Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Up/Down ~ Right/Left ~ In/Out

In Jewish Mysticism, the designations of upper, inner and right usually refer to holier and more spiritual positions. Whereas, lower, outer and left usually designate more physical positioning. This concept is basic to Judaism's inner teachings. However, what might be lost on some people is the different meanings of each set of positions: up/down, right/left and inner/outer. Even though generally speaking all the sets represent a polarity of spiritual and temporal, in the specific sense, each set means something different.

It seems to me that up/down designates positions of dominance and submission. For example, when we say that heaven is above earth, we mean to say that heaven is the dominant partner in the relationship.

Right/left seem to designate the parties as being different, but, complimentary. Each brings his/her own talents to cooperate in accomplishing a task, which requires their partnership. An example of this would be parenting children.

Inner/outer to me seems to designate the parties as exact or near exact parallels to each other on different levels. For instance, every sensory organ has an outer and an inner component. The outer presence of the eyes and ears are continuous with their inner presence in the brain. 

Interestingly, while studying a mystical discourse by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi describing the states of heart one can aspire to during prayer, I encountered descriptions of the holier component of the heart. It was decribed with both the terms, "inner" and "right". In contrast, the heart's earthier component was described as both "outer" and "left". I was musing to myself, "Spatially speaking, if something's positioned on the right side, it's not inside. If it's placed on the left side, it's not outside. So how can both right/left and inner/outer describe the same exact entity? It seems spatially impossible. The position should be either one or the other."

Perhaps a possible answer is that their default positions are indeed right/left. They're side by side with each oter. This is because they are different from each other in the sense that one component of the heart is primarily focused on the earthly, while the other is primarily interested in the spiritual. Yet, they compliment each other, keeping man in balance between the two concerns. Thus, delivering to man a moderate, but, sweetly spiritual life.

However, with spiritual work the two components of the heart can be brought into alignment. The left side of the heart can eventually become sensitive enough to feel and identify with the vibes coming from the right side of the heart. When this alignment happens, the two components are now in an "inner/outer" relationship. The spiritual side of the heart is driving the earthly side, as his vehicle for outer expression.


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