THEOSOPHY, Vol. 85, No. 5, March, 1997
(Pages 146-149; Size: 10K)

THE KABBALAH

This is the second of a series of three articles adapted from a talk delivered by a student on the Kabbalah at a U.L.T. meeting. The footnotes added were drawn from the writings of H.P.B. to provide keys for those who wish to pursue this study further.
PART II

ART AND THE ARTIST

...physical man is the musical instrument, and the Ego, the performing artist. The potentiality of perfect melody of sound, is in the former -- the instrument. ... This harmony depends on the fidelity of transmission, by word or act, to the objective plane, of the unspoken divine thought in the very depths of man's subjective or inner nature.
--H. P. Blavatsky
H. P. BLAVATSKY wrote that spiritual development is the creation of a spaciousness of vision. Vision is what emancipates the form of Theosophy or Kabbalah and allows it to awaken as art. If we considered the writings of the ancient wisdom to be like a box of paints and brushes, then we could memorize every color and brush by name, size, and function. This, however, would not necessarily make us painters, for to paint or create is to apply. It is to become involved in the long arduous struggle of allowing an image or idea to gestate or develop and finally be born onto the canvas of our lives. Each of us is the painter of our own existence, not simply the keeper of the tools or concepts. There are many who can describe what painting is, but very few who actually understand the process on an intimate level. The beauty of using painting or art as an analogy, when speaking of Kabbalah or perennial wisdom, is that we move away from thinking in such terms as true or false, right or wrong. Instead, we become concerned with vision or insight, ability, humanity, etc. No one would say that Leonardo had it right, but poor old Van Gogh had it wrong. Creative expression allows us to see the universe revealed through the lens of the artist in most remarkable and vital ways. Through their art we can escape the domination of the world of words and outward forms -- we can transcend them -- we can see the universe anew through their eyes. This is the key to understanding the use of the word art when speaking of Kabbalah.

Art helps us to go beyond the domination of our beliefs and codes. It allows the very nature of the universe to emerge into creativity. When approaching these ideas let us remember to make the effort to think creatively. Creative thinkers, whether they be painter, writer, philosopher, secretary or fireman are receptive to ideas as living forces within themselves.(1) They might not know at all what it is that seeks them as much as they seek it.(2) But when we consider the meaning of Kabbalah, "to receive," our work becomes the responsibility of creating the conditions for a seed to be planted and to grow. As the artist of our souls we may nurture and feed them with the dreams and frustrations provided by our life experiences. And, if fortunate and patient we will most assuredly learn from them. The universe is not a thing it is being --we are a being within being --a universe in potentiality. The gift of life is the opportunity to remember our divine origins -- our true universal nature. That is the basis of Kabbalah and the heart of Theosophy.

In the most simple terms the Kabbalah is like a map, but a map is not the territory it describes. There is no similarity between Sacramento on a map and the actual city it locates. We must approach the map of the Kabbalah with the same understanding. The words, structures and outer forms are meant to be understood as tools for insight, jumping off points or triggers for the imagination.(3) And, as we are dealing with the organic or living qualities of the Kabbalah it is not until ideas live within us, take root and grow within us that we become founts of wisdom rather than wells of information. When ideas live and grow from within they become the guides and counselors of our lives. We begin to have an internal capacity to question, without having to arrive at a permanent conclusion. Here ideas can reveal environments or realms of consciousness and Being that are not static, rather they are imbued with creativity and insight. We evolve from believers into explorers. Kabbalah is a way of looking at the outer world. Through it, we may begin to see that our participation in it is not as an autonomous, separate entity but as a being who is intimately connected with everything whether we are conscious of this connection or not. When this happens the old boundaries of who and what we believe ourselves to be deepens and becomes more inclusive.

When pondering the depths of the ancient wisdom we are often overcome by a great sense of humility. A humility born from the realization that this wisdom cannot be grasped any more than can the ocean. Whenever we dip our hand into those ancient wells we are moved to a state of wonder, which allows us to drink from them, and perhaps describe what we see when holding a small portion of their life-giving waters. In these moments some fragment of the ancient perennial wisdom will take residence within our hearts.


COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

The life of man is an aspiration to bliss, and that which he aspires to is given to him. The light lit in the soul of man is bliss and life, and that light can never be darkness, as there exists verily there exists for man only this solitary light which burns within his soul. 


--COUNT LEO TOLSTOI

Next article:
THE KABBALAH
PART III
A UNIVERSAL SYMBOL--THE TREE OF LIFE
[Part 3 of 3]

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THREE (3) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:

(1) In her article "Dialogues Between The Two Editors," H.P.B. writes: "Why is it that one person sees poetry in a cabbage or a pig with her little ones, while another will perceive in the loftiest things only their lowest and most material aspect, will laugh at the 'music of the spheres,' and ridicule the most sublime conceptions and philosophies? This difference depends simply on the innate power of the mind to think on the higher or on the lower plane, with the astral (in the sense given to the world by St. Martin), or with the physical brain. Great intellectual powers are often no proof of, but are impediments to spiritual and right conceptions;..." (H.P.B. Articles Vol. II, p. 42.)
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(2) "...the strongest [aspiration] perhaps in man's nature, is the longing to seek for the unknown; an ineradicable desire to penetrate below the surface of things, a thirst for knowledge of that which is hidden from others. ... The man in whom the metaphysical element is stronger than the physical, is propelled by this natural aspiration towards the mystical,..." ("The Kabalah And The Kabalists," H.P.B. Articles Vol. III, p. 235.)
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(3) "The seeds of Wisdom cannot sprout and grow in airless space. To live and reap experience, the mind needs breadth and depth and points to draw it towards the Diamond Soul." (The Voice Of The Silence, p. 28.)
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