Boundaries of the Soul II

The imagery of the Zohar is outrageously colorful. I am speaking of the 13th century masterpiece central to Kabbalah. Here in sacred surreal story form, we learn from an angry angel that our purpose on earth is: to turn darkness into light, bitter into sweet, to assist God to unite with the gazelle, that is, the Shechinah, the divine feminine who has been lost in exile.

Throughout the Zohar we have this profound and radical idea: that God—though infinite, the totality of consciousness and more—is not quite whole. One main reason: God is masculine seeking His feminine, feeling side. You might say this is a projection. Or you might say that we humans reflect the Creator's own cosmic imbalance.

The union of masculine and feminine principles is key in Kabbalah. "The Holy One does not dwell in any place where masculine and feminine are not found together," the Zohar says. "Blessings are found only in a place where both male and female are found."

Carl Jung's ideas were right in line with the Zohar's. He taught that our psyches are inherently designed to strive for wholeness. Whether or not we were born with male or female body parts, we are all after an inner balance of masculine and feminine energies. That's why so many of us seek wholeness through relationship. We are looking to be balanced out by energies that are not yet manifest within ourselves.

Jung's prodigious life work centered around the idea that we are here to make conscious (light) that which is buried in the unconscious (darkness). In his radical worldview (similar to that of many Hassidic masters as well), God needs us. God is not complete and (like us) is looking for wholeness.

Human consciousness took hundreds of millions of years to evolve, Jung said, and that was no biological accident. Yes, creation is full of problems: poverty, disease, violence of all kinds. But as flawed as it is, the world was set in motion with a design, a telos, an ultimate intent. So God created the world with an innate purposefulness: Consciousness. Because through consciousness, we can transform ourselves and the world.

Or as the Nobel peace laureate Elie Weisel once said: "God created the world because God loves a good story." So we tell stories, and we make art, and we make meaning, and we struggle with our world, and we transform it. Because we have evolved the property known as a conscience, and we have evolved the capacity for consciousness, and therefore, we can turn the darkness into light, bitter into sweet, and assist in God's reunion with His feminine consort. And we can answer the angry angel and say: Quiet down, we're working on it!

Tirzah Firestone