Morality and Ethics in Esotericism – Dirty Words in an Unclean World

Morality and Ethics in Esotericism – Dirty Words in an Unclean World

by esotericist Mark Stavish

Kabbalah for Health and Wellness book cover for spiritual counseling teaching healingWhile it is generally agreed that our outer health, and even material circumstances, are a direct reflection of our inner wholeness, the connection of this idea in reality is a lot less simple for many in practice.  Much, if not all of this difficulty comes from the notion that esotericism is a sort of ‘do it yourself’ process, in which practitioners can ‘pick what they like and leave the rest behind’.  In reality, while that is fine to tell drug addicts and alcoholics in an NA or AA meeting and who are on the edge of total self-destruction (so anything is better than nothing) it is a lie when it comes teaching students who “of their own free will and accord” have placed themselves on a path of illumination.

In Kabbalah for Health and Wellness there is a discussion of the role of the Ten Commandments (as well as the two given by Jesus) in psychological and physical health so that inner realizations could take place.  Somehow the knee-jerk rejection of anything rooted in Western culture took sway, and some neo-pagans reviewing the book seemed bent on criticizing this point rather than taking a step back and remembering that kabbalah is essentially Jewish, even when it is dressed up in late 19th and early 20th century polytheistic and reconstructionist metaphors.  You can throw the baby out with the bathwater, but then in the end, you are left holding an empty bucket.

This desire to strip traditional teachings of any connection to their past is in no means limited to studies of kabbalah. American Buddhists are notorious for it as well. Like their Leftist, counter-culture, Sixties holdovers in the neo-pagan community, American Buddhists find it nearly impossible to sit down, shut up, listen, and change their point of view – even if for a moment – but instead insist on picking and choosing what moral and ethical precepts they like and which ones they don’t like. This is especially true when it comes to teachings against sexual license in general. This is further extended into the need to turn everything into a political and social movement rather than do the hard work of deconstructing and reconstructing themselves as individuals. It is as if the idea of actually being an individual – even for a moment – is too frightening to their entrenched collectivist ideology.  “If it is good enough for me, then it is good enough for everyone” seems to be the motto of too many pathological reforms across many of the current spiritual groups in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

Within Buddhism and its Tibetan predecessor, Bon, there are Ten Virtuous Deeds. Like the Ten Commandments for those who practice kabbalah, in any of its forms – Christian or Hermetic – the Ten Virtuous Deeds are not an option, but must be strictly followed.

These Ten Virtuous Deeds are:

  1.  Avoiding taking another’s life, including animal and plants beings whenever  possible.
  2.  Practicing generosity.
  3.  Being mindful, paying attention to what you are doing and what you are  thinking of at any moment.
  4.  Following moral discipline to overcome sexual misconduct.
  5.  Telling truth and avoiding falsehood.
  6.  Working to bring together friends who have separated, and not spreading  rumors.
  7.  Speaking peacefully and calmly and avoiding harsh language.
  8.  Practicing – prayer, meditation, pilgrimages, and other works, rather than  wasting time, particularly on gossip.
  9.  Being free of evil thoughts towards others, generating love and kindness  towards them rather than harmful thoughts.
  10.  Being free from wrong views of the teachings one is receiving, particularly firmly realizing the truth of the law of karma (cause and result or effect), and firmly entering the spiritual pathway.

If we take a careful look at these non-optional moral and ethical requirements, we can see that they are in fact even more stringent than the so-called Ten Commandments found in Jewish scripture and adopted by the Christians. The Ten Commandments can be summarized into: put God first, don’t blaspheme, keep one day set aside for spiritual practice, don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t lie, don’t commit adultery, and don’t desire for what another person owns.  The Egyptian Negative Confession to Truth or Maat is even more detailed, yet repeats the same themes.  All of these guidelines are direct and to the point – if you want to know God, or experience enlightenment, then these are the rules you need to follow.  And if these are too burdensome, then your journey will become a longer and more difficult one. The choice is up to you.

The simple truth is that only by following such guidelines, particularly when it is difficult, causes us material or social loss, and goes against our predisposed ego (self-pitying and self-limiting) image we cherish of our self, can we really say we are on the Path.  Only with a firm commitment to organize our inner life and master the inner energies that run rampant within our psyche, can we hope to be open to deeper realizations and experiences we call spiritual, as well as to project that new found harmony as power and form in the material world.

We can either treat genuine and authentic spiritual teachings as a rich multi-course meal that has been laid out for us by a master chef and staff, or we can treat it like a buffet where we indulge our preferences and walk away having paid too much money for second or third rate food only to get indigestion.

For Western esotericism to survive and thrive in its own soil it must provide solid evidence that it is more than just a collection of occult and psychic thrill seekers, but has real and tangible means of living a healthy and happy life. Morality and ethics is the beginning and end of who we are and the litmus test of our spiritual path, for this shows how we treat others and ourselves.

The above article was first posted in VOXHERMES in February 2008.

Words of My Teachers – A Companion to the IHS Audio Programs


LDS / Mormon Heavenly Mother Tree of Life Kabbalah Connection

Veiled Mother of the World by Russian esoteric Christian Nicholas Roerich
Veiled Mother of the World, 1930, by Russian esoteric Christian Nicholas Roerich

The Mormons / LDS believe in the existence of a Heavenly Mother. It was taught in the 1830’s by their founder Joseph Smith, and is still believed today although they like to keep the doctrine on the down-low so as not to be accused of goddess-worship and / or worshiping the Whore of Babylon or something.  They also believe Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had children, Joseph Smith once claiming to be a descendant of Jesus. Holy Blood, Holy Grail and the DaVinci Code right there in the 19th Century!

From the Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith’s Teachings, pg. 436; “’Will I know my mother as my mother when I get over on the Other Side?’ asked a little girl. ‘Certainly you will,’ was the instant reply of the Prophet [Joseph Smith]. ‘More than that, you will meet and become acquainted with your eternal Mother, the wife of your Father in Heaven.’
‘And have I then a Mother in Heaven?!’ exclaimed the astonished girl. ‘You assuredly have. How could a Father claim His title unless there were also a Mother to share that parenthood?'”

“Logic and reason would certainly suggest that if we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. That doctrine rests well with me. However, in light of the instruction we have received from the Lord Himself, I regard it as inappropriate for anyone in the Church to pray to our Mother in Heaven… The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her. None of us can add to or diminish the glory of whom we have no revealed knowledge” – LDS apostle Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign Magazine, November 1991

In the Book of Mormon one of the characters Nephi has a vision of the Tree of Life and it immediately makes him think of Mother Mary. The Asherah Tree and Queen of Heaven connection of Mother Mary cannot be a coincidence. Joseph Smith studied Kabbalah, Freemasonry and the occult, which is very cool. The Tree of Life is the major teaching of Kabbalah.

Where are You in the 4 Phases of Belief?

Came across this profound quote today about how our belief (and skepticism) evolves as we mature:

First there is a time when we believe everything, then for a little while we believe with discrimination, then we believe nothing whatever, and then we believe everything again – and, moreover, give reasons why we believe.
- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

1.  First there is a time when we believe everything,
2.  then for a little while we believe with discrimination,
3.  then we believe nothing whatever,
4.  and then we believe everything again – and, moreover, give reasons why we believe.
* * * * * * * * *
PHASE 1.  First there is a time when we believe everything.  This refers to childhood. I remember my own. I have raised or am still raising six kids.  How trusting my young daughters are. All of them are less than 13 and they believe everything I tell them about God-the-Mother, God-the-Father, Jesus, Magdalene (and about Daddy for that matter…hee hee). Young children eat up facts and opinions, “absorbing” as it is sometimes called. Conveying our adult beliefs to our kids is part of feeding and nurturing.
Next, like their 3 older siblings, they will no doubt “wise-up” a little bit, get skeptical, when they become teens.  I have two teens and one young-twenties. About the age of 12 or 13 they got downright quarrelsome over Bible stories and religion, although they would still come to me and ask what was the deal with this or that spiritual figure — from everything to Buddha, Jesus, Lucifer, Sophia, Shiva. Or what is the deal with Wicca and “spells”.  They wanted to know, but they were dubious, no longer eating up my words, beliefs and opinions like they eagerly ate up the Happy meals and Taco Bell I sat before them. That means I guess they entered phase 2.

PHASE 2. then for a little while we believe with discrimination.
Yeah, believing with some healthy skepticism. After going on for a little while like this, we become burned, and then after a season of pain, we end up jaded, right? That leads to the next stage of believing in nothing at all — when it all seems like a bunch of crap.

PHASE 3.  then we believe nothing whatever,
We have been misled! we cry. We have been deluded all these years. All that religion junk our Mama taught us is not real. Fairy tales for kids. O how sucky that phase was. Occasionally I still get an “agnostic fit” here and there. Such a pain. During those fits I have to talk to god like this, “Okay, so why is this happening Lord. I mean, IF you even exist and are even hearing me… But let’s say you DO exist, then what is going on…or why is this troubling me…or what is the answer to THIS mess…?”  yada yada.  I remember once in my early 30s giving away a TON of spiritual books on traditional Christianity because I was no longer in-belief of that shtuff. I thought it wasn’t authentic enough, too many humans had messed up Judaism and Christianity. I believed none of it (for about two months…hah).  I thought perhaps I could find the “authentic” belief-system in Gnosticism or pre-Christian beliefs of MY ancestors. But of course nothing feels authentic when one is in this phase 3 of dis-belief.  How depressing that phase is. I think a lot of people lose spouses during this time. Surely many people die stuck in this phase, too. Even more may never make it to this phase…yikes.  Much less, to the NEXT and final phase. Supposedly it is the final phase of belief, but maybe there is a phase 5, a transcendent phase follows that Lichtenberg didn’t notice or chose not to speak of.
PHASE 4.  and then we believe everything again – and, moreover, give reasons why we believe.

Now this is cool. I have been there — or, I should say, am still here — and done/doing that! <smile>

I remember when this phase began because I found my mouth speaking, and my hands typing apologetics.  Me, an apologist!? It felt so odd…yet exhilarating. It didn’t happen til I was 40. <snort>  Interesting the Jewish Kabbalists insist you must be 40 before they will start teaching you true Kabbalah.  Since then I have never sunk completely back into phase 3, just dipped in for fleeting moments of doubt or despair. A few years ago I pondered why I hadn’t had one of my “agnostic fits” in so long. Evolving had escaped my notice. I had become an apologist, evolved (finally!) beyond the agnostic “professional skeptic” stage.

I had become a “Believer” all over again (as in childhood)….and I had become a brainwasher of my friends, family and my children, as some of them no doubt accused me of. Heh heh. Ah, the art of persuasive speech when one really believes this stuff. <laugh>  Now, don’t let on to my students 15 years ago (some of you on here have been with me that long) that I was not altogether certain about every iota, jot and tittle back then…



Is God Beyond Gender? The taboo Judeo-Christian Goddess in YHVH

Rabbi unveils a secret of God

By Gary Stern, The Journal News

 The tradition-bound Western image of a he-man, masculine God may already be thousands of years out of date, says a Westchester rabbi who believes he has unlocked the secret to God’s name and androgynous nature.

 Rabbi Mark Sameth contends in a soon-to-be-published article that the four-letter Hebrew name for God – held by Jewish tradition to be unpronounceable since the year 70 – should actually be read in reverse. When the four letters are flipped, he says, the new name makes the sounds of the Hebrew words for “he” and “she.”

 God thus becomes a dual-gendered deity, bringing together all the male and female energy in the universe, the yin and the yang that have divided the sexes from Adam and Eve to Homer and Marge.

 “This is the kind of God I believe in, the kind of God that makes sense to me, in a language that speaks very, very deeply to human aspirations and striving,” Sameth said.

 “How could God be male and not female?”

 Sameth, 54, the spiritual leader of Pleasantville Community Synagogue, first hit on his theory more than a decade ago when he was a rabbinical student.  Since then, he has quietly pieced together clues and supporting evidence from the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament and the vast body of rabbinic literature.

 His article “Who is He? He is She: The Secret Four-Letter Name of God” will appear in the summer issue of the CCAR Journal, published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, an association of Reform rabbis.

 Sameth’s theory is not as outlandish as it might seem to the uninitiated.

For one thing, Jewish mystical traditions have long found levels of meaning in the Hebrew Bible beyond those that come from a literal or metaphorical reading. For another, there is a deep tradition in Jewish prayer and thinking, particularly among the so-called mystics, of seeking to reconcile the male and female elements in the universe.

 Sameth’s article includes this: “What the mystics called ‘the secret of one’ is the inner unification of the sometimes competing, sometimes complementing masculine and feminine energies that reside within each of us, regardless whether we are male or female.”

 The notion that God is what Sameth calls a “hermaphroditic deity” could energize the growing movement in many religious traditions to present God in gender-neutral terms, particularly in Scripture.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, a revered scholar among liberal Jews who has written extensively on Jewish mysticism and spirituality, called Sameth’s article “delicious, thought-provoking and wise.” Kushner is among a small group of scholars and friends with whom Sameth has shared his article in recent weeks.

“I think most people assume the God of the Hebrew Bible is masculine, but Mark, through some sound and clever research, suggests that God may have always been androgynous, ” Kushner said. “This can affect the way we consider holiness and the divine, and invites us to reconsider our own gender identities, which is kind of a bombshell.”

 The Hebrew name of God that is known as the Tetragrammaton – the four letters Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay – appears 6,823 times in the Hebrew Bible. Since early Hebrew script included no vowels, the pronunciation of the name was known by those who heard it.

 According to Sameth’s footnotes, the name was said only by priests after the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the name was no longer said and the pronunciation lost.

 Jewish tradition has long held that the name was too sacred to articulate.

Jews have generally used Adonai, “the Lord,” in place of the Tetragrammaton.

Various Christian groups have pronounced the name as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.”

Sameth has no intention of speaking the “reversed” name of God that he has uncovered, preferring to focus on its meaning.

“I still won’t pronounce it, intentionally, as God’s name,” he said. “I’m not suggesting that anyone pronounce the name.”

Sameth became fascinated with Jewish mysticism while a rabbinical student in Jerusalem during the early 1990s. He studied with Moshe Idel, a pre-eminent scholar on mysticism, and learned how medieval Spanish Kabbalists and others uncovered mystical meanings from the Torah that had been shrouded in patterns of words and letters.

Once back in New York, at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform seminary, Sameth was studying the biblical story of the prophet Nathan reprimanding King David for murder, which becomes a turning point for David. Sameth realized that the Hebrew forms of both names, Nathan and David, are palindromes, words with spellings that can be reversed.

It was, as they say, a revelation.

“It’s about reversibility, ” Sameth said. “King David is changing the direction of his life, and the two key characters, their names are palindromes.

What are the chances of that?”

A new zeal for biblical reversibility led Sameth to flip the four Hebrew letters of the unpronounceable Tetragrammaton. [YHVH becomes HVHY] In his head, he heard the Hebrew words hu and hi. That’s “he/she” in English.

And he felt connected to a long line of Jewish mystics who have mused about the male and female coming together.

“I really believed that I had found something significant, ” Sameth said.

“Then I did 10 years of study to see if I could find support for it.”

Much of his article consists of weaving together clues and examples from Jewish Scripture and wisdom that offer historical context for his thesis. For example, Sameth contends that the Zohar – a medieval, mystical Torah commentary – was referring to God’s dual-gender “when it suggested that the sin of Adam was that he ruined the marriage between the feminine and masculine halves of God by divorcing himself from the feminine.”

He also writes: “We realize now that the secret was almost revealed by the 13th-century Torah commentator Rabbeinu Bachya, who makes note of every four-word cluster in the Torah whose rashei teivot, or initial letters, spell out the Tetragrammaton in reverse.”

Rabbi Jonathan Stein, editor of the CCAR Journal, was on vacation and not available for comment.

Sameth has been the only rabbi at the decade-old Pleasantville Community Synagogue, a self-described “trans-denominational” congregation that includes elements of Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism. Congregants come from many backgrounds and communities to the synagogue, which has become known for hearty singing and dancing during services.

Talking recently about his years of study to grasp the meaning of God’s name, Sameth had to stop, swallow hard and take a breath when describing what it’s like to receive sparks of insight from the great Jewish thinkers of long ago.

“It is a form of transcendence to be connected in that way,” he said.

Sameth doesn’t believe that he has stumbled on a previously unknown understanding of God’s name, but that he has been able to connect the dots in a fresh way.

Those who find meaning in his work, he said, may encounter a different understanding of God that is comforting to feminists and those on many spiritual journeys. They may also read the Torah differently.

“If this interpretation is correct, it says that the Torah is a mystical or esoteric text,” he said. “The mystics have been saying all these years that the text conceals more than it reveals. It is structured with different levels of meaning and reveals itself over time. We’re talking about one tradition that goes all the way back.”

Katherine Kurs, a religion scholar who teaches at New School University and is an associate minister at West-Park (Presbyterian) Church in Manhattan, said that the image of God presented by Sameth will have great appeal to many people who are searching for spiritual meaning.

“Mark’s unveiling is part of a mystic lineage that presents a prismatic experience of God, that says there are ways of experiencing God that contain and explode categories simultaneously, ” said Kurs, who has known Sameth since they studied together almost 20 years ago. “This God is not a male or even a female but a male-female or female-male, a God that holds tension and paradox, a full-spectrum bandwidth God.”

Sameth has shared his image of a dual-gendered God with the seventh- and eighth-graders he teaches at his synagogue. He said they’ve been very receptive, which isn’t surprising because they are growing up in a post-modern age.

“As post-moderns, we’ve been conditioned to a different relationship with language,” he said. “That’s why there is all this interest now in Jewish mysticism.”

He wonders how, 2,000 years from now, people will understand the final chapter of “Ulysses,” which includes no punctuation.

Will they try to add punctuation, believing that it’s been lost? Or will they grasp that James Joyce knew what he was doing?

“Joyce was playing with language, using language to play with the medium,” Sameth said. “And the Torah isn’t just about Noah taking the animals, twosies by twosies. If that’s what the Torah was all about, how could it have captivated Western civilization for 3,000 years? There had to be more.”


— In, Rachel wrote:

> The only problem with the article is that G-d has never been seen as male in Judaism; calling G-d “He” is convention. There is no neutral gender word in Hebrew. G-d is neither (not both but neither) male or female in the Jewish religion; having no physical attributes or even emotions as we understand it. When it talks about humans being created in G-d’s image it means spiritually. G-d has always been spoken of in the feminine as well as masculine, for example as a mother or father, as a master or mistress (when we are referred to as bondsmen or bondswomen).

> I don’t understand a Rabbi who hasn’t learned that. It is a bit odd to me.

Katia writes:  Seems to me the very fact there is no gender neutral word in ancient Hebrew, the original language of theology, basically proves there was no gender neutral God in Judaism.

GLENN KING responded to Rachel by posting the following to the DivineMother forum.

Rachael, I am certain that you are right in stating that the formal theology of Judaism states that God is beyond all aspects of gender. That is also the position of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and liberal Protestantism. My problem is that I doubt that few people in their hearts of hearts really believe this. I also suspect that few Jews historically have believed it either.

      First let me explain a few things. It is certain that the biblical God is not a male in the same physical way that a human man is or as Greek god such as Zeus. The god of the Israelites did not relate to other gods and to human women as did the Greek gods. Clearly the bible discourages that point of view.

       However after stating that, it is clear that in most respects the biblical writers saw Yahweh is in a deep way as male. “He” is Lord and King and never lady and Queen. G-d has mostly “male” roles of ruler, judge, warrior, etc. It is true that sometimes this male aspect slips and in few places he is seen as like a female eagle, or a woman in labor. But in general the male images hold.

       There is other evidence of this. G-d is often called Elohim in the bible. My understanding is that Elohim is the masculine plural of Eloah which  can quite properly be translated as “goddess.” Yet the verbs associated with this are always masculine and singular. My point is that the biblical writers had a multiple of opportunities to dispel the idea that G-d is some how intrinsically wrapped up with maleness. Yet the writers repeatedly do not do this. Thus I would argue that the idea that the biblically male language of G-d in the bible is purely conventional is incorrect. On the contrary the male language of god in the Bible betrays the very strong patriarchal culture of Israel which believed that if god has to be imaged as personal then G-d has to be male even if not conventionally so.

      I would also suggest, whatever the rabbis’ point of view, that they were not the authors of the biblical text. The understanding of the rabbis, most of them wrote and commented on the Torah after the time of Jesus, is not necessarily the view of earlier pre biblical Israel i.e. of the period 1300 BCE to about 600 BCE. It seems that monotheism only fully triumphed in Judah after the exile. Thus the understanding of the majority of Israel’s people and of her elites were not doubt quite different than that of the latter rabbis.  It is also obvious that the latter Cabbalist Medieval writers had a different point of view. To a large degree their theology was that the High Holy One, the King, had lost his connection with his Shekinah i.e. Queen or daughter who was in exile with Israel. The Shekinah, the Sabbath Queen, etc were all seen as basically female. I am of course aware that latter day theologians and philosophers have argued that all of this Kabalistic language was all merely metaphoric not to be taken literally. To defend this language I am sure that even the Kabbalists themselves stated that it was all just metaphor. The problem is why use all of this metaphor if it just confuses the issue. Why talk as if there is in fact a female and male presence of God if God is only a singular, sexless “spiritual” (what ever that means) being.

      My real suspicion is of course that these people did have a radically different vision of G-d  which was not compatible with Rabbinic orthodoxy. Thus what they did is cover it up with their talk of allegory and metaphor. It would not be very pleasant to be exiled even from the exiles.

       I think of course that the same thing has happened within Christianity in relationship with Mary. Official Catholic and Orthodox theology claim that Mary’s role as Queen of Heaven, Co mediatrix and of her power and Glory are all just borrowed powers from Jesus to whom all real power and glory resides. Thus all of Mary’s power and glory  is simply at bottom not real.

The problem with this is why in fact would God even permit this. If this is all there is to Mary, then Protestantism makes all the sense in the world. Of course again I think that all of this talk is subterfuge to hide the real fact that psychologically and really Catholics love and adore Mary in ways very similar to how the old Pagans used to worship Isis, Inanna and other goddesses. The point of this being that official doctrines of religions often hide as much as they reveal. Often they hid radical realities rather that admitting the radical truth of the real situation.  –Glenn

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Ricardo from our local Meetup wrote:

This documentary talks about this topic in a very interesting way:

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Glenn King writes:

Rachael, I am certain that you are right in stating that the formal theology of Judaism states that God is beyond all aspects of gender. That is also the position of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and liberal Protestantism. My problem is that I doubt that few people in their hearts of hearts really believe this. I also suspect that few Jews historically have believed it either.

* * * * * * * * *

BURL responds: 

I think to take gender out of the Godhead is to deny our relationship to the greater whole.  When I see the Sun’s rays entering my cells and feel them unfold their potential by absorbing those rays, then I tend to see my cells as acting in a female role and the sun in a male.  In other words, gender is reflective of cosmic process.

Another piece is that if you read other myths and scriptures from throughout the world, no other culture is shy about describing that which is before manifestation (i.e., the Unmanifest) in the Feminine.  The Feminine is the container of potential, be that potential be in the form of a seed in the ground, an egg in a mammal or bird, or as hidden knowledge in the depths of our minds.

* * * * * * * *

>>First let me explain a few things. It is certain that the biblical God is not a male in the same physical way that a human man is or as Greek god such as Zeus.

Genesis 1:27 reads: “God created humanity is “his” image, male and female created he them.” However after stating that, it is clear that in most respects the biblical writers saw Yahweh is in a deep way as male. “He” is Lord and King and never lady and Queen. G-d has mostly “male” roles of ruler, judge, warrior, etc. It is true that sometimes this male aspect slips and in few places he is seen as like a female eagle, or a woman in labor. But in general the male images hold.

* * * * * * * *

This change could also be seen as a holographic tidal wave on this planet.  … all one movement of one tidal wave that will eventually rescind and calm down (will we become extinct in the process, or transform? is the question).  Your work, my work, the work of the people in this group is to be the beginning of this transformation.  So is the work of the locavores or local food movements and so on.  While you may not see the relationship of these two movements (and many others), I do.  They are one wave that hopefully will gain momentum (according to Sophia’s desires which operate much like the moon on the water (and our bodies) to replace these dark ages.


> Thus I would argue that the idea that the biblically male language of G-d in the
> bible is purely conventional is incorrect. On the contrary the male language
> of god in the Bible betrays the very strong patriarchal culture of Israel
> which believed that if god has to be imaged as personal then G-d has to be male
> even if not conventionally so.

Looking at this holographically, I would also say that seeing God as purely male reflected a shift towards more externalized thinking.  We have wars because we are more interested in conquering and controlling them over there then we are about developing our inner potential.  This is what Sophia is, in my opinion.  she is the infinite inner world of all creatures and contains all potentials that unfold according the interactions of Her son and husband, Eros, or Creative Desire.  Or as Hermes said (I’m paraphrasing), “Sophia is the container of potential and Eros initiates that unfolding.” Hence, in sexual reproduction, the egg exists as a potential person that unfolds as a body upon the union with sperm.  Or, in the Stanza’s of Dyzan “Darkness (female) radiates Light and Light drops one solitary ray into the Mother’s depths.  The eternal egg thrills and divides…”  And, wa-la here we are having this conversation.

> It is also obvious that the latter Cabbalist Medieval writers had a different point

> of view. To a large degree their theology was that the High Holy One, the

> King, had lost his connection with his Shekinah i.e. Queen or daughter who was in

> exile with Israel.


When you get down to it, the Holy One entails the knowledge of unity in diversity.  The mystical aspect of the people existing when the U.S. came to be knew this in their “E Pluribus Unim,” IN UNITY DIVERSITY.  There is unity in diversity and diversity in unity.  As the chaos theorists now realize, this is one Planet that operates as a single organism.  We, in other words, are cells in the Planet and are not the Kings or Queens of it.  Due to our arrogance and our “growth without end” mentality, we have become cancerous cells..this is what cancer is, growth gone wild.

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The Shekinah, the Sabbath Queen, etc were all seen as

> basically female. I am of course aware that latter day theologians and

> philosophers have argued that all of this Kabalistic language was all merely metaphoric

> not to be taken literally.

Ah!  Merely metaphoric!  Metaphor according to Burl and Gregory Baetson IS the language of the universe.  Metaphor is the language that connects.  If we look at the external orientation of our modern day, we can see the male externalized genitals.  We are more interested in invading other countries and controlling the population (politicians, scientists, etc) then we are our inner world.  Yet, it is in our inner world that a new world can unfold.  It is only by tapping into the Feminine that we can create a peaceful planet.

Hence, one of Sophia’s names is Salem, Shalom or Jerusalem meaning peace.  Giving birth to Sophia (i.e., the Daughter), we give birth to peace on Earth.

* * * * * * *

To defend this language I am sure that even the

> Kabbalists themselves stated that it was all just metaphor. The problem is why use

> all of this metaphor if it just confuses the issue.

* * * * * * * *

Metaphor is holographic.  Understanding one, you understand the all. Gregory Baetson says that metaphor is Nature’s language. I can figure every one of our individualized and creative paths through the Wizard of Oz.  The Wizard of Oz is metaphor.  One person argued with me about Baum’s story being political.  “Well, I said, that’s true too.”

Now, how could I say that?  Easy, in my holographic universe, the political interpretation of this man was one with my spiritual [interpretation].  The sun’s rays shining through a prism breaks down into a multitude of colors.  Each interpretation is one strand of color existing in one ray of Light emanating from the Womb of Sophia.  (Baum states that the story just erupted into his consciousness.  Need I say more about Sophia’s hand being there?)  We are all Dorothy in Oz (manifestation) seeking Kansas (Heaven or the land of non-duality as reflected in the flat greyness).

>         I think of course that the same thing has happened within

> Christianity in relationship with Mary. Official Catholic and Orthodox theology claim

> that Mary’s role as Queen of Heaven, Co mediatrix and of her power and Glory are

> all just borrowed powers from Jesus to whom all real power and glory resides.

> Thus all of Mary’s power and glory   is simply at bottom not real.


Another slant on this is that Mary, Marie, means Ocean (marine, marina, etc).  When the Spirit moved over the face of the Deep in Genesis, the Holy Spirit came upon Marie in the New Testament. Hence, the Light of the world was born, the Word.  Again, this happens beyond time and space, in infinity, and as such is as much a possibility for each one of us as it is for some externalized woman living during the Roman times.  “Of what use Gabriel your message to Marie / unless you deliver that same message to me,” a mystic once said.

* * * * * * * * *

> The problem with this is why in fact would God even permit this. If this is all there is to Mary, then Protestantism makes all the sense in the world. Of course again I think that all of this talk is subterfuge to hide the real fact

> that psychologically and really Catholics love and adore Mary in ways very > similar to how the old Pagans used to worship Isis, Inanna and other goddesses.

Ya just can’t kill your love for your Mother.


> The point of this being that official doctrines of religions often hide as much

> as they reveal. Often they hid radical realities rather that admitting the 

> radical truth of the real situation.

 — Glenn


Or, is it that we don’t understand the language in our literal, empirical, results oriented, society.  Doctrines are living documents.  The Bible, the Rig Veda, the Tao Te Ching, the Upanishads, etc are all living, interactive beings.  There words are seminal in unfolding potential within you.  They are not to be taken literally, for to take them that way would be to kill them.  Rather, one should dance with all religious writings and in hearing other interpretations, one should dance with those also.  As the Three Musketeers stated, “Its all for one and one for all.”  In the diversity of interpretations is the mirror of the Holy One….Sophia who is male and female in Her divine essence.  Her kiss is Her Son, Eros.  Every time He visits me, I create an article, a book, or an insight.  What is unmanifest becomes manifest in me when I am in His arms.  And who is His arms if not Her extension?

–Burl Hall, author of Sophia’s Web

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


I would go further and note that this claim of a genderless God only arises when one is discussing the Goddess. As long as the pronouns remain masculine, no one makes this argument. It is just another way of keeping the Goddess from being discussed. Their argument can be boiled down to this: If God is genderless, there is no point in discussing the sacred feminine because it either doesn’t exist or is included in the masculine references.

This is the same argument made against using genderless titles (ie flight attendant, chairperson) back when the second wave of feminism began to demand that women’s titles be the equal of men’s. The argument that the male title actually includes the female was quite popular with those who wanted to resist feminine empowerment. This argument went so far as to claim that the laws didn’t need to be changed to include women because the words “man” and “men” actually included women — this despite the exact opposite argument had been made to deny any rights to women for centuries.

In “The Goddess vs. The Alphabet,” Leonard Schlain argues that the Hebrew ban on images was a direct attempt to erase the Goddess. The Goddess religions that preceded patriarchal monotheism made liberal use of images, especially sculpture. When we understand this, the God of Moses banning all “graven images” takes on a new context.


We can even argue that the concept a genderless God arose from the need to eliminate the Goddess. The Goddess worshippers were too powerful to [get rid of] all at once, therefore they began to indoctrinate the masses with the idea that God has no gender. This would have developed over decades or centuries until no one remembered that the “genderless” God (expressed as male) was needed to eliminate the feminine Goddess.


The people that claim God is genderless are disturbed when I use exclusively feminine pronouns and references when speaking of deity.  If God is genderless, then my use of these sacred feminine words shouldn’t matter. It is obvious they do, thus it is obvious that despite their claim God is genderless, they are accustomed to thinking of God as masculine and are not comfortable with thinking of God as feminine.

But in my world, this argument about how the Hebrews and rabbis think of God is moot. I was raised Christian where God is very definitely male. The RCC made official pronouncements to this effect just recently, going so far as to denounce and deny all marriages whose marriage rites contained gender-neutral language. The Sistine Chapel is very clear: the image of God is powerfully male. I wasn’t raised RCC but their images bleed over into all Christian religions. No traditional Christian would make the argument that God is genderless nor do they easily accept the idea of the sacred feminine, even in the abstract. Even those who claim God is genderless do not easily accept having the sacred feminine being plainly addressed or represented alongside their easy acceptance of the sacred masculine address or representation (ie using God and Goddess equally or displaying both images in equal prominence). This is why they engage in their genderless God rhetoric. Discussion of the Goddess or any version of the sacred feminine makes them uneasy, therefore I should not feel free to use it.

As long as we’re willing to engage in their argument — that God is genderless therefore we don’t need to use any sacred feminine references, we are reacting on the defensive and allowing their definition of deity to be the primary definition of deity. If indeed their God is genderless, my use of the sacred feminine in any of Her variations should not bother them. As long as they argue otherwise, it is an indication that their genderless claims are denied by their passionate need to keep me from referring to the sacred feminine.

When they no longer care, then I would believe their God is indeed genderless.

I don’t really care what the ancients believed or how they thought of God. I prefer to claim the sacred feminine alongside the sacred masculine, therefore their preferences are meaningless to me.

Lore continues:

At 11:36 8/24/08, Burl wrote:

>I think to take gender out of the Godhead is to deny our

>relationship to the greater whole.

It is not by accident that we yearn to identify with the sacred feminine. It is the completion we need to have a healthy relationship with all of life and the universe. Gender is indeed reflective of the cosmic process, as you noted. It is so integral that it is represented in every species, even those that are androgynous. As a species, we cannot imagine life without either gender. Even our material items are referred to as gendered (ie a ship is “she”). Trying to make a monotheistic deity one gender or genderless defies this deep natural instinct and creates imbalance in our thought processes.

It also creates a masculinized world that devalues and fears anything associated with the feminine while worshipping anything associated with the masculine. This worship of all things masculine is what allows our society to glorifies the mass extinction of others (including other species) via war, genocide, rape of the earth, etc.

Since creativity is viewed as feminine, it too is feared and devalued. We cannot make progress without creativity, yet men who display prowess in overtly creative endeavors (ie an artist) are ridiculed as “feminine” and shunned.

There is no way to have a balanced society that strictly worships a monotheistic deity that is either one gender or genderless. It is an abnormal and deformed way of viewing the universe and our world experience. Like all things that are deformed, this abnormal belief cannot create the balance and acceptance of Self, Earth and Universe that we desperately need.


* * * * * * * * * * *

Katia wrote later:

I really like the new theory by Rabbi Sameth about YHVH being reversed to say He/She.   He/She makes alot of sense for the Divine’s name, and the major names of God in our very Bibles literally mean just that.   Elohim means “God and Goddess” and Yahweh/Yahovah/YHVH is a combination of the God Yah and Goddess Havah (Havah is Hebrew for “Eve”, and means Mother of All). 

The Tetragrammaton name of the Divine, written YHVH, has the added benefit of meaning God/Goddess no matter which way you look at it — front to back or back to front.   No matter how you flip it, there is Goddess-and-God simultaneously.

Why do Kids Suffer? Kabbalah’s Answer

My Jewish pal and writing partner Dr. Lauri Loewenberg “the Dream Lady” was on The Today Show this morning.  They flew her up to NYC.  Lauri emailed this evening saying,


On the flight back from NY I was sitting across from a mother and her daughter who was probably three years old.  The little girl obviously had some form of cancer as she had hardly any hair and was wearing a surgical mask.  I heard her tell her mother, “Everything looks dizzy Mommy.”

Sigh.  I’m having a hard time getting over it.  I realize at least I CAN eventually get over it… but that poor little girl and her mommy… [they may never heal]


I wrote back to her with a less coherent and more rambling version of the following:

Oh how tragic.

I’ve given MUCH thought to this subject of suffering children since Rhea (my just turned four-year-old daughter) has kidney disease and has endured much.  I run into suffering children whenever Rhea has gone into the hospital and she has had a fair amount of suffering herself, to the point of developing PTSD.  Many opportunities make me ponder this topic.  (Rhea however is doing great since her surgery two months ago).

Just last night I stood in the bookstore and read the stirring conclusion of The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks & Feels.  It’s by the same guy who wrote How the Irish Saved Civilization and Why The Greeks Matter — Thomas Cahill, a non-Jew with very clear sight of history. Anyway, his stirring and sobering conclusion quotes Dostoevsky, “The suffering of children is the greatest proof against the existence of God.”

I remember reading that same thing in philosophy class (Dostoevsky’s novels are considered works of philosophy) and being depressed by it.  I think it’s in Crime and Punishment.

I recently read in one of the books from that all the bad deeds and evil thoughts of mankind sort of rise up and mix together into a kind of black cloud. Pardon the simplistic  explanation of this concept, but I just today formed these thoughts in order to explain it to my kids.  So bear with me, here…. Sometimes bolts of that darkness cloud come down and hit a child, a baby even, give them cancer, an abusive parent.  Or bad bolts of darkness from humanity’s collective crap hit a woman who then gets raped, a young man who gets murdered, etc.  The dark cloud then gets fed some more and grows even bigger. Innocents suffer because of all the negativity humans do and think.

Michael Berg writes that by changing our own consciousness from one of “wanting and getting to one of sharing and giving,” we can actually not contribute to this black cloud that affects us all so badly.  Furthermore, if enough of us keep doing that — adopt an attitude and even a way of life that is focused on giving and sharing and never on wanting and getting, getting, getting — we will gradually create a cloud of Light above us all, so to speak, that will cancel out that bad black cloud.

A critical mass can be reached.  We can leap forward out of this endless cycle where children suffer and life seems horrid so often.

Then something else clicked when I read a certain part of the Kabbalah book I mentioned above (the book I was reading is, The Secret by Michael Berg NOT the Law of Attraction movie The Secret, but a book which gives a true Secret, an unselfish, utterly unmaterialistic spiritual Secret).

In philosophy they call this “problem” the Problem of Evil or theodicy.  Anyway, I wrote in the margins of The Secret by Michael Berg the other night that we all agreed in unison to come to earth, to incarnate into bodies and live a life (or lives if you believe in reincarnation) in order that humanity might evolve, leap into the next level or phase.  I imagined a sort of pep talk God/dess gave all of humanity before we and God together(!) decided to create this planet and populate it.  Perhaps S/He said to all of us, “Some of you will die before you’re ever born.  Some of you will be filthy rich while others of you will starve to death, end up in prison, be born with terrible diseases.”  But.  Sick children and even crime victims “teach” other members of this human race so many valuable lessons…  you’ve heard how a sick child “touches lives” and indeed on the plane last night one such touched my friend.   Evidently we all work as a team to help the collective Mind come to higher awareness.  Poignant moments, suffering, shake us up, make us think, make us SEARCH for the meaning of death, life and the meaning of suffering, existence, evil and all those cosmic questions.  Suffering and diseases like my daughter’s and cancer compel some of us into scientific research, but for the vast majority of us, they make us question and ponder the cosmic doctrines like origins of life, why the hell innocents have to suffer, does God exist, what the freak are we here for, etc.

So I think we all said, okay, I agree.  Even if I have to be a kid with terrible cancer, or a senseless murder victim in order to help some others of us, my fellow human-thinkers, head down the deep-thinking path, thus leading us all collectively a bit closer toward the Leap of Evolution we hope to make, so be it.   How noble we all must’ve been (hah) to make such a choice.  It is said some people didn’t want to come to earth on this rather frightening mission to help consciousness make this evolutionary leap.  They felt they were not cut out for such a scary adventure, and those folks remained in whatever state they were in, and/or perhaps became angels.  In Judaism and the Kabbalah both (sometimes they are different) it is agreed that there was a finite number of souls “sent” to earth to fill the Hall of Souls.  It all makes sense to me when I merge it with my other metaphysical studies and philosophy studies.  I just love Kabbalah.  (Now that I’m forty plus, hee hee).

I really like the way the Kabbalah Centre people deal with the Problem of Evil. They don’t even call it that, not being philosophers but rather kabbalists.  They sure are tight writers, the Bergs, consisting of a father and his two 30-something sons. All three of them have the Jewish gift of parable.  Just like Jesus had…  Man can they come up with the most perfect little teaching stories.  Short and sweet and they sink right into your consciousness like a Zen lightbulb blazing on.  The Berg’s mother, Karen, wrote God Wears Lipstick: Kabbalah for Women.   I like it immensely, too.  Cool deck of cards available to go with it.  She doesn’t use the parable gift like the men in her family, but cites cool little case stories, letters she’s gotten, conversations she’s had, and vignettes from her life.  It’s sad the way critics excoriate and even mock the Kabbalah Centre and the Bergs.  I have been around the block these past couple of decades reading, meditating, studying all manner of spiritual systems from Self-Realization Fellowship, to Advaita Vedanta, Buddhism, Golden Dawn, Gnosticism, Judaism, New Age, Shamanism, pre-Christian European religion, Zen, Osho, Metaphysics, Hermetics, Christian Qabalah, Ken Wilber and my favorite tradition (the one I never left and still work in) esoteric or alternative Christianity.   I have learned to spot false gurus, greedy teachers, have been fooled by more than one.  The Kabbalah Centre people are not such.  I don’t know them personally of course, but I can read in the multitudinous words they write in blogs, books, website articles, that they are truly unselfish, giving people.  Ye shall know them by their fruits, said Yeshua.  And let the teachings they offer speak for themselves, ’cause it is good stuff.  Ancient stuff… with Judeo-Christianity all over it.  No prosperity Gospel (Jesus was a rich man, so should you be!) crap or get-rich-off-Christ stuff like Joel Osteen and others.  No get rich by winding up God.   And no winding up yourself since you are the Creator God, or co-creator, as is taught in the other book by that name, Secret: Law of Attraction.

Anyway, I still like my good ol’ Christian Qabalah but boy howdy do I like the Kabbalah Centre material too, enough to send my own students there when they sign up for our Qabalah elective course.

As for other answers to the Problem of Evil….I’ve never liked the eastern concept of Karma.  It doesn’t resonate with me, never has seemed quite believable though it does seem neat and tidy.  But it means my daughter Rhea was a bad person in a previous life so was born to suffer and “pay” for her sins this time.  Hogwash.  Ken Wilber and other modern philosophers also disagree with this you-deserve-it idea.  Ken Wilber speaks elegantly against the New Age concept that if you think hard enough, focus and believe, you can do anything, cure anyone, get any materialistic thing (the “we each create our own reality” doctrine).  Ken’s wife Treya died of cancer and Ken couldn’t heal her.  And now he himself has a debilitating illness.  He’s one of the greatest thinkers to ever live, not to mention very spiritual — got the mind-spirit union goin’ on.  Yet his mental power isn’t good enough, strong enough in his conviction to accomplish mind over matter healing? Even deep thinkers like Ken, and holy men and women around the world can’t snap their mental fingers and win the lottery or heal someone of cancer.  Mind over matter just isn’t that strong.  I think the Kabbalah Centre does teach that the Zohar can heal like that…it can bring about miracles, but it is a holy book, not someone’s personal wish for healing or riches.

Such poignant moments as what my friend witnessed on the plane, reach into us and give our heart and our very soul a little shake.  They compel us to think deeper than we normally do.  To exercise our right as a thinking one (the term mankind comes from the word mannaz which means the thinking ones).  Furthermore, we must each of us be a meaning-seeker.  The one thing that makes us different from animals is our ability and our drive to find meaning in everything from dream symbols to suffering to ink blots.  We are the same as the animal kingdom, going about seeking food, shelter and pleasure, unless we think and seek meaning in life.

We are kept on track by suffering.  Negativity encourages us to keep digging, keep seeking the meaning of life, not just stop evolving and be complacent life-enjoyers, pleasure seekers.  Slogan idea:  To be meaning seekers, not pleasure seekers.  By seeking meaning we help humanity as a whole leap into the next phase of our evolution and then all pleasures will be available to us.  Or at least we will have a new fuller understanding of what the heck pleasure is, and may not really want it for pleasure’s sake.  One thing is promised however, if we can make it to humanity’s next level:  pain and suffering won’t be around.

Perhaps we’ll be bored, who knows.  Or perhaps we’re part of the Creator’s mind, each of us a firing neuron in His/Her “brain” or of some Godling’s brain.  A Godling is awakening and we are part of that evolution to help him/her reach immortality.  Immortality would be a painful existence and might go horribly wrong if the Being in question doesn’t go thru proper phases of evolution.  Freaky thought — we are all part of an awakening God’s/Goddess’ mind.  That reminds me of yet another book I had to read in a philosophy class, in fact the first philosophy class of all, Phil 101.  Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke.  It describes in a classic sci-fi format how all earthlings combine into one Overmind, mature and “leap” into the next phase.  “Initiation,” Blavatsky would call it.  Becoming god, the New Age and perhaps even the Kabbalah Centre and the Theosis doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church would call it…