I want to hear about heaven and things like that, too. That’s how I end up with books like this one.

“The physical world in which we live, the objectively observed universe around us, is only a part of an inconceivably vast system of worlds. Most of these worlds are spiritual in their essence; they are of a different order from our known world. Which does not necessarily mean that they exist somewhere else, but means rather that they exist in different dimensions of being.”

That certainly sounds like something I could have said. But I did not, at least not as grandly and beautifully as Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. In the opening paragraph of his book The Thirteen Petalled Rose, Rabbi Steinsaltz plagiarizes me years before I even started thinking about these things in a non-fiction way.  (I have had an overwhelming urge to write fiction about this great chain of worlds since I was in my 20es, and fought bravely to resist it, which was probably a good thing in that age of confusion.)

I have still only read a couple chapters.  Some of his thoughts are alien in detail, based as they are on the Jewish Kabbalah. I am not sure I am ever going to agree with him in all details.  But in the grand scope, it rings eerily true.  Not just the large number of worlds, but also the way human use of free will have repercussions running up and down the chain of being.

Somewhere here I should throw in the quote by T’ien-t’ai Chih-i: “One thought leads to 3000 worlds” (or “There are 3000 worlds in one moment of thought”). Of course, I have not actually been to 3000 worlds. Well, perhaps in my dreams… ^_^

Since the definition of a lower world is one we create, and a higher world one that creates us, it seems counter-intuitive that our actions also make their way several worlds up from here.  However, the muse in my head that is currently planning yet another fiction on the topic, gave my fictional character the following example:

Two men are playing chess.  The chess board is a lower world, limited in size and scope and complexity compared to the world that created it. And yet what happens on the chess board has some effect on the world in which the players live. Depending on who they are, the news of their chess match might even be followed by people all over the world, thronging out other news and so slightly changing the flow of history.  Of course this change is still small compared to the lower world:  If the chess pieces were sentient, they would remember a world ravaged by war, beyond any world wars our world has ever seen, a costly victory and an utter defeat.  Yet objectively speaking, the effects on the world above theirs is greater, because that world is that much more real.

I want to add something else, that I have also thought about in this connection: Higher worlds appear abstract to us, and this planet the most concrete of anything imaginable; but a higher world is at least as concrete to those living in it, and possibly more so in absolute terms. Huston Smith mentioned this in his introduction to The Transcendent Unity of Religions, but that is not quite the first time it has appeared to me, I think. I am not sure however whether I have heard it from outside or inside me at first. Now that I am in contact with people, on the Net or through books, who also think about such things, it is hard to tell apart. I guess this has its own risks.  Still, I can’t help it, I want to hear about Heaven and such things too!

2 thoughts on “Worlds!

  1. The chess analogy was very good. I’ve read about Huston Smith a bit, but I haven’t (had time to) read his actual writing much.

    Have you read the Kaballah? My friend Heather (remember her) had a copy at her house once, but I became distracted by heaven only knows what before I could ask her about it . . . It’s a little frightening to me, by reputation. But reputations aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, often.

    • Well, the Kabbalah is the source of the word “cabal” (there is no cabal) so I’d say its sinister aspect is probably exaggerated. But apart from Wikipedia, this book is actually my first dive into Kabbalism. As the esoteric side of Judaism, I expected it to have broad similarities with other esoteric traditions, and so far that seems to be true. It is alien in some details though, and intellectually more challenging, as may be expected given the IQ of Jews. Steinsaltz does a good job keeping it simple though. Well, simple by my standards at least. It may still be hard for those who come straight from the sports channel or Vanity Fair.

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