Philosophy


Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

 

Excerpt from Kabbalstic mirror: THE CONSEQUENCE OF HABIT
  
David Chaim Smith



“The serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field that YHVH ELOHIM made, and it said to the woman: ‘Did Elohim even say that you should not eat from all the trees of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1)

The answer to the serpent’s question, of course, is that YHVH ELOHIM commanded only not to eat from the tree of duality. As we know, this is very good advice.

The serpent presents the tension inherent within manifestation. This is what arises between the man and his wife. Despite it’s popular infamy, the serpent is the great unsung hero of all of Biblical literature. The symbol of the serpent represents the volatility of transformation which animates all phenomena. It is common to both the confusion generated by the Tree of Daat as well as the blessing of the Tree of Life. It’s raw voltage manifests as the tension between ruach (Adam) and nefesh (Eve) in the cognitive sense, and the disparity between energy and the appearance of matter in the phenomenological sense.

As mentioned earlier, the serpent’s body suggests a waveform. It’s undulation displays the dance of polarity: up/down, negative/positive, on/off, male/female. Through this continuity creativity is carried into all modes of expression. It is nothing other than the dynamism of B’reshit moving, the evidence of it’s innate potential. It is utilized as the capacity to empower and adapt endlessly, to do or be anything either harmonious or chaotic. It is the wild power that tiferet and malkut share, at once that which is most beloved and most feared. The serpent can manifest as tohu or it can reveal the zivug of the Edenic state. When unleashed all the beauty as well as all the danger of manifestation becomes possible. Because it represents such great volatility it is taken by exoteric religion to represent the lurking presence of ‘evil’. This rather pessimistic view was adopted by religious authorities because it is a reminder that all action carries inherent danger. This evokes fear. With fear comes the potential for social and political control, which can impose spiritual and moral domination over human behavior. Because the serpent means so much more than this, we can assert our most important challenges to the exoteric interpretations of the Bible right here.


© David Chaim Smith


The serpent is labeled evil by those who hold the concepts of good and evil to be real substantial entities locked in battle. This holds them to be independent agents at war within the space of creation. Those who believe this way do not consider the space in which this war is fought at all. That would only create another war altogether between the contrasting forces of good and evil and space itself. If faith can gain enough certainty to hold that nothing has independent self-existence, then the war between light and darkness can be let go. With this in mind, it should be clear that evil is nothing other than the divisive habits of the mind which arise when consciousness fixates on it’s own mental constructs. This is not a denial of all the undeniable horror and suffering that appears in the world. Faith that evil has no real existence does not make it all go away. However it can slowly erode the sense of perceptual conflict which sets fear and panic in the mind. These reactions simply add unnecessary obstacles to any problem. Faith is not a cure for bad circumstances. It is an opportunity to recognize the nature of all circumstances, which cuts directly to their root.

The gnostic understanding of the serpent is a direct challange to the insanity of moral absolutism. Religious law posits that right and wrong are a closed book. There is no creative choice when morality is frozen solid. It is up to human beings to assert that morality does not need any set form other than kindness and awareness. It can be based on fluid adaptation to every unique circumstance, each in it’s particularities. The symbol of the serpent represents the untainted possibility of a morality that adjusts to the needs of the mind before any authoritarian code, free from the shackles of dogma and pedantic convention. If it is not rejected as pure evil, this is what it can be.

The symbol of the serpent embodies the disjunctive tension between Adam and his wife, and between Adam and Eden. In the forthcoming section the mind symbolically confronts it’s own projections, particularly the appearances of matter and the body, which will be antagonistically set against it’s fabricated view of itself. Conditions are only ‘good or evil’ from this relative perspective. The aspect of mind that makes these designations can only hold phenomena in relation to it’s own interests. The promise of ultimate good that can outshine this antagonism is about to be covered over by a cloud of fixations assured by the Tree of duality. The Tree of Life’s fruit which insures primordial purity will not even be seen through this cloud, and the promise of stabilizing the Edenic state will soon to be lost in a haze of confusion.

The serpent offers the opportunity of conflict as the ultimate test of faith. When the serpent speaks it asks loaded questions that probe the mind’s capacity to face it’s own tension. These questions are the mirror of the mind’s dilemma.

The pure view of the serpent is that it is simply a manifestation of the Shechinah, the living power of Eden and mind itself. This power can nullify or reify, depending on which fruit is digested. As the text implied in the last chapter, accepting reification equals death. This is the core of all fears. The serpent’s first question to the woman will bring uncertainty as to which tree is which. If she gives the wrong answer (and she will) her direction is sealed: the duo will eat the fruit of duality because of the habit of the nefesh’s mistake.

This introduces one of the most controversial gematrias in all of kabbalah. The serpent’s name is Nachash(NaChaSh), and it’s numerical value is 358. This is a highly significant number. It shares gematria with the word Moshiach (MoShiYaCh) or messiah. The connection between the 2 words lead to the conclusion that the exoteric symbols for the source of utter evil and complete redemption are of an equal nature. Can anything state the mystical view more clearly? The principle that repairs spiritual damage abides in the heart of life’s basic tensions and conflicts. Where else could it be? Messianic redemption waits in the heart of life in whatever broken and distorted form it arises in. This is what is embodied by the serpent Nachash.

Realizing Eden in the midst of chaos renders human beings tzaddikim. It requires eating of the Tree of Life, which Adam and his wife never get to do. The serpent offers the promise of this potential in the form of questions. The gematria 358 implies that the serpent is really the wisdom of the tzaddik calling habitual assumptions into scrutiny. It’s questions should prompt celebration and joy in the asylums and prisons of ordinary life, but more often it elicits fear. The serpent’s tension is the raw currency that is spent in spiritual work. It certainly can lead to entropy, but it can also be cultivated into a garden. It could assure the gnostic promise of: ‘a river that went out from Eden to water the garden’. The continuous dynamism that binds these symbols as a unity: the river, the garden, Eden, and it’s water, all await the answer to the question of the Nachash. The answer will activate the power that liberates or deludes, and the direction of the NeR will be set into it’s disposition accordingly.

“(3:2)The woman said to the serpent: “We may eat from the fruit of the trees of the garden. (3:3) But from the the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, Elohim said: ‘You shall not eat from it, neither shall you touch it, lest you will die.” (Genesis 3:2 - 3:3)

In verse 3:3 the nefesh’s crucial mistake is made: confusing the peripheral tree of dualistic contrasts for the central tree of the Divine merkavah. This mistake is not a mere momentary lapse, it represents the sum total of all deluded habitual responses and the full force of their momentum. It represents the whole of human cognitive error. This verse is our introduction to assured mediocrity.

The woman made the mistake because she could not discern what the ‘middle’ of the garden actually was. ‘Where’ it was is irrelevant, because the concept of ‘place’ has nothing to do with the garden’s true center. The middle of the garden is the heart of the Shechinah’s phenomena. It is the omnipresent ‘point at the center of the universe’ that the Rabbis of the Talmud presented to the Athenians. It transcends limitation to any coordinate, and elludes the gross fixated habits of the nefesh. The heart where the Tree of Life abides can only be found when ruach and nefesh are in union. When the nefesh’s habits alone lead the way, the lowest common denominator emerges.

The garden’s middle is the door into the depth of the Edenic view. To an ordinary human being, it serves as an invitation to replace the concept of a logistical center with the heart aspect of pure space. Making this distinction allows the mind to shift into an appreciation of pure visionary presence, which spontaneously arises beyond location in the midst of any and all circumstances. The adimensional apparitional presence is the beloved heart beyond all division, which is the Shechinah. Recognizing that the core of all appearance is none other than this allows the mind to free itself from dependence to the fabricated concept of ‘place’, which is only the product of the habitual need to become oriented through referring to physical coordinate positions. This reliance upon spatial coordinates is a form of bondage which obscures the vast expanse of the Shechinah.

When ruach and nefesh are completely intergrated they manifest the luminous clarity of primordial union, as chochmah and binah do. This is the state (or non-state) of bitul, which is the key to the visionary heart of Eden. The Edenic zivug is realized (or rediscovered) as perceptual motion becomes indistinguishable from basic appearance in phenomenal space. In such a condition all phenomena is in the aspect of the middle of the garden, as no divsion defining a subject or object persists. This is the locationless atemporal heart of Ain Sof, in which mind and apparitional space are indistinguishable. This is synonymous with the mirror like wisdom of the 10 sefirot and the essential nature of the creative process. Realization of this is the key to the Divine Image which obliterates slavery to all dualizing extremes.


© David Chaim Smith


Unless it is engaged in the zivug union with the ruach, the nefesh will only pave the way into error. On it’s own it will only eat the fruit of the peripheral dualistic tree that obscures the ‘middle’. The error of the mind taking itself to be a separate self is based on the presence of the body asserting the error of it’s ‘independence’. This leads the mind to only know it’s sense objects through contrived associations which set it’s perceptions at a cognitive distance. The ruach sets these problematic patterns into motion to suit the errant nefesh, and they both spiral into error. The fabricated associations are imputed onto everything, including the mind’s image of itself.

The serpent speaks at the precipice of delusion and awakening. It questions the woman about the fruit of the trees, knowing one from the other. It’s question mirrors the uncertainty that underscores human mental activity. The serpent’s question implies: ‘are you really sure of what you are doing?’. This question anticipates the mistake, and opens a gap for an alternative. This call is the last opportunity for the nefesh to re-align itself with basic creative power.

 

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