By Dr. Nicolas Laos, Author of the book “The Meaning of Being Illuminati” (Cambridge Scholars Publishing)
The highly influential science-fiction movie “The Matrix” (1999), created by the American film and TV directors, writers, and producers Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, follows a group of heroes who fight against mechanical overlords that have enslaved humanity in an extremely sophisticated virtual-reality system. Thus, the term “Matrix” has been widely used in order to describe existential conditions that resemble the Platonic myth of the cave presented by Plato in his book “The Republic” (Book 7, section 7) in order to illustrate “our nature in its education and want of education” (514a). In fact, this is the manner in which I use the term “Matrix” in this essay. In my book “The Meaning of Being Illuminati” (which was published in July 2019 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing), I elucidate the Platonic myth of the cave, and I combine it with various mystics’ quest for illumination. In this synoptic essay, based on my aforementioned book and the notes of a series of lectures that I have delivered in the Scholarly and Political Order of the Ur-Illuminati, of which I am the Grand Master, I shall present a Kabbalistic approach to the problem of “Matrix.”
According to the Polish-Lithuanian Kabbalist Grand Master Jacob Frank (1726–91), originally named Jacob Leibowicz, who founded a mystical movement known as the Zoharists or Frankists, “all efforts of the ancestors were dedicated to this, that they might pursue that Maiden, upon whom the whole of life depended and who gives protection from all evil; no weapon has any power over men because of her help. Just as the Patriarchs dug a well” (Jacob Frank, “The Words of the Lord [Jacob Frank] from the Polish Manuscipts,” edited, translated, and annotated by Harris Lenowitz, Professor of Hebrew, University of Utah, 124). The “Maiden” to whom Jacob Frank refers in the aforementioned passage of his “Words” is, according to him, the “Shekinah” (the glory of the divine presence) and the “Matronita” (meaning Mother and Bride) (ibid). Given that “Matronita” means Mother and Bride as well as “elder” and “younger,” it signifies the Upper and the Lower Shekinah, or, in Hebrew, “Imma” (Mother) and “Kallah” (Biride). Therefore, when one refers to the Shekinah, “Imma” signifies the transcendent aspect of the Shekinah, and “Kallah” signifies the immanent aspect of the Shekinah, that is, our experience of the Shekinah. Moreover, in the previous case, the term “Kallah” is semantically interchangeable with the Hebrew term “Nukva” (meaning “[we] will be penetrated,” in the sense that we shall be filled with divine energy).
However, according to Rabbi Isaac (ben Solomon) Luria (1534–72), who was one of the most influential Jewish mystics in the Galilee region of Ottoman Syria, and developed the so-called Lurianic Kabbalah (a school of Kabbalah named after him), the holy “Sefirot” (emanations), namely, the attributes/emanations through which the “Ein Sof” (the unmanifested Infinite Unity) revels Itself and creates both the physical realm and the chain of higher spiritual realms, are surrounded by the unholy “Qliphoth.” The Hebrew term “Qliphoth” literally means “Peels,” “Shells,” or “Husks” (the singular form “Qliphoth” is “Qlippah,” and the singular form of “Sefirot” is “Sefira”). According to Isaac Luria’s Biblical homilies and Kabbalistic system, “in essence, the Qlippah comes before holiness in every matter . . . The parable of this is that the Qlippah of the stem is exceedingly beautiful but its entire end is Ha-Qlippah like it was said by Rashbi [“Zohar” 1:19]: ‘This is Qlippah to that and this is nucleus to that’” (“Sefer Liquitim,” Parshat Bereshit). Therefore, the Lurianic Kabbalah differentiates the holy nucleus of the cosmos and of the beings and things that exist in the cosmos from their impure, unholy peel, and, in this way, it reveals important esoteric knowledge regarding Eden and the narrative of the Book of Genesis. One may find more details about these issues and the relation between Luria’s mystical notion of “holy nucleus” and the Greek philosophical notion of “logos” (the efficient and final cause) in my book “The Meaning of Being Illuminati” (sections 1.6, 1.7.2, 1.7.3, and 2.4).
In the light of the aforementioned Lurianic distinction between the “holy nucleus” and the “unholy peel” of beings and things, Jacob Frank writes the following: “Before the herb of life there appears the herb of death, yet death is not there. It is just that to people’s eyes it seems as though death were there” (Jacob Frank, “The Words of the Lord [Jacob Frank],” 78). The peel comes before the fruit, and the Qlippah comes before holiness. Jacob Frank identifies death and corruption with the “unholy peel” (Qlippah), and he identifies life (in Hebrew, “Chaim”) and Gnosis (in Hebrew, “Daath”) with the “holy nucleus” (or the “logos”) of beings and things. Moreover, Jacob Frank argues as follows: “Before that Maiden [Matronita/Shekinah] there will be no fear, before that thing which will come before her, there will be great fear” (Jacob Frank, “The Words of the Lord [Jacob Frank],” 741). The Qlippah comes before Matronita, and one has to work hard in order to see Matronita. When one has achieved the esoteric knowledge of the deity and has been united with it, one feels no fear, but, as long as one’s knowledge of the deity (if one can call this “knowledge”) is confined to the “peel” and, hence, an exoteric conception of the deity, one suffers by existential and metaphysical fears. For a systematic study of the levels of humanity’s spiritual development and of the issue of humanity’s deification, one may read Chapter 2 of my book “The Meaning of Being Illuminati.”
Furthermore, in the main appendix to the “Zohar,” specifically in the “Sefer Tikuney Ha-Zohar,” 109A, we read the following: “Just as there is a holy Malkuth, so there is an evil Malkuth. Just like circumcision, so the foreskin. There is the uncircumcised Samael and his mate, the (or uncircumcised) female foreskin. The Serpent and the woman of whoredoms.” The Hebrew word “Malkuth” means kingdom, and it refers to Nature and the realm of materialization (see my book “The Meaning of Being Illuminati,” section 2.4). In Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore, Samael is an important archangel who is the accuser (“Ha-Satan”), seducer, and destroyer (“Mashit”). The “woman of whoredoms” mentioned in the aforementioned passage of the “Sefer Tikuney Ha-Zohar” corresponds to “Mystery Babylon” as alluded to in Revelation 17, and, more specifically, she is Lilith, a figure in Jewish mythology developed earliest in the Babylonian Talmud (third to fifth century A.D.) under the influence of ancient Assyrian and Babylonian demonologies. The holy Malkuth is the realm and the mode of being that correspond to the “holy nucleus,” the Shekinah, whereas the evil Malkuth is the realm and the mode of being that correspond to the “unholy peel,” the Qlippah.
“Bava Batra” (Talmudic Aramaic for “The Last Gate”) is the third of the three Talmudic tractates in the “Talmud” in the order “Nezikin.” In “Bava Batra,” 15b, we read the following: “Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani says that Rabbi Yonatan says: Anyone who says that the queen of Sheba [“malkat Sheva”] who came to visit King Solomon (see 1 Kings, Chapter 10) was a woman is nothing other than mistaken. What is the meaning of “malkat Sheba”? The kingdom [“malkhuta”] of Sheba, as is mentioned in Job: ‘And Sheba fell on them and took them away’ (Job 1:15).” In other words, according to the aforementioned Talmudic passage, the text that we read in 1 Kings, Chapter 10, regarding the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon, has a deep, secretly codified esoteric meaning: according to the original Aramaic text of “Bava Batra,” 15, the answer to the question “Who is the Queen of Sheba?” is that “Malkhuta is Sheba”; the word “Malkhuta” is Aramaic for “Malkuth,” the tenth Sefira of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Therefore, the Queen of Sheba is not a mortal woman, but she is Malkuth. However, as I mentioned earlier, according to “Sefer Tikuney Ha-Zohar,” 109A, there are two kinds of Malkuth: the one is holy and corresponds to the Nukva-principle, and the other is evil and corresponds to the Qlippah-principle. Which of these two principles does the Queen of Sheba represent; is she the Nukva-principle, or is she the Qlippah-principle? In order to answer the previous question from an esoteric Talmudic perspective, we should bear in mind that, in the Aramaic translation of the Book of Job, specifically, in the “Aramaic Targum to Job” 1, the following text is written: “And Lilith the Queen of Zemargad launched an attack and the daughters and young men died” (the Aramaic “targumim”―singular “targum”―are mystical Kabbalistic translations of the Jewish Scriptures). Therefore, according to the “Aramaic Targum to Job” 1, the Queen of Sheba was Lilith, the Qlippah of Shekinah. The Queen of Sheba is called the Queen of Zemargad, or the Queen of the Desert (in this case, the term “Desert” signifies an area deserted by God’s grace). The issue of humanity’s communion with and participation in the deity, or the good-in-itself, as well as its political and societal ramifications are studied in my book “The Meaning of Being Illuminati,” in chapters 2 and 3.
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank the distinguished American occultist Tau Allen H. Greenfield, who has supported and encouraged my research work in the mystical schools of Lurianic Kabbalism and Frankism, and, together with other Masonic authorities, has bestowed upon me, according to his regular initiatory authority, the supreme degree of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis–Misraim. My gratitude extends to my teachers and research assistants in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic.
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