Shalom Elder Gideon,
This post took longer to write than I anticipated, but I took on your challenge to read through Ecclesiastes.
As I read a first pass, your words lit up this sacred text for me. I love how your narrative worked backwards to the present:
I begin with our sun swelling in its final stage of life...
You then powerfully describe a transcendent focus:
To the Most High, the intention is what shines, what exists, what is received. As I will die as naked as I was born, all that I will take is the experience of making what I made, the space of its insights, recognitions, and realizations: in a word, its intention.
On a second reading I found more ideas, mixed with much of what I have been learning and reading in the Tradition along with experiences on my own life path.
The text says that the writer of Ecclesiastes had "acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge." (1:16) Do these reveal an individual who has experienced the Supernal Habad (Da’at, Hokamah, and Binah)?
Then the writer says he descended into “madness and folly” and I applied this to the artist and the audience who live into the fixed identities of 'producers' and 'consumers':
All things are wearisome;
More than one can express;
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Or the ear filled with hearing 1:8
Here the Nefesh Behamit dominates and the lusts of the flesh rule us as conscious creatures. However, as Nefesh Elokit is opened to Ruach, a search begins. The artist and audience experience the wonders of the creative movement within themselves. As you know, my creative medium is narrative video. Here, I'm learning that Elohim Tzavaot, Haniel and The Elohim move us as we think and create.
Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (2:10-11)
Today there are fewer and fewer boundaries with freedom to go into the bright light and the dark dungeons of humanity. I have found it easy to mistake these dualities for truth because there is something liberating in stepping out from the dullness of superficial culture and feeling something closer to the real. However, this is often negative and admixed, but to ego it feels enlightened.
Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from one person’s envy of another. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind. (4:4)
As with any culture based on limited identity, I often found myself trapped in the poison of desiring someone else’s gift instead of mining the depth of my own.
So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a chasing after wind. (2:17)
Often, this is about mindlessly imitating and trying to become the next indie success story. This chasing and deconstructing can be a life sentence where negativity, nilhilism, and self-grasping define the individual. However, I maintained a spark of Faith and Hope which proved to be life preservers which allowed me to drift into paradox and not-knowing that I read here:
Consider the work of God; who can make straight what he has made crooked? (7:13)
Why would God make something crooked? My weary mind stops for a moment from chasing “chasing after the wind”. I also see a middle path:
Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise; why should you destroy yourself? Do not be too wicked, and do not be a fool (7:16)
Once this road is found, there is the possibility of going beyond mortal thought into gnosis.
No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it. (8:17)
I put on Yeshua Messiah in the form of a Partzuf Meditation with the desire to reveal my Neshemah in God in purity and service to others:
Always be clothed in white and, always anoint your head with oil. (9:8)
I also see the Reality that I have been given a life in this incarnation to work out my salvation in both the creative and the mundane with kavvanah (concentration) and devekut (cleaving).
Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. (9:10)
And here I am encouraged to embrace reality in all its fleeting flavors.
Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun. However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many.(11:7)
I need to remember and uplift the days of light and the days of darkness,
including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (12:14)
For all needs to be brought out into the light and liberated.
Remember him --- before the silver cord is severed (12:6)
Elder Gideon, I have found Ecclesiastes and your words have born fruit in my own experience. I'm releasing a first documentary film project this week and I feel strangely carefree and peaceful; much less self-grasping. I anticipate interacting with people but not with many of the emotional trappings I've experience in the past.
Here is a link to the full video to the Glory of God: http://conversationsafterchurch.tumblr.com/watch
Blessings to All this Day,