|Atziluth (Emanation)||Fire||Intuition||The Self|
|Briah (Creation)||Air||Thinking||Language, Abstraction, Reason|
|Yetzirah (Formation)||Water||Feeling||Emotions, Drives, Feeling|
|Assiah (Action)||Earth||Sensation||Perception, Imagination, Instinct, Reproduction|
|"If the World of Emanation is Spiritual, then the World of Creation is Mental. This is the realm of the Higher Mind, the final stop for Reason; this is as high as we can ascend through our intellectual being. Somewhat incongruously, then, this is the realm of the Throne-Chariot glimpsed by Ezekiel and the Merkabah- mystics, with its opulent imagery, its gorgeous and mysterious (and rather frightening) angelic guardians; of the heikhalot, the seven halls or palaces; of the serafim, the prince-angels. Beriyah is a repository of visionary splendor."|
|The third world is that of Formation, yetzirah. Formation is a bringing together of elements, rather than a creation ex nihilo. This is the emotional realm. If beriyah is the psychological realm of consciousness, yetzirah is the unconscious mind. Not surprisingly, the element of water (a common symbol of the unconscious and of emotion, as Carl Jung pointed out) is associated with this realm; shadowy currents move here; monsters may live in the deep water.|
Finally, we come to the fourth world, assiyah. This is commonly called the World of Action, but Scholem
suggests that the World of Making is a more appropriate translation (Major Trends, p.272). This is making in
the sense of completing what has been started in the upper worlds; the roots and branches are in the upper
worlds, but it is in assiyah that things come to their fruition.
This is the physical realm, but it has two aspects. It is "the spiritual archetype of the material world of the senses" (p. 272), which, for Luria, became confused with the world of the Shells (kelippot) on account of Adam's fall (Encyclopedia Judaica, v.16, col. 642). It thus has its brute material aspect, the world directly accessible to our senses. It is enlivened by nefesh, the vital principle, a soul-element possessed by plants as well as animals. Earth is its representative element, scarlet its color, the color of blood, sustainer of the material body.
Assiyah is the place of the Shekhinah's exile. The Massekhet Atzilut also describes it as being the abode of the Satanic figure of Samael, the Blind One, the husband of Lilith, though later Kabbalists consign the demonic to an even lower realm.
|"There is an extremely interesting and important Upanishad, the Manduka, in which the four symbolic elements of the syllable - the A, the U, the M, and the Silence - are interpreted allegorically as referring to four planes, degrees or modes of consciousness. The A, resounding from the back of the mouth, is said to represent waking consciousness. Here, the subject and the objects of its knowledge are experienced as separate from each other. Bodies are of gross matter; they are not self-luminous and they change their forms slowly. An Aristotelian logic prevails: a is not not-a. The nature of thought on this level is that of mechanistic science, positivistic reasoning, and the aims of its life are envisioned at chakras 1,2,and 3.|
|Next, with U, where the sound mass moving forward, fills the whole head as it were, the Upanishad associates dream consciousness; and here the subject and the object, the dreamer and his dream, though they may seem to be separate, are actually one, since the images are of the dreamer's own will. Further, they are of a subtle matter, self-luminous, and of rapidly changing form. They are of the nature of divinities: and indeed all the gods and demons, Heavens and Hells, are in fact the cosmic counterparts of dream. Moreover, since on this subtle plane, the seer and the seen are one and the same, all the gods and demons, Heavens and Hells are within us; are ourselves. Turn within, therefore, if you seek your model for the image of god...|
|Next M, third element of the syllable, where the intonation of this holy sound terminates forward, at the closed lips, the Upanishad associates with deep, dreamless sleep. There is here neither object seen nor seeing subject, but consciousness - or rather latent, potential consciousness, undifferentiated, covered with darkness. Mythologically, this state is identified with that of the universe between cycles,when all has returned to the cosmic night, the womb of the cosmic mother: "chaos" in the language of the Greeks, or in Genesis, the first "formless waste, with darkness over the seas." There is no consciousness of any objects either of waking or of dream, but only uninflected consciousness in its pristine, uncommitted state-lost, however, in darkness.|
|The ultimate aim of yoga, then, can be only to enter that zone awake: which is to say to "join" or to "yoke" (yoga), one's waking consciousness per se, not focussed on any object or enclosed in any subject, whether of the waking world or of sleep, but sheer, unspecified and unbounded. And since all words refer to objects, or to object-related thoughts or ideas, we have no word or words for the experience of this fourth state. Even such words as "silence" or "void" can be understood only with reference to sound or to things - as of no sound, or as of no thing. Whereas here we have come to the primal Silence antecedent to sound as potential, and to the Void antecedent to things, containing as potential the whole of space-time and its galaxies. No word can say what the Silence tells that is all around and within us, this Silence that is no silence, but to be heard resounding through all things, whether of waking, of dream, or of dreamless night - as surrounding, supporting, and suffusing the syllable AUM."|
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