Kabbalah/Ain

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Question
In Kabbalah their are supposed to be three veils of negative existence, and Ain ( nothing) is the first veil, and Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur. what is the difference between Ain and Ain Soph, does Ain trascend Ain Soph? Or they have always existed together? If Ain Soph is boundless, how can something trascend infinity or boundlessness? Thanks

Answer

Jason - this is an excellent question. The topic of the "three veils of negative existence" is a fascinating area of speculation.

First, let's discuss the importance of the number three. The history of "the big three" goes back to the sun, moon, and earth. Thousands of year ago (before organized religion), pre-historic people would look up at the sky and relate to the sun as the life-giver - the moon was their essential night-light - and the earth was their beautiful home.

The sun was interpreted as being a masculine entity, the moon as feminine, and the earth as the male/female child of the sun and moon. The Egyptians personified "the big three" in their hierarchy of gods, which included Osiris (the sun), Isis (the moon), and Horus (the earth). The Romans had a similar belief system with Uranus, Gaea, and Cronus. The Hindus used the same model with Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva; and the Buddhists with the Past, Present, and Future Buddhas. Of course, the Church (not the Bible) implemented this idea with the Apostles' Creed which divided the Godhead into a trinity. So, there has been a common trend in World Religion to symbolize (or personify) the sun, moon, and earth - and also, the three basic qualities of existence.       

....and this subject could go on and on to become a dissertation...but instead, let's turn to your question.

Now, Kabbalah speaks of (10) names of God that emanate "downward" on the Tree of Life (Etz Chaiim). These include "the big three":  

1)Ehyeh (I Am)  
2)El (God)
3)Elohim (God(s) - in a pluralistic sense - but, still one unit)

For argument's sake, let's suppose that human beings created the notion of a three-part "Source". Thus, the concepts of Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur were meant to symbolize three aspects of an "Unknowable Concept of Being and Non-Being". According to Kabbalistic scholars, these metaphysical constructs are corresponding to the three basic foundations of existence:

1) Ain - the "The No-Thing" of space (before matter);
2) Ain Soph - "The No-Thing Without End" of continuous motion / "Unlimited" (before matter) and;
3) Ain-Soph Aur - "The Nothing-Thing Without End of Unlimited Light" / endless duration (before matter).

Now, please keep in mind, that these abstract ideas are being expressed in words for the purpose of attempting to comprehend the incomprehensible. Therefore, when individuals begin arguing about the technicalities of which aspect of Nothingness is infringing on another aspect of Nothingness - it's simply a mental exercise that can go 'round and 'round 'ad infinitum'. However, we can also appreciate the unique human quality that drives us to find logic in an area of speculation that is beyond physical matter.

So, at this point - we need to remind ourselves of the true intentions of authentic Kabbalah, which is to look within ourselves to find all the answers. Consequently, if we take these three metaphysical concepts and apply them to ourselves - we arrive at a practical application of mystical abstractions that can be used in meditation (kavvanah):

1) thinking of Ain as the "no-thingness of the highest spiritual-self";
2) Ain-Soph as "the unlimited wisdom of the spiritual-self" and;
3) Ain-Soph-Aur as "the higher mind of I AM that is illuminated by the unlimited wisdom of the spiritual-self".

So, if you look at the macrocosm of "the three veils of negative existence of Ain-Soph" as having a direct correspondence to the microcosm of the "three positive veils of existence of the Inner-Self" - a useful definition of these qualities begins to emerge. Then, the next step is to integrate these macro and micro concepts within yourself, and eventually, you'll find illumination and the ability to transcend your present reality. This is the primary goal of Kabbalistic practice and the way to experiencing God.

I hope this information is helpful for you...with best wishes, Bob Waxman

Kabbalah

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Robert Waxman, Ph.D.

Expertise

Please ask any questions that are relevant to Kabbalah or Jewish mysticism. Other topics to inquire about include: science and Kabbalah, parallel universes, reincarnation, after-death states, cosmology, numerology (gematria), hidden meanings of the Bible, the eternal validity of the soul, Plato, and Kabbalah, Vedanta and Kabbalah, and the meaning of life according to Kabbalah.

Experience

Author of "Kabbalah Simply Stated" published by Paragon House Publishers and distributed in 12 countries. Other books: "2012: The Meaning and The Message", "Seven Fundamental Propositions of Esoteric Philosphy" and "The Power of AWE!". Studied Kabbalah with Rabbi Azriel Abraham of Jerusalem from 1985 - 1998 and have been teaching Kabbalah and other subjects since 1998. Classes include: Kabbalah According To The Scholars, (Scholem, Kaplan, Tishby & Idel), Comparative Spirituality, Latest Research on the Near Death Experience (NDE), Spirtually Transformative Experiences & Cognitive Dissonance, Common Threads of Wisdom in Religion, Science, and Consciousness Studies. Thousands have attended these classes over the years. Additionally, on-going classes are given all year round along with guest speaking presentations at a wide variety of religious and philosophical organizations.

Organizations
Founding Member and guest speaker at The Open Center in Sarasota, FL. International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) Longboat Key Education Center Unity Life Enrichment Center American Seminar Leader's Association

Publications
(3) Books, many original articles that can be found on the internet (ezine, netterweb, searchwarp, etc.) "Beyond Madonna - Kabbalah according to the Great Scholars" and "Beyond The Da Vinci Code".


Education/Credentials
Ph.D. from Saybrook University; Master's Degree from Skidmore College with a concentration in Comparative Religion; (2) B.A.'s from The American University. Additional courses in Philosophy at Columbia University.

Awards and Honors
Many certificates of appreciation and recognition from various organizations.

Past/Present Clients
Over the last 15 years classes have been held at The Open Center, (5) Jewish Community Centers in South Florida, synogogues, Longboat Key Education Center, The Center For Positive Living, Interfaith Centers, Unity of Sarasota, and other religious & philosophical organizations.

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