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Rav Kook's Journals
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The Appearance of Creativity
Our spirit places within us the image of its creations. We recognize that angel, filled with life, who sits upon the birth stool, bringing forth its works. That angel is flying in the heights, approaching us, appearing to our souls—behold, it comes!
We welcome that angel with great peace and joy. The angel appreciates our affection in the most refined, pure, alive and strong manner—more than we ourselves, encased in physicality, can appreciate it.
And then, we have finished the work of creation—or it has suddenly, unfinished, ceased. Lift your eyes upon the angel—yet it is not there. The cherub has taken flight and risen to the heights—and our spirit is diminished.
We then concern ourselves with Torah and wisdom, good deeds and character improvement, in order to gain connection to our holy angels, in order to strengthen our own might with the great power of the gracious God, Who appears to us in His light and salvation.
A host of different states mingles within us. Strength and weakness meet, love and abhorrence mix, trust and fear act as one, light and darkness are in confusion. All this results from the paucity of our purification.
Let us rise higher. The return to Godliness shall grow and rise with mighty strength; the will shall rise in its holy exaltation. We ascend beyond the flesh and its pollutions, we ascend beyond the falsehood and seduction of our environment. In truth, we cleave to truth; the light waxes stronger, and life is exalted.
Orot Hakodesh I, p. 167
Illumination of the Soul
As long as you must wait for particular periods of time for the spirit of creativity to occur to you—at which opportunity you will generate ideas, contemplate them, express them and sing them—this is a sign that the light of your soul has not rested upon you.
Your soul sings constantly, clothed in strength and beauty, surrounded by supernal sweetness. You must rise to the heights and meet your soul. You must recognize its spiritual progress, the rustle of its wings filled with a glory of the holy of holies; one must be constantly ready to listen to the secret of its holy speech. Then you will know that it is not at some particular time or period that the soul generates wisdom and expression, song and holy speech, but rather that at every moment and every hour it pours forth rivers and streams of milk and honey.
The river that flows from the soul comprises the treasuries of holiness, the wellsprings of understanding and the hidden sources of good wisdom. “New in the morning, great is Your faithfulness.”
With an inner gaze into the depths of the soul, we see that the active, constant power of true, supernal life does not cease working for even a moment. That power races and returns like the lightning in Ezekiel’s vision. Its work is the service of the holy seraphim. It constantly bursts forth in joy and song, telling the glory of God.
The essential “I” of someone who possesses this supernal soul is stupendous. But when the mighty faith is diminished by that “I,” it goes in mourning, and that person is desolate. And the radiance of the entire world is diminished with him.
But when he returns in a supernal manner, when the glory of faith with its supernal powers (which pulse within him constantly and unfailingly) returns to him, then his soul will live and shine forth. All the worlds that are at his feet and accompany with him will be filled with radiance and illumination.
Orot Hakodesh I, pp. 172-3
The Flow of the Soul’s Creativity
Those who possess great souls live from within the wellspring of their being. These wise, creative people, to whom that which is new is the foundation of their lives, recognize the constant spreading forth of who they rae and the intensification of their spiritual powers only in newness as it pours forth (as it ceaselessly streams before their spiritual sight). They recognize the soul in the depth of its primal being, constantly pouring forth its cataracts.
No less real than a luminous body unceasingly radiating light, so does the soul as it knows, desires, feels and visualizes—pour forth the rays of its spiritual, living light. This stream pours forth with ever greater might, with ever greater creativity. No amount of pages can suffice to explain even a part of the vision within even the smallest of people as their souls stream forth vision. This wealth grows until, within the sublime thinkers, the greatest creators: it reaches such a wondrous level that the masses are astonished at the illuminations that they reveal in their fruitful creations.
This is the case even though that which is revealed is--necessarily-he lowest level of the essence of creation. As for the essence of the creation in its hidden aspect, wondrous are its acts. Its streams, the streams of the mind, rush forth, and we cannot grasp the inner essence, the quality and details of these flowing streams.
The worthiest talent is being able to penetrate into the depth of who we essentially are. Yet how trivial is the work of that talent. How greatly does it impose toil and weariness of soul upon the sublime heights. To the degree that we recognize this and recognize how that as we penetrate our being we must grow aware of the demand of the inner Edenic quietude, sublime being within creativity will grow. Then sparks of holiness will begin to shoot forth upon all of life and its spiritual rays.
At even the most infinitesimal moment, we create—whether knowingly or not—a profusion of endless creations. If we will only teach ourselves how to feel them, to bring them into the realm of our conscious recognition, to habituate ourselves to bring them into the framework of appropriate expressions, then their beauty and glory will be revealed. Before all the living, their effect will be revealed.
The eternal truths flow from the wellspring of life, from the source of the soul that does not know anything meaningless or false. That soul is carved from the torch of truth. Whatever streams from its light will be nothing but truth and righteousness forever.
Orot Hakodesh I, pp. 170-71
The Creative Soul
It is impossible to interrupt the creativity of a person whose soul by its nature creates unceasingly.
When a person is oppressed by spiritual malaise, this is only because he believes that creativity is a burden. But the closer we come to its secret, the more do we realize that it is neither burdensome nor wearisome. We imitate our Maker. The Holy One, blessed be He, did not create His world through toil and suffering; He perfected it without fatigue and exhaustion, but via a letter of the alphabet, which has no weight and suffers no weariness.
The true tzaddikim, who are supernal, holy beings, in their essence rise beyond all toil and fatigue.
They would be satisfied to endure toil and trouble, suffering and difficulty, sacrifice and backbreaking labor, in order to do the will of the living God and King of the world, the Creator of their souls, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the Master of all creatures and God of all spirits. But despite their readiness to do so, they are filled with tranquility and peace. The stream of delights flows constantly in their holy souls. A breath of richness and abundance suffuses their breath, spirit and body, their entire inner being, their bones and flesh. From the midst of the delight of this supernal glory, they take pleasure in a supernal fear and love as they serve God in their spirits’ every breath and in the entirety of their lives and movements. Theirs is an entire supernal, Godly service, uninterrupted, never ceasing.
The flow from this well of mindfulness and emotion constantly pours into them from every direction. All that they heed, hear and feel physically and emotionally expresses glory expresses “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the earth is filled with His glory,” expresses peace and blessing to every living thing, to all flesh. “The heavens and earth, with all that moves upon them, will praise Him.” The freedom of creation and its blessings gain breadth in their mind and hearts.
At every moment, new worlds are born, formed and exist. The worlds that were already created are elevated to a new form that is supernal, holy, precious, and beautiful. These worlds are renewed with every expression, with every word, as forms that are new and never still flow and rise like waves, like a heap of great breakers.
None is tired, none stumbles; there is no toil or weariness—rather, comfort and joy. “I will rejoice in Hashem, I will have joy in the God of my salvation.”
But if these tzaddikim, these supernal holy ones, do not believe in themselves, if they do not pay attention to the voice of the shofar of supernal freedom that calls to them, then a profusion of waters will plummet upon them and endanger their lives. They will be submerged in the muddy depths until they recognize their greatness and beauty, their glow and holiness.
Then, replacing the pressure driving them toward toil and depression which would desecrate the name of their God--as these are replaced by strength and joy and they rise to freedom and delight. They know how to unite all the flames of their ardor, all their movements—and not only their own but also of those who join their circle. Those who come in contact with them and stand before them in their shared vision with complete unity, with the brilliant, living and precious light that sparks forth from the glow of the Almighty, Whose glory fills the world, Whose eminence and beauty rest upon all His pious ones.
Orot Hakodesh I, pp. 168-69
Heeding the Vision
We heed the call of the holy discourse that descends from the heights. We gather the impressions. Sparks like lightning are revealed from the heights of the soul, from its roots.
Every revealed vision is a voice that calls from the heights: from the source of knowledge, from the treasury of life within the soul of the Life of all worlds. It is revealed to each individual corresponding to the purity of his ascent, the purification of his esssential being. To the degree that sins whifch divide us from our Maker, the Maker of all--are removed, so does the voice go forth from the source of supernal oneness with the greatest and truest revelation.
Everything we create, whether physical or spiritual, must be properly prepared and purified. The holy yearning for the divine sublime (in its beautiful glory, clothed within the perfect robe of ethics that apply to all walks of life) must go forth, creating its own path.
Then, the walls of division recede. Instead, a direct light, a direct voice arrive, imbued with the treasury of life and the wisdom of truth.
The ear then hears and the eye sees. God has made them both.
Orot Hakodesh I, p. 174
Breadth of Thought
When your soul is creative, you must create ideas and thoughts. You cannot restrict yourself to superficial learning. The flame of your soul spontaneously rises. You cannot restrict its progress.
Breadth of thought is the unceasing demand that every creative person requires of himself.
Superficial learning can restrict thought and muddle it at birth. Constant learning with superficial constancy increases the malady of narrow-mindedness.
With all our strength, we must be redeemed from that. We must deliver our soul from the oppression of its straits. We must deliver it from Egypt, from the house of slavery.
Orot Hakodesh I, p. 177
The Freedom of Inner Creativity
Spiritual creation is free. It doesn’t deal with any superficial influence. It creates in accordance with the journey of its spirit to the core. To the degree that its essential faith grows, so does it rise to the heights of truth.
On the other hand, falsehood and the evil attached to it come only from a superficial influence. This influence affects spiritual creativity like a scab. It commands spiritual creativity to speak with the power of falseness, and not according to its own spirit. “He has chosen to follow the command” (Hosea 5:11)—the command (the sages say) of idolatry.
Orot HakodeshI, p. 176
In the Seedbed of Imagination
In the seedbed of imagination lie the beginnings of intellectual awareness—in a constricted form.
This form shines more and more, constantly spreading and developing. At last, from the clouds of imagination comes forth a content that is wise and refined.
Intellectual awareness spreads in truth over all existence: over nature and its ramifications, as well as the many components that surround nature from without.
The same process applies to the seed of imagination, which spreads across all the length, width, depth, and height within existence.
The heights of wisdom are at last revealed in a revelation that is consecrated in a manner appropriate to each of its levels. It is crowned in the kingdom of action, in the actions of being as they connect, with many and various bonds, to their cause.
And in parallel, the same process occurs in imagination.
From the height of levels, the content plunges into the steep depth.
It proceeds from the beginning of prophecy and the divine, supernal illumination in the glory of holiness to the lowliness of charisma, with its gestures and illusions. It proceeds from the beginning of cerebral clarity, an emanation of exceedingly fine purity, to the most confused delusions of imagination.
Through all of these proceeds one line, divided into its levels.
Those who gaze from the crown of the tree penetrate all the depths. There is neither darkness nor shadow of death, for Sheol and Destruction are in the presence of God.
And in the spirit of man, all is intertwined and connected. He must elevate all and beautify it, in order to bring the vessel forth to its Maker.
Orot Hakodesh I, p. 229
The Light of Our Imagination
All truth and greatness exist in the treasure-house of imagination. It gradually becomes successively refined, as it passes through a number of conduits of the intellect, which reduce and purify it.
We are summoned to appear in the light of our imagination, in the full splendor of its life-force, in the complete, precious, beautiful greatness of its holiness, on the world plane. There, all of humanity will gaze toward us and stream toward us.
Our rational intellect is no more than a small student who partially explains all the light of life that rests within the treasure house of our rich, holy imagination—which lives on an exalted plane of life, which influences realistic existence with the solid essence of its being.
Let us acknowledge the greatness of strength of life of our supernal imagination, which transcends all arid straits and limitations that are part of the conditions of an impoverished, dry existence.
With the strength of imagination, suffused with the richness of life, we rise higher and higher. Imagination unites with supernal intellect—to which the name “intellect” is not really fitting, because it is so great and brilliant.
Guard the hidden treasure, the nameless wisdom, the divine lightning flash, which blazes and sparkles from one end of the world to the other; the treasure in the ways of life that the mouth of God has spoken so that He may teach them to us on the paths of faith and education, higher than the heavens.
These ways of life rise, ever higher and higher, and they descend in the strength of their selflessness to inherit the land, to guide the masses of the nation, to revive the dead, to support the humble, to beautify and glorify all those who walk in darkness.
Return, come. Return and live. Be a nation. Be a holy people and a supernal nation, as you were meant to be from the very beginning.
Find for yourself the depth of the greatness of who you are. Rise to your own great strength.
Do not fear the criticism of man. Do not be upset by the dreams of the foolish. Raise the supernal banner over everything, the banner that shall be flourished by the nation chosen by God, the God of the world.
Orot Hakodesh I, p. 223
The Qualities of Imagination
In imagination, there exist qualities that do not exist in intellect.
Imagination brings to life within us the world in its spiritual state. Automatically, it perfects our spiritual quality. (However, when it grows stronger, it adulterates the form of the world of action.)
Cultural experiments have brought about a great deal of enrichment in the realm of the physical sciences, as well as the spiritual sciences that are based on the physical sciences.
But at the same time, the world of imagination and all the greatness of life within it have degenerated steeply.
And so, present-day humanity is puny in relation to early mankind, particularly in relation to those great people whose imagination grew and acquired those portions it needed from this-worldly intellect.
Therefore, we justifiably still proclaim, even after the great development of the modern sciences: “If the first generations were like angels, we are like human beings. And if they were like human beings, we are like donkeys.”
Orot Hakodesh I, p. 225
The Distant Gaze
Imagination sends the rays of its brilliance out to the distance, to give image constantly to that which is external to the essence of the thinker; and the intellect circles the central point in the soul of life, and images the existence deep within it.
And in accordance with this, imagination is necessary for the intellect that it may be helped by it for the distant gaze; and the intellect helps and supports the imagination to explain to it how great is the possession that is stored deep within it.
Orot Hakodesh I, p. 238
The Union of Imagination and Intellect
Even when intellect is not in agreement with the images of the imagination, they nevertheless stand alone in their own right, for imagination is a world to itself.
However, [imagination] gains an additional blessing when it unites with intellect. Then they unite together in their supernal source, which is equally higher than both intellect and imagination.
Lights, New and Alive
Attaining understanding from your own consciousness is the highest point of spiritual elevation.
That which you learn, you grasp from without, and it descends in its character. How different this is from the expression that rises from the midst of your soul!
That which you learn is at best a profound idea teaching you to draw forth what is hidden in your heart, in the depths of your soul: the essence of what you can comprehend from your consciousness.
Your consciousness streams forth constantly, creative and active.
The supernal creative person does not create but only duplicates. He draws lights, new and alive, from a supernal source to where they have never been—from a place the eagle has not known, where no eye has gazed, no man has passed, none has dwelled.
When such personal greatness is revealed, one’s ear is faithful; one’s heart hearkens and says nothing that it has not heard from its teachers, the true, righteous prophets, whose mouths are true with the word of God.
Orot Hakodesh I, p. 178