Following the River back to its Source
from the introduction to ‘The Garden of Paradox’ by Rav DovBer Pinson
G-d planted a Garden in Eden… and placed there the human… G-d made grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to look at and good to eat, [including] the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden. From there it divided into four major rivers. (Genesis, 2:8-10)
We live in a confused and confusing world. Everything appears to be at odds with everything else. There is an apparent war between science and faith, money and morals, nationalism and nihilism, love and fear. In such a climate people naturally feel lost and disoriented. This results most frequently in people shutting down and closing themselves off from the immensity and immediacy of the cosmos and all it contains. Bumper stickers, pithy slogans, narrow causes, and free rides to enlightenment have become our culture’s common currency.
It is in such a climate that Kabbalah has emerged from the secret vaults of esoteric tradition. Kabbalah has been revealed to and embraced by the masses searching for spiritual substance and sustenance in an unparalleled age of emptiness, where image is everything.
Indeed, the time is right for this secret wisdom to be released to the world. This is due for a variety of reasons including the drastic moral decline that accompanied the exponential growth of industry and technology, as well as various meta-historical calculations that indicate an impending large-scale shift in human consciousness.
This unveiling of the mystical has had a number of positive, as well as negative, effects in the world and in people’s lives. For many, it has brought a renewed sense of self and purpose, for others it has been the bridge of return, reconnecting them to their once abandoned tradition, as well as helping to keep the tradition itself viable and relevant in rapidly shifting times.
Alongside the benefits, there has been a shadow side accompanying the unparalleled influx of light. Many of these teachings have been perverted and mass-produced for the financial gain of a select few. Once powerful tools of liberation have been employed to further sedate and hypnotize people into deeper and more dangerous levels of servitude — more dangerous, because they are deceptively couched in the language of liberation. Infatuation with the shimmering surfaces and exotic trappings of these ancient teachings have ensnared hosts of contemporary people within their net of endless products, foreign vocabularies, and abstruse technicalities that all prove meaningless, or worse, if not connected to their vital Source.
It is specifically this dynamic that the book you hold in your hands, Garden of Paradox, seeks to address. Too often people chase after easy answers for instant gratification, obscure details to bolster their fragile ego, or insider information to feel superior. These are all thorns on the Rose of Kabbalah, these are the garments that cover the body that houses the soul that is connected to the Source of All Life and Light.
From our normative perspective, which is defined by the Tree of Knowledge, the world, with all its craziness appears to be a Garden of Paradox. But it is our sincerest prayer that through the process outlined in these pages of following “the river that waters the garden” all the way back to its source, that we may put the fruit back onto the Tree of Knowledge, sit within the shade of the Tree of Life, and return to the Garden of Paradise.
This book attempts to strip away the outer layers of Kabbalah that most often conceal the core teachings. Much like a seed before sprouting must shed its outer shell in order to liberate the latent life energy, we too will discard many of the details and technicalities of Kabbalah in our quest to uncover its vital energy — the seed of the Tree of Life within each and every one of us and within all of creation.
An endeavor such as this, can be tedious and overwhelming. It comes with many questions, doubts, and challenges. For this reason, the bulk of this information presented here is in the form of real-time dialogues, as conversations and exchanges that serve to highlight this Essential level of Kabbalah.
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