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Radiance as the Basis of Spiritual Growth

 

Radiance: The Essential Basis of the Zaddik’s Charismatic Appeal and Superior Psychological Functioning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Barry Hammer

 

Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

 

Email: mhbj58@gmail.com

 

Postal Mailing Address:

 

15 Downeast Terrace, Apt. 2

 

Orono, Maine 04473

 

USA

 

Phone: (207) 866-3223

 

 

 

Radiance: The Essential Basis of the Zaddik’s Charismatic Appeal and Superior Psychological Functioning

 

 

 

 

 

          Abstract

 

 

 

This article discusses spiritual radiance as contributing to the charismatic appeal of the Hasidic master or zaddik, as perceived by Rebbes (zaddikim) and their followers. The relationships between spiritual radiance and other charismatically attractive qualities of holiness is also discussed.  Other related topics include, how the zaddik contributes to the spiritual growth and material well-being of his followers, as well as the essential meaning of holiness and psychological well-being in Hasidic teachings.

 

 

 

 

 

          Keywords

 

Hasidism, radiance, zaddik, rebbe, charisma, religious and spiritual leadership, holiness, spirituality, Jewish mysticism

 

 

 

Many scholars have noted the remarkable number of highly inspired, charismatic spiritual masters, or zaddikim, each with a devoted community of Hasidim or followers, that were produced by the early Hasidic movement as it spread among large sectors of the Eastern European Jewish population during the last decades of the eighteenth century.[1]  This paper provides an explanation for the zaddik’s charismatic nature by presenting support for the position that perceived spiritual radiance is the foundation of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal to his followers, as well as the foundation of the reportedly vastly superior level of functioning attributed to some Hasidic zaddikim.  That is, it will be shown that spiritual radiance is the essential criterion of true greatness. Along with this explanation of the charismatic functioning of the Hasidic master, which will also be applicable to the study of charismatic religious leaders of all religions, this paper will discuss some of the very significant implications of this explanation, especially in terms of how it may contribute to the study of higher psychophysical functioning.

 

            In general, previous studies of the zaddik’s charismatic leadership have maintained that the zaddik’s charismatic attractiveness was primarily derived from his being perceived as having contact with, or as being close to, the Divine; and thus as having the ability to serve as a mediator between God and ordinary Jews; and as presenting the living spirit of Torah rather than interpreting Jewish tradition in a dry, pedantic manner, as was purported to be typical of some non-Hasidic rabbinic scholars of the time.[2]   Other studies have additionally attributed the charismatic appeal of the Hasidic master to his followers’ perception that the zaddik has the ability to meet followers’ material and spiritual needs, e.g., by providing them with thaumaturgical material blessings, protection against evil spirits, healings, and the like.[3]   It seems likely that the charismatic quality of the zaddik’s radiance has not specifically been dealt with in previous scholarly interpretations of Hasidism because spiritual radiance, as well as its effect on the zaddik’s functioning and its direct transmission to others, is a less conceptually defined phenomenon and much less readily observable than are other aspects of the zaddik’s religious leadership, such as his verbal and written teachings, his social functions, manner of prayer, etc. Nevertheless, as will be shown, it is clear from the teachings of prominent Hasidic masters and hagiographical writings that numerous zaddikim and their followers, as well as unbiased individuals who came in contact with the zaddik, recognized spiritual radiance as the source of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal and of his ability to spiritually uplift his followers.

 

            Spiritual radiance, as discussed in this paper and consistent with Hasidic descriptions, denotes a conscious loving warmth-light-life energy spiritual presence, which is perceived to be the immanent spiritual presence of God reflected within the soul. Spiritual radiance refers to the self-luminous spiritual glory (glow-ery), shining activity, or attenuated degree of God’s spiritual intelligence, which shines into, and accumulates within, the soul, thereby glorifying the soul by enhancing its powers of functioning and experience of spiritual grandeur. Within the Jewish tradition, this spiritual radiance has been referred to as spiritual glory or shining, and although it is often described as a light, glow, or luminosity, it may also be mentioned in terms of various other aspects of that radiance, such as divine love or warmth, an enlivening life energy, ecstasy or joyfulness, sweetness, awe, a profound sense of peace or contentment, beauty, wholeness of being, fulfillment, divine wisdom, divine inspiration, etc. Historically, accounts of spiritual radiance extend back to descriptions of the shining of Moses’ face, which was so awe-inspiring and frightening to others that he was obligated to veil himself when in the presence of his followers (Exodus 34:29-35). In addition, the “cloud of glory” that surrounded Moses and guided the Israelites through the desert gave the people irrefutable evidence of Moses’s divinely ordained charismatic authority to lead them to the Promised Land (e.g., Exodus 40:34-38). Similarly, Isaiah made the same connection between radiance and God’s glory in the following scriptural passage which indicates that Israel’s radiance will one day attract all nations to it. This passage is a clear indication that Isaiah recognized the charismatic or magnetic influence of God’s glory or radiant light.

 

 

 

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has arisen upon you….and His glory will be seen upon you. And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising….they will all gather together, they come to you….Then you shall see and be radiant….(Isaiah 60:1-5 [RSV]).

 

 

 

            The reader is referred to my doctoral dissertation for a detailed discussion of spiritual radiance as the basis of the charismatic appeal of religious leaders and enlightened sages from all of the world’s the major religious traditions.[4]

 

            In accordance with Max Weber’s terminology, charisma will be taken to indicate a superior level of functioning attributed to an individual, which is so far beyond the normal level of human functioning that it is attributed to divine giftedness or spiritual blessedness. Weber’s use of the term charisma was derived from the traditional Christian usage, in which charisma denotes a gift from the Holy Spirit, or a gift of divine grace. [5] Thus, according to Weber, primary or pure charisma refers to an exceptional quality of an individual which makes that individual perceived as being vastly superior, in some way, to ordinary people.[6] He referred to this charismatic quality as a “unique gift of grace” and an “extraordinary, supernatural, and divine force.” [7]  Although Weber is often interpreted as suggesting that the perception of charisma is the result of psychological projection by followers, Weber’s actual writings indicate that he did not believe that this was always the case. He noted, “Charisma shall be understood to refer to an extraordinary quality as “a unique gift of grace” and an “extraordinary, supernatural, and divine force.”  He noted, “Charisma shall be understood to refer to an extraordinary quality of a person, regardless of whether this quality is actual, alleged, or

 

presumed.” [8]

 

            Further, he stated,

 

Where this appellation (charisma) is fully merited, charisma is a gift that inheres in an object or person simply by virtue of natural endowment….Such primary charisma cannot be acquired by any means. [9]

 

           

 

Since a projection by others certainly cannot be said to be “natural endowment,” this statement is additional evidence that Weber believed there is a real charisma and that it is of divine origin, in contrast to the prevailing scholarly literature which claims that he held charisma to be merely a distorted view of the charismatic leader as the result of followers’ projections. Parsons supports this interpretation of Weber’s writings that will be utilized in this article. Parsons remarks in his digest of Weber’s writings that Weber’s “concept of charisma….is almost another name for sacredness, or for its source.” [10]  Similarly, in Elior’s view, charismatic authority refers to “the gift of divine inspiration graciously bestowed by God.” She also notes that direct contact with God endows one with charisma.[11]  The position that will be taken in this paper, consistent with, yet going beyond, Weber’s definition, is that there is a real charisma, independent of followers’ projections, and that it is a radiant spiritual energy which shines from God’s being into the soul’s consciousness when the soul’s consciousness is empty of ego-related conceptual self-consciousness, meaning that it is at least temporarily ego-transcendent. As that spiritual radiance accumulates within the soul, it deposits ever higher powers of functioning and experiencing into the soul. Such an individual is therefore able to function at a level that is so vastly superior to the average human being that it leads others to naturally, and correctly, perceive that extraordinary functioning as the result of divine blessing. Mommsen is apparently the only other scholar who has alluded to an association between primary charisma and spiritual energy.  He noted that “Charisma…is a form of spiritual energy oriented to other-worldly ideals which are in more or less sharp contrast to the facts of daily life.”[12]   However, Mommsen made no attempt to substantiate his theoretical interpretation of Weber’s definition. Maslow’s view of “transcenders,” which is how he referred to self-actualizing individuals who have ego-transcendent experiences, also seems consistent with this definition of charismatic functioning as related to consciousness of spiritual radiance. Although he does not refer specifically to charisma in the following passage, it is apparent that Maslow sees such individuals as divinely gifted in the sense of Weber’s primary or pure charisma.

 

Not only are [transcenders] lovable…but they are also more awe-inspiring, more “unearthly,” more godlike, more “saintly” in the medieval sense, more easily revered, more “terrible” in the older sense. They have more often produced in me the thought, “This is a great man.” [13] 

 

           

 

It is clear from Hasidic writings that many prominent zaddikim and their followers, as well as other individuals who come in contact with the zaddik, recognized spiritual radiance as the source of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal, although why the radiance was seen as attractive is not always explicitly stated.  For example, in the following passage, Elie Wiesel describes how the Baal Shem Tov was lifted out of obscurity due to an incident in which a guest of his unexpectedly perceived radiance in the Baal Shem Tov. The Baal Shem Tov is said to have attracted many followers as a result of this incident, and in this way became established as the charismatic founder of the Hasidic movement. It is clear from this Hasidic story that it was nothing other than the Besht’s spiritual radiance which drew these first followers to him. That this Hasidic legend has endured over the years suggests something about its plausibility to ordinary hasidim.  That is, it suggests, as the small sample of literature presented in this paper supports, that radiance must be recognized as a legitimate reason to be attracted to a zaddik.

 

 

 

A pupil of Reb Gershon interrupted a journey to spend Shabbat with Israel [Baal Shem Tov] and Hannah. It was midnight when he awoke trembling with fright: a huge flame was rising from the hearth. Thinking to prevent a fire, he ran to extinguish it. When, instead, he saw his host flooded with light, he fainted. As he regained consciousness, he heard the Baal Shem scolding him, “One does not look where one should not.” After Shabbat, the traveler hurried back to Brodi, where he stormed into the house of study, shouting the great news: “There is a new source of light close by.” The men rushed to the edge of the forest and there built a throne with branches and leaves. The Besht took his seat. “I shall open a new way,” he declared. [14]

 

           

 

The initial shock and fright of this visitor, who had not previously been the Baal Shem Tov’s disciple, suggests that he did not project radiance onto the Baal Shem Tov as a result of psychological need or social conditioning, but instead spontaneously and unexpectedly perceived radiant energy that he only later recognized was coming from the Baal Shem Tov. Additional evidence that the charismatic appeal of zaddikim such as the Baal Shem Tov was derived from radiance is indicated by the testimony of the Maggid of Mezritch, who reported that he accepted the Baal Shem Tov as his teacher only after observing that the Besht was surrounded by angelic light while reading the Zohar. Since the Maggid admits that he had previously felt extreme antipathy toward the Besht, it seems apparent that this spiritual light that he saw in the presence of the Besht was the decisive factor in his conversion to Hasidism.[15]

 

            Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev was another prominent Hasidic master who maintained that followers are charismatically attracted to the zaddik, and come to associate with him, by their perception that he is full of radiance and because they recognize that the radiance has its source in God. That is to say, they view the zaddik’s radiance as tangible evidence that he is filled with God’s manifest spiritual presence, and therefore, he is a “holy man.”  This passage also shows that an additional factor in followers associating with the zaddik is the zaddik’s ability to impart or transmit that radiant presence to the follower as well.

 

 

 

When a person gazes at a zaddik, then brightness can be imparted to that individual….[Levi Yitzhak goes on to interpret what Avimelekh and his entourage said to Isaac, in the Bible, explaining their wish to enter into a covenant with Isaac; “We saw indeed that the Lord was with thee….” (Genesis 26:28)].  The word “saw” [ra’o ra’inu] is doubled for emphasis. “When we gazed at the radiance of your holiness, then the eyes of our intellect were illuminated, and a great brightness came upon us. That is how we saw that the Lord was with you, meaning that the Shekhinah was resting upon you. When our eyes were illuminated in gazing at a holy man [such as yourself, Isaac], God’s holiness abiding in him, because of that, we have come to associate with you, in sensing your righteousness.”[16] 

 

           

 

Subsequent remarks that Levi Yitzhak attributes to Avimelekh in addressing Isaac, suggests that park of this charismatic attractiveness of the zaddik is that individuals recognize the power of the radiant spiritual presence to provide divine blessings and enhanced well-being for themselves:

 

 

 

For you are called the blessed one of God, because from Him you receive only blessings for the world, but you do not receive any [power of] evil from above by which to punish any individual, even with due cause, for that is the way of zaddikim [to bestow only blessings upon the world]…  .[17]

 

 

 

            These quotations, as well as many others that will be presented throughout this paper, show clearly the Hasidic view that the zaddik’s radiance was attractive to others, and that the radiance was attributed to a divine source. Four specific aspects of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal that are related to his spiritual radiance will now be discussed, beginning with the most fundamental aspect, which is that the zaddik stands in the stead of God in the world, because he is a fully awakened, fully radiant form of God, i.e., a fully awakened divine image of God. Therefore, the zaddik serves as a connection between the hasid and God, and thereby serves to draw the hasid ever higher up into God. The second aspect of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal is his ability to non-volitionally silently transmit his spiritual radiance to others. The zaddik’s vastly superior level of functioning, which is attractive to the hasid who would like to achieve that for himself, is another radiance-related aspect of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal, as is the zaddik’s ability to provide material blessings for his followers. A small sample of textual support from the Hasidic literature will be provided for these various aspects of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal.

 

            To understand the most fundamental aspect of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal, it must be considered that God is truly the original source of all charismatic attraction, because He is truly the original source of all charismatic attraction, because he is the source of the spiritual radiance that is observed to be shining through the zaddik. This is expressed by the Opter Rebbe, who also suggests that the spiritual radiance or Shekhinah “resting upon” the zaddik is the source of blessing and abundance that he brings to the worldly community.

 

 

 

[God] first caused His Light to bring forth the upper [spiritual] worlds, which are called hidden. From there, He continued [to create worlds] step by step….until His Light reaches the level that we call the Divine Presence [Shekhinah].

 

From the divine Presence, this Light spreads still further, through various “garments” until it reaches the mind of the Tzadik and prophet. The Divine Presence then rests upon him, bringing upon him an influence from the highest divine Lights….

 

The righteous [zaddikim] are the ones who open the doors and gates on high, bringing abundance and blessing through these doors and gates to all. [18]  

 

           

 

God is like a divine sun which is continuously drawing all soul forms of Himself ever higher into His heart-center by shining His sun-like divine radiance into them. Hasidic teachings generally maintain that “the soul is an actual part of God above,”[19]  and that God is constantly shining His glory, an enlivening radiant spiritual presence, into every soul,[20]   like the sun sustaining the earth with its sunshine. For example, the Baal Shem Tov explained the scriptural passage, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One” (Deut. 6:4) to mean that there is nothing apart from God’s being, and, therefore, everything is filled with His glory.

 

 

 

When we say that “the Lord is One,” we mean that nothing other than God exists in all the universe. It is thus written, “The whole earth is filled with His glory” (Isaiah 6:3).

 

The main idea here is that a person should consider himself like absolutely nothing. He should realize that he has no essence other than his divine soul, and that this is a “portion of God from on high.” Therefore, nothing exists in the world except the absolute Unity which is God.

 

The main idea of this unity is that “the whole earth is filled with His glory.” There is therefore absolutely nothing that is devoid of His essence.”[21]

 

           

 

The radiant love-light-life energy that extends or shines from God’s infinite Unity heart-center to the soul on the circumference of His Being in this world naturally seeks to return to its source in that Unity, like an extended rubber band naturally seeks to return back to its original unextended condition. For most individuals, the lower, earthly part of the soul is so identified with its egocentric psychological and physical existence that it usually has no conscious awareness of its own higher divine nature, which is its own higher psyche, divine self, or divine image in the center of its Being, which is the highest or greatest level of individual reality into which one can mature. Nevertheless, every soul feels an extremely powerful but usually subliminal yearning for its own divine fulfillment, which lies only in unifying with its own divine imago or greatest level of naturally available fulfillment. Therefore, the soul is naturally drawn to God’s radiant spiritual presence, either to unify with it directly, or by associating with an individual such as a zaddik whose radiance leads others to view him as a perfect reflection of God, the sun-like source of spiritual radiance. The fully radiant zaddik is one who is fully awakened to his full divine Imago, his full divine stature or natural capacity for greatness, who has made that journey home, and therefore represents the fulfillment of the yearning of every life-form, which is to consciously awaken to its real, divine Self in God. God’s spiritual radiance is so strongly accumulated in the zaddik that it serves to attract the hasid to the zaddik, just as God’s own radiance is strongly attractive to those who have matured sufficiently in consciousness that they are aware of it. Although this may not be a highly consciously recognized aspect of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal, it is nonetheless very significant in the magnetic pull of the hasid toward the zaddik, because it appears that it is impossible to be in the presence of one who is divine Imago awake, without a kind of sympathetic resonance stirring the hasid’s own divine Imago to awaken.

 

            The Hasidic texts generally agree that the zaddik stands between God and the world in this way, thereby serving to raise souls in the world up to God’s heavenly dimension. That this would be attractive to the hasid is suggested by a statement of the Maggid of Mezritch that the lower, earthly part of the soul experiences great joy in returning home  to its higher source in God, because “that is its attainment of complete wholeness” of being.[22] Likewise, Elimelekh of Lizhensk and Jacob Joseph of Polnoye describe the zaddik as an emissary of God who leads the children of God back home to paradise or to the royal palace of their divine Father, where presumably they will find great happiness and abundance of good in all forms.[23]  The following statement by Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk describes the zaddik’s function to serve as God’s visible representation on earth and to shine God’s spiritual radiance out to souls in the world:

 

 

 

For the zaddik fills God’s place [i.e., stands in the stead of God in the world]  and shines upon the entire world more [brilliantly] than does the sun at high noon…..Because the zaddik is filled with the glory of God and His Kingdom and His awe, he is a greater light [than the sun].[24]

 

           

 

In the same vein, the Seer of Lublin describes the zaddik’s spiritual Light, which he draws down from God in heaven, as the source of his ability to bestow an attractive, sweet taste of God’s glory to others:

 

 

 

The Zaddikim who cleave to the Lord, blessed be He, who exalt and elevate themselves to cleave to the Lord, blessed be He, will forthwith drip sweet wine, as soon as they raise themselves up they will be accepted, and through them will come the pleasantness of the glory of the Most High, which is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb; and the treader of grapes (who shall overtake) the sower of seed is the Zaddik, who draws down the flow of devekut and His light, blessed be He, to give light to the world.[25]

 

 

 

            Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl similarly indicates that the zaddik’s function is to connect God and the worldly community. In addition, the following passage suggests how the zaddik’s communion with, or “binding” to, souls in the community permits God’s “bounty” or spiritual “life” presence (i.e., radiance) to flow out to those souls, as well.

 

 

 

The fact is that the “zaddik is the foundation of the world” [Prov. 10:25]. He is the foundation and the channel through which divine bounty and life flow down into the world and to all creatures….By means of his constant attachment to the Creator he becomes a dwelling for the letter Aleph, the cosmic Aleph that lives within him. Thus Scripture says, “I shall dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8]. Thus he is truly a part of God, and has a place, as it were, with Him. This is the portion of his soul, a part of the Aleph. He also has a place among created beings, however, since he shares with them the letters Dalet Mem [comprising the Hebrew word DaM, blood]….How right and proper, then, that he be the intermediary between the blessed Creator and the full word, binding all to Him so that bounty flow to His creatures along the path that he, the zaddik, has set out by devotion and attachment…..”He renews each day the work of Creation.” By the constant flow of His life into His creatures, the act of creation is ever taking place.[26]

 

 

 

            Although the Chernobyler does not directly relate “bounty” to radiance in the above passage, he does refer to the “flow of His life” into the lower world, and as noted in this article, an enlivening spiritual life presence is one aspect of that radiant presence of God. The reference in this passage to the constant renewal of creation may suggest that as spiritual radiance accumulates in the soul’s being, that radiance is responsible for what may be called a continuous creative renewal of the soul’s level of functioning and experiencing by unfolding ever higher levels of the soul’s potentials. It may be surmised that the zaddik’s communion with God leads not only to his own charismatically attractive higher levels of functioning and experience, but through the bounty that he shares with the community of followers, he also contributes to the higher functioning and experience of the hasidim who partake of his spiritual radiance. This benefit of the zaddik’s spiritual radiance would be very attractive to those followers who wish to have the same powers of functioning and experience that the zaddik has achieved.

 

            The following selection from Elimelkh of Lizhensk relates the zaddik’s charismatic appeal to his ability to provide blessings, by suggesting that blessings of all kinds flow out into the world from the zaddik’s radiance, especially benefitting those individuals who attach to him. It is reasonable to expect that many followers were attracted to the zaddik for that reason, given the great hardship experienced by many Eastern European Jews at the time of the early Hasidic movement. Other teachings by Elimelekh explicitly say that the zaddik is filled with divine radiance like a shining sun at the time he transmits material blessings to the world,[27] which was no doubt a significant factor in his charismatic appeal to the masses. That is, although Hasidic writings suggest that some hasidim  were attracted to the zaddik for the spiritual blessings that passed from him into the worldly community, it is likely that many others recognized that material provision, healings, “sons, [long] life, and livelihood,”[28] etc., will also come to those who associate with a radiant individual. For those individuals who were not sufficiently maturely developed in consciousness of the spiritual reality to appreciate the spiritual bounty flowing from the zaddik’s radiance, or even to be aware of the very subtle radiant presence associated with the zaddik, the material benefits may have held more attraction. In such a case, radiance may be considered an indirect source of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal, since such followers may be attracted to the zaddik for the spiritual and/or material fruits of his spiritual radiance without actually perceiving the radiance itself, from which all blessings, both material and spiritual, are derived. In the following teaching, Elimelekh seems to suggest that all aspects of the zaddik’s goodness qualities arise from the spiritual radiance within him, and that his attractiveness to others is enhanced by the fact that others may actually share in those divine sweetness qualities by associating with the zaddik.  This suggests another element of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal, i.e., his ability to silently transmit the spiritual radiance to others.

 

 

 

The sages refer to the zaddik as the “Western Light” [ner ma’aravi]…..because within the zaddik is combined [mu-urav] all kinds of holiness, love, awe, exaltation in Torah, prayer, charity, repentance, deeds of kindness, and so on. Besides meaning combined or “mixed,” the term “Western” also connotes pleasantness [arevut] and sweetness [metiqut], since the zaddik combines all kinds of sweetness within himself. Thus, the meaning of the passage, “From it they were united” [b.  Shabbat 22b, with Rashi’s commentary] is: “They” are people who join themselves to the zaddik; their souls are also ignited with love and awe of the Holy One, Blessed be He. The meaning [of the remainder of this Talmudic passage], “From it they were benefitted,” is” Through the zaddik, God bestows all kinds of beneficial influences upon the world.[29]

 

           

 

This passage suggests, first of all, that spiritual radiance or “light” underlies all of the zaddik’s pleasant or sweet charismatic qualities, such as, his holiness, love, awe, etc. The intimation in this passage is that people come to associate with the zaddik because of their recognition that he has these charismatic qualities, and that by “joining to,” or communing with, the zaddik’s radiance, they may then become “ignited” or share in his direct experience or realization of God’s radiant spiritual presence. These superior “sweetness” qualities of the zaddik are also very charismatically attractive to those who recognize them and wish to develop those qualities of the higher psyche themselves.

 

            Another major element of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal which is related to his radiance is his ability to non-volitionally silently (nonverbally) transmit at least some degree of his spiritual radiance to others who are in communion with him. This provides the hasid or any other individual who receives that transmission with a direct experience of the radiance, as a taste of God’s spiritual grandeur, which is very appealing to the hasid, and therefore motivates him to continue to associate with the zaddik and commune further with his radiance, until the spiritual radiance becomes awakened to the threshold level in the hasid, so that he may ultimately be able to commune with God’s radiant presence directly, in the hope of receiving more and greater tastes of that radiant presence. Through this direct transmission of radiance, the follower may share in the zaddik’s level of inspiration or ecstasy, have an experience of divine love or awe, gain a greater level of understanding of spiritual truth, etc., all of which come to the zaddik via God’s spiritual radiance, and is then passed on to one who is in communion with him. Without a state of communion, i.e., a state of subject-object non-duality or empathic attunement between hasid and zaddik, the hasid is not acknowledging a sense of connectedness with the zaddik, and, therefore, transmission of radiance is not possible between them. The state of non-dualistic communion is discussed in more detail later in this article.

 

            The passage cited earlier from the teachings of Levi Yitzhak (“When a person gazes at a zaddik, then brightness can be imparted to that individual) gives clear evidence of the zaddik’s ability to transmit radiance  to those who are in communion with him, and goes on to also suggest that followers are drawn to the zaddik for that reason. The Seer of Lublin was another prominent Hasidic master who suggested that the zaddik’s spiritual radiance is charismatically attractive to followers who commune with him, because it arouses intense feelings of joyfulness in them: “Through his attachment to the Zaddik he will have delight in His light, blessed be He, which reaches the Zaddik and from him is drawn down to those who cleave to him.”[30] This passage also shows, as explained earlier, that it is really God’s light, or spiritual radiance, which the hasid finds charismatically attractive, regardless of whether or not the hasid is consciously aware of radiance as the basis of the experience of attraction to the zaddik. Thus, Hasidic teachings suggest that the zaddik serves as an intermediary between God and the worldly community of souls, passing God’s radiance on to those who are in non-dualistic communion with him.

 

            Similarly, Levi Yitzhak explains in the following passage the effect upon himself of seeing a divine “light and majesty” upon the face of his teacher, the Maggid of Mezritch:

 

 

 

After [the Maggid] had completed the Amidah [“standing prayer”]….he turned slowly from the wall in front of which he had been praying, and I beheld upon his face such light and majesty as the glory of a heavenly rainbow…..

 

Only at the time of my master’s death did I see such splendor as this again. And it was from that light and splendor and majesty which shone from his face that I was able to truly understand his teachings.[31]

 

           

 

What Levi Yitzhak refers to in the last sentence of this passage as his greater level of true understanding of his master’s teachings is indicative of one aspect of the greater level of charismatic functioning seen in individuals who have contact with spiritual radiance. It can be inferred from this passage that such a higher level of functioning that enables one to deeply understand and appreciate spiritual truth comes directly from the spiritual radiance. Thus, as the zaddik transmits spiritual radiance to the follower, the zaddik’s spiritually illumined understanding or spiritual realization also is transmitted, elevating the disciple’s level of functioning in this way.

 

            Likewise, the following story suggests the transmission of the zaddik’s radiant spiritual energy so that the disciple experienced the master’s ecstasy:

 

 

 

Rabbi Zvi-Hirsh of Zhidachov so yearned to hear Rebbe Barukh sing the Song of Songs that he hid in his study. Later he confided to his friends, “The master was in ecstasy, his entire being aflame, evolving in another world, and when he came to the verse, Ani le-dodi….”I belong to my beloved as my beloved belongs to me”—he repeated each word with such fervor that I, too, found myself thrust into another world.[32]

 

           

 

Similarly, according to Samuel Dresner, Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev’s radiance (i.e., the “glory of the Lord”) which poured into him when in ecstatic prayer, was instrumental in attracting even unbelievers to himself and to God. According to the following passage, Levi Yitzhak was able to transmit spiritual glory to those around him, and recognized that his function in communing with God through prayer was to attract other individuals to God in that way.

 

 

 

It is reported that when Levi Yitzhak was about to pour forth his prayer before the Lord….his heart would nearly melt within him for love and awe of the glory of the Lord.

 

During his worship—particularly when he recited the words of the Kaddish….his soul was kindled and burned with ecstasy as a quivering flame…..

 

Others said that when they were in his Bet ha-Midrash [house of study] while Levi Yitzhak prayed, the hair on their necks stood on end, and they were seized with a holy awe. Even evil men were moved. Their hearts would melt within them when they heard the words and song of his prayer, which burned with holiness and purity. Such men would often leave their evil ways and turn to the Lord…..[It was said that Levi Yitzhak] “chose this way of service not alone for its own sake but likewise in order to draw the hearts of men near to the Holy One, blessed be He.” [33]

 

 

 

Since it seems unlikely that the “evil men” who were attracted to Levi Yitzhak’s radiance were previously followers of him or of the Hasidic movement, their testimony in the above passage was apparently not merely a biased hagiographical legend by those who already were devotees of Levi Yitzhak.

 

In addition to the zaddik’s ability to silently transmit spiritual radiance along with its desirable experiential qualities into the hasid, and his ability to provide spiritual and material blessings, many of these passages and other Hasidic writings illustrate qualities of the zaddik related to his superior level of psychological functioning and experiencing that are also associated with radiance and which are very charismatically appealing to the hasid who wishes to have such qualities aroused in himself. These qualities include the zaddik’s extraordinary loving or caring capacity, empathic understanding, intuitive ability, unconditional joyfulness or ecstatic states, abundance of life energy or extreme vitality, wisdom and powers of illuminating ever greater levels of spiritual truth, inspiration, goodness nature, creativity, as well as his ability to joyfully celebrate God’s all-pervading presence in all aspects of worldly existence, etc.[34]  Additionally, the Maggid of Mezritch maintains that “the higher one ascends above [by communing with God], the greater is one’s intelligence [seikhel], and one’s brilliance [behirut].”[35]  This teaching explicitly describes radiance as the source of higher levels of intelligence in human beings, and raises the possibility that through a process of communion with the radiance presence, which is simply a derivative of God’s spiritual intelligence, one may ascend forever higher in one’s level of intelligence.

 

It has been shown that the radiant zaddik was charismatically attractive to his followers because as the fully awakened radiant divine Imago, he was viewed as a manifest representative of God’s spiritual presence, to which every soul is, at least subliminally, attracted. In addition, it has been shown that communion with the zaddik’s spiritual radiance was associated with enhancing his followers’ spiritual growth and raising their level of charismatic functioning, as well as with providing them with material blessings. Given these benefits that may be acquired from communing with the radiant spiritual presence, and given that in these times, radiant zaddikim are not readily available for most individuals to commune with, it greatly behooves us to make available to individuals an understanding of the process by which the zaddik, or any soul, establishes a conscious connection to God’s spiritual radiance, and thereby taps into its resources of charismatically vastly superior levels of functioning and the means of ascending spiritually, as well as the means of having an ever more fulfilling life in the world. As a beginning step in that direction, a process for the maturational development of consciousness of spiritual radiance derived from the writings of the Hasidic masters will be discussed in this article. The discussion will first examine Weber’s ideas in regard to charismatic education, or “regeneration.”

 

Whereas Weber apparently viewed charisma as a divine blessing that is reserved only for some select individuals, the view taken here in this article, in keeping with Hasidic teachings, is that radiance is an innate potential of the human psyche, and, therefore, that charisma or true divine giftedness or greatness is possible for all of humanity. Although Weber stated that primary charisma was innate or naturally endowed and could not be acquired by any means, he noted that a second type of charisma could be “regenerated” through a non-conceptual process, but only in individuals in whom the “germ” of charisma already exists. In other words, even when charisma seems to have been acquired through this “charismatic education” process, what has really occurred is that the latent, innate charismatic quality has simply been made manifest, actualized, or “awakened.”[36] However, contrary to Weber’s remarks, it would appear that in discussing the regeneration of an innate quality, we are actually dealing with pure or primary charisma, which by definition is innately endowed, rather than a secondary type of charisma which has been artificially acquired. At any rate, Weber’s writings suggest that charisma can be developed, at least in those individuals in whom the charismatic potential already lies dormant.

 

To go a step beyond Weber’s view, the position taken here, which is supported by Hasidic teachings, is that charismatic spiritual radiance can indeed be developed or actualized, but not just in a few select individuals, because that potential inherently abides in everyone. In Hasidic terms, God is continuously shining His immanent sunshine-like radiant spiritual presence into all souls, who are all created to reflect that as God’s divine image and likeness. That radiant presence simply hasn’t reached the threshold level of consciousness in most individuals, and, therefore, most are not tapping into their potential for developing greater powers of functioning and experiencing, spiritual growth, and experiencing a more fulfilling life in the world.

 

Since that radiant spiritual presence or divine spark already exists within all individuals, all that is needed is the removal of the apparent obstruction from the soul’s consciousness that keeps the soul from recognizing its real radiant self or higher psyche. Although, as Hasidic writings indicate, “the soul is an actual part of God above,” when the soul is not aware of its true spiritual identity, it mistakenly holds the finite ego-personality to be its real self. However, the ego-personality is simply a psychological construct consisting of a continuous stream of ego-related personal self-concepts, self-images, personal sense of willfulness, positive and negative value judgments, conceptual presumptions, and beliefs about oneself of all kinds, which essentially create an ongoing daydream of being a finite psychophysical mortal, limited being. Nevertheless, when the soul identifies with the ego-personality, as a separate, self-generated, sense of inner presence, self-awareness, identity, and vitality, that conceptual self-consciousness acts like conceptual clouds which block God’s sun-like radiance or sunshine from substantially shining into the soul’s consciousness, thereby causing a sense of separation between the soul and God’s spiritual radiant presence. The scriptural passage, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you….” [Isaiah 60:1] seems to suggest that God’s spiritual consciousness and animating is being continuously shined into us every day, without which we would be without any powers of functioning whatsoever. As the writings and lives of the zaddikim suggest, the soul’s level of functioning and ability to utilize the radiant spiritual presence that God is shining into the soul is related to the degree of ego-personality presence with which the soul identifies.

 

In his commentary on Isaiah 40:31 (“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not be faint.”), the Maggid of Mezritch seems to suggest how the soul may establish a conscious connection to God’s spiritual radiance, bridging the gap between living in finite space and time, and contacting the radiance shining from God’s timeless and infinite Being, thereby tapping into its resources.[37] The Maggid suggests that the soul must be in the state of quiet that comes from an appreciation of the awe-inspiring limitlessness of God’s infinite nature, or what might be called identification or acknowledging oneness with the infinite wholeness of being of the Holy One. In that state of oneness or expressed deep heart-felt love for God, what the Maggid calls “great love” (ahava rabba),  God then sends His spiritual glory or radiance into the soul as an expression of His love or expressed oneness with the soul.

 

Ahava Rabba literally means a vast love, i.e., the soul is loving God’s infinite being, but it is also a “great love” in the sense of the greatness of the sacrifice that is being made by the soul. That is, the term also seems to imply the sacrifice of all sense of separate self-consciousness, giving one’s consciousness to God’s spiritual presence totally. As Levi Yitzhak puts it, “He who serves God from love loses all awareness of himself, his love for God encompassing all.”[38] Narcissistic self-love is sacrificed or  transcended only when the soul is investing its full heart-felt cathexis, or attention and energy, in establishing a state of relatedness or connection with God’s spiritual presence, without reserving any love for or investment in one’s separate ego-personally conceptually defined sense of self, or independent sense of identity, in narcissistic self-consciousness. The acknowledgment of relatedness in this way is what produces a state of non-dualistic communion or connection, or what the Maggid calls “metai ve-lo metai” (literally, connecting and not connecting), between the dimensions of time and timelessness. That permits the soul to rise, as on the wings of eagles, above the dimension of time, from which the soul can receive ever higher levels of that spiritual radiance. As the Maggid suggests, when the soul taps into the spiritual dimension, that spiritual radiance gives forth the bounty of its timeless and limitless good, which becomes garbed in finite form when it reaches the soul living in the world of time and space. That is the source of the zaddik’s spiritual blessedness, divine giftedness, or charismatic functioning in this worldly plane of existence. Isaiah suggests in this passage that the spiritual radiance will bring us endlessly renewed powers of functioning, limitless energy that never diminishes, enabling us to “run” and “walk” (i.e., function in the world) without weariness. The redemptive activity of accumulating ever greater levels of spiritual radiance is also suggested by how it elevates, or soars, the soul “on wings of eagles” up ever higher into Gods’ being, giving the soul an ever greater life in God. This is also expressed by the Lord telling Moses to explain to the people that God seeks to raise them spiritually: “I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4).  However, this ever higher redemptive ascension of the soul is not at the cost of the soul’s development of ever higher levels of functioning and ever greater celebration of life in the world, as evidenced by the zaddik’s highly functional and fulfilling worldly existence. However, the process of ascension and worldly functioning are interrelated and interdependent, co-facilitating processes, because the higher the soul ascends into God’s being, the ever greater the levels of spiritual energy that the soul accumulates, which may then be utilized in the soul’s functioning and experiencing in the world.[39]

 

To expand on some of these points that the Maggid raises in this passage, what the Maggid calls “great love” does not refer to just loving God more than we love ourselves, but, rather, establishing a sense of relatedness to Him is what connects God’s timeless, infinite dimension to the finite dimension. This state of relatedness, or communion, is what Hasidic texts frequently refer to as cleaving, joining, or attaching to the zaddik or to God, and can be likened to the relationship of a parent to a child. That is, the state of absolute oneness or subject-object non-dualistic communion is neither a state of absolute oneness or full union with God’s being, which would be absorption in Him (only parent, and no child). Thus, although Zalman Schachter-Shalomi speaks of this state as “one-ing,”[40] it is perhaps more properly defined as a state of two-as-one, i.e., two in non-dualistic contact. Non-dualistic communion reflects the recognition that the soul is created in the image and likeness of God’s being, and, therefore, the soul acknowledges relatedness to His being, as a reflected form of it. Only such a state seems to permit both a sense of connection, or relatedness, as well as a sense of non-connection, distinctness, or otherness, so that the soul may serve as a container into which God may shine His spiritual radiance, as an expression of His love or relatedness in return for the soul’s acknowledgment of oneness or relatedness to Him. The soul’s relatedness to God is expressed as “clinging” to God in the following quotation from the writings of Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl. Clinging to Him seems to suggest not only identification with His being, but also the soul’s acknowledgment that it is dependent upon God’s spiritual presence for its own real life presence and all goodness that comes into its existence. In that acknowledgment, God reciprocates by shining His radiance or expressed activity of His spiritual intelligence into the soul.

 

 

 

We arouse ourselves from below to cling to Him, then do we awaken in Him, as it were, a desire to extend to us His flow of all goodness. Then does the flow come down from above: blessing and compassion, life, and peace.”[41]

 

 

 

            Thus, metai ve-lo-metai suggests a state of full transcendence of conceptual self-consciousness, so that one is fully aware of, and fully connected to, God’s spiritual presence, but not in full absorptive union with it.  When the consciousness is in a state of subject-object duality, consciousness is split, so that it is partially narcissistically recoiled back upon egocentric self-knowledge, and simultaneously only partially going outside of its own conceptual self-consciousness even when it attempts to relate to, or make contact with, another life form or God’s spiritual presence. However, in subject-object non-dualistic communion, consciousness is fully contacting, without any intervening conceptual objects of knowledge, another form of life presence that one holds to be a related form of oneself. Thus, like parent and child, subject-object non-dualistic communion suggests a sort of overlap, or two connected as one, related as one, and that is likely why the Maggid refers to it as “connecting and not connecting.”

 

            As God’s spiritual radiance shines into the soul which acknowledges its relatedness to Him, the spiritual radiance gradually displaces and replaces the ego-personality conceptual self-image in the soul, so that the soul grows ever higher in the image and likeness of God. Thus, God’s spiritual presence gradually comes to live in, and is expressed through, the soul, which is what enables it to gradually share in God’s functioning and experiencing, to understand reality or spiritual truth as He sees it, to perform or experience as He does, to see through God’s eyes, so to speak. The soul becomes an instrument through which God may speak, deliver divine love revelations or prophecies, or shine His spiritual light, love, and life presence into the worldly community of souls, all of which contribute to the perception of higher-than-human charismatic functioning in the zaddik or radiant awakened soul. In this way, the spiritual presence glorifies the soul, and the soul glorifies God in return, through the soul’s ever higher radiance and ever higher charismatic powers of functioning and experiencing.

 

            Along these lines, Maslow equated peak experiencing with ego-transcendence,[42] which is consistent with the idea that cessation of separate ego-personality self-consciousness permits the flow into consciousness of a spiritual presence and accompanying higher levels of functioning and experiencing. Also relevant to this discussion of charismatic higher functioning is Maslow’s comment that individuals who have had ego-transcendent peak experiences “are more apt to regard themselves as carriers of talent,  instrumentsof the transpersonal, temporary custodians so to speak of a greater intelligence or skill or leadership or efficacy.”[43]   Clearly such individuals  recognize that a higher spiritual presence or intelligence is acting through them when they are empty of ego self-consciousness.

 

            One example of this type of charismatic functioning related to the zaddik’s identification with the radiant spiritual presence, referred to here as the Shekhinah, is the phenomenon of the Shekhinah speaking through the throat of the zaddik. In the words of Ze’ev Wolf of Zhitomir, a disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch:

 

 

 

Once I heard the Maggid of blessed memory state explicitly, “I will teach you the best way of pronouncing Torah, which is as follows—not to be aware of oneself [eyno margish eth asmo] but as an ear hearkening to the way in which the “World of Speech” speaks within one. It is not he himself who speaks. As soon as he hears his own words, let him stop! On many occasions, I have seen him [the Maggid] with my own eyes, I myself, when he opened his mouth to speak the words of Torah; he appeared to everyone as if he were not in this world at all; but as if the Shekhinah were speaking through his throat.[44]

 

           

 

The following teaching of Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl shows how the zaddik who has accumulated God’s spiritual presence to the point of full identification with it is able to see souls and worldly events as God would see them, thereby seeming to produce healings in this lower world. It may be presumed that charismatic powers of functioning would be attributed to such a zaddik by his followers.

 

 

 

All this [i.e., the healing] happens through the zaddik who is tied to Him; he becomes one with Him; he becomes one with Him, as it were….It is because the zaddik is so fully bound to God that he may reach the Hidden World, that place where there are no negative forces but only simple mercies. He brings up the negative judgments with him and “sweetens” them at their source. This is the meaning of “I decree but the zaddik nullifies it”: the “I” of God refers only to the lower Revealed World. It is only there that the decree and judgment exist. God in the hidden world is called “He”; He nullifies the decrees… [45]

 

           

 

Green interprets this passage to mean that the zaddik can bring about healings because he is one with the level of God’s being in which there are no imperfections to improve. That is, he stands at a level of God’s being which is above the lower world in which the decree manifests, and therefore is able to nullify the negative appearance in the lower world.[46] The passage also suggest that, as darkness disappears when a lamp is lit, so, too, any illusory appearing or conceptually-conditioned sense of imperfection that may seem to manifest in the lower world must disappear when seen through the eyes of the zaddik who has accumulated such a level of spiritual radiance that he sees with the eyes of God’s infinite perfect nature.

 

            The idea that charismatic functioning is related to the soul’s quieting or transcendence of the ego-personality presence in the soul finds support from Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk, who notes that because God’s being is omnipresent, His spiritual radiance, or glory, automatically flows into an individual once the obstructing element of ego-related conceptual self-consciousness is removed from the mind:

 

 

 

If there are no self-centered thoughts in the mind or in any limb of the body, but God alone [is kept in mind] with true self-abandonment, then because God’s glory abides within all created beings, [in that event], God’s glory is manifested in an individual….  [47]

 

           

 

Similarly, Daniel Matt’s interpretation of the Maggid of Mezritch’s teachings suggest that higher levels of divine wisdom enter the zaddik’s consciousness when he is free of the ego-personality conceptual self-knowledge:

 

 

 

The mystic empties himself and makes room for an infusion of divine wisdom from beyond the normal borders of consciousness, “One must leave intellect and mind to reach the fence of nothingness….” The annihilation of thought, of the thinking subject, liberates the divine element that thinks within and leads it to its source.[48]

 

           

 

Although Matt’s remarks refer only to divine wisdom, rather than radiance, flowing into the mind when it is empty of conceptual self-consciousness, the Maggid indicates elsewhere that when the zaddik is in communion with God, he is also ignited with spiritual light:

 

 

 

To understand the meaning of the Talmudic saying, “Zaddiqim in relation to the Shekhinah resemble a candle before a blazing torch”:….The zaddik, who is engaged in the service of the Creator, blessed be He, with a great cleaving….constantly draws forth a river of light [from] above.[49]

 

           

 

Similarly, Elimelekh taught that spiritual radiance can enter the zaddik’s heart, and become outwardly manifested on his face, when he is in communion with other individuals, not only directly in communion with God’s radiant presence. In his indication that this occurs when the zaddik is not self-conscious, it is clear that Elimelekh is talking about a state of subject-object non-duality that is necessary for the spiritual presence to enter his consciousness.

 

 

 

When the zaddik speaks words of holiness and fear of God with other people, then a great fervor enters his heart, and his face shines with a great light that is within him. [Nevertheless], Moses was not aware that he had any fervor in him when he was speaking about holy matters with another individual.[50] 

 

           

 

However, for most souls, the consciousness is not sufficiently maturely developed to be conscious of, and, therefore, commune with, God’s very subtle spiritual presence within itself. Thus, as has been shown from various Hasidic writings cited earlier in this article, a hasid could also contact the radiant spiritual presence by communing non-dualistically with a zaddik, in whom the radiant spiritual presence was substantially manifested, by which means the zaddik’s elevated spiritual state could apparently be transferred to the follower, providing the soul with a direct experience of that spiritual radiance. Hasidic writings also recommend communing with other life forms or activities in the world as a means of permitting the soul to contact that radiant presence. This latter type of communion is of increased importance in these times when highly inspired radiant zaddikim are not readily available to provide individuals with a beginning recognition that the spiritual radiance is one’s true nature. Since God spiritual radiance is all pervading of the world, one’s consciousness does not have to be extracted from the world in order to connect to that radiance presence. The full non-dualistic communion or conceptually unmediated meeting of one spiritual life form with another can lead to awareness of the spiritual radiance, because in that full contact, the forms lose, at least for the moment, the experience of their sense of dualistic, finite boundedness and thereby contact the unbounded, radiant infinite life substance in which both are immersed.  A helpful analogy is the merging of two finite wave forms into their commonly shared, seemingly infinite, ocean water substance. As Schachter-Shalomi describes the hasid’s private encounter with his zaddik:

 

 

 

The many and various ways to describe the yehidut….the tie of nefesh to nefesh, yehidah to yehidah—are an attempt to approximate the moment when two persons, rebbe and hasid, merge in the Infinite One. In this sense, the word yehidut can be translated as “the one-ing of God-rebbe-hasid. “[51]

 

 

 

            Thus, the world itself is not an obstacle to spiritual growth, but the way that one relates to it, dualistically or non-dualistically, determines whether consciousness of the forms in the world becomes an obstruction to spiritual growth or facilitates it.

 

            Clearly, basic to this entire process for maturation of consciousness of the radiant spiritual presence is the necessity to first quiet the mind of all conceptual objects of knowledge of the ego-personality, which keep the consciousness from non-dualistically contacting any object of knowledge. One means of quieting the mind is to engage in divine contemplation of the nature of God and the soul’s relationship to the Divine, which will lead the soul to an understanding that its true being is a distinctly individual radiant form of the divine, and not the finite, mortal human being to which its conceptually-based personal life story daydream pertains. [52] Only with this understanding will the soul be willing to transcend, even momentarily, self-consciousness of the ego-personality, which is what most individuals hold to be their only real presence.

 

            It should be pointed out that before the process of divine contemplation can be undertaken, one must have a clear idea of what the fundamental spiritual truth is that should be contemplated. This can be obtained by reading pertinent scriptures and the writings of fully enlightened sages that speak to the oneness of Absolute Reality, e.g., in terms of Its omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, and which suggests that individual life forms are uniquely distinctive individualized forms, functions, or potentials of that one divine Reality presence, by whatever name it may be called. Such writings can begin to convince the soul of the omnipresent oneness of Absolute Reality, and, therefore, that the soul must also be a perfect reflection of that one divine Reality. Continued contemplation of this spiritual truth will quiet the conceptual mind movement, enabling the individual to engage in subject-object non-dualistic communion with other individuals and phenomena in the world. Then through communion in the world and further contemplation, a degree of spiritual presence begins to enter the soul’s consciousness,  where it gradually displaces and replaces the ego-personality identity with a growing accumulation of that spiritual radiance.  Once the radiant spiritual presence reaches the level of consciousness, then the soul may commune with it directly within itself, which enables that presence to accumulate more substantially within the soul and thereby elevate the soul’s consciousness ever higher toward spiritual fulfillment. The key to this whole process of contemplation and communion is that the soul must come to identify with God’s spiritual nature, acknowledging  oneness with it, as a reflected form of it. That is, it is not sufficient to contemplate that God’s presence is everywhere, as long as one continues oneself to be an entity apart from Him, dualistically independent, separate, or outside of Him.  It should also be noted that one should not dualistically restrict one’s spiritual practice to communion with God’s radiant spiritual presence, but rather choicelessly permit God to move the soul in a process of divine oscillation between communion with forms in the world, divine contemplation, and communion with His immanent spiritual substance, since all of this contributes to the soul’s further maturation of consciousness as well as to God’s growing Self-knowledge of all levels of His being.[53]

 

            As a typical example of Hasidic writings regarding the importance of contemplating the nature of the one divine Reality, in the following passage, Shneur Zalman of Liadi teaches that the hasid should

 

 

 

Concentrate his mind and envisage in his intelligence and understanding the subject of His blessed true Unity: how He permeates all worlds, both upper and lower, and even this whole earth…and how everything is of no reality whatever in His presence; and He is One Alone….[54]

 

           

 

Similarly, Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl advised that one continuously contemplate God’s being, so that one’s consciousness remains attached to Him, rather than attached to one’s ego-related worldly desires, which separate the soul’s consciousness from God’s being.

 

           

 

When you awake at midnight….be sure that your very first thought is that of attachment to God….Keep your thought fastened on your blessed Creator throughout the day…..Attach your thought always to the Creator; do not turn away even for a moment to think of the vanities of this world. As soon as you turn your thought elsewhere, you are considered as an idolater, as Scripture says, “You will turn aside and worship other god” (Deut. 11:16).[55]

 

 

 

            Thus, greater maturational development of the soul’s radiant spiritual presence is enhanced by quieting one’s mind of narcissistic self-knowledge through a process of contemplation, which permits communion with forms in the world, including the zaddik, or directly with the spiritual radiance substance of God. Non-dualistic communion of any kind permits higher levels of radiant spiritual presence to enter the soul, resulting not only in higher spiritual growth or spiritual ascension for the soul, but also resulting in the soul’s higher levels of functioning and experiencing, which is correspondingly manifested in this worldly plane of existence as what psychologists have referred to as peak experience and peak performance. The obverse of this is that one obstructs one’s own potential for developing greater powers of functioning and higher spiritual ascension through narcissistic self-infatuation or self-consciousness of the ego-personality self-conceptualization.

 

            This process of maturational development of consciousness of spiritual radiance has some important implications for Psychology, not only in regard to providing an understanding of the ever greater unfoldment or activation of higher potentials of the psyche, but also in terms of releasing repressed unconscious material into consciousness, and thereby contributing to the undoing of psychological fixations and leading to higher levels of psychological growth and well-being. Related to this is the phenomenon of fusion of the radiance energy with latent narcissistic or psychologically unhealthy ego elements, which can result in episodes of psychopathology, as will be explained.

 

            It appears that when there is a state of subject-object non-dualistic communion with the divine radiance, that radiant spiritual presence has an influence on the return to consciousness of negative, repressed unconscious experiential states, thereby enhancing psychological growth, as well as the individual’s spiritual growth, as the soul is freed of its ego-personality identification. Thus, it can be said that the radiant spiritual presence of God functions as a kind of psychotherapist in this manner, as it continues to purify the soul of repressed ego-related experiential material. That is, as the radiance enters the soul’s being, it contacts and fuses with any repressed ego elements which remain in the soul’s unconscious and pushes them up into consciousness, providing an opportunity for the hasid or client to allow them to speak consciously and drain out completely. That this release of repressed feelings is related to an influx of spiritual radiance and not necessarily to any conceptual exchange during a counseling session with the zaddik is well-expressed by Schachter-Shalomi, who notes that during the meeting with the zaddik, when a hasid experiences

 

 

 

the suddenness of an emotion rushing past inhibitions, and causing the hasid to break into tears….often a hasid is unable to connect his weeping with any part of the content and context of the conversation that preceded it. He cries because “the spark has approached the luminary,   because the ‘cut-off limb’ has regained its feeling and connection and only now has begun to feel the pain.[56]

 

 

 

            Similarly, Assagioli noted the effect that may be produced as a result of spiritual growth in some individuals:

 

 

 

The sudden influx of [spiritual] energies produces an emotional upheaval which expresses itself in uncontrolled, unbalanced and disordered behavior. Shouting and crying, singing and outbursts of various kinds characterize this form of response.[57]

 

 

 

            The phenomenon of psycho-spiritual fusion is a related important psychological consideration that may be derived from study of this process for maturation of consciousness of spiritual radiance. It has been seen that spiritual radiance is a very great power for constructive, ever greater levels of psychological and physical functioning and experiencing. However, as Assagioli’s remarks suggest and as supported by considerable evidence from the lives and teachings of even some of the most respected spiritual masters, under certain conditions it can become a force for extremely non-constructive tendencies and even result in periods of psychopathological functioning. This can occur during the spiritual purification process described above, in which the radiant spiritual energy contacts, and fuses with, repressed or latent ego-tendencies of the zaddik,  or with the egotistical tendencies of other individuals which the zaddik has absorbed through his communion with them.  Buber attributes the following passage to the Seer of Lublin, which suggests that the zaddik may incorporate the negative egotistical states of his followers, leading to his own psychological distress.

 

 

 

People come to me weighted down with melancholy, and when they leave, their spirit is lighter, although I myself (and here he was going to say: “am melancholy,” but he paused and then continued: am dark and do not shine.[58]

 

           

 

Regardless of the source of ego tendencies that fuse with the radiance, that spiritual energy, which has accumulated to a great degree in the zaddik, has the effect of highly energizing, intensifying, or exaggerating those elements of the ego with which it fuses, so that one man feel, typically for a short time, highly magnified non-constructive ego-related urges or cravings for worldly pleasures, or even periods of severe aberrant psychological functioning such as life-destructive tendencies toward oneself and others, periods of manic elation alternating with severe depression, delusions of grandeur, and the like. The literature contains numerous examples of fusion of this sort occurring among the most respected zaddikim.[59]

 

            Assagioli, and likewise Firman and Vargiu, noted that the inflow of spiritual energy from the Higher Self into the personality can result in feeding and inflating the personal ego, thereby permitting the ego-personality to attribute to itself the grand powers of functioning and experiences which actually arise from the Higher Self. [60] Assagioli points out that delusions of grandeur can result during the process of accumulating spiritual energy, if one is not clear as to the distinction between the ego self and the higher spiritual Self.

 

            This study of the radiance of the zaddik also has important implications for studying the basis of human nature and fundamental human motivation.  The fact that the soul’s true unconditioned fulfillment, absolute love nature, unconditioned wholeness of being, and unconditioned happiness lie only in the soul’s conscious recognition of its true, radiant divine nature and its oneness with God’s Being, exerts the truly fundamental motivational factor that dominates humanity. That is the urge for the soul to actualize the potentials of its real innate higher love-goodness nature.  Although Freud and others have suggested that the human being’s basic drives are for sex and aggression, those cannot possibly represent the fundamental motivations of the human being, because they are not related to the nature of our most fundamental, real self, which is a part of God’s being, as Hasidism concurs.

 

            Since it has been shown in the zaddik that the accumulating spiritual radiance is associated with higher powers of functioning than are available to the ordinary human being, therefore, a whole psychology of higher functioning and experiencing can be built around the process of bringing spiritual radiance into one’s consciousness at ever higher levels. For example, this increased maturational development of consciousness of spiritual radiance may result in greater life energy for all of one’s functioning in the world, greater levels of intelligence, greater understanding of spiritual truth, greater capacity for true creativity, regenerative healing for the mind and body, psycho-spiritual growth, improved love relationships and community functioning through increased communion capacity, and, of course, greater constructive charismatic functioning or true greatness. It can be said that spiritual radiance is the source for humanity of all that is of true value or that which is timelessly good. Further, since the spiritual radiance can forever be accumulated at higher levels, our capacities in all these respects can be considered to be limitless.

 

            Therefore, if true greatness is defined as having the limitless potential to actualize ever higher powers of functioning and experiencing, meaning that one is functioning as the awakened divine Imago, having transcended one’s separate sense of identity, then it can be seen that the potential for greatness and for charismatic functioning is present in everyone. It is simply lying latent as potential in most individuals, because it has not yet reached the threshold of consciousness. As spiritual radiance accumulates in consciousness, it initially manifests as what may be called sub-mystical experience, or pre-charismatic functioning, which is probably the category into which some kinds of what Maslow called peak experience would fall. In such an experience, the radiance itself is not directly perceived or experienced, but still produces an experience that one recognizes goes beyond one’s normal ego-related experience. As the radiance continues to accumulate, ultimately it will reach a level where one can be said to be functioning fully charismatically, standing tall, in one’s true greatness. It is not that the individuality is great in its own right, but rather, is participating in the veritable horn of cornucopia of true greatness provided by God’s radiant spiritual presence or spiritual intelligence, which it has been shown is the source for the zaddik’s vastly superior raw intelligence, superhuman powers of functioning, and spiritual grandeur experiencing, all of which are involved in his divine giftedness or radiant charismatic nature.

 

            This all suggests that no one is limited in functioning by one’s endowment at birth, but only by lack of maturational development of consciousness of the spiritual radiance nature of one’s real being, which is the key that unlocks the door of our true limitless potential. All that remains to be done is to more fully elucidate the most expeditious process for the maturation of consciousness of our radiant spiritual nature. It is obviously not a process restricted to Judaism, but although universally recognized, it has never been clearly articulated. As the scriptures point out, we need only rise to our full height, i.e., recognize our true nature as one with God’s radiant spiritual presence, and mature into full consciousness of that spiritual radiance, in order to optimally receive the grandeur of His glory. “For the Lord God is a sun and a shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will be withheld from them that walk uprightly.” [Psalm 84:11]  As suggested by Proudhon during the French Revolution, this true greatness is available to us all: “The great seem great to us only because the rest of us are on our knees. Let us rise!”[61] Similarly, Underhill points out that “the amazing energy which enables the great mystic to rise to freedom and dominate the world, is latent in all of us; an integral part of our humanity.” The mystic has simply awakened early and “run on before us.”[62] Or, in the words of Swami Vivekananda: “Rise, thou effulgent One, rise thou who art always pure, rise thou birthless and deathless, rise almighty, and manifest your nature.”  ….This is the one prayer, remembering our nature. “[63]

 


[1]See, e.g., Martin Buber, Hasidism (New York: Philosophical Library, 1948), 4. Cf. Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York: Schocken Books, 1961), 337.

 

[2]See e.g., Scholem, Major Trends, 335, 344, 347-48. Cf. Arthur Green, “The Zaddiq as Axis Mundi in Later Judaism,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion  44:3 (1977), 327-47. Cf. Samuel Dresner, The Zaddik: The Doctrine of the Zaddik According to the Writings of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polnoy (New York: Schocken Books, 1974), 117-32. Cf. Rachel Elior, “Between Yesh and Ayin: The Doctrine of the Zaddik in the Works of Jacob Isaac, the Seer of Lublin,” in Jewish History: Essays in Honour of Chimen Abramsky, ed. Stephen Zipperstein and Ada Rapoport-Albert (London: Peter Halban, 1988), 408. Cf. Charles Bosk, “The Routinization of Charisma: The Case of the Zaddik,” in Religious Change and Continuity, ed., Harry M. Johnson (San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1979), 150-67.

1.                   [3]See, e.g., Stephen Sharot, “Hasidism and the Routinization of Charisma,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion  19:4 (1980), 328-29. Cf. Elior, “Between Yesh and Ayin,” 412.

 

[4]Barry J. Hammer, Charismatic Leadership and Appeal in Early Hasidism (Doctoral dissertation: Ann Arbor: U.M.I. 1992), 433-458.

[5]Max Weber, Economy and Society, ed. Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich (New York: Bedminster Press, 1968), 216.

[6]Idem, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, trans. A.M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons (New York: Oxford Press, 1947), 358-59.

[7]Idem, Economy and Society, 1121, 1135, 1147.

[8]Idem, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, trans. and ed. H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946), 295.

[9]Idem, Economy and Society, p. 400.

[10]Talcott Parsons, The Structure of Social Action (New York: The Free Press, 1968), 33.  Rachel Elior, “Between Yesh and Ayin,” 408

[11]Rachel Elior, “Between Yesh and Ayin,” 408

[12]Wolfgang Mommsen, “Max Weber’s Political Sociology and his Philosophy of World History,” International Social Sciences Journal 17:1 (1965), 33.

 

[13]Abraham H. Maslow, “Theory Z,” Journal of Transpersonal Psychology (Fall 1969), 39.

14 Elie Wiesel, Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters.  (New York: Summit Books, 1972), 14. 

 

 

 

[15] Ibid., 54-55.

[16] Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev, Kedushat Levi (B’nai Berak: Heikah ha Sefer, n.d.), 15a

[17]Ibid.

[18]Aryeh Kaplan, The Light Beyond: Adventures in Hassidic Thought.  (New York: Maznaim Publishing Corp., 1981), 35-36, quoting Avraham Yehoshua Hechel, Ohev Yisroel (Jerusalem, 1965), 27a (VeEreh).

[19]See, e.g., Shneur Zalman of Liadi, “Likutei Amarim,” Chapter 2, The Tanya (Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1981), 5-6. Cf. Elimelekh of Lizhensk, No’am Elimelekh, ed. Gidaliah Nigal (Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Kook, 1978), 454 (Parshah Pinhas) and 458 (Parashah Mattot).

[20]See, e.g., Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezritch, Maggid Devarav le-Ya’aqov, ed. Rivka Schatz-Uffenheimer (Jerusalem: Magnes Press of the Hebrew University, 1976), 124-5, 190-91, 197-98, 232-233, 289-90. Cf. Levi Yitzhak, Kedushat Levi, 47B-48A (Parashah Mishpatim). Cf. Elimelekh, No’am Elimelekh, 134. Cf. Shneur Zalman, Tanya, 293-322.

 

[21]Aryeh Kaplan, The Light Beyond, 37, quoting Sefer Baal Shem Tov, compiled by Shimon Mendel of Givatchev (Jerusalem, 1962), 13 (VeEthchanan).

[22]Dov Baer, Maggid Deverav, 199.

[23]Elimelekh, No’am Elimelekh, 350-51; Dresner, The Zaddik, 177-78.

[24]Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk, Sefer Pri ha-Aretz. (New York: Israel Wolf, 1954), 43.

[25]Rachel Elior, “Between Yesh and Ayin,” 429, quoting Jacob Isaac, the Seer of Lublin, Zikaron Zot, 107.

[26]Arthur Green, “Typologies of Leadership and the Hasidic Zaddiq,” in Jewish Spirituality from the Sixteenth Century Revival to the Present, ed. Arthur Green (New York: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1987), 132, quoting Me’or ‘Eynayim, Yitro; (Jerusalem, 1966), 109.

[27]Elimelekh, No’am Elimelekh, 48. Cf. 16, 128, 134.

[28]This phrase is originally derived from the Babylonian Talmud, Moed Katan, 28a.

[29]Elimelekh, No’am Elimelekh, 48.  Cf. 16,  128,  134.

 

[30]Rachel Elior, “Between Yesh and Ayin”, 402, 402, quoting Jacob Isaac in Zot Zikaron, 140. 

[31]Samuel Dresner, The World of a Hasidic Master: Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev  (New York: Shapolsky Books, 1986), 22, quoting S. Horodetzky, ha-Hasidut v’ha-Hasidim (Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1928), Vol. 2, 74.

[32]Elie Wiesel, Somewhere a Master (New York: Summit Books, 1982), 75.

[33]Dresner, World of a Hasidic Master, 93-94.

[34]Hammer, Charismatic Leadership and Appeal, 187-210.

[35]Dov Baer, Maggid Devarav, 137.

 

[36]Weber, Economy and Society, 249, 400, 1143.

 

[37]Dov Baer, Maggid Devarav, 267-69.

[38]Samuel Dresner, World of a Hasidic Master, 174, quoting Levi Yitzhak, Kedushat Levi (Jerusalem: Mosad l’Hotzaat Sifrei Musar v’Hasidut, 1958), 14.

[39]Barry J. Hammer, “Resolving the Buber-Scholem Controversy in Hasidism”, Journal of JewishStudies 47:1, Spring 1996.

[40]Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Spiritual Intimacy: A Study of Counseling in Hasidism  (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc. 1991), 361.

[41]Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl, Upright Practices, The Light of the Eyes, trans. Arthur Green (New York: Paulist Press, 1982), 92.

 

[42]Maslow, “Theory Z,” 43.

[43]Ibid., 42-43.

 

[44]Joseph Weiss, Studies in Eastern European Jewish Mysticism, ed. David Goldstein (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 79, quoting Ze’ev Wolf of Zhitomir, Or Ha-Meir (Korzecz, 1798), part Rimzer Vayikra, 2B.  Cf. Weiss, Studies in Eastern European Jewish Mysticism, 71-81, for further examples of this.

[45]Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl, Upright Practices, 156-57.

[46]Ibid., n. 12, 157.

[47]Menahem Mendel, Sefer Pri ha-Aretz, 43.

[48]Daniel Matt, “Ayin: The Concept of Nothingness in Jewish Mysticism.” In The Problem of Pure Consciousness, ed. Robert K.C. Forman (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).

[49]Dov Baer, Maggid Deverav, 289-290. 

[50]Elimelekh, No’am Elimelekh, 282.

[51]Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Spiritual Intimacy, 120.

[52]Hammer, “Resolving the Buber-Scholem Controversy.”

 

[53]Ibid.

[54]Nathan Kuperstok, “Extended Consciousness and Hasidic Thought,” in Mystics and Medics,  ed. Reuven P. Bulka (New York: Human Sciences Press, 1979), 92, quoting Schneur Zalman of Liadi, Tanya (Vol. 1), trans. N. Mindel  (Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1965), 192.

[55]Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl, Upright Practices, 40-41.

 

[56]Schachter-Shalomi, Spiritual Intimacy, 197.

[57]Roberto Assagioli, “Self-Realization and Psychological Disturbances,” Synthesis 3-4 (1977), 156.

[58] Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim: Early Masters   (New York: Schocken Books, 1947), 308. Cf. Elie Wiesel, Souls on Fire, 137.

[59]See, e.g., Samuel Dresner, The Zaddik, 85.  Cf. Elie Wiesel, Souls on Fire, 129, 137, 176, 305. Cf. Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim: Early Masters, 308.  Cf. Schachter-Shalomi, Spiritual Intimacy, 259; and 22-23; quoting E. Steinman, Be’er ha-Hasidut, Vol. 7 (Tel Aviv: Knesseth Publishing Co., no date), 186.

[60]Roberto Assagioli, “Self-Realization and Psychological Disturbances,” 155.  Cf. John Firman and James Vargiu, “Dimensions of Growth,” Synthesis, 3-4 (1977), 78.

 

[61]Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Revolutions de Paris (motto)

[62]Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual Consciousness (New York: Meridian Books, 1955), 445, 450.

[63]William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Doubleday and Co., 1978), 493, n.28, quoting Swami  Vivekananda.

 

 

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The Way of Holiness, Enlightenment, and Redemption in the Hebrew Bible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WAY OF HOLINESS, ENLIGHTENMENT, AND REDEMPTION:

 

INTEGRATING THE CONCEPTUAL TORAH AND THE EXPERIENTIAL TORAH, AS A HOLISTIC LIVING TORAH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please send all correspondence to:

 

Dr. Barry Hammer

 

Email: mhbj58@gmail.com

 

Phone: 207-866-3223

 

 

 

 

 

THE WAY OF HOLINESS, ENLIGHTENMENT, AND REDEMPTION:

 

INTEGRATING THE CONCEPTUAL TORAH AND THE EXPERIENTIAL TORAH, AS A HOLISTIC LIVING TORAH

 

 

 

An article, by Shaul Magid, which I read many years ago, implicitly suggests a very important issue for contemporary Jewish philosophy in regard to how Lurianic scriptural exegesis took at its starting point not only the peshat or conventional exoteric meaning of the written Torah, but placed greater emphasis upon a “predetermined meta-text,” supposedly the esoteric Torah “revealed at Sinai along with the exoteric Torah.” 1 In order to clarify this issue and address its important implications for contemporary Jewish philosophy, I am restating the issue as follows: For purposes of enhancing the soul’s holiness of being and enlightenment or divine truth revelation toward ultimate full redemption, is it better for the soul’s consciousness to stay focused exclusively upon the conceptual study of the written text of Torah and traditional exoteric commentaries upon it, or to, at least occasionally, move away from a conceptual or analytical mode of Torah study in order to achieve direct, immediate (not conceptually mediated) contact or intuitive, empathetic communion with the Living Torah, i.e., the living Spirit of God, the fully radiant expressed spiritual Light or Glory of God’s absolute being, to which the written texts of the Holy Scriptures may symbolically or metaphorically point. I will take the position in this article that the conceptual Torah and the experiential Living Torah are both necessary for enhancing the soul’s level of enlightenment or divine truth revelation, holiness of being, and ultimate full redemption. I will be contending that conceptually derived understanding of the written Scriptures and other classic Jewish religious texts, by itself alone, may not necessarily lead to the soul’s enhanced enlightenment or divine truth revelation and full redemption. However, the proper conceptual contemplation of the written text of Torah, studied with its commonplace exoteric  commentaries and analytical interpretations, can be a means of bringing the soul’s consciousness to a state of quiet receptivity, in which the Living Torah, God’s expressed spiritual Light, is able to enlighten and ultimately redeem the soul, by enabling us to develop a deeper, experiential, spiritually intuited understanding of the Divine or Spiritual Reality, moving beyond but also including the study and contemplation of more conventional, conceptually-derived, interpretations of the wording of sacred Jewish texts.

 

The Scriptures tell us that the written, conceptual Torah can be a tree of life, but only for those who grasp it (Prov. 3:18), meaning that the soul must come to a deep understanding of the essential truth of the Scriptures if the soul is to ultimately awaken as a branch of the tree of immortal everlasting spiritual Life Substance, which is its permanent redemption or eternal salvation. What is this great truth in the conceptual Torah that the soul has to grasp? It is that only God IS, which means that He/She is the Absolute Being, the absolute Good, the unconditioned Perfect Being, the only absolute Reality Presence, the Almighty, the infinite, all-inclusive wholeness of being or holiness, the Blessed Holy One, all of which refer to God as the only, and therefore only, reality presence, power, goodness, identity, and intelligence. As Abraham Heschel put it, “God is one means He alone is truly real.” 2  That is the essential message of God’s pronouncement that He is the IAM (Ex. 3:14). God was revealing Him/Herself as absolute Being, the only real Living Being, the absolute and only reality presence, identity, will or power, intelligence, and goodness. This suggests that He is infinite, omnipresent, eternal, unconditioned absolute Reality spiritual Presence, the unitary wholeness of being which lacks nothing, and in which there are no dualistic relative opposites of finite good and evil, which means that He is unconditioned Perfect Being. Being an absolute Unity, He is also unconditioned absolute Love-Happiness and Absolute Peace. All of this is consistent with what God repeatedly states in various ways throughout the Scriptures, that He is the One, the All, the absolute and only Reality Being, that only He IS: “I am God, and there is none else” (see e.g., Isa. 45:5-6, 45:21-22, 46:9; c.f. Ps. 139:7-10, Isa. 44:6,8; 48:12); “I am the Almighty God,” i.e., the only power (Gen. 17:1); Beside Me there is no savior,” (Isa. 43:11); “I am with thee and there is nothing to fear (see Isa. 41:10,13,14; Gen. 15:1); “He is the [immutable] Rock, His work is perfect” (Deut. 32:4); “I am the Lord; I change not” (Mal. 3:6); and “As for God, His way is perfect….He makes my way perfect” (2 Sam. 22:31-33, Ps. 18:30).

 

The implication of this truth is that there can be no other reality presence, power, goodness, intelligence, being, or voice for the soul to know or to be. That is, the soul must necessarily be a divine image or divine idea of God’s absolute Being, a more objectified, more manifest, abstracted, grosser, form of God’s spiritual Being substance, a reflection of, or “witness” to, God’s absolute unconditioned Perfect Being and unfolding Glory self-knowledge (Isa. 43:10,12,21; 44:8). Acknowledging and expressing the conviction of being united to, or abiding within, God’s Being connects us to the Source of Divine insight, grandeur, and limitlessly abundant blessing. Our loving communion with the written text of Torah can make us more open and receptive to the Divine Author of Torah gradually imparting into us a deeper, experiential, intuitively and empathically derived understanding of how to attune or connect ourselves to the Divine Intelligence, Will, Spirit or Living Energy Presence, and uplifting blessing power being conveyed by the text, and by the mitzvoth or religiously mandated activities associated with it. This view that we human beings are meant to reflect God’s living spirit as conveyed through Torah (including any or all commonly accepted Jewish religious texts) is supported by scriptural passages such as, Gen. 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him,” as well as by Ps. 8:5, “Thou hast made him little less than God” (see also Ps. 17:15, 82:6, and Lev. 19:2). Being made a “little less than God” suggests that the soul is of the same nature as God’s spiritual substance, but of a lesser magnitude, like the flame of a match when compared to the sun’s fire. As suggested by Deut. 32:4, God’s work, or creation, is as perfect as He is, i.e., totally absent of finite good and evil. As various scriptural passages point out, the soul, and even this entire world, are inherently immersed in God’s expressed spiritual Presence or spiritual Glory (see e.g., Isa. 6:3, Ps. 24:1, Ps. 139:7-10). If, in His Holy Spirit there is no evil (He is of “purer eyes than to behold evil” (Hab. 1:13), then there can truly be no finite good and evil in this world, either, existing independently from God’s infinite, all-inclusive, all-pervading Being. Supporting this is God’s pronouncement that His entire creation was “very good” (Gen. 1:31), meaning that it is truly good, with no wrongness or evil of any kind in it. All of this additionally suggests that the soul can never actually be separate from, or fall from, God’s spiritual Presence into a world of finite good and evil. In fact, the early Hasidic zaddikim (or zaddiqim) taught that if it were possible for the soul to become separate from God’s all-pervading Presence, then the soul would cease to exist. 3   Likewise, Arthur Green states that the soul can never be entirely separate from God. 4   As a spiritual form, or as an individual idea or image of the Divine Intelligence, unconditionally, necessarily, and choicelessly immersed in God’s omnipresent spiritual Substance, the soul is therefore already and inherently redeemed or perfected, as God Himself states (see Isa. 43:1-2, 44:22-23; Cf. Deut. 32:4, Ps. 82:6).

 

Although the soul can’t truly separate itself from God’s omnipresent Substance,, the soul’s consciousness can fall or become immersed in a dream of finite, divisive, conceptual-imaginal knowledge of good and evil, illusory shadow knowledge, or what Scripture calls the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17), which provides the soul with the illusory experience of separation from God’s spiritual Substance. That is, through the soul’s denial of the reality of God’s omnipresent Perfect Being, its consciousness turns objectively down or away from God’s expressed radiant spiritual Substance and the soul’s form, which is a conceptual-imaginal shadow substance in the unconscious part of the brain-mind of the soul. Thereby, the soul’s consciousness falls into the objective shadow of God’s spiritual substance and the soul’s form, which is a conceptual-imaginal shadow substance in the unconscious part of the brain-mind of the soul. There the soul has the capacity to create a finite conceptual-imaginal identity for itself, a conceptually-conditioned mind, a finite psychophysical existence self-image, the ego-personality psychological construct and its continuous mind chatter, inner monologue, or personal life story daydream fantasy. In the words of Mikhal of Zlotchov, “what stands between you and God like a wall is your ego. This I, this consciousness of a separate existence, is a wall between you and the Divinity.” 5   That is, as long as there are finite, divisive conceptual-imaginal objects of knowledge abiding within the soul’s unconditioned mind, they obstruct God’s spiritual Glory Presence from shining substantially into the soul’s consciousness. This is particularly the case when the soul comes to identify with, or fuses its consciousness and spiritual energy presence with, such finite objects of knowledge, which gives them a semblance of reality, making the ego-personality self-image in the soul’s consciousness a more enduring shadow presence. That enduring shadow conceptual self-image, or self-defined identity and related incessant self-generated mind chatter, functions as a barrier to God’s spiritual Presence and related impartations of deeper insights into Torah shining into the soul very substantially, like clouds in the sky obstruct the sunshine from reaching the earth, and, therefore, have a very deleterious life-degenerative effect upon the mind and body. However, with the conceptual creation of the ego-personality self-image, the soul has a means of pretending to know itself as an independent being, presence, or identity in its own right; essentially creating itself as a self-styled god in its own right, apart from God’s spiritual Presence immanent within the soul. Thus, in the construction of a conceptually-conditioned self-image, the soul essentially constructs its own psychological graven image, bearing witness to itself, which is a means of narcissistic self-worship. That is why God says of such souls in Isa. 44:9, “They are their own witnesses,” i.e., they are not bearing witness to His Glory as His divine image, the purpose for which He created the soul. These remarks find support in the writings of the Hasidic master Shneur Zalman, who noted, “The essence and root of idolatry is that [the individuality] is regarded as a thing in itself [i.e., an independent being], sundered from the Divine holiness,” i.e., God’s infinite omnipresent wholeness of being. 6   Likewise, the soul’s projection of concepts, images, and positive and negative value-judgments upon the world produce the appearances and experiences of finite good and evil, like a mirage, hallucination, dream, or a sort of collective unconscious self-hypnosis, which has been consensually validated in order to collectively deny the reality of God’s infinite and omnipresent absolute Goodness and unconditioned Perfect Being, and our intrinsic abidance within it. It is as Shakespeare noted, “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it [seem] so.” (Hamlet, Act 2, Sc.2). Green supports this with his comment that the soul may “pretend that God does not pervade all…but the ultimate truth of realizing our oneness with the all-pervading Being can only be postponed, not denied.” 7  The foregoing discussion suggests that redemption or salvation is merely a matter of undoing the soul’s fall into identification with its false, conceptually-derived sense of itself, the illusory dreamlike knowledge of being a finite mortal being apart from God’s omnipresent Absolute Being. It is a matter of God reawakening the soul to what it has always been—before, during, and then again, after the fall.”

 

The covenant that God made with the Jewish people through His various prophets is consistent with this truth that is stated throughout the conceptual written Torah. What I see as the essential basis of the covenant  is the interrelatedness and interdependence in function of God and His/Her community of soul forms. The spiritual community is naturally indivisible as its individual souls together reflect the indivisible Oneness of God through their loving connection to one another and attunement to the indivisible holistic outer letter and inner living spirit of Torah. That is, as the Hasidic master Menahem Nahum asserted, God and the community of souls within spiritual Israel comprise a unitary “single whole”:  “[God] is unwhole without us. Surely we [the Jewish community, spiritual Israel] without Him are also incomplete….” 8 As indicated by quotes given earlier, God has created His community of souls to be His means of self-knowledge, His divine images, to witness to, or reflect back to Him, His Perfect Being spiritual Presence. In return, the soul’s function is to unfold the ever higher potentials of powers of functioning and experiencing of that Perfect Being Presence, and then as God’s divine image, to reflect that back to God for His limitless ever-greater self-knowledge. When the entire community of receptive souls, or the community of spiritual Israel, performs this function for God, He is provided with ever-grander self-knowledge not only in height or depth, but also in breadth, through each of His soul form-function-potentials. Abiding within the unifying community, being attuned to the energy of true love that keeps the community cohesive and properly attuned to the greater unity or Oneness of God, and acknowledging the essential unity of Torah and reality, does not efface the distinctiveness of each individuality, but, rather, gives it a more meaningful relational context, just as individual alphabetic letters, words, and chapters of Torah naturally exist and have meaning only in their relational context, and not in isolation from one another and from the seamless whole Torah.

 

Thus, statements of this covenant in the Scriptures suggest that God will redeem the soul, meaning that He will restore the soul to its original consciousness before the Fall into illusory divisive knowledge of finite good and evil, if the soul will stand as God’s divine image, by choicelessly acknowledging and living the truth that only God IS, that He is absolute Being, absolute Good, the one infinite, omnipresent, unconditioned Perfect Being, and that there is no other reality being for the soul to know. In other words, the soul’s part of the covenant is that it must undo the cause of its experienced fall, which is desire to know itself as a finite independent being apart from God’s spiritual Presence. That is the pretended choice to know and be a presumed presence or being other than a spiritual form which reflects, or witnesses to, God’s omnipresent unconditioned Perfect Being. Thus, to fulfill its part of the covenant, the soul must choicelessly lovingly unify with God’s absolute Being, keeping His infinite omnipresent Perfect Being Presence before its consciousness all the time, first as a contemplation of God’s nature, and then communing directly with god’s Presence, when that becomes manifest to the soul’s consciousness. Without the continuous consciousness of God’s Presence in these ways, the soul is in knowledge of some other being or presence, which is a denial of the truth that only God IS, and that the soul is God’s divine image. When the soul lovingly unifies its consciousness with God in either of these ways, then in return, God blesses the soul by shining His loving spiritual Glory Light into the soul 9 , which can involve impartations of intuitively derived experiential insights into deeper meanings of Torah or Divinely revealed truth. This essential covenant is stated in various ways in the Torah, and as God’s statement to Abraham, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect.” (Genesis 17:1), in which “walking before God” suggests that the soul is to keep God’s absolute Perfect Being Presence before its consciousness in all of its activities. Only then can God redeem the soul, i.e., fully perfect it as a conscious divine image of God’s spiritual Being. Similarly, in Isa. 44:22, God says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” In the soul’s acknowledgment “there is none else,” meaning there is no other reality presence but God’s, the soul must choicelessly be conscious only of God, which is the soul’s redemption as a divine image of God. Likewise, Prov. 4:25-27 advises the soul to look only to God’s unconditioned Perfect Being, and not to turn away from God in order to acknowledge the relative opposites of finite good and evil as reality presences: “Let thine eyes look right on….straight before thee…Turn not to the right hand or the left: remove thy foot from evil.” Similarly, the Psalmist tells us, “I have set the Lord always before me” (Ps. 16:8). Other statements of this essential covenant include, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace , whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3); “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths (Prov. 3:6); and the statement of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:24, “Know the Lord.” Likewise, the soul is told to acknowledge no other voice but God’s as a reality presence, and, therefore, to choicelessly listen to and obey only His voice, as when God told Moses, “Obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant….and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:5-6), and in Isa. 55:2-3, “hearken diligently unto me….incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live [i.e., awaken to its immortal being nature]; and I will make an everlasting Covenant with you.

 

God’s expectation that the soul listen only to His voice, and not the conceptual-imaginal voice of the ego-personality explains His concern about Adam and Eve listening to a voice other than His: “Who told thee that thou wast naked?” (Gen. 3:11). Numerous passages also suggest that God will redeem, restore, or ascend the soul who acknowledges that He is the only will, power, or doer, e.g., Ps, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not [will or] want….He restores my soul,” as well as Isa. 40:28-31, Zech. 4:6, Ps. 127:1, 138:8. These passages affirm that once the soul has fallen into the presumption or dream of illusory separation from God, it can’t get itself out through its own efforts. Instead, God has to redeem the soul by shining into it His expressed spiritual Glory Light, enhancing the soul’s light of consciousness so that it can reawaken to its intrinsic Oneness with God’s immanent spiritual Presence or Torah, but that can happen only when the soul shows Him that it no longer wants the pretense of independent personal will and self-knowledge, but is willing to be in continuous God consciousness as His divine image, individual idea, perfect reflection, or witness. From this discussion we can now understand the Psalmist’s assertion, “I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Ps. 17:15). He seems to be suggesting that when the soul lives God’s covenant as described here, acknowledging no other reality but God’s absolute Righteousness, i.e., His absolute Goodness, His all-pervading omnipresence, then the soul will awaken from its dream of falling into the knowledge of finite good and evil, and thereby the soul will realize its own inherently fulfilling real identity as God’s divine image.

 

                My view is that the conceptual Torah and the experiential Living Torah are both required, and need to be harmoniously integrated, in the process of bringing the soul to enhanced spiritual enlightenment, divine truth revelation, and eventual full conscious awakening from the Fall, and that they should be viewed as interrelated and interdependent means to that ultimate end. By Living Torah, I am referring to the living Spirit of God, which is the immanent spiritual Love-Light-Life Presence of God to which, at best, the finite written word of the Holy Scriptures metaphorically point. Although the conceptual Torah can be very useful, to a point, it also has its limitations, and by itself alone is not sufficient to bring the soul to full salvation, which requires undoing the soul’s illusory fall into the realm of the conceptual-imaginal shadow presence, so that the soul can commune directly with God’s Living-Loving spiritual Light Presence, which is the Living Torah. As Magid correctly suggests, the abandonment of the written Torah as one’s starting point can lead one away from the truth of the Torah, as he points out in the case of the “unique” and “bizarre” aspects of Lurianic exegesis. 10  Thus, in my view, the great value of the conceptual Torah, if properly utilized (as I will describe later in this article), is that it provides the soul with the essential truth that has to be grasped if the soul is to be fully enlightened, redeemed, or awakened to its conscious immortality of being nature as God’s divine image. To truly grasp the intended truths of the conceptual Torah, as well as their experiential and transformational implications, they must not be merely ritualistically recited by rote, but continuously deeply contemplated, which is an initial means of living the covenant of continuously affirming that only God IS, keeping the mind stayed on God, acknowledging Him in all one’s ways, or lovingly unifying with God via the truths of the conceptual Torah. That is the law or truth of Perfect Being that the soul will delight in contemplating “day and night” (see Ps. 1:2), not the law of finite good and evil, because only the former will convert or redeem the soul (see Ps. 19:7), whereas the latter will retain the soul in the realm of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

 

                Such contemplation of the truths of the conceptual Torah can bring one to a deep understanding and clear conviction or faith in the infinite, omnipresent absolute Reality nature of God’s spiritual Presence. 11  This deep experiential or intuited conviction of the nature of God and the soul’s inherent immortality of being nature helps to diminish identification with the ego as a separate, independent sense of identity, stills the continuous conceptual mind movement of the personal life story daydream, and quiets the soul’s fear that it is losing is real self by diminishing the ego presence. Although this contemplative practice does diminish ego identification, and in doing so, it does bring the soul into greater attunement with God’s will, the soul is not truly “holy as God is holy” as long as the soul is still identified with the ego to any extent. Since the ego conceptually-conditioned sense of self is an opposite shadow of what God’s nature is, its identity, reasoning, and volition are actually basically antithetical to God’s spiritual being, and therefore it inherently lacks true holiness and goodness of being. Therefore, the inclination of one who is identified with the ego will usually be to act in ways consistent with its shadow sense of being, which is why such an individual continues to struggle with unholy inclinations. An inherently unholy being can only pretend to act relatively good, but it cannot change its actual nature by following a behavioral theology as a prescribed code of religious-moral-social conduct. Since something unlike God’s nature can never fully unify with Him as full redemption requires, therefore, the soul identified with the false ego, as a separate sense of self or identity, can never come to full enlightenment or salvation. Regardless of how devotedly an individual follows a code of religious-moral-social conduct, as long as that person is reflecting shadow presence and not God’s spiritual Presence within its consciousness, she or he cannot truly serve as a divine image of God.

 

                Despite the usefulness of the proper contemplation of the conceptual Torah in attenuating the soul’s identification with the ego sense of self, there is also a great danger in holding exclusively to the conceptual written Torah, since doing so keeps the soul’s consciousness in the conceptually-oriented mind, the realm of the conceptual-imaginal shadow presence, and therefore retains the soul’s sense of separation from God’s spirit, which is beyond or greater than all conceptual definitions. Thus, focusing exclusively on the conceptual Torah and acquiring greater amounts of conceptual understanding as finite objects of knowledge with which to fill the soul’s consciousness, such as, thoughts, ideas, presumptions, or conceptual information about the nature of God and the soul’s relationship to God, essentially precludes the soul’s redemption by obstructing ever higher levels of enlightenment and holiness of being from accumulating within the soul’s consciousness via God’s Living Spirit, and, therefore, the soul cannot serve as a fully radiant divine image of god’s full Radiance. It is apparent, then, that one who is truly interested in one’s spiritual redemption must occasionally turn away from conceptually mediated interpretations of God, Torah, or spiritual truth, and ultimately come to directly experience the spiritual Presence of God immanent within the soul, which can take place only through the soul’s direct communion with the Living Torah, unmediated by concepts. Since that spiritual Presence is ever-present, it can become readily detectable to the soul’s consciousness in the heart-center of its being, and will grow more pronounced in the soul, when the soul’s consciousness is still, quiet, or without any self-generated finite conceptual mind movement, which like clouds blocking the sunlight, has prevented the soul’s consciousness from directly experiencing the Living spiritual Presence of God, and letting it intuitively impart its own deeper understandings of Torah into the open, receptive, mind, not cluttered or filled with its own self-initiated thought. Thus, the Psalmist tells the soul, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 4:4). As the Hasidic master Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk put it, “If there are no self-centered thoughts in the mind….but God alone [is kept in the soul’s consciousness] with true self-abandonment, then because God’s glory abides within all created beings, [in that event] God’s Glory is manifested in an individual….” 12  

 

                I have already indicated that many statements in the Scriptures of God’s covenant with the Israelites involve dropping all conceptual-imaginal self-knowledge in order to continuously keep the consciousness focused on God’s infinite omnipresent spiritual Presence. Similar, Prov. 3:5-7 advises the soul to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thine ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes.” This suggests that in addition to turning away from personal conceptual understanding in the spiritual growth process, the soul must not rely on the personal sense of self at all for its redemption, because that would reinforce the belief that the individuality is a reality presence apart from God. The Scriptures likewise provide support that the soul cannot come to God while retaining a belief in one’s personal sense of will-power, which denies God as the Almighty God (Gen. 17:1), the only reality might, will, or power. Thus, we are told, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want [i.e., express personal will]….He leads me….He restores my soul (Ps. 23); “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6); and “They that wait upon the Lord….shall mount up with wings as eagles” (Isa. 40:31). All of these passages suggest that if the soul is to be redeemed, it has to, at least occasionally, drop all expressions of self-generated thought and let the Divine Beloved Author of Torah intuitively impart its own insights into one’s open, receptive, non-reactive, uncluttered mind and heart. That state of uncluttered receptivity, involving the willingness to be without any predetermined interpretations of Torah, is how we become open to impartations of the Living Torah, the spiritual Presence of God, discerned through the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) of intuition, as if “reading between the lines” of the written text of Torah.  Just as loving communion with another person enables us to intuitively, empathically, develop an experiential understanding of them, which can sometimes move beyond their explicit verbal or written communications, similarly, our loving attunement to certain subtler, or relatively less tangible aspects of Torah can gradually lead from relatively detached conceptual interpretations to relatively more experiential, intimate modes of understanding, like the quieter “still small voice” that followed the more dramatic and tangible wind, earthquake, and fire (I Kings 19:12). If, via one’s personal will, one tries to direct one’s own path to God, thereby presuming to be a reality presence, will-power, and intelligence apart from God, then God’s spiritual Presence is blocked from intervening and bringing the soul to salvation.

 

Attempting to know God’s presence exclusively through conceptually-mediated experience also prevents the soul from experiencing the great grandeur of God’s radiant spiritual Glory Presence directly (as well as preventing its salvation by reawakening from the dream of the Fall), because self-generated finite words and ideas about the spiritual Reality are merely dead shadows and cannot truly capture that truly living spiritual Presence. Just as reading a menu can’t satisfy the stomach’s hunger, the conceptual Torah alone can’t satisfy the soul’s hunger for direct spiritual experience. One cannot expect to end up in unification with an infinite spiritual Presence by accumulating finite knowledge about it; these are simply two different realities. Just as no words can truly capture the experience of eating an orange, but, rather, to fully appreciate the experience, one has to taste an orange for oneself, so, too, the spiritual Presence of God can’t be captured with finite words, but has to be experienced directly to be fully appreciated. That is why the scriptures tell the soul, “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8), and “Truly the light is sweet” (Eccles. 11:7). Experiencing that spiritual Glory Light-Life Presence for oneself is the only means by which the soul can truly come to discover the nature of spiritual Truth, the Living Torah, the Living Torah. Along these same lines, since finite words can’t really do justice to God’s infinite Being, the only proper acknowledgment of His grandeur is through silent communion with God’s Presence. Heschel suggests this same idea when he notes that silence is the only real praise of God.” 13

 

                Therefore, even in this contemplation of the conceptual Torah, we must leave room for the spiritual Light, the Living Torah, to provide greater enlightenment of the Scripture. Contemplation must be approached with openness, without pre-commitment to any particular understanding or interpretation, but rather, waiting for an inspired, spiritually illumined revelation or understanding of the Scripture to be given by God’s spiritual Light. This is suggested by II Sam. 22:29, “For thou art my lamp, O Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness” (see also Ps. 119:105). Proper contemplation of the conceptual Torah, leading to the faith in the truth of God’s omnipresence and the soul as His divine image, which quiets conceptual-imaginal mind-movement within the soul’s consciousness, can bring the soul only as far as the state of pure conscious awareness, pure being, the soul’s unconditioned mind, or what has been referred to as the state of ayin. 14  This state of ayin is an intermediate state, in which the soul’s consciousness is empty of all self-generated conceptual objects of knowledge, but not yet consciously aware of God’s spiritual Presence or the Living Torah. Nevertheless, in the state of ayin, when the soul is no longer witnessing to its own self-image, but now holding itself to be a divine image of God’s unconditioned Perfect Being already, then the Living Torah can unobstructedly shine into the soul’s consciousness and gradually accumulate there, illuminating the truths of the conceptual Torah, and ultimately bringing the soul to full redemption, conscious awakening as a divine image of God’s unconditioned Perfect Being.

 

                Although initially that spiritual Presence is so pure and subtle that the soul cannot consciously detect it, gradually it accumulates more substantially in the soul’s consciousness, displacing and replacing the shadow presence in the individual’s consciousness, and growing ever more radiant as a spiritual Light, Life energy, and Loving-Warmth presence, until eventually it reaches the threshold of consciousness. The soul is now capable of experiencing or tasting of God’s spiritual Glory directly, unmediated by the veil of conceptualization and imagination; it can have its own direct taste of experience of the goodness of God’s spiritual Presence; “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). Attracted by that initial “sweet” taste of God’s spiritual Glory Light (Eccles. 11:7), now the soul may engage in silent prayer, direct silent communion or unification with God’s Spirit, His expressed spiritual Glory Light-Life-Love Presence, the heavenly Torah or the living Torah, which is referred to in Ps. 27:1 as “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” This is what God calls the new covenant, and His pronouncement, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts….for they shall all know me” (Jer. 31:33-34), suggests that God is not satisfied with souls relating to Him through a veil of conceptualization, but now wants all souls to commune with His Living Torah directly, in the innermost heart or center of the soul’s consciousness, without obstructing conceptual clouds in the mind. Just as the sweetness of delicious food is first attractively mediated by sight and aroma, and then more directly experienced through actually tasting the food, as a process of unitive incorporation of the food into oneself, similarly, conceptual study of the explicit written text of Torah gradually leads to intuitive experiential communion with subtler, implicit, aspects of Torah, as if the attractiveness of the outer surface of Torah were  a sign, signal, bridge, or launching pad, pointing to a deeper level of sweetness of the inner flavor abiding within and beyond it. As the spiritual Light accumulates ever more in the soul’s consciousness through the soul’s loving silent communion with it, it enlightens the soul’s consciousness at quantitatively ever higher levels, ultimately bringing it to the vibrational speed of absolute Light, full Enlightenment, full transfiguration, which is the qualitative transformation of the soul’s consciousness, the ignition of the soul, so that it is now transformed from a spiritual spark to a flame of god’s fully radiant spiritual Substance. Thus the soul is liberated from its identification with the ego’s conceptually-derived finite mortal sense of self, fully restored to the consciousness of its oneness with God’s spiritual substance, which is its full transcendence of the ego personal life story daydream and reawakening to its full transcendence of the ego personal life story daydream and reawakening to its full consciousness of God’s absolute Reality spiritual Presence, which is the soul’s full redemption, full atonement (at-one-ment), immersion, or unification with God’s heavenly spiritual Substance, which is the soul’s inherent full holiness or wholeness of being, its absolute Love-Happiness, its inherent divine fulfillment or fullness of being, and consciousness of its immortality of divine being, as the fully radiant Divine Image form of God’s IAM. The implications of this process are very important to consider, not only in terms of ever higher ascension into God’s heavenly spiritual Substance as a fully radiant divine image of it, i.e., ever higher levels of holiness of being, ever greater levels of spiritual enlightenment, divine truth revelation, ever higher levels of spiritual Life energy and Loving-Warmth, soaring the soul ever higher, like on wings of eagles (see Isa. 40:31), but also in terms of what the accumulating spiritual Glory Presence can produce in the soul as limitlessly ever greater powers of functioning in the world, ever higher spiritual grandeur experiencing, as well as corresponding material provisions in the world, making the experience of the objective world more akin to the Garden of Eden as it was created to be.” 15

 

                This spiritual growth process fulfills the function for which God created the soul, which is to provide Him with self-knowledge through spiritual Israel, His collective divine image. It provides the means by which the House of Israel will become a “Kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” (Ex. 19:6), witness to God’s radiant Spiritual Glory for all the world to see (see Isa. 43:7, 9-10), because until the soul is fully enlightened, fully inflamed, the soul is not a true divine image of God’s spiritual Substance. The House of Israel will serve as the Light unto the Gentiles (see Isa. 42:6, 60:3), attracting all souls to God’s spiritual Glory. Once other souls see the superior glory as ever more glorified “trees of righteousness” (Isa. 61:3), i.e., with no shadow, evil, error, wrongness, or ungoodness inherent in the soul at all, that will be the means by which the whole world is eventually brought into the House of Israel and lives the covenant with God, is fully redeemed, and becomes part of spiritual Israel as the collective divine image of God. This gives God a truly whole, holy divine image, so that He has limitless self-knowledge not only in infinite depth or height, but also in breadth of form. Scripture suggests that God needs all souls as part of His divine image, which is why He says, All souls are mine” (Ezek. 18:4), and why He is interested in the salvation of all souls (Isa. 43:22).

 

                This great truth to be found in the conceptual Torah, as shown through the sample of passages I have quoted throughout this article, is very obvious to one who reads the scriptures with openness to grasping that truth. God Himself says, “I have not spoken in secret;” this truth has been available “from ancient time” (Isa. 45:19,21; 48:16). However, most individuals haven’t grasped or accepted this truth of the true nature of God, the soul, and the true nature of God’s covenant with His chosen people, because they have a conscious or unconscious precommitment to preserving the conceptually-created ego identity as a self-styled god in its own right, with a conceptually-presumed independent will, voice, intelligence, and identity. This precommitment, which requires the belief in finite good and evil objects of knowledge as being presumed reality life presences in their own right, apart from God, presents openness to seeing the truth of God’s absolute Reality nature as infinite, omnipresent, unconditioned Perfect Being.  It therefore suits their purposes to believe that God’s law is a law of finite good and evil, which reinforces the belief in finite good and evil as a reality, rather than a law of infinite, omnipresent Perfect Being (see Ps. 19:7), in which God is the One, absolute Being, the absolute Reality, the soul is a divine image or spiritual idea form of Him, and the Torah is intuitively understood in holistic terms, as a reflection of God’s indivisible Oneness of Being, in contrast to conceptual interpretations of Torah that often tend to be more fragmentary, composite, superficial, and complex.  

 

                The conceptual study of Torah, or of any other edifying text, is meant to eventually point beyond itself as a bridge or link to the direct intuitive experience of deeper levels of reality that abide beyond the grasp of self-generated thought, familiar beliefs, prescribed codified precepts, tangible sensations, historical memory, and traditional narratives, and thereby permit the infinite Divine Mystery of Being that exceeds all finite delimited definitions and predetermined patterns of thinking, feeling, volition, and behavior to gradually lead us beyond the boundaries of what we, and our extended religious community, already know, or presume to know. Just as a good musician intuitively knows when to follow the written musical notations, when to follow the conductor of the orchestra or choir, and when to improvise by following the unpredictable flow of their own heartfelt inspiration, similarly, a religious believer or spiritual seeker who sincerely wishes to connect to the Divine Reality, Divine Music, or Divine Intelligence seeking to communicate and disclose Itself through Torah or other sacred texts that we study must be open to intuitively discerning and following subtle cues that are trying to lead us beyond the scope of what is already familiar or known to us, to a greater level of insight and transformational development. If we are overly committed to retaining our own familiar, predetermined, patterns of thinking, feeling, volition, and behavior, we thereby restrict God or the Spiritual Reality from leading us into new “territory,” expanded horizons, or higher levels of insight and more exalted perspectives, so to speak. This brings to mind Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The conceptual study of Torah, or other religiously or spiritually oriented texts, can serve to initially attune the human psyche to the Divine or Spiritual Reality communicating with us through those texts, but then we must gradually learn to follow subtler cues if we are to be led beyond what we already know or believe to the Great Mystery Source or Author of that revelation. Like a good treasure map, architectural blueprint, GPS, compass, magnet, or other homing device, the conceptual study of Torah is meant to gradually point us beyond itself, and beacon us to intuitively follow the experiential trail of our own journey of inner development Home to the Source that is gradually attracting us to itself through subtle cues, such as the “scent” or aroma of its sublime sweetness of being, the inner fountain of blessing or wellspring of living waters, or the joyful music of our own heart and soul. Like Dorothy and her companions following the Yellow Brick Road to the Wizard of Oz, we need to follow the often unpredictable, relative unstructured, winding trail of our own intuition, integrity, and inspiration, from moment to moment, if we are to develop greater levels of insight and ultimately be led home to the Source of that unfolding trail of glory.

 

There is a collective fear, which arises from the ego shadow self, but not from the soul, that contact with God’s spiritual substance will consume the soul, or negate its distinctive individuality, as expressed, e.g., in Ex. 20:19 and Jud. 13:22. This fear is totally unfounded, a mistaken presumption, because the soul is a less bright, grosser, more manifest form, image, or idea of God’s spiritual Glory Substance, and therefore inviolate, even in its full immersion in that spiritual Substance.  God’s radiant spiritual substance is the spiritual flame that doesn’t consume the fully transfigured soul (Mal. 3:6; Ex. 3:2). It does consume, or purify the soul of, the impurities of ego conceptual knowledge within the soul’s consciousness, but the soul itself endures as a unique spiritual form of God’s spiritual Substance, and forever serves its function of providing God with ever greater self-knowledge of His spiritual Glory nature.  “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal. 3:6). Since God is changeless absolute Being, and the soul is a form of Him, the soul, too, must be changelessly preserved in God’s absolute Being.

 

However, Scripture suggests that what Jews should legitimately be fearing is not devotedly living the truth and the covenant that God has explicitly made known through the Scriptures. God Himself has expressed great unhappiness with the Jewish people’s commitment to witnessing the separate ego identity and its belief in the divisive reality of finite good and evil, thereby denying God as the one and only Reality Presence, as well as their failure to live His Covenant devotedly, despite the availability of this truth even within the conceptual Torah (see, e.g., throughout Mal., esp. 3:7). Rather than continuing to blame God for its suffering in the world, the soul must acknowledge that through the creation of its own separate sense of personal self, its own self-defined identity, its own self-generated conceptual-imaginal voice, and divorcing itself from God’s spiritual blessing Glory Substance, the soul is actually responsible for creating its own suffering, and that only the choiceless acceptance of God’s truth will liberate the soul.

 

Jer. 31:31-34 strongly suggests that to move away from focusing exclusively upon the written conceptual Torah is not a movement away from the essence of Judaism. In that passage, God says clearly that the new covenant that He has made with the house of spiritual Israel is one in which souls will commune directly with the Living Torah, His immanent spiritual Presence, “In their inward parts….their hearts,” meaning the soul’s unconditioned mind, or pure conscious awareness, in the heart-center of the soul’s being, not in the conceptually-conditioned mind of the ego-personality. Since the suggestion is that only those who live this new covenant can be considered the true Israelites, the true seeds of Abraham, i.e., those who truly acknowledge and choicelessly obey only God’s voice, not the voice of the conceptual-imaginal ego-personality, therefore, there is a great need in Judaism to develop a deep understanding of how to integrate the conceptual Torah and Living Torah in Jewish spiritual practice so that individuals may most expeditiously grow in real spiritual experience toward full redemption and full transfiguration. Apparently, in these times, large numbers of Jews are even willing to abandon Judaism in order to find the real spiritual experience that they seek, so it also seems apparent that if Judaism is to survive at all as a meaningful religion, and retain its most highly gifted and spiritually receptive young people who have an inner hunger for real spiritual experience, enlightenment, genuine redemption, and actualization of the soul’s inherent limitless ever greater spiritual potentials, then Judaism must provide such a process that leads to direct spiritual experience as an alternative to the exclusively conceptual approach to Judaism that many Jewish thinkers, rabbis, and educators are currently offering.  As Arthur Green notes, eighty-five percent of Jews have turned away from committed traditional Jewish practice, including many Jewish spiritual seekers whom Green suggests are expressing disenchantment with traditional Judaism because it doesn’t provide spiritual experience. 16

 

Given the current trend of mass departure of Jews from Judaism, there clearly is a great need to develop a vision for Jewish spiritual renewal that is grounded in a well-articulated, meaningful, and useful process for achieving inspirational, transformational spiritual experience, spiritual growth, and spiritual redemption. I am hopeful that this article will serve as a stimulus to Jewish educators, philosophers, rabbis, and other leaders who want to truly serve God’s will and the Jewish people, and who want to contribute to bringing about the fulfillment of God’s desire for the community of spiritual Israel to actualize its greatest spiritual potentials, so that it may serve as a holy community, a spiritual beacon established on earth, as a “light to all other nations.” It is time now for all of us to sing unto the Lord a truly new song. (Ps. 96:1).

 

References

 

 

 

  1. Shaul Magid, “From Theosophy to Midrash: Lurianic Exegesis on Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden,” Postmodern Jewish Philosophy Network, 4(2) (June, 1995), 16.

  2. Abraham J. Heschel, Man is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion (NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1951), 117-18.

  3. See, e.g., Dov Baer, Maggid Devarav le Ya’aqov, Rivka Schatz-Uffenheimer, ed. (Jerusalem: Magnes Press of the Hebrew University, 1976), 124, and 197-198. Cf. Shneur Zalman, “Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah,” Chapter 3 in Tanya (New York: Kehot Publishers, 1981), 293. Cf. Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev, Kedushat Levi  (Bnei Brak: Heikhal ha-Sefer, no date), 47B-48A

  4. Arthur Green, “Judaism for the Post-Modern Era,” The Samuel H. Goldenson Lecture (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Dec. 12, 1994), 12.

  5. Lewis Newman, Hasidic Anthology, 427, quoting Mikhal of Zlotchov in Chaim Bloch, Priester der Leibe (Vienna, 1930), 84.

  6. Shneur Zalman, Tanya, 93.

  7. Green, “Judaism,” 12.

  8. Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl, Upright Practices, The Light of the Eyes. Arthur Green, trans. (New York: Paulist Press, 1982), 92.

  9. Ibid., 92-93.

  10. Magid, “Lurianic Exegesis,” 12, 15.

  11. Nathan Kuperstok, “Extended Consciousness and Hasidic Thought,” in Mystics and Medics, ed., Reuven P. Bulka (New York: Human Sciences Press, 1979), 92, quoting Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Tanya (Vol. 1), trans. N. Mindel (Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1965), 192.

  12. Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk, Sefer Pri ha-Aretz. (New York: Israel Wolf, 1954), 43.

  13. Abraham Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism. (New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 1955), 123.

  14. Daniel Matt, “Ayin: The Concept of Nothingness in Jewish Mysticism,”  in The Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy, ed. Robert K.C. Forman (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 139. Cf. Dov Baer, Maggid Deverav, 186.

  15. Elimelekh of Lizhensk, No’am Elimelekh, ed. Gidaliah Nigal. (Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Kook, 1978), 4-5.

  16. Green, “Judaism,” 3,4,11.

 

 

 

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Charismatic Leadership and Appeal in Early Hasidism

 

Charismatic Leadership and Appeal in Early Hasidism

 

Hammer, Barry J.

 

Graduate Theological Union, 1992

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 1993 by Hammer, Barry J. All rights reserved

 

UMI

 

300 N. Zeeb Rd.

 

Ann Arbor, MI 48106

 

disspub@proquest.com

 

Order Number  9305977

 

 

 

DISSERTATION ABSTRACT

 

Charismatic Leadership and Appeal in Early Hasidism

 

Barry J. Hammer

 

 

 

            This dissertation explicates the roles and charismatic appeal of the early Hasidic master, as well as illuminating elements of the Hasidic master-disciple relationship that have been overlooked until now. Subtle aspects of the zaddik’s (variant transliteration: zaddiq’s) roles and charismatic appeal are examined, including a process of direct, nonverbal  transmission of radiant spiritual energy between the Hasidic master and his disciple. This radiance and the establishment of a concomitant state of communion between the zaddik and his followers are found to be the underlying source of each of the zaddik’s basic roles and of his corresponding forms of charismatic appeal. A process of maturational development of consciousness is posited as an explanation for the appearance of this radiance.

 

                This dissertation develops a continuum of charismatic leaders from most psychologically constructive to most non-constructive, which is tied to the degree to which the influence of radiance or of ego-related factors are dominant in a particular leader’s charismatic appeal. Additional support for this continuum is provided from literature on the phenomenon of charismatic leadership outside of Hasidism. That discussion demonstrates that radiance is a fundamental element in the appeal of charismatic leaders in all major world religions, and it provides a deeper understanding of the dynamic of “delusion-collusion” existing between narcissistic or ego-oriented leaders and followers. Potential psychological and social dangers of fusion of radiant energy with the prideful ego are discussed.  The theoretical model of charisma that is presented in this dissertation also integrates the existing theories of charisma of Weber and Freud, and attempts to devise a more comprehensive theory of charisma that would be applicable to Hasidic zaddikim [plural] and various other types of charismatic leaders.

 

CONTENTS

 

 

 

Abstract………………………………………………………………………………………………………….i

 

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………..1

 

Chapter 1: Literature Review: Charismatic

 

                     Leadership in early Hasidism………………………………………………………..10

 

Chapter 2: Literature Review: Theories of Charisma……………………………………….66

 

Chapter 3: A Hasidic Model of the Zaddik’s Charismatic  Appeal…………………….130

 

        Part 1: Introductory remarks…………………………………………………………………….130

 

        Part 2: Types of Zaddiqim………………………………………………………………………….133

 

        Part 3: The Zaddiq’s Mission……………………………………………………………………..147

 

        Part 4: Thaumaturgical Role………………………………………………………………………154

 

                     A: Protection From Persecution…………………………………………………….154

 

                     B: Intercessor with God…………………………………………………………………158

 

                     C: Material Sustenance………………………………………………………………..160

 

                     D: Healing and Perfection Realization…………………………………………..169

 

                     E: The Purpose of Material Blessings…………………………………………….182

 

        Part 5: Teaching Role………………………………………………………………………………..187

 

        Part 6: Counseling…………………………………………………………………………………….203

 

         Part 7: Fostering Communitas………………………………………………………………….211

 

                    A: The Master/Disciple Relationship……………………………………………….211

 

                    B: The Hasidic Community……………………………………………………………….216

 

          Part 8: Model of Holiness………………………………………………………………………….221

 

          Part 9: Direct Transmission of Spiritual Energy………………………………………….244

 

          Part 10: The Zaddik’s Radiance…………………………………………………………………..259

 

          Part 11: A Continuum of Different Kinds of Charismatic Appeal…………………275

 

          Part 12: Redemption of Sinners………………………………………………………………….282

 

          Part 13: Zaddikim Who Fell Short of the Hasidic Ideal………………………………..302

 

          Part 14: Final Remarks…………………………………………………………………………………336

 

Chapter 4: The Continuum of Charismatic Leaderships

 

                    Outside of Hasidism……………………………………………………………………………352

 

           Part 1: Ego Charisma Outside of Hasidism…………………………………………………..355

 

           Part 2: Radiance Charisma Outside of Hasidism…………………………………………..433

 

           Part 3: A Maturational Model of Radiance Charisma………………………………….459

 

Chapter 5: Conclusions………………………………………………………………………………………….491

 

           Part 1: Summary of the Findings………………………………………………………………….491

 

           Part 2: The Self-Sacrificial Character of the Ideal Zaddik……………………………..502

 

             Part 3: Deprivation: A Unifying Theoretical Model………………………………………506

 

             Part 4: Implications for the Study of Charisma…………………………………………….516

 

             Part 5: Recommendations for Future Research…………………………………………..525

 

     Afterword……………………………………………………………………………………………………………528

 

     Notes…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..542

 

      Bibliography………………………………………………………………………………………………………..597       

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

                In this section, the reader will be introduced to the thesis statement, and will be shown how the thesis statement came to be derived. Then, the value of this research and the decision to undertake it will be discussed. Lastly, the reader will be shown how the findings that support the thesis have led to the development of additional sections of this dissertation research.

 

                The basic thesis of this dissertation is as follows:

 

                The charismatic appeal of the early Hasidic master was essentially related to his roles within the Hasidic community, as well as how his followers perceived those roles as meeting certain of their needs. Since zaddikim engaged in a variety of interrelated roles and met various needs, their charismatic appeal was also multifaceted. Each of the zaddik’s major roles contributed to his being perceived by followers as someone who was close to God and who was therefore gifted with the ability to meet their needs in an optimal manner.

 

                The preliminary examination of early Hasidic teachings dealing with the zaddik’s leadership revealed that the zaddik’s charismatic appeal was not homogenous in nature, because various types of zaddikim and various kinds of followers with differing needs exist. Further examination of Hasidic texts, Hasidic legends, and available historiographical information established that the charismatic appeal of Hasidic zaddikim was typically derived  from the perception of divinely gifted or godly qualities in them, which varied as a function of the various roles in which zaddikim engaged, the way in which different types of followers perceived those roles and the zaddik’s divinely gifted qualities as meeting their differing needs, as well as the diverse styles of leadership that were practiced by various types of zaddikim.  For example, the zaddik’s role as a teacher of Torah or spiritual truth enabled him to be perceived as having divinely inspired wisdom with which to facilitate followers’ spiritual approach; his role in counseling individual followers was viewed as manifesting divinely inspired qualities of clairvoyance, empathy, and compassion, and involved addressing followers’ social, emotional, and financial needs as well as their spiritual concerns, while God was also viewed as the source of the zaddik’s thaumaturgical powers, which he employed in meeting followers’ material needs. Thus it becomes apparent that each of the zaddik’s roles was perceived as meeting different kinds of needs in followers and as evidencing different divinely gifted qualities, and therefore gave rise to a distinctive type of charismatic appeal.

 

                One of the major reasons for undertaking this research was to clarify the rapid spread of the early Hasidic movement among large sectors of the Eastern European Jewish population, and the remarkable transformation impact that zaddikim had upon many of their followers and upon Jewish civilization, as those achievements were related to the zaddik’s charismatic leadership and appeal.  Since the zaddik plays a central role in Hasidic spirituality and social life, this dissertation research sheds light on other important aspects of the Hasidic ethos in clarifying the master-disciple relationship in early Hasidism, especially during the period from approximately 1750-1815. Related issues that are illuminated through this research include the basic conception of God, Torah, the metaphysical significance of the Jewish community, as well as worship as it relates to the fulfillment of formal religious obligations and to the hallowing of everyday earthly life.

 

                This research examines a number of fundamental aspects of the zaddik’s roles as a charismatic leader that have not received adequate attention until now. For example, this is the first study to examine the zaddik’s direct, nonverbal transmission of radiance to his followers, the practice of interpersonal communion as an essential factor in each of the zaddik’s basic roles and corresponding forms of charismatic appeal, the importance of the zaddik’s tone of voice and other subliminal factors in winning the people’s confidence, as well as the zaddik’s ability to transmit healings and material sustenance to followers through his realization of their true spiritual nature as being included within God’s omnipresent perfect being. Furthermore, previous studies have failed to adequately examine the zaddik’s basic sense of mission as a Hasidic leader, and have not addressed differences between various types of zaddikim in the depth and detail that is discussed in this dissertation. The examination of the zaddik’s sense of mission in this research is intended to clarify what he was trying to accomplish with his community of followers through each of his major roles, which should also lead to a better understanding of some of the basic social and spiritual objectives of the early Hasidic movement.

 

                This dissertation research also has important implications for other fields such as Jewish Studies, the History of Religions, and the study of charismatic leadership. The examination of the zaddik’s role in revitalizing Jewish religious tradition and Jewish society has led to findings that can contribute to a new understanding of issues related to Jewish intellectual and social history, as well as to the comparative study of revitalization movements in the History of Religions. Similarly, the examination of factors involved in the zaddik’s charismatic leadership and appeal  is applicable to the study of other forms of charismatic religious leadership, as demonstrated in chapter four, especially as it clarifies the importance of radiance and of ego-related factors in charismatic appeal. The discussion of the zaddik’s use of interpersonal communion and of direct transmission of radiance as a means of facilitating followers’ spiritual growth may lead to a new understanding of comparable practices employed by non-Jewish spiritual masters in directing their disciples.

 

                The integration of Freud’s and Weber’s model of charisma along with a single continuum in this dissertation is likely to provoke fruitful discussion among social scientists in the field of charismatic leadership, including those who may disagree with the theoretical model presented here. A related issue that is clarified in chapter four of the dissertation is the question as to whether the perception of charisma is always essentially a matter of projection, as Freud would have it, or whether some individuals actually have the extraordinary, “divinely gifted” qualities that are imputed to them, as Weber’s notion of pure charisma suggests. The extensive evidence provided in that chapter for the likelihood that radiance and other radiance-based charismatic qualities actually exist as inherent potentials of the psyche that can be actualized through a maturational development of consciousness has important implications for the scientific study of human potential, as discussed in chapters four and five.

 

                The possibility of clarifying some of these issues was a significant factor in the decision to undertake this research on the topic of the charismatic leadership of the early Hasidic master. Since few other bodies of literature in the History of Religions or in the social sciences present such extensive information on the relationship between recognized spiritual masters and their disciples, or on the nature of the charismatic appeal of religious leaders, examination of Hasidic texts that discuss the nature of the ideal zaddik and of historiographical information on the actual leadership of Hasidic zaddikim seemed essential to addressing these kinds of questions.

 

                The findings of this research have provided extensive support for the thesis that the charismatic appeal of Hasidic zaddikim was related to meeting different needs of their followers through the various leadership roles in which they engaged. It was shown that each of the zaddik’s major roles contributed to his being perceived as a divinely inspired, divinely gifted redeemer of the entire Jewish people and/or of individual Jews.

 

                A presence of radiant energy within the zaddik was found to be the essential factor underlying each of the divinely gifted, charismatically attractive qualities that were perceived in the zaddik, such as his quasi-prophetic wisdom, his clairvoyant abilities, his thaumaturgical powers, and his extraordinary level of vitality. Since Hasidic teachings maintain that God is the source of the zaddik’s radiance, it became clear that the charismatically attractive quality of that radiance was primarily derived from its being viewed as tangible evidence that the zaddik was a holy man of God, a living reflection of God’s radiance-based qualities on earth.  However, this radiant energy also seemed to have the ability to merge with influences of the ego identity or lower self, producing various kinds of negative expressions in some zaddikim, such as forms of megalomania and other psychopathological tendencies. This finding led to the formulation of a continuum of charismatic leadership within Hasidism, which is a theoretical model that provides a way of understanding how zaddikim apparently differed in the degree to which their motivation and charismatic appeal were associated with the radiant presence, versus the degree to which it was influenced by the ego. This continuum presupposes that the degree of identification with, and influence by, radiance in charismatic leaders is inversely proportional to the degree of influence by ego-related factors. Hasidic teachings and mystics of various other religious traditions typically associate the manifestation of radiance in spiritual masters with ego-transcendent states of consciousness, as demonstrated in chapters three and four of this dissertation. Since charismatic leaders (be they religious or secular) are often known to bring out the best and/or the worst in large groups of people, and since charismatic leaders have had an enormous impact on the world in the twentieth century, it seemed vital to devise a way of distinguishing between psychologically constructive and non-constructive forms of charismatic leadership, as has been attempted through the proposed continuum of radiance and ego-related factors in charismatic leaders.

 

                The plausibility of the continuum was tested by examining the charismatic appeal of various kinds of non-Hasidic religious leaders to see whether their charismatic appeal was also influenced by radiance and/or by the same ego-related factors that were held to be operative in the charismatic appeal of Hasidic zaddikim.  That examination determined that radiance is in fact an essential factor in the charismatic appeal of recognized spiritual masters in all major religious traditions of the world, and the discussion of non-Hasidic charismatic leaders also provided an opportunity to present the bottom end of the continuum, i.e., the most extreme non-constructive, egocentric type of charismatic leader that is not found in Hasidism itself, since even zaddikim who had egregious shortcomings were still basically constructive in their relationship with their followers. Thus the discussion of non-Hasidic leaders demonstrated that both extreme ends of the continuum are in fact prevalent among various kinds of charismatic leaders, which provides additional support for the plausibility of the continuum as a way of explaining the charismatic appeal of various kinds of Hasidic zaddikim, as well as establishing the generalized applicability of the findings related to the zaddik’s charismatic appeal as a way of understanding the charismatic appeal of other kinds of leaders.

 

                Since radiance was found to be an essential factor in the perception of charismatically attractive, godlike qualities in recognized spiritual masters of the major religious traditions of the world, and since it was demonstrated that radiance can be aroused in disciples or directly transmitted to them by such a spiritual master, it was concluded that radiance is an innate potential of the psyche that all human beings have the capacity to actualize, although only a few attain a noticeable level of radiance. A process of maturational development of consciousness was proposed as a means by which the potential for radiance-charisma and the extraordinary qualities that that involves are actualized in human beings, which was found to be consistent with the teachings of mystics in various religions. One of the basic objectives of this dissertation research has been to clarify the nature and source of charisma so that higher human potentials that are perceived in charismatic leaders might be better understood and more effectively actualized.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS

 

  1. CONCLUSIONS

 

My thesis has been that the charismatic appeal of the early Hasidic master was essentially related to the roles in which he engaged in order to fulfill the various actual needs of his followers. This has been validated with evidence drawn from Hasidic homiletical writings and legends, and available historiographical sources. It has been shown that the Hasidic model of the ideal zaddik as a provider of material abundance, emotional upliftment, social renewal, and spiritual fulfillment coincided with the needs of a large proportion of Eastern European Jewry to a remarkable extent. The introductory literature on Hasidism established that Hasidic zaddikim presented themselves and were perceived by many of their followers as divinely appointed rescuers of the Jewish people and of individual Jews from a multifaceted, overwhelming state of crisis that imperiled their physical survival, social cohesion, emotional morale, and spiritual strength. Chapter three examined a variety of specific ways in which Hasidic zaddikim were perceived as successfully meeting the people’s material, social, emotional, and spiritual needs.

 

        Each of the basic roles of the ideal zaddik contributed in some way to meeting his followers’ needs and therefore contributed to his charismatic appeal. Historiographical evidence confirms, as we have seen, that at least some zaddikim did engage in each of the basic roles that Hasidic homiletical writings attributed to the ideal zaddik,  although it was also shown that not all zaddikim were completely successful in fulfilling those functions, and that a number of zaddikim are known to have fallen short of the Hasidic ideal by manifesting egregious egocentric tendencies.

 

        The discussion of the Hasidic model of the ideal zaddik also examined the basic sense of mission that early Hasidic homiletical writings attributed to the zaddik: his responsibility to serve as a bridge or connecting link between God and the people through each of his basic roles, thereby enabling God and the people to find fulfillment and wholeness of being in and through one another. Hasidic teachings describe zaddikim as performing some of the same basic roles in different ways. Whereas some zaddikim relied almost exclusively on petitionary prayer and thaumaturgical powers as a way of meeting followers’ material needs, others combined a thaumaturgical approach with contemplating God’s omnipresent perfect being as a way of enabling the people to share in His unlimited abundance of good. Hasidic writings describe zaddikim as employing various means of bringing followers to a higher spiritual level, such as teaching Torah or spiritual truth, serving as a model of Torah or attunement to God’s nature and will in all aspects of one’s earthly existence, counseling Hasidim on an individual basis, as well as directly transmitting radiant spiritual energy to receptive disciples. Each zaddik was believed to fulfill these various roles in a distinctive manner and to provide his followers with a uniquely distinctive path to God, in accordance with the specific root-origin of his soul and that of his followers.

 

        Hasidic teachings intimate that in some cases, direct transmission of spiritual energy may be accomplished through nonverbal means, in the same manner that one candle ignites another. As followers grow in their communion capacity, the zaddik is able to place greater emphasis upon subtler roles that require a more substantial degree of perceptiveness on the part of the followers, but which are likely to produce a more substantial degree of spiritual growth in them.

 

        Hasidic teachings associate each of the roles involved in the zaddik’s service of his followers and in his charismatic appeal with a radiant energy with which he is purportedly filled. Hasidic writings maintain that this radiance has a divine source, and that the zaddik transmits a subdued degree of it to his followers, in the same manner that sunshine conveys some of the sun’s light and warmth to earth at a reduced level of intensity that it can safely endure. The radiant energy is identified by Hasidic homiletical writings as being the source of each of the zaddik’s charismatically attractive qualities, such as, his extraordinary vitality, his warmth, spiritual love and joy, awe-inspiring appearance, clairvoyant powers, wisdom, as well as underlying each of the basic roles through which the zaddik meets his followers’ needs.

 

        The ideal zaddik’s ability to transmit some of his radiant energy to followers and to thereby meet their material and spiritual needs is related to his establishing a state of communion with them and with God, so that a degree of that radiance might flow from the Shekhinah, God’s hypostasized presence, through him to the people.  Hasidic writings emphasize the zaddik’s ability to successfully fulfill each of his basic roles and to meet his followers’ corresponding needs is significantly enhanced when they are able and willing to enter into such a state of non-dualistic communion with him, which enables them to link to God.

 

        This Hasidic model coincides with the testimony of a number of eye-witnesses, most of whom had no prior affiliation with zaddikim or with the Hasidic movement, but who maintained that they had seen radiance in a particular zaddik, and in some cases were charismatically attracted to him because of it.  As we have noted, the credibility of these reports is enhanced by the likelihood that individuals who were not already followers of the zaddik, and who in a number of cases are known to have previously been unfavorably disposed towards him, would have had no reason to report seeing radiance if it were not actually being manifested by him.

 

        Hasidic zaddikim and charismatic leaders outside of Hasidism apparently vary along a continuum, in terms of the degree to which their motivations and charismatic appeal are influenced by this radiant energy, which Hasidic writings associate with transcendence of ego or of separate, independent personal identity and will, versus the extent of influence by ego-related factors, especially idealized, grandiose qualities of the ego that Freud terms the “ego-ideal image.”  Support for this proposed continuum of degrees of radiance and ego transcendence to degrees of identification with the ego-ideal-image and susceptibility to egocentric motivations in charismatic leaders was found not only in literature related to Hasidism, but also in psychosocial literature outside of Hasidism. Both kinds of charismatic appeal were operative in Hasidism: Hasidic teachings maintain that radiance underlies the basic roles and charismatic appeal of the ideal zaddik, while the charismatic appeal of other zaddikim who fell short of the Hasidic ideal by manifesting egocentric tendencies was found to be associated with their identification with the idealized kinds of ego qualities that Freud called the ego-ideal image. Additional support for the plausibility of the entire continuum as a theoretical model of charismatic appeal was provided by demonstrating that both ends of the continuum were in fact operative in the charismatic appeal of a considerable number of well-known leaders outside of Hasidism. The major religious traditions of the world associate the manifestation of radiance in individuals with closeness to God or with awakening to Absolute Reality, and a considerable number of outstand non-Jewish religious thinkers identify radiance as a factor in the charismatic appeal of recognized spiritual teachers. The discussion of the bottom end of the continuum established that the charismatic appeal of a large number of leaders of contemporary non-Jewish religious cults was strongly influenced by their identification with idealized ego qualities of the ego-ideal-image.

 

        Hasidic zaddikim and other charismatic leaders vary in terms of the degree to which they were psychologically constructive or non-constructive in their manner of relating to followers and to their opponents. Although the overwhelming majority of Hasidic zaddikim were found to be clearly psychologically constructive in their orientation, a number of them manifested mildly non-constructive tendencies, including a degree of megalomania. The most extreme forms of non-constructive behavior at the bottom end of the continnum were found to be manifested by some religious cult leaders and political leaders outside of Hasidism. Those charismatic leaders outside of Hasidism who fall toward the bottom end of the continuum were found to be dominated by more extreme degrees of megalomania and of other egocentric  tendencies than that manifested by even the most non-constructive Hasidic zaddikim.

 

        The extent to which a given leader is psychologically constructive and primarily dominated by identification with radiance and with other qualities of the higher psyche, as opposed to being dominated by non-constructive egocentric tendencies, is highly fluid and dynamic in character. The same charismatic leader may move markedly up or down on the continuum in the course of his or her career. According to the theoretical model proposed by this research, downward movement on the continuum is likely to occur when the radiant energy that fills a given charismatic leader, and which contributes to his charismatic appeal, fuses with latent egocentric tendencies in his psyche, energizing and intensifying them. This fusion of radiance and of latent egocentric tendencies may occur inadvertently, especially when the zaddik permits himself to retain a vestige of worldliness for the purpose of staying in close contact with ordinary people and thereby redeeming them spiritually. However, when that fusion of radiance and latent egocentric tendencies occurs, the ego is likely to take personal credit for the extraordinary, “God-like” qualities that are derived from radiance, thereby inflating the ego, making it prone to grandiose and manic tendencies. Since the idealized, grandiose ego qualities of quasi-omnipotence, quasi-omniscience, and an inflated sense of world of the eii (ego ideal image) are remarkably similar to the qualities derived from radiance, it was proposed that the eii and its charismatic appeal is actually a distorted derivative of radiance and of the “pure,” Weberian charisma that is directly derived from radiance. Thus, this continuum provides a means by which the apparently discrepant theories of Weber and Freud may be resolved within a single more comprehensive theoretical framework, enabling a basis of comparison between various types of charismatic appeal to be recognized.

 

        The theoretical model upon which this continuum is based on presupposes that the degree of identification with, and influence by, radiance in the charismatic appeal of Hasidic zaddikim and other leaders is inversely proportional to the degree to which they are dominated by identification with the ego-ideal-image and are influenced by egocentric motivations, since Hasidic homiletical 1 writings and the teachings of various non-Jewish forms of mysticism2 concur that receptivity to radiance is dependent upon transcending the ego by stilling self-generated mind movement of ego-related thought and desire, which reinforces one’s sense of subject-object duality and thereby enhances egocentric self-awareness. This suggests that the ego-ideal-image is itself only a distorted version of radiance, arising from the ego taking personal credit for what Weber might call the “divinely gifted,” higher-than-normal levels of human functioning qualities of radiance. The kind of charismatic appeal that is derived from association with the ego-ideal-image can be adequately understood only in relation to the charisma of radiance from which it is derived.

 

        Followers of relatively non-constructive Hasidic zaddikim and of more substantially non-constructive religious cult leaders frequently tend to participate in a sort of “delusion collusion” with the leader and with one another, as a way of consensually validating that the leader actually has the idealized, grandiose ego qualities that he claims and that his followers project onto him. Such non-constructive charismatic leaders and their followers need such validation in order to preserve their psychological security.

 

        Consideration has been given to Hasidic teachings and historiographical information that describe differences between various kinds of zaddikim.  One of the most salient of these differences is that between zaddikim who offered only spiritual benefits and therefore for the most part attracted only disciples who were relatively affluent, well-educated, and spiritually minded, and those zaddikim who reached out to the common person by offering thaumaturgical material blessings and psychosocial benefits such as a sense of emotional security, worth, and identity. However, some zaddikim who appealed to the common person also provided a rudimentary form of spiritual guidance that matched the needs of individuals whose consciousness was still fairly worldly in orientation. Elimelekh of Lizhensk refers to zaddikim who offered only advanced forms of spiritual assistance to other individuals as Israel-type zaddikim, whereas he calls those who tried to meet the material and spiritual needs as Jacob-type zaddikim.  Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev makes a similar distinction between zaddikim who forget to pray for the people’s material needs because they are absorbed in ecstatic communion with God, and zaddikim on a somewhat lower spiritual level who are able to successfully petition God on behalf of the people’s worldly needs. Another important made by Levi Yitzhak is between individuals who are able to commune with God and converse with other people at the same time, and those who can do only one of those two things at a time. Interestingly, Levi Yitzhak indicates that the former type is on the level of Israel, whereas the latter type is only on the level of Jacob. 

 

        These distinctions made by Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev, Elimelekh of Lizhensk, and Stephen Sharot (a sociologist who points out differences between miracle-working zaddik and zaddikim who were  exclusively scholarly and spiritual in orientation) seem to suggest that some zaddikim were primarily “other-worldly” or “God-oriented” in their approach, whereas other Hasidic leaders were primarily “this-worldly” and “community-oriented.”  A related distinction is between zaddikim who contemplate God’s omnipresent perfect being as a way of consciously connecting the people to God and thereby enabling them to share in his unlimited supply of good, and those who petitioned God for the people’s material needs from a stance of subject-object duality and belief in a relative evil to be overcome and a relative good to be pursued through that petitionary prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Self-Sacrificial Character of the Ideal Zaddik

 

Hasidic teachings portray the ideal zaddik as voluntarily sacrificing much of his high spiritual state and much of his own spiritual security in order to associate with ordinary people and thereby bring them to God.  Jacob Joseph of Polnoy and other early Hasidic masters emphasize that the zaddik runs the risk of being completely “swallowed up” by the worldly, “sinful” mentality of the common folk, which he absorbs into himself and attempts to transmute into its underlying spiritual “root” in order to redeem the collective psyche of the Jewish people. Although most Hasidic teachings maintain that the zaddik is not supposed to deliberately seek out the people’s evil urges for the sake of transmuting them, Hasidic homiletical writings do emphasize that the ideal zaddik goes out of his way to “bind himself” to ordinary people by identifying with them, feeling responsible for their transgressions, and voluntarily “descending” from his high spiritual level so that he might be able to communicate with the people in language that they can readily comprehend. By doing so, the zaddik inevitably runs the risk of being affected by the people’s coarse, egocentric mentality, but his intention is to “raise” ordinary folk up to God by temporarily descending into close contact with their much lower level of consciousness, rather than to remain immersed in the “mire and refuse” of their worldly cravings. Hasidic homiletical writings also emphasize the zaddik’s willingness to sacrifice much of the inner peace and joy that accompanies his high spiritual state in order to “join” himself to ordinary fold and to attend to their material and spiritual needs. 3

 

This Hasidic model of the ideal zaddik’s accessibility and altruism apparently coincided with the way in which a number of zaddikim were actually perceived by ordinary people, and even by some militant opponents of the Hasidic movement. For example, Joseph Perl, a vociferous critic of the later Hasidic movement, acknowledged that Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev and other zaddikim of his generation “excelled in their prayer, charity, and ransoming of prisoners—at that time, they used to do this.”4  According to Dresner, “Levi Yitzhak [of Berdichev] knew his people as a father knows his children, as a shepherd knows his flock.”5   The anthropologists Mark Zborowski and Elizabeth Herzog describe the folk impression of the typical zaddik as a leader with the “common touch,” i.e., a plain-speaking, compassionate leader to whom ordinary people can turn for advice and assistance in times of trouble.

 

Common to all Tsaddikim…..is the basic obligation to participate in the life of the people, listen to their troubles, help them in their misery, use their powers to ameliorate the lot of the Jews and to intervene with God on behalf of His children. The Tsaddik must be the melits yoysher, the one who pleads in defense of Jews who are constantly punished by God for violation of the Law. The human side of shtetl life—the worries, illnesses, the sobs of a childless woman who can cry her heart out to the holy man. He will share with his Hassidim the burden of parnosseh, the struggle to support one’s family. His duty is to listen to the complaints, to hear the pleas for help and comfort. With a word of hope, with a wish, with a magic formula, the Tsaddik will console the unfortunate Hasid. During the weekly teachings, in the vernacular and in simple terms and overladen with pilpulistic reasoning (Talmudic casuistry], he preaches hope and joyful love of God.6

 

It may be recalled that Zalman Schachter-Shalomi describes the zaddik’s use of empathic identification and non-dualistic communion with followers in a manner that is strikingly similar to the “involved” picture of the zaddik portrayed by Zborowski and Herzog:

 

Investment in the literal translation of the Hasidic term hitlabshut.  Figuratively, the term expresses the rebbe’s action in “clothing” himself in the garments of the Hasid’s thought, word, and deed. These he examines from within, thus fulfilling the command in Pirkay Avot [2:4]: “Do not judge a man until you have arrived at his place.” The rebbe takes this command literally. He assumes the place of the Hasid and enters into his consciousness, while at the same time retaining a hold on his own consciousness.7

 

                The zaddik’s willingness to sacrifice much of his own high spiritual state in order to immerse himself in his followers’ worldly cares and to enter into fellowship with them is unsurpassed by spiritual masters in many other religious traditions, who have often lived as hermits and accepted only extraordinary individuals as disciples. Hasidic teachings emphasize the zaddik’s ability to gradually lift followers rung by rung up the ladder of spiritual growth, from earth to heaven, which enables him to work with followers who begin with little or no prior spiritual development. The emphasis placed on the zaddik’s “human” failings and eccentricities is also somewhat unusual in “sainthood” traditions of the world, although parallels do exist in other religious traditions.8

 

                Nevertheless, the characteristics that are ascribed to Hasidic zaddikim and to spiritual teachers outside of Judaism are remarkably similar in other respects.  For example, Hasidic zaddikim and non-Jewish spiritual teachers are both frequently perceived as manifesting spiritual radiance and other related qualities of the Divine or Absolute Reality. The picture of zaddikim presented in Hasidic teachings and legends is clearly idealized, yet the very failings of some zaddikim can be understood as contributing to their outstanding stature as spiritual masters insofar as it enables ordinary people with comparable faults to identify with them and to aspire to reach the heights of mystical experience while continuing to lead an active life in the world, as the ideal zaddik himself does.

 

 

 

3) Deprivation:  A Unifying Theoretical Model

 

                The concept of deprivation as formulated by the social scientist Charles Glock9 can serve as a useful theoretical model by which to integrate a number of factors that contributed to the rise of Hasidism and to the popularity of the phenomenon of  zaddikism” in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  Glock attributes the rise of sectarian religious movements that challenge established religious organizations or “churches” to a perceived sense of deprivation, or a sense of impelling need that is not being met by established religious institutions.

 

                It will be recalled from the introductory literature review on “zaddikism” that a large proportion of ordinary Jews in Eastern Europe turned to zaddikim and to the Hasidic movement to meet pressing material, emotional, social, and spiritual needs that they felt were not being adequately addressed by non-Hasidic rabbis and by Jewish civic authorities. This finding coincides with Glock’s view that “There are five kinds of deprivation” or unmet need that tend to be operative in the formation and spread of sectarian or oppositionist religious movements. Glock terms these five categories of deprivation “economic, social, organismic, ethical, and psychic.” The economic category involves unmet financial needs; the social entails a sense of being excluded from “societal rewards such as prestige, power, status, and the opportunity for social participation”; organismic deprivation denotes a perceived lack of “good mental or physical health”; ethical deprivation signifies lack of a meaningful set of ethical values, or dissatisfaction with the prevailing values of society,” and psychic deprivation “is a concern with philosophical meaning, but in this case philosophy is sought for its own sake rather than as a source of ethical prescriptions as to how one is to behave in relation to others.”11

 

                Each of these kinds of perceived deprivation were prevalent among Eastern European Jews during the formative period of Hasidism. A large proportion of individuals who affiliated themselves with zaddikim and with the early movement were afflicted by some or all of the following difficulties: 1) extreme financial insecurity; 2) exclusion from a basic sense of human dignity reserve only for the better educated and wealthier sectors of Jewish society; 3) physical illnesses, childlessness, or affliction by evil spirits, which may in some cases have been related to psychological disturbances; 12  4) guilt over the most minor infractions of traditional Jewish law; 5) a widespread perception that Jewish tradition as interpreted non-Hasidic rabbi was lacking in vitality, meaningfulness, and cheerfulness.

 

                The early Hasidic zaddik was perceived by many of his followers as providing effective relief from these kinds of afflictions through the various roles in which he engaged, or at least as providing them with a welcome distraction from their troubles by lifting their spirits. The discussion in this dissertation of various roles in which Hasidic zaddikim engaged as being related to meeting the needs of their followers and to concomitant aspects of their charismatic appeal also coincides with the findings of Lewis R. Rambo13 and other scholars in the field of charisma, as explained at the end of the chapter dealing with the validation of the thesis.

 

                The zaddik’s role in alleviating feelings of deprivation in individual followers with respect to their material, emotional, social, and spiritual needs complemented his role in revitalizing Jewish religious tradition and identification with Jewish peoplehood. The charismatic leadership of the early Hasidic movement by zaddikim clearly fits the notion of a “revitalization movement” as used by Anthony F.C. Wallace and other social scientists. Wallace characterizes revitalization movements as “deliberate, conscious, organized efforts by members of a society to create a more satisfying culture” by restructuring the basic symbol system of their society as a way of coping with stressful conditions that typically involve internal demoralization and external threat by an outside society.14   According to Wallace, revitalization movements typically arise when existing social institutions and established leaders are viewed as being unable to cope with these unbearably stressful conditions. Under those circumstances, which seem to threaten the imminent demise of the entire society, a charismatic leader arises who claims to have received prophetic revelations from a supernatural source. Wallace indicates that this claim to supernatural revelation impels other people to accept the “prophet’s” program for revitalizing their society and to accept his authority as a charismatic leader. According to Wallace, such a claim to supernatural revelation holds out the promise that the supernatural source of that revelation will bless the people if they rally behind the leader and his program, whereas they are warned that they will suffer catastrophe if they do not accept his leadership and the divinely ordained program that he espouses.15 

 

                This model of revitalization clearly fits the zaddik’s role in reinvigorating Jewish religious tradition and the Jewish sense of peoplehood by presenting himself as a divinely appointed, divinely inspired redeemer of the entire Jewish community as well as of individual Jews. Many Jews felt demoralized by unusually stressful historical conditions during the formative period of Hasidism, and the leadership of existing rabbinic and Jewish civic authorities was widely discredited at that time. The Hasidic zaddik stepped into that breach by presenting himself as the kind of leader who could revivify a moribund Jewish community or “repair what has previously been broken down”16  by communicating the spiritual essence of Jewish religious tradition in a divinely inspired manner, by serving as a model of love for one’s fellow Jews, and by lifting the people’s spirits through his joyous, warmly reassuring “fatherly” demeanor.17  Without that revitalization of Jewish peoplehood and of traditional Jewish religion by the early Hasidic zaddik.  It seems likely that many people would have left the Jewish community altogether in order to escape the stressful conditions that prevailed within it, since a considerable number of Jews are known to have socially segregated themselves from the larger community during the formative period of Hasidism,18  while others joined heterodox movements such as the Frankists or the Haskalah (the Jewish Enlightenment), and some even went so far as to apostasize to Christianity as a way of avoiding incessant persecution, escaping dire poverty, and/or ecpressing resentment against the rest of the Jewish community.19  Hence the zaddik’s charismatic appeal was apparently due not only to meeting the self-perceived needs of individual followers, but also to his being viewed as a divinely appointed redeemer of the entire Jewish community at a time when the continued existence of the Jewish community seemed imperiled by internal demoralization and external threatening forces. This folk image of the zaddik as rescuing a moribund Jewish community from the threat of imminent demise in a miraculous manner is apparently reflected by a story in Shivhei ha-Besht, according to which, the Baal Shem Tov’s prayers were able to reverse a divine decree that the Torah would soon be taken away from the Jewish people as a punishment for its sins.20  This notion of the Torah being taken away from the Jewish people seems to allude to the fear that the entire Jewish community might disintegrate and even apostasize unless charismatic leaders such as the Baal Shem Tov and other Hasidic zaddikim arose to restore the people’s faith in their religious heritage, reinforce their emotional identification with the Jewish community, and provide them with a basic sense of emotional security by demonstrating God’s continued love for His people through the supply of miraculous divine blessings and teachings that emphasized “how precious every man was to the heart of God.”21

 

                As we have seen, a considerable number of early Hasidic zaddikim were viewed as having the ability to intimidate powerful Christians who were persecuting the Jewish people, especially by invoking supernatural powers against them. The ability of the Baal Shem Tov and other Hasidic zaddikim to humiliate oppressors of the Jewish people is emphasized in hagiographical literature, which suggests the likelihood that the assertion of Jewish superiority was viewed with considerable satisfaction by many of their followers. Since the typical zaddik was perceived as being close to God, his presence within local communities apparently welcomed as providing people with the profound sense of emotional reassurance and security that comes from having God in their midst. The zaddik’s image as a powerful protector of defenseless Jews against threatening forces was comparable to that of a big brother who protects his younger siblings from menacing bullies.

 

                Thus, an essential but unstated element of the zaddik’s charismatic appeal comes from providing the people with a generalized sense of emotional reassurance and security that went well beyond meeting specific material needs and spiritual concerns. This possibility has been all but overlooked in other studies of the zaddik and of the early Hasidic movement; it might be a productive avenue for future research to examine whether most zaddikim were in fact viewed as intimidating persecutors and thereby protecting Jews from attack through their mere presence in the community, quite apart from the belief that they could also provide protection and material sustenance to the people by explicitly petitioning God on their behalf. Such a perception may have been an essential yet unstated or implicit element in the zaddik’s charismatic appeal.

 

                Nevertheless, the popular appeal of Hasidic zaddikim was derived not only from being as rescuing Jewish from conditions of material and emotional deprivation individually and collectively, but also from being viewed as bringing the people into what can only be called a state of grace or blessedness, a kind of “aura of enchantment.” This charismatic aura of sacred power and blessedness exuded by many early Hasidic zaddikim is to some extent comparable to the Melanesian term mana as used by anthropologists such as R.H. Codrington and R.R. Marrett in referring to “belief in an impersonal power” that can become manifested in human beings as well as in spirit beings. 22  The historian of religion Roger Schmidt points out that analogous conceptions of a “mysterious and sacred power” occur among various Native American Indian peoples, as communicated by terms such as the Sioux wakan, the Iroquois orenda, and possibly manitou for Algonquin-speaking peoples. Schmidt also indicates that “this extraordinary power is morally neutral; it can be used benevolently or malevolently, for either blessing or cursing.”24 Emile Durkheim points out that individuals with mana or sacred power are often believed to have the ability to bestow blessings upon their society and are therefore threated with extreme deference, as if they were god-like beings:

 

If society happens to take to some man, and if it believes that it has found in him the main aspirations which preoccupy it, together with the means of satisfying them, we may be sure that such a man will be set above his fellows and virtually deified….In Melanesia and Polynesia, for example, an influential man is said to have mana, and this mana is alleged to be responsible for his influence.25

 

 

 

The ability of some zaddikim to give their followers a feeling of being blessed by an all-pervading atmosphere of holiness or being surrounded by an aura of enchantment is vividly portrayed in the short-story, “Between two mountains” by the novelist Isaac Loeb Peretz:

 

A great wide sky—without a limit! The sky was so blue! So blue! It was a delight to the eye. Little white clouds, silvery clouds, floated across it, and when you looked at them intently, you saw how they quivered for joy, how they danced for rejoicing in the Law! Away behind the town was encircled by a broad green girdle, a dark green one, only the green lived, as though something alive were flying through the grass; every now and then it seemed as if a living being, a sweet smell, a little life, darted up shining in a different place; one could see plainly how the little flames sprang up and danced and embraced each other….

 

And over the fields with the flames there sauntered parties and parties of Chassidim….and the little flames that rose from the grass attached themselves to the shining holiday and seemed to dance round every Chossid with delight and affection—and every company of Chassidim gazed up with wonderfully thirsty eyes at the Rebbe’s [zaddik’s] balcony—and I could see how that thirsty gaze of theirs sucked light from the balcony, from the Rebbe’s face, and the more light they sucked in, the louder they sang—louder and louder—more cheerfully, more devoutly….” Lord of the world! I thought I should dissolve away for sheer delight…..”26 

 

                This passage coincides with numerous Hasidic homiletical teachings and folk legends that describe the zaddik in lyrical terms as bringing people a generalized sense of wellbeing and fulfillment that went far beyond meeting their specific individual needs: providing them with a certain intangible sense of being “brought to the source of living waters, the Life of Life, blessed be He.”27  The charismatic appeal of many Hasidic zaddikim was derived in part from their being perceived as providing followers with a deeply refreshing taste of the divine essence of life, thereby slaking their “ontological thirst….for being.”28  Thus, the zaddik’s charismatic appeal was derived from his being perceived as rescuing followers from a deep-seated sense of deprivation arising not only from the lack of specific material, social, economic, and spiritual benefits, but also from their inability to independently provide themselves with the generalized, rather intangible state of “shlemut29 or inner wholeness and fulfillment of being that the zaddik offered.

 

 

 

  1. Implications for the Study of Charisma

     

 

The continuum of radiance to ego-ideal-image (eii) in charismatic leaders that has been proposed and substantiated provides a useful theoretical model by which to integrate and go beyond the apparently disparate perspectives of Weber and Freud concerning the nature of charismatic appeal. The usefulness of this theoretical model is derived not only from its comprehensive character,  which is in fact applicable to all kinds of charismatic leaders, but also by its ability to clarify important aspects of charismatic appeal that have not yet received adequate attention in psychosocial literature. Radiance is described as the most significant source of charismatic appeal, and as evidence of closeness to God or of awakening to Absolute Reality, not only by Hasidic teachings, but also by a number of prominent thinkers in other religious traditions. The examination of Hasidic teachings that indicate that radiance can be directly transmitted from a zaddik to other individuals makes it likely that radiance is charismatically appealing to those who perceive it in someone who because that radiance is aroused in them when they are in the presence of that individual, enabling them to share in the ecstatic feelings that Hasidic writings and some non-Jewish teachings describe as being derived from radiance.  At the opposite end of the continuum, the discussion of the phenomenon of “delusion-collusion” provides an understanding of psychological needs that attract eii dominated charismatic leaders and their followers to one another. Although other possible implications of these findings will not be discussed at present in the interests of brevity, it is anticipated that the findings of this research and the theoretical model upon which they are based will yield significant insights and questions for future research when examined by other scholars in the social sciences and in the History of Religions.

 

The desirability of going beyond as well as integrating the perspectives of Weber and of Freud is derived in part from the inability of either of those two models to adequately explain the relationship between radiance and charismatic appeal. Weber’s view that pure charisma is a gift of divine grace fails to explain how a pneumatic, charismatically attractive quality such as radiance could be directly imparted by someone who is already a zaddik to another individual who thereby becomes a socially recognized zaddik without necessarily having been blessed or graced directly by God. Freud’s view that charisma is invariably a matter of projection that has no basis in objective reality fails to adequately explain why radiance is associated with holiness and with charismatically attractive pneumatic qualities in almost every major religious tradition of the world. If radiance were not actually being manifested by some charismatic individuals, but were only being projected onto them, then that phenomenon should be found only in some religions and cultures, but not others. If radiance were simply projected onto individuals as a function of psychological wish fulfillment, then there would be no way to account for why a number of individuals who initially had an intense aversion to specific Hasidic masters were suddenly transformed into their disciples on perceiving their radiance, as is known to have occurred in the Maggid of Mezritch’s initial encounter with the Baal Shem Tov30, and in other instances.31  

 

                The model of charisma that was proposed in the discussion of charismatic leaders outside of Hasidism goes beyond the perspectives of Weber and Freud by postulating that radiance need not necessarily be viewed either as a gift of divine grace nor as a psychological wish fulfillment, but instead can be understood as a product of a maturational development of consciousness that manifests what is already present as latent potential in the deeper dimensions of the psyche. It was suggested that this maturational development of consciousness can occur through a direct transmission of radiance from one individual to another, and/or through the teaching of practices that facilitate transcendence of the ego or lower psyche so that the higher, unconditioned dimension of the psyche might thereby become manifest to consciousness. This understanding of radiance and of associated pneumatic qualities related to charismatic appeal as being innate potentials of the psyche that until now have become manifested to a substantial degree only in rare individuals, but which are present in the psyche of everyone, if only in a latent state, raises the possibility that scholarly research in fields such as the History of Religions, psychology, and so on might be able to identify specific factors that could expedite the actualization of those potentials in anyone who wishes to develop them, as well as clarifying their nature. If radiance were not conceived of as a supernatural gift of divine grace, as in Weber’s model of pure charisma, and if it were not simply dismissed a priori as psychological projection, as in Freud’s notion of the eii, then it would be possible to study the relationship between radiance and charisma in a scientific manner. This would enable researchers to examine the nature of radiance and factors that make individuals optimally receptive to it in an objective manner.

 

                A careful examination of the seemingly “magnetic” quality of radiance might enable some subtle, nonverbal aspects of the charismatic appeal of various kinds of leaders to be better appreciated, which might be related to factors such as tone of voice, eye-contact, as well as the subliminal perception that an individual exudes vitality and has a riveting “presence.”  It is also possible that such clarification of the attractive nature and source of origin of radiance may shed light on other kinds of interpersonal attraction.

 

                The ego-related factors that have been identified as being operative in the charismatic appeal of some Hasidic zaddikim  and of a number of non-Hasidic leaders have led to a new understanding of influences that contribute to psychologically non-constructive tendencies in charismatic groups, and which may also be operative in other kinds of interpersonal relationships. It should be kept in mind that radiance and ego-related factors may both be found to be operative in the charismatic appeal or social appeal of the same individual, since it has been hypothesized that both factors exist on the same continuum relative to one another, and that ego-related elements of charismatic appeal may in fact be a distorted derivative of radiance to some extent. Once non-constructive motivations in some kinds of charismatic leaders are better understood, then it should be possible to identify incipient signs of psychopathological tendencies in charismatic groups before significant harm is done to their members and/or to the larger society, and it should also be possible to formulate more humane and growth-enhancing modes of leadership in various religious and social groups.

 

                Further research is needed to clarify psychopathological effects that can ensue from fusion of radiance with elements of the ego in charismatic leaders. Such research might prevent members of charismatic groups from suffering unnecessary psychological and/or physical harm caused by radiance energizing and intensifying some of the ego’s least constructive tendencies. A better understanding of this phenomenon could enable well-intentioned charismatic leaders to take steps to prevent themselves from being unintentionally influenced by the ego’s tendency to insidiously take credit for the extraordinary qualities of radiance as a way of asserting a grandiose, unrealistic sense of quasi-omnipotence, quasi omniscience, and an inflated sense of self-importance. Members of charismatic groups and the general public also need to be alerted to destructive consequences that can ensue from the ego misdirecting radiant energy as a way of irresponsibly “acting out” and justifying psychopathological inclinations, which may lead to fanaticism, violence, and bizarre behavior. Unless these dangers arising from inadvertent fusing of radiance with latent non-constructive inclinations of the ego are clarified, enabling precautions to be taken to minimize those hazards, many people are likely to be discouraged from undertaking disciplines designed to mature their consciousness into the higher dimensions of the psyche and to actualize the psyche’s highest potentials for fear of suffering drastic psychological and/or physical harm, or for fear of being associated with incidents of bizarre behavior manifested by charismatic groups in which such fusion occurs.

 

                Since, as we have seen, fusion of the ego with radiant energy often occurs in an insidious manner, without the conscious knowledge and intention of the affected individual, one should not presume that just because there are no noticeable traces of the ego in consciousness, there are no ego-related influences in the subconscious that may exert a powerful subliminal influence on one’s motivation and behavior. Just as ego-related elements in the Hasid’s psyche apparently flow into the zaddik’s subconscious, fuse with the master’s radiant energy, and are thereby intensified, causing the spiritual master to suffer from inadvertent episodes of psychopathological tendencies,  so too does it seem likely that the same process of fusion may also affect the disciple, i.e., the zaddik’s radiance flowing into the Hasid as a result of the non-dualistic communion taking place between them may in some cases energize and exaggerate latent non-constructive elements of the Hasid’s ego. Since the disciple would be likely to hold him or herself rather than the spiritual master responsible for such non-constructive inclinations arising in the disciple’s psyche for no apparent reason, this kind of occurrence may not be mentioned in Hasidic texts and in the writings of other mystical traditions even if it is in fact a widespread phenomenon, which should not preclude further research into dangers that may beset disciples as well as spiritual masters as a result of communion between master and disciple producing an inadvertent fusion of radiance with latent non-constructive elements of the ego.

 

                The widespread occurrence of psychopathological tendencies in charismatic religious leaders and groups suggests that spiritual disciplines involving attempts to transcend the ego and to attain higher states of consciousness probably should not be undertaken except under the supervision of a trustworthy spiritual teacher, one who is already well-established in the transpersonal radiance mind, and whose consciousness has thereby ascended beyond the dimension of the psyche that is most susceptible to psychopathological influences.  Unfortunately, the harmful and even destructive consequences that can readily ensue when radiant energy insidiously fuses with and intensifies latent psychopathological elements of the ego have been all but overlooked in psychosocial literature dealing with charismatic cult groups and in literature dealing with spiritual disciplines designed to produce higher states of consciousness. However, the occurrence of these episodes of ego-related aberrations should not overshadow the often well-intentioned, compassionate nature of individuals who are occasionally affected by such aberrations, but whose consciousness is usually more radiance-dominated than ego-dominated.

 

                 Continued exploration of the nature of constructive charismatic appeal may also lead to a better understanding of higher potentials of the human psyche, especially as they relate to ego-transcendent states of consciousness and to the urge to achieve a greater sense of fulfillment through one’s association with the charismatic leader. Attraction to charismatic leaders of all kinds (including representatives of the ego-ideal-image as well as leaders who are more associated with radiance and with a degree of ego-transcendence) may well be derived from s symbolic attraction to the follower’s own higher self, as represented by the leader that s/he views as a model and source of optimal fulfillment. The finding of this dissertation that charismatic leaders vary along a continuum in terms of their relative degree of psychological non-constructiveness and the extent to which they are dominated by the influence of the ego or lower psyche, versus the extent to which they are dominated by radiance and other characteristics that typify the higher psyche raises the possibility that all reasonably intelligent human beings may be able to rise on that continuum by maturing in their level of consciousness from absorption in the lower, ego mind to greater awareness of deeper, more transpersonal dimensions of the mind.

 

                If the hypothesis raised in this dissertation that radiance may be an inherent potential of life that can be aroused and developed in all reasonably intelligent human beings were in fact borne out by subsequent research, then that might have implications for the constructive transformation of the individual, interpersonal relationships, and society.  Although radiance has until now been manifested only in exceptional individuals who comprise only a minute proportion of the general population, such as some of the Hasidic zaddikim and other charismatic leaders examined in this dissertation, the possibility exists that manifestations of radiance and other extraordinary potentials of the higher psyche that have hitherto seemed “godlike” might in fact become commonplace. Hasidic teachings that describe spiritual growth as a never-ending process could serve as a spur to such an examination of certain unlimited potentials of the human psyche that need not necessarily be viewed as having a divine source, at least not a divine source outside of our own individual being.

 

               

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Recommendations for Future Research

     

 

The findings of this research have a number of significant implications for the continued development of scholarship in the fields of Hasidism and of charismatic leadership.  There is a pressing need for more historiographical research related to the origins and development of the early Hasidic movement, including biographical studies of some important Hasidic masters whose lives and teachings have received insufficient consideration until now. Likewise, there is a need to further clarify some essential aspects of the Hasidic master-disciple relationship. Important issues include: 1) the manner in which individual zaddikim originally experienced their sense of “calling” to serve as spiritual leaders; 2) training of prospective zaddikim by established zaddikim; 3) the issue of whether zaddikim are born or bred; 4) criteria that followers used to select particular zaddikim with whom to affiliate themselves; 6) the nature of optimal spiritual fulfillment (shlemut)32 and its relationship to the Hasidic understanding of the process of cosmic redemption (tikkun olam); specific factors involved in nonverbal transmission of spiritual energy from master to disciple; 8) the nature of other spiritual disciplines that were geared to the needs and capabilities of advanced disciples; 9) The meaning and significance of interpersonal communion and with communion with God in early Hasidic thought.

 

        Analysis of Hasidic hanhagot or rules for daily living composed by a number of zaddikim for their followers would shed more light on paths of spiritual development and modes of leadership espoused by various Hasidic masters. Other avenues of fruitful research might involve examination of the nature of ecstatic states of consciousness as described in Hasidic homiletical writings, especially ways in which the zaddik purportedly becomes receptive to divine revelation when teaching Torah, as well as the implications of the zaddik functioning as a ”living Torah” or a perfected instrument of the Shekhinah.  Implications of the zaddik’s role as a “Good Jew” or model of traditional Jewish values is also worthy of further study, especially as it relates to his role in infusing Jewish religious tradition with deeper spiritual significance and vitality.

 

        Although much has been written about factors that made ordinary Jews receptive to the Hasidic movement and to the charismatic leadership of the Hasidic zaddik in the formative period of Hasidism, and although the historical origins of Hasidism in pre-Hasidic groups of religious enthusiasts, moralists, and ascetics is already well-known, no adequate explanation has yet been devised to account for why a host of remarkably charismatic zaddikim arose at a very specific moment in Jewish history, a period of approximately one hundred years from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. It behooves students of Hasidism and of the History of Religions to account for the remarkably diverse and ebullient styles of leadership exhibited by the first several generations of Hasidic zaddikim, which have very few parallels in Jewish history and in the History of Religions.

 

 

 

Afterword

 

        The conclusions of this dissertation raise a number of implications for the future development of Jewish theology and global social thought that I feel are noteworthy. The ideas presented here in this Afterword are intended to spur creative reflection on the part of people who are concerned with the relevance of Hasidic spirituality for our age and future generations, including those who may disagree with the views expressed in this Afterword. It is hoped that the reader’s consideration of the issues raised in this essay and in this dissertation as a whole will contribute to the ongoing dialogue between Hasidic spirituality and the contemporary world.

 

        The challenge facing those who want to make Hasidism an attractive spiritual alternative for thoughtful people in today’s world is to demonstrate that Hasidic teachings and spiritual disciplines can provide a way of actualizing the highest potentials of individual human beings and of the entire society in which they live, rather than chaining the human spirit in the fetters of rigid, narrow-minded ways of thinking and living. Unless Hasidic leaders and other prominent Jewish thinkers answer today’s pervasive hunger for meaningful spiritual experience and for a renewed sense of community by communicating the living spirit of Jewish mysticism in a manner that speaks to those who live in these times, the current trend of Jews leaving Judaism in unprecedented numbers is likely to continue, and might even become accelerated, which could soon jeopardize the continued existence of the Jewish religion, or at least result in the permanent loss of many of the highly intelligence and spiritually awakened kind of Jews who are now turning to other religions and social movements that seem to fill that hunger. Therefore, the challenge facing leaders of Hasidic groups and other proponents of Hasidism is to give thoughtful Jews a reason to remain Jewish by demonstrating that Hasidism can in fact make Jewish tradition relevant to their spiritual concerns and social needs.  Such a creative revitalization of Hasidic mysticism might also serve to attract non-Jewish spiritual seekers to Judaism and/or provide inspiration to those who seek to reinvigorate non-Jewish religious traditions and forms of mysticism.

 

        Remarkable parallels exist between the pervasive sense of alienation from existing religious and social institutions that is prevalent among many contemporary Jews and non-Jews, and the deep-seated sense of demoralization that afflicted Eastern European Jewish society during and immediately preceding the advent of Hasidism. As is clearly the case in many sectors of the contemporary Jewish community and of the larger American society, Jewish society at that time was beset by factionalism, intellectual and cultural stagnation, and lack of vitality; established religious institutions were widely criticized for failing to adequately meet the people’s spiritual and emotional needs. Just as many non-Hasidic rabbinic scholars were criticized for purportedly losing sight of the inner spiritual significance and of the essential ethical values of Jewish tradition by interpreting normative tradition in a pedantic, rigid manner, so too do many thoughtful people today feel that the contemporary Jewish community and the general American society are afflicted by a paucity of significant new ideas in the intellectual and cultural spheres. Then, as now, a growing atmosphere of cynicism and selfishness has become unmistakably evident in most sectors of society, as reflected in a growing tendency for individuals and special interest groups to put their own private concerns ahead of the wellbeing of the larger community, as well as the lack of authentic heroes in almost all spheres of endeavor.

 

        Since the early Hasidic movement generated a profound sense of spiritual renewal among many ordinary Jews, and exerted a revivifying influence on Jewish arts and letters, it may be said that Hasidism gave the Jewish religion and the Jewish people a new lease on life. The personal charisma of many Hasidic leaders reinforced loyalty to Jewish tradition and to the Jewish people among many ordinary Jews. Nevertheless, Hasidic leaders have until now failed to provide the Jewish people with a practicable model of how to keep Jewish culture and intellectual life in the vanguard of continued growth by incorporating the finest elements of contemporary civilization into the sphere of Torah. Nor have they provided Jews with the kind of creative challenge that could inure them to the temptation of becoming involved in the least wholesome aspects of the general American and global culture. Most contemporary Hasidic leaders seem to lack the kind of pioneering vision that could make the halakhic obligations of Jewish tradition meaningful to Jews who want to be in the forefront of new intellectual discovery and to explore new spiritual horizons within the supportive atmosphere of a tight-knit community.

 

        Thus, the challenge facing religious thinkers who want to preserve and further develop Hasidic spirituality is to devise a more creative, experientially meaningful, growth-oriented understanding of Torah that could put Hasidism and Judaism in the vanguard of exploration of the greatest range of human potentials at the individual, interpersonal, and societal levels. If contemporary Hasidic leaders were to creatively expound and expand Jewish tradition as a force for unlimited creative growth, instead of insisting on a petrified, routinized understanding of the significance of the commandments and of Jewish mystical teachings, then that might well lead to an exciting rebirth of Jewish civilization and to an unlimited expansion of the horizons of the human spirit. Such a transformational growth-oriented understanding of the Torah might involve the notion that God’s ability to reveal ever grander aspects of His nature and ever-deeper implications of His Will depends on people reaching ever higher levels of spiritual development, so that they might thereby attain correspondingly profounder understandings of the intentions of the Divine Author of Torah, and thereby serve as more effective instruments of His unfolding Self-Realization. Elimelekh of Lizhensk1 and a number of other early Hasidic masters emphasized that the zaddik aspires to achieve endless spiritual growth, and that all members of the Jewish community have unlimited spiritual potential when they live in non-dualistic communion with one another and with God. Thus there is an authentic basis in classical Hasidic thought for this kind of growth-oriented theology and for the forward-looking kind of leadership that it demands. This view of the zaddik as a transformational growth-facilitator who brings out the best in other people by recognizing their unlimited spiritual potential is also consistent with Hasidic teachings that describe the zaddik as a veritable Jacob’s ladder who is able to help individuals at any rung to attain a higher, more mature level of spiritual awareness.2

 

        For a reformulation and revitalization of Jewish mysticism to be optimally effective in this day and age, however, Hasidic masters would have to not only provide profound teachings, but also stir the hearts of the people with the kind of ecstatic inspiration and burning devotion to God (hitlahavut, hamimut) that was so attractive to followers of the first few generations of Hasidic zaddikim; in the felicitous Hasidic maxim, “Words that come from the heart enter the heart.” Such a harmonious integration of mind and heart, or a convergence of meaningful lyrics and soulful melody in the new Hasidic message, would surely do much to revive the living sprit of Jewish mysticism, which in turn could draw disaffected Jews back to Judaism, as occurred  in a comparable manner during the formative period of Hasidism.

 

        To be fully viable, any attempt to revitalize or reformulate Hasidic spirituality for today’s times would also have to consider reviving the Hasidic practice of communion or some other mystical form of communion. The zaddik’s ability to bring followers into heartfelt communion with himself, God, and one another was apparently the key to the revitalization of Jewish society during the formative period of Hasidism. A new and deeper understanding of the meaning of soul-to-soul communion and of communion between the soul and God would revitalize the Jewish religion and Jewish mystical teachings in the present age. This perspective is compatible with early Hasidic teachings that suggest that passionate love for God and caring for one’s fellow human beings are meant to complement one another rather than to be viewed as mutually exclusive.

 

        It might also prove fruitful to consider the possibility of incorporating forms of communion that are not necessarily mystical in nature into Hasidic spirituality, such as Buber’s I-Thou relationship. Although interpersonal communion and the practice of “hallowing the everyday” may not directly lead to mystical experience, they can serve to diminish egocentric self-consciousness by absorbing awareness in external objects rather than in ego-related thoughts, desires, and value judgments. The discussion of maturation of consciousness in Chapter 4 demonstrated that mystics of various religious traditions maintain that divine radiance naturally shines into the soul once the mind is emptied of ego-related thought and desire.  Therefore, it might be worthwhile to explore the possibility that Buber’s I-Thou relationship and other forms of communion that are not necessarily mystical in nature can make consciousness receptive to a subliminal or less-than-mystical level of radiance by diminishing egocentric self-awareness. Such occasional loss of egocentric self-awareness through engagement in non-mystical forms of communion might eventually lead to full-fledged mystical experience by giving individuals an attractive but less than fully conscious initial taste of radiance that would make them hunger to experience more substantial degrees of fulfillment by communing with the divine source of that radiance. It may be recalled that Simone Weil maintains that any activity that focuses attention on a single object can eventually enhance the soul’s ability to commune with God in prayer, even if one initially concentrates on a non-mystical, worldly task such as solving mathematical problems.3  Buber himself maintains that the I-Thou relationship between individuals can lead to communion with the Eternal Thou of God:

 

Every particular Thou is a glimpse through to the eternal Thou; by means of every particular Thou the primary word addresses the eternal Thou….When he who abhors the name [God], and believes himself to be godless, gives his whole being to addressing the Thou of his life, as a Thou that cannot be limited by another, he addresses God.4 

 

                Buber’s remarks suggest that contacting the unlimited aspect of another individual through I-Thou communion can lead to a direct experience of the infinite being of God. If that possibility were corroborated through continued exploration of the nature of I-Thou relationship and/or of other forms of communion, then that might pave the way for the practice of interpersonal communion as an act of worship to be incorporated into contemporary Hasidic spirituality, thereby satisfying both the demand for direct spiritual experience and for a renewed sense of community at the same time.

 

                Since most people do not have access to genuine zaddikim in this age, a practicable reformulation of Hasidic mysticism would have to employ interpersonal communion and/or other alternative approaches as a means of enabling people to assume direct responsibility for their own spiritual growth, if that current demand for direct experience of God is to be met. Such a new, creative understanding of the spiritual significance of communion and community could also do much to reverse the divisive effects of egotism that have become prevalent in recent times. In view of the fact that very few people today are prepared to undertake the world-negating kind of spiritual practices that are emphasized by Buber’s critics5 in their interpretation of early Hasidic teachings, an authentic basis in Hasidic thought must be found for providing people with means of contacting God’s presence in the everyday world without thereby being required to divest material phenomena of their tangible appearance.

 

                To be optimally effective, a reformulation of Hasidic mysticism for today’s times would also have to devise ways of protecting the credibility of the zaddik’s role as exemplar of holiness from being eroded by the episodes of megalomania and other psychopathological aberrations that were manifested by some zaddikim during the early period of Hasidism. A related task is to prevent the credibility of the zaddik’s role as exemplar of holiness from being undermined by the phenomenon of routinization, the assumption of leadership by individuals who lack authentic radiance-based charisma, and who therefore lack the ability to be perceived as divinely gifted by serious spiritual seekers who do not find idealized ego-related qualities in the zaddik charismatically appealing.

 

                Since many of the psychopathological aberrations that were manifested by early Hasidic leaders seem to have been due at least in part to their absorbing the egocentric, worldly mentality of followers in an attempt to assist them spiritually, it seems essential to shield contemporary zaddikim from direct contact with individuals who are extremely invested in egocentric concerns, so that communion with such followers might not seriously erode the zaddik’s high level of spiritual awareness and thereby destroy the credibility of his role as a model of holiness. Such loss of the zaddik’s credibility as a model of spiritual fulfillment would also jeopardize the continued viability of Hasidic mysticism in view of the centrality of the zaddik in Hasidic spirituality.

 

                One possible way of shielding contemporary zaddikim from being inundated by the coarse mentality of followers at the lowest levels of spiritual development while leaving the Hasidic movement open to the masses might be to encourage novices to engage in I-Thou communion, gain “finite enlightenment” by contemplating spiritual truth, and/or undertake other ego-attenuating practices before becoming seriously involved with a zaddik.  Once individuals become somewhat less identified with the ego and somewhat less invested in the ego’s coarsest cravings, then the zaddik could engage in non-dualistic communion with them without having his or her radiance absorb, fuse with, and energize the most non-constructive elements of the follower’s ego, drawing the Hasidic master (and possibly also the novice) into episodes of megalomania or other psychopathological tendencies. Perhaps some of the zaddik’s most advanced disciples could provide teaching and counseling to novices, leaving Hasidic spirituality available to the masses, but freeing zaddikim to keep their consciousness at a high level and to work primarily or exclusively with individuals who have reached a high enough level of spiritual development to significantly benefit from what the Hasidic master has to offer, especially his or her ability to transmit radiance out of a state of non-dualistic communion with the follower.

 

                One possible way of avoiding routinization of the role of zaddik by individuals who lack genuine radiance charisma might be for the title of zaddik or rebbe to be restricted only to those whose radiance and sanctity is attested by the leading Hasidic masters of the generation. Although leadership of Hasidic groups has been decentralized after the death of the Maggid of Mezritch, and although the practice of decentralized leadership continues to provide some important advantages to the Hasidic community, restricting official recognition of claims to the title of zaddik or rebbe only to those whose radiance-based charisma and personal integrity are well-attested could serve to preserve the credibility of the contemporary zaddik’s role as a model of holiness.

 

                A clearer, unified understanding of the Hasidic conception of God might also serve to clarify the basic objectives of Hasidic spiritual practice. Since some early zaddikim are known to have petitioned God to bestow material blessings upon the people from a stance of subject-object duality, and a belief in a relative evil to be removed and a  relative good to be sought, whereas other zaddikim emphasized realization of the soul’s inclusion in God’s omnipresent perfect being as a way of enabling the people to share in God’s unlimited bounty, two distinct, possibly incompatible conceptions of God’s nature appear to have been operative in early Hasidic thought. Unless it is determined whether God is to be regarded as essentially separate from the soul and as the author of relative good and evil, or whether He is to be viewed as an omnipresent, perfect being in whom the soul is naturally included, the basic objectives of Hasidic spiritual practice will remain unclear, which will diminish their effectiveness. That is to say, a dualistic conception of God’s nature vis-à-vis the appearance of relative good and evil and vis-à-vis the soul seems compatible with petitionary prayer, thaumaturgical practices, and an ego-enhancing orientation, whereas a non-dualistic understanding of God’s nature as omnipresent perfect being (beyond the duality of relative good and evil) and of His relationship to the soul may not be compatible with those practices, but instead seems more likely to foster an ego-attenuating orientation, involving choiceless surrender of personal will as an acknowledgment that God is the only true will, directing intelligence, and cause of effects. Any material blessings or spiritual benefits that might flow through the zaddik to the people would necessarily be understood to be under God’s control rather than the zaddik’s by individuals who adopt the latter perspective.

 

                The surrender of personal will and of ego-related value-judgments that such a non-dualistic conception of God’s nature involves also seems likely to attenuate the zaddik’s ego and thereby minimize the danger that he or she may be affected by psychopathological tendencies arising from inadvertent fusing of latent non-constructive tendencies of the ego with spiritual radiance. It seems significant that early zaddikim who petitioned God from a dualistic stance, and who accepted the appearance of relative good and evil at face value, such as, Nachman of Bratslav, Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev, Elimelekh of Lizkhensk, and possibly the Baal Shem Tov, were known to suffer episodes of severe psychopathological aberration, whereas zaddikim who took a non-dualistic stance were generally free of such aberrations, e.g., the Maggid of Mezritch, Shneur Zalman of Liadi, and Menachem Mendel of Chernobyl. Whether or not contemporary Hasidic theologies decide to adopt such a non-dualistic view of God’s nature as omnipresent perfect being, a clearer and more consistent conception of God’s nature would serve to clarify the basic objectives and content of spiritual practices that are designed to promote the soul’s maturational development in relation to Him.

 

                Just as the Jewish people stood at a crossroads during the formative period of Hasidism, being faced with the challenge of adjusting to the advent of modernity and to the need for a more forward-looking transformation of Jewish civilization, Jews and non-Jews today both face the challenge of formulating a unifying sense of common purpose for the entire society that thoughtful people could find meaningful in this pluralistic age, one that might involve setting a more humane, fulfilling goal for the individual and society. Such a challenge could produce a breakthrough into a higher order of intellectual and cultural achievement if successfully met by a given society, but if the challenge is ignored or dealt with in a superficial manner, then it could just as easily lead to the breakdown of that society. Unless religious and civic leaders of tomorrow formulate such a life-affirming, growth-enhancing direction for a pluralistic society, a real danger exists that non-constructive charismatic leaders may arise to fill the vacuum of meaning experienced by many people. There is even a possibility that misdirection of that pervasive demand for “something to believe in” by the worst kind of non-constructive charismatic leaders could lead to outbursts of irrational behavior and violence if well-meaning religious and civic leaders continue to ignore that need indefinitely. If, on the other hand, Hasidic and non-Hasidic leaders were to respond to this demand for meaningful direction by formulating new ideas that facilitate the continual unfoldment and advancement of the human spirit, then the next generation could witness levels of individual and social fulfillment that are unimaginable today.

 

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Primary Hasidic Sources

 

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Dov Baer of Lubuvitch. Tract on Ecstasy. Louis Jacobs, trans. Chappaqua, NY: Rossel Books, 1963.

 

Dov Baer of Mezritch. Maggid Devarav le-Ya’akov. Rivka Schatz-Uffenheimer, ed.  Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1976.

 

Elimelekh of Lizkhensk. No’am Elimelekh Gidaliah Nigal, ed. Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Kook, 1978.

 

Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev. Kedushat Levi. B’nai Berak: Heikhal ha-Sefer, no date.

 

Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl. Upright Practices, the Light of the Eyes. Arthur Green, trans. New York: Paulist Press, 1982.

 

Shneur Zalman of Liadi. The Tanya.  Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1981.

 

Wilensky, Mordachai.  Hasidim u-Mitnaggidim: Le-Toledot ha Pulmos she-Beineihem ba-Shanim 1772-1812, Vol. 1 and 2. Jerusalem, Bialek Institute, 1970.

 

 

 

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Abse, D. Wilfred. Clinical Notes on Group Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Charlottstown, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1974.

 

Adorno, T.W., E. Frankel-Brunswick, D.J. Levinson, and R. N. Stanford. The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper, 1950.

 

Aescholy, Aaron Zeev, “Ha-Hasidut Be-Polin.” In Beyt Yisrael be-Polin, ed. Israel Halperin, 86-141. Jerusalem: World Zionist Organization, 1953.

 

Alfasi, Isaac. The Seer of Lublin: Rabbi Jacob Isaac Ha-Levi Horowitz (Hebrew). Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rov Kook, 1969.

 

Assagioli, Roberto.  “Self-Realization and Psychological Disturbances.” Synthesis 3-4 (1977)

 

Asvaghosha, The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, Trans. The Editors of the Shrine of Wisdom, 1964.

 

Atkins, Susan with Bob Slosser. Child of Satan, Child of God. Plainsfield, N.J.: Logos, 1977.

 

Barker, Eileen. The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell, 1984.

 

——. New Religious Movements: A Perspective for Understanding Society. Lewiston, N.Y.:  The Edwin Mellon Society, 1982.

 

Barton, Russel. Institutional Neurosis. Bristol: England: Wright Publishing, 1959.

 

Bendix, Reinhard and Guenther Roth. Scholarship and Partisanship. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971.

 

Bensman, Joseph and Michael Givant. “Charisma and Modernity: The Use and Abuse of a Concept.” In Charisma, History, and Social Structure, ed. Ronald M. Glassman and William H. Swatos, Jr. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986.

 

Bercholz, Samuel and Michael Fagan, ed., The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi. Berkeley, California: Shambhala Publishers, 1972.

 

Berger, Alan L. “Hasidism and Moonism: Charisma in the Counterculture.” In Charisma, History, and Social Structure.  Ed. Ronald M. Glassman and William H. Swatos, Jr., 83-99. New York: Grenwood Press, 1986.

 

Bion, W. Experiences in Groups. New York: Basic Books, 1961

 

Blum, Gerald. Psychoanalytic Theories of Personality. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1953.

 

Bolshakoff, Gergius and M. Basil Pennington. In Search of True Wisdom: Visits to Eastern Spiritual Fathers. New York: Doubleday, 1979.

 

Bosk, Charles L.  “Cybernetic Hasidism: An Essay on Social and Religious Change.” Social Inquiry 44, no. 2: 131-44.

 

——. “The Routinization of Charisma: The Case of the Zaddik.” In Religious Change and Continuity.  Ed. Harry M. Hohnson, 150-67. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1979.

 

Bragdon, Emma.  The Call of Spiritual Emergency. New York: Harper, 1990.

 

Bromley, David G. and Anson D. Shupe, Jr. Strange Gods: The Great American Cult Scare. Boston: Beacon Press, 1981.

 

Brown, Peter.  “The Saint as Exemplar in Late Antiquity.” In Saints and Virtues. Ed. John S. Hawley, 7-14. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.

 

Buber, Martin. Hasidism and Modern Man.  New York: Horizon Books, 1958.

 

——. I and Thou. Second Edition, Trans. Ronald Gregor Smith. New York: Charles Scribner’s Son, 1958.

 

                ——. The Origin and Meaning of Hasidism: Early Masters. New York: Horizon Press, 1960.

 

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                Bucke, Richard M. Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1923.

 

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                Cahill, T., “In the Valley of the Shadow of Death.” Rolling Stone 25 January 1979.

 

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Taming Wild Passionate Energies Through Love

 

TAMING WILD PASSIONATE ENERGIES THROUGH LOVE; UNITING PASSION AND COMPASSION; LIVING IN INTEGRITY

 

Dr. Barry Hammer

 

 

 

Coping with our intensely passionate emotions and desires can be like riding a wild horse, or being inundated by a turbulent river, overflowing its banks, producing havoc for us, and for others around us. We become driven by demanding, insatiable, energies, that have a counterproductive, disruptive, impact on our lives. As suggested by Rakesh Sethi1,

 

 

 

“The mind is like a river flowing, full of emotions, good and bad, thrusting every which way wildly, like raging water. The riverbanks are like your intellect; they must be strong to hold and channel the water (emotions) properly. Otherwise, the water will overflow the banks, causing a disastrous flood, like a mind out-of-control that creates havoc in your life and in others’ lives. What was supposed to be your blessing then has become your curse.”1

 

 

 

1[Rakesh Sethi, Cruising Through Turbulence: An Inspirational Guide for Your Wealth and Well being in Difficult Economic Times and Beyond (San Ramon, California: True Wellness Group, 2012), page 28]

 

 

 

(Rakesh Sethi’s website: http://www.PromoteHealthWellness.com/cruising-thro… and Amazon purchasing page: http://www.amazon.com/Cruising-Through-Turbulence-… ).

 

 

 

However, when we unselfishly share with others the energy of love, or caring experiential connection, it functions like a relaxing, easeful, cohesive, unifying, force that calms our passionate energies and focuses them in constructive, productive, harmonious, directions. Our passionate energies are meant to be united with the calming, compassionate, energies of love, as part of the indivisible wholeness of our being, rather than functioning apart from our inner center of love, relaxed peace, harmonious equilibrium, and holistic cohesive integrity, in resistive opposition to it. The only way for the passionate energy of desire and sensuality to not become overly turbulent, frantically desperate, and chaotic is for it to be grounded in and balanced by the energy of relaxed peace, harmony, and cohesive integrity. The greatest, or perhaps the only true, source of that cohesive, harmonizing, force, is love, or warmly caring energy flowing from oneself to others, whereas lack of loving connection to others keeps one’s energy bottled up within oneself, producing tension that makes one’s passions chaotic rather than calm, dissipated and disintegrating rather than cohesively integrated, degenerative rather than regenerative. The absence of the shared relational energy of life, as love, inevitably produces the experience of inner emptiness, deficiency, dissatisfaction, and self-rejection rather than contentment, self-acceptance, and the experience of inner wholeness and proficiency of being.

 

 

 

That sense of inner emptiness and deficiency arising from the absence of the essential energy of life as love produces an insatiable hunger to fill oneself with intense, dramatic, sensations, feelings, desires, and fantasies, in order to experience a substitute, quasi, sense of passionate inner aliveness. We feel frantically driven to constantly fill ourselves with some kind of false substitute for the natural passionate intensity and vibrant life energy that love truly, intrinsically, is. The frenetic pursuit of a substitute sense of inner fullness and passionate euphoria produces chronic tension arising from the attempt to grasp and hold onto a continuously fading, vacuous, shallow, sense of energy arousal, in contrast to the calm, enduring, deeply satisfying, energy passion of love. That, often subliminal, tension, anxiety, and desperately “hungry” continuous craving, prevents us from feeling comfortable with ourselves, and prevents others from feeling comfortable with us, or around us. Many people naturally seek to feel intensely alive by generating passionate desires, arousing sensations, dramatic emotions, vivid fantasies, and frenetic or kinetic activities, but that intense energy needs to be grounded in the presence of unselfish love and relaxed peace so that it becomes more productive rather than counterproductive; more harmonious and cooperative, and less demanding, disruptive, and debilitating. The expression of unselfish caring or true love to others produces a deeper and more enduring sense of inner satisfaction than what seeking other forms of intense excitement can provide, because the warmth of unselfish caring arises from, and arouses the experience of, our ever-present permanent being, in contrast to the conditionally acquired, continuously fading, often addictive, quality of other states of excitation that are pursued as substitutes for the more genuine and deeper experience of satisfaction, inner aliveness, and wholeness that only true love can provide.

 

 

 

We intuitively recognize that we are not meant to reject any aspect of our indivisible whole energy flow, including being open to experiencing, and, thereby, embracing, but not inappropriately expressing, our temporarily arising feelings, sensations, desires, thoughts, and fantasies, which are all part of our energetic natural unitary wholeness of being. However, we may need to find a way to calm down some of our turbulent wild passions so that they become more constructive, responsible, creative, and empowering, rather than chaotic, addictive, disabling, and self-defeating, in their mode of expression. If we reject our natural passions, arising as expressions of the indivisible wholeness of our individual and relational energy flow, we may experience an unnatural, uncomfortable, sense of self-division or lack of wholeness of our energy-being, but we also do not wish to let our passions drive us, run away with us, or lead us in wrong directions, which, if not tamed by the soothing force of gentle love, contentment, and relaxed peace, could eventually produce a disaster, like riding an unruly wild horse without first having a firm hold on the reins and saddle. We need to tame the “wild horse” of our intensely passionate energies through the power of love, rather than through aggressively repressive oppositional force, so that all of our energies are harnessed in the service of love, life, and goodness, rather than working against what is truly good for us, and for others around us. The cohesive integrated wholeness of our being as love naturally seeks to incorporate even our unruly, wayward, passions so that they become transmuted or transformed in a manner that is truly consistent with, rather than violates, our intrinsic unitary wholeness and indivisible integrity of being, as well as our natural sense of ethical responsibility toward others, as a reflection of the natural compassionate goodness and empathic relatedness of our being as love.

 

 

 

The spiritual process of loving service, ethical virtue, and living in integrity, does not necessarily involve sharing only total “positivity”, and never sharing anything else. Sometimes, when appropriate, as an expression of the heartfelt experiential truth and the adaptive requirements of the moment, being truthful with oneself and others can also involve constructively, compassionately, sincerely, sharing experiences, struggles, difficulties, and challenges, coming from the “darker”, “wilder”/more turbulent, uncomfortable, undesired, “negative”, polar side of one’s being, energy, and experience. It seems to me that a more restrictive, narrow, idealized, rigidly predetermined definition of loving service, spiritual living, and ethical virtue, especially defined as the exclusive sharing of idealized “positivity”, and never sharing anything else, especially, never constructively sharing the more turbulent, uncomfortable, aspects of our experiential truth, would really violate and distort the variegated, “many-splendored”, indivisible wholeness and glory of what our own individual energy field and the whole relational energy field intrinsically is, and what it naturally needs to evolve, mature, or develop into, by wrestling with, constructively embracing, transforming, and integrating, its own darker side or seemingly antithetical shadow. I believe that the intrinsic wholeness of our being, energy, and functioning, needs to be freed from all unnecessarily and overly restrictive, exclusively partial, rigid, static, predetermined, self-definitions, so that we can be fully at peace, or flowing in harmonious attunement, with the indivisible wholeness of our own individual being and of our relational connection to other experiential energy fields, as the basis of relaxed self-acceptance, unified cohesiveness, coherence, and true integrity, rather than perpetrating self-division, self-conflict, and self-constriction, by defining ourselves, others, and spiritual reality in exclusively, unrealistically, “positive” terms, and rejecting, devaluing, evading, and exiling, the more difficult, challenging, unpleasant, or seemingly “unworthy”, aspects of our own experience, other individuals, and of the universal/collective field of energy as a whole. Until and unless we are truly compassionate with ourselves, by first constructively, appropriately, embracing the indivisible wholeness of our own individual and relational experiential energy field, it will be difficult for us to compassionately embrace the indivisible wholeness of other individuals as well, as the basis of being truly kind and helpful to oneself and others, and constructively resolving various kinds of inner and outer conflicts caused by rejecting and thereby entering into conflict with part of the wholeness of the energy experience of oneself and others. The spontaneous flow of our undivided whole energy-experience is much grander and more productively functional than is any kind of idealized, exclusive, restrictive, predetermined, self-definition, which divides us from any experiential truths in ourselves and in others that are beyond the parameters of those idealized self-definitions. When we reactively value judge or selectively evaluate some aspects of our own energy experience as being only conditionally “good” and “acceptable” to spontaneously arise to our conscious awareness , and others as being conditionally “bad” and “unacceptable” to be embraced or lovingly unified with by our conscious awareness, as knower, then that process of selective self-approval and self-disapproval unnaturally divides and distorts the intrinsic natural wholeness of our energy experience, whereas when we take an attitude of nonjudgmental unconditional self-acceptance, then we are able to embrace, or consciously unify with, the whole field of our energy experience, without acting upon, or inappropriately expressing, non-constructive urges, which would violate the greater integrity of our whole being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone who wishes to read more of our inspirational/transformational insights should see our two published books, 1) Psychological Healing Through Creative Self-Understanding and Self-Transformation. (ISBN: 978-1-62857-075-5) and 2) Deepening Your Personal Relationships: Developing Emotional Intimacy and Good Communication. (ISBN: 978-1-61897-590-4). Primary author: Dr. Max Hammer, with contributions from secondary authors Dr. Barry J. Hammer and Dr. Alan C. Butler. These books can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or our author/publisher website, http://sbprabooks.com/MaxHammer. The latter website also posts our other blogs, and describes our books and us as authors.

 

 

 

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