Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Purposeful Soul

In order to obtain an understanding of our life purpose one needs to first obtain knowledge by uniting the attribute of understanding with the attribute of wisdom. However, a closed or narrowly focused mind can constrict this process resulting in the distortion of personality. One of the greatest ongoing difficulties in life is determining right from wrong, good from bad, positive from negative, the left fork in the road or the right. These are life's decisions, the ones that define the outcome of all of our lives and affect the makeup of our character.

In our desire for a better material existence (physical world) we often cloud judgment by focusing on the pursuit and not the purpose of our mission. To be cognoscente of purpose is to be aware of all that surrounds you, all that confounds you, all you invite, wanted and unwanted. Truth and happiness are fleeting unless you discover the purpose prescribed for your soul; herein lie’s life’s challenge.

We have learned the forces of G-d are everywhere, we have learned they are a two way street, we have learned, through Torah, that the forces of darkness and light are heralded by G-d’s ministering angels and we have learned that our soulful energy flows from the 10 Sefirot along 22 paths.

The teachings of Kabbalah explain that there are three Higher World Divine Attributes;

Keter – Crown
Chokmah – Wisdom
Binah – Understanding

and seven Lower World Divine Attributes (Sefirot) through which we relate and connect to G-d. These have been referred to earlier as the vessels;

Chessed - Love
Gevurah - Strength
Tiferet - Beauty
Netzach - Victory
Hod - Splendor
Yesod - Foundation
Malkhut – Sovereignty

In the human being, created in the "image of G-d," the seven lower Sefirot are mirrored in seven "emotional attributes" of the human soul:

Chessed - Kindness
Gevurah - Restraint
Tiferet - Harmony
Netzach - Ambition
Hod - Humility
Yesod - Connection
Malkhut – Receptiveness

Each attribute contains elements of all other attributes in varying degrees i.e., "Kindness in Kindness", "Restraint in Kindness", "Harmony in Kindness", Ambition in Kindness etc. for a total of forty-nine emotional personality traits that govern who we are and what we are. By our study, understanding, practice and mastery of each of these energies we are able to perform at higher levels of consciousness in the world.

Click here for a more detailed elaboration on the levels and makeup of the soul

In the 49 days it took Israel to leave Egypt, walk through the desert, cross the sea, experience the first revelation, camp at Mt. Sinai, witness the second revelation and receive the Torah, the souls of all people on this journey were elevated to reach an intensified state, an absolute union. As a nation, they became bonded and mentally prepared, open and ready to receive. Each of their Sefirah and those reflecting the nation as a whole had reached a state of perfected enlightenment. The flow of their energies, resulting from their righteous state, focus, concentration, meditation, purification, prayer and general disposition, enabled all of Israel to sufficiently open their souls, for just a brief moment, during which G-d revealed His Wisdom to the entire world. The people of Israel received this Wisdom in a profound way because they were ready to receive it, but the other 70 nations of the world failed to recognize the importance of what had transpired and their soulful states, which had not been ready, did not fully benefit by G-d's descent and their ascent to Him.

Each year beginning on the Jewish Festival of Passover and ending the day before the Festival of Shavuot there is a tradition to count the 49-days of the Omer. This practice is a 49 day (7 Sefirah x 7 influential energies of each Sefirah) process of self-refinement, with each day devoted to the "rectification" and perfection of one influential energy of one attribute of the 7 Sefirot, a process for elevating the soul. Amongst most modern secular Jews this practice has been forgotten. If counting the Omer were revived it would rapidly become an intensified period during each year when each person devotes time every day to contemplate and rectify every attribute of their soul, in effect an inventory of who we are and how we prioritize the order of our thinking to better our lives and those around us.

The counting of the Omer serves as a reminder that our souls are complex aspects of our makeup and that we have the free will and choice to treat the soul as the important element of our being that it is. Further, that it ought to be nurtured and cared for each day of the year and especially on the 49 days of the counting of the Omer, commemorating the days preceding revelation of the Torah to the Israelites camped at Mount Sinai.

Consider the soul a guidance system that projects itself from within you, hovering within and above and traveling in front and behind every step that you take and knowing every decision you are about to make. Consider it sensitive to every aspect of G-d. Now, consider that the potential insights, knowledge and wisdom we are able to receive and perceive are simply blocked out by the noise of our lives, by our busy minds that prevent us from functioning in an optimal fashion. Although we may not know it or experience it, the soul passes energy to our heart and brain through which sub-conscious followed by conscious thoughts are processed as a direct result. With each thought we should try to recognize the occurring process then we should identify all the influences that thought are susceptible to on their way to our consciousness. We have to determine the level of a thoughts purity or impurity, only then are we equipped to process it correctly and to make an optimal conscious decision. Of course most of us don’t function in this manner, but perhaps the world would be a better place if we learned how to do this and put the practice to use.

Our G-d given purpose lies somewhere behind the noise that stands in the way of our being able to identify the purity of our thoughts before we decide how to act on them. Recognizing the importance of purity 'quietening the noise' is therefore a critical factor in being able to identify the guidance your soul provides you in your life. The more accurately you perceive the energy and attributes of your soul, the less noise you will want it to contend with. This will release your powers of wisdom and qualities of understanding enabling you to make quantum leaps forward toward your true purpose.

Every thought has a source, unless we increase the frequency with which we find our way to its source we will never be able to determine its hidden qualities and thereby reach our true potential.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Are you an Israelite?

Reviewing the course of history it’s now quite clear how the nation of Israel became so diversely spread across many countries. Around 4000 years ago, Abraham journeyed to teach in the lands surrounding modern day Iraq. On his travels he visited India where his influence is visible today primarily through the Brahman sect and there are also references to the mystical teachings of Kabbalah in the eastern philosposhies of China and Japan. Many teachers from these lands visited and were influenced by him.

At the time of Israel's exodus from Egypt there were approximately 600,000[1] Israelite men, 20 years or older. The total number of men, women and children exceed two million when they crossed the sea making their way to Mount Sinai. By a process of simple extrapolation that commences with the 70 direct descendants of Jacob that arrived in Egypt, one quickly becomes aware that the logical total number of 'dormant' Israelites in the world today, including deaths from persecution, conversion to other religions and assimilation must be in excess of 500 million people, perhaps significantly more.

Considering that the progeny of Jacob carried through the souls of his descendants and those that take the covenant to become Jews and the heritage of Jewish identity that passes from generation to generation through the mother, it is quite conceivable the direct Israelite lineage could apply to many more than the 15 million 'active' Jews around the world today. Many Christians, Muslims and people of other cultures may in fact be genetically Jewish by birth. However, when raised in families that have embraced different religious cultures over thousands of years they loose their traditional Jewish heritage. Nevertheless their souls remain Jewish forever, but to re-establish their Jewish identity they would be required, at some time, to re-confirm their covenant with G-d in accordance wit the laws of the Jewish Faith.

With the exception of the tribe of Levi (the priesthood), members from each of the 12 Jewish tribes throughout ancient history frequently married out of their faith. In instances where the male married out descendancy was lost. Over time, many children of these multi cultural marriages were integrated into the extended family units, that retained their Jewish identity and the new (non-Jewish) mothers adopted Jewish practices and the traditions of the day. The last functioning Sanhedrin (Rabbinical council of 71 elders) of The Nation of Israel, at the time of the destruction of the second temple (2000 years ago), ordained the rights of passage and the manner in which a man or a woman is considered to have made the conversion through the study of Torah, purification and the covenant of circumcision for males.

The relevance of a Jewish soul is directly associated with mans’ ultimate destiny to restore the world to a state of holiness, through the attribute of Wisdom (Chokmah) accessed through the side of Mercy (Chesed) that will enable the ultimate unification of higher and lower worlds at which time G-d’s presence will dwell amongst us.

[1] B’Or Ha’Torah v15 pg 105 – Solomon Dinkevich

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Holy Constellations

What was Jacob's aim when he conceived his twelve sons?

He contemplated the universal Soul of all creation to bring down a part of that Soul into each of his sons.

The Book of Creation (Sefer Yetzira) discusses The Creation in terms of the three fundamental aspects; Space, Time and Soul. The entire creation is for the sake of man and is structured accordingly. Man has twelve fundamental soul-functions: speech, thought, motion, sight, hearing, action, coition, smell, sleep, anger, taste and laughter. There are the twelve corresponding divisions of space and time. The twelve divisions of space are the twelve constellations (of stars) through which the sun moves in the course of the solar year. The twelve divisions of time are the twelve months of the year. Each sign of the Zodiac and its corresponding month is uniquely characterized with the associated soul-function[1].

The twelve divisions represented through six dimensions in space, time and soul correspond to the twelve diagonals on the tree of the Sefirot. (When the Sefirot are diagrammatically represented as a "tree" of ten points, there are twenty-two connecting lines, seven of which are vertical, three horizontal and twelve diagonal.) Jacob's twelve sons revealed, to perfection, all of the essential qualities of the inner soul for whom God created the world of Time and Space.

Each of the twelve was unique according to his respective orientation on the tree. They were all personalities of tremendous power, as illustrated in the many Bible stories that refer to them and their illustrious descendants in later generations. Each of the tribes received its own blessings from Jacob and later from Moses according to its unique trait. The tribes had their own emblems. Many of them are associated with animals (such as Judah with the Lion, Joseph with the Ox, Issachar the Donkey, Dan with the Serpent, Naftali with the Deer and Benjamin the Wolf.)

The Bible is testimony to the heritage of these founding tribal leaders. Following the 3 patriarchal generations from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob the roots of the future nation of Israel were finally and firmly established. The record is preserved and the mystical and spiritual analysis backs it up in every sense. By looking at examples, like the story of Jacob, we can unfold its deeper context by reviewing the inner meanings through word context,grammaticall commonality, letter substitution and gematria of each word in the Hebrew Torah. The Torah was handed by G-d to Israel through Moses as a complete code contained in the stones of the 10 commandments, in the teachings and in the writings of Moses, but for the most part the knowledge and energy of Torah was transferred by G-d to the souls of Jewish people.

It is said; "The nations heard and trembled, fear gripped the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chieftains of Edom were terrified; the mighty men of Moab panic stricken and the inhabitants of Canaan melted away". Israel's departure from Egypt and the subsequent events ofrevelationn was immediately attributed to a power much greater than anything these kings could possibly imagine, after all Egypt was the most powerful nation on earth and Pharaoh its highest god. Like Pharaoh, these rulers were intellectually defeated.

Was Israel's liberation the cause of fear that came over kings and rulers of the land?
Was Israel redeemed by the power of their Omnipotent G-d?
Was their a mystical magic that can bring such a Liberation to so many people?
What would become of any ruler who did not suppress this power?

The magic of this liberation is to be found following the immediate departure from Egypt, during the 49 days when Israel was formed into the nation it ultimately became. Those 49 days are known as The Counting of the Omer, the deepest intellectual pursuit to the inner depths of our souls. This simultaneous process of meditation, prayer andrevelationn struck fear in the hearts of kings and rulers and brought a newfound intelligence to the world at large.

There are many meaningful insights that come from the deeper analysis of each of the tribes and the roles that they played in the development of the nation of Israel and the world, each of these insights are obtained through an understanding and perception of the Holy Sefirot, the engine room of our soul.

[1] (Sefer Yetzirah ch. 5)