Ariel Ben Avraham – Ecclesiastes: The illusion of vanity and the reality of love II
“What is that which has been? It is that which is, and what is that which has been done? It is that which is done, and there is not an entirely new thing under the sun. There is a thing of which one says, ‘See this, it is new’! Already it has been in the ages that were before us! There is no memory of the former neither shall there be any memory of the latter that are to come, among those that shall come after.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11)
These verses warn us about our unchanged behavior and repetitive approach to life, as if human consciousness is doomed to remain the same no matter how much progress we may have claimed throughout the ages. Solomon’s words could refer to a general trait or trend that makes us discern, understand, assimilate and feel in the same way regardless the circumstances or times where we have lived in history.
Solomon’s reiterative remarks in this book point out to the inherent repetitive patterns in the negative traits and trends of ego’s fantasies and illusions. This reveals the obsessive and addictive tendency to the temporary nature of fantasies and illusions entrenched in a self-centered approach to life. All that our hearts and eyes desire remains unchanged since Adam and Eve transgressed God’s commandment not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that was “desirable to the eyes”.
This unchanged pattern can be replaced through a “paradigm shift” based on embracing principles and values that focus more in pursuing individual and collective goodness for the sake of goodness, than fulfilling ego’s desires under the rules of a consumer society.
“I, Kohelet, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I have given my heart to seek and probe in wisdom concerning all that has been done under the heavens. It is a bad matter God has given to the sons of man to respond about.” (1:11-13)
These verses reaffirm the context we comment on, for it is a negative pattern approaching God’s creation in general and the material world in particular, based on the vanity and futility of ego’s fantasies and illusions. Wisdom is useless as long as applied to the latter.
We said in our commentary on The Song of Songs in this blog that “there is not true wisdom without love, and there is not true love without wisdom”. These verses also confirm this, and the heaviest burden we carry is to waste the potential of human intellect and wisdom by living a meaningless or useless life.
We learn here that we put on ourselves the consequences of the choices we make, not God. He commanded us to choose the blessings of life and reject the curses that lead to death. In this context, ego’s fantasies and illusions along with their negative traits and trends are the burdens for which God makes us accountable. Hence we must understand Solomon’s message not as an unchangeable and meaningless human condition unworthy to be lived, but as a fact for us to realize that the opposites of the temporary nature of the vanities and futility of an egotistic approach to life are the transcending qualities of love’s ways and attributes.
“I have seen all the deeds under the sun, and behold all is vanity and a vexation of the spirit [soul]. A crooked thing cannot be straight [lit. fixed], and what is absent [lit. lacking] cannot be counted.” (1:14-15)
Here we understand that what is broken can’t return to its original state, simply because its fragmented state. This also refers to ego’s materialistic desires derived from beliefs and feelings of lack, for lack is the opposite of wholeness.
In love’s ways and attributes there is never lack, for love encompasses and integrates everything that is valuable, and therefore named and counted by God as part of the goodness He wants to make prevail in His creation.
Ariel Ben Avraham’s book on the Jewish conception of God’s love according to the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish theology. How we relate to God’s love as our common bond with Him. You can order the book directly from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. From the book: “Let’s be aware that we are emanated from God’ love. Whatever we are and have come from Him and it is His, including the love that we are and give. Love is our essence and identity.”
Kochav Yaakov, Shomron (Samaria), IsraelAriel Ben Avraham (f. Zapata) was born in Cartagena, Colombia in 1958. After studying Cultural Anthropology in Bogotá moved to Chicago in 1984 where he worked as a television writer, reporter and producer for 20 years. In the 1990’s he produced video documentaries related to art, music, history and culture such as “Latin American Trails: Guatemala” distributed by Facets.org. Most of his life he studied ancient spiritual traditions and mysticism of major religions, understanding the mystic experience as the individual means to connect with the Creator of all. Since 2004 he studies and writes about Jewish mysticism and spirituality mainly derived from the Chassidic tradition, and the practical philosophy of the teachings of Jewish mystic sages. The book “God’s Love” is the compilation of many years studying and learning Jewish mysticism. The messages of his book are part of the content, exercises and processes of a series of seminars, lectures and retreats that he facilitates in Israel.