The Inexistence of the Universe - Light- An Anthology

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The Chabad expose based on the Lurianic Kabbalah about light as existence and non existence
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LOGIN   ASK THE RABBI CHASSIDIC THOUGHT   »   Learning & Values   »   Kabbalah & Jewish Mysticism   »   Chassidic Thought   »   Anthologies   »   Light: anAnthology   » The Inexistence of the Universe Learning & ValuesParshah (WeeklyTorah)Daily StudyTexts & WritingsEssentialsTorah & ScienceEthics & Morality Kabbalah &JewishMysticism Questions & AnswersKabbalah OnlineJewish History Audio & VideoClassesJewish.TVThe RebbeJewish PracticeCommunity & FamilyInspiration &EntertainmentLifecycle EventsHolidaysTexts & WritingsParshah (WeeklyTorah) The Inexistence of the Universe Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher RebbeCourtesy of Groping for a transcendent word in a vocabulary gener ated by our physicallives, we seize upon light. Light is our metaphor for the incorporeal,thespiritual, the Divine. We speak of an era of enlightenment dispelling dark ages of ignorance and ignominy, of a ray of hopepenetrating the  blackness of despair, of the Divine light that bathes thevirtuous soul. Light straddles thedefining line that runsbetween the physical and the s piritual. Sans weight, sans mass, sans just about any of matter's properties,light is the most ethereal of physical things. Perceptibly real, yet free of thequalities we ascribe to the objects of our perceptible universe, light serves as a bridge of allegory between a mind grounded in a material environmentand the metaphysical abstractions it contemplates. None Else In his Tanya , Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi employs the metaphor of lightto explain what is perhaps the most radical truth expressed by the Torah:the inexistence of the universe.Twice in the 4th chapter of Deuteronomy (verses 35 and 39 respectively),the Torah makes this amazing statement: You were shown to know that the L-rd is G-d, 1   there isnone else beside Him. Light: an Anthology It Should Become Light The Path of LightTwo LightsSunglasses of the SoulReturning LightIlluminationDeliberate LightPre-DawnThe FlameThe Lamplighter  A Long PoleGood and EvilRules The Inexistence of theUniverse ColorsNothingness as a ForceLight Speaks As I Sit in DarknessThe Vanishing Flame A Long Day for MorgensternKharkov, 1995Shades of LightWindowsGetting Past the MindTwo Birds of ParadiseThe Lunar FilesTohu Wars Sponsor  Subscribe: Receive Parshah Picks via email Email Address Like33kLike0 33k Like   X Switch to the NEW Chabad.orgLearn more » Search    pdfcrowd.comopen in browserPRO version Are you a developer? Try out theHTML to PDF API Browse Audio ClassesThe Jewish WomanKidsThe RebbeJewish NewsCalendar MagazineFind a Center Subscribe AboutOther LanguagesShopDonate Ask the Rabbi   Know today, and take unto your heart, that the L-rd is G-d, in the heavens above and the earth below, there is noneelse. The ever-sensible mind, confronted with overwhelming evidence to thecontrary, may perhaps interpret these verses to mean that there are no  gods other than He. I, the mind will insist, the body I occupy, the table it issitting at, and the computer screen it is looking at, certainly exist. Theseverses, then, are only affirming the basic tenet of Judaism -- that there is buta single, singular creator and ruler of the universe. Not so, say the Kabbalists and the Chassidic masters: there is none else means that there is none else. Indeed, they explain, to maintain that thereare existences other than G-d is ultimately the same as maintaining thatthere are other gods beside Him. What real difference is there betweensaying that the universe is governed by thousands of gods, or by a god of good and an equally potent god of evil, or by a very powerful god who(almost) always triumphs over a much weaker Satan, or by a great andmighty god who pervades every iota of existence save for a single cubiccentimeter of space? Ultimately, one is saying that there is more than oneindependently potent force in existence. To say that there is a god with the power to create and destroy universes, punish the wicked and reward therighteous, cause galaxies to spin and crops to grow, but that there alsoexists a single pebble with a power independent of His -- be it only the power to exist -- is to deny His exclusive divinity and power.So when the Jew daily declares, Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, theL-rd is one, this is more than an affirmation that there is but one deity. It isa statement on the inexistence of all else save His one being. Real in Relation Yes, we perceive our own existence and the existence of the myriads of objects and forces we call the universe. But this is our finite andsubjective perception of reality. If we could observe reality from the all-transcendent perspective of the Creator, we would see a world devoid of selfhood and being. In the words of the Tanya: If the eye were allowed tosee the life and spiritual content flowing from the utterance of G-d's mouth RelatedRelated articles Jewish Holidays: Three ChambersKabbalah & Jewish Mysticism:SendingContemporary Voices: The AngelFilesQuestions & Answers: G ‑ d andUsQuestions & Answers: DivineKnowledge and Human ChoiceJewish Holidays: The Kitchen or the Library?Parshah (Weekly Torah):Va'etchanan More articles on Parshah   (1427 articles) Va'etchanan   (24 articles) Light & Darkness   (99 articles) Daat Elyon & Daat Tachton (41 articles) Monotheism   (14 articles) G-d and Man   (3068 articles) Physicality and Spirituality (151 articles) Existence; Reality   (47 articles) Sun; Sunlight   (12 articles) Ego & Selfhood   (105 articles) View All Sections »  pdfcrowd.comopen in browserPRO version Are you a developer? Try out theHTML to PDF API into every creation, we would not see the materiality, grossness, andtangibility of the creation, for it would be utterly nullified in relation to thisdivine life-force... Modern physics demonstrates the relativity of apparent absolutes such astime and space. An object or event cannot be said to possess an intrinsicsize or duration: these are always a matter of perspective. The same objectmay be an inch in length, as observed from point A, and a hundred mileslong, as observed from point B; the same event can be said to transpireover the course of a second or a thousand years, again depending on the position and velocity of the observer. The mind may have to bend over  backwards to assimilate a vision of reality so radically different from itsfirst-hand experience of its environment, but every high-school sciencestudent has read of the experiments and seen the diagrams that demonstratethis truth.But the Torah has a more demanding task for the mind: to comprehend therelativity of existence itself. To understand that the very it-ness of creation,even the very I that is the making the observations, is also a matter of  perspective. That while the created reality perceives itself as real, there is ahigher perspective from which reality is the truth that there is none else beside Him. Where, in our experience of the universe, is there an example of this sense-defying truth, an analog that may aid us in achieving this tremendous leap of mind? What model have we for the relativity of a thing's very existence?Light.Light exists. We regard light as an entity distinct from its emitter,distinguishing between a luminous body and its luminescent expression. Anobserver on earth, for example, perceives both the sun and the light thatextends from it, and hence our dictionary includes both the terms sun and sunlight. But what would be the perspective of an observer  within thesun? Would he, too, perceive sunlight as an existence distinct from thesun? Obviously not. Light, by definition, has a source and a destination, anemitter and an observer; light is information -- a communication from onething to another. Light, then, exists only in relation to that which is outside of its source, but not in relation to the source itself. If sunlight is defined as thesun's luminescent expression, then it cannot be said to exist within the  pdfcrowd.comopen in browserPRO version Are you a developer? Try out theHTML to PDF API sun, where the very notion of expression is superfluous and meaningless.Does this mean that the entity we call light begins outside of the sun?Again, the answer is obviously No. The sun itself is not dark; theluminescence that extends from it certainly pervades it. It is just that theconcept of light has validity and meaning only to an observer outside of the light's source. Lacking substance of its own, light exists only insofar as itserves its function: to carry information and effect from its emitter to thatwhich lies outside its emitter. Where it has no function (i.e. within itsemitter), it does not exist -- not because it is any less there, but because itlacks the context that defines its existence.Light, then, both exists and does not exist at the same time, depending onthe context in which it is viewed. It goes from non-existence to existencenot by undergoing any intrinsic change but simply by being observed from adifferent vantage point -- a point in relation to which its function hassignificance.So light, explains the Tanya , is the metaphor through which we can try tounderstand the relative existence of the universe. Our world is light emitted by G-d: an expression of His omnipotence, a revelation of Hismajesty. 2 As light, the created reality has no substance of its own, nointrinsic being; its existence is defined solely by its function -- to expressand reveal its Emitter. So the world exists only as observed from without  its Creator and Source. As seen from G-d's perspective, it does not meritthe term existence -- again, not because it is any less there (G-d, after all, tells us in His Torah that He created a world), but because in relation tothe Divine sun the defining function of the sunlight of creation is utterlyinsignificant.[Rabbi Schneur Zalman takes this a step further, pointing out an importantdifference between the sun/sunlight analogue and the Creator/creationrelationship it illustrates. With the sun, we identify two distinct areas inwhose context the existence of sunlight is considered: outside the sun, andwithin the sun. Outside the sun, sunlight exists; within the sun, it is non-existent. Regarding the Almighty, however, the existence of this second perspective is itself only a matter of perspective. In truth, there is no area that is outside of G-d's infinite reality; the vacuum 3 into which G-demanates His light is a vacuum of perception, real only from our mortal
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