Inner Traditions

The Awakening Ground: A Guide to Contemplative Mysticism

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ISBN: 9781620555330
Publisher: Inner Traditions
Publication Date: 2016-07-28
Number of pages: 208
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Author David Chaim Smith offers a guide to the practice of mystical contemplation from the perspective of a highly unusual form of non-dual Kabbalah, unfettered by both religious mythology and psychological reductionism. The path articulates the ultimate quest for meaning, which seeks to pass through the clutter of the mind's conceptual associations to nakedly and directly recognize the innate essentiality of all things known as the light of En (no) Sof (end), or the Infinite. Most mainstream conventional schools of Kabbalah hold such a radical aspiration to be inapproachable at best, and heretical at worst.
The work introduces six stages that articulate how the mind breaks through its own restrictive habitual reflexes to awaken to the ground of En Sof, which is the mind's essential natureEach stage is illustrated by the author's own original works of art and line diagramsDraws upon obscure sources such as the 13th-century Kabbalistic text Fountain of Wisdom, various alchemical and gnostic texts, and the writings of Isaac the Blind  The author reveals how meaning never remains static--its nature is to move, transmit, and display--yet its precious potential becomes buried under layers of mental constructs. He explains how the mind's habits and reflexes impose structures of containment that try to make sense out of phenomena, but these very structures actually obscure their essence completely. Smith's experiential path to gnostic awakening reveals how, in the wake of the lesser concerns of the conceptual mind, primordial purity shines in resonances of vast poetic beauty, if a sensibility of wonder, awe, and delight is cultivated.
 
Contemplation begins with intellectual understanding. As contemplation deepens, the mind shifts from the accumulation of data to the unfolding of direct gnostic apprehension. This dissolves the idea that outer and inner or personal and cosmic distinctions exist, allowing phenomena to return to its basis as a single, uninterrupted continuum. As the mind becomes dwarfed by the sheer immensity of this vast wholeness, the character of meaning begins to change. Meaning's fullness shapes the mind rather than the mind's reflexes and habits shaping meaning. The fullness opens beyond the experiences the mind relies upon to define both itself and the world, but paradoxically only arises within those experiences as their basis. Once this basis is recognized as the root of the paradox, the awakening ground becomes clear.
 
Offering a step-by-step analysis to the ecstatic aspects of contemplative revelation, David Chaim Smith explores how to ride the razor's edge of the paradox to coax the mind from the sleep of habituation towards the culmination of gnosis. Although the process is described within the traditional symbol system of kabbalah, its import is a truly radical exponent of extreme mysticism.  

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