God and the Self as Nothing

The Source is nothing. Nothing does not mean a vacuum, but no thing (no/thing). No/thing is pure energy.

A favorite quote of mine in this regard is from Dov Baer of Mezrich as translated in Lawrence Kushner,The Book of Words, p. 96 (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 1993): “You need to think of yourself as nothing. Forget yourself entirely. Pray only for the sake of God’s presence. Only then will you come to transcend time and attain the ‘World of Thought.’ No contradictions. No distinctions between life and death or sea and dry land. All the same . . . This can only happen if you forget yourself entirely. But it cannot be the case while you are attached to the tangible reality of this world. Fixated on the distinctions between good and evil and mundane creation. How otherwise could one possibly transcend time and attain ultimate unification. Thus, as long as you remain convinced that you are ‘something,’ preoccupied with your daily needs, then the Holy One cannot be present, for God is without end, that is, ‘nothing,’ no vessel can contain the One. But this is not so when you think of yourself as nothing.”

Here, “nothing” really means without boundaries and limits.

Dov Baer expresses his ideas more dualistically than I would (e.g. “attached to tangible reality,” “mundane creation,” and “World of Thought”), but his message is beautiful: To feel the presence of the Source, one must drop all categories, especially the self.

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DR. LAURENCE H. KANT (LARRY KANT), MYSTIC SCHOLAR: Engaged Mysticism and Scholarship in the Pursuit of Wisdom; Discovering meaning in every issue and facet of life; Integrating scholarship, spirituality, mysticism, poetry, community, economics, and politics seamlessly. Historian of Religion: Ph.D., Yale University, 1993 (Department of Religious Studies); Exchange Scholar, Harvard University, Rabbinics, 1983-84; M.A., 1982, Yale, 1982 (Department of Religious Studies); M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 1981; B.A., Classics (Greek and Latin), Tufts University, 1978; Wayland High School (Wayland, MA), 1974. Served on the faculty of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), York University (Toronto), and Lexington Theological Seminary (Lexington, KY). Works in many languages: Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, English, French, Italian, German, Modern Greek (some Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish). Holder of numerous honors and awards, including The Rome Prize in Classics (Prix de Rome) and Fellow of the American Academy of Rome.

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One Response to “God and the Self as Nothing”

  1. Yossl says:

    Nothing is no-thing is a fine and helpful insight.

    But no-thing still leaves this enormous realm of the noospheric person to deal with.

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