In the previous article, I quoted the Kabbalist Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi writing about the nature of God: “God the Transcendent is called in Kabbalah, AYIN. AYIN means No-Thing. AYIN is beyond Existence, separate from any-thing. AYIN is absolute Nothing… Out of the zero of AYIN’s no-thingness comes the one of EN SOF… EN SOF is the Absolute All to AYIN’s Absolute Nothing. God the Transcendent is AYIN and God the Immanent is EN SOF. Both Nothing and All are the same. Beyond the titles of AYIN and EN SOF no attributes are given to the Absolute. God is God and there is nothing to compare with God¹.
I suggested that this is a deeper understanding of Divinity than the personal, theistic God of Christianity.
As I was writing out that quote, I was struck by how similar it is to a passage in the writings of Carl Jung. This is in a book that I have also written about recently in this article, which discusses Jung’s relationship to Christianity and Gnosticism. He started to write the book in very strange circumstances — he was compelled to write by a group of spirits haunting his house. (If that seems too hard to believe, or if you are unfamiliar with the story, please check out that article, about half way through.) He says that the book was ‘written’ by Basilides, who was an ancient Gnostic teacher from Alexandria; this sounds like what is called channelling. Or Jung is being fanciful, and he is imagining what Basilides might have said; it doesn’t really matter.
At the end of that article I concluded that Christianity might have a lot to learn from Gnosticism. So, let’s compare the opening of Jung’s Gnostic outpouring with the Kabbalistic quote above:
“I begin with nothingness. Nothingness is the same as fullness. In infinity full is no better than empty. Nothingness is both empty and full… A thing that is infinite and eternal hath no qualities, since it hath all qualities.
“This nothingness or fullness we name the PLEROMA. Therein both thinking and being cease, since the eternal and infinite possess no qualities. In it no being is, for he then would be distinct from the pleroma, and would possess qualities which would distinguish him as something distinct from the pleroma.
“In the pleroma there is nothing and everything. It is quite fruitless to think about the pleroma, for this would mean self-dissolution”² (all italics mine).
Not only are there striking similarities here with Halevi’s Kabbalistic statement, which suggests that Gnosticism has much in common with the deeper, esoteric version of Judaism, there is also a strong relationship with Buddhist and Hindu ideas, which suggests that Gnosticism is a branch of the Perennial Philosophy. When is Christianity going to wake up?
1. A Kabbalistic Universe, Rider & Company, 1977, p7
2. VII Sermones ad Mortuos (7 Sermons to the Dead), Watkins, 1967, p7