Thursday, June 5, 2014

Awe of the Lord

The awe/fear of the Lord [Yirah Adonai] is the beginning of Wisdom [Jokmah].
(Proverbs 9:10) [1]

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who in the first century A.D was entrusted with the revelation of the soul of the Torah, stated the following in reference to the “fear of God” and the proverb of Solomon:
Then began Rabbi Simeon to discourse on the secret doctrine. "In the beginning created Elohim" (Gen. I. 1). These words are included in the first commandment which is known as "the fear of the Lord", the first step in the acquiring of true wisdom and knowledge. It is also called the beginning because it is the true gate through which we enter into the higher mysteries of the divine life and is the foundation upon which the world exists. There are three kinds of fear, two of which are of no avail in the search after truth, and have no reference except to bodily or physical enjoyment and delight, and the preservation of wealth, and therefore are altogether unmeritorious. True fear is that affection [awe] which arises from a feeling of reverence toward the Holy One as being all powerful, the rootless root of all life and existence and in whose eyes the illimitable universe with all its inhabitants are as nothing. This is the fear which when exercised tends to bring nearer the time when the divine will shall universally prevail throughout the world. [2].
Recalling the article Prayer, Respect of the Lord and Remorse (published on Easter 2013), the wrongly called “Fear of God” is neither “fear to God” nor “fear to offend God”, but the awe or reverential respect inspired by the love towards the Eternal One, after becoming deeply aware of something so sublime, vast and inefable that makes us see our selfish insignificance; or else the fear of the Lord can also refer to the state of helpless nakedness in relation to the Divine Light, whenever there is some form of transgression or misbehavior. And such conscious fear might lead to conscious remorse.

The awe before the sublime helps the aspirant to walk through the narrow path of righteousness, out of reverential love, rather than fear to be punished. 

The sublime is the “absolutely great", the “last ground of the self”, as Emmanuel Kant points out in his Critique of Judgement [3], where he also refers to that combination of “fear” and “wonder” lived when immersed in the grandiosity of Nature. Strangely enough, despite being a heavy intellectual, in that treatise on Esthetics, he even came to admit that such a subtle feeling reveals something else, a “noumenal or supersensible self”, which has its own activity: “to think of infinity as a whole presuposes the capacity for theoretical [contemplative] reason itself, that is, a ‘faculty’ which is a supersensible one.”

The Pythagoreans coined the term theoría, which originally referred not  to “conceptual thinking” but to the Divine Contemplation from which the One that generates the Universe. 

Such contemplative faculty or potential Intelligence was known as Jokmah by the Kabbalists, Noûs by Neo-Platonists, and Logos by Christians [4]. 

And one who manages to go beyond the sense of “I and me” (source of selfish fear and confusion), immersed in divine awe, is somehow participating in the Glory of Creation consciously, closing the circle. 

The Divine One contemplates itself through Adam, nothing less. Isn´t that magnificent?

Echoing the rhethor Longinus and his treatise On the Sublime, first century A.D:

For our soul is raised out of nature through the truly sublime, sways with high spirits, and is filled with proud joy, as if itself had created what it hears.

Could this be the reason why Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai came to state in the Zohar that the Awe of the Lord is the foundation upon which the world exists?

Picture: Still from Die Weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü, by Arnold Fanck, 1929. Courtesy Matthias Fanck.
[1]  The Zohar (Numbers 220b) sees Jokmah as koach (potential) and mah (pure selfless Being): a concealed state of creative fullness and intelligence waiting to be actualized. Jokmah is the pure potential Being of the Logos (see Psalms 34:9; Job 28:12; Psalms 104:24; Ecclesiastes 7:12). 
[2] Zohar, The Book of Spleandour, Introduction. Version published in:
[3] Emmanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgement, Trans. J.C. Meredith, (Oxford: Oxford) University Press, 1973), 106-108.
[4] The connection between Christianity and Kabbalah has been known for centuries by Kabbalists like Rabbi Moses David Valle (XVIIIth century). According to him, Christianity was the new form of Kabbalah, made expressely for the gentiles (the lost sheep of Israel in particular), and concealed from the dogmatic eyes of Pharisees and the Saducees, who refused to accept that Yeshua was one of the prophesized Massiah. This blind refusal would have been the cause behind the failure of the second attempt to restore true Humanity, requiring a Second Coming, which would be in preparation already inside every righteous human.
A clear example of the continuity between Judaism and Christianity is the Wisdom contained in the Tetragrammaton, YHVH (Yod, Hei, Vav, Hei), unpronounceable Name which stands for a fourfold division of the World (Isaiah 43:6)
The foundation of traditional Kabbalah is the Tree of Lives (Etza Jayim), image of the Wisdom enjoyed by the Original Humans of Light before falling into the physical realm. A Wisdom that needs to be rescued for the true understanding and restoration of Humanity.
The Tree of Life contains ten spheres (sefirot) that represent states or attributes of the Eternal One, while the Limiteless is incomprehensible. The tradition expressed in early kabbalistic texts (i.e Bahir) explains that the Boundless One (Ayn Sof) contracted (tzimtzum) itself leaving a Space so that Everything could be. In Pythagorean terms: one mirrors in zero so that the Many can be. Divine humility in its maximum expression.
Such contraction generates an almost simultaneous formation of three aspects which constitute the supernal triad or Holy Trinity in the Spiritual World of Emanation (Atzilut). The first is Kether (Crown), also known as the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9), Source of All, Father-Mother, the Dot in a Circle for the Pythagoreans. Crown that radiates Hochmah (Wisdom) which becomes Binah (Understanding) as follows:
The YOD in YHVH corresponds to Hochmah (Wisdom), known as the Father (Abba) in its function of Logos-Word, generator of Seed Ideas, whose lines of radiating force bounce and criss-cross one another in the Void around of Kether, generating the Womb called Binah (Understanding), which is the first configuration of Ima, the Mother of All Forms that makes possible the foundations for the Understanding of Life. This would be the place of Yhvh Elohim, the body of the Father. 
The HEI in YHVH is found in the Mental World of Creation, Briah, and it corresponds to the unfoldment of Binah (Understanding), which can be seen as the Virgin Mary giving birth by Grace of the Holy Spirit (Ruach ha Kodesh), that is, by means of the Spiral of Intelligent Energy or World Soul. Through her the Archangels of Briah recreate in their Mind both the archetypical Ideas received from Logos-Hochmah and the life forms inspired by the Mother Binah. In this Mental World of Creation is established the equilibrium between the constructive influence of the fourth sefirah, Jesed (Goodness), source of abundance, and the fifth sefirah, the restrictive laws of Geburah (Severity), without which everything would grow until becoming a cosmic cancer. The Middle Way is always the best solution. 
The VAV in YHVH corresponds to the middle sefirah Tifereth (Beauty), place of the Little Face (Zeir Anpin) of the Son, the Child and future Husband King that mediates between the Mental World of Creation and the Emotional World of Formation (Yetzirah).
The Emotional World of Yetzirah, lower Garden of Eden, is where the first Adam was formed to be placed. It was not exactly physical earth, but a subtle realm in Yesod (Foundation), the ninth sphere, from which Humanity fell, getting trapped into the physical experience of the earth.
Finally, the last HEI in YHVcorresponds to the Espouse (Nukva), to be found in the Physical World of Actions (Assyah), which includes the physical earth, where the human souls are trained following the higher goals in order to prepare the Kingdom (Malkuth), facilitating the birth of the inner Christ Child that manages to become Husband King in each pure human heart, as Yeshua himself exemplified. The physical earth is where Divine Light manifests inside humans as Espouse Daughter, the Shekinah, the individual and unique Holy Spirit (Ruach Ha Kodesh). 
More information about the Christian Kabbalah connection in these two lectures:

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