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Parashat Emor 5781 — 05/01/2021

Parashat Emor 5781 — 05/01/2021

Beginning with Bereishit 5781 (17 October 2020) we embarked on a new format. We will be considering Rambam’s (Maimonides’) great philosophical work Moreh Nevukim (Guide for the Perplexed) in the light of the knowledge of Vedic Science as expounded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The individual essays will therefore not necessarily have anything to do with the weekly Torah portion, although certainly there will be plenty of references to the Torah, the rest of the Bible, and to the Rabbinic literature. For Bereishit we described the project. The next four parshiyyot, Noach through Chayei Sarah, laid out a foundational understanding of Vedic Science, to the degree I am capable of doing so. Beginning with Toledot we started examining Moreh Nevukim.

Vayikra 21:1-24:23

Before moving on to a consideration of the various intellects I want to say one more word about hyle (pronounce “hoo-lay”). We tentatively identified hule as the most abstract form of matter. Physics has identified the Unified Field as the most abstract level of physical creation, and many or most theories of the nature of the Unified Field involve what is called “string theory.” String theory posits that all particles are actually vibratory modes of extremely small “strings” that curve back onto themselves and form loops. These loops exist in a much higher-dimensional space than our usual 3+1 space-time, therefore they have many more modes of vibration available to themselves. If these strings are identified with hyle, then the loops would be hyle hoops (rim shot).

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s look at the intellect. In particular, we want to see to what extent the intellect can be developed, and what perception will be like in such a fully-developed state. We will be considering al-Fārābī’s thoughts, as they influenced Rambam.

Last week we quoted Prof. Pines:

These ideas, are based upon the contention of Alexander of Aphrodisias that the hylic, i.e., the potential, intellect is a faculty subject to generation and corruption that subsists in the human individual. al-Fārābī infers from this premise that this intellect is unable to cognize abstract forms, i.e., forms separate from matter. For an Aristotelian principle lays down that the intellect becomes identical with that which it cognizes, and such identity is inconceivable in the case of these forms and the lowly kind of intellect that is postulated by al-Fārābī.

Aristotle holds that the “intellect becomes identical with that which it cognizes.” According to Vedic science, I think that there are two levels on which we can understand this statement. The first, lower level of understanding is what we all experience in everyday waking state of consciousness. When we perceive an object, the object is imprinted on our consciousness, but the subject is, as it were, lost to awareness. The consciousness has become identified with the object of perception. Our essential nature, which is unbounded Pure Consciousness, is not available to us, having been overshadowed by the activity of perception and replaced with the object of perception.

With repeated experience of Pure Consciousness, alternating with activity, the two states begin to be experienced simultaneously. That is, Pure Consciousness coexists with waking, dreaming and sleeping states of consciousness. We have analyzed that Pure Consciousness has an objective side as well as a subjective side – it is the “stuff” of creation and all the laws of nature reside in it. It is the internal vibrations of Pure Consciousness that appear as the boundaries of creation. Once one has become familiar enough with the experience of Pure Consciousness, one begins to see that the vibrations that make up creation are identical to the internal vibrations of our own consciousness. In this, much higher sense, our consciousness has become identical to that which it cognizes. This is not because the objects of cognition are imposing (or superimposing) themselves on our consciousness – that was the old style, where the Self was lost to itself. Rather our consciousness, Pure Consciousness is primary, and we simply recognize (“re-cognize”) our Self in the objects and systems around us.

This is a very different kind of cognition than what we are used to in ordinary waking state, where there is a separation between the subject and the object. This state of cognition is characterized by unity between the subject and the object – both are known and experienced to be the same unbounded Pure Consciousness. As the Beatles put it, “Your inside is out and your outside is in … it’s such a joy!” In truth, there is no out or in, no boundaries at all, just one unbounded continuum of consciousness. As the Upanishads express it, “I am That, Thou art That, all this is That.”

Now the question is, to what extent did the philosophers believe that this understanding was reachable. This is not completely clear to me. It appears from the quote above that al-Fārābī at least did not think so: “such identity is inconceivable in the case of these forms and the lowly kind of intellect that is postulated by al-Fārābī.” In other words, if all we have is a kind of intellect that is so bound to the body that it is “subject to generation and corruption [i.e. decay]” then that could not possibly become identical to anything more abstract – and Pure Consciousness is totally abstract.

However, on the very next page, Prof. Pines writes:

As a matter of fact not only Ibn Bājja contradicted al-Fārābī on this point. Al-Fārābī, who was famous for his inconsistencies, contradicted himself. In his treatise On the Intellect, which is repeatedly referred to in the Guide, he describes the highest perfection that man can attain, the state in which he is supremely happy. In that state, which is the state of being endowed with the so-called acquired intellect, man is exceedingly close to the Active Intellect, and, at the same time, his activity is not transitive, it does not go beyond his own self. In fact, man, his act, and the fact that he is accomplishing an act are one and the same.

This sounds a lot more like the state of unity that we have been describing. We will consider this more deeply next week.


Commentary by Steve Sufian

Parashat Emor

“Emor” means “speak”: Gd commands Moses to speak to the sons of Aaron and to Aaron, Gd’s Voice speaking through an individual to a group, just as each Sound of Torah is an Individual Sound vibrating within the Whole, which is Gd. Repeatedly in Torah Gd has said “Be thou holy for I am Holy”. In this parshah, we see Gd’s commands about the nature of Holiness, purity. And “speech” is Speech, Gd’s Speech, when it is Pure.

The overall context of Emor is that it is a parshah in “Torah”, a Vibration of Gd, the Liveliness of Gd, Gd Speaking within Gd to Gd but passing through Moses to our ancestors and today available to us in books, scrolls, recitations, recording. Most important, it is available to us in our Awareness when our Heart is open.

Since Gd has no beginning or end, “Beresheit Bara Elohim,” the first words of Torah, cannot be “In the beginning, Gd created,” but “in the beginning of Gd’s revealing,” the beginning and the revealing to be found in every point of Gd, everywhere in Gd’s Speech. This means that Gd plays hide-and-seek within Gd — the unlimited, omniscient, pretends to be limited and a seeker of knowledge, of wisdom. To this role of Gd, Gd reveals the Nature of the process through which Gd appears to be void and then within the void, Gd reveals the range from apparent emptiness to Fullness, a ladder in time, a sequence which is a cycle through which we find the emptiness within the detail and the detail within the emptiness.

This description shows us how each action of ours begins with our becoming aware of the silence of our awareness, the Self-Referral level of our awareness, always fulfilled, and unfolds more and more concrete and wide-ranging manifestations as increasing awareness of the gap between our Self-Referral level of awareness and our individual awareness produces a desire of ours perform actions that will narrow and eliminate the gap and restore our individual awareness to Self-Referral Awareness, Total Awareness.

Parsashat Emor shows four groups of commands that reveal the detail within the word “speak.” It continues the Book of Leviticus: “Leviticus” derives from “Levi,” attached, pledge to Gd. This is specifically referring to the Levis, the priests, who attached and pledged themselves to Gd during their service when the Mishkan and the Temples stood.

At any time, and certainly today, whether we are Levis or not, we pledge and attach ourselves to Gd, through not only our actions and our daily prayers, ideally through what we learned (and continue) to learn through our religion, but certainly through any innocent prayer for Gd to reveal to us Gd’s Will and give us the purity to do It so that every action of ours is innocent, kind and loving narrows the gap between our small self and our Big Self and attaches ourself to Gd.

The essence of Gd’s Will is that we should “Love the Ld thy Gd with all thy heart, all thy soul and all thy might” and “shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. Gd may be a bit abstract but our neighbor is concretes and so something simple like helping a friend, a family member, or a stranger; something complex like doing a large project for an international organization or business that we feel is helping our world to become more pure helps us move in the direction of loving Gd.

Prayer, the ideal speech, in Judaism is much more a recognition of the Blessedness, the Blissfulness of Gd, than it is a request for something. Our actions allow this Blessedness to increase in our awareness and flow through us when they are not just for our individual self but for the community, for the Harmony of Life.

The commands in Parshah Emor can be divided into four sections:

  1. The commands about purity of the Kohens, the priests who are direct descendants of Aaron, himself of the tribe of Levi.
  2. Establishing Festivals and the Sabbath — times when there are special rules to be pure and celebrate purity
  3. Lighting the menorah — light that symbolizes the victory of purity over impurity.
  4. Penalties for blasphemy, murder, destruction of property — very clear descriptions of actions to avoid so that we remain pure, grow in purity, act with love and do not suffer or cause suffering.

In the beginning of Parashat Emor, we see Gd, Who is Holy, Speaking to Moses, an open channel for his speech and a good model for us to help us act so that we are holy as Gd is Holy.

In the conclusion of the parshah, we see the consequences of blasphemous speech, speech which moves away from Holiness rather than toward it. The penalty was stoning to death. This is certainly not the penalty today but the penalty at any time is that with blasphemous speech our nerves and heart become hard, like stone, and little by little, if we do not return to purity, we stone ourselves to a joyless life, to suffering, to death of our spirit, and eventually, to death of our bodies. This is a very good reason to speak in praise of Gd and to speak encouragingly to all, encouraging all to act purely so they return to Wholeness.

Parashat Emor is a good one to read aloud or silently, to listen to, to act on so that we continue to speak holiness and to act in holiness.

Baruch HaShem