Author: Bnei Baruch
The poem The Tree of Life was written by a great 16th century Kabbalist, Isaac Luria (also known as the Ari) to show us the origins of our existence. It begins:
Behold, that before the emanations were emanated and the creatures were created,
The upper simple Light had filled the whole existence.
And there was no vacancy, such as an empty atmosphere, a hollow, or a pit,
But all was filled with simple, boundless Light.
In the midst of this Light, the thought of creation appeared. It was the epitome of a mother’s womb, and the Light surrounded the fetus with warmth and nourishment, providing for all its needs. Kabbalah teaches us that we began our journey in this womb as one united soul called Adam HaRishon, or “first man.”
In the perfection of the Light, we were united as one soul, but like a fetus, the soul was unaware of its own existence or the process it was undergoing. In order to advance from this state of unawareness, Adam HaRishon had to pass through several spiritual states until it reached a point where the soul could experience its own existence and a desire for the Light. Along the way, a breaking occurred which Kabbalists refer to as “the breaking of the vessels.”
Through this shattering, the soul split into individual sparks which became detached from the Source of Light and abundance. Just as light can only be appreciated if you know darkness, the soul could only appreciate the abundance surrounding it by first experiencing scarcity. For this to happen, the Light had to be concealed from the soul. Each tiny fragment of the soul began to sense itself as separate and unique: a person. This detachment from our Source and from each other, or the absence of Light within each soul, is what we feel as “this world.”
We fell into this world, but this was not the end. We kept on falling. For thousands of years, our sense of isolation and egoism grew. We suffered and cried out from the pain. When it became unbearable, the cry formed into a question: Why? What is the purpose of our existence, our suffering, our life? When asked in full earnestness, the question awakens a single “point in the heart,” a point that had lain dormant for all those years that had gone before. This point remembers the abundance of the Light and longs to reconnect with all the other sparks and return back to its Source.
Thus the quest begins, but the road to return is not easy. It involves personal struggle, revelation of the true nature of the soul. On one hand, we experience the desires and motivations of this world, which is all we know. On the other hand, there is this elusive pull of the point in the heart, which tells us that this is all a dream, and that there is something much greater available to us. If we allow that point in the heart to pull us forward and upward, we begin to get glimpses of the abundance that awaits.
Using these glimpses to drive us onward, we climb the ladder of life, returning through the exact same path by which we descended. Through these remembrances of our previous states, one begins to understand that the descent was there for the purpose of ascent. From this perspective, this world is only a stepping stone for the soul in the world to come.
So, if you have that yearning, the desire for answers to the deeper meaning of your life, Kabbalah can help you see that it’s because you are more than your body. We are all more than our bodies. We are a collective piece of one soul, and deep down we yearn for that connection. It is through reconnecting with each other while we live in this corporeal existence that we attract the Light that moves us back to our Source. Through this process, we begin to experience the abundance of beauty, joy and love intended for us.
Bnei Baruch, http://www.kabbalah.info/ is the largest group of Kabbalists in Israel, sharing the wisdom of Kabbalah with the entire world. Study materials in over 25 languages are based on authentic Kabbalah texts that were passed down from generation to generation.