31 March 2016

Israel and the Law of Cycles

The Universal Roots of Judaism
Become Easier to See by the Day

Carlos Cardoso Aveline


 Theodor Herzl (1860-1904)



The perfect safety of Israel as a Jewish State has been a moral imperative to mankind as a whole, especially since the World War II and the Holocaust. The fact can be easily seen by anyone who is aware of historical events and has a sense of impartial justice regarding life.   

In order for this moral imperative to be more widely understood, however, Roman Catholicism as such will probably have to cease existing, or it must destroy the historical roots of its own anti-Semitism, which dates back to the “imperial” phase of Christianity. The seeds of criminal anti-Semitism feed on the dominant forms of “Christian” theology.   

Common sense shows that supporting Israel is an act of justice to a long-persecuted and despised nation. Seen as a dynamic process, Israel also constitutes a utopian search in the noblest sense of the word and a beacon of light for present civilization in its cultural and ethical dimensions.

Of course many a Jew does not support Israel, and there are those who actively boycott it, sometimes in covert ways.  Israel is not a Jewish question only. Supporting it is the duty of every ethically-oriented human being. One does not need to be a Jew, much less an observant Jew, to support the Jewish nation. It is enough to be human and have a sense of historical justice, to see such a moral duty.  

The rebirth of the State of Israel, which has been slowly taking place, is a natural movement in History: its enemies had better get used to it.

The building of the Jewish home started quite some time ago and will continue throughout the present century.  The project is multidimensional. It does not belong to political parties, “left-wing” or “right-wing”. It was not formulated in the 19th century: its 2,000-year antiquity is mentioned in the national anthem, Hatikvah.   

There is no way to separate Judaism from Israel, or to think that Israel, imperfect as it is, could be “unnecessary” to the Jewish tradition.  Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, wrote in the preface to his book “The Jewish State”:

“The idea which I have developed in this pamphlet is a very old one (…).  I wish it to be clearly understood from the outset that no portion of my argument is based on a new discovery.” [1]

Undoubtedly, the present form of the Land of Israel is a rebirth from ancient times. The Jewish state is a cyclic event. It can’t be seen as an isolated fact: like a new day and a new year, it constitutes a tidal necessity in the Ocean of Life, and its fulfilment takes place alongside other and contradictory waves of events.  

Evolutionary tides constitute a natural rule of life, and classic theosophy uses both Eastern and Western sources to teach the Law of “tidal” Cycles. The doctrine is stated in these well-known words of Ecclesiastes:

“Only that shall happen
Which has happened,
Only that occur
Which has occurred;
There is nothing new
Beneath the sun!”

Ecclesiastes proceeds:

“Sometimes there is a phenomenon of which they say, ‘Look, this one is new!’ - it occurred long since, in ages that went by before us. The earlier ones are not remembered; so too those that will occur later will no more be remembered than those that will occur at the very end.” (Ecclesiastes, I, 9-11)

In the way of a poetic mantra, the Scripture says again:

“…Whatever God has brought to pass will recur evermore.” (Ecclesiastes, 3: 14) [2]

And that presumably includes human lives and the cycles of nations. 

Individual reincarnation, the Jewish Gilgul, is part of the law of cycles and a central tenet in Hinduism, Buddhism and Theosophy. It was also taught in the first centuries of Christianity. Isaac Luria is a classic Jewish source in the study of reincarnation, but evidences are many in older scriptures, of which we could mention the Bahir and the Zohar. Tyron Goldschmidt and Beth Seacord write:

“The most extensive and detailed Jewish exposition of reincarnation is Sha’ar HaGilgulim (The Gate of Reincarnations), a record of the teaching of Isaac Luria on the subject by his primary disciple, Hayyim Vital.” [3]

Classic theosophical sources teach that reincarnation or the law of cycles does not apply to individual souls only. Entire civilizations are born and built once and again. One of the Eastern Masters of esoteric philosophy wrote:

“…Nor do we feel in any way concerned about the revival of our ancient arts and high civilization, for these are as sure to come back in their time, and in a higher form as the Plesiosaurus and the Megatherium in theirs. We have the weakness to believe in ever recurrent cycles and hope to quicken the resurrection of what is past and gone. We could not impede it even if we would. The ‘new civilization’ will be but the child of the old one, and we have but to leave the eternal law to take its own course to have our dead ones come out of their graves; yet, we are certainly anxious to hasten the welcome event.”[4]

And in her 1877 book “Isis Unveiled” Helena Blavatsky wrote:

“Be this as it may, the religion of the ancients is the religion of the future. A few centuries more, and there will linger no sectarian beliefs in either of the great religions of humanity. Brahmanism and Buddhism, Christianity and Mahometanism will all disappear before the mighty rush of facts. ‘I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh’, writes the prophet Joel. ‘Verily I say unto you . . . greater works than these shall you do’, promises Jesus. But this can only come to pass when the world returns to the grand religion of the past; the knowledge of those majestic systems which preceded, by far, Brahmanism, and even the primitive monotheism of the ancient Chaldeans.” [5]

That gives us a wider context from which to look at the recent existence of Israel. Its slow building is no passing event. It has roots in human soul. The rebirth of Israel, its Gilgul, is part of a larger cyclic movement in human history which brings wisdom back, one way or another.

The 21st century paroxysms of psychological violence, abuse of children, war, terror and corruption are expressions of an Alchemical boiling in the cauldron of human soul. There is a painful Karmic fever accompanying the higher aspects of human transformation. Leading an ethical life is the best way for one to help reduce the causes of suffering and despair.

The Second World War and the Holocaust both preceded and prepared the formal creation of Israel in 1948. Who knows what the needs are in the Balance of Justice for the next steps in human evolution to be taken?  

Perhaps no one has the answer.

The present levels of social injustice, anti-Semitism, organized crime and lack of good will around the world suggest that there will be a price to pay for the next springtime of ethics and spirituality. Regardless of uncertainties, Israel does not belong to the past more than it belongs to the future of mankind, and each citizen around the globe can do his or her best to reduce the pain necessary to the dawn of a better civilization. The universal roots of Judaism become easier to see by the day. The inter-religious and multicultural character of both Jewish nation and Israeli society are as undeniable today as they were in any other time, only more evident. 

While life is imperfect, improvement is always a possibility. The pluralistic lesson embodied in Israel is of importance for everyone. Israel, like India, China and other ancient cultures, has something to teach the world.

However, a universal view of life does not mean carelessly mixing all schools of thought or attempting to merge them into one. Shallow thinking is of no use. While young countries may be inclined to naïve syncretism, it is never a good idea to forcefully suppress specific traditions in the name of human unity.  

Inter-religious dialogue, if frank, is good. External diversity complements the internal unity of human experience.  Contrast is necessary to life.  The small is the inner door to the big. The seed reflects the tree: the universals can be found in the specifics, just as the cosmos is present in every atom. One must cherish and study the unique tradition of Judaism in itself, in order to fully recognize in it the presence of that universal wisdom that also belongs to other nations.  One key characteristic of Judaism is its internal diversity and contrast. As Jonathan Sacks puts it, the unity is to be found in the diversity. [6]

Though entirely human and having many lessons to learn, the Land of Israel preserves, protects and embodies one of the main wisdom-traditions of our humanity. At the same time, it constitutes a safe haven for various religious minorities in the Middle East. As a national project, it is an imperfect yet real example of unified diversity.

Obvious facts are often not easy to see. It is for instance utterly false to think that Arabs as such are enemies to Israel. Arab-Israelis and Arabs living in other countries are by now visibly getting fed up with hate and terrorism; and this is a green light for those who respect human rights to get tougher regarding terrorism. It is a natural choice for honest Arabs to get rid of terrorist “leaders” and be friends with Israel.

Law-abiding Arabs deserve full support and respect. As to law-offenders, including priests and members of Parliament, law-enforcement is probably the best approach to their activities. Difficult as it may seem to understand, the fact remains that religious and political freedom do not include encouraging or inciting violent criminal activities.

It is the right time now for good-willing citizens and authorities - in Israel as well as around the world - to promote friendship with peaceful Arab communities and citizens, while supporting policies that will totally uproot terror and the preaching of terror in TV, radio, social media or mosques.

NOTES:

[1] “The Jewish State”, Theodor Herzl, Dover Publications, Inc., 1988, New York, USA, 160 pp., see p. 69.

[2] “Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures”, The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, USA, copyright 1985, 1624 pp. One should take into consideration that the Book of Job is also an approach to the law of cycles and can be read as a study in the round of Saturn. The Law of Cycles applies to every celestial body in our sky and to its influence over human life, both in material and spiritual aspects.

[3] See the essay “Judaism, Reincarnation and Theodicy”, by Tyron Goldschmidt and Beth Seacord, in “Faith and Philosophy”, October 2013, pp. 393-417.

[4] “The Mahatma Letters”, Theosophical University Press, Pasadena, CA, USA, Letter 28, pp. 214-215.

[5] “Isis Unveiled”, H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, Volume I, p. 613.

[6] “The Dignity of Difference”, Jonathan Sacks, Bloomsbury, 2002-2014, 216 pp., see p. 53.

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The above article is also published in a blog at “The Times of Israel”.

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On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.  

  
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.

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