Kabbalah 2 – Hide and Seek with G-d

February 2015

“This view is the Kabbalah’s secret meaning of the union of the male and female principles. The male principle, symbolized by the line, is that which divides the unified one (female – circle) into conceptual dyads. Good and evil, dark and light, past and future — these concepts do not really exist in the One. The feminine circle is always Now, always Here, always God Godding itself. Well, which is right? Is the feminine principle right that everything is One and that it is always Now? Or is the masculine principle right, that there are multiple objects in the universe, across temporal and spatial dimensions?
For the Kabbalists, both are right. Ordinary consciousness, in which 1+1 = 2, is right. Mystical consciousness, in which 1+1=1, is right. There is both two and one — this is the higher mystery of union. It’s the original fuzzy math.”


“The ten sefirot — the lenses which refract the Light of the Infinite into the colors and shapes of our own experience — are a web of associations, symbolic references, and Divine potency. Each is like a node of meaning, bringing together hundreds, if not thousands, of literary, cultural, physical, emotional, historical, theological and magical concepts and, thus, demonstrating the interrelationship of them. When a Kabbalist hears the word “orchard,” or “red,” or “rainbow,” he or she immediately associates it with the corresponding sefirah, and then with the dozens of other concepts which are likewise associated. Learning the sefirot is marinating the mind in a symbolic stew of Divine interrelation, and engenders a uniquely Kabbalistic mode of consciousness.”
“Hochmah, meaning wisdom, is like a point: no dimension of its own, but the beginning point for dimensionality. From our perspective, hochmah is that “higher wisdom” that some systems call primordial Awareness. It is the first quality to proceed from Nothingness: that Being knows. This noetic quality of the universe — that every leaf “knows” when to fall in the autumn, that every atom “knows” how to organize itself — is, for the Kabbalists, the most refined quality of the manifested world. If you’d like to imagine the emanation of the sefirot in terms of the Big Bang, hochmah is the singularity with no size, but with the “laws of nature” already instantiated. There is nothing there, but there is the Divine Wisdom which organizes all of creation.
Binah, meaning understanding, is a kind of partner to Hochmah. The sefirot are often gendered (sometimes multi-gendered), and their interaction is often depicted as a series of erotic interchanges. In this case, hochmah is the male and Binah is female, the Divine womb, the generative principle of the rest of the universe. Binah gives birth to the sefirot, and thus to the world of manifestation itself. She is the concealed, hidden, supernal Divine mother. She is also the beginning of separation — binah is related to the words for knowledge based upon distinctions. Binah is the ocean, the many-chambered palace (note the Jungian flavor to the symbolic associations here), and womb in which Hochmah sows the seed of creation. She is the ground of space and time — not yet expanded, not yet contracted, but the principle of spatiality and temporality itself, ready to give birth to the world.”
“Let’s pause for just a moment to explore a few of the subtleties — just the tip of the iceberg, really — in these first three sefirot. First, notice that even at this highest, most abstract level, many of the themes of the Kabbalah are already in play. For those who expect only male god-language, and who suppose there is a hard and fast distinction between religion and sexuality — well, surprise. The Kabbalah is rich in feminine goddess-language, even as it strives to integrate these different faces of the Divine within a monotheistic system. The Kabbalah is also rich in erotic metaphor — if hochmah and binah seem surprisingly embodied, wait until we get to tiferet, yesod, and shechinah/malchut. Nor is eros merely metaphor — it’s not “like” sexual union, it is the essence of sexual union; it’s what generativity and sexuality are ultimately about. Whether the union between masculine and feminine takes place between two people, or within one person, it is ultimately about the play of the Divine itself.”

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