- Religion and Philosophy
How To Understand The Seven Heavens of Judaism
The Old Testament subscribes to the notion of seven heavens. God and the seven heavens are one. They are indivisible and indistinguishable. Sentient beings perceive the universal heavens as separate because our minds are deluded by the illusions of ignorance.
It has been stated that even a sage or a Buddha is unable to comprehend the total nature of God. However, one who realizes the ‘Essence of Mind’, sees the worlds as neither real nor unreal.
The universal spirit is the attribute of God that creates all beings and all things. The angelic level is inhabited by spiritual beings whose duty is to fulfill the will of God. Beings of the angelic level do not possess the freedom to choose between good and evil, and therefore always obey the ordinance of God.
The demonic level is inhabited by spiritual beings called demons. In reality the spiritual beings of the demonic realm are not intrinsically evil, rather, it is their obligation to temp, deceive and delude us into accepting evil.
Without the beings of the demon world to entice us toward evil, we would not truly be beings endowed with the ability to choose between the dark ways of Satan or the brilliant light of God.
The Seven Heavens:
Aravot is the heaven of heavens, or Paradise. Aravot is permanent and unchangeable, it is for those beings that have ended the cycle of life and death. Another word for paradise is Ketter’. Ketter can also be interpreted to mean nothingness or the incomprehensible.
The heaven of Aravot exists within the first of the four levels of the seven heavens. The name given to this level is ‘Atzilu’, the World of Emanation. God is the crown; His is the divine wisdom and understanding. In the Jewish religion, these three attributes best exemplify the state of thusness.
Ma’on is the second heaven of the seven heavens and exists within the second of the four levels. The word ‘Ma’on’ means kindness or benevolence. The kindness in Ma’on is from the divine and is bestowed upon all sentient beings in this heaven. For kindness to manifest there must be a benefactor and a recipient; therefore this heaven is the first heaven that exhibits the properties of dualism.
Sentient beings in this heaven have attained to a significant level of awareness, but have, as yet to free themselves from the cycle of life and death and realize the oneness of God.
The second level of the four levels is called the ‘World of Briah’ or the World of Creation. Because this world is the beginning of the existence of being, all things are produced from the negative and positive elements of creation. Therefore, non-being embodies itself in being and the creation of all things takes place.
Sentient beings in Ma’on heaven have no need for form or thought; they communicate directly with the will of their being and accomplish God’s will through the transmission of intent.
Mechon is the heaven where the attributes of severity and judgment become apparent. Sentient beings in this heaven retain defilements and delusions and God’s judgment and severity is utilized to help these beings to overcome their hindrances. Mechon heaven exists within the third of the four levels, and this level is called ‘Yetzicrah’ or the Formation. On this level of existence, the beginning of worded thoughts and forms appear.
Zevul is the heaven whose attributes are mercy and compassion. In this heaven, the sentient beings are generally unworthy of the wisdom, mercy, and compassion of God, but because God is merciful, they receive His mercy and compassion. The heaven of Zevul is on the fourth level and is called ‘Asiah,’ or the World of Action. The lowest levels in the World of Action are the physical universe including our own World of Action.
The Heaven of Shechakim also falls within the fourth level and is a synthesis of the attributes of kindness, mercy, compassion, and judgment. The synthesis of these attributes forms the attributes of victory and majesty.
The English translation of Rakiah is ‘Firmament’. Jewish scholars differ from Christian scholars on the meaning of the word firmament. The Jewish people call Rakiah the heaven of foundation, whereas Christians refer to the firmament as the physical inverted bowl that separates Paradise from the physical heavens. The foundation is the basic element for the restoration of our nature.
Veelon is the lowest of the seven heavens and is the root connection between the spiritual kingships of
God the meanest physical presence of the seven heavens. God is the seven heavens and the four levels; nothing exists outside of God.
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