Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ultimate Oneness

"Duties of the Heart" by Our Master Bachya Ibn Pequda is divided into sections called "gates". In "The Gate of Unity" he takes his audience on an intellectual journey into the meaning of what Jews proclaim twice daily, "The Creator is One." 

He explains that the Creator's Oneness is unlike any other oneness. Anything else that people consider one is really made up of parts. The technical term for this kind of oneness is a "composite unity", meaning a unity composed of parts. Humans are incapable of conceiving anything singular in any other way. For example, let's take one beam of light. It has parts: a beginning, middle and end. Even the beginning has it's own beginning, middle and end. It has a beginning of a beginning, a middle of beginning and an end of beginning. So it's composite to the core.

By contrast, the Creator's Oneness has no parts whatsoever. Being Infinite in the ultimate true sense of the word, He's beginningless, middleless and endless.  This kind of Oneness is called "non-composite". It's a pure and perfect Oneness. There cannot be a truer One. Though humans cannot conceive of such a Oneness because the mind is designed to process more fragmented reality, still we can contemplate why our minds cannot conceive the Creator's Oneness and bow in utter surrender before His transcendental mystery.

Our Master Bachya Ibn Pequda eloquently argues that there can only be one true Oneness or Infinity. For if there were two, reality would be divided up between them. Each identity of each would stop at the border where the other begins. Hence, they'd both manifest limitations rendering each finite, not truly One. If there can only be One Infinity, then why do the Kabbalist sometimes refer to the higher spiritual realms as being Infinite?

It seems likely to me that the higher spiritual realms are not absolutely infinite. Rather, they are relative infinities, meaning that they appear as infinite relative to realms below them. The way this might work is that the higher realms truly exhibit multiplicity on their own level. Yet, this multiplicity is too subtle to register on the lower levels. Beings on the lower levels don't have the capacity to perceive the elevated components comprising such multiplicities.

An example from our own realm of this phenomenon might be our perception of white light. If passed through a prism it presents itself as being a composite of seven colors. However to the naked unaided eye, it's a single color - white! So too, the multiplicity of the higher realms would be lost if examined from an earthly perspective. Therefore, they appear like non-composite unities. However, relative to themselves, to yet higher realms and certainly to the Creator Himself, they exhibit multiplicity and are finite. Only the Creator is truly non-composite, Infinite and One.




    It is the story of what life is like in the dimension below ours. It explains how we cannot understand that which is "above us" or in the realm of our Creator.

  2. A very nice retelling of the "Flatland" story. Thank you for sharing it and enhancing this post with it. This parable is part of what makes me think that the spiritual realms are more multi-dimensional than our realm in time/space/life. The reports of people who had NDE's seem to point in this direction.