher in the reign of the Messiah.
Now, the principle of upper-lower correspondence tells us that the flow of
Souls into incarnation has a cognate physical process, which is the flow of
Time. When the original Symmetry of the Universe was broken, the most sublime
portion of the divine Light — the Quintessence which was Elohim’s first creation
— was withdrawn. The incarnation of righteous Souls then became the exclusive
channel through which this Light was reintroduced into the World. But the
Shevirah’s shattering of Symmetry also generated a host of empty Worlds wherein
scattered sparks of that Light became trapped. Interestingly enough, the Hebrew
word for “Worlds”, which encompasses these empty Worlds as well as our own, is
Olamim — the plural of Olam. This suggests that the Hidden Time is the dimension
that connects all of the Worlds — the “parallel universes” of modern cosmology —
with our own. In that sense, the Olam is the great axis of Symmetry, the “bolt
that passes from extremity to extremity”, uniting the upper and lower Worlds. It
corresponds to the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life.
Chapter Five: The Heavenly Yeshiva
In the style and spirit of the Zohar, this final chapter is an imaginary discourse in the Heavenly Academy of the World to Come.