karl_lembke (karl_lembke) wrote,

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Creative destruction

In my other blog, Rite Wing Technopagan, I'm more inclined to discuss the political and economic implications of "creative destruction". Here, I'm going to run in a rather different direction.

In the Kabbalah of Isaac Luria, God created the universe. He built the spheres that would contain the divine light, and the paths that would connect them.

According to legend, when he filled this structure with divine light, it was not adequate to contain it, and the spheres shattered. One of my religious beliefs is that every valid religion has a Great Work – a task that its members are dedicated to in furtherance of the divine plan. The Great Work of Judaism is "tikkun olam" or the repair of the world. Non-mystics dedicate themselves to repairing evil when they see it; mystics enter meditative states to find the fragments of these broken shells and put them back into their proper place.

The premise is that in God's creation, there is nothing so dark and evil that it contains no spark of the Divine. It is the work of the mystic to recover these sparks and return them to the Divine – to the light side of the Force, if you will. (Why does everyone think you can travel the road between sides of the Force in only one direction?)

I've never really liked the Lurianic vision of the sundering of the spheres. It seems absurd that an all-powerful, all-knowing being would so under-engineer a system that it shatters the first time it's powered up. That's NASA-style engineering.

But there is one area in life, the universe, and everything, where shells are meant to be broken. We call them "seeds". Or in animals, we call them "eggs".

Eggs are supposed to break. In the same way, I believe the vessels that shattered at the beginning of creation were supposed to break. When they were intact, they protected the light as it formed and gained substance and the ability to resist exposure to the emptiness of the new universe. Leave the shells in place too long, and the light is smothered.

In this view, the shells, in Hebrew, "kellipot" or "qliphoth", are no longer demonic forces, but expressions of things once useful, now cast away. In recovering the sparks, we are not trying to strip these shells of their nature, but to know the context in which they become desirable.

Seed husks, and other dead plant matter become compost. This serves as a home for microbes, and the basis for new growth. Dead animals become food and fertilizer. Perhaps someday, we'll come to know the many wheels and cycles by which the universe spins from beginning to end.

In the mean time, as Pope John-Paul II said, "fear not". Within destruction is the seed of creation, and in the passing away of the old, we open the door to the new. The Lord and Lady hold you in Their hearts, and that which matters can never pass away.

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