Grace and peace to you in Hayyah Yeshua, the Risen Messiah!
This is a wonderful teaching you have shared Gideon, one that runs deep and stirs my heart, I’m inclined to take up this contemplation and share some thoughts concerning returning as “rest” or “repose.” There are numerous teachings connected with this. May God help us explore some of them! Amen.
First when contemplating the teachings of Rebbe Nachman, or any of the Hasidic masters, one must remember that at one and the same time they speak to the simple in their gathering and to the initiates - those with understanding. Indeed, for they sought to make spirituality and the inner mystical tradition accessible to everyone, the ordinary faithful individual as well as those with a greater spiritual capacity and understanding. To the simple there is a teaching of human interest and human desire, a teaching set into the terms of the outward and religious human life, but to those with understanding the very terms used are veils and symbolic, and run very deep, conveying secret wisdom of the Holy Kabbalah - deep mysteries of creation and God. Thus, for example, while speaking of the spirituality of human affairs and relationships, engagements and marriages between men and women - a teaching for the simple, so in what you have shared Rebbe Nachman is giving a teaching on the soul, the realization of its various aspects or grades, and on the interaction and intersection of This World and the World-To-Come. Understanding this we do not want to become distracted by the issue of human affairs, but rather we wish to look deeper, gazing into the wonderful mysteries of the soul and it’s innate unity with the Holy One that this great Tzaddik is teaching.
Now, on the surface there is a suggestion of predestination in the meeting, engagement and marriage of men and women, and more so a suggestion of soul mates, that a single neshamah generates two souls streams in incarnation, one male and the other female, which are destined to meet and unite in this world, and through unification destined to fulfill the mission of neshamah, the heavenly soul, and bring about the realization of the holy neshamah and the inmost aspects of the soul, yechidah and hayyah, the unique essence and living essence. On a deeper level, however, understand that neshamah emanates two aspects when incarnating, ruach, our spirit or intelligence, and nefesh, our vital soul, and these correspond with “male” and “female,” or “groom” and “bride,” and their “engagement” and “marriage” and “consummation” correspond with the process of the awakening and evolution of the soul, and the realization of the soul - the “return of the soul to God.” Thus, this is a teaching concerning the soul within each individual, whether a man or a woman, and the need for the realization and unification of the various aspects of the soul, specifically the unification of ruach and nefesh through which the holy neshamah becomes realized and embodied.
As is known, however, there is a process of the evolution of souls and there are souls of various grades, and there are three “soul races,” material or bestial, psychic or faithful and the spiritual elect or chosen. Thus, there are souls of lower grades and higher grades, and though eventually all souls are destined to realize their neshamah and their inmost aspects, hayyah and yechidah, during initial incarnations in the human life-wave many are not able or destined to fully realize the inner aspects of their soul. There are those whose labor and mission is the realization of nefesh - nefesh elokit, godly soul, and there are those whose labor and mission is the realization of ruach, their human and divine intelligence, and then there are those whose labor and mission is the realization of their holy neshamah, those inclined to a profound spiritual realization, or enlightenment and liberation in this life.
As is also known, each aspect of the soul holds all other aspects within it, and therefore even at the level of nefesh something of neshamah and the inmost aspects of the soul can be realized, and so also at the level of ruach; if and when there is a full realization of nefesh, so something of neshamah is realized, neshamah of nefesh, and if there is a full realization of ruach, so something more of neshamah is realized, neshamah of ruach, and this opens the way for the full realization of neshamah, or neshamah of neshamah, certainly so!
The realization of nefesh - nefesh elokit, this corresponds with “engagement,” and something of neshamah flashes forth, but is then concealed and restricted. The realization of ruach, which comes to pass with the unification of nefesh and ruach, this corresponds with “marriage,” and with this there is a significant influence and revelation of neshamah that enters the incarnation; the realization of neshamah, however, corresponds with “consummation” and “rearing a child.”
When nefesh is realized an individual is able to reach fully into Malkut, and when nefesh is joined to ruach an individual is able to reach fully into Yesod, and when ruach is realized, so an individual is able to reach into Tiferet; when neshamah is realized an individual is able to fully reach into Da’at, acquiring Habad, and may reach beyond, touching upon the radiance of the Supernal Crown (Keter) to embody the full influx of that Holy Light and the fullness of the Spirit of God (Ruach Elohim). This, my friends, is the mystery of the union of the “groom and bride” in us, mystery of the bridal chamber, a dance from engagement to consummation, and with consummation and rearing a child - the “firstborn,” so there is reintegration with the Infinite Light and conscious union with the Eternal One (Yahweh).
This development and evolution of souls, and realization of souls, is by no means as sequential and linear as it may seem in initial, provisional explanations, for as has been said, even at the level of nefesh something of neshamah can be realized, and likewise something of hayyah and yechidah, and there can be a reaching into the radiance of the Supernals, though concealed and restricted, and not-reaching. Regardless of the grade of a soul, its point of evolution and realization, and its labor and mission in this life, within and behind there is neshamah, hayyah and yechidah, these aspects that reach into heaven, and the Light Continuum - the Supernal Abode, the eternal realm. Indeed, though souls emanate from the Infinite and Eternal, the Light Continuum, they remain within the Infinite and Eternal, the Light Continuum, never having departed from it; and understand, there is no past, present or future in the eternal realm, there is the eternal now, which is to say, all in a great and supreme mystery, the perfection and completion of souls - full realization of souls, is a present reality in eternity. Yet, without contradiction, while there is this Being of the Becoming - ever present within and behind, so there is the play of Ever-Becoming, the journey of souls in the gilgulim and their progressive evolution and realization, Coming-Into-Being.
Concerning “returning” as “resting,” consider this. Rest is the eternal realm - the Light Continuum; hence, the World-That-Is-Coming (from our perspective in space-time). The eternal realm is within and behind, and encompasses, the entirety of space-time, timeless-eternity and time-eternity being inseparable from one another - Being and Becoming inseparable from one another; and though, indeed, we emanate into incarnations and sojourn in the gilgulim, and there is this “movement,” so neshamah and the inmost aspects of our soul abide in the eternal realm, timeless-eternity, there is this “rest” - movement and rest is the simultaneous reality of our soul in the Holy One.
Understand, the material dimension, astral dimension, spiritual dimension, supernal dimension and primordial dimension, and the realms, worlds and universes within them, all occupy the same space at the same time, and they are all a present reality, right here, right now; truly, running and returning there is moving and moving-not, and returning there is nowhere to go, but rather, “returning” (repentance) is being here now, awake, alert, reintegrated with the Holy Light and Spirit of the Infinite, the Eternal.
Understand, the inmost aspect of your soul is inseparable from the Infinite Light and the Eternal One, and so it is with the supernal and spiritual essence of all things, their foundation is in the Holy One of Being. Thus, something of the Infinite Light and Eternal One is within you, and within all things, within you and surrounding you here and now, in This World, reaching into the World-To-Come. To “return” to the Holy One then, you must go within, go into the depths of your being, your soul, and rest, be still, and just be in the presence of the Infinite and Eternal, inseparable from the Living God (Elohim Hayyim).
It’s all about being present in the moment, where you are and where the Holy One is, and going within, resting, being still, the Holy Spirit may gather you in and you may glimpse, taste, something of the eternal realm, or World-To-Come; hence, you may experience true rest or repose, something of your bornless being in the Eternal One.
Thus, among the Six Essentials there is hitbodedut, which is secluded prayer, but also spiritual retreat and deep meditation, and understanding “returning” as “resting,” deep meditation is the very essence of returning to God; there is no full return and reintegration with God, the True Light, apart from deep meditation. If anyone seeks enlightenment and liberation - a full return to the Holy One, and full reintegration with the Infinite Light, they will pray and meditate, and they will be zealous for meditation, zealous for the experience of nearness and unification with the Holy One, certainly so!
Prayer, meditation, resting in the presence of the Infinite and Eternal, this is the delight of true mystics, or gnostics; and when understood, meditation itself is enlightenment, and so we practice meditation until, indeed, we are able to meditate, able to rest in the intrinsic nature of mind, consciousness or soul, fully awake and alert - just being in the Holy One inseparable from the Holy One.
This requires, though, that we silence the mind and quiet the vital, and that we hold a single intention, single desire, for conscious union with the Holy One, the Supernal (Elyon); so we sit, so we practice often, for its own sake, sitting being its own reward, its own delight - resting in the Lord!
There is, no doubt, more that might be shared, but this seems to be enough for the moment; I’m inclined in the moment to silence and rest, waiting upon the Spirit of the Lord.
In closing, though, we may share that when there is true rest, so there is the experience of rest in motion.
O Holy One, may we realize the Way of Perfection and be perfect as You are perfect! Amen.
Ecclesia Pistis Sophia