Ain Soph, the Limitless, the Second Veil of the Unmanifest Trinity (More to follow)...
The Ain Soph
By J.P. Sheen (1970)
Indescribable and shrouded in mystery, the Ain Soph, or the Absolute, is a concept which has occupied the thoughts and attention of Philosophers and Theologians throughout the ages. Although impossible to circumscribe, negative terms have been ascribed to it in order to allow the finite mind of Man, at least, to consider the mystery and draw near to it. It has been called ‘The Boundless’; ‘The Fountain source’; ‘The Ever-changing - the Never-changing’; ‘The Infinite Totality’; ‘The One, The All’; it is everything and it is nothing. There is nothing which lies outside of it and nothing which does not contain all of it.
Symbolically it is a white disc within a black background. A circle the centre of which is everywhere and the circumference nowhere. It has been termed ‘The Causeless Cause’ and ‘The Rootless Root’. It retreats before the gaze of the intellect, which can never get near to it, but Intuition may touch the hem of its garment, with downcast eyes.
B1. The Ain Soph in the Light of the Kabbalah
The En Soph cannot be comprehended by the intellect or described in words. As far as our minds are concerned that which is incomprehensible cannot exist. To make Itself perceptible and comprehensible the En Soph or Boundless has to become active or creative. But the En Soph cannot be the direct creator for It has neither the will, intention, desire, thought, language nor action, as these properties imply limit and belong to finite beings, whereas the En Soph is infinite. Also, the imperfect and circumscribed nature of the creation precludes the idea that the World was created or even designed by that who could produce nothing unlike himself, Boundless and Perfect.
And yet, the beautiful design displayed in the mechanism, the regular order manifested in the preservation, destruction and renewal of things forbid us to regard the World as the offspring of Chance and to recognise therein an intelligent design. We are therefore compelled to view the En Soph as the creator of the World in an indirect manner and the indirect medium by which the En Soph made his existence known in the creation of the World was by the ten Sephiroth or Intelligences, which emanated from the Boundless. And it is by study of these that we may draw near to the Aged of the Aged.
B2. Definition of the Splendid Lights (Zohar)
“When the Aged of the Aged, The Unknown of the Unknown, assumed the form of the First Sephirah He caused nine splendid lights to emanate from it, which, shining through it, diffused a bright light in all directions.
If we examine the Rays, we understand no more than that they emanate from the infinite light which is concealed and incomprehensible. We may only comprehend him through those luminous emanations, which again are partly visible and partly concealed. These constitute the Sacred Name of God.” (Zohar)
Four things must be borne in mind with regard to the Sephiroth.
a) They were not created by, but emanated from, the En Soph, the difference between creation and emanation being that in the former a diminution of strength takes place, whilst in the latter this is not the case.
b) That they form among themselves and with the En Soph a strict unity and simply represent different aspects of one and the same being, just as the different Rays, which proceed from the light and which appear different things to the eye form only different manifestations of one and the same light.
c) That since they simply differ from each other as different colours of the same light, all the emanations alike partake of the perfection of the En Soph:
d) That as emanations from the Infinite, the Sephiroth are infinite and perfect like the En Soph and yet constitutes the first finite things. They are infinite and perfect when the En Soph imparts its fullness to them and finite and imperfect when the fullness is withdrawn from them. They correspond to the double nature of Christ - his finite and imperfect human nature and his infinite and perfect divine nature.”
B3. The Garment of God
The creation or Universe is simply the garment of God woven from the Deity’s own substance. For although to reveal himself to us, the Concealed of all the Concealed sent forth the ten emanations called ‘The Form of God’ and ‘Form of the Heavenly Man’, yet since even this luminous form was too dazzling for our vision, it had to assume another form, or had to put on another garment which consists of the Universe. The Universe is therefore called, in the Kabbalah, “The Garment of God”.
C1. The Absolute in the light of the Secret Doctrine
“Gazing into eternity …
Ere the foundation of the earth were laid
Thou wert, And when the subterranean flame
Shall burst its prison and devour the frame …
You shall be still as Thou wert before
And knew no change, when time shall be no more
Oh, endless thought, divine ETERNITY.
Who knows the secret who proclaimed it here?
Whence, whence this manifold creation sprang?
The Gods themselves came later into being –
Who knows from whence this great creation sprang?
But where was the Seer when the Over-soul of the Universe was absorbed in the Absolute and the Great Wheel parentless? (Stanzas of Dzyan)
C2. Raising the Veil
H.P. Blavatsky comments in the Secret Doctrine, “Man is powerless for the very constitution of his being to raise the veil that shrouds the majesty of the Absolute. Only the liberated spirit is able faintly to realise the nature of the source whence it sprang and wither it must eventually return”.
A further comment by H.P.B. on this subject, “There were seers in older times who were able to perceive the mystery of Breath and Motion retrospectively when the system of worlds was at rest and plunged in their periodic sleep”.
D. The Emerald Tablet
Great countenance was given by Kabbalists and occultists in general to the axiom, “As above, so below”.
“True it is without falsehood certain and most true that which is above is like to that which is below and that which is below is like to that which is above, to accomplish the miracle of the one thing.”
E. The Great Work
The Philosopher’s Stone is the Spirit which must be returned to its refined condition through the Crucible of Life. To this lies the Secret. The Elixir of Life is the Spirit in its refined ‘State’.
The absolute may be approached through no other doors but these.
The Ain Soph
By Johannes Ellis
The Ain Soph is conceived as an incomprehensible principle to be discovered only through the process of eliminating in order all its cognisable attributes. That which remains – when every knowable thing has been removed – the eternal state of Being.
The Ain Soph is indefinable, and yet it permeates all space. It is abstract to the degree of inconceivability. It is the unconditioned state of all things, substances, essences, and the intelligences are manifested out of the inscrutability of Ain Soph, but it is without substance, essence or intelligence. It is the Alpha and Omega of all in all; the beginning and end, and yet without beginning and without end.
I would like to quote from the “Fundamentals of Kabbalistic Cosmology”:
“Ain Soph may be likened to a great field of rich earth out of which rises a myriad of plants, each different in colour, formation and fragrance, yet each with its roots in the same dark loam – which however, is unlike any of the forms nurtured by it. The plants are Universes, gods, and man, all nourished by Ain Soph and all with their source in one definitionless essence; all with their spirits, souls, and bodies fashioned from this essence, and doomed, like the plant, to return to the black ground – Ain Soph, the only Immortal – whence they came.”
Ain Soph is referred to by many as “The Most Ancient of Ancients”; and is also considered to be sexless. Its symbol was a closed eye.
While it may be said of Ain Soph that to define it is to defile it, wise men postulated certain theories regarding the manner in which Ain Soph projected creations out of itself, and they also assigned to this Absolute Man – Being certain symbols as being descriptive, in part at least, of its powers.
In Gareth Knight we see that the best way to conceive this is under the image of interstellar space. Dion Fortune describes the process of first manifestation as “Space” beginning to move in a ring, if one can conceive of Nothingness moving, and the ‘movement’ of this ring setting up ‘movement’ at right angles to it so that another ring is formed outside the first. The interaction of forces of the two rings then causes the inner ring to rotate on the axis formed where the two rings interconnect, thus causing a third spherical ring to be formed by the transverse rotation of the primary ring.
The symbol thus described resembles a gyroscope.
The central spinning in two directions at once then concretes a centre. The first ring, from which is eventually created the whole cosmos, is called Ring Cosmos; the second ring, which acts as a thrust-block for the first ring’s secondary movement is called the Ring Chaos; and the third ring, described by the transverse spin of the first, is called the Ring-Pass-Not because it transcribes a sphere of limitation for all future development. The centre then formed by the Ring Cosmos corresponds to Kether.
We must remember that this is only metaphor.
The three rings can be equated with the veils of Negative Existence on the Tree of Life. The Ring Cosmos to Ain, the Ring Chaos to Ain Soph, and the Ring-Pass-Not to Ain Soph Aur. This concretion of a centre, Kether, by Ain through the development by Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur can be further illustrated by the traditional diagram of the Clouds of Negative Existence.
It will be seen that these two sources are exact.
We find that in the original Hebrew names of the Three Veils of Negative Existence there are three, six and nine letters respectively, with each three occurring in the next denser veil. Ain – Aleph, Yod, Nun. Ain Soph – Aleph, Yod, Nun, Samekh, Vau, Peh. Ain Soph Aur – Aleph, Yod, Nun, Samekh, Vau, Peh, Aleph, Vau, Resh rwa. This has reference to the three pillars, which are the three possibilities of the way in which force can manifest – active, passive or equilibrated.
We can also relate the Ain Soph to the Cosmic Egg. This egg shape given to Ain Soph signifies that space is hypothetically enclosed within a great Crystal Globe, outside of which there is nothing, not even a vacuum. Within this globe, symbolic of Ain Soph, creation and dissolution take place. Every element and principle that will ever be used in the eternal Cosmic birth and decay is within the transparent substances of this intangible sphere. This great Cosmic Egg that will not be broken till the great day “be with us”, which is the end of the “Cycle of Necessity”, when all things return to their ultimate cause.
In the process of creation the diffused life of Ain Soph retires from the circumference to the centre of the circle and establishes a point, which is the first manifesting one – the primitive limitation of the all pervading O. When the Divine Essence thus retires from the circular boundary to the centre, it leaves behind the Abyss, or the “Great Privation”. Thus in Ain Soph is established a two-fold condition where previously had existed but one. The first condition is the central point, the primitive objectified radiance of the eternal life. About this radiance is darkness caused by the deprivation of the life which is drawn to the centre to create the first point, or universal germ. The universal Ain Soph, therefore no longer shines through space, but rather upon space from an established first point.
Isaac Myer describes this process as follows. “The Ain Soph at first was filling all and then made an absolute concentration into itself which produced the Abyss, or Space, the Aueer Qadman or primitive Air, the Azoth, but this is not considered in the Qabalah as a perfect void or vacuum, a perfectly empty space, but is thought of as the waters or Crystalline Chaotic Sea in which was a certain degree of Light inferior to that by which all the created (Worlds and Hierarchies) were made.” (‘The Qabbalah’ by Isaac Myer)
We find in the secret teachings of the Qabalah that it is taught that man’s body is enveloped in an ovoid bubble-like iridescence, which is called the Auric-Egg. It is the causal sphere of man. It bears the same relationship to man’s physical body that the globe of Ain Soph bears to its created universes. In fact this Auric-egg is the Ain Soph sphere of the entity called man. Therefore the supreme consciousness of man is in this Aura, which extends in all directions and completely encircles his lower bodies. As the consciousness in the Cosmic Egg is withdrawn into a central point, which is then called God, so the consciousness in the Auric Egg is concentrated, thereby causing the establishment of a point of consciousness called the Ego. As the universes in Nature are formed from powers latent in the Cosmic Egg, so everything used by man in all his incarnations, throughout the kingdoms of nature, is drawn from the latent powers within his Auric Egg. Man never passes from this Egg. It remains even after death. His births, deaths and rebirths all takes place within it and it cannot be broken until mankind, like the universe, is liberated from the Wheel of Necessity.
To be continued...