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THE HIDDEN GARDEN
by Chad Imbrogno
"The whole subject of the Kabbalah is to explain
the nature of God, blessed be He, that He is absolutely
and truly One, that He is unchangeable and that
He has no bodily attributes..."
Moses Chayim Luzzatto
On a remote mountain overlooking the Hula Valley, the small village of the Safed stands still in time, as if held back by the legacy of the saints who walked the streets hundreds of years ago. Or perhaps the small community of artists and mystics are still held back by the saints of who still walk in their midsts. The quiet streets are only interrupted by the occasional movement of a person from one place to another or the occasional meditive chants growing to a fevered pitch. In every doorway sits a cat, peacefully tending to itself and diligently keeping watch over the city.
Through these streets moves a disturbing force. He doesn't shout or move erratically. There is no violence in his demeanor. Initially one would simply make him out to be another of the town's inhabitants. Yet there seemed to be a certain amount of haste in his movements, an impatience that seemed to rustle the stillness wherever he went. The cats seemed particularly annoyed at his presence.
This hurried man first wound down the dusty roads to a quiet slope that was both removed from the town and yet always in view. This slope covered with the graves of past inhabitants seemed to sit as solemn reminder as to the greatness that once walked to streets. The man walked to one of the graves, that of the man who was known as the "Ari," prostrated himself before it and seemed to fall into a silent meditation. After some time he stood back up, brushed the dirt from his robes, and returned to the narrow roads of Safed.
The man stopped in front of a small house with faded, light blue lining about the door. A cat sat in the doorway, a dark orangeish tabby, and did not seem the least bit pleased at this man's arrival. It looked up at him unapprovingly as he knocked on the door and waited. After a minute passed, the man raised his hand to knock once again.
"You need not knock again. I have been here waiting for the whole time." The door opened and an older man in a white robe smiled at his newly arrived guest. "You must be patient if you are going to learn the methods of hitbodedut."
"H-how did you know I came to learn meditation?" The young visitor spoke his Hebrew with a definitive American accent.
"Would-be students are all that come to my door, child. Please, tell me your name."
"Uh, Aryeh Abelson, I am Joseph Kuria, an American student of the Kabbalah. I have come a great ways to learn more of hitbodedut from you, the greatest living practitioner of our time."
"Very well, Joseph. Are you in a condition of perfect equilibrium?"
"I think so."
"When you are insulted, are your feelings hurt? When you are complimented, do you feel pride?"
Joseph seemed surprised at this question. "Um, yes, I suppose I do."
Aryeh simply nodded and replied, "The go back out into the world and practice detachment from pain and pleasure for a few more years. When you are done, return and I shall teach you how to meditate."
"What? No!" A look of panic overtook Joseph's face. "I've come so far and learned so much. I must be ready!"
"Your outburst proves that you are not."
"No? I am able to call upon the powers of the Kabbalah. Watch!" Joseph took a step back a held his hand out to a nearby chair. "I call upon Geburah and Chesed!" The chair slowly slid across the floor and stopped in front of Aryeh. Joseph beamed with pride.
"Perhaps you should take a seat in the chair you have so conveinently pulled up, Joseph. I see that you have much more to learn of Kabbalah that I had assumed." Aryeh closed the door behind Joseph as he entered the mystic's simple home and then took a seat across from his guest.
"Now, Joseph, I don't know what books you have been reading over in America, but I fear that you have gotten the wrong idea about Kabbalah. You seem to think that it is some sort of school of sorcery, like those found in fantasy books."
"Why are you so concerned?" Joseph asked indignantly. "You were ready so send me off packing with out so much of a word of advice before I showed you what I could do."
"That was because I didn't know you were an Omega before, Joseph."
Joseph was stunned. "An Omega?"
"Yes. Add that to the inherent dangers of Kabbalah and you could become dangerous not only to yourself but to others."
"What kind of dangers could there be in Jewish mysticism?"
Aryeh chuckled gently to himself. "You have not even reached the first gate then. Let me tell you of four great sages, Ben Azai, Ben Zoma, Ben Abuyah, and Rabbi Akiva. If you look in the history books, Ben Zoma became insane, Ben Abuyah turned apostate, Ben Azai died early in life, and Rabbi Akiva lived to be a saint.
"All of these men took to the mystical ways to achieve Pardes. Ben Azai, when he beheld His majesty, so longed to be one with Him that he gave up his physical form to join the light. He died young and never achieved all that he could have for his fellow man.
"Ben Zoma wasn't able to deal with the concept of existing in both a real, ordinary world and one of visionary enlightenment. His mind split and he was rendered mad.
"Ben Abuyah had not properly death with some intellectual questions that he still had. When he reached the light did not see God in his Oneness, but Two Gods. He instantly turned apostate and traitor."
"Only Rabbi Akiva was had the experience and balance necessary to cleave to God and return to share with his fellow man."
Joseph seemed confused. "So, why then did God grant me this gift in the midsts of meditation?"
"Perhaps he sees much more promise in you that any other. Your gift is a biological one, Joseph, and will make your journey ten times more difficult and dangerous."
"So what must I do to begin?"
"Return to America. Learn all there is about your gift in a scientific nature. Learn all you can about the scientific world about you. In your meditations then, contemplate upon the wonders of God's creation in both is extraordinary complexity it's divine simpleness. In your waking hours, come to experience Awe at the very sight of a tree, the description of a strand of DNA, or your own breathing. When you can do this, return to me and I shall prepare you to pass through the second gate."
"I don't understand. Should I be social or meditive?"
"Both. A true Kabbalist walks with his feet on the ground and his head above the clouds. Above all, though, remember that Kabbalah is not the study of ancient texts to achieve power for yourself but an attempt to come closer to and eventually cleave to your God. For this you speak with your own Rabbi."
"And what of my gift?"
"That will come clear to you in time."
The student and the teacher both rose, exchanged gratitudes and farewells, and the student left. As he slowly wound his ways through the cramped, dusty roads, the cats didn't seem to mind him as much.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Back to the top
This was originally the beginning to what was going to be a LS, but I just don't have time right now. Perhaps Joseph could get together with Marc's Indian Omega for a "introduced but not implemented" LS. Most quotes and information on the Kabbalah were taken from Perle Epstein's Kabbalah: Way Of The Jewish Mystic and Scholem's On The Kabbalah And Its Symbolism.
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