If this metaphysical space is to be known,

such knowledge can be attained only by faith and grace,

not by ‘entering’ but by ‘being entered’

-this is so because the greater must reveal itself to the lesser.

Put differently, that which is immanently ‘Spirit’ can only be known receptively,

through its own intellective vision, and not any derivative faculty such as reason,

feeling or sensation. Reason can only discern conceptually,

at best reducing reality to a dualism of subject and object

(as in the case of Descartes) or catagorical postulate

(as in the case of Kant) or dialectic process

(as in the case of Hegel) – its ‘telos’ will tend to be utopian(as in the case of Marx),

fundamentalist( as in the cases of religious, political or secular dogmatism)

or anthropocentrically consencual (as in the case of Rousseau’s social contract);

while sensation or feeling even where elevated to

the level of empirical ‘science,’ can only discern reality as matter or as psyche,

quantitatively, thereby cutting it off from its transcendent

and qualitative roots, leading to an emphasis on hypertrophic subjectivism

(as in the case of Nietzsche), Psychologism(as in the case of Freud),

or reductive positivism(as in the cases of philosophical positivism and of scientism).

That which transcends us cannot be known reductively

but only by that transcendent faculty which is immanent in us-which in

Tradition is termed the ‘Intellect’

or the Self-knowing Spirit. To know is to discern BEING.

We must empty ourselves or our ‘self’ in order to know who we ARE.

We must return to the sacred emptiness of the space that is our

ontological core in order to know that which truly IS.

–M Ali Lakhani (the Distance between us, found in Sacred Web issue 31)


It is precisely the challenge involved

in using inadequate words

that drives the mind

beyond all words…

At the borders of speech

we open ourselves

to the positive value of silence….

Literary reading,

through its complexity, its music,

its suggestiveness, points to a fuller realm of being.

–Edward k Kaplan (citing Abraham Joshua Heschel)

My mercy equals that of a hundred fathers and mothers; Every soul that is born is amazed thereat. Their mercy is as the foam of the sea of my mercy;
It is mere foam of waves, but the sea abides ever!

What more shall I say? In that earthly shell There is naught but foam of foam of foam of foam!

God is that foam; God is also that pure sea for His words are neither a temptation or a vain boast.
Plurality and Partial Evil, though seemingly opposed to Unity, subserve

Good. The story is now concluded, with its ups and downs, Like lovers’ musings, without beginning or ending.

It has no beginning , even as eternity,
Nor ending, for ’tis akin to world without end. Or like water, each drop whereof is at once Beginning and end, and also has no beginning or end.

–Rumi (Masnavi)

“As men’s Prayers are a Disease of the Will, so are their Creeds a disease of the Intellect.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is the use of gnosis, if it is so forbiddingly elitist? Since the alternatives are diseases of the will and of the intellect, why invoke the criterion of usefulness? Prayers are a more interesting literary form than creeds, but even the most impressive of prayers will not change us, let alone change God. And nearly all prayers are directed anyway to the archons, the angels who made and marred this world, and whom we worship, William Blake warned, as Jesus and Jehovah, Divine Names misapplied to our prison warders. The Accusers who are the gods of this world have won all of the victories, and they will go on triumphing over us. History is always on their side, for they are history. Everyone who would return us to history always performs the work of the Accusers. Most scholars worship history, the Composite God who rewards their labors by granting them their illusion of value. Emerson remarked that there was no history, only biography, which is another Gnostic recognition.

Do not pray, do not believe; only know and be known. Many among us know without knowing that we know; Bentley Layton catches this when he suggests that gnosis should be translated as ‘acquaintance’ rather than as ‘knowing.’ Acquaintance with your own deepest self will not come often or easily, but it is unmistakable when (and if ) it comes. Neither the will nor the intellect spurs such acquaintance, but both come into play once it is achieved. To be acquainted with what is best and oldest in yourself, is to know yourself as you were, before the world was made, before you emerged into time.

–Harold Bloom (from “Alone with the Alone” by Henry Corbin)


Sleep deserts my eyes and I toss like a

ship in the sea of my yearning for You

as I imagine these things: If I were an

infant and you were my nurse, I would

suckle your beautiful breasts, and

quench my thirst. If I were a stream

and you and I sat in the shade of my

garden, I would loook after your fruit.

If I was a spear and you thrust me

into your enemies’ hearts, I would be

drunk with their blood. If I were a tent

and you dwelt in me, we would delight

ourselves with love and clothe ourselves

with joy. If I were a tongue and you

were my words, I would soothe desire’s

flame with a song. If I were a slave and

you were my lord, I would long to

serve you, I would never choose


Israel ben Moses Najara (c. 1555, Damascus – c. 1625, Gaza) (Heb. ישראל בן משה נאג’ארה Yisrael ben Moshe Najarah) was a Jewish liturgical poet, preacher, Biblical commentator, kabbalist, and rabbi of Gaza.

According to Franco (Histoire des Israélites de l’Empire Ottoman,
p. 79, Paris, 1897), there is another account which declares that
Najara was born about 1530 and that he lived for some years at Adrianople. From his secular poems, which he wrote in the meters of various Turkish, Spanish, and modern Greek songs, it is evident that he knew well several foreign languages. He travelled extensively in the Near East, had lived in Safed, where he came under the extensive influence of Lurianic Kabbalah and served as a rabbi at the Jewish community of Gaza.

As may be seen from his works, he was a versatile scholar, and he corresponded with many contemporary rabbis, among others with Bezaleel Ashkenazi, Yom-Ṭob Ẓahalon, Moses Hamon, and Menahem Ḥefeẓ. His poetic effusions were exceptionally numerous, and many of them were translated into Persian. While still young he composed many religious hymns, to Arabic and Turkish tunes, with the intention, as he says in the preface to his Zemirot Yisrael, of turning the Jewish youth from profane songs. He wrote piyyuṭim, pizmonim, seliḥot, widduyim, and dirges for all the week-days and for Sabbaths, holy days, and occasional ceremonies, these piyyuṭim being collected in his Zemirot Yisrael. Many of the piyyuṭim are in Aramaic.

For his hymns on the marriage of God and Israel, Najara was severely blamed by Menahem Lonzano (Shete Yadot, p. 142) when the latter was at Damascus. The Shibḥe Ḥayyim Wiṭal (p. 7b) contains a violent attack by Ḥayyim Vital upon a poet whose name is not mentioned, but who some take to be Israel Najara. Nevertheless, Isaac Luria, Vital’s teacher, declared that Najara’s hymns were listened to with delight in heaven. His piyyuṭim were praised also by Leon of Modena, who composed a song in his honor, which was printed at the beginning of the Olat Shabbat, the second part of the Zemirot Yisrael.

He is buried in the ancient Jewish cemetery in Gaza. His son, Moses Najara was also a poet, who succeeded his father as the chief rabbi of Gaza.

Sing To The Eternal

The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse (Penguin Classics)

After extinction I came out, and I

Eternal now am, though not as I.

And who am I, O I, but I

–Ali Shushtari


As we travel upon this road of self-knowledge with the help of the means

provided by tradition—means without which such a journey is in fact impossible—we

gain a new perspective concerning every kind of reality with which we had

identified at the beginning of our journey. We come to realize that although we

are male or female, that attribute does not really define us. There is a deeper

reality, one might say an androgynic reality, transcending the male-female

dichotomy so that our identity is not determined simply by our gender. Nor are

we simply our body and the senses although we often identify ourselves with

them. As we travel upon the Sufi path, it also becomes more and more evident

that what we call ” I ” has its existence independent of sense perceptions and

the body as a whole although the soul continues to

have a consciousness of the body while being also aware through spiritual

practice of t h e possibility of leaving it for higher realms.

Likewise, although we have emotions and psychological states with which

we often identify, the spiritual path teaches us that they do not

define and determine our identity in the deepest sense. In fact, often we

say, “I must control my temper,” which demonstrates clearly that

there is more than one psychological agent within human beings. As St. Thomas

said, confirming Sufi teachings, “Duo

sunt in homine” (“There

are two in man”). The part of u s that seeks to control our temper

must be distinct and not determined by the part of o u r soul that is angry and

needs to be controlled. Yes, we do experience emotions, but we need not be

defined by them. In the same manner, we have an imaginative faculty able to

create images, and most of t he time ordinary people live in the lower reaches

of that world of imaginal forms. Again, we are not determined by those forms,

and j o u r n e y i n g upon the spiritual path is especially effective in

transforming our inner imaginal landscape. As for the power of memory, it is

for the most part the repository of images and forms related to earlier

experiences of life. Metaphysically speaking, however, it is also related to

our atemporal relation to our Source of Being and the intelligible world to

which we belonged before our descent here to earth. That is why true knowledge

according to Plato is recollection, and in Sufism the steps of t h e path are

identified with stages of the remembrance of t h e Friend. Most people,

however, consider these everyday remembered experiences as a major part of

their identity. Yet again, the center of our consciousness, our I,  cannot be

identified with our ordinary memory.

We can forget many things and remain the same human being. The spiritual life

may in fact be defined as the practice of techniques that enable us to forget

all that we remember about the world of separation and dispersion and to

remember the most important thing, which this world has caused us to forget,

namely, the one “saving Truth,” which is also our inner reality.

The Garden of Truth: The Vision and Promise of Sufism, Islam’s Mystical Tradition


The Western mind focuses on substance; the Eastern mind focuses on the interrelationship between everything. Nothing has independant being in of itself. That’s the basic insight of sunyata, whereas in Western mysticism, nothingness is still the ultimate essence. It may be pure Divine being, but it is also something. The East would criticize even this ultimate substance or essence and try to see through the illusion that there is any existent thing in and of itself.

You could say that there are two ways of describing an underlying reality that, presumably, is one and the same. But whereas sunyata is central to Buddhism, most Jews have never heard of Ayin. Even in Kabbalah, it’s talked about very rarely. In Hasidism, it’s further developed, but of all the Hasidic teachers, maybe one percent is devoted to ayin.

Yet, ayin is central because it represents the moment of transition from infinity (Ein Sof) to the sefirot. Ayin is how God unfolds. Creation is rooted in nothingness. There are roots for this postive sense of nothingness within Judaism. The Talmud, for example states, “The words of Torah do not become real except for one who makes himself as if he is not.” Job asked rhetorically, “Where is wisdom to be found?” The word ayin in this verse is in question: “where?” But already in the Talmud, ayin is interpreted as a noun: “Wisdom is found in nothingness.” In Kabbalah, it becomes Divine nothingness. Its roots lie in rabbinical literature, but Kabbalah expands this.

–“Why meditate?” by Daniel C Matt

 Meditation from the Heart of Judaism: Today’s Teachers Share Their Practices, Techniques and Faith

In all change and growth, say the masters, the mysterious ayin is present. There is an ungraspable instant in the midst of all transformation when that which is about to be transformed is no longer that which it had been until that moment, but has not yet emerged as its transformed self; that moment belongs to the ayin within God. Since change and transformation are constant, however, in fact all moments are moments of contact with the ayin, a contact that man is usually too blind to acknowledge. The height of contemplative prayer is seen as such a transforming moment, but one that is marked by awareness. The worshiper is no longer himself, for he is fully absorbed, in that moment, in the Nothingness of divinity. In that moment of absorption the worshiper is transformed: as he continues his verbal prayer, it is no longer he who speaks, but rather the Presence who speaks through him. In that prayerful return to the source, the human being has reached his highest state, becoming nought but the passive instrument for the ever self-proclaiming praise of God. Through his lips the divine word is spoken.

–Arthur Green, Your Word Is Fire: The Hasidic Masters on Contemplative Prayer (A Jewish Lights Classic Reprint)

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, “inter-be.” If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. Without sunshine, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. The logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist. Looking even more deeply, we can see ourselves in this sheet of paper too. This is not difficult to see because when we look at a sheet of paper, it is part of our perception. Your mind is here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. We cannot point out one thing that is not here–time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists within this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word “inter-be” should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. We cannot just be by ourselves alone. We have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.

Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun. Do you think this sheet of paper will be possible? No, without sunshine nothing else can be. And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up only of “non-paper” elements. And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. Without non-paper elements–like mind, logger, sunshine and so on–there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.

–Thich Nhat Hanh, Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

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