Kabbalah and Mysticism
Ideas About God
Early in A Kabbalah For Tomorrow, Green goes into a deep discussion about what it means to talk about God, or Y-H-W-H. He says God is all over the place—everywhere. He is in each and every one of us and, even more so, in each and every thing that exists. His interpretation of God is formed by the Kabbalistic teachings about God. Since God is in each and every one of us, Kabbalists believe that one must search within oneself in order to find God. This searching is a mystical journey. It is a search for the truth that is God.
He goes into the meaning of Eyn Sof, which seems to capture Green’s rendition of God quite accurately. It is used to describe the mysterious and unknown reality. On one hand, it is the Oneness, meaning it is the only One that exists and, on the other hand, it is so seriously deep that there are stages one has to go through in order to get there. This description is remotely similar to what can be said of God in Kabbalistic terms. God is the one and only yet, in order to find the truth about God, one must take certain steps in a journey.
Before one can navigate through the four worlds of spiritual awareness, one must acknowledge the inner structure of reality, the sefirot, which is the balanced and structured distribution of God. The ten sefirot are not an addition to the Eyn Sof, but are structured within it. The first triad starts off with Keter: it means crown, which can also be interpreted as circle, but in terms of its significance within the sefirot, it is the state of mind that is Nothingness. “It is desire that potentially bears all content, but actually none” (P. 42). Hokhmah emerges out of keter and it means wisdom. The move from keter to hokhmah is the transition from Nothingness to being. “All the variety of existence is contained within hokhmah, ready to begin the journey forward” (P. 43). With hokhmah, emerges binah, or contemplation. The two are inseparably linked. Binah is the thought process that shapes the creative sparks of hokhmah. The hokhmah is the light and the binah is the reflection of that light. The two are also spoken of in terms of male and female. Hokhmah is the light (sperm) that fills the womb of binah, which then gives birth to the seven lower sefirot.
The second triad seeks to find inner balance. The first to manifest from the womb of binah is hesed—the grace or love of God. Hesed has an endless ability to love like the endlessness of keter, but in regards to loving. This love can sometimes be overwhelming, which is why gevurah, or din, exists. Gevurah measures and limits the flow of love offered by hesed. “Neither the world nor the Self can do without gevurah, represented in the person by self-restraint, strength of character, and the knowledge of how to act appropriately in any given situation” (P. 49). Tif’eret is the balance between the hesed and gevurah. It resolves the tension between the inner right and left, love and judgment.
The third triad is concerned with striving and acceptance. Netzah is what comes out of tif’eret when tif’eret leans to far to the right. Netzah is that in our personalities that thinks we can be perfect and triumph over our enemies. It happens because we think we have the perfect balance when we are in tif’eret, which leads us to think that we can triumph over everything. Netzah, then, gives rise to hod, which tells us that we are not perfect and makes us confess our flaws. It makes us realize that life will not always be perfect, but we should still rejoice in the beauty of its reality. We should be grateful for life as it is and ourselves as we are. The ninth sefirah is tzaddik, which is the balance between the netzah and hod and signifies a new fullness or stage of maturity. It has inner peace and personal development.
The sefirot are the order in which God comes from Oneness to multiplicity. The first nine are in triads of conflict and then peace. The tenth sefirah,...