Miryam’s Circle Dance
This transition from Infinite Light to present reality did not happen smoothly, but rather in two trials. The original emanation first formed ten circular and concentric channels of flow (or sefirot). For reasons explained, this circle world could not bear the subsequent influx of radiations and shattered under their strain. Instantly it was replaced by an alternative emanation of ten sefirot arranged along parallel lines that was built from its shards.
Though the epoch of points and circles has passed and the hierarchy of lines and straightness now rules, circle-truths still permeate our reality and are felt in at least four ways:
- The boundary that holds back the surrounding light and maintains the dark expanse of creation’s womb is called the Great Circle, for it defines the spherical geometry of our universe. Upon its bulwark all life depends, for were it to lapse for even a millisecond, the Infinite Light would flood in, dissolving creation out of existence.
- Since this newly fashioned linear world was built from the recycled debris of shattered circles, it carries a primal memory of that event in every molecule of its being. Consequently, though the era of circles is long gone, a permanent imprint, etched into the subconscious depths of the universe, continues to exert a covert influence on all matters, great and small.
- The universe is holographic, which means that every piece contains aspects of every other piece inside itself. This applies both to objects and to processes. Consequently the straight line that organizes the rectified world into a hierarchy of ten sefirot, reenacts the primordial history of creation as it fashions each sefira (and world). It begins by forming a circle and then extends downward in a linear expression that defines that attribute. Consequently, even in the world of lines and hierarchy, there exists an invisible web of circles that quietly impact upon the unfolding of our personal and collective lives.
- The Map of the Unfolding of Worlds on p. 166 illustrates the stepwise sequence by which Divinity formed our material world out of pure undifferentiated light. Its arrows all point downward. Yet it is equally true that creation follows that same path, though now from below to above, in its return journey toward perfection, enlightenment, and consummate embrace.
On the way down, the circle world was flawed and so it shattered. Yet, paradoxically, its truths (or lights) are actually higher than those of the linear (rectified) world that replaced it. Kaballa teaches that in their early stages of development the circular vessels were too immature to hold the magnitude of consciousness that shone there and so they crumbled. Though our world has more sophisticated vessels, curiously its lights emanate from a lower source. Its truths are dull and time-limited compared to the resplendent and eternal awarenesses of its circular predecessor.
And still, the fulfillment of creation’s purpose requires a temporary sojourn in the linear realms to develop its cisterns to maximum capacity. Vessel-stretching is the specialty of this world. Once this preparatory work is done and all potential actualized, creation will return to the level of circle consciousness, yet this time equipped with proper vessels to hold its scintillating lights.
The primal direction of growth, built into the fabric of creation, that steers each moment “forward” in the most cosmic sense of that word, is back up toward the circle world and the re-realization of its holy truths.
It is clear that the terms, circle world and linear world not only describe arrangements of sefirot, but present entire world views and value frames. In the linear world everything occupies a unique position along a continuum extending from above to below. The terms upper and lower are determined as follows: In the stepwise sequence of creating our universe, HaShem underwent a gradually intensifying series of concealments. Step by step the Infinite Light withdrew Itself from creation and the extent of Its absence defines the hierarchy of worlds: the less concealed, the higher the world; the more, the lower. The task of human beings is to raise the shards from the shattered circle era. In so doing they force HaShem out of hiding by witnessing, despite appearances to the contrary, that there is only G‑d, and that He is one. When successful, the status of that world jumps notches for its concealment quotient inverts. Once G‑d is seen, that place becomes “holy ground,” and enters the prestigious assembly of higher worlds.
Our physical plane that is the habitation of rocks, plants, animals, and humans is now among the lowest of worlds. An opaque, leathery skin encases its lights and conceals their glow. The outer eyes report multiplicity with oneness nowhere to be found. Only a penetrating vision can tunnel through appearances and behold the pattern of unity that hides beneath.
The physical plane, with its multifarious range of life forms, actually comprises a single, cosmic hierarchy. Its scale of status calibrates as follows: The more complex an organism, the more sophisticated the soul manifesting through it. Each level of life is a wider-angle lens that brings a new increment of consciousness into focus. Divinity, alone, possesses infinite consciousness, most simply defined as the range of a being’s capacity to react and interact with its environment. The higher the creature the more expressions of awareness (and so of G‑d) can manifest through it. Since the measure of Divine concealment defines the hierarchy of worlds, that creature obtains an eminent rank.
Since higher creatures possess more light and awareness (for that is what defines them as higher) their role is to share that spiritual bounty with those below whose way is to receive from them. The conventions of gender in Kabbalah echo the physical differences between men and women. Bestowal is a masculine role; receiving is a feminine one. Consequently Kaballa personifies the higher realms as masculine in relation to those below since they impart, and the others imbibe.