Reading Ecclesiastes

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Phillip
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Reading Ecclesiastes

#1 Postby Phillip » Wed Nov 10, 2010 11:33 am

Much of what is said in Ecclesiastes is difficult, and we can read this text to be a depressing or pessimistic vision. Yet the tradition claims that this is one of the most profound texts in the Old Testament, and is not, in fact, pessimistic at all, but it is our own delusion and our own condition in the ignorance that interferes with our ability to hear this text as a profound revelation of metaphysical truth, not pessimistic at all.

A practice can be used with Ecclesiastes that is very useful in looking into this text. I think this practice can be applied as well to myriad of the more challenging statements and teachings in scripture. The practice is to look into the lines of scripture as they exist without trying to explain the meaning away. In fact, watch the mind attempt to do so. Notice how the mind attempts to take the “thorn” out of such teachings, remove their bite through a re-wording of the teachings, subtly changing their meaning. Note how the mind attempts to make such teachings apply only to very specific contexts, persons or things, to make the teaching conditional and thus limit the teaching, put a boundary around it. Note all of the ways the mind attempts to re-interpret and subtly or even overtly alter the meaning of the words as they are presented. Note the movement in consciousness that seeks to accept such teachings with an energy of pessimism or fatalism as well.

Teachings like these have much value, one of which is what they bring to the surface in our own consciousness a myriad play of thought an emotion in reaction, so that we might be empowered to look into the reactive play in consciousness that keeps us bound.

If we accept that Ecclesiastes has profound Wisdom, I would ask one question: What is the mind that sees the profound Wisdom in Ecclesiastes without having to alter, explain, limit or change the words or meaning in any way, and is uplifted and illuminated by the teaching as it is?

May we illuminate the causes of our bondage and come to liberation! Amen.
Phillip

Mark Daniel
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Re: Reading Ecclesiastes

#2 Postby Mark Daniel » Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:08 am

Thank you brother Phillip for this wise reflection.

I have just been contemplating Ecclesiastes and your post helped enormously. I would like to here add my own insights to your insight.

The Teacher presenting the discourse in Ecclesiastes tells us clearly at the end of the book that the words of wise teachers are meant to direct our course:

“The words of the wise are like cattle prods - painful but helpful. There collected sayings are like a nail-studded stick with which a shepherd drives the sheep” (12:11)

Wise teachings, we are reminded, are fundamentally pragmatic. They are less about telling us some facts about the world, and much more about uncovering (and correcting) how we each specifically relate to our world. More and more I hear within and behind all of the teachings of Tzaddik two simple provocations: ‘Dear brother you have gone too far left, turn now a bit right’, or, ‘Dear brother you have veered a bit to the right, time to turn left’.

Praise the immediate and Crazy wisdom of Christ!

One of the initial challenges I faced while reading Ecclesiastes was to assume that the Teacher was giving some factual piece of knowledge - eg. life is meaningless. Whereas upon reflection (and with your help brother) I see the teaching instead as directing my subjective way of experiencing my life - eg. my pursuits are not nearly as important as I often, in my youthful zeal, make them out to be.

Today, the words of Ecclesiastes are directing me once again to reflect on the emptiness of many of my worldly ambitions. Many of which still have the power to pull me away from the moment and so from the Beloved. Passion and enterprise are of course important, but they must be tempered by hishtavut (equanimity). Does Ecclesiastes not feel like a great work of hishtavut? By being directed to reflect on the enormity of life and the futility of my worldly endeavors I feel my ambitions being loosened. The valleys and mountains of my expectations and desires are leveling out. And my mind and heart, no longer being pulled so strongly to the past or future, come to rest in the present - with my eating, my drinking, and my work as it is presented to me today

And lo and behold! In this state of non-grasping I have found a quite place to meet and commune with my Beloved. Such blessings!

May we all hear clearly the words of our Beloved directing us along this narrow path home!

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Ecclesiastes and the Wise Builder

#3 Postby Elder Gideon » Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:18 am

Solstice Eve Shalom, Brother!

Your voice and tone with Ecclesiastes very much resonates with my own as well. It is perhaps my favorite book in the Jewish bible for the way it reads like a discourse. For biblical poetry, Solomon is my favorite for how contemporary his exhaustless prose continues to startle. When I read Ecclesiastes for meditation, I try to do so in one sitting, without pausing for too long, as it impresses an inexplicable total effect. In ceremony, we've used this text as a gentle eulogy in invisible assistance with those who are dying or have died, as the words, however harsh to the living, are very sweet to those who seek release.

Like you, I'm in the world to do what can be done for others, but with less superstition in my significance. Yeshua's Sermon on the Mount is very parallel for me in the same regards I feel for Ecclesiastes, as its total effect is for me a discourse on the emptiness of self: Self doesn't love enemies, forgive, or turn the other cheek. What in me is capable of these new standards set by the Perfect Master is a greater and greater transparency of self, even no-self. Point by point, self and significance are dissolved by the economy of Yeshua's metaphors, the most climactic being the Parable of the Wise Builder.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall
(Matthew 7:24-29)!

If by rock one means what doesn't change, this is perhaps his most subtle and sublime point, one very resonant with Ecclesiastes. Tau Malachi often says the very same with other words, "The only thing that doesn't change is change itself." Being wise and founded upon rock is in my hearing adapting, responding, melding with what is, as it is, for self is nothing other than what's co-arising in a given moment.

Solomon's poetry in Ecclesiastes takes me to this same space of no-self, much like how I hear one is made wise to build their life display upon this unshakeable, indestructible awareness of ain-nothingness.

Born from the darkest night of the solar year,
may Mother stir the memory of our bornless beginning,
that we might manifest anything.

Elder Gideon

Mark Daniel
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Re: Reading Ecclesiastes

#4 Postby Mark Daniel » Sat Dec 26, 2015 8:27 am

Elder Gideon, dear brother!

I am struggling to express how deeply your words here have shaken me. How beautiful, how painfully beautiful, this wisdom is! Thank you brother! Praise God that such wisdom flows and can be shared and can be heard!

On the darkest night of the year such wisdom can shine. It is a miraculous life. Is this not the world to come already here?

If the spirit moves, I have a great passion to hear more about the Master's parables as opportunities to strip away the clinging self.

Shalom. Shalom. Shalom!

Tau Malachi
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Re: Reading Ecclesiastes

#5 Postby Tau Malachi » Sat Jan 09, 2016 9:30 am

Grace and peace to you in Hayyah Yeshua, the Risen Messiah!

You’ve shared lovely insights dear brothers, each quite a luminous depth.

If we consider the culmination of this Holy Book, it is the exhortation to seek Wisdom (Hokmah), and Wisdom corresponds with seeking God and returning to God, or seeking enlightenment. In the end, apart from the awakening of the soul, and seeking God or enlightenment, this life, this mortal existence, is filled with vanity and futility, devoid of greater purpose or meaning; put simply, it is of no more value than a passing dream of no significance, it’s a phantom of the mind having no real substance. However, seeking the source from which all arises, the nature of mind, consciousness or soul, and the Holy One, and recognizing and realizing the supernal and primordial foundation of all, then one acquires Wisdom - enlightenment and liberation, and the purpose and meaning of the incarnations of the soul and this life are known and understood.

Look and see, and seek understanding! Unless a person recognizes their bondage to immeasurable sorrow and suffering, potentially endless rounds of birth, life aging, illness and death, and recognizes their needs for salvation, enlightenment and liberation, they will not seek it and they remain in bondage to the ignorance, and the sorrow and suffering it brings. If a soul, however, stirs and awakens, and becomes aware of their plight, and they seek to understand the cause and seek the solution, then they may bring the cause of sorrow and suffering to an end and be free, receiving their salvation, their enlightenment and liberation.

The cause of sorrow and suffering, and bondage to the potentially endless rounds of rebirth - the gilgulim, is the ignorance, the illusion of separation, and the self-cherishing, attachment and aversion that arises from it. If we truly recognize this, as the Book of Ecclesiastes reflects it to us, then we will seek to bring the cause of sorrow and suffering to cessation and be free of it.

Ego-grasping or self-cherishing is why so many are pained by this Holy Book, and yet if contemplated, seeking understanding, it stirs and awakens the soul, and generates a passionate yearning to seek God and return to God, or to seek enlightenment and liberation. This Holy Book provokes the remembrance of the soul of its true origin and purpose, and as such calls the soul to seek to fulfill its purpose in this life, while the opportunity is still present.

Hishtavut, non-attachment, non-aversion, or transcendence, is the very nature of True Wisdom, or enlightenment, such as we witness with Yeshua Messiah and his self-offering for the salvation or enlightenment of the world.

This Holy Book is very important, for the power of forgetfulness in this world is like a drunken stupor - the world is intoxicating, and there is a need to shake us out of our stupor so that we might remember to seek God or enlightenment with the full force of our will and desire.

As for what never changes, the inmost essence and nature of the mind, consciousness or soul never changes - the Holy One of Being never changes; seeking this Primordial Foundation, this Great Natural Perfection, you will realize your transcendence, and will experience enlightenment and liberation. Having received the Holy Light and Spirit this is already happening, you are awakening and returning to God - Wisdom is dawning!

In death all things return to God, but to enter into conscious union with God, or reintegrate with the True Light, a soul must be awake, aware, conscious.

May the Holy Spirit stir many to awaken this day and remember their innate unity with the Infinite! May many be saved! Amen,

Shalom Aleichem!
Tau Malachi
Sophia Fellowship
Ecclesia Pistis Sophia

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Re: Reading Ecclesiastes

#6 Postby sheryl » Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:50 am

Shabbat blessings and greetings this day!

Thank you, dear Tau and brothers for this contemplation, it has danced delightfully with recent thoughts arising on the now.

It came to mind that when all attachments, aversions and graspings are brought to cessation, all that is left is the now, and so I really appreciate what you shared, Brother Mark, about when one realizes the emptiness of ego ambitions, all one is left with is the present moment and the Beloved. Perhaps we can say that now is awareness?

Elder Gideon, I appreciate what you have taught about Rock and that which 'does not change'. I heard in your words that rock is not a fixed object, which points to the mystery of the now. It is not a fixed object.

Tau Malachi, you taught above, saying:

As for what never changes, the inmost essence and nature of the mind, consciousness or soul never changes - the Holy One of Being never changes; seeking this Primordial Foundation, this Great Natural Perfection, you will realize your transcendence, and will experience enlightenment and liberation. Having received the Holy Light and Spirit this is already happening, you are awakening and returning to God - Wisdom is dawning!


Is it correct to say that infinite potential exists in this inmost nature that never changes? Which is why we often encounter a play on words about changing and not changing? Infinite potential never changes, but infinite potential is the force behind all that changes?

It comes to mind that when ego grasping at ambitions - the past or the future, is brought to repose and cessation, it is this rock -- the inmost nature, this infinite potential, that remains : or that which is behind all that is changing. And so this present moment becomes quite mysterious. Please correct any error in thought, but it seems that the present moment, now - this infinite potential, is the Beloved, thus is Elohenu, is God. Thus when the doer is brought into repose, even cessation, all that is left is this now, the Rock, or God of our experience?

Praise and gratitude for these teachings, and for the dance of mind and heart that arises from them.

May all beings find the Now in their experience, the ground from which all arises!

Sheryl

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Re: Reading Ecclesiastes

#7 Postby Tau Malachi » Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:34 pm

Blessings in the Holy Name of Yahweh, Yeshua!

The Holy One is present in the moment, now always, and likewise the reality of our existence is in the moment, now always; thus, to commune with the Holy One, or to drawn near and unify oneself with the Holy One, one must be here now, awake and alert in the moment.

As the Holy One is in the moment, so also eternity - the Infinite and Eternal pervades all space-time, and encompasses all space-time; in effect, space-time, and each moment that composes it, emanates from eternity, and timeless-eternity and time-eternity are inseparable from one another - being and becoming are inseparable from one another.

In creation the only thing that does not change is change itself, but then within and behind this continuum of endless change is the essence and nature of things that does not change - Ain, No-thingness, does not change; this essence and nature is the foundation of creation, but it transcends creation, and is bornless, primordial and supernal - eternal. This Ain, represented by Keter on the Tree of Life, corresponds with infinite potential, and this No-Thingness is every-thingness - a “pregnant emptiness,” if you will, which at one and the same time is fullness.

Who can speak this supreme mystery? What is there to say about Ain, No-Thingness? There is no thing to talk about! Yet, abiding in pure radiant awareness there is the Wisdom of Ain - recognition and realization of the Ain Nature of the mind, consciousness or soul, and the radiant display of the mind, consciousness or soul, or all that appears. This Ain Nature is the Primordial Foundation of All (Kol), and is inseparable from the Infinite and Eternal - this is the “Rock,” and when this Ain Nature is realized there is liberation.

Yeshua, “Yahweh delivers,” the Rock of our salvation! Contemplate this well, and understand!

Yahweh Shalom!
Tau Malachi

Sophia Fellowship

Ecclesia Pistis Sophia

Mark Daniel
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Ra’ah: Discernment that Bears Fruit

#8 Postby Mark Daniel » Sat Jan 20, 2018 12:53 pm

Shalom brothers and sisters,

It has been a while since adding to this post thread, but something has come up in my exploration of Ecclesiastes that I think would be good to share for our collective contemplation and practical application of the wisdom found within.

The wisdom teacher in Ecclesiastes tells us that everything is vanity or breath:

"Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity" (Ecc 1:2).

Tau writes above concerning this teaching:

"In the end, apart from the awakening of the soul, and seeking God or enlightenment, this life, this mortal existence, is filled with vanity and futility, devoid of greater purpose or meaning; put simply, it is of no more value than a passing dream of no significance, it’s a phantom of the mind having no real substance. However, seeking the source from which all arises, the nature of mind, consciousness or soul, and the Holy One, and recognizing and realizing the supernal and primordial foundation of all, then one acquires Wisdom - enlightenment and liberation, and the purpose and meaning of the incarnations of the soul and this life are known and understood".

The wisdom teacher in Ecclesiastes goes on to suggest that we should upon recognizing the transient and unsatisfactory nature of this life try simply to “enjoy” ourselves:

“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour (Ecc., 2:24).

And again:

“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of Elohim” (Ecc., 2:24).

What I find intriguing here is the Hebrew word Ra'ah that is translated here as "enjoy". This word can also mean to behold, to consider, to give attention to, and to discern.

Already this change is sending shivers up my "practical contemplation spine". Might we then not hear this teaching as: life is ever shifting, and our endless struggle to keep it still only brings suffering. The antidote then is to perceive this truth, deeply recognize the fact of this change, open our hearts to this aspect of life. In my own experience as I deepen my discernment into the fundamental nature of reality the struggle to keep things a certain way, or to make myself a certain way, is also dissolving leaving in its wake a more lasting joy that is not dependent on the changing features of this realm.

To push this idea a little further, Ra’ah is sometime contrasted with the word Histakel which also means to look and see. Histakel has within it the word ‘kol’, which means "all", and so refers to seeing the whole of a thing. In contrast, Ra’ah can be become Arah (aleph-resh-he) meaning to pluck off or to gather. Ra’ah then refers to the understanding or discernment that arises when one becoming a part of what is seen and bears the fruits of that unification.

Understanding Ra'ah as such I feel beautifully captures a subtle point in Tau's profound teaching above:

“Look and see, and seek understanding! Unless a person recognizes their bondage to immeasurable sorrow and suffering, potentially endless rounds of birth, life aging, illness and death, and recognizes their needs for salvation, enlightenment and liberation, they will not seek it and they remain in bondage to the ignorance, and the sorrow and suffering it brings. If a soul, however, stirs and awakens, and becomes aware of their plight, and they seek to understand the cause and seek the solution, then they may bring the cause of sorrow and suffering to an end and be free, receiving their salvation, their enlightenment and liberation.”

The understanding and knowledge that Tau points to is not a form of head knowledge. It is not enough to merely think "yes, it is all changing, yes my suffering is due to misidentification, and I accept that". Instead the knowledge and understanding we seek is the fruit of a profoundly deep investigation, one that occurs when we are able to completely absorb ourselves in the object of investigation. An investigation that leaves us fundamentally different. Unification of the observer and the observed is a form of devekut which is achieved through cultivating powerful concentration and awareness.

This is such a profound teaching for me - in order to deal with the vanity, transience and suffering of this realm it is not enough to turn away, instead we are being called to turn inward, to turn towards that fact, and to get so close to life that we may see what its all about and in seeing (in Awakening) be set free.

And one more point, for future contemplations, the letters of Ra’ah can be reordered to make the Sixty-Ninth Name of Gevurot: Resh-Alef-He


Shalom Shalom my beautiful community,

Mark Daniel

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Re: Reading Ecclesiastes

#9 Postby Tau Malachi » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:20 am

Greetings and blessings in the Holy Light of the Messiah!

This is a delightful contemplation you’ve shared dear brother, quite stirring. There is another angle concerning ‘enjoy’ that is aroused in my contemplation, considering the two essential instructions given by the ‘Preacher.’ There is this instruction to ‘enjoy’ eating and drinking, and our various labors in this world, indeed aware of and embracing the impermanence of all things, and then in the culmination of his message there is the instruction to seek and acquire ‘wisdom.’ which as we know is the principle term for enlightenment in the Holy Scriptures. Thus there is the instruction to ‘enjoy,’ or to delight in life, and to pursue enlightenment, and we may infer that it is this that constitutes a true human being, or a spiritual human being - the noble ideal of humanity.

If we consider the various meanings of this word, ra’ah, there is a straightforward teaching of the cultivation of mindfulness in all activities of life, and this is fundamental to the spiritual life and practice, the generation of the presence of awareness. We could say that we are instructed to be ‘awake’ and ‘alert,’ and this goes hand in hand with what you’ve shared, very much so! We may inquire, though, what we are to ‘enjoy,’ what we are to ‘behold’ or ‘pay attention to,’ and what we are to ‘gather in’? It is as though the Preacher calls us to look and see deeper, beyond the surface of things, to look and see things in their inwardness, to look and see That Which Is within and behind That Which Appears; this, of course, requires an inward orientation, for to be aware of the inwardness of things we must be aware of our own inwardness - inwardness beholds inwardness, and we may say that the One beholds the One, no longer in twoness but oneness. In this way we may recognize and realize That Which Was, Is and forever Shall Be (Yahweh) within and behind all that transpires and appears; hence, what, in fact, does not change, the bornless nature of being - the Holy One, the Infinite and Eternal.

This enjoyment seems to suggest an awareness of the Holy One in all things and all things in the Holy One, not as a concept in the mind, but as experiential awareness, realization. Eating and drinking, and laboring, we may consider what our experience of being and life becomes when we remember our innate unity with the universe and the Holy One - the source of all, and we are aware of ourselves as a focal point of the powers of the universe and the Holy One in space-time, seeing, hearing and feeling with the Holy One, the universe, the One, seeing and hearing and feeling the universe, the One - realization of the One.

Who is eating and drinking, and laboring - who is enjoying?

Perhaps we might translate this instruction of the Preacher, ‘Remembering oneness, enjoy being One’ - enjoy being, be awake!

So, then, enjoying, beholding, awareness of the One, realizing the One.

It seems that Preacher is speaking of a deep inwardness, of going within and living within, but then integrating the ‘inside’ and ‘outside,’ fully embodying this presence of awareness - this Divine Presence, in this life, in this world.

This is what stirred reading your insights.

May we be blessed to acquire wisdom, the fullness of Habad! Amen.

Shalom Aleichem!
Tau Malachi

Sophia Fellowship

Ecclesia Pistis Sophia


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