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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kabbalistic notion of Tikkun Olam

Short essay on Lurianic Kabbalah Yakov Leib HaKohain
Isaac Luria (1534-1572) -- also known as the "Ari Zaal," or "Divine Rabbi Isaac," -- was, and remains to this day, unarguably the greatest Kabbalist in world history. His doctrines, based entirely on the Old Testament and Zohar, anticipated virtually world-for-word -- or at the very least, concept for concept -- the theory of the "Big Bang" origins of the universe in astrophysics. Thus, the cosmogony of a 16th century Jewish Kabbalist was literally validated by modern science four hundred years later.
The details of Luria's Kabbalah are far too complicated to be discussed here. Suffice it to say that his doctrine of SheviretHaKelim, or "Shattering of the Vessels," was at their core and profoundly influenced all subsequent Kabbalistic theosophy.
Put simply, the doctrine of Sheviret HaKelim states (as does also the 20th century Big-Bang theory) that the Universe (i.e., the Unity of God) was shattered at the moment of mundane creation. From this cataclysm, "Holy Sparks" flew off in all directions, some returning to their Source, others falling into the world of "things" and "beings." Thus, as the Baal Shem Tov states, "In all that is in the world dwell Holy Sparks, no things is empty of them; in the actions of men also, indeed even in the sins he does, dwell Holy Sparks of God."
Thus, the Kabbalistic notion of Tikkun Olam, or "Repair of the World," is based on the principle that all things and actions in the world, no matter how seemingly trivial, are saturated with Holy Sparks, yearning to return to the state of premundane unity from which they fell at the creation of the world. Again, modern Chaos Theory in physics states much the same principle when it proposes that all disturbed systems seek to return to their pre-existent state of "quasi-stationary equilibrium."
One hundred years after Luria, in 1665-66, the Jewish Messiah and avatar, Sabbatai Zevi, began completing the Tikkun Olam through various "strange gestures," including his conversion to Islam. Thousands of his millions of followers followed him into this "Holy Apostasy," as did the followers of Yakov Leib Frank into Christianity another hundred years after that. Today, the DONMEH forum is attempting to complete the great task initiated by Sabbatai Zevi through the powerful medium of the internet.
The Lurianic polarities of Will to Give and Will to Receive and/or Hesed and Gevurah, correspond both to the Chinese Yang and Yin and also to the Tantric Shiva and Shakti. This is not surprising, in view of the fact that many cosmologies begin with an undifferentiated unity that is then polarised into opposites (heaven & earth, etc) which then combine to make (or give birth to) all things. Many creation myths have the separation of heaven and earth as a catastrophic sort of affair - there are obvious parallels here with the Kabbalistic idea of the exile of Shekinah (Malkhut) from "God" (Tifaret/Ze'er Anpin).
At one time I was studying deeply Lurianic symbolism and Kashmir Shaivism, and I was astonished by the many parallels in even minute detail regarding the parallel between shakti/vimarsha as the principle of contraction (which ultimately becomes prakriti - mind & matter) & Din/Severity which likewise generates the initial contraction and isolation within the Godhead (the "Fall" so to speak) that is necessary for Creation to come about. Likewise, the indifferentiated Tantric Prakasha/Shiva principle, whose essence is Light and non-dual consciousness, can be plausably compared with the Will to Give (Mercy/Hesed) as the original Light of the En Sof. content by M.Alan Kazlev most recent update 3 June 2001

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