not a theory but a vision of everything

[DixieYid's post reminded me that this was rolling around in the back of my mind, so I figured I'd share it--it started as a comment on his post but got too big so i moved it here.]

In Rav Aryeh Kaplan's Meditation and Kabbalah, he explains the difference between two major modes of thought, Binah and Hochmah.

Binah, he explains, is the attempt by the mind to break down ideas into meaningful relationships that create a relative structure of meaning.

Hochmah, on the other hand, is more of a momentary indivisible lightning-like inspiration.

In practice, a person needs to vacillate between the two states in order to achieve deeper insight into a spiritual matter. We jump from a momentary spark of inspiration to a mode that breaks down the spark into inter-related components. This new depth of understanding fuels further moments of inspiration and so on.

This isn't such an abstract explanation, it's actually pretty hands on if you try to work at it. Not only that, but this is actually how are brain works when we are solving problems whether we realize it or not.

The thing that always worries me most though, is what Rav Kaplan said about Ben Zoma. Of the four people who went into the Pardes (without getting into what that means) Ben Zoma was the one who went insane. Rav Kaplan explains that Ben Zoma went insane because at the moment when he was beholding an infinite experience of HaShem, he tried to analyse that experience with a Binah mode of thinking. Since the experience was infinite and not finite, Ben Zoma's mind was permanently trapped in an endless loop of deeper and deeper inter-relational understandings. This was the root of his insanity.

Why does this worry me? Because I always end up breaking things down into the various related structures. At the same time I want to see everything at once, the unique and complete related super-structure of everything. (This is essentially for me the definition of Da'ath--intimate knowledge of the universal structure of everything such that it is all united and undifferentiable, a perfect union of Hochmah and Binah modes of thought)

What scares me is how lost one can get when seeking out the edges of something infinite, what is comforting is that there is so much in the Hasidic and Jewish mystical literature that hints that it is possible.


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