Ariel Ben Avraham – Ecclesiastes: The illusion of vanity and the reality of love (IV)
“And all that my eyes asked I kept not back from them. I withheld not my heart from any joy, for my heart rejoiced from all of my doings, and this has been my portion from all my doings. And I looked on all my works that my hands did, and on the doings that I exerted myself to do. It was all vanity and a vexation of the spirit, and there is no profit under the sun!” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)
King Solomon’s wisdom invites us to experience life and the material world as we are supposed to, and to approach it as pleasant as it can potentially be “with a joyful heart”. He also tells us that the “eyes” (by which we desire and lust) and the “heart” (as the mind that feed our desires and lust) are the vehicles that push ego’s fantasies and illusions, as God warns us in the Torah.
“(…) and do not search after your heart and after your eyes, after which you go astray (lit. prostitute yourself), (…)” (Numbers 15:39)
As long as we experience life with good “eyes” as a positive approach and a good heart as a joyful positive attitude, goodness and joy will be “our portion in all our doings”. However, if our eyes and hearts follow the predicament of ego’s fantasies and illusions, we will experience them as the vanity that is a vexation to the spirit of life. Hence we come to the realization that we do not gain or benefit from a materialistic approach that has been and will be the same in this world “under the sun”.
“And I turned to see wisdom, and madness, and folly; but what is the man who comes after the king? That which is already — they have done it! And I saw that there is an advantage to wisdom above folly, like the advantage of the light above the darkness.” (Ecclesiastes 2:12-13)
The only good news about ego’s fantasies and illusions is that they make us experience their vanity and futility. By their repetitive patterns sooner or later they also make us wiser enough to turn them into references to always choose the transcending goodness of love’s ways and attributes, where true wisdom leads without madness or folly.
We also must know that both the fool and the wise “come after the king”, as if what he does is different or new; and later both realize that even what the king does also “they have done it”. Thus we assimilate that there is an advantage to wisdom above folly, as the advantage of light above darkness.
“The wise! His eyes are in his head and the fool in darkness is walking. And I also knew that one event happened with them all; and I said in my heart, ‘As it happened with the fool, it happened also with me. And why then I am more wise?’ And [what] I spoke in my heart, that is also vanity.” (2:14-15)
Sometimes we think that being wiser than the fools makes us better than them, but it is not so if we fall as they do into the follies of ego’s fantasies and illusions. In that lower level of consciousness we are fools no matter how smart we may be. As we live in the vanity of an egotistic and self-centered approach to life, our small or big wisdom is also vanity.
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.