God in Drag

"It's all God in Drag!" I first heard this phrase from Ram Dass while attending one of his spiritual retreats. All of us laughed deeply when he delivered the phrase with his perfect spirtual/comic timing. I laughed so hard I almost cried while the ripples of my laughter mixed with the chills of feeling like I was hearing a profound truth.

Over the years this phrase has often helped me to surrender into the Divine Flow of life by reminding me that whatever is happening is perfect as it is and I just need to be fully present to it.

So many times in my life I have been re-minded of this truth. So many times I have had experiences that seemed bad, horrible and/or traumatic, only to find out over time that they were part of a greater arc of experience that almost always brought about growth and blessing.

At that same spiritual retreat Ram Dass expanded on this idea of "It's all God in drag" by telling the following story:

There once was a rancher who had a beautiful stallion. He loved this stallion and pampered it with love and attention. One day there was a great storm and the stallion broke free and ran off into the mountains. The rancher and his family all sat around the hearth and bemoaned their bad fortune. The old grandfather merely sat in the corner and whispered a soft and whimsical: "ah-so."

Three days later, after the storm had passed, the stallion returned. As he galloped into the coral, three wild horses followed him. The rancher and his family were overjoyed at their good fortune. Of course, Grandpa just smiled and said "ah-so."

The ranchers' eldest son asked if he could learn to break in one of the wild horses. His father began to teach his son, when all of a sudden the wild horse threw the son across the coral. The son broke his hip and laid in bed in dire pain. The family huddled around, grumbling about the great misfortune. Grandpa gently held the boy's hand and whispered once again…"ah-so."

The next day a great army came to the village and took all able-bodied young men. The ranchers' son was spared. All eyes looked to the grandfather, who just smiled wisely and said…"ah-so."

Ah-so...Oh-Gee...It's all God in Drag!

Divine Flow

Many years ago, while I was backpacking through Europe, I began to notice myself falling into two distinct patterns of experience. One pattern seemed to consist of periods in which everything flowed smoothly. Things would unfold effortlessly and seemed to work out perfectly. I would meet people who would point me in the right direction where I would in turn meet others. I would have the sense that I was in the right place at the right time and that there was a grand intelligence guiding me. All the elements of my life and the life of those I met seemed to be in some kind of beautiful synchronized orbit held together by some strange unseen force ... and life felt rich and full of "original gravity."

Then, suddenly, I would find myself in another pattern of experience. Everything seemed to go wrong, and I was out of the flow. I sensed that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Places I wanted to see would be closed or inaccessible. People seemed distant and cold. I felt isolated and alone. Every step was an effort, and I felt out of synch with everyone and everything.

Slowly I began to realize that there were certain thoughts and perceptions that seemed to precipitate and support these two different patterns of experience. A surrendering of my plans, expectations, and past memories preceded the periods in which I experienced a sense of flow and effortlessness. During these periods of flow I would tend to be totally in the present moment. I seemed to naturally accept things and people as they were. The periods in which I experienced everything being out of balance seemed to coincide with planning, expectations, and/or following a past idea, suggestion, or desire. A flood of past memories and future concerns also marked these times.

The qualities of my flow experiences were very similar to those described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his writings on flow (1990; 1993; 1997). These qualities include the loss of self-consciousness, a sense of being part of some greater entity, and an altered sense of time (Csikszentmihalyi, 1993). This experience of flow is "... like being carried away by a current, everything moving smoothly without effort" (Csikszentmihalyi, 1993, p. xiii).

At first I tried to manipulate myself into having these flow experiences, but that only seemed to send me farther into the other experience. I began to see that each pattern of experience was related to the other. My periods of flow seemed to come from the surrender produced by the culmination of the frustration of the "out of the flow" experiences.

When I finally surrendered to the whole process the rest of my journey was filled with miracles and blessings. I felt guided at every step by a loving and compassionate force beyond my comprehension. Though I had explored spirituality and caught glimpses of this force prior to my trip, none of my previous experiences compared with the combined depth, magnitude, duration, and everyday integration of my experiences in Europe.

When I returned from my trip overseas I was unable to retain my deep and continual connection with this force, yet somehow I felt as though I had awakened from a deep unknown sleep. Everything seemed different; old familiar people, places, and experiences had a different quality to them. It was as though my center of gravity had shifted.

It is a disturbance of the equilibrium of the self, which results in the shifting of the field of consciousness from lower to higher levels, with a consequent removal of the centre of interest from the subject to an object now brought into view: the necessary beginning of any process of transcendence. (Underhill, 1961, p. 176)

Before my journey, my life was centered on career and finding romantic love, with short excursions into the realm of spirituality. After my experiences in Europe, the center of my life seemed to shift toward becoming the best human being I could become, and to find a way of reconnecting with the experience of Divine Flow. I began to explore, more deeply and earnestly, the world's spiritual and religious systems for knowledge and practices that could aid in my journey. And ultimately, I was lead to a process of self-reflection and self-inquiry to deepen my quest to understand this strange and wondrous experience of being in the Divine Flow.

*Excerpt from Original Gravity: A Personal Narrative Theology Inquiry into the Experience of Seeking, Receiving, and Following Divine Guidance by Mark Allan Kaplan, Ph.D.

Cosmic Dance

Renewal by Csuri

When I integrate
the different levels
of my inner and outer life,
I enter into a glorious and miraculous
cosmic dance,
in harmony with
all that is within
and all that is without,
from the tiniest atom
to the greatest
expanse of the universe,
I am held and impelled
by an original gravity,
a force of ancient origin
and of a continually
unfolding newness,
unique and original,
and together,
you and I
and all of creation
are balanced,
and complete,
at home
in orbit
around the sphere
of all being-ness.

First Taste

Many years ago I traveled to London for the first time and met a sixty-year-old British postal worker in the Duke of Wellington Pub in Soho.

He bought me a glass of barley wine and told me it had a very good original gravity.

I asked him what he meant by original gravity.

He explained that it was the British method of expressing the strength of a beer.

He winked and said I should always make sure I’m partaking of strong original gravity.

As he spoke these words he seemed to momentarily transform from an intoxicated postal worker into a sparkling-eyed mystic.

In my mind, the phrase original gravity blossomed into a metaphor for living life to its fullest, and over the years it has become the catch phrase for the state of being I aspire to attain in my life and through my work in creative expression, education, spirituality, research and healing.

*Excerpt from Original Gravity: A Personal Narrative Theology Inquiry into the Experience of Seeking, Receiving, and Following Divine Guidance by Mark Allan Kaplan, Ph.D.

Original Gravity

Original Gravity, as I have come to use it, refers to that original force that attracts and holds all things together: It is Michael Murphy’s true gravity, "…a universal force, an ethical imperative, and an overwhelming spiritual experience…the omnipresent "heart power" or "feeling-force" that permeates all things" (Murphy, 1972); it is Ken Wilber’s Spirit-in-action, the Eros "…that moves through you and me, urging us to include, to diversify, to honor, to enfold" (Wilber, 2000); and it is Jean Gebser’s inner commission that points beyond us and is the driving force behind all healing and transformation, and the evolution of consciousness,

Whichever way we may live, we need to remember that we are also lived by an authority or a power for which there are many names. And, above all, we must remember one thing, namely that whichever way we live, we follow, whether we know it or not, an inner commission that points beyond us. – Jean Gebser (Feuerstein, 1987)

This "Divine" inner commission is the guiding force behind the "next manifesting Phase" (Murphy, 1972) of our personal, cultural, and social evolution; it is the guiding force within the evolution of consciousness; and it is the guiding force that I seek within every aspect of my life.

Answering the Call of Stuttering: The Story of the Making of Voice in Exile

Back in the mid-8Os, I was invited to attend the premier of a 30-minute film on stuttering that was written, directed, and produced by Mark Allan Kaplan, a graduate student at the American Film Institute. It was a remarkable accomplishment in many ways, especially in how concisely it captured the essence of the stuttering experience. The fact that it was created by a student made it even more remarkable. Since then, Voice in Exile has had hundreds of screenings... on Cable Television, at National Stuttering Association chapters, and in schools across the country. No film better communicates to the non-stuttering world what many of us have gone through; and yet, the story is uplifting and transcendent.

– John Harrison, National Stuttering Association

It was the fall of 1979 and my junior year at the University of Southern California. Professor Barbara Myerhoff entered the classroom, and began to teach us about personal and social anthropology, myths, and dreams. During one of the classes, Professor Myerhoff introduced us to the world of the Shaman, the indigenous holy person, or medicine man (or women). She explained to us that the shaman was the “expert of the injured soul” who has been called on by the spirits to heal themselves and others. This call often came in the form of a sickness that the shaman-elect would have to cure themselves of with the aid of helping spirits. Once they cured themselves by traveling between the waking world and the world of the spirits, they would have the ability to help others.

After the lecture, Professor Myerhoff asked me to walk with her back to her office. She said she was touched by my personal journal entries about my stuttering. Her voice softened to almost a whisper as she told me that it was believed that stuttering was one of the major afflictions that the spirits used to call someone to the shaman’s path. Professor Myerhoff smiled, and told me that after reading my personal writings, getting to know me in person, and being deeply moved by my films, she believed I was being called by spirit through my stuttering to heal myself and to help others.

At first I was just sort of numb. I thanked her for her insights as she went into her office. I walked around campus for a while in a daze and ended up in the courtyard of the Philosophy building. As I stared into the bubbling water of the circular fountain in the center of the gothic courtyard, my whole perception of my self began to shift. I had always seen my stuttering as this horrible and crippling handicap. Now, as I began to think of my stuttering as a challenge for change and growth from some higher or deeper source, a heaviness seemed to lift from around my heart.

Inspired by my experiences with Professor Myerhoff and my exposure to shamanism, I began to ask within for a direction or purpose. A while later, during a film project evaluation, one of my film professors said that he believed my stuttering had made me a great filmmaker. He explained that because words were so hard for me that I had found a way of speaking visually with great depth and power. Looking back at my life, I suddenly saw my creative endeavors into drawing, painting, architecture, still photography, and film as part of a great archetypal quest to communicate with others beyond the realm of the spoken word. Not long after this encounter, I received the inspiration to create a dramatic film based on my own experiences and perceptions as a stutterer. The making of this film would be a vision quest into the depths of my own psyche to uncover and share what it felt like to be a person who stutters. I sensed that the process of making this film could be healing for myself and for others, and a culmination of my creative quest to communicate.

As I began to work on the story, the idea of creating a shamanic subplot emerged. The story would be about a young stutterer who would face his fears with the help of his grandfather, a retired anthropology professor specializing in shamanism. His journey would include the waking world, dreams, symbols, and archetypes.

After graduating from USC, I attended the American Film Institute (AFI) to continue developing my craft, and to supply a creative container for the making of this film. One day the title for the film came to me in a dream. I saw myself on a lone runway. I opened my mouth to scream, but there were steel bars in my mouth. I woke up with the title: Voice in Exile.

After the first year at the AFI, I returned to my childhood home in Chicago, Illinois and spent the summer writing the screenplay for Voice in Exile. The familiar surroundings of my childhood aided in the unearthing of the emotional and psychological memories needed for the story. This entire process felt like a dream. As I descended into the darkness of my unconscious, the world around me seemed supportive and gentle. It felt as though the world was holding its breath while I journeyed within. A black bird became the helping spirit in my story in parallel with my seeing large black crows following me wherever I would go. They seemed to be my helping spirits, both within my story and in my waking life, telling me I was on the right track.

After completing the first draft of the script I returned to school, and began the process of making the film. I met with the Los Angeles chapter of the National Stuttering Association to deepen my research for the final draft of the script. This was my first group encounter with fellow stutterers and as I became aware of our shared reality, I had a deep sense of tribal homecoming. After completing the final script, we began pre-production, which included casting the actors and preparing them for the shoot. This was the beginning of my quest to train an actor to stutter. At first it was merely a mechanical process, working on the physical process of stuttering. Then came the journey into the psyche of the stutterers mind, my mind. I learned so much about my self from this process that I am still in awe of it.

Weeks later we began to shoot the film but the production process was fraught with turbulence and confusion. Communication problems arose at every turn. My mind seemed to be waging a war within me – part of me wanted to share my truths, and another part of me was terrified. Everyone who worked on the film seemed to be caught in the energy of some form of communication challenge.

When principal photography was finished, I was exhausted and burnt out. I went up to San Francisco to work with my composer, and he suggested I go to Esalen Institute in Big Sur for some rest. Driving down the California coast was calming. I drove along the winding road south of Big Sur looking for Esalen, hoping that it would be before the spot where the coast road had been closed for the past year because of storm damage. Up ahead, I saw the signs announcing that the coast road was still closed. I stopped at the roadblock, and asked a construction worker when the road would be open. He smiled and said, “Right now, you’re the first to get through.” He waved and the crew lifted the barrier. As I drove past the construction site I couldn’t help feeling as though I were being divinely guided.

I drove for a while, and finally found Esalen. Driving down the steep incline into the property, I felt an incredible sense of belonging. Even though I had never been there before, it seemed deeply familiar, like a long lost home. I went to the office and asked if they had any vacancies. They told me that I was lucky because there was only one opening left.

After checking in, I walked around the grounds in a daze, wondering what was happening to me. I found my way to the dining room, and sat at a small table by myself, eating my food, and surveying the colorful crowd. A middle aged Native American woman approached and asked if she could join me. I said sure. She smiled warmly and sat down. Looking deeply into my eyes, she told me that she was a shaman and could tell that I had just been through a very powerful creative experience that was chaotic and painful. She continued, saying that communication was the central theme. At this point, I could only stare in dismay. The woman proceeded to tell me that the creative endeavor was successful, despite the confusing nature of the experience. She told me I needed to replenish my energy by resting my body, following my intuition, and doing only what I felt like doing.

Later that evening I floated in the mineral baths under the stars wondering if I was dreaming and if my journey to share the inner life of a stutterer would have value. In the darkness beside me, a man and woman were having a conversation. The woman stuttered as she told the man “… if y-you c-could o-o-only kn-now how it fffeels.” Tears came to my eyes as the hot water penetrated my pores and her words cut through the darkness miraculously answering my hearts question.

Feeling rested and renewed, I returned to Los Angeles and finished the film. We premiered the film, and it was a great success. Stutterers and non-stutterers said they were deeply moved. The studios called me for private screenings, power lunches, and meetings. The film won many awards, and was shown at festivals across the country. Amidst all this, I was asked to show the film and speak at a national convention for the National Stuttering Association. As I stood before the crowd of several hundred stutterers, I felt like the shaman who had gone on a vision quest, and was now bringing it back to share with the tribe. I was truly overwhelmed by the response. Stutterers, their spouses, and their families expressed their gratitude for the healing the film brought into their lives.

My vision quest was complete, yet it seemed as though my journey was just beginning. I thought I would feel whole and healed, but I felt empty and naked. All my fears were exposed to the light, the trappings of fame and fortune seemed hollow, and the person I thought I was seemed like an illusion. I left Hollywood in search of my self and to continue my quest to heal my stuttering. I traveled to distant lands, explored the rituals and practices of many spiritual traditions, and became a student of eastern and western psychology. I have lived through many crises of the heart, the mind, and the spirit, as well as many physical challenges including poor health, bankruptcy and near homelessness.

During this strange and wondrous adventure I have learned how to love and how to live more fully. With the completion of “Voice in Exile” my quest to communicate through other forms beyond the spoken word shifted to a quest to find my own voice and to help others find theirs. As I look back on my journey, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the gift of both the blessings and challenges along the way, for they all conspired toward my growth. I have discovered that stuttering can be a call to awaken and to heal the self and others; I have discovered that for true healing to occur we must work on all levels of ourselves: Body, mind, heart and spirit; and I have discovered that the journey is all there is and it is endless.

*Originally Published in Letting Go: The Monthly Publication of the National Stuttering Association, May/June, 1-10, 2002

Eternal Light

After Endlessness (EIN SOF) withdrew itself (Zimzum) from one place and the void appeared, the EIN SOF OR, the Eternal Light, surrounded the void.

With the appearance of the Light, the universe expanded, then the Eternal Light contracted and entered the void and poured its radiance into the center of the void. The center could not contain the Light and it shattered, and the light separated into tiny sparks or particles of light, which radiated outward in undulating waves of vibration. The light became concealed within these undulating waves which then unfolded into different forms and different worlds.

This concealed light is the light of the whole spectrum of vibratory substance from cosmic rays to visible light to audible sound to the vibrating molecules of matter. Theoretical Physicist David Bohm considered light to be the entire electromagnetic spectrum and beyond it as well. He saw light as more than just energy, but as the potential and foundation of literally everything that exists, enfolding the whole material universe. (1)


Hidden in all these vibratory forms are the sparks of the Eternal Light continuously emerging out of and dissolving back into the great cosmic void, like the sea of photons that continuously arise out of and dissolve back into the quantum void at the heart of every atom within every form and substance of the universe. The ancient texts of sacred wisdom and the electron microscopes of science seem to be revealing the same underlying truth, that at the heart of everything is a great void and out of this great void comes light and out of this light comes all that exists and all that exists is just vibrating waves of being. (3)


With the appearance of the light, the universe expanded.
With the concealment of the light,
the things that exist were created in all their variety.
This is the secret of the act of creation.
One who understands this will understand everything. (5)

The light is said to be hidden in Torah, in the human soul,
and in sparks of light that fill and animate the entire world. (6)

This Inner Light is born within us at birth
and it is the stuff that we are made of,
and so it is said we are "Children of Light."
There is also an Encircling Light that we create
as we perform acts of loving-kindness. (7)


Since the eternal light is the closest visible form to the Divine Endlessness, there was always a light burning in the Holy Temple of the Children of Israel, and to this day every Judaic House of Worship has a continuously burning "Eternal Light" (Ner Tamid) in its sanctuary. This eternal light burning in the sanctuary is there to remind us of the EIN SOF OR, the Eternal Light within every aspect of creation, arising out of the Divine void in waves and waves of vibrations continuously unfolding and enfolding into and out of existence.

My earliest childhood memory is of a haunting mystical experience of this vibrating reality that I had when I was in first grade. One morning, as I was getting ready to go to school, I experienced a deep sense of panic at the thought of returning to the ridicule and laughter I was receiving from my fellow classmates because of my stutter. Walking down the block with the other kids, the dread became unbearable. I turned the corner and slipped behind some tall bushes. As I watched the other kids going to school, I started to calm down. After a while, the street was empty. I slowly got up, turned down our back alley, and walked back to my house. I snuck into the garage, took my bicycle, and rode off feeling the urgency of escape. After riding through the neighborhood for a while, I turned down an alley and suddenly stopped.

Autumn leaves swirled around the cracked pavement of the alley, being blown in spiraling waves by the strong Chicago winds. White billowing clouds swiftly rolled across the bright blue sky above, and the electric power lines gently hummed around me. In an instant all my pains and fears vanished, and I was filled with a sense of awe and wonder. Somehow I felt the power and beauty of nature washing over me and cleansing me. I sensed a presence of something vast and deep and unknown around me and within me. A feeling of safety and peace filled me, and I stood there for what seemed like hours. Now, after all these years I finally understand that I was bathing in the light of creation in all its vibrating forms, and this bathing awakened the light within me, producing a "lightness" of being.

This brief glimpse of the great vibrating waves of existence has lived in my memory every since, lighting my way toward my return to a state of remembering the light that is me, that is everything, that is eternal.


Let's close our eyes
and see the light shining within
Let's listen
to the sounds of light streaming around us
Let's sing out
vibrations of light and love
Let's touch
the surface of things
and sense the vibrating reality beneath
Oh great mystery of light
light in the sky
light in my eyes
light in my cells
lightness in my being
Oh great mystery of light


(1) David Bohm (In Friedman, 1990, p. 292).

(2) Image of the wave patterns produced as an electron passes through the mass of a crystal, revealing its underlying wave reality. Note the striking similarity between this image and the Kabbalistic Creation Mandala in the previous entry (Endlessness).

(3) The relationship between modern physics and spirituality is part of an emerging debate between science and spirit. There are many different views and belief's within this debate, and the concepts I am presenting here represent one of many perspectives within this ongoing dialogue between these two spheres of knowledge. My reference to "the electron microscopes of science" is meant as a metaphor, since there are many different instruments and methods used by scientists to observe and explore the quantum universe.

(4) Image of the sun's ultraviolet level of light.

(5) Shim'on Lavi (In Matt, 1995, p. 91).

(6) Rabbi Arthur Green (1992, p.154).

(7) Adapted from Dr. Philip S. Berg (1981, p.24).

(8) Kabbalistic image representing the Encircling Light.

(9) Image of the sun's x-ray level of light.


Dr. Philip S. Berg. Kabbalah for the Layman. Jerusalem, Israel: Research Centre of Kabbalah, 1981.

Norman Friedman. Bridging Science and Spirit. St. Louis, MO: Living Lake Books, 1990.

Rabbi Arthur Green. Seek My Face, Speak My Name. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1992.

Daniel C. Matt. The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism. New York: Harper-Collins Publishers, 1995.

*Title Image: Ner Tamid, the Eternal Light

*Originally published on KabbalahBlog hosted by Enlightenment.com


In Kabbalah the furthest reaches of our concept of the Divine is represented by the EIN SOF.

EIN SOF means "Without End" or "Endlessness." It is that which is beyond all things, it is the no-thing-ness out of which all things continually arise and dissolve back into; it is the quantum void or zero point field at the heart of every particle of matter, out of which all matter continually arises and dissolves back into; it is the giant black holes in the furthest reaches of the universe, continually giving birth to planets and stars and then swallowing them up again.

EIN SOF is also that which precedes thought (machshavah) and even the nothingness (ayin) out of which thought arises. (Cooper, p.67)

EIN SOF is the totality of all that is and all that is not; it is all being and all non-being; it is nothing and it is everything. It is the Divine void out of which all creation continuously arises and into which all creation ultimately returns.

Meditation on the EIN SOF is the practice of transcending our mental, emotional and perceptual boundaries and returning to the Source of Creation, the endlessness that is at the heart of our essential nature. (Fisdel, p.96)

Meditation on Nothingness

  1. Sit in a comfortable upright position and relax;

  2. Focus on the breath for a few moments;

  3. Then bring your awareness to your pulse, listening for its beat in your body;

  4. Then bring your awareness to any sensations in your body and be present to them without trying to judge or change them;

  5. Then bring your awareness to any feelings you are holding and be present to them without trying to judge or change them;

  6. Then bring your awareness to your thoughts and be present to them without trying to judge or change them;

  7.  Then bring your awareness to the space between your thoughts and imagine the space expanding into silence;

  8. Enter into the silence, the emptiness, the nothingness;

  9. Sense your being-ness beyond thought, feeling and perception. Sense your nearness to the Divine. Sense the nothingness deep within you;

  10. Be with the nothingness for as long as you can;

  11. When you are ready to return, bring your awareness back to your thoughts, then to your feelings, then to any physical sensations, then to your pulse, then to your breath;

  12. Take four slow deep breaths and slowly open your eyes.

EIN SOF Mantra and Mandala Meditation

  1. Sit in a comfortable upright position;

  2. Take four slow deep breaths;

  3. Focus your eyes on the center point of the EIN SOF Mandala above;

  4. Take slow gentle breaths while silently repeating EIN (eye'n) on the exhalations and SOF (so'f) on the inhalations;

  5. After ten breaths and silent EIN SOF repetitions, close your eyes and focus on the after image of the mandala, continuing the silent repetitions until the after image fades into nothingness;

  6. Be with the nothingness for as long as you can;

  7. When you are ready to return, bring your awareness back to your breath and take four slow deep breaths and slowly open your eyes.


Rabbi David A. Cooper. God is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism. New York: Riverhead Books, 1997.

Rabbi Steven A. Fisdel. The Practice of Kabbalah: Meditation in Judaism. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996.

Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi (Warren Kenton). Kabbalah: Tradition of Hidden Knowledge. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1979.

* EIN EIN SOF Creation Mandala

*Originally published on KabbalahBlog hosted by Enlightenment.com

Before The Beginning

The following is a version of the creation cosmology of Kabbalah, which I have compiled from several different Judaic mystical sources. It is an exploration of one level of the hidden mystical story buried under the traditional biblical story of creation. In creating this piece I endeavored to create a general summary of Kabbalistic creation cosmology and an overview of the elements of Kabbalah and their relationship to each other and the related surface story elements found in the Genesis story. These elements will be explored in more depth in upcoming KabbalahBlog entries.

Before the Beginning, there was, is, and always will be EIN SOF, the Divine field of eternal formlessness. (1)

Within the EIN SOF, a yearning arose, a yearning for 'Face to gaze upon Face;' EIN SOF wished to behold itself, so it withdrew itself (Zimzum) from one place. A void appeared "...in which the mirror of existence could be manifested." (2)

EIN SOF OR, Eternal Light, surrounded the void and emanated into it, manifesting ten distinct qualities or energies (the Ten Sefirot), in seven phases (the Seven Days of Creation), through the vibration of ten utterances (the Ten Sayings of Creation), along twenty-two paths of resonance (the Twenty-two Letters of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet). (3)

During the sixth phase of emanation (the Sixth Day of Creation), the Divine emanation unfolded into the Four Worlds of Emanation (Azilut), Creation (Beriah), Formation (Yetzirah), and Manifestation (Assiyah), with the ten energies (Sefirot) unfolding in each world, creating the cosmic Tree of Life, the pathway of Divine emanation through all the worlds. (4)

A Living Being (Human Being) was created and formed in the image of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life lived within the Being and mirrored the Tree of Life in all The Four Worlds; with the ten energies (Sefirot) of Intention (Keter), Wisdom (Chokhmah), Understanding (Binah), Compassion (Chesed), Strength (Gevurah), Beauty (Tiferet), Endurance (Netzakh), Glory (Hod), Creativity (Yesod), and Nobility (Malkut), unfolding in four levels of being: Spirit, Mind, Emotion, and Matter. (5)

Within the Human Being, the ten energies (Sefirot) emanated around the Three Pillars of Energy, Balance, and Containment. (6)

The Human Being entered a state of unconsciousness and the two outermost pillars of energy and containment differentiated into masculine and feminine energies. Thus the Human Being entered a realm of duality and began its journey of experiential learning and growth through the world of love and fear, and toward the return pathways back up the Tree of Life, where one day, the Human Being would return to it's source, the EIN SOF, and look upon it, Beloved to Beloved, Oneness to Oneness, and finally, Face will gaze upon Face. (7)


(1) EIN SOF is also transliterated as AYIN SOF and can be translated as: Without End; Absolute All. It is the title of the Divine that is formless and eternal, beyond space and time.

(2) Halevi, 1979; Zinzum is also translated as contraction.

(3) It is also said that when the Eternal Light penetrated the void, it filled it to the point of shattering its boundaries, fragmenting the light into a sea of endless sparks, which then gave birth to all matter and form (This is the Kabbalah version of the Big Bang!). It is said that every act of kindness returns one of those sparks to the Source, and hence is an act of repairing the world (Tikkun Olam); the Ten Sayings of Creation are the ten Divine utterances found in the first chapter of Genesis, beginning with “Let there be Light.”

(4) The arrangement of the 10 Sefirot and the Four Worlds varies among different schools of Kabbalah, and is depicted as either a single tree of ten Sefirot whose elements are divided into four levels or worlds, or a tree of ten Sefirot existing for each of the four worlds, or a combination of the two. This version uses the combination theory, holding that the four worlds exist within each of the four World Trees (Halevi, 1979).

(5) Each of the Ten Sefirot holds many layers of meaning and has been translated various ways by different schools of Kabbalah. The mystical cosmology depicted in this text uses the idea that the meaning of each Sefirah shifts as they enter each of the Four Worlds; the Sefirot depicted in this section represent the Divine attributes that manifest within us. The traditional translation of the ten Sefirot corresponds to the Tree of Life within the first world of Azilut (Emanation): Crown (Keter), Wisdom (Chokhmah), Understanding (Binah), Mercy (Chesed), Justice (Gevurah), Beauty (Tiferet), Victory (Netzakh), Glory (Hod), Foundation (Yesod), and Kingdom (Malkut) or Divine Presence (Shekhinah).

(6) The pattern of the Tree of Life can be seen as a lightening flash zigzagging down, and back and forth between three pillars or energetic principles. These energetic principles can be seen as the interplay between the energies of expansion, balance and contraction. The ten Seferot are laid out as intersection points between emanating Divine energies and these three principles or vertical pillars. In descending order, Keter, Tiferet, Yesod, and Malkut exist on the central pillar of balance, and the Sefirot pairs of Chokhmah and Binah, Chesed and Gevurah, and Netzakh and Hod exist within the side pillars of expansion and contraction. (More detail will be given in the upcoming entry on the Sefirot.

(7) The journey through the world of duality, represented by the Tree of Knowledge of Love and Fear in the creation story, is a necessary learning process to enable us to return to the EIN SOF, our source, and become a mirror for its eternal light and love.


Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi (Warren Kenton). Kabbalah: Tradition of Hidden Knowledge. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1979.

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Meditation and Kabbalah. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1982.

Daniel C. Matt. The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism. New York: Harper-Collins Publishers, 1995.

*Image: Kabbalistic Cosmological Map/Mandala of the process of creation.

*Originally published on KabbalahBlog hosted by Enlightenment.com

In The Beginning

The following is my own mystical translation of the first few sections of the book of Genesis (Bereshit). It is just one of many possible ways of translating this sacred text. I have used both traditional and mystical Judaic sources in the translation of this material in an attempt to capture the transformative qualities of spirit inherent in the original Hebrew text, while retaining the traditional narrative structure. These transformative and mystical qualities include a transcendent quality of time (no past or future tense) and a strict resistance to the naming of or the anthropomorphization of the Divine. I have also sought the deeper meaning of the text by translating proper names into their essential meanings. For example, the Hebrew word for Eden means delight, so the Garden of Eden is thus translated into the Garden of Delight. Additionally, I have attempted to filter out the gender, cultural and egoic biases present in some of the previous interpretations of the text.

In the beginning there was Spirit. The earth was empty and without form. Darkness covered the face of the deep. Then Spirit moved over the waters. And the Word was given: “Let there be light…” And there was light. The light was separated from the darkness. The light was called day and the darkness was called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
- Genesis 1:1-5

And the Word was given: “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, dividing upper from lower.” The firmament was called sky. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
- Genesis 1:6-8

And the Word was given: “Let the waters beneath the sky be gathered together, so that dry land may be seen.” The dry land was called earth, the gathered waters were called ocean. And the Word was given: “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and trees bearing fruit with their seed within.” And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed and trees bearing fruit with their seed within. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
- Genesis 1:9-13

And the Word was given: “Let there be luminaries in the firmament of the sky to separate day from night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, the days and the years. Let them be luminaries in the sky to give light to the earth.” And the stars and the two great luminaries were made: The greater one to rule the day, the lesser one to rule the night. They were set in the dome of the sky to give light to the earth, to hold sway over day and night, and to separate the light from the dark. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
- Genesis 1:14-19

And the word was given: “Let the oceans team with living creatures. Let the birds fly above the earth, across the dome of heaven.” And the great sea creatures were created, and every kind of living creature that teems in the waters, and every kind of winged bird that graces the sky. And a blessing was given: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters of the sea; and let birds abound on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
- Genesis 1:20-23

And the Word was given: “Let the earth bring forth every species of living creature: Animals, reptiles and wild beasts.” And the various species of animals, both wild and tame, and all that creeps upon the ground were created. And the Word was given: “Let a Human Being be made in the Divine image and likeness, and let them be custodians of the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, over the animals, over all that creeps upon the ground, and over the whole earth.” And human beings, male and female, were created in the Divine image, in the very image of the Source of Life.
- Genesis 1:24-28

And the Source of Life blessed them and the word was given them: “You shall be fruitful and multiply. You will fill the earth and govern it. You will be custodians over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and every creature on earth. You have been given every seed-bearing plant and tree on the face of the earth as your food. All the animals of the field, every bird of the sky, and everything that walks the land, that has in it a living soul, have been given every green plant as their food. All of creation witnessed itself and beheld that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.
- Genesis 1:29-31

Heaven and earth were completed. With the seventh day, the work of creation was finished. All work ceased on the seventh day. The Source of Life blessed the seventh day and declared it to be holy, for it was on this day that the work of creation ceased and the being-ness of creation was set to unfold.
- Genesis 2:1-3

On the day the human being was created a mist rose up from the earth and watered the entire surface. The human being was formed out of the dust of the ground. The breath of life was breathed into the being and thus it became a living creature. Eden, the Garden of Delight, was planted in the east and there the human being was placed. Every tree that is pleasant to look upon and good to eat from grew out of the ground, including the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of Love and Fear.
- Genesis 2:4-9

A river flowed out of the Well of Delight to water the Garden. From there it divided and became four major rivers. The first river is the River of Change (Pishon) and surrounds the entire Land of Bringing Forth (Havilah) where gold, sapphires and precious stones are to be found. The second river is the River of the Valley of Grace (Gihon), which surrounds the Land of Blackness (Cush). The third river is the River of Strength (Tigris), which flows to the east of the Land of Happiness (Assyria). The fourth river is the River That Makes Fruitful (Euphrates).
- Genesis 2:10-14

The human being was taken and placed in the Garden of Delight to work it and watch over it. The human being was told, “You may eat from every tree of the garden. But from the Tree of Knowledge of Love and Fear, you must not eat, for from the moment you eat it, you will know death.”
- Genesis 2:15-17

The word was given: “It is not good for the human being to be alone. A compatible helper must be found.” Every wild beast and every bird of Heaven had been formed out of the ground. They now were brought forth to be named by the human being. Whatever the human being called each living thing would remain its name. The human being named every livestock animal and bird of the sky, as well as all the wild beasts. A compatible helper was not found.
- Genesis 2:18-20

The human being fell into a deep state of unconsciousness and began to sleep. One of the human beings sides was taken and flesh closed in to take its place. The two sides were formed into Man and Woman. The man and woman said to each other, “Now we are bone from our bone and flesh from our flesh. We shall be called man and woman because we are part of the other. We shall be each others home and be united and become one flesh.” The man and woman stood naked before each other without judgment.
- Genesis 2:21-25

The Serpent of Sorcery was the cleverest of all the wild beasts that were created. The serpent asked the woman, “Is it true that you may not eat from any of the trees in the garden?” The woman replied, “We may eat from the fruit of the trees of the garden. But the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden we may not eat or even touch for it would bring death.”
- Genesis 3:1-3

The serpent said to the woman, “You will certainly not die! In reality, on the day you eat from the tree, your eyes will be opened, and you will have great powers, knowing both love and fear.”
- Genesis 3:4-5

The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and desirable to the eyes, and that the tree was attractive as a means to gain knowledge. She took some of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to the man, and he ate. The eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. They sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves garments to cover their loins.
- Genesis 3:6-7

They heard the Voice of the Source of Life moving through the Garden on the wind of the day. The man and woman hid themselves from the Source of Life among the trees of the Garden. The Voice called to the man and woman and said, “Where are you?”
- Genesis 3:8-9

“We heard Your Voice in the Garden,” replied the man and woman, “and we were afraid because we felt naked, so we hid.” The Voice asked, “Where did you get the idea of nakedness? Did you eat from the tree of knowledge of love and fear?” The man replied, “The woman that is a part of me gave me what I ate from the tree.” The Voice said to the woman, “What is this that has been done?” The woman replied, “I was seduced by the serpent of sorcery and I ate.”
- Genesis 3:10-13

The Voice said to the serpent, “Because of the eating of the fruit of knowledge, you will feel cursed more than all the livestock and all the wild beasts. On your belly you shall crawl, and illusion you shall eat, all the days of your life. Fear and hatred has been planted between you and woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. They will strike you in the head, and you will strike at their heals.
- Genesis 3:14-15

To the woman it was said, “The knowledge of love and fear will greatly increase your suffering and your pregnancy. It will be with anguish that you will give birth to children and you will be dominated by your passions.”
- Genesis 3:16

To the man it was said, “The knowledge of love and fear will cause the ground to be hardened beneath you. You will derive food from it with anguish all the days of your life. It will bring forth thorns and thistles to confound and bewilder you; and you will eat the grass of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat bread until you return to the ground from which you were taken. You have become dust, and to dust you shall return.”
- Genesis 3:17-19

The man was named Adam, because he was now of the earth and of blood. The woman was named Eve, because she had become the mother of all life. The Source of Life made shrouds of skin for Adam and Eve and clothed them.
- Genesis 3:20-21

Now that the human being had tasted the knowledge of love and fear, they could not remain in the Garden of Delight and taste the Tree of Eternal Life. The knowledge of love and fear drove them out of the Garden of Delight, to work the ground from which they had come. The veil of life and death arose at the east of the Garden, along with the revolving sword of creation and destruction, concealing the path of the Tree of Eternal Life.
- Genesis 3:22-24


Hitchcock, R. D. (1874). Hitchcock’s bible names dictionary. New York: A. J. Johnson.

Kaplan, A. (1981). The living Torah: The five books of Moses and the Haftarot. Hew York: Maznaim Publishing.

Mitchell, S. (1996). Genesis: A new translation of the classic biblical stories. New York: HarperCollins.

*Image: The Three Trees by Robin Sinclair...The Tree of Knowledge; The Tree of Life; The Tree of the Human Family (Adam & Eve)

*Originally published on KabbalahBlog hosted by Enlightenment.com