The Secrets Of Kabbalah: The Role Of Evil In The Great Cosmic Drama
The Kabbalah conceives evil as part of the cosmic game of self-discovery and divinity.
One of the most difficult issues for theology to reconcile is the problem of evil and destruction as a universal force. The most obvious question within a narrative that admits a creator is why does God accept evil? Why does this entity, whose main attributes spin around supreme kindness and conscious omnipotence, perpetrate harm to his creation?
One way to reconcile this lies in understanding that although they play opposite roles, good and evil are actually complementary aspects within the cosmic drama. Without one the other cannot exist. Only the more exoteric religions, perhaps with a will to control, conceive evil as a force independent from a divinity, where it represent a true and dangerous opposition.
According to Isaac Luria’s Kabbalah, when God created the universe he shed his infinite light in a series of vessels that, after being filled with divine light, instantly exploded into thousands of pieces that were distributed around space. The great cosmic event caused by the breaking of these vessels is the origin of evil: an evil which in its first metaphysical meaning is simply a separation of the essential unity.
The cosmic broken pieces are known as “qliphoth”, the complementary opposites of the “sefirots”, God’s emanations. The broken “glass” of the qliphoths, according to Kabbalah, is similar to shells that trap divine light and alter creation in a game of appearances and illusions. Although they alter the image of the universe, they do not modify its essence or that of light.
The qliphoth, as Paul Levy points out, also symbolise the human soul’s sparks of light, those that have been caught and have consequently forgotten their divine reality and are clearly linked with the psychic processes of individualisation. As it happens with an autonomous complex in Jungian psychology, the qliphoth appear to have an independent existence, as if they had become completely separated from God’s light. They are the manifestation of a dissociative reaction of cosmic proportions —but that still, somehow, remain a part of God’s personality.
The paradox is centred in the fact that although multiplicity and separation are causes of “evil”, they are also indispensable to fulfil the greater purpose of the universe. According to the Kabbalah, this cataclysm was no accident –– it is embedded in the general scheme of things and it is part of the overall design. As a heroic journey on an infinite scale, God had to become alienated, dispersed and lost to become, once again, his whole self. Mysteriously, the deepest unity does not oppose multiplicity, but it needs it and celebrates it.
In archetypal terms something similar happens in the human psyche, in which it is necessary to traverse through all the aspects of the shadow —our demons— to be able to unify and consolidate individuality. Jung comments:
In a tract of the Lurianic Kabbalah, the remarkable idea is developed that man is destined to become God’s helper in the attempt to restore the vessels which were broken when God thought to create a world. Here the thought emerges for the first time that man must help God to repair the damage wrought by creation. For the first time man’s cosmic responsibility is acknowledged.
What can we take from this idea known as Tikkun? Perhaps that evil exists, precisely, as a form of Luciferian revelry, or as an antagonistic force in a drama, so that man can become transformed and discover their divine strength, restoring creation.
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