Thursday, October 25, 2007

Da’at or not?

Anytime I make any adjustment to the sefirot of the Tree of Life historical organization, I get attacked. But these same attackers fell perfectly free to pontificate upon the sefira of Da’at.

Da’at is known as the eleventh sefira. Here is a link regarding what Da’at is suppose to represent: WIKIPEDIA.

This has never made sense to me. The oldest (and presumably the purest) source of Kabbalah and the concept of the ten sefirot is the Book of Creation (Sefer Yetzirah). But, the Sefer Yetzirah has a very specific prohibition against an eleventh sefira:

“Ten are the numbers of the ineffable Sephiroth, ten and not nine, ten and not eleven. Learn this wisdom, and be wise in the understanding of it, investigate these numbers, and draw knowledge from them, fix the design in its purity, and pass from it to its Creator seated on his throne.” (Sefer Yetzirah, Wescott, Chapter 1:4).

If the very source of Kabbalah tells us there are not eleven sefira, but ten, why do so many inject Da’at into the mix?

And if we use eleven sefirot, perhaps we miss other important understandings of the number ten. Here is a link to a discussion I participated in over at that illustrates the importance of maintaining the pure symbolism.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


There is a science based upon eternal truth called astronomy. The science of astronomy is correct to the degree that is conforms to truth. Abraham, Moses and many other prophets have seen the heavens beyond what mortals usually see. Thereby they learned of the magnificence of God, the smallness of man, and the place of man and this earth in the plan of salvation.

A fanatical offshoot of astronomy is astrology. Small minds lacking the intelligence and revelation necessary to comprehend the heavens produced a counterfeit astronomy. This counterfeit claims that the movements of heavenly bodies determine the actions of men.

Yes, the heavens have been put into place, and heavenly bodies are acted upon. The earth revolves around the sun because of gravity, the moon likewise revolves around the earth. We know that the moon affects the tide. So in this respect, the heavenly bodies affect man. But these heavenly bodies are things acted upon, they don’t have agency. The moon does not decide each day if it will make its revolutions. It is acted upon, and it does what is must. But man was given agency. He can chose what he does within the physical reality, which he exists. The heavenly bodies exist to bring structure to mortality, it is the framework of our existence, but it does not control our choices. The interaction of men, and the choices we make determine our lives. If heavenly bodies determine human behavior we would have no agency, then there could be no sin. If there be no sin there would be no punishment. If there is no sin and punishment, there is no righteousness and reward.

Astrology (as a divination) is contrary to the agency of man. The heavenly bodies are inert matter that makes no judgment of man. They do not decide what we do, they are not our gods. Astrology is a haven for lazy, weak, and diseased minds. Astrology has no value to the seeker of truth.

There is no moral problem for man to organize his study of heavenly bodies into the zodiac or some alternate format. It is the claim of some control over the minds and actions of men that is problematic.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hamblin on the Heavenly Ascent

I had read this before, but stumbled upon it again. The well-respected LDS scholar William Hamblin Phd. wrote “Temple Motifs in Jewish Mysticism.” Which I think is the best, short introduction to the topic of this site.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Draw to Ourselves

We can see in scripture that people prepare themselves to approach God or to do thing they are called to do. Moses was told to remove his shoes. People kneel in preparation for prayer. People fast, and so on. We do this to draw to ourselves holy power, or holiness, to be purified.

Regarding those who wish to be holy the Zohar says:

“Therefore when a man wishes to be purified, he receives help from above, and the help of his Master encircles and protects him. He is then called 'holy'.”

You could say that by a person’s preparation he or she arouses the influences or powers of heaven.

The Zohar teaches about people who wish to do witchcraft and sorcery. It teaches us that “Whoever is drawn here [practicing witchcraft] becomes defiled.”

But more than that, evil practitioners do evil in order to defile themselves in preparation of spells and other such activities.

“If a man wishes to be defiled, several groups of lights of Klipot are waiting for him. They all hover about and around him. They defile him, so he is called unholy. They go before him and proclaim, Unholy, unholy, as it is written: "And shall cry, 'Unclean, unclean'" (Vayikra 17:45). They are all connected to the primordial serpent and are hidden in the deeds of the people of the world.”


“Moreover, one should be impure to cast a spell. One has to draw upon oneself that side of the unholy spirit.”

I wonder if we “draw upon” ourselves holiness, or impurity, by the small things we say and do?

When confronted with a problem, do we say a little prayer, or do we say a little curse (ie “oh XXXX”)? Which one prepared us to meet the challenge?

Jesus said we would be judged by even our idle words.

Some ancient Jews would add an oath to saying yes and no, but Jesus taught them not to do that.

Do we need to add heck (or worse) to “yes,” or “no?”

I think this is a part of holiness, and is a big problem in the lives of some, and a smaller problem is the lives of other.

[All of the Zohar references above are found HERE or The Zohar, Matt, Vol II, pg. 216]

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Oil of Gladness

The word “Christ” is a Greek word meaning “the anointed.” Also, the word “Messiah” means “the anointed.” One is the Greek and one is the Hebrew/Aramaic version of the same meaning.

So how is Jesus of Nazareth the “Anointed One?” When was he anointed? And, for what purpose?

We have a few biblical references about His anointing:

Isaiah 61:1-3 Luke 4:16-22 Acts 4:27 Acts 10:38

Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem gave us some more insight regarding the anointing with the “oil of gladness” during his temple prep classes (I have taken the liberty of “Mormonizing” the text):
Having been baptized into Christ, and put on Christ, ye have been made comformable to the Son of God; for God having foreordained us unto adoption as sons, made us to be conformed to the body of Christ's glory. Having therefore become partakers of Christ, ye are properly called Christs [Christians], and of you God said, Touch not My Christs, or anointed. Now ye have been made Christs, by receiving the antitype [symbol] of the
Holy Ghost; and all things have been wrought in you by imitation, because ye are images of Christ. He washed in the river Jordan, and having imparted of the fragrance [goodness] of His Godhead to the waters, He came up from them; and the Holy Ghost in the fulness of His being lighted on Him, like resting upon like. And to you in like manner, after you had come up from the pool of the sacred streams [places of washing], there was given an Unction [anointing], the anti-type [symbol] of that wherewith Christ was anointed; and this is the Holy Ghost; of whom also the blessed Esaias, in his prophecy respecting Him, said in the person of the Lord, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. because He hath anointed Me: He hath sent Me to preach gladtidings to the poor.

For Christ was not anointed by men with oil or material ointment, but the Father having before appointed Him to be the Saviour of the whole world, anointed Him with the Holy Ghost, as Peter says, Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Ghost [Acts 10:38] David also the Prophet cried, saying, Thy throne, O God, is far ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom; Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God even Thy God hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows [Heb. 1:9]. And as Christ was in reality crucified, and buried, and raised, and you are in Baptism accounted worthy of being crucified, buried, and raised together with Him in a likeness, so is it with the unction [anointing] also. As He was anointed with an ideal oil of gladness, that is, with the Holy Ghost, called oil of gladness, because He is the author of spiritual gladness [joy], so ye were anointed with ointment [oil], having been made partakers and fellows of Christ. But beware of supposing this to be plait [plan] ointment [oil]. For as the Bread of the Eucharist [sacrament] after the invocation [prayer] of [by the power of] the Holy Ghost, is mere bread no longer, but [symbolizes] the Body of Christ, so also this holy ointment [oil] is no more simple ointment, nor (so to say) common, after invocation [the prayer], but it is Christ's gift of grace, and, by the advent of the Holy Ghost, is made fit to impart His Divine Nature. Which ointment [oil] is symbolically applied to thy forehead and thy other senses; and while thy body is anointed with the visible ointment [oil], thy soul is sanctified by the Holy and life-giving Spirit.

And ye were first anointed on the forehead, that ye might be delivered from the shame, which the first man who transgressed bore about with him everywhere; and that with unveiled face ye might reflect as a mirror the glory of the Lord. Then on your ears; that ye might receive the ears which are quick to hear the Divine Mysteries [ordinances of God], of which Esaias said, The Lord gave me also an ear to hear; and the Lord Jesus in the Gospel, He that hath ears to hear let him hear. Then on the nostrils; that receiving the sacred ointment ye may say, We are to God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved. Afterwards on your breast; that having put on the breast-plate of righteousness, ye may stand against the wiles of the devil. For as Christ after His Baptism, and the visitation of the Holy Ghost, went forth and vanquished the adversary, so likewise ye, after Holy Baptism and the Mystical [sacred hidden] Chrism [anointing, making you a Christ or Christian], having put on the whole armour of the Holy Ghost, are to stand against the power of the adversary, and vanquish it, saying, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Having been counted worthy of this Holy Chrism [anointing], ye are called Christians, verifying the name also by your new birth. For before you were deemed worthy of this grace, ye had properly no right to this title, but were advancing on your way towards being Christians. 6. Moreover, you should know that in the old Scripture there lies the symbol of this Chrism [anointing to become a Christian]. For what time Moses imparted to his brother the command of God, and made him High-priest, after bathing in water, he anointed him; and Aaron was called Christ or Anointed, evidently from the typical Chrism [anointing]. So also the High-priest, in advancing Solomon to the kingdom, anointed him after he had bathed in Gihon. To them however these things happened in a figure, but to you not in a figure, but in truth; because ye were truly anointed by the Holy Ghost. Christ is the beginning of your salvation; for He is truly the First-fruit, and ye the mass; but if the First-fruit be holy, it is manifest that Its holiness will pass to the mass also.
To learn more about Cyril’s letters click here.

And from what tree does the oil come from?

There are some things to be learned here!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Right and Wrong

I have come to believe and appreciate something about the Book of Mormon that I think is of staggering importance.

If you do away with the chapters and verses and see the Book of Mormon as a set of separate (yet related and complementary) parables, motifs, events, and sermons, and you line them up and abbreviate them, a picture emerges, at least for the first few books.

You might see it like this; 1.) Lehi departs Jerusalem. 2.) Tree of Life. 3.) Apostasy & Restoration. 3.) Olive Tree. and so on.

I believe the events were ordered so the record would reflect the basic principles that people need to learn, then principles that build upon that foundation. For example, one of the first things we learn is that there is a God and He speaks to man (1 Nephi 1:8). This is first principle of the gospel.

Next, and the point of this post, is what makes something right or wrong. This understanding is critical to a mature saint, not to mention a true mystic.

When Nephi cut off Laban’s head he hesitated because he knew murder was wrong. But, Nephi also knew what makes something right or wrong is whatever God says is right or wrong. That is the definition.

There is no moral code above God. A selective or conditional agreement to accept God’s commands, because they may be wrong (you disagree with them) betrays a number of things including:

1.) A lack of faith in God (because he may do wrong) [Lectures on Faith Section 3].
2.) A rebellion against God.
3.) You have become a law unto yourself, deciding what is right.

These are not principle that will save, exalt, or unfold the mysteries. When we get our hearts inline with the Plan of Salvation, we seek His will in carrying out this plan, whatever the cost.

Whatta say, how about joining the cause?

The Templar Papers to be Released.

My friend Nancy brought this link to my attention: Knights Templar Papers.

The Knights Templars were a military order of the Roman Catholic Church that is surrounded in intrigue and was recently made popular by the book and movie The Da Vinci Code.

The Masonry buffs will certainly want to read these.

That’s Two Down!

I know I have been slacking a little on my posts lately. I have been out of town. I delivered one of my son’s to the Missionary Training Center this week. He will be serving in South Carolina.

This means I will have two sons out at the same time. My other son is in New Hampshire, to return in ten more months. One more will be ready in two years.

Click to Enlarge - Courtesy of Jamie

For those of you who have done it, it is a hard thing. While I always considered my children as on loan from God, the MTC parting really signifies a handing over of a child back to the protection of God.

And it feels like a sacrifice, but like most sacrifices, they are a blessing. It just takes the faith to see it that way.

I have a lot of posts in my head, they are coming soon.


Monday, October 1, 2007

The Bahir

I recently read The Bahir, also know as the Sefer Ha-Bahir (Sefer = book, Ha = the, Bahir = brightness). I had neglected reading this pillar of Cabala for sometime.

The Bahir was first published in the twelfth century, in the south of France. Most believe Rabbi Yitzak Saggi Nehor is the author, but there is some disagreement.

I was expecting a cabalistic delight, but I was disappointed.

Now, when I first read the Zohar, I found it to be a most unbelievable feast. I could not put it down. It imparted many insights into gospel principles. This is what I was expecting from the Bahir.

I can see how some people are not prepared to read the Zohar and could read it and walk away empty. So, perhaps The Bahir is the same way, perhaps I was not ready. Be that as is may, that’s the way I see it.

Here it is in Hebrew: Bahir in Hebrew

Download a PDF version translated by: Aryeh Kaplan

The Seed of Faith

In Jewish Mysticism and LDS thinking there is a Tree of Life motif that is played-out in the macro, meaning the creations of the heavens and earth, along with the rest of the Plan of Salvation.

In the micro, the same principles are applied to each man and woman. Each person is thought of as having the same principles at play within him, each person is a small Tree of Life microcosm.

Alma was playing on this theme in Alma 32 where he compares the words of angels to a seed that is planted in the hearts of men and women. This "seed" is for a tree, and this tree is none other than a Tree of Life:

“And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life. But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.”[Alma 32:40&41]

Within each of us are the three pillars, on one side the principles of law, and justice. On the other side within us is choice and mercy. Who we are is how these forces are played-out, because we largely have control over that theater. Nephi said:

“Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.”

The Zohar clearly teaches that ideas generate within us from various places. From one side stimulated by the principles or forces of law and justice, or from the other side stimulated by agency, and mercy.

But, beyond what side our thoughts and ideas come from, the degree or elevation of the tree within us is also important. Do our thoughts generate from lower spheres, or higher spheres?

We can examine our thoughts and determine where we live, which kingdom we currently belong to. The Zohar calls this which rung we “cling” to.

Happy climbing.