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INTRODUCTION


1. WHAT IS KABBALAH?

2. OTHER PATHS TO KNOWLEDGE

3. PYTHAGORAS

4. THE TAROT

5. ADAM KADMON

6. ACT OF CREATION

7. THE TREE OF LIFE

8. THE FOUR WORLDS

9. HOD & NETZAH

 10. LIFE IS EVERYWHERE

11. LIFE AND DEATH

12. REINCARNATION

13. PSYCHOLOGY

14. THE VITAL PRINCIPLE

15. SYNCHRONICITY

16. TZIM-TZUM

17. BODIES OF MAN

18. HUMAN MIND

19. LILITH

20. KNOWLEDGE

21. OF ANGELS AND MEN

22. CREATION IN  GENESIS 2

23. THE LETTER YOD

24. TWENTY-TWO LETTERS

25. THE NAME OF GOD

26. THE ZOHAR

27. ABRAHAM AND SARAH

28. THE HEBREW LANGUAGE

29. THE PATRIARCHS

30. MALKHUT - THE LAST SEPHIRA

31 THE MYSTICAL KABBALAH

32. BETH – THE FIRST LETTER










INTRODUCTION


1. WHAT IS KABBALAH?

2. OTHER PATHS TO KNOWLEDGE

3. PYTHAGORAS

4. THE TAROT

5. ADAM KADMON

6. ACT OF CREATION

7. THE TREE OF LIFE

8. THE FOUR WORLDS

9. HOD & NETZAH

 10. LIFE IS EVERYWHERE

11. LIFE AND DEATH

12. REINCARNATION

13. PSYCHOLOGY

14. THE VITAL PRINCIPLE

15. SYNCHRONICITY

16. TZIM-TZUM

17. BODIES OF MAN

18. HUMAN MIND

19. LILITH

20. KNOWLEDGE

21. OF ANGELS AND MEN

22. CREATION IN  GENESIS 2

23. THE LETTER YOD

24. TWENTY-TWO LETTERS

25. THE NAME OF GOD

26. THE ZOHAR

27. ABRAHAM AND SARAH

28. THE HEBREW LANGUAGE

29. THE PATRIARCHS

30. MALKHUT - THE LAST SEPHIRA

31 THE MYSTICAL KABBALAH

32. BETH – THE FIRST LETTER













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5. ADAM KADMON

 

THE TWO ASPECTS OF MAN

 

As the Kabbalists see it, there are two basic aspects of man. We can either view him as Adam, or Ben Adam, which in Hebrew means “the son of man.” Another term we could use when describing the human being is “Ish”. There are more possibilities, but we will stay for now with these two, while later we will look into Adam’s androgyneity and its possible implications. The reason for this is that Adam and Ish best describe the two different conditions or states of the mind a human being might find itself in, while living predominantly either in the world below or the world above. By “world below” I don’t mean an infernal world, or the underworld, but Malkhut, or the world (kingdom) of the Earth, the world we are living in, where and from which we were born, and where we stay until the time comes for us to depart from it. The name Ben Adam means the son of man, but also “the son of the Earth,” because in Hebrew “Adamah” means the Earth, the land. Ben Adam or Adam Kadmon, stands as an intermediary between the Heaven and the Earth. The other man, named Ish, is the spiritual man. The origin of the word is in “esh,” which means fire.

In mythology, fire is always associated with the spirit, with energy, transmission and renewal of energy. The Greek mythological bird Phoenix, for instance, has a life span of one thousand years. When that comes near its end the phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs, which it then ignites. Both nest and bird then burn and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young Phoenix (or sometimes a Phoenix egg) arises, to live another thousand years. The Phoenix legend has its parallels in the Egyptian mythology and the Bennu bird, which also created itself from a fire that was burned on a holy tree outside the Temple of the sun god Ra, or in some versions burst forth from the heart of Osiris. Similar to the Egyptian Bennu bird is also the Persian Huma, or the Russian Zhar-Ptitza, or the Firebird. The latter is particularly well known, as it inspired Igor Stravinsky to composing probably the most famous (and at first controversial) ballet music of the 20th century. In this connection I will also mention Pták Ohnivák (also firebird) from Czech folklore, which like those above is also an object of a difficult quest, most of which involve the bird’s egg in some way or another. The analogy of the magical bird’s egg and the Cosmic Egg, now more fashionably called the “Big Bang,” the source of all Universe, should be plain enough.

Ish, the Divine or spiritual man, is the man animated by the breath of Cosmic fire. In the Old Testament (Genesis 1:27) it is first written:

 

So God created humankind in his image,
               in the image of God he created them;
               male and female he created them
.

In Genesis 2:7 we find is an elaboration on the above:

Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

The dual aspect of man is thus nicely explained to us here:

Firstly, man is formed from the dust of the ground. This is Adam, the man made of adamah, the earth, the man of the earth, the physical man, an androgynous being.

Secondly, God breathes into the man’s nostrils. This was the breath of God, the spiritual fire, the breath that made the man become Ish, the spiritual man. Before this he was only Adam, now he became the living soul, endowed with the breath of God.

Here is the very origin of the legends about the Golem, an artificial man. The word “golem” means something imperfect, incomplete. There are several such legends from various parts of the world, and similar themes can be found in the Egyptian or Mesopotamian lore. The best-known legend is probably the one about the Golem of Prague. Like Adam, Golem too was made of clay and then animated, in this case however not by the breath of God but through a formula called “shem”, which contained either the sacred name of God or according to others, the word “emet”. His human creator was named Rabbi Lev (or Löw, Loew, Loeb), by reputation a highly scholarly chief rabbi of the Prague Jewish community, during the reign of the Emperor Rudolf of Hapsburg, towards the end of the 16th century. The Golem went well about his task, which was protecting the Jewish community from the “pogroms” lead by the Christian marauders, until his master made a very human error. For the duration of the Sabbath the Golem was to be put to rest, some say by having the word "emet" changed to “met” by erasing the first letter aleph from the creature's forehead. “Emet” means truth or reality in Hebrew, while “met” means dead. On one occasion the rabbi forgot to change the spell, which caused the creature to go berserk, breaking furniture and killing domestic animals. Before he could turn against humans the rabbi fortunately managed to de-activate him by erasing the letter aleph. What was left of the Golem was then put to the attic of the Old-New Synagogue, where eventually it fell into dust.

The Golem legend is here mainly to illustrate how impossible it is for a human to do the Creator’s work. God alone could do this and create Adam, who at the beginning was a kind of a golem. God’s breath was needed to complete the act and create the spiritual man, in contrast to the physical man. However, a potential conflict between the two was there from the beginning, as we can easily put together from these verses (Genesis

4:1,2):

Now the man knew his wife Eve,

and she conceived and bore Cain, saying,

‘I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.’

Next she bore his brother Abel.

Now Abel was a keeper of sheep,

and Cain a tiller of the ground.

One of the brothers makes his living through keeping sheep, a sedative, contemplative form of engagement, while the other works as a tiller of the ground, in other words he is compelled to do the heavy manual labour. Hardly an idyll, and bound to cause problems sooner rather than later. And indeed, when both brothers bring God their offerings, God ‘has regard’ for Abel’s offering, but no regard for Cain’s offering. Quite naturally, Cain, who presumably had to work the butt off to get his, is not at all happy.

The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry,

And why has your countenance fallen?

If you do well, will you not be accepted?

And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door;

its desire is for you, but you must master it.’ (Genesis 4:6,7)


This is obviously a test that God has designed for Cain, the test that inevitably Cain is going to fail. When discussing the myths of firebirds and the associated cosmic eggs, I said that in mythology these are usually objects of quests. The trial that God sets up for Cain is a most difficult one, the ultimate, in fact; Cain here symbolises the whole of mankind, which unavoidably has to fall into the clutches of sin that is ‘lurking at the door’. As for passing the test with success, countless generations of Cain’s descendants have been struggling with such monumental task, and to a huge majority of them it is still a lost labour. Meanwhile, one generation after another have become more and more deeply immersed into the world of matter, while working in response to their wants rather than to their needs, has made them ever less and less conscious of their spirituality. Symbolically at least, we are all descendants of Cain, the man who committed the first mortal sin on Earth (his mother Eve committed her original sin while she and Adam were still in Paradise, so technically she is out of it), and ever since then we have not only been suffering the consequences, but also pilling up more and more sinful deeds, thus making the task ever more difficult for ourselves. It is not unlike falling into debt, and constantly borrowing more money from the bank, while only managing to pay the interest. The role of Kabbalah is to help us get into the black and staying there, by making us more aware of our spirituality.

 

Hegedus: Kain and Abel

THE COSMOGONY OF KABBALAH

Man stands in the middle, halfway between the Heaven and the Earth, and he has to develop between these two very different worlds. Therefore he has to make the liaison between his worldly aspect and his Divine aspect. Study of the Kabbalah can help him reach the state where he can form some sort of coordination between the two.

To be able to understand the basic concepts of the Kabbalah we will need a road map. Also, the Kabbalah uses a certain cosmogony to explain how the world was created. The problem we have when we want to talk about the Creator is that we really have no way of understanding him. Or her. Or it? We tend to anthropomorphise God, because this is for us the only way to form some sort of image, some understanding, even though from this point on it is always going to be a rather hopeless task. That should not stop us from trying, though. Because of that I would like to make an agreement with the reader about some of the terms we would be using. Thus when I write “God” or “Creator”, I mean the one basic creative force. I don’t mean a wise senior male sitting on a cloud surrounded by angelic choirs. However, if this is how you imagine the Creator I would not even think about trying to talk you out of it. I don’t mean a “big bang” either, but if such an image suits you, so be it. The Big Bang theory has been around from about the middle of the 20th century, and it has provided a good shelter to those who do not agree with the idea of a Creator. Or who cannot afford to be seen as such. Nevertheless, the whole of Kabbalah is about this: If ever there was a bang, how has it come about? Who or what caused it; it couldn’t have happened by itself. Also, whatever it was that went bang, had to be something, at least some gas or similar, to at all be able to go bang! Where did that “something” come from? Do I hear somebody saying it was always here?  Well, what does “always” mean? What was before it? And so on…

The Kabbalah’s underlaying position is that “something” or “someone” was here from the beginning. What happened at the beginning and why did it happen we can only speculate; it is completely beyond the boundaries of human comprehension. Some people, those with natural leanings towards metaphysics, might have better imagination, but this cannot be taken for granted. Therefore, some anthropomorphic expressions here and there would be hard to avoid, though I propose missing out on clouds with angels, the pearl gate, etc.

There are two aspects of the Creator. There is the transcendental God, who as far as we are concerned forever remains behind a thick veil, completely beyond our knowledge, our perception, or our understanding. William Blake’s painting of the Creator taking the measure of the future world is a stunning piece of art, which could only have come out of the mind of a true visionary! The transcendental God, who thus far was hiding behind a wall of impenetrable mist, has at some stage, for reasons completely unknown to us, decided to express himself.

The only way he could do this is to withdraw from his omnipotence, omniscience, and all the other ‘omnis’ that we might heap upon his bearded head, and create a sort of vacuum, by constricting himself. This is called Tzim-Tzum, a very difficult concept to explain. To understand at least some of it we must first accept that God transcends space, that he does not occupy space, therefore his presence fills the entire space, which is of course multi-dimensional, if only to make things even more difficult for us to grasp. In the ‘vacuum’ (of course, I use this term only for lack on any other that would be intelligible) the God created the Universe. The moment the Creator emerges from behind the veil he becomes manifested, but there follows the whole process by which the Kabbalists demonstrate how he involutes (as opposed to evolves) from pure spirituality, pure Divinity, into materiality. This system or glyph is known as the Sephirotic Tree.

 
TO: ACT OF CREATION


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