Part 3, "Simple Instructions for Knowing God"
Perhaps the most clearly differentiated representation of the process Jung calls the "transformation (or 'continuing incarnation') of God" is to be found in the "Rosarium Pictures" of ancient alchemy. These pictures are a "text book" of and "road map" to what Jung was describing when he said:
"The continuing direct operation of the Holy Ghost on those who are called to be God's children implies, in fact, a broadening process of incarnation....The future indwelling of the Holy Ghost in man amounts to a continuing incarnation of God....God wanted to become man, and still wants to....At first God incarnated his good side in order, as we may suppose, to create the most durable basis for a later assimilation of the Other side. From the promise of the Paraclete we may conclude that God wants to become wholly man; in other words, to reproduce himself in his own dark creature -- man not redeemed from original sin." (Answer to Job, pars. 658, 739, 741)
Thus, we see an increasing degree of "darkness" and ordinary humanity in the personalities of the later incarnations such as Sabbatai Zevi and then, to an even greater degree, Jacob Frank. In other words, the vessels through whom God chooses to reunite with Himself in the world become increasingly sinful rather than holy -- increasingly common-place rather than sanctified.
To bring it home by putting the finest possible edge on it, these "vessels" for the continuing incarnation are becoming more and more like you and me -- the sinners of the world -- and less and less like them, the "Saints" who came before us. God is raising up containers for Himself by increasingly selecting those of us who are imperfect rather than "perfect," ignorant rather than "wise," guilty rather than "innocent," tainted rather than "pure" -- because, as Jung has said, "in [them] the dark God would find no room." (ibid, par. 746) This is the meaning of the Tao Te Ching when it says, "We should blunt our sharp points, and unravel the complications of things; we should temper our brightness, and bring ourselves into agreement with the obscurity of others."
While I was at the C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles, I had the following conversation with one of my training analysts who was also an ordained Zen-Buddhist monk from Japan:
Yakov Leib: Roshi, what is Buddha?
Roshi: Buddha is the stick you wipe your ass with.
"The One who dwells within [us], whose form has no knowable boundaries, who encompasses [us] on all sides, fathomless as the abysms of the earth and vast as the sky." (Answer to Job, par. 758)
At the same time, Jung describes the character of this "One-Who-Dwells-Within-Us" very much like that of the wild ox in the Zen pictures, when he writes:
"I do not mean . . . .that Yahweh is imperfect or evil, like a Gnostic demiurge. He is everything in its totality; therefore he is, among other things, total [good], and also its total opposite." (ibid par. 574)
Again like the wild Ox, this God, this Yahweh, is a primitive and undifferentiated consciousness, unconscious of Himself as Self, until He encounters the consciousness of man, the Other, reflecting back at Him that which He is but cannot see without a mirror:
"The character [of Yahweh] . . . . fits a personality who can only convince himself that he exists through his relation to an object. Such dependence on the object is absolute when the subject is totally lacking in self-reflection [as is Yahweh] and therefore has no insight into himself. It is as if he existed only by reason of the fact that he has an object which assures him that he is really there." (ibid, par. 574)
For this reason, King David exclaims:
"Come back, Yahweh, rescue my soul, save me, if you love me; for in death there is no remembrance of you; who can sing your praises in Sheol? . . . . . What do you gain by my blood, if I go down to the Pit? Can dust praise you or proclaim your faithfulness?" (Psalms 6:4-5, 30:9)
And it was for this reason that only after Moses "turned and looked at the burning bush," could God exclaim for the first time, Eheyeh! -- "I Am!" (Exodus 3:1, 13)
"There have been accounts of the impact of Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah on psychology (e.g. Freud and Jung), and some discussion of the psychological significance of the Kabbalah, but [Yakov Leib HaKohain] is the first to our knowledge who explicitly combines archetypal information and Jungian concepts in back-and-forth relation between dreams, personal history, and Kabbalistic imagery." -- Dr. J. Marvin Spiegelman, Jungian Analyst and Past President of the C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles (quoted from Modern Jew in Search of a Soul, Falcon Press, 1986, p. 84)
In the history of Kabbalah in general, and my own practice and teaching in particular, dreams play a pivotal role in communicating with and being guided by that transcendent reality we call, God. I propose, therefore, to devote this series of lectures to an understanding of the theory and practice of dreams and dreaming in "Yalhakian" Neo-Sabbatian Kabbalah. To begin with, there is a prevalent notion that the dream is an ad-hoc, in-the-moment byproduct of sleep -- much like the cast-off refuse of the day's activities. (Vedanta is one such belief system.) However, according to Jung:
"The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recess of the psyche, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness may extend." (Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 304f.)
Here Jung makes an important point, not only about the nature of the dream, but about the nature of consciousness itself: the dream is a "little door," as he calls it, into an ongoing psychic scenario being played out continually just under our level of conscious awareness. It is not that the dream simply "happens" when we fall asleep, it is that sleep removes the barrier to our awareness of what is and has been already happening, by temporarily dissolving the ego consciousness intruding upon it.
Thus, what Jung is saying, is that the drama of our "spiritual evolution" -- where we are, where we've been and where we're headed in our march towards God-realization -- is constantly unfolding just under the uppermost level of our consciousness, but the ego-personality blocks our awareness of it. Since, however, as we know, the ego-personality dissolves in sleep (in what Hinduism calls "turiya"), the "door" to what has been going on all along is opened for us to see what we previously were unaware of.
Viewed in this way, the dream becomes an ongoing "progress report" of our spiritual process. The difficulty, however, is that this report is "written" by the Psyche in its archaic language of archetypal symbols. As Yahweh told Moses, "My thoughts are not your thoughts," and so to understand the dream, we must learn to understand the language of its author, the Psyche. To a large extent my other series of lectures, "Kabbalah and the Interpretation of Dreams" takes up a discussion of that language, so I will not deal with it here except to say that it requires "ears that hear" and not "lips that speak" to understand. Be that as it may, next I'll touch briefly on its vocabulary and how to grasp it.
For almost 70 years, I have been practicing and teaching Kabbalah and the interpretation of dreams. During that time, I've learned that Kabbalistic symbols appear in the dreams of contemporary men and women; and, what is more, they seem not to be confined to the dreams of Jews alone, but also occur in those of non-Jews as well. These dreams affirm that the Psyche -- or, if you will permit me, God -- still speaks to mankind in its ancient language of Kabbalah. We dream the same dreams Isaac Luria dreamed, Sabbatai Zevi dreamed, Yakov Leib Frank and the Baal Shem Tov dreamed: the same symbols and the same Numinousum. Whatever or Whoever planted the Tree in Blind Isaac's eyes continues planting it in our own. These dreams, these symbols, testify to the continuity of the Psyche, to the durability of the Soul. They are even evidence for some of us that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all His other Prophets of yesterday and today is neither dead nor distant, but only unheard.
In a way that one can neither prove, nor wants to, these dreams testify to the enduring presence of Divinity in daily affairs of the human incarnation. The archaic symbols of Kabbalah in the dreams of modern, ordinary men and women -- Jew and non-Jew alike -- are a living testimony to their Author's accessibility. They come from the Secret Places and connect us to their legacy of mystery. They perplex us, discomfort us. They are "meaningless," yet saturated with meaning; "alien," yet oddly familiar; "disturbing" and, at the same time, a consolation.
It is their impenetrability, their strangeness and their compassion; their eagerness to "help," to instruct, to guide, to comfort; their concern for our well-being and their persistence in the face of our dismissal of them; it is these qualities of theirs (or those who send them) which add depth, meaning and dimension to our lives. The troublesome and inconsequential shrink to proportion in the wake of such profound antiquity washing over us in dreams and, if we attend to them, in our waking life. At the very least we are awed, typically we are catalyzed, and at best, transformed. Confronted and confounded with such authentic meaning in ourselves, we cannot help but see ourselves as sacramental vessels -- and those of us who live that myth, who listen for the Rustling of the Leaves, having seen or heard them, move with ponderous unsure steps toward our appointment with whatever or whomever calls us.
"In dreams we put on the likeness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood. Out of these all-uniting depths arises the dream." -- C. G. Jung (Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 304)
So we see that in sleep the "little door," as Jung called it, between the two levels of human consciousness -- that is, "personal" and "transpersonal" -- is flung open and we can see in sleep what we were incapable of seeing when awake. And again, as I have said repeatedly, it is not that what we "see" at that moment happens specifically at that moment, but rather that it has been happening long before we have seen it, and will continue happening long after we awake.
At that moment of the dream -- as in the Hindu concept of "turiya" -- the separation between the Self and personal consciousness is rectified in what can be called, in the Neo-Sabbatian sense, a "Moment of Tikkun." The "Face of God" -- having divided into the "Greater" and "Lesser" countenances (Sefirah Keter and Tiferet, respectively) during wakefulness -- are reunited and, in Jung's words, "we put on the likeness of primordial night" and "become the Self" just as the Self "becomes us" and we exist in a state that is "indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood."
Put another way, in sleep the ego returns to its Source, the Self, from which it evolved by the process of "spiritual mitosis" I described in my earlier lecture, "Evolution of the Ego". Post-natal consciousness dissolves back into pre-natal consciousness: the duality of This-and-That which characterizes the former state returns to the simple This-Ness of the latter. Indeed, "God is One, and His name is One" and the "shattering of the vessels" that took place at the moment of creation (i.e., birth) is rectified -- but only momentarily, because with our return to waking consciousness, the "shattering of the vessels" again takes place and the Unity of God destroyed yet once again.
According to Jung, however, the process of "interpreting" the dream, becomes a vehicle for re-establishing a waking dialogue between the Self and the personal ego, thereby keeping the "little door" between them slightly ajar at all times. In this regard, it is not so much the understanding of the dream that matters, but our effort to understand it at all; it is not so much being correct about its meaning, but the attempt to find that meaning in the first place that alerts the Self to our readiness to engage it in what Jung has called an Auseinandersetzung, or face-to-face "tete-a-tete," only after which can we say, with the Biblical Job in the final moments of his apotheosis:
"I am the one who obscured [Your] designs [Yahweh] with my empty-headed words. I have been holding forth on matters I cannot understand, on marvels beyond me and my knowledge . . I knew You then only by hearsay; but now, having seen You with my own eyes, I retract all I have said, and in dust and ashes I repent." (Job 42:3)