Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ladders to Heaven - Ascent to Love - Tzim Tzum of Life

Climbing the ladder
whose rungs are the names of God,
I come to myself.

Richard Zimler, Love's Voice, 72 Kabbalistic Haikus

The idea of ascending, as climbing a ladder, toward "Godliness," or Ultimate Being, in mind and action is found throughout faith traditions. However, this is not a one-way trip. In cultivating awareness or illumination/enlightenment we "see" and then we don't. We take one step forward and 2 steps back. 

In Christianity, this idea comes from Neoplatonism: "every effect remains in its cause, proceeds from it and returns to it." Proclus. 

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th c apophatic mystic) wrote: "Inspired by the Father, each procession of the Light spreads itself generously toward us, and, in its power to unify, it stirs us by lifting us up. It returns us back to the oneness and deifying simplicity of the father who gathers us in."

One could certainly go on citing examples of the location of the Divine relative to the human. Scripture talks of temples and tents, mountains and deserts; of Jacob's dream of a ladder and Ezekiel's vision of chariots of man-angels and God on a throne in the firmament.

Ezekiel 1:26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

Our human experience is not only comprised of this Neoplatonic idea of "procession and return" or being lifted toward the light and falling back toward material life, we are surrounded by it. This is change, the flux and flow of Life itself, from particles and waves to cosmic universe; the becoming and the retreating, moving toward and falling away, ascent and decline. The resolution of the Self (or awareness, if you prefer), the evolution of the cosmos. The miracle is that we can know this in our mind of objectivity and we can experience this in our mind of subjectivity.


1. Heavenly Ladder, McGookin

2. Ladder to Heaven inspired by the writings of John Climacus (7th-century Christian monk at the monastery on Mount Sinai). Icon 13th century, St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai. John Climacus is shown at the top of The Ladder of Divine Ascent, with other monks following him.

3. Heavenly ladder sent to Buddha (the Bodhi tree) to meet his deceased mother after enlightenment, Sanchi, India

_/\_Peggy @ ECUMENICUS

1 comment:

  1. This was really an interesting topic and I kinda agree with what you have mentioned here!
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