Rav Kook: A World That Is Clearly Seen Part One- Presented by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

Nov 5th, 2009 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth
[Translator’s note:The following teaching of Rav Kook is difficult both in its language and in its ideas. Accuracy in translation cannot be guaranteed. It seems to me to be saying the following:

There is a view of the world that sees existence as something from which to flee. But when we see the world clearly, there is no reason to complain about evil. Even those who seek nothingness–and thus complain about this world’s somethingness– are complaining that the world is deficient. And since deficiency is a species of nothingness, then they would have to agree that this world is in fact good.

In other words, the deficiency of this world is not in opposition to a transcendent “nothingness.” To the contrary, it is an expression of that “nothingness.” Within this physical world rest the most transcendent states.

The problem with the world is not that it has too much existence. To the contrary, the problem with it is that it does not have enough existence. Suffering in the world is not caused by our being led astray by things of this world but by the fact that we are yearning for that ultimate true being.

But if a person is yearning for “nothingness,” he is yearning for that which appears evil, but which is in essence good. Even that person cannot reject this world as unredeemably evil, for good is hidden within it and within everything.

A person who totally rejects this world as he seeks “nothingness” can transcend feelings of pain and even find them pleasurable. Nevertheless, this must come to an end. One must realize that existence is good–and we continue to be aware of that, even as we return to a normal perception of pain.

The more we look the more goodness do we see. Then we see good even in moral evil, for everything is in essence good. If we were satisfied with the state of affairs as it is, we would be content to have a raised state of consciousness in which we see the good even in evil. But because we yearn for an ultimate good, our perception of this world in a sense diminishes, and we cease to see the good hidden in evil.

But finally, we will come to that ultimate goodness–and then, looking at the expanse of all reality, we will see that goodness was hidden within the evil at all times.

The knowledge that goodness is hidden within evil is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But if we eat of that tree’s fruit prematurely, we grow content with things as they are, and no longer yearn for an ultimate goodness. But once we do reach the ultimate good, the tree of knowledge of good and evil is transformed into a tree of life. We see that every part of the universe and of history was in the service of goodness.

This awareness comes from the essential soul of the Torah, and is revealed to those who yearn for God to be revealed–beyond labels and conceptions. Then we reach a level of silence, a world-transcending awareness of the goodness that pervaded the world throughout the era of human history. That silence is our connection to God, our praise.]

In taking an account of a world that is [seen] clearly, there is no place to complain about the existence of evil.

There are those who are repulsed by being, who say that their ultimate goal is nothingness. According to their conception, therefore, deficiency and emptiness comprise goodness. If that is the case, then [even according to them] there is nothing that is not good.

Any inadequacy in the world is nothing else than either (a) a diminution of existence; (b) a diminution of the existence of the diffusion of the essence of being (which desires existence and its perfection); or (c) anything that has any sort of relationship to [diminution]: a diminution of [this world] acquiring [reality], a diminution of consciousness, a diminution of glory.

All of these lead to suffering, solely because of one’s yearning for what [truly] is and one’s yearning for the perfection of being.

[So even] if one’s total yearning for happiness is an outcry for nothingness, then everything evil is good, for [evil] is closer to nothingness.

Orot Hakodesh II, pp. 468-69

Yaacov Dovid Shulman’s Writings can be found at ravkook.net and jewishlights.blogspot.com