KosherTorah School for Biblical, Judaic & Spiritual Studies
What is Enlightenment Series, Lesson 3
Secrets of the After-Life, Part 2
The NaRaNHaY Soul,
and its Relationship to Consciousness
by Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.
In Lurianic terminology, the enlightenment of the heart is called the rectification (tikun) of the Ruah level of the soul. The enlightenment of the mind is called the rectification (tikun) of the Neshama level of the soul.
The Ruah, the heart, Yetzirah, and the lower Gan Eden are together one concept. The Neshama, the mind, Beriah, and the upper Gan Eden together are another concept. We must elaborate more on each of these. Yet, in order to understand these concepts correctly, we must first strip them of their metaphors and mythology, and understand them within the context of human consciousness, and psychology.
Human consciousness is a complex thing. Human consciousness is what defines the soul. Essentially, the soul is the mind. The soul makes itself manifest through the workings of the brain. But it is the intangible soul/mind that is the source, and purpose behind all the synapse functions within the physical brain. It is the soul that makes the brain work, not the brain that creates the soul.
The mind/soul is not entirely conscious. It certainly is not entirely rational. Much of the mind/soul is subject to unconscious motivators, which we know as the emotions. Some emotions we can explain, and understand clearly. Others, we cannot. What tends to be difficult for most people is to control their emotions, and to not act out based on them, without the temperance of clear, and rational decision making.
Emotions are independent factors beyond the control of one's conscious mind. Although we symbolically associate the emotions with the heart, this association is only poetic and metaphorical. All emotions have their origins within the mind, specifically within that realm where the conscious mind merges into, and blends with the unconscious. Yet, just because the motivations of most emotions may be unconscious, this does not mean that they are outside of the control of rational thought.
Essentially, before one can feel a certain way about a thing, there must first exist a preconceived idea and conclusion as to what is the meaning of the thing in the first place. Emotions are often reactions to external stimuli. Yet, the stimuli itself is usually benign, unless a meaning and purpose has been assigned to it.
For example, let us consider a simple expression of human affection. A husband greets his wife with a kiss and a hug. Due to the nature of their martial relationship, and the love between the two, an element of passion between the couple is expected when in physical embrace, an expression over and above other types of embrace. Human nature defines for us this sexual attraction. This is normal.
Now, however, let us change the circumstance and use as our example either the husband or the wife, who now greets another member of the opposite sex. It is not considered appropriate for either the husband or wife to greet another person with the same element of passion that is considered exclusive to the married couple. Some hugs and kisses are acceptable in these circumstances, others are not! If such an inappropriate expression is made, then the left-out spouse can become enraged with jealously.
Why is this so? Human sexuality is normal. Sexual attraction is normal. Human jealously is equally normal. How come spouses become jealous if one of them acts outside the expected parameters of acceptable social behavior? The answer is because that is what one has been taught to expect as normal, and thus it is normal. Once the preconceived idea or thought is violated, then emotions arise and express themselves.
If two individuals meet in a romantic embrace, that is their right, and their private affair. Such encounters rarely evoke jealous responses from observers, or strangers. However, if one of those individuals is in a spousal relationship, the circumstances change considerably. Thought precedes emotions. If one had thought differently one would feel differently. So we can see from this simple example how even emotions are part and parcel of the mind.
Now remember, the soul is the mind, and the mind is the soul. The soul consists of five levels, in Kabbalah called NaRaNHaY, which is an acronym for Nefesh (physical consciousness), Ruah (emotional consciousness), Neshama (rational consciousness), Hayah (imaginative/unconscious), and Yehida (source/unconscious). All of these are aspects of mind.
The relationship of these levels of soul are described in Kabbalistic literature as the interactions of the Sefirot. Understanding this archetypal structure, therefore, helps one to understand one's inner psychological mechanics. Mechanics here is the right word to use to describe the inner workings of the mind/soul, with all its interactive five (general) level parts.
There is a Kabbalistic teaching that states, “where one thinks, there one is at.” This is not only a psychological truth, it is also a mind/soul truth, and is totally applicable to where one's soul is to be found, be it in this world, or in the world to come.
The five levels of the soul reflect five different levels of consciousness, with the higher two being outside the domain of normal waking consciousness. Of these two unconscious levels of the mind, one (the Hayah) can be accessed, while the other (the Yehida) remains permanently concealed.
All five levels of soul are symbolically called light. The levels of waking consciousness are said to be a light that exists within a vessel. In this case, the vessel is the conscious mind itself. The three lower levels of soul (Nefesh, Ruah and Neshama) exist within the vessel of the conscious mind, and are referred to as the Ohr HaPenimi, the Inner Light.
The higher two levels of mind that exist in the unconscious (Hayah and Yehida) are metaphorically said to exist outside the vessel (of the conscious) mind. These two higher levels of mind/consciousness, because they reside in what we call the unconscious, are given a special metaphor and symbol to represent them. The upper two levels existing in the unconscious are referred to as Ohr Makif, the Surrounding Light.
Essentially, the unconscious levels of the mind are portrayed as existing outside of the human body, surrounding it. These lights of higher consciousness are referred to in many religious and spiritual traditions as one's aura, or “astral body.” This is the form of the “spirit” body that one inhabits once one leaves the present mortal coil of flesh and blood.
The human unconscious, very much like its correspondent sefirotic pattern is divided, like I said above, into two realms, these being the area of the unconscious that can be accessed, and the area of the unconscious that is forever beyond cognition. These two levels (Hayah and Yehida) correspond to the sefirot, Hokhma and Keter respectively.
The conscious mind is always in the potential state, if not the actual state, of growth. In other words, as we live and experience life, we learn new things. These new things help us to expand consciousness. From the perspective of both Kabbalah and certain schools of psychological thought (Jungian), the unconscious plays an important role in guiding the conscious mind, bringing to it new revelations and experiences. In Kabbalistic language this is called “kabbalat ha'mohin,” (receiving the [revelations of the sefirotic] brains).
This process of kabbalat ha'mohin, is a life-long experience of the growth of consciousness. Like I said above, “where one thinks, there one is at.” The inner mohin sefirot (in the unconscious) are the guiding force and factor behind human psychological maturity, and growth. Where one is at mentally, defines where one is at spiritually, from the Beriatic (Neshama) point of view. Where one is at emotionally defines where one is at spiritually, from the Yetziratic (Ruah) point of view. Both of these define one's outlook, and one's inner being. These are what one takes with oneself when one leaves the mortal body.
Beriatic mind (sefirah Binah), and Yetziratic heart (sefirah Tiferet – emotions) are never to be separated or disconnected from one another. The human mind may indeed suffer tremendous traumas in this lifetime, but these traumas, are, needless to say, not the normal state of balance that one needs to have internally between one's mind and heart.
Binah and Tiferet, mind and heart,
always flow into one another like the tide on the seashore. Thoughts influence
emotions, like we described above, and emotions influence thoughts. We can ask
the proverbial question, “which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” Which
comes first, the thought or the feeling? We have pretty much answered this
above, but even in doing so, we cannot establish a clear-cut law of mental
operations that is 100% true and accurate.
The human mind is far more complicated
than this. Therefore, so too is the description of the Sefirotic interactions.
The Sefirot themselves are subject to highs and lows (gadlut and katnut),
reflecting the pattern of wavering human consciousness.
Where one thinks, there one is at. As
the mind rises and falls, oscillating from side to side, from one type of
thought and thinking to another, this is where a person's soul resides at that
time, in the construct of the reality created and embraced by one's own mind.
This reality of inner thought can often take precedence over the outside world
and external stimulation. This is how hypnosis works, this is how day dreaming
occurs, this is how mediation functions.
Inner reality offers an alternately real
world to the one who places one's focus of consciousness therein. When, however
the physical body dies, and one's connection to outside stimuli passes, all that
one has left is one's inner world. And, for that one's sake, it had better be a
good place that one has made. For there is no greater hell than the one that one
makes for oneself.
Enlightenment of the heart and the mind
is the goal of all human existence. This path is a long and arduous one. The
ultimate accomplishment takes many lifetimes. In between lifetimes in this
world, one reposes within the state of consciousness that one has at that time
achieved. Needless to say, levels of consciousness fluctuate between
individuals, and between one lifetime to the next. Heaven is defined as where
one is at, and so is Hell.
Hell is a state of mind that, needless to say, is extremely uncomfortable. Hell consists of many different experiences in the afterlife. We will address these in our next lesson.
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The Written Works of Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright (C) 1997 - 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.