Kabbalah Healing

 

Descent for the Purpose of Ascent

 


Kabbalah is about each sephira or the sephirot.

 

Introduction

"In all their affliction, G-d is afflicted" Isaiah 63:9
"The very highest light can become manifest only in the very lowest [state of being]." Lubavitcher Rebbe

Self and Other

Kabbalah is a system for planetary healing. The heart of kabbalistic practice is tikkun/healing; Tikkun HaOlum/Healing the World and Tikkun HaNefesh/Healing the Self.

Kabbalah recognizes the unity of all being. The universe is all the one "body" of Adam Kadmon/Primal Man. Self, society and environment are inseparably related. There is no dualism, no dichotomy between self and other. Health is the result of a healthy relationship with the natural world, with your fellows and with yourself. All is One. All is self.

Well-being is determined by how you imagine your relationship with self, others and the planet. Health results from expanding your imagination of self. Health includes previously denied aspects of your personal experience, compassion for others and the recognition that the planet's well-being is essential to your own. Imagination is the key. As Albert Einstein noted, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." It's all how you define "self."

If health is the result of a meaningful relationship with your whole self, others and the natural world, then disease is the loss of these connections. Disease results from separation, the loss of place and context. You cannot be healthy if your relationships with the natural environment, your fellows or parts of your own being are diseased.

Resisting the Flow

Our self is like an iceberg. Nine tenths of our being is below the surface. Our daylight personality, our ego, the tip of the iceberg, rests, however uncomfortably, on the great mass of our submerged, shadow self. Vast ocean currents drive our hidden being. These determine our course in life, regardless of which way the ego with its puny paddle would sail the berg.

The ego distrusts the deeper self. Running from our shadow we project it on others, onto other people or onto the natural world. Individually this results in alienation, loss of meaning. Collectively, this demonization of the other "justifies" war.

Cooperation is replaced by competition and conflict. We are on a permanent war footing; abusing the natural environment, contesting with our fellows and struggling against abandoned aspects of out own self.

Fortress Ego

Is your self a fortress? Are there walls and locked gates separating what is inside from what is outside? Are there dungeons inside where unacceptable feelings are locked away? Are there back rooms where you keep secret parts of yourself? Are visitors only allowed access to the front rooms? Do these backroom selves burst out into the front making a mess of things? Are there screams from the dungeon in the middle of the night?

Disease as Cure

What does sanity look like in a society which is itself insane? How does health appear in a lifestyle which is itself diseased?

The ego mistakes the status quo for health and considers that which disturbs the status quo, disease. However, disease comes to inform us that something is wrong. It is like a light on the dashboard, signaling that all is not well under the hood. Something is wrong with the way the car is being driven and cared for.

Kabbalah asserts that "descent is for the purpose of an ascent." The descent into disease is for the purpose of a cure, an ascent into greater levels of health and well-being.

Mystical Science

Kabbalah is the mystical science of wholeness, holiness and health.

Kabbalah expresses unity. It describes the oneness which underlies what appears to be a diverse, fragmented world.

Holiness is wholeness. The sacred is the purpose and meaning derived from experiencing the unity, interrelatedness, and oneness of life.

Health is a meaningful relationship with your experience. A sense of meaning and purpose is essential to maintaining health and well-being. Difficulty is easier with it and ease is difficult without it.

Kabbalah assures us, "All is one." Even the disease* has meaning and purpose and deserves place in our lives, especially the disease. The negative experience comes like a messenger from a foreign land with critical information.

Disease is often the corrective influence in a life which is already diseased in some larger way. The disease, which grabs our attention, deserves our attention. The discomfort deserves more of our attention.

Kabbalah prescribes humility. We must humble our usual point of view in favor of a holistic vision that includes the negative experience. Disease has an intelligent perspective which needs to be incorporated into the house which the ego has fashioned. Then, as the psalmist attests, "The stone which the builders scorned becomes the chief cornerstone." Psalm 118:22

Health, wholeness and holiness are sisters. Enlightenment is an experience of Oneness. Affirming the unity behind the disparate is life's purpose. Finding meaning within the chaotic is healing. Revealing sacredness within the profane is spirituality. Kabbalah invites us to bring heaven down to earth and to raise earth up to heaven.

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* Note: "Disease," as the term is used herein, is meant to include all negative experience: mental, emotional and physical disturbance. "Healing," as it is used herein, while it most readily applies to the psyche (psychology, heart and mind, soul,) also refers to the healing of physical illness. This is especially true considering the psychosomatic influence, that is, the way the psyche contributes to physical well-being.

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PART ONE

 


Schechina is an alternate spelling as is chochma.

 

Kabbalah and Kabbalah Healing

Kabbalah is the basis of existence. It is the force and form that sustain creation. It is the dynamic structure of the world. It is the greatest and the least and everything between. Kabbalah is the Divine pattern that guides both galaxies and our daily lives.

Kabbalah is all, everything; numbers, geometry, sub-atomic and cosmic forces, the genetic code, neurology, human mind, emotions and physical form, the animal, vegetable and mineral worlds, the environment, soul, infinity, disease and health.

Kabbalah is a map or diagram of existence. At the same time it is the living essence of existence. Kabbalah is a geometry illustrating the basic factors of creation and their rich interrelationships. Kabbalah is the Divine Image, the pattern of creation, the basis of our and the world's being. It is the depth of cosmic understanding and the height of personal development. It is wisdom of the ages, the answer to life's mysteries, the most essential truth, "the knowledge, knowing which all is known."

Kabbalah is an ancient mystical system leading to balance and wholeness. It is a timeless guide for personal and planetary well-being, the manual for soul. Its ancient traditions successfully direct our modern search for meaning and purpose.

Kabbalah Healing reassembles the shattered fragments of our fragmented world. It puts the problematic pieces of the puzzle together, weaving the separate, often conflicting threads of our lives into a harmonious tapestry. Kabbalah Healing demonstrates unity, balance and place.

Kabbalah's teachings of integration restore healthy function. The proper relationship of the parts guarantees the health of the whole. Kabbalah brings us to a state of wholeness and harmony with ourselves and our environment. Aligning our beings with the Divine basis of life heals us, our society and our planet.

***

"Let us make man in our image" (Genesis 1:26)

Kabbalah is the root of mysticism and the basis of our psychology, our psyche, our soul.
It is the structure of the universe and the configuration of our being.
Kabbalistic principles explain the workings of spirit and the mechanisms of our health and well-being.
Kabbalah is the ancient language that speaks to our modern search for meaning and health.

***

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Unity

The greatest delight is to lose yourself, to become completely identified with your experience, to feel unity. Absorbed in a good book or movie, a sporting event, nature, a friend or lover, work or play, we do not feel ourselves. We do not experience ourselves engaged in some activity. Rather we are one with the experience. Then we are not observing someone or something external to us. We are participating in, completely involved with, the phenomenon. Intently watching the sunset, there is no you, only the sunset. Playing with a child, there is no you, only youthfulness.

G-dliness is an experience of unity. G-d is that which unites the separateness of the world. "I" and "you" become "we." We are not apart from, but part of life. The lack of meaning, which characterizes our isolated individual existence, yields to the place and purpose derived from realizing our connection with the Grand Design. G-d is the unity that includes everything.

The goal of Kabbalah Healing is to unify our experience. We are not apart from the disease. Let go the ego with its paranoid strategies and subterfuge. Adopt a compassionate, respectful attitude to the problem. Revisit the lost pain. Our entire experience is meaningful. Along with the suffering will be found, a simpler, more genuine joy. If you want the negative experience to be less hostile to you, be less hostile to the negative experience. You have the power.

***

Imagine your life as a house and disease as something that got put away in a trunk in the basement so that you wouldn't have to deal with it. This unpleasant something gets a little wet down there in the trunk in the basement and starts to stink. Eventually this stink gets up into the house. It becomes impossible to mask the odor with air fresheners.

You need to take a deep breath and open up the basement windows and let the place air out for a while. Then find out where the smell is coming from, clear off the trunk and open it. Yuck, what a stink! Go get some fresh air. Now go back in, reach into the trunk and drag this foul something out into the back yard. Throw it over the fence. Let the sun get to it. Wash it off. Now be pleasantly surprised that you've recovered and restored a beautiful carpet. And it's just what you needed for that room upstairs.

Disease is a negative experience. It is an unpleasant occurrence. It is an unacceptable part of our personality, which we deny, initially because we are just not able to fully cope with it and later because it seems convenient. Locked away from the light of day the disease worsens. Its influence pollutes other areas of our life, stinking up the whole house. When, by inspiration or desperation, we finally expose the disease to the light of day we find that our life has been enriched by owning the denied; our self is fuller having incorporated this new facet of being.

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Wholeness and Separation

The dynamic between oneness and separation is at the heart of Kabbalah, creation and healing. The world with all its separation and diversity somehow (d)evolves from simple, undifferentiated Oneness, that is, from G-d. Spirituality and healing involve reuniting that which has become separate. From the simple Oneness of G-d arises the world with its great diversity. Reuniting the seemingly separate elements of creation reveals the G-dliness behind the diversity. One yields two yields one. As the motto on United States' currency proclaims, "E Pluribus Unum/Out of Many, One."

Kabbalah explores relatedness. The different attributes of G-d as they are reflected in creation, and in our own psyche, communicate and inform one another. These various forces complement and balance each other. Healthy functioning results from all aspects of self working together, all voices being heard.

The dynamic between wholeness and separation accounts for health and disease. Oneness is wholeness. Wholeness is health. The cure for the alienation and fragmentation of our modern lives is the relatedness and completion taught by Kabbalah. The remedy for physical illness is physiological harmony. Integrating the broken pieces into a balanced whole is the goal of Kabbalah Healing, demonstrating unity, reuniting that which has become separate.

Separation is disease. For example, the cancer cell forgets that it is living in an organism. It functions as an independent life, out for itself, reproducing madly. Disease is disassociation, disintegration. The piece outside of the whole is prone to extremity, imbalance. Disease is imbalance.

Healing is integration, parts meaningfully related in a whole. Kabbalah Healing is balance, reassembling the shattered fragments, putting the pieces of the puzzle together, weaving the various threads into a tapestry.

***

It is as if you had been shipwrecked, marooned on a tropical island with a child. The island has adequate food and water. Time passes and from a high point of the island you notice over the waves a distant land mass. Building some kind of float you announce to the child that you are going to attempt to swim to the other island in search of help. You explain that you can't make the crossing with him. You assure him that you will be back for him.

The journey is long, difficult and dangerous, through high seas and shark-infested water. Barely, you make it, washing up unconscious with fatigue onto the beach. The next thing you know, as if in a dream, there are beautiful natives squeezing mango juice into your mouth under a thatched palm leaf roof. Gradually you come to. Later, regaining your strength, you find yourself in a tropical paradise. However you have forgotten about the boy left behind, still marooned, on the other island.

Life there is full and wonderful. However, there is something off, something you can't put your finger on. In dreams at night and in moods during the day you are bothered, upset. This is the function of disease. It comes to remind us of the feelings denied, left marooned, the boy necessarily left behind on that lonely island.

Now with our adult understanding and set of skills we can go back and reclaim that which before was too much for us. With the help of the tribe and an outrigger canoe make the crossing back and sensitively, creatively, compassionately contact that wild child. Rehabilitate that lost part of your self and let your dominant personality be rehabilitated to it. True the disease must be healed, must change, but so too, the ego must change. Both ego and disease must adapt.

***

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Ego and Higher Self

The self that we know is not the true self. The ego has been called the "janitor of the soul." It is overwhelmingly concerned with survival, the survival of our organism. The ego constantly surveys existence for threats to our survival: Is that a friendly face? Do I have the power and resources I need to carry on? Is this situation hostile? The ego is enamored of personal accomplishments, because personal accomplishments mean personal power, and personal power equals (but not exactly) survival.

However, the unchecked ego runs amok. It mistakes friend for foe, mistaking a healthy challenge for a malicious threat. It is this limited paranoid, perspective of our ego that creates the problem. Stubbornly we persist in survival strategies learned under duress. We adopt hostile attitudes towards situations which the ego mistakenly regards as hostile to it. If you want your disease to stop acting hostile and obnoxious to you, then stop acting hostile and obnoxious to it.

This hostility can be seen in our attitude towards nature. Throughout history humans have struggled to survive in the natural world. Now with our mastery of technology we glory in our dominance over nature; television commercials are full of images of trucks going where trucks ought not go, splashing through pristine mountain streams, careening through lush alpine meadows. The survival of our planet is dependent upon recognizing the greater whole. Ego survival must yield to global survival.

Kabbalah advocates raising this selfish, threat-based interaction with our surroundings to a more inclusive, harmonious, unified relationship. In the language of neuro-anatomy, we need to use brain centers higher than the ego, more refined than the survival self.

From this higher perspective we recognize a broader self. We see that all is included, all is one with us. Self includes disowned or neglected aspects of our own personalities. It also includes our fellow humans and the larger environment, the planet as a whole.

***

Disease is like a wild man living out in the woods behind our house. He is a part of our self which has been locked out of our psychological house. According to our ego, our dominant self, he doesn't belong. The way we see our self he isn't us.

We come home from work to find that he has broken into the house, messed things up and taken things, mostly food, from the kitchen. Stronger locks and bars on the first floor windows (psychologists, accomplishments, etc.) can't keep him out.

One night when he is howling out in the backyard, stick your head out the window and talk with him. Don't yell! Talk. Tell him that you've left him some blankets under the tarp in the corner of the yard, because you know it's cold out there. Ask him to come back in the daytime, because now you really need to get some sleep. The next day on coming home from work you find a basket of raspberries and a bowl of wild honey waiting for you by the door, gifts of the wild from the wild man.

Gifts and knowledge will be exchanged , as you learn the necessary lessons of the neglected, wild aspects of self. Eventually this wild man will even learn to wipe his feet at the door and replace the drinks he's taken from the fridge with warm ones so that there'll be some frosty ones for you when you come home from work.

***


Tiferes is beauty. Ain soph is a transliteration of ain sof.

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"This also is for good."

There is an ancient Chinese parable about a farmer whose only horse ran away. His neighbor commented, "That's too bad." To which the farmer replied, "You can't be sure." When the horse returned followed by twelve wild mares the neighbor said, "That's terrific." To which the farmer replied, "Don't speak too soon." Then, when the farmer's son broke his leg trying to break the wild horses, the neighbor intoned, "That's a pity." "Wait and see," counseled the farmer. And then the army came through the village and didn't draft the son into a war from which few returned, because he had a broken leg.

The Talmud relates a story about a Torah sage, who always said, "Gam zu letovah/This too is for the good, the best." No matter what happened, he accepted it as Divine Providence. Adversity was also for the best. The rabbis assure us, that when our life is over we, in the World to Come, will understand that everything that happened in it was necessary, even the mistakes.

The seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson was quick to counsel those who came to him for assistance in their distress, "Tracht gut, vet zain gut/Think good, positively and it will be good." Research shows that optimists perform better.

Lead turns to gold. Misfortune changes to fortune. Disease leads to a greater healing. Many times we are healthier after a disease than we were before it.

Our limited, conditioned perspective views the negative experience as something better avoided. What the kabbalists refer to as our small mind/mochin katan (ego) only wants the problem to go away. However, from a greater, less personally biased perspective it is clear that the oppression we experience (be it psychological or physical, financial, professional, interpersonal, etc.) demands from us a proper response, a rectification of attitude or behavior.

The large mind/mochin gadlut (higher self, expanded consciousness) informs us that the problem is actually a solution. Negative experience, when properly attended, leads to a positive experience greater than what was previously available; "Descent is for the purpose of an ascent;" "This also is for good."

***

Imagine, again, life as a house. Imagine emotions as objects in the house. Some things are out of place: The bed doesn't work well in the kitchen; you can't put dishes on it and it's hard to sleep with everyone coming and going. The frying pan doesn't make sense in the bedroom. That which constitutes a negative experience over here, may be an asset over there. All emotions are valid, they just might be out of place. The denied anger needs a place, instead of inappropriately being blamed on others. Disease needs a home, or at least a room in the house.

Build a room in the back of the house for your negative emotion and it won't keep throwing itself through the front window when you're having guests over. Your repressed disease then won't take whatever opportunity is available to be heard. You might even find that after you develop a rapport with your wild man, you can clean it up a bit and invite it up front. It could surprise you and become the life of the party.

***

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Holism

Holism is the concept of parts existing in meaningful relationship to each other. The part inside the system behaves differently than it does outside of the system. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Holistic health says, for example, that the functioning of the pancreas may be effected by the anger that someone represses.

The philosophy of reductionism stands opposed to holism. Even after Einstein's Theory of Relativity demonstrated that everything was interrelated, reductionism is still very much the backbone of scientific theory. Reductionism proposes that to understand a system it is only necessary to study its component parts. Reductionism puts forth that "The whole is equal to the sum of its parts." (Descartes)

The gap between holism and reductionism is where meaning is lost. Unchecked reductionism reduces the world to soulless fragments. Holism promises a meaningful, inter-related whole.

Our view of the Earth was changed forever by the first photographs sent back from space of our blue-green globe floating among the stars. This global perspective has influenced the way we conceive of our place in the universe here on "Spaceship Earth." More and more we think in terms of systems: How do farming practices in the highlands effect the ecology of the river valleys? How does the "identified patient" reflect a family system out of balance? How do social factors, poverty, etc., contribute to crime? More and more we understand that we need regional and global solutions to the problems we face. If you drill a hole in your half of the boat, I'm still going to sink. We need solutions that encompass the whole system, whether that is our planet, our society or our own well-being.

Unfortunately, the piecemeal, divisive world-view that stands opposed to a more global perspective is not just a historical curiosity, a thing of the past. You can find this reductionist, fragmented approach at the root of every environmental, social and personal crisis confronting us today. Fragmented thinking cannot solve such problems. In fact, such a non-systemic approach is the problem. Fragmented living causes the problem. A unified, holistic approach reveals the solution. Unity is the cure.

***

Denial is not always a bad strategy. If denial leads to greater functioning, it is good. If it results in a lesser degree of functioning, then it's bad. For example, a child may need to deny "unacceptably" negative emotions, e.g., anger or disappointment, towards a parent or teacher, because that child needs to bond with the caregiver. In the interest of maintaining a relationship with this indispensable, or, at least, powerful, adult, the child renounces, i.e., refuses to admit to herself, her own feelings. This is "good" or necessary denial. It is the best available compromise.

Later, however, when the child grows up, it is just as necessary to reclaim the disowned feelings and experience. It is the refusal to do so that defines the person's negative experience with disease. Childish coping skills learned under duress are not adequate to embrace adult experience. Childish fear ought not prevent us from exploring our repressed negative psychic (psychological) contents. We are older now, with more skills and understanding. The denial is no longer necessary. It is inconvenient, diseased. It is no longer an acceptable compromise.

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G-d's Song

The Book of Genesis tells us that G-d created the world through His speech. "And G-d said, 'Let there be...'" is the formula of creation. The kabbalists inform us that the act of creation was not a one time, historical event, but is ongoing. In the Jewish morning prayer service we read of G-d, "He renews each day, continuously, the work of creation." The words which G-d spoke to create the world are continuously spoken. They are the G-dly force resonating behind physical existence. They not only sustain, but continuously recreate the world.

How better to describe the cosmic forces behind physicality (nuclear, electromagnetic, etc.,) to a pre-scientific culture or to us, then to speak of the resonate word, the song of G-d. Kabbalah is the study of those cosmic forces, most as yet undiscovered by scientific inquiry.

An implication of creation from the word of G-d can be inferred from the relationship of a human word to its speaker. A word, the rabbis note, is an infinitely small part of the person who speaks it. Also, a word is something external to the speaker, unlike his thoughts and emotions. Words are intended for others. So, as we shall we in greater detail, G-d, in creating, scales down His infinity into a word spoken for others, the world.

(It's is important to keep in mind that all anthropomorphisms, all images and attributions of or to G-d are not to be taken literally. They are just devices to help us begin to conceive of the unimaginable. G-d's word is not like our word, nor is His speech like ours.)

The kabbalists explain that the letters of the words spoken by G-d in creating the world form directly, or recombine to form, all things in this world. For example, nowhere does G-d say "Let there be stones." But the letters of His other utterances recombine to form the Hebrew word for stone, "ehven." All is purposeful. All is divinely sustained.

The universe is not the random, mechanistic, soulless place that our scientific prejudice implies. We are not alone, with whatever little meaning we can glean from the solitary existence that our individualistic bias imposes. Rather, we are a node in a web of living spirituality. Our life is part of a story being told only in part by us, by who we take ourselves to be. We must incorporate the story elements that come our way, the experiences we are dealt into our telling. All is purposeful. It is precisely those elements/experiences which powerfully command our attention that deserve and require the most attention. That which discomforts, putting ill-at-ease our psychology, our disease, demands that we rewrite the character we take ourselves to be. If, as Shakespeare wrote, "All the world is a stage, and we are but players," then we must understand that we are not always the director. We must follow the Grand Director, taking our cues from what He sends our way, improvising through the scenes of our existence.

Interestingly, the Australian Aborigines also believe that the world was created by Divine song and that the things of this world are continuously recreated by their songs. Their journeys, accompanied by singing, are along "songlines," sacred, primordial paths through the outback.

The Jewish prayer service is largely songs of praise, reflecting, it would seem, what the kabbalists assert is our role as co-creators of the world. Certainly, by the "songs" we sing, the paths we choose, sacred or profane, we co-create our experience.

***

You can take your negativity, your disease, and keep it in the closet, in a box on the shelf, but the kids will get into it.

For better or worse, consciously or unconsciously, we share our personalities with our loved ones. One person in a relationship may do all the responsibility, leaving the other person to be very irresponsible; she pays the bills and takes care of the home, while he stays out late continuing his adolescence. One person in the relationship might have a monopoly on the anger, leaving the other only the timidity.

One highly organized, driven mother had an intelligent 17 year old daughter, who never the less couldn't focus on her studies. The mother over-managed her daughter's life. The young lady was the "identified patient" in a diseased family dynamic. The daughter's inefficiency was an acting out of feelings of chaos that her mother had denied. The little boy, who exhibits emotional outbursts in a highly controlled family is trying on the suppressed emotions of his parents, emotions they kept in the closet.

This whole process is messy and frustrating. The parents are as ill-equipped to deal with these forbidden feelings as is the child. The feelings themselves are unsophisticated, inarticulate, primitive. As Freud said, "The repressed remains primitive." Unpracticed these denied feelings are slippery, hard to get a handle on. The unpleasantness of our dominant personality's encounter with the repressed emotional contents reinforces the ego's prejudice against them as dangerous or destructive.

***

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Peace in Heaven

Kabbalah is Jewish mysticism. The most frequent sentence in the Jewish prayer liturgy is "He who makes peace in His heavens, may He make peace for us..." The rabbis ask regarding this sentence, "What peace is required in heaven?"

Answering their own question, they note that the Hebrew word for heaven/shamayim contains (with only a slight rearrangement of letters) the words aish/fire and mayim/water. They observe that it is the heavenly perspective that allows the antagonistic elements of fire and water to dwell together.

Kabbalah teaches that peace between opposites is made by rising above the level of difference. There is a point in creation before the diversity of the opposition was created. That which conflicts in the lower world is unified in the upper world.

So too, a higher consciousness is required to resolve the hostility that characterizes our diseased relationships with our psyche* (*mind, heart, soul,) with our fellows and with the planet. Peace is made by rising above the level of conflict. Unity comes from realizing that opposites are merely opposite poles of the same whole.

Peace results from finding the unity of conflicting elements, not from the elimination of one or the other. The fire of enthusiasm and the watery coolness of reflection are complementary phases. Inspiration and desperation both ought to motivate our creativity.

Mutual dependence is the rule, not mutual exclusivity. Opposites are two sides of the same coin. Ego and disease are part of the same system, mochin gadlut/expanded consciousness, the larger Self.

Our "fighting" of disease ought to yield to an inquiry into what the disease wants. As on seeing a light on our dashboard we should wonder of what is it warning.

The principle kabbalistic mystery involves the way that the One, simple, undifferentiated G-d creates a multifarious world, full of multiplicity and diversity. The principle kabbalistic service involves our affirmation of the Unity behind the seeming diversity of this world, making unities/yichudim.

***

Maybe your disease isn't your disease. As in our examples above, the daughter's inefficiency may really originate with the mother, or further up the ancestral lineage. Maybe your anxiety is really your great, great grandfather's. Perhaps there is a whole audience of ancestors looking down to see what you, the cutting edge, are going to do with the disease that they bequeathed. Perhaps they are still responsible, according to the laws of karma, for the harm still resulting from their actions, the disease reverberating down through the generations. Maybe they are all cheering for you to do something creative with the negativity rather than suffer it blindly and pass it on to your loved ones. Maybe these ancestors are hoping you will free their souls from that burden of responsibility.

Our culture overemphasizes the personal. It is usually a mistake to take things personally. (For example, usually the insulting remark never would have been uttered if the insulter recognized your personhood. Or, your achievements may have little to do with your person and most to do with the talents with which you were born; that is, maybe someone else with the same talents would have accomplished more.) Maybe, then, your disease isn't really your disease.

Maybe, at least a part of, disease is a societal phenomenon, a nervousness peculiar to the culture. Maybe your depression and my depression are the same. Maybe it is an existential anxiety. After all, birds are nervous, squirrels are jittery.

Revisioning, re-imagining the negativity is the whole of the cure. Start by considering that the negative feeling isn't ours. The feeling isn't inside of us. We are inside of the feeling.

***

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Demystification

The principles of Kabbalah relate the workings of the universe, the macrocosm. They describe the evolution of this physical world, our universe, from its origins in G-d. They describe the myriad of intermediate spiritual worlds from which physicality evolved, or devolved.

Kabbalistic principles also relate the inner workings of our lives, the microcosm. The kabbalists diagram realms of intellect, emotion and action and make recommendations for their healthy functioning. Psychological and physical well-being result from meditation and action based on Kabbalah.

These principles are not foreign to us. In fact they are the core of our true essence. The lofty principles of Kabbalah that guide galaxies resonate also in our day to day lives. These principles describe the healthy way to treat ourselves, others and the planet.

As Moses admonished the Children of Israel close to his passing regarding the relevance of the Teaching, the Torah, "For this commandment which I command you this day is not concealed from you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say: 'Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to unto us, and make us hear it, that we may do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea that you should say: 'Who shall go over for us unto the other side of the sea, and bring it unto us, and make us hear it, that we may do it?" But the word is very near unto you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it." (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

***

Zen parables provide excellent illustrations of health and disease. Zen's enlightened mind, what the kabbalists refer to as "expanded awareness/mochin gadlut," is the healthy state.

Kabbalah and Zen, are healing systems. At the core of their spiritual philosophies and practice is unity. This unity exists beyond the ego's mediation. Behind the apparent diversity of the world, beyond the ego's perception of self and other, transcending duality, all experience is united in a meaningful Oneness. Health is an experience of this wholeness.

Kabbalah and Zen each prescribe the experience of unity as an antidote to the fragmentation that characterizes our psychological discomfort and disease. Divine union, enlightenment and healing are all a realization of Oneness.

The truth is as simple as turning one's head. Buddha stated on attaining, "How wonderful, all beings are already enlightened just as they are." All that is required is that we change our attitude, the way we look at things. Your biggest obstacle to realizing G-d is your conception of G-d. Your biggest obstacle to realizing psycho-spiritual health is your conception of psycho-spiritual health.

***

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A Note on Language

The language of Kabbalah is scientific before there was science. It is psychological before there was psychology. It is the language of quantum physics and genetics before there was any conception of subatomic forces or DNA.

The terms of Kabbalah at first might seem archaic. However, with patience, openness and practice this ancient language becomes familiar. Describing the unseen world the kabbalists wonderfully foreshadowed the discoveries of modern science, as well as those it has yet to discover.

The Biblical language and images Kabbalah employs may seem foreign to us. The spiritual hierarchies and dynamics it expounds may seem fanciful. However, it is we who are foreign and it is our ideas which are fanciful. Belonging and wholeness are foreign to us. Meaning and purpose seem fanciful. We are strangers to the natural world, to others and to ourselves. Kabbalah asserts the primary interrelatedness and unity of existence in contrast to the fragmented, disjointedness of modern experience

Consider it a metaphor. Consider it a story. Suspend your materialistic prejudices. Immerse in the language, in the world of Kabbalah. Soon you will discover that it is more real than your ordinary "reality."

***

"The knife does not cut itself, the finger does not touch itself, the mind does not know itself, the eye does not see itself."

Still, we must start where we are, that is, in the ordinary mind. However, let us use the mind to go beyond the mind, into the unknown. Our goal is not new thoughts, but new ways of thinking. Or perhaps they are old ways of thinking, ancient, primordial.

Spiritual concepts are at once lofty and down to earth. They are both transcendental and part of our everyday experience. This connection between, this identity of, the sacred and the mundane is the essence of Kabbalah.

We must rethink our concepts of religion, spirituality and G-d, as well as our beliefs about our worldly experience, in particular health and disease. We must bring heaven down and raise the earth.

***


Tikun applies to the neshama and the world.

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Openness

Kabbalah is like a circle without beginning or end. As the famous kabbalistic dictum observes, "The end is wedged in the beginning and the beginning is wedged in the end." Kabbalah does not break neatly into chapters and parts. On the contrary, Kabbalah is all about relationships. One must be willing to hold onto new, not fully-formed ideas and concepts. Eventually these dots connect themselves, revealing the overall pattern in which their meaning is understood and questions about them are answered.

The process of learning Kabbalah is the experience of Kabbalah. The journey is the destination. Openness is required, humility. You must know that there is something you don't know. Create an intellectual arena to entertain that which is as yet unknown. Get out of the way. Make a space to receive the higher light, a vessel to be filled. The question invites the answer. The disease invites the cure.

A disciple of was sent by his kabbalistic master to live in a distant city. "Who will answer my questions when I study?" His teacher advised him, "Write your questions down in the margin of the book and continue to read each weekly portion. When you restudy that portion next year your question will be answered. But," he continued, "I cannot guarantee that you won't have other, new questions." While you are reading this work write your questions down. When you have read the whole your questions will be answered. And I can guarantee that then you will have other, new questions.

The true Kabbalah cannot be written. There is nowhere to start or finish. It cannot be studied. It must be lived. It is not a subject to be examined by the mind. It is the source of the mind itself. It is the root and structure of mind, of everything.

***

Children have an easy time not knowing. They don't know how to do this or that or to get from here to there. They don't know how to ride a bicycle yet or how to drive a car.

Adults are just the opposite. We think we know. We think we know what is best. We think we know what the problem is. We even pretend to know the solution. When we are forced to admit that our assumptions were wrong, we jump immediately to another comforting, if erroneous assumption. We can't admit we don't know. As the joke goes, "Why did the Jews wander in the desert for forty years? Because even back then men had a hard time asking for directions."

***

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On One Foot

The way G-d begins creation demonstrates its ultimate purpose: "The end is wedged in the beginning." First, G-d had to create an arena for creation to transpire. In a manner of speaking, He had to remove His Infinite Presence to allow limited creation to be. In absolute Oneness there can be nothing else. He had to make room for something else to exist.

A gentile once asked Rabbi Hillel to teach him the entire Torah while he standing on one foot. Rabbi Hillel complied replying, "What is hateful unto you, do not do unto another. The rest is commentary. Go learn." This answer is also the bottom line of Kabbalah: you and the other are one in G-d. Hurting another or the environment is as senseless as hurting yourself. In fact it is hurting your Self, the greater Self.

The bottom line of Kabbalah Healing, that which can be learned while standing on one foot, is hinted at in the way G-d began the creation of the world. Kabbalah Healing is about making room for something new. We put aside our current attitude, belief or habit, we become quiet to allow another voice to be heard. It is about revisioning our selves, repatterning our problem our "disease" (that which makes us uneasy, ill-at-ease.) The rich relationships and balance that underlie the universal order, all evolved in the Void which G-d created. The rich relationships and balance that make our life meaningful would all become apparent, the solution to our problems will be revealed, but first we must get out of the way.

"What is hateful to you, do not do to another." Disease is not other than you. Your disease is you. "The rest is commentary." Come learn.

***

It is the small consciousness of the ego that prevents us from realizing the unity of experience. Healing requires us to surrender the narrow perspective of the small self, not to add to it. As the farmer replied when asked for directions, "You can't get there from here." We need to revision "here" before we can get "there." We need to reevaluate where we think we are. Not new thoughts, but new ways of thinking are required.

Enlightenment, union with the Divine, is not an acquisition; it is an emptying. It is not increase, but loss. It is not ability, but humility. It is not a going forward, but a getting out of the way. It is receptive, not active.

Kabbalah, Zen and healing require of us a new way of thinking. They demand a different frame of mind. Conditioned mind, with its prejudices, cannot bring us to the true reality. What is required is a new orientation, new assumptions, a new attitude; not just new thoughts, but a new way of thinking. In the Zen tradition this is called "no-mind." If ordinary consciousness is "mind," then this extraordinary consciousness is "no-mind."

A Zen proverb asserts that, "Enlightenment is like the bright sun in a clear blue sky and yet people ask, 'Where is it?'" Another advises, "As soon as you say this is good, this is bad, you are hopelessly lost." What we take as bad is good. The negativity, which confronts us, is our spiritual path. The problem, shunned by ego-oriented consciousness, is the overlooked "bright sun in a clear blue sky." The problem is the solution. "You find, paradoxically, that what you've been running away from is the source of your authentic being."

That which discomforts our ego-oriented world view, that which upsets our ease, our disease (dis-ease) comes to expand our awareness. The perspective of the conditioned mind is too narrow to accommodate the bigger reality. The disequilibrium caused by disease is for the purpose of a greater, more inclusive equilibrium, yet to dawn on us. We require a less prejudiced point of view. From the point of view of the ego, the disease is a problem. But from the point of view of the disease, the ego is a problem. The paranoid, survival-based instinct of the ego-personality needs to yield to the more holistic vision of a larger, less personal self. This greater Self synthesizes positive and negative aspects of experience into a whole, a Oneness, which is the hallmark of Divinity and enlightenment and health

***

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Life's Purpose

Kabbalah answers the how and why of creation. G-d creates the world so that the world can reveal G-d. That is, the Infinite reveals the finite so that the finite can reveal the Infinite. One makes two so that two can make one. This is the purpose of life: from Unity arises diversity so that from diversity can arise Unity. "The end is wedged in the beginning and the beginning is wedged in the end." Union with the Divine, Conuctio Deum, is the mystical goal and the prescription for healing.

The kabbalists inform us, "G-d wants a dwelling in this low state of being." The light of a candle is more manifest in a dark room than in the broad daylight. G-d is more glorified by our righteousness in this world, where Divinity is hidden, than He is by the obedience of angels. He gets more pleasure from we, who have free will, than from those who are compelled by the revelation of Divinity, which characterizes the spiritual realms. Unity is best affirmed amidst diversity. As the psalmist testifies, "Out of the depth I call You, Lord."

"Your sovereignty is sovereignty [over] all the worlds, and your dominion is in every generation" (Psalms145:13). The kabbalists inform us that "dominion" refers to G-d's absolute power, whereas "sovereignty" applies to a ruler who is accepted by the people as their king, their sovereign. By affirming Unity amidst the diversity we crown G-d king. By finding meaning in the chaos of disease we reveal G-dliness.

The complexity and darkness of disease is part of the plan. Fragmentation and separateness is a necessary counterpoint to wholeness. This polarity is the dynamic, the ebb and flow of life. This is what the kabbalists refer to as yearning and retreat/ratza v'shuv. The only thing wrong is getting stuck in either phase, positive or negative. We ought to be fluid with life's ups and downs. We should be able to surf the highs and lows. The only thing wrong is a lack of faith, an attitude which denies the meaningfulness of all experience.

"The knife does not cut itself, the finger does not touch itself, the mind does not know itself, the eye does not see itself." Zen uses words to go beyond words. It uses thoughts to go beyond thinking. Kabbalah assures us that truth is to be found outside the bounds of personal existence, beyond the usual consciousness of the small self. Healing requires the same revisioning. Zen cautions us against the sense of duality that separates us from our experience, valuing one state and devaluing another. Healing requires us to find meaning in all experience, positive and negative. Diversity exists in the world, but ultimately all is One.

If you want to control something, control your attitude. If you want to change something, change your mind.

***

The best we can do is change our minds, expanding the narrow, personal focus of our consciousness to include an awareness of the greater forces at work in and through our lives. We must behave as if our consciousness, the tip of our soul, were merely a node on a great spiritual internet, linked by the Divine web to all other nodes and to the Master Server, because such is in fact the case.

It is our sense of separation that gets us into trouble, that causes us discomfort and disease. The narrow, personal focus of our consciousness, our ego, overlooks the bigger picture. The ego focuses on self and other, on diversity. It is interested in preserving our separate self, our biological organism. Useful as this is, it is a frame of reference too small to include the rich, soulful inter-relationships, the unity of our larger being.

It is our attachment to this limited definition of self that makes worse whatever difficulties life sends our way. This attachment makes worse not only life's difficulties, but its goodness as well. To continue with another computer analogy; imagine a word processing program that has a bug in it. Every so often the program freezes and must be rebooted. After much frustration and wishing that the problem would go away, you reinstall the program and find that the problem was really the unexpanded, spell-check, word-count and thesaurus. The difficulty, when given more room, transforms from problem to solution. What from the ego's perspective was regarded as disease, turns out to be, in the bigger, holistic picture, an enhancement of being. Disease turns to cure. As the Zen master asserts, then, "afflictions are enlightenment."

"When you find peace and quiet in the midst of busyness and clamor, then towns and cities become mountain forests; afflictions are enlightenment, sentient beings realize true awakening." Foyan

***

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Free Will, Independence

All creation functions according to law; the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology do not vary. Animals are true to their nature. Angels function automatically, doing what they are told. In all of creation human beings are the only variable. Only man possesses free will.

G-d created a world for us where it is possible to deny G-d. Through increasing concealment of His Light, G-d created this physical world, a world where we have the choice to disobey Him. Angelic residents of the spiritual worlds, overwhelmed by the revelation of Divinity always behave according to G-d's Will. It is only here, in this dark world, where we have choice to do otherwise.

Free will requires independence. Dependency is the opposite of freedom. The dynamic of this world requires that our absolute dependency on Divine processes not be apparent. The drama of life requires a sense of separation, otherwise there is no freedom. The world as we know it is composed of separate existences, different people, different things, different moods.

The main discussion of Kabbalah regards this tension between wholeness and separation. This tension is what motivates the world. The drama between Oneness and diversity is what gets and keeps things moving. Here, in this multifarious, diverse world, free will allows us to affirm the Oneness, which is "good," or to increase the separation and fragmentation, which is "evil."

The origin of free will is alluded to in the story of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As we shall see later, their sin was necessary, as is our exercise of free will.

"There is an advantage of light coming from darkness." A candle has more effect in a dark room than in a sunny field. "G-d desires a dwelling place in this low world." Oneness is most glorified when proclaimed in the midst of diversity. Because we are separate, because we are free to do otherwise, we give G-d a lot of pleasure by affirming His Oneness.

The sovereignty of the King is most affirmed here, in the most distant provinces of the realm. "The very highest light can become manifest only in the very lowest [state of being]." Siddur Im Dach Shaa HaLagBaOmer P.304b ff.

A gift of gold to a king is nice, but the king already has a lot of gold. A talking parrot, while not as grand as golden treasure, provides more delight, because it is unusual. Our service to G-d, affirming Unity in this world of separateness, is unusual. The sovereignty of the King is most affirmed here, in the most distant provinces of the realm. We are that talking bird, manifesting the highest light in the lowest state of being.

Free will is both a blessing and a curse. The sense of separation grants us access to both the highest and lowest realms;

The negative side of free will is when we fail to voluntarily conform our will to G-d's, to make G-d's Will our will. The curse of separation is when we take it as reality rather than appearance. That is, when we fail to see, or deny, Unity, G-d's Unity in the world or our Unity with Him.

Kabbalah teaches that the difficulty and darkness of life, our dis-ease and discomfort, are a necessary, valuable part of the world. As the psalmist testifies "He whom the L-rd loves, he chastises." The difficulty and darkness of our personal lives is a corrective influence on our limited, ego-centric world view. Disease is a meaningful part of the plan. A challenge brings out our best.

G-d is everywhere, even in the disease. In fact, Kabbalah paradoxically affirms that there is more G-dliness in the darkness, albeit concealed, than in the light. There is an advantage to the disease, in the darkness. It's just that we don't see it.

Our free will allows us to choose good or to contribute to evil. We are free to affirm the unity of our experience or we can reinforce our sense of separation. We can welcome the diseased perspective, enriching our family of selves or we can arrogantly fight against it, making everything worse.

***

Negativity happens. Alongside the beauty of nature there is a lot that isn't very pretty. In a natural setting life ends through disease, starvation or being eaten. As anyone who has lived in it can testify, nature isn't a picnic. As the poet attests, "Nature, red in tooth and claw."

We are prejudiced against negativity. Despite our romantic idealizations to the contrary, in good part, life is tragic. Despite the rosy possibilities held out to us by TV preachers and self-help gurus, negativity is an inescapable quality of existence.

Siddhartha before he became Buddha, was a royal prince, heir to a great kingdom. He led a pleasurable, carefree existence cloistered within the walls of his father's sprawling palace compound. Once outside for a religious celebration he saw a sick person and asked his mentor, "What is wrong with that person?" He was told, "Oh, Prince, that is disease, which waits for all." Later he saw an old person and asked again "What is wrong with that person?" His mentor answered, "Oh, Prince, that is old age which comes to all who are lucky enough." Finally, he saw a corpse being carried on a bier and asked yet again, "What is wrong with that person?" His mentor responded, "Prince, that is death, everyone's end." At this Siddhartha renounced life's transitory pleasures, which were his in great abundance, and went off in search of enlightenment, abiding truth.

It is only because we live in a time of unprecedented prosperity, in a culture which consumes the world's resources at a horrible rate, that we can even pretend to maintain our idealized views of privileged existence. But no palace wall is high enough to keep out the negative aspects of life. Because we do not face negativity directly, disease visits us in crippled, confusing ways. Because it is denied, negativity is acted out in our life, manifesting as disease.

Darkness and light define each other. Concealment and revelation are different phases of the same phenomenon. Happiness and sadness are interdependent. The tendency of Western philosophy to see opposites as antagonists must yield to the more Eastern concept of opposites as mutually dependent, two sides of the same coin. Comfort and discomfort are both meaningful. Ease and disease constitute the essential polarity of existence. Ignoring either leads to tragedy.

It is natural to gravitate to the pleasant and to try to avoid the unpleasant. However, there are times when the unpleasant is unavoidable. There are times, and they are often, when it is best to face up to the negativity. This is especially true when an ugly reality keeps presenting itself. Over and again we are bothered by the same feeling, thought, habit, situation. When something keeps getting in your face, it's best to have a look. Follow the signs. Pick up on the cues. Life itself is an oracle.

The world is made broken so that we can make it whole. It is not that brokenness is wrong or bad. It is part of the plan. It is not the disease that is wrong, it is our attitude towards the disease that is wrong.

***

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Humility

"G-d can dwell everywhere except with an arrogant man."

After concealing His Light to create the Primal Void in which creation could manifest, G-d irradiated the Void with a single laser-like beam of Light, the Kav. The very first Divine Attribute manifest through this Kav in this yet proto-creation is referred to as Chochma/Wisdom.

The rabbis explain that the Hebrew word for wisdom, chochmah can have its letters rearranged to form two new words, koach ma, "the strength of what." Wisdom is not derived form that which is already known. It is not a matter of, computing, figuring or reworking. Wisdom is said to have nothing of its own. Like a window it can receive and transmit the light passing through it. Its strength comes from "what," from its transparency, from nothing, from self-negation, i.e., humility. Wisdom dawns on us when we become receptive, clear of our own preconceptions.

Wisdom is the initial insight, the first spark of realization, the first ray glimpsed, the intellectual dawn. It is the seminal experience, the seed before it sprouts. It is the yud, the first letter of the Four Letter Name of G-d, the Tetragrammaton. The yud is a dot, the fundamental stroke from which all other Hebrew letters are composed.

Chochmah in its humility is a clear channel for all the rest of creation. Exactly so, in Kabbalah Healing, humility is the beginning of new insights. It is an openness, a clarity, an emptiness which allows for new paradigms and balance. Getting out of the way, the wisdom of what is not known yet, the "strength of what" dawns on you.

The beginning of creation is Wisdom/Chochma, Koach Ma, the Power of What. There is an emptiness that which has nothing of its own, about which we can only ask, "What?" This is a transparency, like a window allowing the light and view into the house unobscured. It is the mind receiving the spark of a new idea, a seed before it germinates, something that cannot be put into words or even into thoughts, an "Aha," a "Eureka." There is great power in that emptiness, in that not knowing. It is the question that calls forth a response. It is the mother of new ideas. It is the father of the world.

***

Our culture over-identifies with the hero. The hero knows what needs to be done and does it. He is the cowboy sheriff having a shootout with the bad guys. He is the first man, bringing fire back for the tribe. He is Hercules completing his twelve labors. The ego is the hero of our psyche, our psychological world. The ego is, by definition, obsessed with the heroic archetype. It thinks it knows what needs to be done and acts. It pretends it knows and counsels action. Often, in fact, usually, it goes off half-cocked, when it would be much more efficient to explore, to have a look around, to reconnoiter. This unenlightened attitude and action just makes things worse. The unchecked, untempered ego degenerates into an arrogant know-it-all. This I'm-the-boss attitude renders it deaf to the smaller, weaker, softer, wounded voices of the psyche (heart, mind, soul.)

There are many other ways to be, many other selves beside the hero. The ego is concerned with threats to survival, protecting the organism: is that a face? is it friendly? can I eat it? The ego is "the janitor of the soul," the "practical" self. This survivalist, can do attitude is not broad enough to encompass the full range of life. If ego is our daylight self then disease is our shadow.

Disease comes to correct the dysfunctional world view of the ego. The self which resists the disease is the problem. Personality is the problem.

As a society and as individuals we are over-identified with ego and at war with disease. We feign competency, pretending to know. We fight against that which questions our false or inadequate knowledge. It is important to us that we appear competent; when someone asks how we are, we respond we are "well," no matter how we feel inside. Rather than coming to terms with our disorientation and disease, we persist in behaviors destructive to self, others and the planet.

There are things to do and things to refrain from doing. Typically, in our modern culture, we are biased towards doing. There is too much doing.

***

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Reality

Reminiscent of Abbot and Costello's famous "Who's on first" routine, imagine persons A and B conversing:

A: "What is reality?"
B: "Yes."
A: "Huh? I'm asking you, What is reality?"
B: "Yes. What is reality."
A: "What do you mean, 'Yes'? I'm asking you, What is reality?"
B: "What is reality."
A: "I'm asking you!

The question is the answer. "What is reality?" Kabbalah answers by turning question into statement; "What?" is reality. That is, reality is in the "what."

Reality is the question; the question which draws forth an answer.
Reality is the not knowing, the humility which permits a new orientation, a
reconfiguration.
Reality is the hollow space, the vacuum which pulls the blood into the syringe, the negative pressure which draws air into the lungs, the empty place in the bomb that directs the explosive force.
Reality is the darkness which allows a new light to appear.
Reality is the silence in which a new voice can be heard.

Kabbalah is a new system of coordinates to show us the way.
It is a new orientation to turn our life around.
It is an expanded vocabulary to name new truths.
It is a new language to communicate expanded realities.

***

Kabbalah regards the passive, receptive state as primary. If you want to do something, get out of the way. Humility counterbalances the ego's arrogance. Giving up preconceptions yields new perspectives. Not knowing has advantages over knowing. The question invites answers. Limitation and constraint are the guiding principles of the natural order. Paradoxically, as we shall see, there is more G-dliness in the Darkness than in the Light.

Imagine, please, being in the deep end of a swimming pool, tumbling underwater until you don't know which way is up. At that point it does no good to start swimming for the surface, because you don't know which way to go. First you must wait for buoyancy to direct you, to show you which way is up. The water will support you and the way will become clear, but first you must be quiet and still. For the moment, doing nothing is the only strategy. Just floating will direct you to your goal.

This watery analogy applies directly to emotional or intellectual disorientation. When we are upset or confused it is best to do nothing, at least for a while. First, we must be passive, float in the experience. Observe what is happening. Be comfortable not knowing. Entertain the question. Rushing to judgment, jumping to conclusions, like swimming towards the bottom of the pool just makes things worse.

Not knowing is (at least) a necessary stage on the path to knowledge.

***

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Darkness and Light

Kabbalah is rich with paradox. It ties our presumed understandings up into knots and untangles our problems. In the process not only is new knowledge revealed, but, also and more importantly, new ways of knowing.

The kabbalists rather paradoxically assert that, "Where you find G-d's humility, there you find His greatness." The concealment of Divinity necessary for creation; "You cannot see my face, for no man shall see Me and live." (Exodus 33:20) requires of G-d (in a manner of speaking) a greater "effort," a greater greatness than does revelation. Revelation, Light is the natural state of G-dliness. Concealment, Darkness requires an additional effort, something more of G-d. Therefore, as Adin Steinsaltz has observed, there is "more" G-dliness in the darkness than in the light.

Kabbalah Healing requires us to find the G-dliness in the darkness. The negative experience comes to inform us, but to hear its message we must stop talking. There is new wisdom trying to dawn on us, but first we must admit that we do not know yet. Disease upsets our ego-centric view of the world. However, when we humbly put our ego aside we see that what we thought was a problem is really the solution to a bigger problem we didn't even know existed. As psychologist James Hillman attests, "You find paradoxically that what you've been running away from is the source of your authentic being." Truly great people are humble, because they know that the way to further greatness is by making themselves small. Admitting you don't know is the beginning of knowing. As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu wrote in his Tao Te Ching, "Darkness within darkness, the mother of all understanding."

***

How, then, do we get this holistic vision, this new way of thinking, this new attitude? How can we get there from here. First things first. The first thing is to know where we are. Be here now. The universe gives us what we need, what we need to experience. It's a beautiful system. The rabbis call this hashkacha pratis,/G-d's oversight of the details.

Kabbalah's main teaching is that the universe is an integrated, holistic system; G-d is One. Everything is meaningfully related to everything else. Life itself is an oracle. Start where you are. What we've got is what we need. What we need is to listen to what the world is telling us. The wise person learns from all.

Everything is meaningful; up and down, happiness and sadness, ease and disease. Nothing is random, purposeless or mistaken. G-d oversees the details. Nothing is wrong, except maybe our attitude. Negativity happens because something needs to be negated. Negativity happens because our attitude needs to change. Our negative attitude, not our negative experience, is the problem. At least it is the part of the problem we can change. Believing in the meaningfulness of negative experience is faith.

The first thing to do in realizing the expanded consciousness necessary for healing is to simply be here now, to get to know, without prejudice, our present experience. This is easy enough when our present experience is pleasant. However, typically when negativity happens we have a hard time being present with it. Then we have difficulty maintaining the unmediated awareness that characterizes the enlightened mind. When disease gets in our face we react. We are upset. The reflective surface of the mind's waters is disturbed by waves of emotion and thought. We judge and evaluate and act. Zen advises us, that when something gets in our face, the best we can do is to have a look, to adopt the attitude of the receptive mind. When something repeatedly comes up and bothers us, when we have "an issue," then we really better listen. The rabbi's said, "If three people tell you you're drunk, then you have to lie down."

 

PART TWO

 


The eitz chayim projects onto Adam Kadamon.

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Kabbalah Healing: The Method

"People will continue to write, because they discover they are treating their own neuroses. Practicing any art -be it painting, music, dance, literature, or whatever- is a way to make your soul grow." (Kurt Vonnegut, Like Shaking Hands With G-d, Seven Stories)

This book is a participatory experience.
It is meant as a guide to assist you in exploring your own disease.
Here are a few rules:

1. HEAP IMAGES ON IT:
Make a list of images that describe your negative experience.
The psyche loves images.
"I am lonely," carries no pictures;
"A tiny boat on a vast, dark sea," is a rich image of loneliness.

2. Avoid writing directly about the actual problematic people or situations.
What is it like? Instead of "John's voice is annoying," write "The ambulance shrieks up the avenue," or "The lawnmower cuts up daydreams."
Exaggerate, fictionalize, embellish.
Don't worry about being fair or accurate.
Make use of poetic license.

3. Avoid the first person as much as possible.
Don't write about "my pain."
Instead write about the tree's pain, the sky's emptiness, the world's sorrow.
Universalize your experience.

Making a list of images that relate to your disease works. Any artistic discipline which allows you to interact with disease works. If you get a sketchbook and each day meditate on your negativities and then draw them, however abstractly, before you fill the book, your problems are forever changed, for the best.
It doesn't matter if you're not a great artist.
Just do it.

***

"You find, paradoxically, that what you've been running away from is the source of your authentic being," James Hillman.

Stop trying to fix your problems, to heal your disease, to overcome your deficiencies.
Stop fighting with your negativity.
Opposition doesn't work.
You can't win.
Stop acting like you're in control, like you're the boss.
Cooperation, not dominance, is the answer.
Adopt a compassionate, creative attitude to your negative experiences and those experiences turn from stumbling blocks into stepping-stones.
"All you need is love."
The solution to your problem is right in front of you.

"All the world's a stage..."
Life is theater.
We act out our problems in our day-to-day interactions until we find another way, another place, to pay attention to them.
Find a creative discipline to interact with what is bothering you.
Make poems of your negativity instead of acting it out in your personal relationships.
Draw or sketch your problems instead of doing them in your career.
Dance your disease instead of manifesting illness in your body.

Memorialize with creative expression what makes you uncomfortable, your dis-ease, and practically your life improves; you become smarter, more effective at dealing with the problematic people and situations in your life.
If you do your negativity in a journal or sketchbook, then you don't have to do it elsewhere in your life.
You can do it here or you can do it there, but it's not going away.
What you have is what you need.
What you need is a better attitude to life's difficulties, to the disease.
Everything is an oracle, including the negativity, especially the negativity.

***

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Tzimtzum/Constriction and Diminution

The process by which G-d constricts and diminishes His Infinite Light to create the Primal Void in which creation can occur is known as tzimtzum. Actually it is referred to as the First Tzimtzum. This First Tzimtzum as we have seen above results in the first of the Divine Attributes, Chochma/Wisdom. Chochmah itself undergoes a tzimtzum resulting in the next Divine Attribute, Binah/Understanding. The process of serial diminution of Divine Light continues generating all of the ten Divine Attributes collectively referred to as the Tree of Life. This physical world being the end result of this process of constriction.

The process of grading down the intensity of Divine Energy or Light (for again we are not speaking of light as we know it) may be compared to the process of downgrading electricity generated by a power plant. The electricity first generated in the power plant must first be diminished in amplitude and voltage before it can leave the power plant on high voltage transmission lines. Farther on its journey the electricity arrives at a substation where once more it is downgraded before it is transmitted on municipal power lines. Then, before it enters your house, the electricity is subject to another tzimtzum in the transformer outside. Once inside it is again reduced at the fuse box or breaker board.

Your toaster will only work properly using the vastly diminished electricity, i.e., household current available from the electric receptacle in your kitchen. Plugged directly into the power plant, or indeed at any stage before the last, the toaster would cease to exist. Quite similarly, the existence of this physical world, with its separation and diversity and spiritual darkness, would cease in contact with grades of Divine Energy greater than that which is resident within it. (See "Miracles" below.)

That being said, let us use the logical gymnastic for which Kabbalah is famous to consider a special feature of the system just outlined. The original Infinite Light of G-d, the Or Ein Sof, before even the First Tzimtzum is simple, pure, uncompounded. Subject to myriad tzimtzumim (plural), the Divine Light that sustains physical creation, though infinitely constricted and diminished is also simple, pure, uncompounded. That is, it is the same Light. This is in keeping with the kabbalistic dictum, "I, the L-rd have not changed." The Divine Light animating this world is the same as the Light of G-d's infinite revelation, except diminished for the sake of physical existence.

And here is the critical point, there is a special connection possible in this physical world with the Or Ein Sof, unavailable in the higher, spiritual, intermediate worlds; that is, this world, the purpose and end of the creative process, has a special affinity with the beginning of creation, the original Infinite Light of G-d; as we have noted, "The end is wedged in the beginning." When we behave righteously in this physical world we connect, not just with the G-dly Light resident in the things of this world, but with the Infinite Light of G-d, the Or Ein Sof. The purpose of the commandments given to the Children of Israel in the Torah is just this tying or binding of the things of this world to G-d. This rectification of separateness into wholeness, of diversity into One is at once our Divine mission here on earth and the promise of Kabbalah Healing.

And here comes the twist. Our righteous actions in this Dark world bring more Light into this world (and into the intermediate spiritual worlds the Light must traverse to get here from the Source of Light, the Ein Sof.) Precisely so, it is the challenges that we face which lead us towards greater wholeness. In the spiritual realms where all is revealed there is no reward for righteous behavior; in those realms there is no choice. Here it is the difficulties we face (consciously) that empower us to reach above the intermediate spiritual realms to the very Source of Life. Paradoxically it is our disease, our dark moments which present us with the opportunity for healing and to elevate our entire being. The kabbalists assert that the glory and power of a king is revealed most by how his word, his decrees and laws are followed far from the capital city. It is in our negative moments when the greatest affirmation is possible.

***

"Darkness within darkness, the gateway to all understanding." Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

What we take to be a problem is really the solution to another problem, a bigger problem of which we are not yet aware.
The problem is the solution.
Everything depends on how you frame it: the context for your disease.
Questioning invites knowledge.
Darkness enlightens.

Buddha exclaimed on achieving enlightenment, "How wonderful! All beings are already enlightened, just as they are."
Everything is already perfect; everything except our attitude
The way you look at it is the problem.
The difficulty is integral to the system.
Something is calling for attention.
We are prejudiced against the experience.
What you do with the problem is the problem.
Sit attentively; interact creatively with what is "wrong."

Write a "Dear Disease" letter.
Learn its language.
Do something "for" not "about" your experience of disease.
What you don't look at comes around to haunt you.
Write it out instead of acting it out.
Write as if your life depended on it. It does!

***

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The Prince in the Provinces

Once there was a kingdom with a righteous king, who had a righteous son, the prince. The king loved his admirable son, but wondered how he would behave away from the good influence of the palace. After all, in the palace the prince, surrounded not only by wise counselors and noble company, but also constantly witnessed the majestic glory of the king, had little choice but to be good.

The king sent his son, the prince away from the palace. He sent him far from the royal city, out to the most distant province of the realm. There, in that dark place, the prince was far removed from the obvious grandeur of the king. Not only that, but there he was also subject to negative influences and temptations, very different from the nobility of his father's house.

When the prince behaves righteously in that dark province, the king loves him more. Those of us who are parents know that when our child successfully faces a challenge, we are proud, we have reason to love him or her more. When G-d, the King sees us, His children endowed with free will by the obscurity of Divinity in this world, nevertheless affirm the Oneness of experience He favors us. That is, we are more imbued with a holistic sense of purpose.

The challenges we face, the diseases we confront are not mistakes. They are opportunities. They are precisely the spiritual lesson we need to learn, to accommodate. Usually it is we who need to change to be able to integrate the larger message or truth of that which upsets our smaller worldview. As the Psalmist paradoxically asserts, "He whom the L-rd loves, He chastises." The ego is chastised, its grip broken, allowing a revelation of a more inclusive identity, the greater self. Using coping skills usually learned as a child under duress, the paranoid, survival-oriented ego resists the correcting influence of the disease. The ego, over-identified with the small, isolated self, struggles against the larger, more creative world view.

***

"When you find peace and quiet in the midst of busyness and clamor, then towns and cities become mountain forests; afflictions are enlightenment, sentient beings realize true awakening." Foyan

The problem is the way you look at it.
Change the way you look at the problem and the problem becomes less problematic.
Find a different way of interacting.
Behave differently towards the problem and it behaves differently towards you.

When you go to the market with a lot to buy, you make a list.
When you have a lot to remember to pack for a trip, you make a list.
When there's a lot going on in your heart and mind, write it down. Write even if you have to write about not being able to write.

The journey is the goal.
The end is present in the beginning.
Each step of the journey is its own destination.
Each moment is complete unto itself.
Seek the wisdom of now.
Learn the lesson of the present circumstance before you move on, before you try to change it.
All healing and growth depends on being fully present now.
Be here now.
Take the disease as your primary coordinate.
Find ways of being here now without fixing or figuring.

***

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Vessels and Lights

The sefirot, the Divine Attributes are the underlying, organizing principles, the template of creation. Each sefira exists in two parts or phases; vessel and light. The vessel is the receptive phase, the capacity to receive. The light is that which is received. Divine Influence or Light flows down into receptacles or vessels according to their capacity to receive.

The performance of mitzvot/sacred activities increases the capacity of the world as a vessel to receive G-dly light. Physical objects used for sacred purpose become vessels of holiness, e.g., the money given as charity/tzedaka and the hand that gives it, the candles lit for Shabbos, the parchment of the Torah and mezuzah, the kosher, marital bed.

Prayer also creates vessels. Our particular, specific prayers create particular, specific vessels. G-d knows what we need, but we need to do our part and ask; "An arousal from below stimulates an arousal from above."

The light fills the vessel according to the vessel's capacity to receive. Capacity is a function of refinement. The purer the vessel, the more light it can contain. Divine abundance is infinitely available: "More than the calf wants to suckle, the cow wants to provide it with milk" Pesachim 12a. Our part is to create the vessels.

The Light itself even as it fills the vessel is pure and undifferentiated. However, the vessel lends qualities to it, as a red vase makes the water inside of it appear red. The differentiation of the light is only apparent; "I, the L-rd, have not changed." Looking up we see the distinctions between the sefirot and between the worlds. However, G-d looking down sees only a simple whole. In a very real sense, the most exalted spiritual realm of the World of Emanation/Atzilus and the lowest physical creation are all the same to Him.

In terms of Kabbalah Healing we note that by increasing the refinement of our intellectual, emotional and physical vessels we receive (or perceive) more G-dly influence in our lives. By examining and working through our intellectual, emotional and physical habits our lives become better receptacles for Divine Light. In abandoning the prejudice against our own negative experience, our disease, we invite meaning into our life. Fearless self-examination, and creatively dealing with the demons we discover in so doing, relieves the stuck-ness, the stagnancy and morbid tension that is the worst aspect of disease. When we emulate G-d, looking over our life and realizing that all is part of the same plan, then we become co-creators of our destiny.

***

It is precisely the desire to change, to grow and heal that prevents healing, growth and change.
Our strategies make things worse, compound the problem
Experience the fullness of the truth from which you flee and you will change.
Stop running away.

Words are magical.
The name contains the magical potency of the named.
Adam named the animals and had dominion over them.
Labels, diagnostic jargon and the pronoun "it" inhibit understanding the disease.
Avoid the inadequacies of pronoun. If I say, "You made me angry," I am sure of neither the "you" nor the "I," only of the anger.
Perhaps you acted only as a trigger and my anger had nothing to do with you. Perhaps my anger is not even mine, but my mother's or father's or grandparents'.
Call disease by its name.
Avoid inarticulate self-destruction and suffering in silence.

If you want to change the world, start with yourself.
You are part of the equation.
Change the way you behave and the world becomes a different place.
Develop a practice of creatively considering your difficulties.
Change in a relationship does not fundamentally depend on the other.
Move from childlike dependence to self-empowerment
You have the power.
Be willing to let go, to lose your attachment and things take their natural course.

"Everyone wants to get to heaven, but nobody wants to die"

***

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The Ten Sefirot/Divine Attributes

Progressive, that is, serial tzimtzumim generate the ten sefirot. These are in descending order:

Keser/Crown
Chochma/Wisdom
Binah/Understanding
Daas/Knowledge
Chesed/Kindness
Gevurah/Might Discipline, Focus, Restriction, Severity, Power
Tiferet/Beauty
Netzach/Victory, Eternity
Hod/Splendor, Thanksgiving
Yesod/Foundation
Malchus/Kingship


It is a mitzva to give tzedaka.

The number ten signifies completeness; the numerals one through ten being the basis of all other numbers. It may be immediately noted, however, that our list of sefirot contains not ten but eleven stations. This is again one of those contradictions or paradoxes or different ways of looking at things that are so frequent in Kabbalah and life, such as disease becoming cure. That said, Daas is a mysterious sefira which is sometimes not counted. Alternately and more elegantly, this discrepancy is resolved by realizing that Keser and Malchus are closely identified and even identical, but on different octaves, so to speak. (More about that later.) This is mutual identity is another example of the kabbalistic principle, "The end is wedged in the beginning." Previously in our discussion of humility we identified Chochmah as the first sefira, while in our list above Keser/Crown occupies that position. Keser, as we shall see, is not part of creation proper, just as the crown is not really part of the person. Keser/Crown sits "on top" of creation, transmitting G-dliness from the Emanator to the emanated. Keser is G-d getting ready to create, the Infinite, Unqualified Light/Ein Sof already approaching creation, quality.

It can also be noted from our list that each sefira is associated with a particular quality. These distinctions in G-dliness are the source of differentiation, so apparent in our world, which before tzimtzum were not possible in the all-inclusive light of the Ein Sof. It should be noted that these distinctions in G-dliness are only apparent to us, creation, i.e., looking from below up. G-d for Himself, even as He manifests for our benefit in the different sefirot, mystically remains simple, uncompounded, undifferentiated; "I, the L-rd have not changed@@"

Each sefira includes all other sefirot; Chochmah is compounded of: Chochmah of Chochma, Binah of Chochma, Daas of Chochma, Chesed of Chochma, Gevurah of Chochma, Tiferet of Chochma, Netzach of Chochma, Hod of Chochma, Yesod of Chochmah and Malchus of Chochma; Gevurah is compounded of Chochmah of Binah, Binah of Binah, Daas of Binah, etc.

Referring back to examples of the beneficial associations between Chesed/Kindness and Gevurah/Discipline, we can now observe that refusing a child a third ice cream cone because it might cause a stomach ache would be an example of Gevurah of Chesed, the Discipline of Kindness. Here discipline is actually kindness. A study break which sharpens concentration would be an example of Chesed of Gevurah, the Kindness of Discipline.

The sefirotic system provides us with a method of organizing our experience. The qualities associated with each sefira demonstrate links, relationships between the things of this world. The sweetness of an apple, for example, is associated with the sefira Chesed/Kindness. The sefirot, like Kabbalah as a whole provides us with a vocabulary and grammar to describe our experience. Describing our experience, our positive and negative experiences, is a creative process. Familiar with the intricacies of our problems we can better handle them. When we see the topography of our disease, the bumps and cracks, we know how to approach it; we can get a handle on it.

***

Sometimes old concepts need to be broken to allow for new realizations.
Falling apart precedes reintegration, allowing for radical realignment.
Disequilibrium precedes new equilibrium.
Destruction and construction are two parts of the same process, two sides of the same coin, mutually dependent.

Disease as failure, constraint and frustration is the destruction which is as integral to creativity as construction.
Do the failure, constraint and frustration creatively on a page instead of acting them out.
Disease is the necessary counterpoint to health and growth.
Decay feeds growth which feeds decay.


Disease removes us from a state of ease, from our familiar accustomed state.
Disease disrupts our usual way of being, challenging our attitudes.
Disease demands that we integrate new contents, forcing us into new relationships with experience.
Find a new relationship to your problems.
Art has always been a way of addressing life's irreconcilable circumstances.
Poetry can be a non-invasive interaction with the unaccustomed.

If a culture doesn't have a word for the experience, then the experience doesn't exist.
Linguistics equal reality.
Choose rich phraseology over the poverty of unarticulated experience.

***


tree

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The Tree of Life

G-d's image, the basis of existence, is represented as a compound symbol, the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is the fundamental pattern, the substructure of all life and creation, of the spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical realms.

The ten sefirot of the world of Tikkun/Rectification are arranged in a complex, yet elegant geometric formation known as the Tree of Life/Eitz Chaim. The sefirot interact along the paths between them. (figure)

The Tree of Life/Eitz Chaim, as its name implies is the fundamental design on which all life, indeed all creation is patterned. But here the pattern and what is patterned are inseparable; life is not just patterned, but derived and sustained by the Eitz Chaim. Spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical realms result from it. The diagram of the Tree of Life is a compound symbol. It is a glyph, conveying information in a non-verbal way.

The basic division of the Tree of Life is into three columns: (figure)
1) the right column; Chochma/Wisdom, Chesed/Kindness, Netzach/Victory, Eternity
2) the left column; Binah/Understanding, Gevurah/Discipline, Might, Hod/Splendor
3) the center column; Keser/Crown, Daas/Knowledge, Tiferet/Beauty, Yesod/Foundation, Malchus/Kingship

The right column, collectively referred to as Chesed/Kindness, is associated with giving, generosity, and expansion and is considered male. The left column, collectively referred to as Gevurah/Might, is associated with receiving, focus, definition, and limitation and is considered female. The middle column, referred to as Rachamim/Mercy is considered a balance between the right and left columns, which, if left to their own could easily run amok. For example, anger needs to be tempered with love and love needs to be moderated by discipline.

The descent of divine energy through the ten sefirot resembles a lightning flash. (figure)

Another basic division of the Tree of Life is into intellectual/sechel (also referred to by the acronym ChaBaD,) emotions/middot (referred to as Zeir Anpin/the Short Countenance or the Holy One Blessed Be He) and action (figure):

Intellectual faculties; Chochma/Wisdom, Binah/Understanding and Daas/Knowledge
Emotional faculties; Chesed/Kindness, Gevurah/Restriction, Tiferet/Beauty, Netzach/Victory, Hod/Splendor and Yesod/Foundation;
Action; Malchus/Kingship

The Tree of Life diagrams the paths, the relationships between basic integers of existence. Understanding the fundamentals is essential. Healing comes from giving voice to the disease. Being able to articulate what is wrong is most of the cure. We must appreciate the dynamics of the disease, its integers and paths. We must find its place and balance. Creative articulation yields such appreciation.

Divine energy descends along the Tree of Life through ten stations or sefirot ("emanations.") Each sefira manifests a particular attribute or quality of existence. The sefirot interact along the paths between them. Also, each sefira contains within itself shades of the other nine. The rich, dynamic interactions between the sefirot on the tree define the healthy state of functioning. Each sefira is balanced by the others. Each quality or attitude has context within the whole.

***

Balance is not steady.
It is a fluid state, not a static one.
Balance is flow; getting stuck is the problem.
Balance dynamically responds to the dynamics of disequilibrium.
Balance rests on disequilibrium.
Tension allows for new equilibrium.
We must become better at responding to disequilibrium, flow through the darkness, find new ways of experiencing, heap images on it.
Synthesis requires conflict.
Ignorance, confusion and darkness open the way for new insight.
Challenge refines us.

Getting stuck in ignorance, confusion and darkness is the problem.
Find something to do in these problematic states.
It pays to have something to do with, not about the disease.
Art saves lives.
The difference between genius and madness is that genius has an art.
It's okay to breakdown as long as you keep doing your art.
When you're in an emotional crisis it helps to have something to do.
Artists have rejected analysis of their psyche for fear of inhibiting their muse.

Disease is not damnation.
It is not a hell state, where souls are punished without purpose.
Rather, through its suffering disease provides a corrective influence on the world view which the ego has fashioned.
Disease is necessary, meaningful and complete unto itself, and does not need to be healed.
It is we who need to be healed, not the disease.
Our attitude towards the disease, our hostility, our stubborn refusal needs healing.
Art allows for an openness to revisioning the disease.

***

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G-d's Image

Man is made in G-d's image; "Let us make man in our image."(Genesis 1:26) and "So G-d created Mankind in His own image, in the image of G-d He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27) This, of course, cannot be taken literally since G-d has no form. Rather it means that the human form reflects the divine pattern of the universe. Human, the microcosm, reflects the macrocosm.

G-d's "image" is that divine pattern, the Eitz Chaim, the Tree of Life. Long before we knew about subatomic particles or waves the kabbalists asserted that such a universal pattern exists. It is a blueprint or template for creation, ours and the world's. Our image is divine.

It is a great kindness that the infinite G-d created us and the world in such a way as to enable us, finite beings to begin to understand Him. "[You clothe yourself in an image, the sefirot, the Tree of Life] only to make known to mankind your power and your strength and to show them how the world is conducted..." (Tikkune Zohar, Introduction II)

Before proceeding further with our anthropomorphic metaphors we should emphasize that G-d is above any image or form, above the sefirot and the Tree of Life. Nonetheless, desiring that we should in some way "know" Him, He created the world by investing, clothing just a ray of His divinity in image and sefirot and Tree.

After an extended, detailed exposition of the sefirot, their attributes and place on the Tree of Life the prophet Elijah issues the following disclaimer, "All this is to show how the world is conducted, but not that you possess a knowable righteousness, nor a knowable justice, nor any of these attributes at all."

***

"If what is fundamental exists within you, how can you say that you have not obtained it?" Wen-i

Disease is fundamental.
It is the philosophers' stone which changes lead into gold.
Disease is part of the stuff of life.
It is not a mistake.
For all your romantic fantasies, you cannot keep away.
It is our bad attitude, our resistance to the importance of disequilibrium that gets us
further into trouble, that makes things worse.
Disease is integral to life.
Stop resisting.
Deliberately interact with the problematic emotion in a non-directed way.
You are not the director.

"The ancients said that when you want to keep away from what you are hearing and seeing, you attach yourself to what you are hearing and seeing..." Wen-i

Wanting to avoid, you attach.
Ignoring the problem makes it worse.
Denial and premature attempts at healing compound the disease, deepening our inelegant involvement with disequilibrium.
Recognize your attachment to disease.
Creatively embrace the problem.
Find new ways of expressing the disease.

***

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The Primordial Man/Adam Kadmon

The Tree of Life reflects G-d's Image, that is, Divinity in creation. Since we are created in G-d's Image also the human form is projected onto the Tree.

Each sefira representing a different part of the body:
Keser is the crown above the head, the transmission of G-dly influence to us from on high.
Chochma/Wisdom is the right cerebral hemisphere.
Binah/Understanding is the left cerebral hemisphere.
Daas/Knowledge is the throat.
Chesed/Kindness is the right (shoulder and) arm
Gevurah/Might is the left (shoulder and) arm
Tiferet/Beauty is the heart and torso as a whole.
Netzach/Eternity is the right (loin and) hip.
Hod/Splendor is the left (loin and) hip.
Yesod/Foundation is the male genitals.
Malchus/Kingdom is the mouth.

Remembering that the left side of the Tree is considered female and the right male we can see that the kabbalists wonderfully anticipated what neuroanatomy has only recently discovered, namely, that there are "female" and "male" halves to the brain.

The mysterious sefira Daas represents the throat or neck. It is the narrow, often difficult to navigate passage between the head and heart, the intellect and emotions. Indeed, the brain often has a hard time directing the heart. The emotions in turn have difficulty at times inspiring the intellect.

Tiferas/Beauty is the name of the sefira and also the name of the six emotional attributes/middot (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferas, Netzach, Hod, Yesod) as a whole. It is the center, balance point of the middot, particularly of Chesed and Gevurah.

Yesod/Foundation transmits the male influence of Zeir Anpin/the Short Countenance/The Holy One Blessed Be He to the female Malchus/the Shechinah, accomplishing the "Union of the Holy One Blessed Be He and His Shechinah".

Malchus/Kingship, as we shall see, transmits the influence of the Tree as a whole to levels below Her. This concern with giving to others is the function of speech and the mouth, hence the association.

The transposition of right and left on the drawing of Adam Kadmon (where right is left and left is right) is resolved when you consider the Tree of Life on your own body (where right is right and left is left.) And it is a wonderful healing meditation to consider the Tree projected onto, into your body.

***

Carl Jung said that we ought to personify our disease, that we ought to treat our anger, depression, anxiety, confusion, etc. as though they were people.
Treat your disease like a person; it is at least a sub-personality.
Personal relationships require respect.
Presume intelligence and meaning.
What is the disease's point of view?
Find the images that speak to your disease.
Learn its language, its terminology.

Be deliberate about your relationship with disease.
Establish a relationship.
Talk to it.
Write to it.
Listen to it.
Try to get along.
Believe that it has value.
Respect its point of view.
Imagine its point of view.
Imagine that it wants to enlighten and enrich.
We have to admit our relationship before that relationship can be improved.
Begin a dialogue.
Address the hellishness on its terms.

Respect yourself, including the part of you that has no self-respect.
Indulge the negative perspective on the page.

***

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The Four Worlds

Until now in referring to the ten sefirot we have been speaking as if there were only one spiritual world, one Eitz Chaim/Tree of Life. There are, in fact, four. Each of the four spiritual worlds contains its own set of ten sefirot arranged on its own Tree.

The highest spiritual world, resulting from the first tzimtzum (the primary restriction of G-d's unrestricted essence, the Or Ein Sof, the Unending Light,) is the World of Atzilus/Emanation. This world exists in virtual unity with the Or Ein Sof. It is only an emanation of that which precedes the first tzimtzum. Far from creation proper it is closely identified with the Creator Himself. Of this world it is written, "He and His attributes are One." The World of Atzilus contains the subtlest forms of proto-creation, establishing the rarefied design of what will eventually be creation.

As hishtalshulus/the chaining down of creation continues, one tzimtzum following another, the next spiritual world, Beriah/Creation manifests. Note that the lowest point of Atzilut becomes the highest point of Beriah. That is, Malchus of Atzilus is Keser of Beriah.* (* We hinted earlier in reconciling the count of the sefirot of the special relationship between these two sefirot, of their being the same but on a different octave, as it were. Also we now can understand the lower level or world to which Malchus transmits influence and Her association with the mouth as words are used to communicate with others.) Beriah, literally "Creation," is still far removed from physical creation. It is, however, the beginning of the actual process of creation as manifest in the lower three spiritual worlds. (Atzilus, as mentioned above is so exalted as to still be considered part of the Creator.) To continue with the idea of G-d desiring a dwelling in this physical world; if Atzilus represents the idea of a house (still closely identified with the desire,) then Beriah is an elaboration of that idea, a drawing out of the initial inspiration into length and breadth, a thinking about the idea.

Through the process of more tzimtzumim, devolves the next spiritual world, Yetzirah/Formation. (Again, Malchus of Beriah is Keser of Yetzirah.) Continuing our metaphor, this would be the blueprints of the house. Here the spiritual forms which underlie the work of creation begin to take on shape, as it were. The World of Yetzirah is the angelic realm.

The fourth and lowest spiritual world is Asiyah/Action. Here, finally, the ray from the Unending Light (Or Ein Sof) having undergone numerous, powerful constrictions and diminutions (tzimtzumim) is able to give rise to our physical universe. G-d's infinite, unrestricted light has been reduced enough so that the limits and restrictions of this physical world can exist. We have moved from conceiving of a house, to thinking about it, to drawing it out, to actually building it. Note, Asiyah is principally a spiritual world; this physical universe arises only within the lowest station of Asiyah, in the sefira Malchus/Kingship, and, indeed, in the lowest part of Malchus.

***

Disease is a wild-man breaking into our house, disturbing our daily activities, disrupting our tame, predictable worldview.
Disease as wild-man breaks doors and windows, soils carpets and furniture and leaves the refrigerator door open.
Bars and locks, psychologists, accomplishments and positive affirmations cannot keep the wild-man out.

Disease as wild-man often comes at the worst possible moment, throwing himself through the picture window when we are having a party, or blocking our vision when we most need creative insight.
Primitive, stereotyped perspectives, our unfinished business, interfere with both our ability to enjoy life and our ability to practically address life's difficulties.

***

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Orders of Infinity

Imagine a number-line of whole numbers from zero to ten. Now imagine a number-line of whole numbers from zero to infinity. The first number-line doesn't exist in relationship to the second. That is, there is no relationship between the finite and the infinite. The infinite is infinitely larger than the finite.

Now imagine a number-line zero to infinity of irrational numbers, numbers which exist, but can never be found, e.g., the square root of 2. Note that just between the numbers one and two there are more irrational numbers than there are rational numbers, whole and fractions, on our number-line from zero to infinity. Our irrational number line from zero to infinity is therefore infinitely larger than our number-line of all rational numbers, whole and fractions, from zero to infinity.

Now let's transform our one dimensional infinity into two. Lay an infinite number of irrational number-lines next to each other to make a plane of these number-lines, a plane infinitely larger than the number-line. Now let's place an infinite number of these plains on top of each other, creating a three-dimensional figure infinity infinitely larger than our two-dimensional plane infinity. This process continues through other dimensions ad infinitum.

As there are orders of infinity, one utterly transcending another, so there are levels of G-dliness, one incomparable to another. (In fact, while the Light of the Without End/ the Or Ein Sof is the first level of the Infinite G-d which is subject to tzimtzum/constriction and diminution, the Ein Sof/Without End is a level of G-d more exalted yet and the Without Beginning is yet higher.)

Or, imagining this from the top down: G-d repeatedly, serially constricts the radiation of His absolute Essence, the Or Ein Sof, creating increasingly restricted levels of infinity (spiritual realms) until He generates this finite world. Each sefira is the product of this tzimtzum of this Divine radiation emanating from the sefira above it. Each sefira is infinitely greater, more spiritual than the sefira below it.

***

"You shouldn't strain to seek the path; if you seek it, you will lose the path. You need not strain to make things fluid; if you try to make them fluid, thing remain as they are. If you neither seek nor try to produce fluidity, the path will merge with things; then what thing is not the path?" Foyan

Sometimes disease as wild-man arrives in the middle of the night and starts yelling in the backyard, disrupting our sleep.
Stick your head out the window and talk to it.
Don't yell or threaten, talk; ("You need not strain to make things fluid.")
Tell it, "Look, it must get chilly out there. I've left you some blankets underneath that blue tarp. Take them as a present. I'm trying to sleep right now, could you come back in the morning? I'll make you some breakfast."

Befriend the disease as wild-man.
Do something for it.
Do something before the crisis.
Leave out some food and the door unlocked when you go to work.
The wild-man will reciprocate, bringing you treasures from his world, sweetness and healing, honeycomb and herbs.
Learn to communicate.
Teach it to close the refrigerator door and how to wipe its feet.
Build a room for disease in your psychological house.
Follow it out into the jungle to taste the bounty of the wild.

***

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Flatland

To someone whose vision only included one dimension, a resident of Lineland, a square passing through their vision, their line of sight, would appear only as a line.* (*For this analogy of dimensions I am indebted to the book Flatland: A romance of many dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott.) Only one transect of the square, one line, would be visible. Without the ability to see width, only length would be evident. Our put another way, without a concept of width, only the length of the square would be appreciated.

To a resident of Flatland, whose vision includes only two dimensions length and width, a sphere passing through the plane of their vision would appear as a circle. (Actually, as the sphere just touched the plane it would appear as a point. Then as it began to pass through the plane it would appear as the smallest circle, gradually enlarging up to the width of the diameter of the sphere, when the sphere is half way through the plane. Then, as the sphere continues through the plane, the circle would shrink until it became a point and disappeared.) Without the ability to see or appreciate height there would be no way for the residents of Flatland to grasp the shape of the sphere, or any other three dimensional figure.

Here in three dimensional Spaceland we have a dilemma similar to the residents of Lineland and Flatland. There exists, besides the three we see, another dimension to which our organs of sense are oblivious, in fact, not just one other, but many other dimensions, an infinite many.

These are the sefirot in the spiritual worlds. The reality of which is greater than our own, or at least greater than the reality we perceive. This is just as the sphere is greater than the circle which the residents of Flatland perceive and the square is greater than the sight of Lineland allows.

The analogy is not perfect, because all dimensions are actually present with us here in Spaceland. It's just that our neurological apparatus (brain and senses) doesn't allow us to perceive them. That is, the Or Ein Sof/Light of the Unending, and even the Ein Sof/Unending is here with us, except that it is concealed.

Kabbalah describes the spiritual dimensions which our physical limitations obscure. Kabbalists remind us that our soul, having its root in the highest of dimensions, is able to fully navigate and appreciate even the highest of spiritual worlds. Its passport, however, is dependent on our righteous behavior/mitzvot done here by us in this physical world.

***

I am able to say to my sense of abandonment, one of my wild-men,
"Not now. I'll talk to you later. I'm involved in a difficult negotiation with my ex-wife and I don't need to feel like a four-year-old trying to get mommy's approval."
Because I have already established a relationship with the disease, already paid it respect, it takes a back seat saying, "All right, but why don't you tell her x, y, and z?"
Then I tell her "x, y, and z" and it helps and I thank my sense of abandonment for the good advice.

Disease comes to inform us.

***


Shuva is also one of the mitzvos

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Sparks

The rabbis tell us that G-d created worlds before this one. Before settling on the present order of creation, the World of Tikkun/Rectification, G-d tried another. It didn't work so well. That spiritual template, the World of Tohu/Chaos lacked the rich interrelatedness of the present order. Each sefira was complete unto itself, simple, pure, uncompounded, without qualities of the other sefirot (pl.) woven into it. The sefirot lacked the balancing geometric arrangement, the Tree of Life, the template for the World of Tikkun. They were arranged like concentric spheres.

Because they lacked a balancing, cooperative interrelationship, and because Tohu was a world of "much light and little vessel," the sefirot or Vessels of Tohu could not contain the degree/"quantity" of Light that flowed through them and they shattered. Following this Shviras HaKelim/Shattering of the Vessels, the Light withdrew and the shards of the broken Vessels were scattered throughout what was to be G-d's next attempt at creation, our spiritual universe, the world of Tikkun/Rectification.

Our exile away from the holy Land of Israel is for the purpose of retrieving those shards of vessels or, as they are referred to as, sparks. Through working with the things of this world in a righteous manner we liberate the sparks of Tohu which have become mired in them. The wealth which the Children of Israel took from the Egyptians on our redemption from slavery were sparks of Tohu. The Egyptian exile liberated most of the sparks. Our current exile has been for the purpose of liberating the rest. Restoring the sparks of Tohu, repairing the shattered vessels is the necessary precursor for the final redemption, the coming of the Messiah, the age of universal justice and revelation. (The present Lubavitcher Rebbe has announced that, in fact, all the purification of the sparks is complete and that now we only need to "welcome the Messiah.")

The principle of the Shattering of the Vessels/Shviras HaKelim has profound implications for Kabbalah Healing. The analogy to our emotions is direct; emotions need to be conversant with each other; anger needs to be tempered with love; kindness needs to be aware of restraint. When an emotion loses touch with the moderating influence of the whole emotional being things often come crashing down. A single emotion unconstrained by its more sober cousins is destructive of itself and others. Unbridled love or anger is destined to shatter and fall. Also when our intellectual and emotional faculties do not communicate with each other something is going to break; there is going to be a breakdown. Tohu/Chaos exists when each of our many facets exists unmodified by the others. Mental and emotional illness often exhibits great, blinding flashes of uninhibited genius and range. Such unbridled expression (almost) always goes off course and crashes.

Interrelationship is health. By way of illustration, kindness needs to be moderated by discipline; "A third ice cream cone will give you a stomachache"; and discipline needs to be influenced by kindness; study breaks often improve concentration. Similarly, the diseased isolated from the larger family of selves becomes problematic and extreme. Owning the problem, examining the repressed psychological contents, admitting the addiction, acknowledging the roots of the bad habit establishes a relationship in which the healthy and the diseased can communicate and learn together, learn of and from each other. Physiologically examples of this phenomenon include cancer, wherein the cancer cell is guilty of not correcting its damaged DNA and not recognizing its place in a larger organism and where the immune system is guilty of failing to recognize the cancer cell. As is also autoimmune disease, where the immune system mistakenly attacks self, its own body.

Another profound truth about Kabbalah Healing brought out by Shviras HaKelim is the concept of treasure, Sparks of Light lost amid the ordinary things and even refuse of the world. Exactly so, the disease, which from the point of view of the ego appears not only worthless but detrimental, is the repository of wisdom leading to a greater healing, a healing of the ego itself. As the psalmist attests, "The stone which the builders scorned has become the cornerstone" (Psalms 118:22).

The Light of Tohu/Chaos where there is "much light and little vessel" is greater than the Light of our world of Tikkun/Rectification where there is "much vessel and little light". It is the restored Vessels of Tohu which will redeem the world of Tikkun. So to, it is the restored aspects of self lost in disease which will provide healing, not just for the disease, but for the person as a whole.

The spiritual qualities of animals derive from the World of Tohu; the courage of the lion, the swiftness of the deer, the strength of the ox. These qualities are more absolute than our human qualities which derive from the moderated, compounded sefirot of the World of Tikkun/Rectification.

***

"In my school there are only two kinds of sickness. One is to go looking for the donkey while riding on the donkey. The other is to be unwilling to dismount once having mounted the donkey." Foyan

We look for the answer even while it carries us along.
People fear that if they look at the face of their disease, they will perish
We fear that if we entertain it, we will be overwhelmed.
But we are already riding on the donkey.
When disease wants to overwhelm us, it does not need our permission.
It does not need our complicity.
If disease wants to push us over the edge, it can.

The attitude of avoidance, hiding from disease is like the magical thinking of a child who hides from the bogeyman under the bed covers.
Such an position in fact makes it easier for the bogeyman to wrap you up and carry you off.
We are under the covers being beaten up by disease, stubbornly refusing to look.
Hiding makes the disease angrier.
If we would just stick our head out of the covers and look at the disease, then it would stop hitting us or, at least, would not hit us so hard.
Get better at mounting and dismounting the disease.
Attention helps pacify the negativity.

***

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Bread of Shame

Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day of creation, Friday. G-d told them, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it." (Genesis 2:17) Tempted by the serpent, they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, breaking G-d's command and as a result were expelled from the Garden of Eden. Not a very good beginning for the human race. But wait, it gets worse.

Friday night is the start of the Jewish Sabbath/Shabbos. On Friday night at the Shabbos table the Kiddush/Sanctification. This is a blessing usually made over a cup of wine, but other foods are permissible instead. Kabbalah informs us that had they waited, Adam and Eve would have made that first Kiddush over the previously forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. So the archetypal man and woman could not wait the span of an "afternoon" to taste the fruit. They hadn't that much will-power to obey G-d's explicit command. And, yes, it gets worse yet.

Had they waited, they would not have been expelled from Eden, true. But had they waited, Eden, the world would also have achieved the crowning perfection of the Messianic Era. Creation would have achieved then and there, on Shabbos, the seventh day (which begins Friday night), the wholeness and revelation of G-dliness that we, their descendants, have been laboring for ever since. What kind of ancestors did we have?

The kabbalists explain Adam and Eve's puzzling behavior with the concept of the Bread of Shame. The first man and woman did not want to inherit paradise, they wanted to earn it, or, rather, they wanted us to earn it.

We can understand this with an example from our ordinary world, inheritance. There is a great difference between earning wealth and inheriting it. Inheritance often ruins those who receive it. Those who earn the money gain competence and confidence in addition to buying-power. Those to whom they bequeath their wealth often actually suffer a loss of competence and confidence; never having to do anything, they never learn how to do anything; oftentimes not even knowing how to exercise their buying power, how to shop, to come home with the best product. There is a book which addresses the ruinous effects of inheritance entitled, How to Die Broke.

The sin of the Tree of Knowledge provides the impetus, the momentum for the whole drama of creation. Without it all would have been perfection, but a very static perfection, like a beautifully cut diamond or a masterpiece painting, ideal, but without movement. The kabbalists associate the sin of the Tree of Knowledge with the Shattering of the Vessels of the World of Tohu. Here we are picking up the pieces, doing birur/purification, separating the sparks of holiness from the klipa/husks to which they have become attached.

***

You cannot hide behind your hands.
Attempted denial is not actual denial.
Denial does not mitigate painful reality, it obscures and worsens it.
Our oppositional response exaggerates, compounds and makes problematic the resisted psychological experience.
Try to get along.
Do something for not about the problem.
Do something with the disease, not against it.
Make art with it.

It is because we respond to negative emotions as obstacles that they become obstacles. Our response is much more obstructionist than are the negative emotions.
Find new ways of approaching the obstruction without trying to fix it.
Write about the disease without trying to heal it.
Have the experience of obstruction without getting stuck.
Acceptance of disease promotes healing; loneliness becomes solitude, confusion transforms into creative chaos.

***

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Evil

Let us return to the king and the prince to understand the nature of evil according to Kabbalah.

This time the prince is at home in the royal palace and the king is still wondering about his virtue. Is the prince's good character chiefly the result of the good influences which surround him at the royal court?

The king devises a test. He hires a courtesan, a prostitute to seduce his son, the prince. The courtesan at first declines the job. She respects the royal family and has no wish to either tempt the prince or see him fail the test. The king prevails on her, forcing her with a royal command to do her utmost to seduce the prince.

The kabbalists assert that evil, just like the courtesan is fully in the employ of the King, G-d. Here again, as in our previous visit with king and prince, when the prince resists the seduction of evil, he is more loved by the king. When we resist the seduction of evil we are more welcome in the King's Court, we are more at home in the mochin gadlut, the inclusive, expanded consciousness.

In the kabbalistic perspective clearly, there is no independent power (as if such a thing were possible) of evil. There is no Devil opposed to or at war with G-d. (G-d creates and sustains all and everything. Evil is sustained indirectly from the sustenance G-d provides us; indirectly or "behind the back" the way that dogs might eat food fallen from a table. The sustenance reaches evil, the food falls from the table do to our carelessness with the Divine energy we are allotted. That is, we sustain evil through our unholy, even mundane, involvement with the world.)

In the perspective of Kabbalah Healing disease is also not an independent power opposed to health. It may be that it has been locked out of our psychological house, denied for so long that it no longer knows how to eat from the table. It may be foul-mannered and uncouth. But the truth is that if we want it to stop acting hostile and obnoxious to us, then we must first stop acting hostile and obnoxious to it. With respect and reacquaintance, through paying attention to those previously disowned aspects of experience, we find that what was previously disease not only makes good dinner company, but actually brings something valuable to the table.

This, the conversion of evil to good is the hallmark of the ultimate, messianic redemption. As is said in the Awlaynu prayer at the end of each daily prayer service, "All mankind shall invoke Your Name, to turn to You all the wicked of the earth."

***

If you want the disease to be less hostile and obnoxious to you, try being less hostile and obnoxious to the disease.

Disease is not fundamentally hostile to our being.
The psyche is not sadistic.

***

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Tying Things Together: Mitzvot/Commandments

Our modern sensibilities resist the idea of rules and certainly commands. However, a moment's consideration reveals that in many arenas rules are beneficial; games need rules, not following the laws while driving is dangerous and where would the ship, kitchen or company be, if we didn't follow the commands of the captain, chef or CEO?

The commandments/mitzvot given by G-d to the Children of Israel are a user's manual for life. The mitzvot are concerned with the sanctification of life. Through following these commandments we reveal the holiness in both the macrocosm and the microcosm, both in the larger world and in our personal existence. For "holiness" in the preceding sentence we may substitute "wholeness."

The Hebrew word "mitzvot" comes from the root meaning to "tie" or "bind." The mitzvot are sacred acts. They are acts which bind this finite, physical world with infinite G-dliness. They are the bonds between us and G-d. Through our sacred acts in physical creation we transcend even the spiritual worlds and unite with G-d's absolute Essence. Mitzvot draw down a Soviv/Encompassing Light, a light from beyond the normal order of creation/hishtalshulus. Spiritual creation does not allow for this mechanism of exalted unity; the Torah, with its mitzvot, was given on Earth. As the kabbalists observe, "There is an advantage to physicality."

A mitzvah/commandment is that behavior which affirms G-dliness, i.e., the unity of existence. Mitzvot demonstrate both the Oneness of the things and experiences of this physical world and also the Oneness of this physical world with higher worlds, spiritual and beyond.

Our righteous behavior affirms the holiness or wholeness of life. The stubborn habit, the arrogant attitude, the overpowering craving, the errant physiology are brought into harmony within a larger, sustainable self. Healing is rarely about fighting or conquering. It is about finding a new balance, homeostasis. Affirming the unity of experience, tying things together, finding the message in the discordant disease is the essence of Kabbalah Healing.

***

"There is something in each of you that you will only be able to perceive when you turn around." Foyan

Disease wants attention.
When we attempt to ignore or intimidate the disease it acts out, making a mess of things, grabbing our attention. This is because negative attention is better than no attention.
When things get really extreme we enlist the aid of professional therapists to make the disease go away or, at least, to make it shut up.
But it is not going anywhere and will not be denied.
If something keeps biting your ass, have a look.
Leave aside value judgments and preferences.
Become one with the experience of disease.
Find the images that speak to your negative experience.
Write them down.

"You must observe the present state. What is its logic? What is its guiding pattern? Why are you confused? This is the most direct approach." Foyan

Disease is like a child who wants the cookies in the middle of the supermarket.
But we know from previous experience that he'll make a tremendous mess, cookies rolling up and down the aisles.
We refuse and he screams, ruining our shopping experience.
He cannot wait, having no faith that we will give him the cookies when we are out of the store, for he has been deprived before.
Leave the cart, taking the child and cookies outside and let him eat.
Pay the disease attention and eventually it will delay its need for gratification to a more opportune moment.
It may be obnoxious, but it's legitimate.
It is we who must change, not the disease.
Artistically favor, indulge the negative perspective.

***

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"Charity": "The Mitzvah"

Charity is known in Hebrew as "tzedaka," a word more properly translated as "righteousness." Charity simply is the right thing to do. If, as the rabbis tell us, in the roots of our souls we are all One, then the suffering of another soul is really my suffering and my chief concern ought to be to help. Selflessly helping another, especially another in need, affirms the interrelatedness of us all. "Giving tzedaka" in Jewish tradition refers to contributing money to a charitable cause or individual. Taking what I have and giving it to you affirms the "us." Tzedaka is known in the Jewish tradition as "the mitzvah." It is the clearest manifestation of the mitzvah to "Love your fellow as yourself."

Kabbalah can be some pretty heady stuff, complex and abstract. However, as the Talmud emphasizes, parallel to this learning is practice, and practice is within everyone's reach. Kabbalah Healing is also very practical. The problem that vexes us, the roots of our disease might be complicated and obscure, but the solution or cure is simple; so simple in fact that we miss it. A Zen master taught, "Enlightenment is like the bright sun in the clear blue sky and people ask, 'Where is it?'"

As we learned above, just as righteous behavior/mitzvot performed in this physical world draw Light down through the intermediate spiritual worlds, so does practice, our physical doing enlighten our intellectual our emotional realms. It is not that we need intellectual or emotional inspiration to change our behavior. Rather our behavior will change our hearts and minds. This method can be tested; selflessly serve others and your own life improves. Give tzedaka to the poor; go out of your way to help family, friends, colleagues and strangers; protect the planet and you will be nurtured by the Oneness you have affirmed.

***

Rapport takes time; cooperative experience builds trust.
Disease needs to be practiced.
Our unpracticed encounters with disease are awkward, dangerous, and discouraging. We want to run away.
Don't be discouraged.
It takes a while.
First there must be a period of convalescence.
It is a long row to hoe, but you have momentum.
You're not dead in the water.
Every art takes practice.
Patiently invest your energies
Spend time exploring the world of your disease.
Revision the negativity
Make something of it.
The rewards are great.

"When you encounter a situation or hear a saying, your mind gets excited, and you make up an interpretation, in any case you are in a scattered state." Foyan

We are quick to jump to paranoid conclusions, stifling the importance of the negative experience.
The person, who is forced to realize the mistake of their conclusion, usually jumps immediately to another mistaken conclusion. People are uncomfortable not knowing.
Disease comes, often at the worst possible moment, remembering what the ego would rather forget, drawing us toward repressed being.
Pay it homage.
Make a physical memorial.
Write it down.
Dance it.

***

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Bitul/Self Negation

Most of us need a better sense of self. What blocks this better sense of self is the sense of self that we already have. Trying to straighten out the sense of self we have acquired from family and experience is like trying to untie the Gordian Knot. To paraphrase Freud on the subject of psychological maladaptation; just because you figure it out doesn't mean it goes away. Or as the Zen master observed, "The knife does not cut itself. The eye does not see itself. The mind does not know itself." The problematic sense of self cannot lead to a better sense of self. The sense of self that is the problem cannot lead to the solution.

What can lead to a solution is self-negation/bitul. Bitul is a higher form of humility. Where humility makes room for other opinions, reducing the "I" in favor of the "other," bitul eliminates the "I." In the previous section we advocated going out of you way to help others. This "going out of your way" is bitul. It is a leaving of self. By leaving aside our preconceptions, as humility demonstrates, we become open to new ways of thought, emotion and experience. By leaving aside our self, by becoming bitul, we arrive at a better or greater sense of self.

Over identification with the small sense of self is the problem. The disease comes to disrupt the already unhealthy compromise that is the personal ego. Oftentimes I have with dramatic effect asserted to the patient before me in my consultation room, "I am on the side of the disease." What the kabbalists refer to as mochin katan/small mind or consciousness is the root of dysfunction. Within those narrow parameters and assumptions disease is seen as a hostile force. However, from the greater perspective of mochin gadlut/large or expanded consciousness the disturbance which once was disease finds place in meaning in the greater whole or self.

Things which are impossible to terms with individually often yield meaning and worth in a transpersonal perspective. For example, the loss of a loved one is irreconcilable from an individual point of view; the individual framework cannot come to terms with the loss of the individual. However, in expanded consciousness it is possible to understand that the best or most essential identity of the deceased transcends the individual and the death of the individual. In fact, from the perspective of the greater Self it may be recognized that those qualities most loved in the deceased now, free from the physical form, have an even greater availability to those left behind; the passing of the mantle. There may be valuable lessons to learn about, impermanence, seizing the day and various rites of passage to other stages of life.

The kabbalists speak most frequently about making your self bitul to G-d's Will, "accepting the yoke of heaven." This involves sanctifying our daily lives and the world through the performance of mitzvot. This also involves recognizing G-d's involvement in all that transpires; looking for G-d's hand at work even, or especially, in the hardship and disease. The Hebrew word "ol" and its English translation "yoke" are both etymologically related to the words "yoga" and "union." Life gives us many types of yoga to do, some pleasant, some unpleasant. A yoke joins things together. Accepting the "yoke of heaven" unites your small existence with the Divine Whole. Such orientation, the core of Kabbalah Healing, makes the unbearable, including the disease, not only bearable, but meaningful.

***

From the point of view of the ego, the disease is a problem, but from the point of view of the disease the ego is a problem.
Assume the negative point of view.

The ego presumes that disease needs its correcting influence, when in fact, disease is the corrective influence in the world view that the ego has fashioned.
If you want to do something, get out of the way.

The ego judges right and wrong, pretending to know what is best.
In its arrogance it presumes to effect the disease, like the colonialist who disruptively introduces modern conveniences into traditional, native culture, missing the importance of the aboriginal ways.
The ego is like the arrogant colonialist, who assumes he has nothing to learn from native culture, when, in fact, it is the truths of native culture he needs to absorb in order for the world to survive.
Observe the ancient ways.

***


Tshuvah is one of the mitvoth

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Divine Sexuality

Maleness and femaleness, as is true with all aspects of this physical world, are reflected in the spiritual realms. G-d has female as well as male aspects.

Earlier, in discussing humility, we learned that Wisdom/Chochmah is the first Divine Attribute to manifest after the first tzimtzum. We learned that it is associated with the Hebrew letter yud, the first letter of the Four-Letter Name of G-d, the Tetragrammaton.

The Divine Attribute/Sefira of Chochmah itself experiences a tzimtzum, producing the second sefira, Binah/Understanding. Where Chochmah and the seed-like shape of the yud are considered male, Binah is considered female. Binah is associated with the second letter of the Tetragrammaton, the hay, a letter with dimensionality, height and breadth, like the womb. (In some Hebrew words the hay is drawn with a dot, reminiscent of the yud, inside of it.)

Binah in turn goes through a tzimtzum as do each sefira after, producing the next group of six sefirot (pl.) collectively referred to as Zeir Anpin/The Short Face or Countenance. Zeir Anpin is again considered a male aspect of Divinity. It is associated with the third letter of the Tetragrammaton, the line-shaped, phallic vav. Zeir Anpin is also known as The Holy One Blessed Be He.

Zeir Anpin, or rather the last sefira of the collective, is subject to a further tzimtzum resulting in the tenth sefira (we'll count later), Malchus/Kingship. Malchus is considered a female aspect of Divinity and is associated with the final letter hay of the Four-Letter Name of G-d. Malchus is also known as the Shechinah, the Indwelling Presence of G-d in this world.

The unification of this physical world with its Divine source is the ideal state. Our sacred activities, mitzvot accomplish this union. The Kabbalah speaks of this union in sexual terms. It occurs between the Shechinah and the male aspect of G-d which couples with Her, The Holy One Blessed Be He. Just as sexuality in this world produces increase, so spiritual unification stimulates the flow of blessings to us, who are, if you will, the children of that spiritual union. There is a kabbalistic formula recited during prayer and by some before the performance of every mitzvah, as follows, "For the sake of the Union of The Holy One Blessed Be He with His Shechinah in uniting the Name Yud-Hay in Vav-Hay in a perfect Union for the sake of all Israel." The Union of The Holy One Blessed Be He with His Shechinah is the union of this physical world with its proximate Divine source.

Chochmah and Binah, also known as Father and (the Upper) Mother respectively, also unite in a spiritual version of sexual congress. The Name "Yud-Hay" refers to their coupling, while the Name "Vav-Hay" refers to the uniting of Zeir Anpin and Malchus. Our formula invokes both couplings and prays that the lower, the Vav-Hay, may be perfectly joined to the upper, the Yud-Hay, "uniting the Name Yud-Hay in Vav-Hay in a perfect Union." This reflects the multiple dimensions of Union which characterize the harmonious functioning of creation, within the spiritual, physical and personal worlds and between them.

***

Disease awakens us to neglected facets of self.
Disease calls us to be more our self, more fully our authentic self.
The universe conspires to show us our shadow.
Have a look. Make a record of the images revealed.

Disease is a persistent advocate of our interest.
It is our vigilant mentor and friend
We harm ourselves.

Disease is trying to communicate with us.
Study its language.
You may have forgotten it, but it has not forgotten you.

***

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The Shechinah/The Divine Presence

The Shechinah is the Divine Presence, the Divine Light as it manifests or dwells in this world. (The Hebrew word "shechin" means "to dwell.") As mentioned above, the Shechinah is synonymous with the tenth and lowest sefira, Malchus/Kingship. The Shechinah is the highest, most spiritual aspects of Malchus, while physical creation is associated with the lowest.

The Shechinah manifests when the world is functioning in a manner true to its Divine origins. When the Temple service was performed in Jerusalem the Shechinah dwelt there. The rabbis tell us that there and then due to the Shechinah's influence miracles, interruptions of the laws of the physical world could be witnessed daily.

Following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem the Shechinah has accompanied the Children of Israel in the diaspora, their long exile outside the Land of Israel (may it soon end.) That is the Shechinah is also in exile. This Exile of the Shechinah is remedied on Shabbos/the Jewish Sabbath and on Jewish Holidays, holy days. Then the Shechinah is reunited with The Holy One Blessed Be He (Zeir Anpin) and special spiritual dispensation flows to the world. These are special moments in time when it is easier to connect with the Divine.

***

"Thinking will not do; not thinking will not do either. Then how do you teach people to contemplate. I tell you, just step back and look." Foyan

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries it appeared that science would solve all our problems, wonder drugs would eliminate disease, labor saving devices would eliminate the need for work, the mysterious land of the psyche would soon be mapped. We still cherish the naive assumption that science can measure and order our experience. However, life resists analysis.
Disease is about un-knowing, putting aside our assumptions and entering the unknown.

Culturally we are obsessed with the one who knows and, putting that knowledge to work, fixes the problem.
Our cultural icon is the Hollywood hero, who knows exactly what must be done. He exterminates the opposition, has a drink and gets the girl.
We need some way of approaching the uncertainties of life.
We need to make room for and address the unknown, especially the unknown disease.
Address the negative perspective with a creative discipline.

***

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A Dwelling Below

In the desert, after the Exodus from Egypt, G-d commanded the Children of Israel to build a Sanctuary/Mishkan, a Tabernacle, the precursor of the Temple in Jerusalem; "Build me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them." (Exodus 25:8) The Hebrew words for "sanctuary" and "dwell" and the word Shechinah all have the same root (shkn or shchn); the Shechinah is G-d's Presence which dwells in the sanctuary; the sanctuary is a dwelling place for the Shechinah.

Note, however, that the command does not say "Build me a sanctuary that I may dwell in it," but "among them." The Alte Rebbe in his master work the Tanya instructs us that each of us must construct our own sanctuary; we must conduct our lives in such a way that G-d's Presence is manifest among us. We are commanded to make an inner Temple, to construct our lives, our thought speech and deed into a sanctuary wherein G-d can dwell.

G-d created the universe because he desired a dwelling in this low world. He created a world seemingly removed from His Presence so that we could participate in creation by manifesting His Presence in it. It is here, in this low world, that G-d's Sovereignty is most glorified. In the upper worlds affirming G-dliness is the rule, a matter of course, here it is something special.

By living in a sacred manner, by following the laws of the universe, the Torah, we make the world holy; we connect the limited, finite world with the unlimited infinity which is Divinity. By directing our though, speech and deed to G-dliness we create a place for G-d to dwell among us.

The rabbis assert in the Ethics of Our Fathers that the Shechinah rests on any group of people engaged in learning Torah and even on one person learning alone. When we unite with others in G-dly pursuits or when we unite our own faculties in righteous intent, G-dliness dwells on us when we emulate G-dliness; "unity paralleling unity." The revelation of unity among the seemingly disparate elements of our inner, interpersonal and planetary relationships is the goal of Kabbalah Healing.

***

Disease requires of us humble receptivity, a suspension of our personal agenda in favor of the deeper currents of our unconsciousness.
Disease requires listening over doing, the active listening that art provides.

"Whatever you are doing, twenty-four hours a day, in all your activities, there is something that transcends the Buddhas and Zen Masters; but as soon as you want to understand it, it's not there. It's not really there; as soon as you try to gather your attention on it, you have already turned away from it. That is why I say you see but cannot do anything about it." Foyan

There is too much doing, too much directed action.
Disease, like grace, functions separate from personal effort.
Find the action which does not violate the negative space.
Be true to the disease.

***

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Israel in Egypt: Slavery and Redemption

When the Children of Israel were there, first as guests, then as slaves, Egypt was a technologically advanced civilization, much like our own. It was the height of sophisticated culture and science, the envy of the Mediterranean and the world. Egyptian engineering feats, pyramids and temples, still exist today. We know from mummies that doctors there performed brain, and it may be assumed many other types of, surgery. The fabled Library of Alexandria recording all of Egypt's less durable achievements and wisdom was tragically burned (by invading Muslim armies, who heated their baths with its papyrus scrolls for two years.) In Egypt human achievement was evident and glorified.

The Jews when they came to Egypt and while they had guest status there were shepherds; "And Pharaoh said to [Joseph's] brothers, 'What is your occupation?' And they said to Pharaoh, 'Shepherds of flocks are your servants, both we and our fathers.'" (Genesis 47:3) Forced by famine from Canaan into exile in Egypt, the Children of Israel were a pastoral people who became enslaved to Egypt's technologically advanced, urban culture.

The purpose of the Egyptian exile was to gather the sparks of holiness that had fallen there with the shards of the vessels of the World of Tohu (see Breaking of the Vessels). The "wealth" which the Children of Israel carried with them out of Egypt, "and they despoiled the Egyptians" (Exodus 21:36), were these sparks. The kabbalists assure us that of the 288 fallen sparks of Tohu the Jews redeemed 200 when they left Egypt. The current exile from the ideal state of residence in the Land of Israel is for the purpose of gathering the 88 outstanding sparks.

We also have become enslaved to human achievements, mesmerized by our technological advancement, lost in the manufactured byways of our cities and our minds. Nature heals. The resonance of a natural environment recalibrates our DNA. The Jews escaped Egypt and after their cleansing sojourn in the desert returned to the pastoral existence of their ancestors. Nature expresses G-dliness. Just as we cannot hope to be individually healthy while lacking a healthy relationship with others, so we must affirm our Unity with nature as a whole. Health demands that we have a healthy relationship with nature in our bodies (diet, exercise, sleep...) and in the natural environment (resource conservation, non-polluting lifestyles...) Here also, the microcosm mirrors reflects the macrocosm, our personal well-being reflects the health of the planet. Realizing and affirming the greater Unity of the world as a whole will solve the problems we face as a planet and usher in the Messianic Age.

The enslavement of the Children of Israel in Egypt and their liberation is the primary kabbalistic metaphor. Their oppression and their freedom from that constraint describes both the fundamental spiritual dynamic of the universe and the basic pattern of human experience.

Divinity gradually descends, becoming increasingly constrained until it is completely hidden in this physical world. Through our righteous behavior we liberate the G-dliness locked in physical creation, causing an ascent of that spiritual power. This ascent is an elevation to a level higher than that from which the spiritual power originally descended. This arousal from below causes a reciprocal flow of G-dliness from that higher level down to us.

In human terms, the challenges we experience bring us to a greater, richer level of existence than we had before we experienced the challenge. The exile into disease is for the purpose of redeeming the holiness there, to repair the damage that existed before the exile. As the kabbalists remind us, every descent is for the purpose of an ascent.

The Jewish exile in Egypt and the present exile (following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem) occur because there is spiritual work to be done outside of Israel. The perfection represented by life in the land of Israel is interrupted for the task of Tikkun HaOlum, Fixing the World. Our serenity, life as we think it should be, is disturbed because something needs our attention, an important task awaits us.

***

Disease challenges and refines us, drawing us away from ephemeral ideals towards practical fulfillments.
Disease is a way of revising our conscious life plan.
What we want is often not what is best for us.
What does the negativity want?
Use your imagination.
What does the negativity want?
It wants you to use your imagination.

"Once they have taken it up, they have already misunderstood; acting as if they were in charge, they do not realize Buddhism is not understood in this way" Foyan

Curing disease is neither possible nor desirable.
We cannot work on, cure or understand the darkness.
Find something else to do with the negativity.

We do not work on disease any more than a person sitting on an iceberg directs the berg with his paddle.
Deep ocean currents push against the nine tenths of the iceberg below the surface sailing it independent of the person's puny efforts.
You are not the captain.
Pay attention to where you are going.
Get the drift.

***

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Torah

"G-d looked into the Torah and created the world."

Torah is the life force that sustains existence. It is the structure and force of being. It is the laws of physics imagined long before they were formulated by Einstein and Newton. Torah is subatomic harmonics, gravity and the speed of light. It is the great energy field guiding the universe and our lives, what the Asians call the Tao. It is the pulse of the quasars and of our hearts.

The Torah directs all worlds, governs the laws and form of energy and mass in the physical universe. The Torah is the template and foundation of all the worlds, a blueprint for existence, so to speak. The Torah is the truth and essence of all levels of creation, spiritual as well as physical.

That the Torah comes from a place above tzimtzum and creation, from G-d's Essence is demonstrated by our epigram, "G-d looked into the Torah and created the world." That is, G-d looked into the Torah before creating. The rabbis tell us, rather cryptically, that the Torah existed for "2000 years" before the world was created, whatever a "year" was before creation.

This heavenly Torah manifests for our human understanding in the sacred writings of the Jews, the "Torah" as the word is more commonly used. This "earthly" Torah consists of the Written Torah (the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets and the Writings) and the Oral Torah, so called because it was originally transmitted orally (the Talmud and Mishnah.) The rabbis inform us that these sacred writings are but a single face of the Torah and that even this single face has 600,000 interpretations. These statements underscore our assertion that the Torah is the backbone of all dimensions and worlds, physical and spiritual.

This esoteric or heavenly Torah is quite different from the earthly, verbal manifestation of Torah. Judaism's sacred books deal worldly concerns, e.g., sheep, tithes, property boundaries. The earthly Torah relates history and expounds social laws. Still there are wonderful correlations between the two. Just as G-d "lowered" Himself into the attributes and garments of the sefirot so that we human might begin to understand Him, so He gave us in the earthly Torah a means to approach and begin to understand the transcendent wisdom of the heavenly Torah. The Torah we have in our sacred books is a reflection of the Torah as it manifests on the higher planes. Studying the books of the Torah, including rabbinic commentaries, including Kabbalah not only adds knowledge to the vessel of our mind, but refines the vessel, increasing its capacity and sophistication; not just new thoughts, but new ways of thinking. Torah study refines the person as a whole adding Light to his or her life and the world as a whole.

These sacred writings, this Torah, has been a light unto the nations, giving the world codes of justice applicable to kings as well as commoners, concepts of human rights and the worth of the individual, women's rights, animals' rights, hygiene, morality and so much more. The intricacy and elegance of the Talmud's legal arguments and the moral nature of the Jewish religion as a whole have won many gentile admirers and converts.

The Jewish intellectual, artistic and moral contribution to the world is nothing short of amazing. In the fields of the sciences, law, medicine, literature, commerce and more Jews have contributed far out of proportion to their fraction of the world's population. Jewish Nobel Laureates are unbelievably over-represented in every field. But just as the best fruit never leaves California, the really brilliant Jews never leave orthodoxy. Maimonides' body of work is astounding. The Rogochover Rebbe was said to be five times more brilliant than Einstein.

***


One cannot simultaneously "accept" something and "work on" it.
Working to change something is the opposite of accepting it.
Stop working.
Your disease is not a job.
It is not a problem to be fixed.
It is a message to be revealed.

We don't need to do something about disease; we need to do something with the disease.
We don't need to understand or figure disease out; we need to creatively interact with it.
We don't need to work on disease; we need to play with it.
We need to "play with" not "work on" the "inner child."
Write in a playful way.
Fancy not analysis is the rule.
It may be an ugly game or a sad game, but it is still a game.

You will not get to know someone if you believe that you already know him, especially if you believe that you already know him enough to change him.
You cannot begin a relationship with someone, or your disease, expecting them to change.
Abandon that knowing attitude and humbly, diligently pay homage.

***

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E=MC2

It is only relatively recently that science has perceived holism at work in nature.

The French scientist, Antoine Lavoisier demonstrated that while matter might change its form, it does not disappear; the smoke and ash that result from a log burning have the same weight as the original log.

Michael Faraday, the English experimenter, showed that magnetism and electricity are inter-related and correctly surmised that light itself is an electromagnetic force.

Einstein, the Jewish physicist, furthering the holistic efforts of his predecessors, proved that matter and force are kindred. In his famous Theory of Relativity he demonstrated that E=MC2, energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. Matter is just very dense energy. The release of that energy from matter has brought us, for better or worse, into the Atomic Age.

It is only a small and quite logical step to posit the existence of other forces beyond our current scientific understanding. Einstein, with his Unified Field Theory, posited a force that would unite all the known forces of physics. Kabbalists teach that that unity which so eluded Einstein's efforts, does, in fact, exist. The heavenly Torah, the Light of G-d unifies matter and energy, mind and emotions and all the as yet undiscovered forces of the Universe..

It is interesting to note that many laypersons and scientists in awe of Einstein's scientific work, so easily dismiss his firm belief in the existence of a G-d behind the laws of physics. In their view, the genius here is just being silly or old-fashioned. The religion of science is to not believe in G-d.

***

Disease is much bigger than us.
It is not inside of us; we are inside of it.

Don't hate your disease.
Be nice.
Be hospitable.
It's bigger than you.
It can kick your ass anytime it wants and has done so many times.
If it is not currently kicking your ass, it's just being friendly.
Be friendly in return.
If you are not currently in crisis, take the opportunity to improve your rapport with the negative through creative expression of the disease.

***


Aliya facilitates shuvah.

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Angels

Whether we are speaking of G-d's gender, emotions, sexuality, hand, face or any other anthropomorphism, it is crucial to understand that such terms do not apply to G-d as they do to us. They are only conveniences that point to Divine qualities that cannot be grasped directly. Such anthropomorphism are like someone's name written on a page, which while it calls forth something of the reality of the person does not really describe him or her.

Similarly, when we imagine angels we should remember that they are wholly spiritual beings. Despite Renaissance artistic imaginations to the contrary, they have no actual bodies or wings. Prophetic visions which speak of angelic forms are again employing anthropomorphisms to indicate that which is beyond our intellect and imagination.

The rabbis tell us that angels lack knees. That is, they cannot bend, they are inflexible, they do what they are told to do. The spiritual realms function mechanically, without free will; this choir of angels sings at 8:00, that choir sings at 10:00. When Jacob wrestles with the angel, the angel pleads, "Let me go for the dawn breaks." (Genesis 35:27) Commentators inform us that it was that angel's obligation to recite praises at dawn. In the spiritual worlds G-d's Will is revealed and all complies. This is something like having the answer sheet to the test; the angels do right because it is obviously the right thing to do. Only here in this physical world where G-dliness is concealed can there be free will. Only here where there is choice, where there is the possibility of doing otherwise do our righteous actions glorify the King. Our mitzvot (an arousal from below) draw down extra G-dly Light (an arousal from above) to us adding Light to the angelic realms on its way.

There are different classes of angels, seraphim ("fiery,") oophanim ("circles,") chayot ("animals.") Angels are G-d's messengers. The Hebrew word for "angels," "melachim," means "messenger." It is by means of the angelic hosts that G-d directs the world; "Not a blade of grass grows without an angel touching it telling it, 'Grow.'"

While some may take on human form, angels better resemble the subtle forces, the natural laws through which G-d directs existence. Kabbalah wonderfully anticipates the discoveries of modern science. What better way to describe the intricacies of physics, physiology, chemistry, etc. to a pre-scientific era than to speak of angels. And how better to explain the astounding, virtually impossible, precision with which the universe is suited for life than to speak about intelligent design, angels following the Word of G-d. (The "Anthropic Principle" is how scientists name the phenomenon wherein even a slight variation of the basic forces of the universe- nuclear weak and strong forces, electromagnetism, gravity, etc.- would result in a universe inhospitable to life or even physical matter.)

The universe is alive. The exalted heavens, fixed as they are by law and routine, are effected by our behavior here below. Earth, not heaven, is the ultimate spiritual arena.

***

In a garden when the first two cotyledon leaves of a plant appear, it is impossible to tell what type of plant it is,
Later we may have an idea, but still be unable to say whether it's a squash, pumpkin or gourd.
Later still, when the plant flowers, it may be clear that it is a gourd, but still we cannot tell what type of gourd it is until it further matures.
Disease is a plant that needs to grow.
Tend it.
Heap images on it.
See what fruit it will bear.

***

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Free Will

G-d created a world for us where we would have the choice to disobey Him. Through increasing concealment (tzimtzum) of His Light, G-d created this physical world, a world where it is possible to deny G-d. Angels, residents of the spiritual worlds, are automatons, they are robotic. Overwhelmed by Divine revelation they behave always according to G-d's Will. It is only here, in this dark world, where we have choice to do otherwise.

Free will requires independence, a sense of separation, otherwise there is no freedom. Dependency is the opposite of freedom. The world as we know it is composed of separate existences, different people, different things.

Free will is both a blessing and a curse. The sense of separation grants us access to both the highest and lowest realms; "The very highest light can become manifest only in the very lowest [state of being]." Siddur Im Dach Shaa HaLagBaOmer P.304b ff.

Oneness is most glorified when proclaimed in the midst of diversity. A candle has more effect in a dark room than in a sunny field; "There is an advantage of light [coming] from darkness." The sovereignty of the King is most affirmed here, in the most distant provinces of the realm. That is why G-d "desires a dwelling place in this low world."

Because we are separate, because we are free to do otherwise, we give G-d a lot of pleasure by affirming His Oneness. A gift of gold to a king is nice, but the king already has a lot of gold. A talking parrot, while not as grand as golden treasure, provides more delight, because it is unusual. Our service to G-d, affirming Unity in this world of separateness, is unusual. We are that talking bird, manifesting the highest light in the lowest state of being.

The negative side of free will is when we fail to voluntarily conform our will to G-d's, to make G-d's Will our will. The curse of separation is when we take it as reality rather than appearance. That is, when we deny or fail to see Unity, G-d's Unity in the world or our Unity with Him.

***

"I always tell you that what is inherent in you is presently active and presently functioning, and need not be sought after, need not be put in order, need not be practiced or proven. All that is required is to trust it once and for all. This saves a lot of energy." Foyan

Nurture the experience of being out of sorts.
Cultivate the imbalance.
Give the disease an artistic arena in which to perform.

Adopt a broader frame to see the whole picture.
Get a larger screen so that you can see what is being projected rather than having the image spill off onto the curtains.
Or, your face right up next to the TV screen you don't know what you're looking at.
You are confused because you do not see the larger context of your sufferings.

Manure too concentrated burns the plant, but when spread out it fertilizes the field.
Give the disease more room.
Allow it to unfurl and express itself.
Under the kitchen window manure is just stinky. Spread out on the back garden it gives you healthier, better tasting tomatoes
Spread out your shit. Get it away from the kitchen window.
Manure is valuable shit; shit in its proper context.

***

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Miracles

Broadly speaking there are two kinds of miracles; those that disrupt the natural order and those which do not. These are miracles above nature and miracles in nature.

Examples of miracles which disrupt the natural order include the Splitting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15-31) and the sun standing still for Joshua's army (Joshua 10:12-14). These are incidences when G-d suspends the laws of nature; water, instead of flowing downward, stands up in as wall; the sun's regular progress through the sky is halted.

G-d is essentially above natural law, above all scientific principles, above all distinctions. Through tzimtzumim He constrains G-dliness so that it functions within scientific laws, so that distinctions come into being. That is, the constrained G-dliness creates scientific laws.

An intervention of G-dliness from a level above the natural order disrupts the natural order. At the Splitting of the Red Sea the molecular properties of water and the law of gravity were altered. The revelation of a high level of G-dliness disrupts the lower level functioning of G-dliness.

Miracles of the other kind, miracles which do not disrupt the natural order are, in effect, hidden by the natural order. Because we live with them every day, we take for granted the miracles which sustain our ordinary existence, the growth of plants, the processes that maintain our bodies.

Rain falls, plants grow, the Earth spins, the atmosphere clings to the globe, your body metabolizes, all governed by a myriad of precise scientific laws and conditions the alteration of any of which would make life impossible. The coming together of so many conditions perfectly favorable to life suggests even to scientists the necessity of divine design. For example, if the Earth's gravity were greater or the atmospheric pressure more, life would not be possible (Anthropic Principle.)

That G-d can invest His divinity so that it functions in a concealed manner to sustain (and, in fact, recreate) the world every instant is a greater miracle than the Splitting of the Red Sea. Miracles which disrupt the natural order force nature to comply with miraculous requirements. Miracles in nature, within the natural order, elevate nature, connecting this world with G-dliness.

The G-dliness functioning in this world, restricted as it is by uncountable tzimtzumim, is, in some sense, greater than the G-dliness functioning in higher, spiritual worlds. As the rabbi's say, "There is an advantage to physicality." Revelation is the usual state for the Light of G-d; concealment of the Light requires an extra effort, so to speak, on G-d's part. Therefore, there is more G-dliness in the darkness than in the Light (Steinzhalts.)

This situation may be illustrated by the example of a teacher and his student. The teacher could just tell the student the answer (a miracle above nature), but the student derives greater benefit from working out the solution for himself (a miracle in nature.) The student learns more, incorporates the lesson better by struggling through the darkness, than by having his teacher gratuitously reveal the answer. Moreover, the student's effort in finding the answer inspires the teacher to teach him more. The question draws down a higher answer than the answer that would come without a question. It is the lack that calls forth a greater response. An arousal from below elicits an arousal from above.

The disadvantage of miracles which disrupt the natural order may be seen in the behavior of the Children of Israel after the Exodus from Egypt. They had just witnessed many miracles which disrupted the natural order; the plagues of Egypt, the Splitting of the Red Sea, the Revelation of the Giving of the Torah at Sinai. Yet despite these grand revelations of G-dliness, they complained, doubting G-d's ability to care for them in the desert, in regard to manna (Exodus 16:2-4), to water (Exodus 17:1-7) to meat (Numbers 11:18-35) and to His ability to help them conquer Canaan (Numbers 13:28-29). They even sinned against G-d by building an idol, a Golden Calf, at the base of Mount Sinai while Moses was up receiving the Law (Exodus 32). Those miracles which disrupted the natural order did not permeate their individual existences, did not change their worldly character.

We do not value that which is given to us as much as that which we have earned. That there are spiritual heights, as attested to by miracles which disrupt the natural order, is comforting and impressive, but we must realize G-dliness in our day to day lives. Conducting ourselves in a sacred manner in our personal, business and social affairs has greater effect than isolated peak moments of spiritual experience. "The Torah was not given in heaven; the Torah was given on Earth." Feeling holy on the Sabbath is easy; conducting oneself in a holy manner during the week is the real measure of spirituality.

***

That annoying black spot that you have been trying to rub off the page is microfiche, microfilm.
Magnify it.
What does it say?
Enlarge the disease.
Exaggerate.
Indulge.
Inquire.

Disease is like a word processing program that has not fully inflated from a compressed state.
It is frustrating and time consuming to get stuck in the unexpanded area, but we do not want to trash that part of the program.
Expanding it we discover that it is the spell check and the word count and that makes our life easier.

***

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Heaven/The World to Come/Olam haBa

Heaven, or as the Kabbalists call it, the World to Come/Olam haBa is where the soul receives the rewards of the Torah learned and the mitzvot/righteous activities performed while it was incarnate. The Light elicited by our righteous behavior cannot be fully appreciated while in a limited and limiting body; the Talmud declares "the fruits of which man enjoys in this world, while the principal [reward] remains in the World to Come." The nature of this reward is said to be the enjoyment of the Radiance of the Shechinah/Ziv haShechinah.

Mitzvot and "learning" form "garments" for the soul so that it can tolerate the Radiance of the Shechinah without losing itself therein; the tendency being for the soul to merge with the Radiance and cease to exist as an entity. These "garments" might better be thought of as equipment. Much as a scuba diver uses special equipment to explore the ocean, the soul uses garments to tolerate the Radiance of the Shechinah. As with more equipment, fins, wet suit, extra oxygen tank, etc. the diver can go farther and deeper, so with more mitzvot the soul can approach closer.

In the Ethics of Our Fathers (4:17) we learn "One hour of repentance/tshuva and good deeds/mitzvot in this world is better than all of the life of the World to Come." That is, this physical world is the ultimate spiritual arena, having great advantage over the spiritual realms.

In contrast to this physical world where Divinity is concealed, the World to Come is characterized by a revelation of G-dliness. This is true not only of heaven, but also of the Messianic Age, also referred to as the World to Come. Merit accrues only when there is a choice involved, a decision. The Messianic Age is like having the answer sheet to the test; the right answer proves nothing. Then justice and goodness will prevail because these will be obviously the Will of G-d.

Not in heaven, not in the Palace does obedience to the King most reveal His Glory. It is precisely here in this dark world where G-dliness is concealed that following the Will of the King most reveals His Sovereignty/Malchus. This principle also illustrates the paradoxical superiority of the World of Action over the "higher" spiritual worlds and hints at the superiority of action over the more refined realms of emotion and intellect as discussed above (0000000000)

This principle applies in Kabbalah Healing; it is not in the heights of heaven that salvation is found, but in the depths of the earth. Not the ease, but the disease leads us to healing. Not the ecstasy, not the smooth sailing, but the difficulty and storm contain the greatest worth.

***

"If people recognize false thoughts and deliberately try to stop them, it's because you see that there are false thoughts. If you know you're having false thoughts and deliberately practice contemplation to effect perception of truth, this is also seeing that there are false thoughts. If you know that falsehood is fundamentally the path, then there is no falsehood in it." Foyan

There is no falsehood in disease.
If you know that disease is fundamentally the path, then there is no falsehood in it.
The body creates the disease.
Leave well enough alone.

Something is required, but it is not your manipulation.
Disease needs expression.
Like heated, subterranean, volcanic forces, disease requires a vent or it will explode.

Become an advocate for the dark.
Give voice to the negativity.
Feed it.
It's hungry.

***

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Fear of G-d

The kabbalists speak of two levels of Fear of G-d, lower and higher. The lower level Fear of G-d is the ego-centered fear of punishment, reprisal for wrong-doing. The higher level Fear of G-d is a caution not to be separated from the Love of G-d, the wholeness and goodness of the Cosmic Order.

The rabbis say that love and fear are the wings upon which our mitzvot and prayers fly to G-d. Without these emotions our righteous activities cannot ascend to the same spiritual heights; that is, their effectiveness is limited. The wingspan of love and fear covers, tip to tip, the range of emotions.

Love implies closeness, intimacy, union. Fear implies respect for distance and difference. We can love only that which is familiar, that which we know. We only fear that which is dissimilar, that which is beyond us. Imagine a king who is loved and feared; loved for his beneficence towards his kingdom and held in awe for his power, a power far transcending that of any individual.

These days fear is not a "spiritually correct" emotion. None the less, it is very natural. Nature is full of frightening experiences; walk unwittingly close to the edge of a cliff and you will feel a very useful, purposeful fear; lightening that strikes very close by stimulates fear or awe in even the biggest fan of thunderstorms. Negative emotions, like fear and awe and anger are as vital for balanced living as are the positive more "spiritually correct" emotions. Anger isolated is problematic. Blended with love it is discipline.

When we are loving G-d, when we feel G-d's love, we act according to His will, affirming the Unity of existence. But what about those times when we don't feel the love? What happens when we feel, depressed and separate, unloved? Then it is (at least) that we need fear. We need to be afraid, to be careful not to deny the Oneness of creation. In the absence of positive motivation (love) we need negative motivation (fear) to conduct ourselves in a G-dly manner, following mitzvot.

G-d is love, but G-d is also a lot of other things besides love. Fear is a humbling experience. It puts the personal self in perspective. Love can lull us into inattentiveness, laxness. Fear keeps us on our toes, alert, active, vigilant, mindful of the dignity and importance of the other

The word "awesome" is so misapplied and trivialized in our culture today because we have lost touch with that which is truly awesome. Awe implies deep concern and respect and is an appropriate emotion before G-d and our disease.

"The beginning of wisdom is the Fear of G-d." The beginning of learning is to know that there is something you don't know. The beginning of healing is to respect the disease. To believe there is in that which bothers you something to be learned. What has it come to tell us?

***

Computerized noise reduction is accomplished by broadcasting the same sound wave one-half phase off, so that as one wave rises, the other falls. The two identical opposing waves cancel each other out and nothing is heard.
Like cures like.
The disease done creatively becomes the cure.
Treat disease homeopathically rather than by contraries.
Unplug your ears. Listen, and memorialize what you hear.

Disease doesn't need or want to be captain of the ship, but it's tired of being kept under the deck and if it has to grab the helm to get attention, it will.

***

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Reincarnation

Reincarnation, the transmigration of souls, is part of Jewish doctrine. The second blessing of the Amidah, the core of the Jewish prayer service, ends, "Blessed are You, G-d, L-rd Sovereign of the Universe, Who revives the dead."* (*While this principally refers to the revival of the dead during messianic times, it also alludes to the ongoing process of reincarnation.) The soul returns for successive incarnations to rectify/tikkun blemishes upon it caused by sins, actions which separate us from the Unity which is G-dliness.

For sins committed against or through the means of the animal or vegetable world, for example, cruelty to animals or overindulgence in eating, a soul may have to endure reincarnation as an animal or plant. This is to say, that animals, plants and even stones have a degree of soul.

Story:

A childless couple visited a rebbe to ask for a blessing that they should have a child. Each time they came he put them off, asking them to return later. After many such visits he gave them the blessing.

A child, in fact, was born to them, and, as you might imagine, was the apple of their eye. However, tragedy struck when at the age of three the child mysteriously died. Returning to the rebbe, with a respect which could not conceal their distress, they inquired, "What kind of a blessing did you give us?"

Compassionately the rebbe asked them to sit while he told them a story:

"Once upon a time in one of the murderous Cossack raids upon a defenseless Jewish village a newborn infant was kidnapped and brought back to a Cossack woman whose baby had just died. Half-heartedly she nursed the child.

Several years later a Jewish merchant noticed this obviously Jewish child in the Cossack company and for a price purchased him. He was adopted by members of the Jewish community and grew to become a great rabbi.

Many years later, when that great rabbi died, his soul while ascending through the heavenly realms was stopped by a barrier, an impassible ceiling. A voice informed him, 'Your proper reward is much higher, however, the unclean years you spent with the Cossacks have created a blemish on your soul which prevents your further ascent. You may reside here or return to Earth to rectify that blemish.'

"Your child," the rebbe informed the grieved couple, "was the soul of that great rabbi. The three years he lived with you was the tikkun/rectification his soul needed to atone for the three years he spent with the Cossacks."

***

The inscription over Jung's door at Bollinger reads, "Invited or not the gods will attend."
You may not like the disease, but it's not going away.
Invited or not, the horror will attend.
It has a right to be here.
The ancient Greeks would ask the sibyl, the wise, old woman,
"To which g-d do we need to pay homage to relieve our affliction?"
Pay homage to the maddened gods.
Freud observed that the repressed remains primitive.
That is to say, disease becomes worse if we attempt to ignore it.
Ignoring the obvious makes matters worse.
It is easier to have rapport with a sophisticated, articulate disease.
It's easier to know what is required.
Confusion needs expression, needs to be heard, practiced.

***


 The Shechinah is associated with the sefira Malchus.

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Collective Soul

Judaism is an eastern religion, coming as it does from the Middle East. Eastern religions and philosophies place less emphasis on the individual than does our western culture. Mystical Judaism, Kabbalah emphasizes the collective aspect of soul. This group soul is referred to by the term Kenneset Yisroel/the Congregation of Israel.

Soul is a collective phenomenon. All our souls derive from the first Man, Adam. Prior to that, the souls of the Children of Israel share a higher Unity in the Ein Sof/the Infinite G-d. Further, even now soul is shared. The overblown sense of individuality which is at the root of so much suffering in our day to day existences, is even less applicable to the world of soul. The phrase "my soul" is an oxymoron.

Kabbalah informs us that the soul is a composite, a conglomeration, an amalgam. It is not homogenous or of uniform structure, but is made of parts and pieces. These little soul bits combine to form a whole soul the way letters combine to form a sentence, or sentences combine to form a chapter, or chapters to form a book, or, more accurate in degree of complexity, the way books combine to form a library.

These soul bits come together in a particular incarnation/gilgul (from the Hebrew "rotation", as in "the wheel of birth and death") that best suits the spiritual tikkun/rectification which they need to accomplish, purification or development. Following that incarnation they may form associations with other pieces of soul for another incarnation that again best suits their needs. They recombine, singly or in groups with other soul bits from other incarnations. That is, some sections of the library, some shelves, or some books may go on together while others go alone. (As regards the souls of the completely righteous/tzaddikim, the entire library may stay together or not reincarnate, residing instead in the spiritual Garden of Eden. Additionally, these may be new souls, never before incarnated.)

Our unity with other life is dramatically reinforced in that it is likely that bits of our souls were united or will be united in other incarnations (and certainly were united in Adam.) (Interestingly, this disintegration of the soul as a whole with the soul bits going on to various, multitudinous new incarnations accounts for the phenomenon in "past life regression" wherein different contemporaneous individuals all remember being the same historical personality.)

The strong sense of self, the overwhelming personal identification that plagues of selfish society, with its problems of loneliness, alienation and lack of meaning, is rectified by the understanding that the soul is not truly personal; our soul is not really our soul.

***

Learn the language, the vocabulary of disease.
Become fluent with your negativity.
Allow that destruction style and grace.
Make way.
Make a way for the disease, creatively.
Make a place to do the disease.
You may have to do your poverty, but it's better to do it in your journal than in your bank account.

Disease has gotten a bad rap.
It needs better public relations.
If it weren't for my sense of inadequacy, I never would have accomplished so much.

It is not so much the disease, but our relationship with the disease that is the problem.

Disease is a wise old mentor and we act like a wise-ass, know-it-all kid.

***

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Five Levels of Soul

The soul is a composite also in another regard. There are in fact five souls. These are, in ascending order:

Nefesh (life force)
Ruach ("spirit")
Neshamah (soul)
Chaya ("living")
Yichidah ("the One")

Not all five souls become invested in the body. Nefesh, the most fundamental soul is the animating force of animals and plants. Even inanimate nature, e.g., rocks and water, has nefesh. Many, if not most people only access the level of nefesh and even then, not necessarily in a holy way. The levels of ruach and neshamah are associated with the emotions and intellect, respectively. It is a rare person indeed who has his or her emotions and intellect directed towards holiness. The higher two levels of soul, chaya and yichidah remain in the upper realms, hovering, as it were, above the person.

When our lives are proper vessels/kelim, more soul fills them. As we increase in holiness higher levels of soul become resident in us and our world. This higher perspective imbues our experience with increasing meaning and purpose. The reverse is also true; as we, G-d forbid, violate the order of the universe through sin, the denial of Unity, then soul withdraws from us. G-dliness manifests when we make a place for it. An arousal from below stimulates an arousal from above. G-d desires a dwelling place in this lower world.

The Jewish soul has its source in the very essence of G-d, the Ein Sof. Descending through the process of hishtalshulus it at some point issues to become invested in a body. Moses' most lofty soul issued from Chochma/Wisdom of Atzilus/Emanation and consequently was not subject to lower tzimtzumim.

It is this essential connection, indeed, identity, between our soul and G-d that allows our soul to transcend the order of hishtalshulus and bind directly to G-d. This is what takes place during the performance of mitzvos, whether or not the coarseness of our self allows us to feel it.

***

Disease has purpose.
Disease is complete and meaningful.
Disease isn't stupid.
It isn't a mistake.
Disease is not broken and doesn't have to be fixed.

Disease isn't due to a character flaw.
Take it easy on yourself.
Loving the "bad" person that you are is a necessary stage.
Respect yourself, particularly your negativity.

The meaning of life comes from the meaning of our limitation, disease and death.
Without death life would be without meaning.
We must expand our imagistic vocabulary to appreciate the meaning of our disease.
Art is the only language rich enough to encompass the meaning of the negative

Disease has an ecology.
It is a complete system.
One must look at the whole picture and not intervene in a piecemeal manner.
Take a holistic perspective.
Find the images that make up the whole picture.

***

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A Map of the Soul

Kabbalah describes the patterns, the continuum of existence, giving order to what otherwise might seem random. Kabbalah provides us with a map of the soul, the hierarchy of our own experience serving as a key to the larger workings of the universe. Our own experience demystifies the cosmos.

Corresponding to the five levels of soul (nefesh, ruach, neshamah, chaya, yichidah) are the five general realms of human faculties; action, emotion, intellect, will, delight. There is a hierarchy of these functions, the higher (the latter) directing the lower (the former.)

Action: From one perspective action is the least spiritual experience. Dry, routine action, performed without emotion, intellect, will or delight is almost robotic, hardly human. The rebbes tell us that love and fear (awe) are the wings which elevate our performance of mitzvos and that without these emotions our sacred behavior remains at a relatively low spiritual level. We are all familiar with the hollowness of actions performed without feeling.

However (and this is another paradox, another turning things upside down that Kabbalah delights in) from another perspective, as our rabbis remind us, "Action is the main thing." Great good intentions without practical follow through count for very little. Action proves and improves the intention. Doing something shows you care more than reams of pretty words. Sacred behavior transcends our emotional appreciation and intellectual conception, making us an agent of the King as we perform the Divine Will and in so doing render G-d delight. It is precisely when we perform the Will of the King without understanding or appreciation that we are most expressing G-d's sovereignty, His Kingship/Malchus; "The very highest light can become manifest only in the very lowest [state of being.]" (Siddur Im Dach Shaar HaLagBaOmer P.304b ff.) In terms of Kabbalah Healing it is to be observed that it is in regards to the disease, where we lack understanding and appreciation, that the greatest enlightenment is to be found.

That action has a superior influence on psychology can be seen in the improvement in studying derived from straightening out the desk or the improvement in mood from a brisk walk.

On the Tree of Life action is associated with Malchus/Kingship. Asiyah is the World of Action. Action is associated with nefesh.

Emotion: Emotions, as the word implies, move us. They motivate behavior. They give purpose and strength to our activity. Emotion directs action. Emotion contains a subtlety and refinement compared with the coarse mechanical nature of action.

On the Tree of Life emotion is associated with the six sefirot Chesed/Kindness, Gevurah/Restriction, Tiferet/Beauty, Netzach/Victory, Hod/Splendor and Yesod/Foundation. These are referred to as the middot/emotions (literally "measures.") Collectively they are referred to as Zeir Anpin/the Short Countenance or the Holy One Blessed Be He or sometimes simply Tiferet after their central sefira. Emotion is associated with ruach.

Intellect: Intellect is a higher psychological function than is emotion. Intellect ought to direct emotion. Intellectual appreciation adds to our emotional response; the more you know about something the more you can like it or dislike it. Intellect is more sophisticated, more refined and complex than emotion. Emotion is a more animal response, while intellect is human. Emotion can inform thought, motivate it; impassioned intellect does have its advantages over cold calculation. (Note that it is possible to have thought without intellect; the thought, "I am hungry" is an example of nonintellectual thought.)

As noted above, in the World of Tohu animals are higher than man, still in this World of Tikkun human qualities are superior, more refined.

On the Tree of Life intellect is associated with the three sefirot Chochma/Wisdom, Binah/Understanding and Daas/Knowledge. These intellectual faculties are collectively known as sechel and are also referred to by the acronym ChaBaD. Intellect is associated with neshamah.

Will: Will/Ratzon is a desire for something. Will or desire is essentially above intellect/sechel. Intellect may inform or enhance will; we may understand that or why something is desirable. For example, a music connoisseur's desire to hear a piece of music may be enhanced by an understanding of the theory behind its composition or a knowledge of its historical roots. However, fundamentally ratzon is above sechel; someone's desire for chocolate has nothing to do with knowledge of its molecular configuration or how the cocoa plant grows. Will directs intellect, not the other way around.

On the Tree of Life will is associated with the lower half of Keser/Crown, namely, Arich Anpin/the Long Countenance. Will is associated with chaya. As mentioned in the preceding section chaya is an aspect of soul which is apart from the body, hovering, as it were, above it. Its association with Keser/Crown is appropriate since the crown rests above the head, body.

Delight: We desire (will) something which gives us Delight/Tainug. Desire directs Will/Ratzon. Physical pleasure is very limited. For example, hunger for food or sex (in healthy individuals) is easily satiated and then we don't want any more. The pleasure from emotional stimulation is less limited. Still after one scary movie or one afternoon with a loved one we may have had enough. Intellectual pleasure is deeper still, harder to exhaust. Then there are pleasures which are above intellect, for example, listening to music or admiring the beauty of nature which are seemingly inexhaustible.

The kabbalists assure us that the greatest pleasure is that of the soul uniting with G-d. This occurs each time we do a mitzvah. So great is this pleasure that it transcends our ability to feel it, limited as we are by our coarse physical existence. These unperceived pleasures are stored up for us and are the reward we receive in the World-to-Come. The Lubavitcher Rebbe once remarked, "If the seekers after worldly pleasures knew how much delight was in the Torah they would follow it."

Delight/Tainug on the Tree of Life is associated with the upper half of Keser/Crown, namely, Atik Yomin/the Ancient of Days. Delight is associated with yichidah. As with chaya, yichidah also not resident in the body so its association with Keser/Crown is again appropriate since the crown rests above the head.

It should be obvious that, although for the purpose of explanation we have considered them separately, there is a rich, varied, dynamic interaction between these five basic spheres, action, emotion, intellect, will and delight.

***

There is an economy to disease.
If you do it here, you don't have to do it there, but it will be done.
Creatively interact with disease rather than blindly acting it out.

Get past the denial.
Accept the pain.
It is what it is.
After so much denial now it is time to indulge the obsessive point of view.
"I have no time to speak right now," the Griffin said to Alice, "I have to go uglify some things." "I'm afraid I don't know what 'uglify' means," replied Alice. "Do you know what 'beautify' means," the Griffin responded. "Yes," answered Alice. "Then you're a fool for not knowing what 'uglify' means," retorted the Griffin. (Alice's Adventures Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll)
Uglify

***


Hochma can be found in retreat.

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The Animal Soul/Nefesh Behamis and the G-dly Soul/Nefesh Alokis

Kabbalah emphasizes that we humans have two general natures "G-dly" and "animal." Our G-dly nature corresponds well with what neurology has learned about our higher brain centers; ideally these higher centers mediate the drives of the brain's lower centers. These lower centers include urges common to all animals, feeding, fighting, fleeing and mating. Ideally these higher centers, what the Kabbalists call our G-dly nature, elevate our animal nature so that we eat moderately and healthily, we fight for just causes, we flee from reckless danger and our mating involves unions of the heart and mind as well as the flesh.

Our nefesh/vital soul is actually dual. Each of us has an Animal Soul/Nefesh Behamis and a G-dly Soul/Nefesh Alokis. Our G-dly soul craves spiritual experience; our animal soul desires things of this world, food, sex, sleep, etc. This duality of souls is paralleled by a dichotomy of inclinations, the Yetzer Hara/Evil Inclination and the Yetzer Tov/Good Inclination. Man acting like an animal is immoral, evil.

Unlike certain other religions it is not the annihilation of the animal nature that is recommended. It is easy to feel holy in a retreat from the world, in a cave or ashram. However, the greater accomplishment is to make the world, or at least our part of it, holy, to take the passions of the animal and direct them towards the G-dly. This conversion of the animal to G-dliness enlists the animal's strong nature. These animal passions are inherently stronger than our G-dly nature in the same way that an ox is much stronger than a man. The animal goes swiftly, single-mindedly and with great brute force towards its goal. The superior strength of this animal nature is evident in the strength with which people follow their lower brain centers; eating, fighting, fleeing and mating wrongly, unconsciously.

The ideal is to have the G-dly influence of the G-dly Soul influence and convert the Animal Soul to G-dly ways. The animal drives for things of this world become imbue with divinity, used for good. This is what is referred to at the start of the first paragraph of the Shma. "And you shall love the L-rd , your G-d with all your heart" (Deut. 6:5), with both your inclinations good and evil.

So it is with the destructive passions of our lives. In a friendly harness their power is turned towards creativity. Properly incorporated into the larger family of self these formerly wayward, disease-producing influences reveal themselves as assets in our evolution. But remember, you must make the change; if you want them to act more creatively with you, you must act more creatively with them.

"When the sitra achra [the "other" or "evil side"] is subdued the Holy One, Blessed Be He, rises upwards and is exalted in His glory. In fact there is no worship of G-d except when it issues forth from darkness, and no good except when it proceeds from evil. The perfection of all things is attained when good and evil are intermingled and then become totally good, for there is no good except if it issues out of evil. By that good His glory rises, and that is the perfect worship." Zohar II:184a. See also ibid., 67b and 128b; Tanya I: ch. 27

***

"When people do not understand an answer, they produce views based on words. They do not know that it is something which you answer for yourself- what truth have you found, and where does it lead? Therefore, it is said, 'It's all you.' Look! Look!" Foyan

Truth is a creative process.
What do you make of it?

We are born like a mansion.
Our many rooms represent a great variety of being, perception and potential.
From birth we become effected by other people's valuations of our many rooms.
We are rewarded for entering some and discouraged from dwelling in others.
Eventually we come to forget about whole wings and floors of the mansion.
We come to regard ourselves in a limited way.
We cannot see ourselves beyond our habits, our habitual ways of being.
Mind is conditioned.

There are ghosts running through the neglected rooms of our psyche.
Those frightening rooms also contain treasures of joy.
Along with the repressed fears are repressed joys.
Our childish fear prevents us from discovering childish, simple joys.

We make a contract not to go there.
Perverse loyalty to counterfeit relationships prevent us from accepting genuine ones.
We don't want to go back and look at what was.
The light of genuine emotion would highlight the falsehood of the past.

***

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Self Sacrifice/Mesiras Nefesh

Mesiras nefesh is martyrdom, sacrificing one's life rather than denying belief in the One G-d. While Jewish history tragically overflows with such martyrs, these days, thankfully, we are called to a different, less bloody sacrifice of self.

Mesiras nefesh involves going beyond our self, our limits and understandings. Like the prince in the provinces obeying the king's edicts far removed from the seat of his sovereignty, it is precisely when we affirm Oneness in the face of separateness that we most serve the King. When we go beyond our "comfort zone," venturing beyond our ego-centered prejudices and obsessions, beyond our habitual responses, then we may discover something new. When our faith in the meaningfulness of existence empowers us to sacrifice our small selves, then we consciously become part of the greater whole. Bringing this idea down to earth, examples from our daily lives abound; foregoing its tasty pleasure and saving the last piece of cake for someone else, refines and heightens your sense of pleasure in life itself; giving time or money to someone in need instead of frittering it away on yourself brings a return greater than previously possible; moving forward with matters at hand rather than procrastinating fretfully is its own reward; the benefits of exercising are more enjoyable than the satisfaction of lying around.

Mesiras nefesh involves bitul/self-nullification. It is the sacrifice of who we think we are in favor of what we can be. It is the loss of ego-centered existence with all its problems and limitations in favor of a greater, more inclusive identity. It is the death of separateness and the birth of Unity. Mesiras nefesh, whether it involves the sacrifice of ego or actual bodily existence, is a refusal to be separated from the Unity which is G-d.

First you must understand that you do not understand. This is called humility. To know that there is something to be learned is the beginning of knowledge. The old man* (*Lao Tsu) deemed "Darkness within darkness, the gateway to all understanding." You may know now what you didn't know then, but you don't know yet what you don't know yet. You know what you know (only what you already know.) Be quiet and learn.

***

In the desperation of disease we pound our head against the wall until it cracks open.
Inside the crack we see what turns out to be a doorknob.
Now deliberately breaking off plaster we uncover a doorway long ago sealed over.
We are a mansion with doorways plastered over, rooms lost, whole wings forgotten.

"Search for the coin in the river where you lost it." Wen-yen

The door has always been there.
The key is hidden in the one place we refuse to look.
We are so ashamed, so convinced of the worthlessness of our disease that we avoid exploring its recesses.
The key is the pain and does not need to be healed.
What tree is falling in your psychological forest are you not hearing?
Listen, dance, paint.

***

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Yearning and Retreat : Ratza v'Shuv

Whereas western thinking tends to see opposites as contradictory, mutually exclusive, eastern philosophy views them as, mutually dependent, complementary, two halves of the same whole. Where the west idealizes the triumph of one over the other, e.g., light over dark, the east posits their coexistence, as the yin-yang symbol beautifully illustrates.

The prophet Ezekiel (1:14) had a vision "And the [heavenly] creatures ran/ratza and returned/shuv." The prophet saw angelic hosts run up towards and then retreat down from the Divine Throne.

The rabbis explain that ratza/yearning and shuv/retreat represent two phases of spirituality. Ratza is the yearning to approach the transcendent. It is the burning desire to leave behind the physical and unite with the infinite greatness of G-d. Shuv is the understanding that G-d's Infinite Essence is manifest also in the physical world. This is the realization that Oneness manifests amidst the seeming diversity of this world.

Earlier, in the section Peace in Heaven, we discussed the opposites of fire and water being united in the upper realms, above the level of differences. Ratza, the burning desire is associated with fire, the heart and the sefira Binah/Understanding. Shuv is associated with water, intellect and the sefira Chochma/Wisdom.

Following the principle "As above, so below," we observe that this heavenly ebb and flow of ratza and shuv has its parallel in our earthly experience. There are peak moments. These are times when we are "in the zone," where everything is going our way, easily. At these times it is easy to believe in the goodness of existence. Then, on the other side of the coin, there are the dark, difficult, down times. The prophet's report of goings on before the Divine Throne comes to us to affirm that both the up and the down are part of the heavenly cycle. The ease and the disease are both meaningful phases of our worship and our personal development. Meaning and purpose exist as much or more in the ebb as in the flow. As the psalmist witnesses, "From the depths I call to you G-d." (000000)

***

Disease is a treasure-laden time-capsule containing all that has been lost, repressed and denied.
All the selves that were not allowed to be are there waiting to be explored.
Face up to the witch and get the treasure.

Disease can be a process of enrichment.
The hollowing out wrought by disease results in an increased capacity, an opening to a greater level of psychic organization.
Find a medium with which to creatively explore.
Cooperate with the process.

***


Zen is in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont

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An Arousal from Below Stimulates an Arousal [a response] from Above

As below so above. Our attitude in this world "causes" a corresponding attitude or response in the spiritual realms. As the Zohar explains, "when a person meditates in this world, a spirit is transmitted to him from on high. The type of spirit depends on the desire to which he attaches himself. If his mind attaches itself to something lofty and holy, then that is what he transmits down to himself. But if his mind attaches itself to the Other Side [evil], and he meditates on this, then that will be what he transmits down to himself.

They said, 'It all depends on word, deed and the individual's desire to attach himself. Through these he transmits downward to himself that side to which he becomes attached.'"

When we act kindly here below, then we elicit kindness from above. When we behave meanly, the Universe acts meanly with us. You reap what you sow, instantly. As Leonard Cohen poetically puts it, "I forget to pray for the angels, and then the angels forget to pray for me." The ego-centered small consciousness/mochin dekatnut finds reason to justify its selfish, narrowness. Mochin gadlut/expanded consciousness rewards us with an expanded definition of self.

The kabbalists refer to this arousal from below/arusa d'latata as the Elevation of the Feminine Waters and to the arousal from above/arusa d'lamayla as the Drawing Down of the Masculine Waters. That is, when we take the things of this world, the Shechinah in Exile (the sefira Malchus/Kingdom, the "feminine") and use them in a holy manner, this draws down (through the particularly "male" sefira, Yesod/Foundation) a fertilizing response from the spiritual worlds. This is "the Unity of The Holy One, Blessed Be He, and His Shechinah." When we affirm the unity of our experiences in this seemingly diverse world we thereby elevate those experiences. The bitul/negation of self or separateness involved in mitzvot/sacred behavior and consciousness elevates our lives, our world.

The kabbalists describe two levels of love for G-d, lower and higher. The lower level of love is within our reach. This is love based on an appreciation of the goodness of G-d in our lives. The higher level of love for G-d is an ecstasy beyond our mortal understanding. It is an intuition of the absolute greatness of G-d. This higher level love is itself a gift from G-d. In accordance with the principle that, "an arousal from below stimulates an arousal [a response] from above," when we do our best to love G-d, then G-d grants us a love beyond our best efforts.

Our inner, psychological environment determines our perception of our external environment. External reality is largely a reflection of state of mind. The mind is not a blank, receptive screen, but an active interpreter of impressions. That is, perception is not a passive, objective process. It is interpretation. State of mind determines experience. In the most real sense through our psychological attitudes we create our own reality. Secular philosophy along with modern physics and brain research tend to agree with this assertion of relativity.

It is attitude, then, rather than our circumstance which determines the quality of our life. Our appraisal of external events for better or worse determines our sense of well-being. "It all depends how you look at it." What you think is going on is going on, until you change the way you think. Changing our attitude changes our world. By missing or taking advantage of the opportunities abounding in each moment we set ourselves up for disappointment or fulfillment.

***

Light is brighter on coming out of the dark.
After experiencing the night there is an increased capacity to enjoy the day.
The darkest hour is not only right before the dawn, the darkest hour brings the dawn.

The crest of a wave is only as high as the trough is deep.
When the wave bottom hits the ocean floor then the wave crest breaks.
A deeper bottom results in a higher top.
The psyche is not sadistic.
It does not demand our attention to torment us. It calls us back to authentic living lost long ago in the blanket process of denial.
The pain was repressed, but so were essential joys.
Remembering the pain remembers the joy. Re-member the pain; assemble its pieces, its members into a whole.

Cultivated, disease transforms, if not like a caterpillar into a butterfly, then like a larva into a moth, or, at least, a maggot into a fly.
Get wings.
Realize the benefit, the wisdom inherent in your disease.

Disease taken in stride transforms from stumbling blocks into stepping stones.
To make it from one stone to the next you need momentum. You cannot jump and stop. You need to keep skipping.

***

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Indwelling and Encompassing Light : Memalay and Soviv

Until now we have been discussing the process of the series of tzimtzumim/constriction of the Light of G-d's infinite, undifferentiated essence, Or Ein Sof. We have seen how this process generates the four spiritual worlds (Atzilus, Beriah, Yetzirah, Asiyah) and culminates in the creation of this physical world. This process of serial tzimtzumim is referred to as hishtalshulus/the "chaining down" of the worlds; each step is directly connected to the step above and below it like a link in a chain. The Divine Light or Energy which comes down through this orderly process of hishtalshulus is referred to as Memalay/Indwelling. It is "light" which descends according to the recipient's capacity to receive.

There is another flow of Divine Light which is not subject to the restrictions of hishtalshulus. This is Soviv/Encompassing Light. This Light does not fill or dwell in the vessel, but surrounds it. Because it is encompassing it is not limited by the recipient's ability to receive. Hishtalshulus with Memalay/Indwelling Light is the ordinary working of creation; Soviv/Encompassing Light is extraordinary influence, derived from above creation.

The soul and the Torah with its mitzvot/commandments have their roots in levels which also transcend creation, even the creation of Atzilus/Emanation, the highest of the spiritual worlds. The source of the Soul and Torah is even above the Infinite Light of G-d/Or Ein Sof (G-d as He makes ready to create.) They are rooted in G-d as He is for Himself, the Ein Sof/the Unending.

Because of our soul's root and the revelation of the Torah, it is possible through the performance of mitzvot to draw down Soviv/Encompassing Light upon oneself and the world. The Light of Soviv bypasses the channels of hishtalshulus, the sefirot with their measured capacities and ordered relationships. Descending from its place above creation to us, soviv skips over the sefirot, encompassing or surrounding the four spiritual worlds.
We all have experienced something resembling the soviv phenomenon. Confronted with an extraordinary intellectual insight or emotional influence we are inspired in new directions or to new heights; the light from beyond takes us beyond ourselves. Later, however, the insight or influence dims and the inspiration fades. The bright light of soviv is unable to dwell with us.

The profound implication of this is that there exist truths and influences beyond our ordinary understandings. Kabbalah Healing encourages us to make room in our worldview for what we don't know. Those extraordinary influences often upset the too narrowly drawn equilibriums of our egocentric perspectives. The upsetting influence, which we call disease, is often a higher order of revelation attempting to dawn on us.

***

Locomote, move, with greater ease.
Navigate.
It doesn't have to be so paralyzing.
Just let go.
Enjoy the ride.
It's not your job to fix it.
Stop trying.
You're not the cook,
Just taste the soup.

Disease is closing the windows of our house on a hot summer day.
The ego, complaining that the house will get hotter, rushes around opening them.
Eventually disease overpowers the ego, punching it in the belly.
Then the ego, lying on the floor, catching its breath with the windows closed, realizes for the first time that the house has air conditioning.

***

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Judgment and Repentance: Din and Tshuva

The physical world functions on the principle of spiritual reward and punishment. When, through the performance of mitzvot/sacred activities, we align ourselves with Oneness, Divinity we draw down onto ourselves through hishtalshulus, the normal mechanism of creation, increased G-dly Light, Influence, Blessing from a source beyond all created realms, from G-d Himself, the Ein Sof/Infinite G-d.

When we sin, through behavior that violates or denies the Unity of creation, the system of G-dly influence becomes, so to speak, constipated. Sin causes an immediate loss of G-dly influence/sustenance. Due to our unworthiness as a recipient there is a reduction of Light flowing to us. G-dly light, unable to flow down, backs up onto each progressively higher level of creation. This blockage up through hishtalshulus comes to effect, in a manner of speaking, the Ein Sof, G-d Himself. Also, this increased distance from G-d renders us coarser and therefore more likely to sin again.

If one affirms the Oneness of creation through righteous behavior/mitzvot, there is reward. If one violates the Oneness of existence through breaking commandments/mitzvot, then there is punishment. The reward is a closer association with the Oneness and the punishment is separation and alienation. Rules are rules; lose an opportunity to gain reward or do something to incur punishment and that's that, end of story. That is Din/Judgment, the ordinary dispensation of existence, the way it is.

Tshuva /repentance, however, transcends the natural order of creation. It rectifies the loss of G-dliness caused by the sin, transcending Judgment/Din with its system of reward and punishment. Tshuva draws down the Encompassing Light/Soviv which bypasses the ordinary route of the Indwelling Light/Memalay of hishtalshulus, superseding the rules of Judgment/Din.

Tshuva guarantees forgiveness, granting pardon from whatever punishment would normally be associated with the wrong-doing. So, for example, whatever spiritual suffering would be inflicted for failure to help another in need is suspended. But what of the merit or spiritual reward that would have accrued to the person for having helped the needy individual? The rabbis tell us that so great is the power of heartfelt Repentance/Tshuva that it is counted to the penitent as if he had actually performed the missed good deed.

The Hebrew word for "repentance," "tshuva," actually means, "return." Atonement is a return to the G-dly way from that which distanced us. It is a turning away from sin. It is a greater at-one-ment with G-d.

Soviv, the special Light of G-d added to creation through Tshuva is unavailable through the normal channels of hishtalshulus. Paradoxically then, the repentance of sin enhances creation in a way that would not be possible if there were no sin at all. Noting this, our sages observed, "In the place of the Baal Tshuva/penitent the perfectly righteous cannot stand." Indeed, the Baal Tshuva brings a fiery enthusiasm to his service in contrast to the steady coolness of the righteous, who has never sinned. The Baal Tshuva brings the passion of the sin into the service of G-d, converting evil to good.

A person should not say then, "It is too late. The opportunity is gone. My sins have overwhelmed me." An extraordinary mechanism is built into the system to deal with the ordinary consequences of our actions.

***

"When you were infants you also heard sounds and saw forms, but you didn't know how to discriminate. Once you came to the age of reason, then you listened to discriminating thinking, and from that time on have suffered a split between the primal and the temporal." Foyan

Living is fundamentally a non-intellectual activity.
Essentially experience cannot be apprehended by thought.
Be one with your experience.
Find something else to do with your mind besides thinking.
Art over analysis.

"Live in the land of thought yet untouched by thought." Foyan

The thinking self is not the inherent definition of our being.
Do something with your experience besides analysis.
Stop trying to explain it away.
Life defies analysis.
Thinking about life is at best a poor second to living it.

"They are shrouded by the light of knowledge, attached to an extreme of knowledge." Foyan

Every understanding is an approximation.
All scientific theories are models, inevitably subject to revision.
Disease is relative.
Nothing is written in stone.
Negativity all depends on how you look at it.
Here there is no objective truth.
Poetry provides us with a richer vocabulary with which to interpret experience.

If you could have figured it out, then already you would have figured it.
Pick a new strategy.
Become creative with the negative.

***

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A Descent for the Purpose of an Ascent: Yiridah Storich Aliyah

The kabbalists attest that every descent is for the purpose of an ascent. As we have seen in the section immediately preceding, the Baal Tshuva/Penitent has an advantage over the righteous who has not sinned, that the repentance of sin enhances creation in a manner which not sinning cannot accomplish.

As we have seen in our previous discussion regarding Sparks, the purpose of the present exile of the Children of Israel is to redeem or elevate the Sparks of Holiness which have become mired in the coarse materiality of this world. When we connect with the Divine potential locked in this world and elevate it through sacred behavior we liberate it, revealing G-dliness in the world and in ourselves.

Note, that the tikkun/rectification, which results from the Gathering of the Exiled, Divine Sparks, is of a higher order than before those Sparks were lost. The Sparks ascend to a level higher than that from which they fell. Before the vessels of the World of Tohu could not handle the Light that flooded them and they broke. The repaired vessels of Tohu will withstand the Light. There is an advantage of redemption in comparison with the pre-exilic state; "Every descent is for the purpose of an ascent," an ascent, that is, higher than the pre-descent state.

This paradoxical principle, descent for the purpose of an ascent, is seen in the ball which must be drawn back before it is thrown forward and the spring which when compressed and released jumps high. It also may be compared to a person who appreciates something more after it has been lost and returned to him than he did before it was lost.

The phenomenon of ascent from descent is aluded to in the saying, "The advantage of light from the darkness." This notes that the effects of a candle are more noted in a dark room than in the daylight. That is, G-dliness manifested, by the penitent in darkness (distant from G-d) has an advantage over G-dliness expressed in a righteous environment (as seen in our earlier metaphor of the prince in the province.)

We see the principle of a Descent for the Purpose of an Ascent/Yiridah Storich Aliyah at work in our daily lives; a challenge forces us to rise to the occasion; adversity requires us to make a greater effort. Psychologically we are called to revisit past traumas to remember, forgive and reclaim the strength and ability to love which was lost among the pain. Physiologically we observe that an immune system which has overcome an infection is stronger than an immune system that has not been infected.

***

"The non-duality of initial experience and fundamental reality is called ultimate enlightenment." Ashvaghosha

We experience beauty directly.
We find the painting beautiful or not.
Our aesthetic response to experience is usually obvious, immediate, visceral.
We don't have to think whether we like a taste or sound or smell.
Experience ought also to be immediately visceral, not merely intellectual.
Stop watching life. Live it!
We must re-experience our lives.
We must acquire an artistic approach to our experience.
Write to your negative experience.

***

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Oneness

" Hear, O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One." (Deuteronomy 6:4) This is the central credo of Judaism and the heart of Kabbalah. The greatest infinity, G-d, is One.

"The end is wedged in the beginning and the beginning is wedged in the end." Oneness is in infinity and infinity is in the One, in each one of us. The Light of the Greatest Infinity/the Or Ein Sof animates our souls and this world. Even after infinite tzimtzumim, the Or Ein Sof (the Light of the Unending) is still the Or Ein Sof, simple and unchanged; "I, the L-rd, I have not changed." In fact, tzimtzum is a process of concealment, not of modification. G-d's infinite Light exists everywhere equally. It is just hidden from us so that we and the world can exist with all our drama.

The world with all its diversity evolves from a G-d of simple, undifferentiated Oneness. The dynamic of creation is for the diversity to affirm Oneness. That the (seemingly) separate should recognize Unity is the intent of creation. When the pieces become whole, when we join together with others, with our experience (including our disease) and our planet, our Oneness stimulates a response from G-d; this is in accordance with the principle, "An arousal from below stimulates an arousal [a response] from above." When we do our best to affirm Unity, then G-d blesses us with a sense of Unity beyond our best efforts.

Oneness is wholeness. Wholeness is health. Wholeness yields context, place, meaning, purpose. Healing comes from taking the fragments of our life and assembling them into a meaningful whole; putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Separation is disease. The cancer cell forgets that it is living in an organism. It functions as an independent life, out for itself, reproducing madly. Disease is disassociation, disintegration. The piece outside of the whole is prone to extremity, imbalance. Disease is imbalance. Healing is integration, parts meaningfully related in a whole, threads of various colors woven into a tapestry.

" Hear, O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One." (Deuteronomy 6:4) Most simply this is an affirmation of monotheism, wherein an integrated divine plan underlies and sustains all of creation. All is one, whole, interrelated, unified, complete. This is in contrast to a polytheistic world view, in which perspective the world is fragmented, composed of separate pieces unrelated to each other. Experience is disordered, disintegrated. Things don't make sense. The great variety of life competes with each other.

From a Jewish point of view, especially from a kabbalistic perspective, everything is from and of G-d; "Ein od milvado/There is no other, nothing else besides G-d." Even our evil inclination derives its sustenance, albeit in a very indirect way, from G-d. Even the sparks of holiness that sustain evil can be redeemed. In fact, this is the essence of Kabbalah Healing. Evil is a necessary option in the world G-d created. Without it there would be no free will. The idea of the devil warring with an all-powerful G-d is absurd. In Jewish tradition Satan is a loyal servant of G-d; how can a servant come and work against master's plans, especially when his master is all-powerful? According to Kabbalah, Satan is doing the divine will, challenging us to stimulate our best efforts, calling us to account for our failings.

The goal of Kabbalah Healing is to demonstrate unity, to reunite that which has become separate. Mystical Union with the Divine is the goal of Kabbalah practice. Realizing the organic oneness of our experience is healing, Kabbalah Healing.

***

"Those who seek for the truth should realize that there is nothing to seek....Thoughts perpetually change and cannot be grasped because they possess no self-nature." Ma-tsu

Truth is often very hard to determine.
It is a slippery fish.
Aesthetic is stronger than knowing.
Beauty over truth.
The universe, including disease, has an aesthetic.
Art, painting, writing, dance, etc., are non-intellectual ways of paying attention to disease.
Art not analysis.

Life is tragic.
Death, loss, sickness, pain, the simple passing of time all contribute to the tragedy that is living.
The ancient Greeks knew this and wrote plays about it.
Find the images that describe the tragic nature of experience.

Life, tragedy, beauty, truth and disease cannot be essentially understood.
We are not required to figure out our disease, only to creatively engage it, to tell a story with it, to find a context that includes it, a mythology that encompasses it, a cosmology that gives it place.
Story over analysis.
Stop analyzing and write a poem.

***

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Thought, Speech and Deed

Kabbalah is about relationships. It diagrams existence. The relationship between, the hierarchy of thought, speech and deed is a case in point. By our first reckoning thought is the most exalted faculty, followed by speech, then deed.

Deed is the lowest of the triad because it is physical and slow. Materiality is dense and cumbersome. Speech, on the other hand, is fluid, quick, elegant. Reinforcing this hierarchy the rabbis note that you can speak about many things that you cannot do. The common wisdom about the pen being mightier than the sword is just as true for the spoken word as it is for the written. Thought is even faster and more refined than speech. It is possible to think about things which cannot be put into words or for which words are at best cumbersome, imprecise agents. Also, while it is only possible to speak about one thing at a time, one can entertain thoughts on multiple subjects at once. Thinking is therefore, according to this reckoning, the supreme human faculty.

However, by a second reckoning the hierarchy is inverted. If I have thoughts that I love you, that's well and good. However, if I tell you I love you, that's better. And, if I save you the last piece of cake, that's best. Again, meaning to help is a good thought. Offering to help is better than just thinking. But showing up and actually helping with the work is incomparably superior than merely intending or offering assistance. Modifying the adage, "Put your mouth where your intention is." And, again, "Thought is cheap."

According to this second hierarchy action is the chief faculty. In deed the kabbalists remind us, "Action is the main thing/purpose." This is in accordance with the principle that the revelation of G-d's sovereignty/kingship is best accomplished in this most distant world, and then by the most physical of human faculties, action. This is attested to by the kabbalistic dictum, "Last in action, first in thought." Just as a person first has in mind living in a house, the end stage, and only then goes through the lengthy process of designing and building and furnishing the structure; so the creation of the spiritual realms is all for the purpose of our mitzvot/righteous behavior in this physical world. This physical world is paradoxically the ultimate spiritual arena. "The end [our righteous behavior] is wedged in the beginning [G-d's first desire to create the spiritual and physical universes.

"The very highest light can become manifest only in the very lowest [state of being]." Siddur Im Dach Shaa HaLagBaOmer P.304b ff.

Kabbalah is full of paradox and these inverted hierarchies. An order is demonstrated and then reversed. This has the effect of a mental gymnastics. The rug is pulled out from under you and everything lands exactly opposite, upside down. These inversions produce not just new thought content, but new ways of thinking, larger ways of thinking that can include multiple points of view, new thought structures that can incorporate and harmonize opposites, a holistic mind.

***

"The true nature of ignorance is the very nature of enlightenment; the empty body of illusions and projections is the very body of realities." Grand Master Yongjia

Children are very good at not knowing, at not understanding, at being confused.
Children do not assume that they are supposed to know.
Adults are very uncomfortable not knowing.
They strive to understand.
They pretend to understand when they don't, obscuring experience with superficial labels.

The nature of darkness is that you don't know.
Love it; you don't have to know it.
Stop looking for explanations.

***


tree

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The Four Levels of Life

Physical existence is divided into four levels:

1) mineral/domim ("silent")
2) vegetative/tsomaiach
3) animal/chaya
4) human/m'dabir ("speaker")

The hierarchy of this world, Tikkun/Rectification, is that plants derive their sustenance from earth (mineral) and that animals derive theirs from plants and that man takes sustenance from all. In the World of Tohu/Chaos, that preceded the creation of this world, the hierarchy is reversed, with inanimate nature highest. The World of Tohu, it will be remembered (see, Shattering of the Vessels,) could not withstand the G-dly light which infused it and its sefirot shattered. As when a wall topples, the highest parts are thrown the farthest. So the hierarchy which existed in the World of Tohu was reversed in this World of Tikkun.

Man can be sustained by mineral, plants and animals because the vegetative and animal realms are in their root and source (in the World of Tohu) higher than his. This reasoning also explains how it is that while the Animal Soul is lower than the G-dly Soul in this World of Tikkun, due to its root being higher in the World of Tohu, it has advantages over the G-dly Soul even in this world.

These reversible hierarchies of the four levels of physical existence in the Worlds of Tikkun and Tohu are manifest in the construction of the Tabernacle, the Sanctuary in the wilderness/the Mishkan and in the Temple in Jerusalem/the Beis Hamikdash, respectively.

The construction of the Mishkan reflected the hierarchy of the World of Tikkun. The mineral comprised its lowest level with its foundation sockets of silver and its floor of earth. Intermediately, its walls, made of cedar wood, derived from the vegetative world. Highest in its construction, its roof was coverings made from animal hides.

The construction of the Beis Hamikdash, floor, walls and roof (except for necessary support beams,) was of stone. This reflects the higher World of Tohu wherein the mineral is the highest level. This construction of the Temple in Jerusalem reflects the Messianic Era when all the sparks associated with the broken vessels will be redeemed and the World of Tohu will be restored.

***

Socrates claimed to be the wisest man because he knew that he didn't know, whereas others thought they knew, but didn't.
The more you know, the more you know you don't know what you know.

Adults jump to arbitrary conclusions attempting to avoid uncertainty.
As Dylan sang, "We all sit here stranded, but we're all doing our best to deny it."
Tolerate ambiguity.
Stop pretending to know. Poetry allows us to engage without knowing.

***

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The King's Banquet

Once, a king made a regal banquet for a group of his subjects, ordinary people. The table was set with golden plates, jewel-inlayed goblets and silver candelabras. The king presided over the event sitting at the head of the long table.

When the king rang a crystal bell sitting on the table before him, servants appeared bearing carafes of the finest wines which they poured into everyone's goblets. When the king rang again musicians came in and began to play. And so it went all evening, late into the night. Each time the king rang the crystal another course of food or new entertainers appeared.

Finally it was time to leave and the king announced that each guest could take one thing home with them as a memento of the event. Some took a gold plate, some a jewel-inlayed goblet, some a silver candelabra. One guest went up and took the king by the arm, indicating that the king himself is what he wanted to bring home.

Another guest took the crystal bell and returned to his village with it. The very next day he invited many guests to come to his home for a sumptuous dinner later that week. The night arrived, the guests did too. All were seated around the set table with their host at the head. In front of him sitting on the table was the crystal bell. Beaming with pride, his eyes glittering with anticipation, the host lifted the bell and rang it.

Nothing happened. He rang again. Again nothing. The guests looked puzzled, but not as puzzled as their host. Again and again he rang the bell, but the servants and the entertainers and the food and drink never appeared as they had at the king's table.

Let us not be like the foolish guest, who takes the bell, mistaking the physical things of this world for the source of happiness and blessing. Instead let's imitate the guest, who takes hold of the king as his memento, recognizing that behind the desirable things of this world is the King, G-d.

***

"Right now if you are questioned and cannot speak, where is the fault? It is generally because of seeing forms where there is no form, hearing a voice where there is nothing said, forcing rationalizations where there is no reason, asserting control where there is no control." Foyan

Not everything can be thought.
Thinking is overrated.
Knowledge is overrated.
I know now what I didn't know then, but I don't know yet what I don't know yet.
The mind cannot understand the mind.
Disease is not inside of us, we are inside of it.
We cannot understand disease because disease is greater than we are.

There is too much doing, too much making, too much effecting.
Feelings are apprehended through receptivity, not doing.
When you tumble under the water, disoriented, don't flail about madly, relax, wait to discover which way is up.
Discover the truth of disease through creatively engaging it.

***

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Prayer: Speaking to G-d

You have to ask for what you need or want. Prayer is a drawing down. It is the creation of a vessel which G-d can fill, a particular vessel, depending on the particular prayer. Prayer affirms our connection with G-d; His powerful involvement with our lives and our worthiness to benefit from His concern. It is good to talk with G-d and to listen for His answer.

Prayer is the central mystical rite of Judaism. It is a mystical vehicle. The Jewish prayer book or siddur is essentially a kabbalistic manual. At its heart is the Amidah/The Standing Prayer. "A hundred and twenty elders, among whom there were many prophets, drew up eighteen blessings [the Amidah] in a fixed order."

Ideally, prayer is a meditative experience. The Talmud/Oral Tradition informs us that the ancients used to take three hours for each of the three daily recitations of the Amidah; one hour of meditation to develop the praiseful attitude necessary to pray the Amidah, one hour to recite the Amidah and one hour to return to normal consciousness.

In our day, the Jewish prayer service starts with Verses of Praise/Pesuke d'Zimra. These psalms inculcate in the worshiper a sense of the greatness of G-d. Then follows the Shma, "Hear, Oh Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One" with its following two paragraphs, arousing our love and fear of G-d. Next the Amidah is recited. It is said facing Jerusalem, standing with feet together in imitation of the angelic hosts, in an audible whisper, ideally with eyes closed and hands over the heart. The Amidah is followed by a "cooling off" period. This section contains various psalms and other compositions. There is a wealth of wisdom in the blessings of the Amidah, outside the scope of this current work.

Jewish tradition informs us that in prayer our attitude should be that we are approaching and then, during the Amidah, within the presence of an all-powerful monarch. This beneficent sovereign is the source and sustenance of our lives. Our prayers and supplications are effective at drawing blessings into our lives when we identify and align our being, our soul with its source in G-d.

Sincerity and joy/simchah provide the necessary attitude/kavanah for effective prayer. Love and fear are the wings on which our prayer flies upward.

The main dynamic of prayer is talking to G-d. It is an arousal from below intended to stimulate an arousal from above. Think of it as calling home, of asking for help, of saying thank you. Prayer helps to sanctify our awareness. We align ourselves with the spiritual truth behind our physical existences. Through heartfelt prayer we move away from the consideration of our ego-personality and reside more in expanded consciousness/mochin degadlut. Prayer is designed to facilitate a mystical unification of the worshiper with the Divine Order, with G-d.

Kabbalists have taught that heartfelt prayers of your own composition are particularly effective, particularly loved by G-d. Whether from the Jewish liturgy or your own heart or both, pray. It is good to pray on awakening and on retiring. It is good to thank G-d before and after eating. It is good to thank G-d for the proper functioning of our body and for the wonders of the world around us. It is good to pray for yourself, for others, for the planet. The kabbalists assert that prayer is best spoken, since speech is more physical than thought and serving G-d in this physical world is our primary mission; "There is an advantage to physicality."

***

"As soon as you accept and approve anything, recognizing it as your own, you are immediately bound hand and foot and cannot move. So even if there are a thousand possibilities, nothing is right once you have recognized, accepted and approved it as your own." Foyan

We must surrender what is ours in favor of a greater being.
Abandon your ego, at least, temporarily.

The hero has an agenda, knows what needs to be done and does it.
The arrogant hero conquers and captains.
The heroic ideal is made possible by the naive belief that science, i.e., "knowledge" can encompass and order our experience and solve our problems.

Hercules kills Proteus.
The hero reduces multifaceted reality to permit single-focused action.
The heroic archetype covers a tiny fraction of our experience; heroism is so rarely an option.
Adopt a less hostile attitude to the unknown.
Be less directed with disease.
Give it space, time, voice.

***

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Personal Prayer

At a time when spirituality was felt to be the exclusive domain of scholars the Chassidic movement came and taught that the heartfelt prayer of the common person is very dear to G-d. The founder of this revolutionary ideology, the Baal Shem Tov/Master of the Good Name would ask the common folk he met how they were doing just to hear them respond with "Thank G-d," a miniature prayer. At a time following particularly demoralizing persecutions, the antinomian philosophy of Chassidus swept through Russia and Eastern Europe revitalizing Judaism with its message of the importance of every person's personal relationship with G-d. Most effective, perhaps, in conveying the joy of the movement were the Chassidic stories like the one which follows regarding individualized prayer.

The Baal Shem Tov, a miracle-working rabbi, was, as was often the case, traveling alone and incognito through the countryside. As the summer evening approached he knocked at the door of a humble Jewish farmhouse and asked if he might spend the night. The farmer somewhat apologetically explained that at this time of year the barn's hayloft was more comfortable than the cramped, stuffy farmhouse. Taking the farmer's offer the Baal Shem Tov retired to the hayloft where he arranged the blankets his host provided him on a bed of straw and spent a comfortable night.

After waking and saying his morning prayers the Baal Shem heard a person praying from the Passover prayer service. There on the other side of the hayloft he watched and listened as a fellow traveler, after reciting a few pages, closed his prayer-book/siddur. The Baal Shem greeted his companion and tactfully inquired of the man why, since it was not Passover, he praying from the Passover prayer service? The man explained that he was ignorant of how to use the prayer-book properly so he just read through it, praying a few pages each day until he finished it, and then began again.

The man's face lit up when the Baal Shem Tov's offer to show him the proper order of prayer. This they accomplished by inserting pieces of straw between pages to mark the various prayers. After sharing breakfast together the Baal Shem walked resumed his journey.

The man's great joy of at last having the order of prayer in his hands was lost when he dropped the prayer-book, dislodging the pieces of straw. Picking up the siddur and reverently kissing it, he descended from the hayloft and started off after the Baal Shem with it in hand.

Off in the distance he observed the rabbi at the bank of a wide stream take a handkerchief from his pocket, spread it on the water, step on it and glide across the stream to the other bank, dry-shod.

Drawing closer to the rabbi, the man came to the stream-bank, took a handkerchief from his pocket, spread it on the water, stepped on it and glided across the stream to the other bank, also without getting wet. Catching up to the rabbi a short while later, he panted, "Please rabbi, I dropped the prayer-book. Please show me the proper order of prayer again." Taking the siddur the rabbi noticed that the man was dry and asked him how he had crossed the stream without getting wet. "Well," the man naively explained, "I saw how you crossed and I did the same." Returning the prayer-book to the man the Baal Shem Tov assured him, "You just keep praying as you have been."

***

"When you want to manifest it by the light of knowledge, you've already obscured it." Foyan

Disease cannot be forced into your ordinary categories, your usual ways of knowing.
The problem is the way we think about it.
The way we think about the problem is the problem.
The way we think about the problem precludes solution.
The problem is the way we think.

"Learning Zen is called a gold and dung phenomenon. Before you understand it, it's like gold; when understood it's like dung." Foyan

The greatest spirituality is to be found in this physical world, commonly, like dung.

The way we think about spirituality is a problem.
The way we think about soul is a problem.
The way we think about health is a problem.
The way we think about disease is a problem.
The way we think is a problem.
Change you personal mythology.

"It is just that you avoid what is right before you." Foyan

The biggest obstacle to realizing G-d is our conception of G-d.
You use your considerable intellectual powers to confuse the hell out of yourself.

***

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Wordless Prayer

Another "Baal Shem Tov story" goes even further in affirming the possible superiority of personalized service to G-d over traditional forms of prayer.

Here we find the Baal Shem Tov leading the prayers in his synagogue on the Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur. At the close of this solemn fast day, the culmination of the Ten Days of Repentance/Tshuva, the fate of individuals and the community is sealed by the heavenly court; "who shall live and who shall die, who shall be at rest and who shall wander, who shall be tranquil and who shall be harassed, who shall enjoy well-being and who shall suffer tribulation, who shall be poor and who shall be rich, who shall be humbled and who shall be exalted; but repentance, prayer and charity avert the severity of the decree."

The congregation spends the whole day in synagogue praying in heartfelt repentance for whatever failings they have suffered. At their head is the Baal Shem, the miracle working rabbi, who has the ability to close his eyes in meditation and visit heaven. As the day draws to a close, the sun sinking towards the horizon* (*the Jewish day ends at first darkness) the Baal Shem Tov, on his returns from his heavenly visits, looks increasingly worried. Taking their cue, the congregation increases the fervor of their prayers. This intensification of prayer continues through the last waning hour of daylight, until the crying and pleading fills the synagogue with an unbearable tension.

Particularly unbearable to a little five year old boy, sitting next to his father in the middle of the room. This was his first Yom Kippur in synagogue and even though he was not fasting and couldn't quite comprehend the nature of the distress filling the room, he felt it acutely. Unable to read from the prayer-book or form his own personal prayer, he yet felt the overwhelming need to join his voice to the pleas of his neighbors, to add his wordless prayer to that of the Baal Shem's, who looked so worried up there in front of everyone.

In his pocket the little boy had a forbidden object, a whistle. On Yom Kippur it is forbidden to carry and, even more so, to play a whistle (or any other musical instrument.) There and then, the air in the synagogue dense with the impassioned, resounding prayers of the congregation, the little boy put the whistle in his mouth and blew a loud, shrill blast.

There was silence. Stunned, confused silence reigned as everyone stopped praying and all eyes turned towards the little boy, who was quite sheepishly taking the whistle from his mouth: whistle in synagogue on Yom Kippur!? Yet even before they could assess the sacrilege of what they had just heard, they heard another equally confusing sound, the laughter of the Baal Shem Tov. Turning their now doubly perplexed faces towards the front of the room, they witnessed the happy smile and continued joyous laughter of their spiritual master.

Between laughs the Baal Shem explained to his bewildered congregants, "There was a terrible decree against us in heaven for the coming year. Up until now the gates of heaven were closed to our prayers for mercy. The sound of this whistle has opened them!"

***

The thinking self is not our primary self.
The thinking self, the ego, isn't the hub of a system of selves.
Thinking is peripheral, not central.
The ego is not the hub of your experience.
Change the primary coordinates of your identity. Identify with the negative.

"Inside your body and outside in the physical world, every phenomenon is the original reality - nothing is not it." Foyan

Disease is also the original reality.
Negativity is valid.

The self that imagines disease to be the problem ought not to be taken as the primary coordinate, the measure of all things.
We would do well to identify our selves with the full spectrum of our being and perception.
The self that imagines disease to be the problem is itself the problem.
Imagine the disease.

***

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The Name YHVH on the Tree of Life

The Tetragrammaton, the four-letter name of G-d, is spelt yud, heh, vav, and heh, YHVH. This Name can be placed across the Tree of Life.

The first letter, yud, is associated with the sefira Chochma/Wisdom. The letter yud is a point, a tiny stroke from whose repetition, at various angles, all other letters are drawn.

Chochma/Wisdom is the original inspiration the germ of the idea, the seminal drop. The second letter, hay, is associated with the sefira Binah/Understanding. The hay has length and breadth just as understanding provides exposition of the germ of wisdom. The first letter of Binah, the beis, is closed on three sides with a dot in the middle. This symbolizes the seed of Chochma/Wisdom, the dot of the yud, within the womb. Binah/Understanding (as mentioned above, see Divine Sexuality) also known as Ima/Mother is female in relation to the maleness of Chochma/Wisdom, also known as Abba/Father.

The third letter, vav (which is also the number six,) is associated with six sefirot of Tiferas (Chesed/Kindness, Gevurah/Restriction, Tiferet/Beauty, Netzach/Victory, Hod/Splendor and Yesod/Foundation,) the middos/emotional faculties referred to collectively as Zeir Anpin/the Short Countenance or the Holy One Blessed Be He. The maleness of this station may be inferred from the letter vav's phallic shape.

The fourth letter, the second hay, is associated with the sefira Malchus/Kingship and so also with the Shechinah. Like the first letter hay it is also considered feminine. Recalling the kabbalistic meditation/kavanah recited before the performance of mitzvos (see Divine Sexuality,) "For the sake of the union of the Holy One, Blessed Be He with His Shechinah, to unite the Name yud-hey with vav-hey in a perfect union in the name of all Israel." The union of Abba and Ima produce blessings for Zeir Anpin. The union of Zeir Anpin and the Shechinah produce blessings for the world.

***

No amount of logic is going to cure or fix it.
It is a fixation.
It's okay to not be able to fix it.
Not being able to reconcile things is okay.
Just pay the problem attention; you don't have to fix it

Life is a series of irreconcilable circumstances.

"Enlightenment is always with people, but people subjectively pursue things." an ancient

Your subject appraisal does violence to experience.
Explaining the feeling does violence to the feeling.
Thinking is not integral to the solution, it is part of the problem.
Make a place to experience the feeling creatively.

"You should realize there is someone who does not seek to know." Nanji

Your truest self is okay with life's ambiguity.
There is no possibility of understanding your problem.
There is no reward for doing so.
Even if we could, just figuring out the problem doesn't fix it.
Stop your whoring after truth.
Thank G-d we can't figure it out; how boring life would become.

If you feel responsible for fixing the problem, then you have two problems, the problem and your belief that you are responsible for fixing it.
It loses a lot of hellishness when you stop trying to figure it out.

***

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Names of G-d

YHVH
The Tetragrammaton, the four-letter Name of G-d, is usually translated as "the L-rd." Its proper pronunciation is unknown and not attempted. Its English equivalent is Jehovah (which should also probably not be pronounced.) In Hebrew it is euphemistically pronounced "Adonoi" ("master" or "lord") and then only in a sacred context, i.e. a blessing, prayer or Torah reading. In common conversation we add another level of euphemism and say, AdoShem or HaShem ("the Name.")
YHVH is the Name of G-d above or before tzimtzum, G-d as He exists transcendent of the natural order, unaffected by hishtalshulus. It is the Name of G-d associated with the sefira Chesed/Kindness and the right column of the Tree of Life. Chesed is characterized by generosity and expansion, the opposite of the restriction and limitation (gevurah) of tzimtzum.

AloHiM
ALoHiM, which outside of a sacred context is pronounced with a "k" sound rather than an "h" sound, is usually translated as "G-d." It is the name of G-d in nature, involved in the differentiations of tzimtzum and hishtalshulus. It is the Name of G-d associated with the sefira Gevurah/Severity and the left column of the Tree of Life.

[It should be strongly emphasizes that these distinctions in G-dliness, these different aspects of G-d are apparent only from our limited perspective. G-d remains the same both before and after the creation of the spiritual and physical world; "I, the L-rd have not changed.]

Hebrew has no separate characters for numbers. The first letter of the alphabet, aleph equals one. The second letter, beis equals two and so on through ten. The next nine letters equal twenty through one hundred respectively, and similarly thereafter. Each Hebrew word then has a numerical equivalent. Through the process of gematria/numerology Hebrew words with equal numerical equivalents may be said to share some meaning.

The numerical equivalent of ALoHiM (aleph=1, lamed=30, hay=5, yud=10,mem=40) is 86. Eighty-six is also the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word for "nature," HaTaBa* (hay=5, tes=9, beis=2, ayin=70. The ayin is silent, not pronounced.) AloHiM is G-d as He comes into nature, having undergone the restriction/gevurah of tzimtzum.

***

"The knife does not cut itself, the finger does not touch itself, the mind does not know itself, the eye does not see itself." an ancient

The mind is a slippery fish.
Thoughts keep changing.
According to the Buddhists, a belief in consistency is one of the first illusions of mind.

The brain is a reducing filter, damping down millions of visual, auditory, tactile and other sensations each second.
The brain copes by stereotyping perception.
Thinking is even more stereotyped.
Buddhism teaches, "The mind is conditioned."
Be suspicious of your take on the situation.
You've misunderstood.
Stop jumping from conclusion to conclusion; explore the wilderness.
Follow the signs.
Find the images.

"What is actual is true and what is true is actual." Chao-chou

There is no "thing," separate from you to be thought of, to be apprehended by logic.
It doesn't exist as a separate entity, an "it".
Things are not the way they seem to be.

The problem is irrational, not subject to understanding.
A chaotic, illogical system can't be figured out.
Disease doesn't make sense.
If analysis were going to work, it would have worked already.
It is a failed strategy.

49
We become trapped in our childish experience of the world.
Not admitting our childhood experience of pain we are doomed to endlessly recapitulate that pain.

If you can't remember your childhood, rest assured it still remembers you.
If you can't remember your past just look around.
If you're not in touch with your feelings, be sure that they're still in touch with you. Disease remembers the things that our ego would like to forget.
Pay attention to what gets in your face.
Write a poem

***
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