When I was asked to share my feelings and comments concerning the relationship between Messiah and the new millennium, I immediately thought of the intense interest that has been focused on this simple changing of numbers on the calendar. Why has the millennium event provoked such amazement and awe? What is the meaning of all the preparations that are taking place? What exactly is being celebrated?
Strange as it may seem, I have not yet received a satisfactory response to my skeptical questions regarding the new millennium. It seems that when one millennium comes to a close, people’s hopes are just naturally kindled. As if by reflex, they are looking forward to an era that will provide greater meaning and fulfillment. I feel compelled to ask, however, why this new millennium should be any different than all the previous ones? Fresh millennia, in and of themselves, have done little for the betterment of mankind. Should this not prompt those looking forward to life in the new millennium to consider why this moment in time will be any different than from those in the past?
I believe the worldwide anticipation of the new millennium derives from something deeper than the appearance of some additional zeroes in the date. Indeed, the excitement concerning this transition originates in a realm beyond our physical reality. More than 400 years ago, Rav Abraham Azulai revealed that the Biblical year of 5760 would usher in a millennium of resurrection and restoration of those who had passed on. Even more miraculously, the new era would see the elimination of death itself for those who presently find themselves amongst the living. While the Kabbalah Centre has made great progress in the dissemination of Rav Azulai’s astonishing revelation, most people are still unclear – consciously, at least – as to why this millennium is so important.
However, because Rav Azulai's startling revelation has already been sent out into the cosmos, we can expect humankind as a whole to sense this excitement, even if only in an uninformed way. While on an intellectual level this knowledge may not be recognized by everyone, the shared consciousness of humanity is influenced by information that is revealed on a cosmic level. This explains the extreme emotions and high expectations that now accompany the approach of the new millennium.
Many of us in the Kabbalah Centre community have already begun to witness awesome, unprecedented miracles associated with the dawn of the new era. But other people are unable or unwilling to acknowledge the process of resurrection and the end of death that is already underway. "Rationalists" might be a good word for describing these individuals – but rationalism has its limits, as Kabbalah has long understood and science is now beginning to recognize. The Zohar, for example, teaches that the principle of "mind over matter" was already established at the time of Creation, and today science is exploring the overwhelming evidence that consciousness can influence, if not actually create, the physical universe. Our minds are as basic to the fabric of reality as time, space, and matter.
Despite the insights that Kabbalah has brought to its students, the vast majority of people have lived for thousands of years with the illusion that there was little that could be done toward altering the established conditions of humanity, including chaos, pain and suffering, and death. Among the population at large, there has been either a sense of fatalism and helplessness regarding the possibility of real change, or else a blind faith that some outside agency would somehow appear and "make it all better." As we've discussed, this is exactly how the new millennium is viewed by many people. There's a genuine desire to see the human lot improve, but an unwillingness to accept the idea that we can further the realization of that desire through our own spiritual growth and transformation. As we'll discuss, this process of spiritual evolution is inseparable from the appearance of Messiah in the new millennium.
However, the coming of Messiah and the great benefits that this implies ‑ as further revealed by Rav Azulai and the holy Zohar – will take place in a rather different form than what most people are expecting. And we should understand that if major changes for the better are to take place, old mores and behavior will equally be subject to transformation. With every departure from previous modes of existence, the responsibilities that accompany this growth process become even more pronounced. If this millennium is to provide mankind with benefits never before enjoyed by previous generations, we should also prepare ourselves for the social and behavioral changes that will be required to bring these benefits about.
This is by no means our only concern, however. Regarding this period that is about to dawn, in which miracles will become the norm, the Zohar cautions us concerning those people who will be determined to prevent the end of chaos, pain, and suffering. The existence of such people seems to defy human understanding – Why would anyone resist ideas that can benefit all mankind? Why not accept changes that will remove, once and for all, the pain and suffering that mankind has so long endured?
However, we try to understand this resistance, its existence cannot be overlooked nor dismissed. There will be those who, for all the seemingly right and rational reasons, do not accept the idea of consciousness having dominion over physical reality. They will resist this principle despite the need for solutions to the problems that we all face in our daily lives.
Kabbalah teaches that the power behind the resistance to growth and transformation is the Satan. People are often confused upon first hearing of the Satan in a kabbalistic context. The term does not refer to a being with horns and a tail. Instead, the Satan is both an internal negative force within us and a matrix of destructive and chaotic circumstances in the physical world. Both internally and externally, the Satan's purpose is to perpetuate and exacerbate negativity. Or rather, the Satan provides us with the opportunity to make those self-destructive choices of our own free will. Like the mythical Dracula who could not enter a victim's home unless he was asked to do so, the Satan simply presents us with a choice ‑ the wrong choice ‑ and invites us to make it.
The Zohar tells us that the forces of evil and chaos, as represented by the Satan, willcoerce vulnerable individuals to reject outright any and all solutions that might enhance the quality of their lives. At the same time, these people will vehemently deny the existence of the forces that are leading them toward negative and self‑destructive behavior. The revelation, therefore, of these unseen forces is an overwhelmingly significant step toward preparing humanity for entrance into a new era filled with the Light of the Creator.
Needless to say, the Satan prefers that we never gain access to this new dimension of life without pain and suffering. Those of us who will experience the beautiful miracles that are coming – including those miracles brought about by the tools and methodology of Kabbalah – should not become frustrated by those who witness these same miracles, yet choose to reject the path that could truly bring peace and joy into their lives.
The Satan, in his attempt to create resistance to Kabbalah and all that it has to offer, finds confusion his most important and significant tool. More specifically, the single concept through which the Satan has been most successful in fostering confusion is the popular concept of Messiah. In the Satan's desire to maintain a world filled with pain and suffering, he has surrounded this concept with corruption, misinterpretation, and ideas fundamentally in conflict with the true meaning of Messiah.
For reasons that remain mysterious, God does not display compassion and empathy with humanity, and does not send forth Messiah immediately. Is the Creator, dwelling up in heaven, unmoved by the chaos He observes among the people of the world? For there is no question that the Almighty Omnipotent God could put an end to this chaos whenever He chose to do so – so why doesn't He do it? The religious response is simply resignation and submission: “God, in His mysterious ways, knows what He is doing.”
With the passing of time, there is no convincing reason to believe that the appearance of the Messiah in the form of an individual human being will actually take place. How much evidence and time is required for mankind to begin questioning the veracity of this concept? As the Zohar consistently reminds us, the only way we confidently envision what takes place on the immaterial celestial level is by observing what happens in the material world around us. If we would not continue to believe in a promise on this material level, beyond a reasonable period of time, why should we accept a Messiah principle for so many thousands of years when that promise has not been fulfilled? In truth, even those who still profess belief in this concept of Messiah have very little confidence of its realization during their lifetimes. Their position is: “Oh yes, I believe – but I don't know if it will really ever happen while I'm alive after so many millennia have gone by without His appearance.”
This entire concept of Messiah is divorced from the everyday lives of those who continue to adhere to it. As a result, it is a concept that does not require much attention for the spiritual quality of day‑to‑day life; if Messiah comes, well and good, and if not, life will continue on as it has in the past.
Does this version of Messiah require even the slightest change in the way these believers live each day? Does the concept of Messiah alter their lifestyles in any measure at all? Unfortunately the answer is no. We are simply told to have faith, to never abandon the expectation of His coming – and one day, He will appear.
Certainly, despite the persistence of pain and chaos throughout history, I would be the last to urge anyone to give up the firm belief in the coming of Messiah. But I often wonder what would actually happen if chaos did suddenly depart from the human experience. Would not some of us experience this loss as we would the disappearance of an old friend or relative? After all, despite disagreements and painful relationships, we often hesitate to sever relations with people who cause grief and pain in our lives. Perhaps this would be the motivation of those who would want to maintain chaos in their lives even if Messiah himself told them that he has come to resolve all of their problems!
I am, therefore, reminded of the famous prediction of the Zohar concerning the Age of Aquarius, in which the words Ashrei and Oy are so often repeated. The Zohar states that in the period of the Coming of the Messiah, some will be blessed with total removal of any form of chaos (Ashrei), while, at the same time, others will be afflicted with indescribable tribulation (Oy), the like of which has never been seen before in history.
The Zohar seems puzzling in its prediction of the coexistence of Ashrei and Oy. Why would anyone not simply follow the example of those whose lives are perfect in order to avoid the pitfalls and pain of chaos? Those whose lives are so enhanced and elevated will be visible to everyone. They will be living evidence that chaos can and has come to its final end. Still, the Zohar predicts that even overwhelming evidence that chaos can be eliminated will fall on some deaf ears.
Amid these questions raised by religious interpretations of Messiah – such as who he is, when he is coming, and why certain people will refuse to accept him – it is extremely refreshing to connect with the universal truths concerning the Messiah concept as presented by Kabbalah, bearing in mind that Kabbalah existed long before there were any formal religions.
The startling revelation of Kabbalah is that each and every person is actually the Messiah. The removal of chaos requires the collective consciousness of all its pieces, and Messiah is the collective enterprise of all human beings. When each of us fulfills the requirements of consciousness and behavior – and thus become Messiah within ourselves – then and only then can we bring forth and become part of a collective Messiah. When all people achieve communion with their individual Messiah‑consciousness, we will then experience the presence of Messiah. The awesome Light of the Creator is then revealed in its full splendor– and chaos, the epitome of darkness, simply fades away, for darkness cannot coexist with light.
What seems to emerge from this oldest, yet still revolutionary concept is the idea that it is not God who decides whether mankind should continue to live in pain and suffering. The idea that God could perpetrate evil on mankind contradicts the fundamental kabbalistic principle that God is only good and possesses only a desire to share His Beneficence. Mankind has been given the power of free will and self‑determination. While this article cannot take up the full historical meaning and purpose associated with free will, it can be stated here that mankind is directly and solely responsible for whatever events take place in our lives.
The Kabbalah Centre endeavors to provide the methodology, discipline, and teachings that can connect an individual with his or her Messiah‑consciousness. Once we have achieved unity with this consciousness, we ourselves become filled with the Light of Messiah. Chaos is removed and eliminated from our lives.
We, of this generation are so fortunate to participate in this Age of Aquarius. Unlike previous generations, awareness of Messiah's true meaning is available to us. Now that we can see ourselves as integral parts of this cosmic event, the task of achieving a Messiah‑consciousness is a great deal easier to achieve. Indeed, the cosmos itself now supports and assists us in this effort to reach out to our own Messiah‑consciousness.
As a direct result of the new age that we are now entering, the old pessimism concerning mankind's ability to bring about the end of chaos – and the related idea that this task should be left to God alone – is losing much of its force. We are truly removing the chains that have kept us imprisoned for so many millennia. In just the past 100 years, man has expanded his limited thinking capacity to an endless, unbounded process that would never before have been thought possible. Why now? What took so long? And why in such a short period of time? The answer lies, quite simply, in recognizing the presence of the Age of Aquarius in the years of the 20th century.
What has taken place in this incredible 20th century– an event more significant than any other in history – is the unveiling of the wisdom of Kabbalah beyond a select few to all the people of the world. This 4000‑year‑old discipline and teaching, locked for centuries in ancient vaults, has finally been restored to its rightfulowners.
It is therefore comprehensible that because the awesome Light of the Creator has been released into the cosmos by virtue of the Zohar, the incredible technological advances of this century have come about as a direct result of a cosmic transformation of consciousness. Mankind can now think of things that previous generations could not even dream of. Today, we just shrug our shoulders and say, “Why not?"
In closing, it is important to look at another important aspect of the Messiah concept. This is an understanding of the Zodiac sign of Aquarius, which appears each and every single year following the sign of Capricorn. The particular traits and characteristics of those born during this month are already well‑documented in Kabbalistic Astrology and are taught in our courses. More important, however, is the opportunity for all of us to draw unto ourselves the awesome Light‑energy of Aquarius. Along with the proper methodology and meditation, this can dramatically shorten our task of achieving our personal Messiah‑consciousness.
During the month of Aquarius, the Kabbalah Centre provides a comprehensive meditation for taking advantage of the infusion of the Light of Aquarian consciousness. The fact that these tools were not available in the past, unfortunately, did not excuse mankind from suffering the unbearable consequences of holocaust and destruction. There is an old rule in our physical realm: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. So, despite the many arguments why mankind should not have been subject to the hardships that have been part of our human landscape, nevertheless, because we have been deprived over the millennia of this awareness and knowledge, humanity in the past has not stood a chance of achieving freedom from chaos.
As stated in the Zohar, the only path and discipline that can lead man to a utopian universe is a connection with Messiah‑consciousness, otherwise known as the realm of the Tree of Life Reality. This discipline is what Kabbalah is all about. Every indication on our physical, material level tells us that humanity is well on its way to achieving Messiah‑consciousness. Thanks in no small measure to the disciplines and teachings of Kabbalah, mankind will, in the very near future, reap the rewards and benefits of contentment and happiness that are our natural birthright.
(The article originally appeared in Kabbalah Magazine Vol. 5 Issue 1, 2000)