By Paul F Case


AS the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph suggests beginning, or primary manifestation. The letter A, in fact, has this meaning all over the world.

■ As Furlong says in Faiths of Man: "A stands commonly for the first of all existences, the Maha-deva, or I Supreme. It represents the agent of creation, even when typified by the bull. It is shrouded in the complicated San-1 skrit A called the'Supreme'—Vishnu or Krishna." Students

] of the Bhagavad-Gita will remember Krishna's words, i "Among letters I am the vowel A." In Revelation Christ is called the Alpha. Le Plongeon also states that among the |: Maya Indians this letter indicated the Deity, or universal

!■ generative power.

The sound of A is a simple expulsion of air, set vibrating by the vocal chords, unmodified by tongue, teeth, or lips— the simplest sound in human speech. Its simplicity makes it a perfect vocal symbol of the Supreme, for what is simple is "without fold or doubling; unmixed; unalloyed," and these are characteristics that all philosophers apply to the first manifestation of the Spirit.

As the simplest, it is necessarily the fundamental sound

Iin language. Sanskrit grammarians realized this long ago, and taught that all other letters are modifications of A. On this account they regarded it as the basis of communication, and as the root of thought itself, since all clear thinking must be put into words. As the basis of thought and speech, then, this letter properly denotes That whence all ideas and words proceed—the all-pervading Consciousness that is the Causeless Cause of all.

The letter-name, Aleph, means "ox" or "bull." In Egypt, the bull, Apis, typified Osiris. The Assyrians dedicated the same animal to Marduk. The Persians associated it with Mithra. Among the Greeks it was sacred to Dionysos, the god of youth and virility, identified by mythologists with the Iacchos of the Eleusinian mysteries.

All these were sun-gods. The priesthoods of the ancient world knew what modern scientists have demonstrated— that solar force is the cause of all terrestrial motion, including the minute molecular changes in nerve-tissue that enable us to think. And in countless allegories and parables they set forth the doctrine that the advance of man, and the evolution of life in sub-human and super-human worlds, is the work of sun-power specia4ized in living organisms.

In the Orient oxen pull the plow and thresh the grain. So they have come to symbolize a-griculture, which, of all human pursuits, is probably the most important. Farmers lay the foundation on which the whole structure of civilization is raised. Because it furnishes the motive-power directed and guided by man in tilling the soil and harvesting the crop, the ox typifies the power we use to modify our environment, to provide us with means to sustain life, and to bring natural conditions into harmony with our aims.

According to Kabbalists (whose doctrine on this point agrees with the tenets of Hindu philosophy), the only power used by man—the only power there is, indeed—is Consciousness. They hold that the power to know, as the root of all existence, is the fundamental energy whence all forces, both psychic and physical, are derived. For them the only reasonable explanation "of creation is that it is the result of the self-knowledge and self-contemplation of the Supreme Spirit.

Consciousness, then, is the essential reality of that which we know as the vital principle in living organisms. This principle is the life of plants and animals, as well as of men. In Hebrew it is called Ruach, and, as I explained in Chapter I, this word has the same meaning as Prana, Pneuma, or Spiritus. All these words mean "breath;" they all designate the vital principle; and they are all names for a universal energy which is the essence of any particular force we may be able to distinguish.

The primary manifestation of this invisible energy is light, and for our world the great source of light is the sun. From the day-star the waves of cosmic force radiate into space, and those that reach this globe are the cause of all that happens here. Hence, when the Sepher Yetzirah says that Aleph is the sign of Ruach, we may expect that any pictorial representation of the occult ideas connected with this letter will suggest the descent of Spirit into terrestrial manifestation as the radiant force of the sun.

When Kabbalists declare that Aleph stands for the path uniting the first two Sephiroth, they imply that Ruach originates in the Primal Will and expresses itself as Wisdom-Will has been defined as the power of self-direction. Spirit is able to direct itself. Spirit is limitless life. Hence the Primal Will cannot be anything else but the Will-to-live, and the constant urge of this Will must be toward growth, development, and expansion. Its manifestation must be an eternal progress—never at rest, and always pushing forward.

The path we are now considering is called "Fiery Intelligence." It originates in the Hidden Intelligence of the first Sephirah, and completes itself in the Illuminating Intelligence of the second. If these terms mean anything at all, they convey the idea that the first manifestation of the Spirit is a radiant force, inherently intelligent, that takes form in positive, actual knowledge. These terms exactly describe solar force, which does all the work in the world, and, in our brains, finds expression in the mental processes that have brought the human race from savagery to civilization.

In saying that Spirit manifests itself as solar force we only tell what it does. What Consciousness is in itself we cannot say. It defies definition. Reflection shows us that it cannot be any particular thing. It is really no-thing, for it is absolutely free, and all things are limited.

Zero, therefore, is its appropriate mathematical symbol. For the true meaning of Zero is "absence of quantity," which is quite different from "non-being." The Zero-sign is a circle, which, the world over, is an emblem of eternity, perfection, and changelessness. It is also a common symbol of solar force.

The mathematical properties of Zero show that it is far from representing "that which is not." It cannot be added to, nor subtracted from, nor can we multiply or divide it. But in combination with other figures it stands for multiplication by ten. Thus 1, by joining it to 0, becomes 10; 2 becomes 20, and so on. Hence this figure is the sign of a power, free from every qualification, which works in combination with definite forms to produce a ten-fold increase. I have no doubt that there is a connection between the meaning of Zero and the Kabbalistic dottrine of ten-fold emanation from a limitless, indefinable Absolute.

That Spirit cannot be any of the things it brings into existence, though it is the essential reality of all things, is a truth that the wise have recognized in all ages. In the Mundaka Upanishad we read: "That which is invisible, impalpable, without kindred, without color; that which has neither eyes nor ears, neither hands nor feet; which is imperishable, manifested in infinite variety, present everywhere, and wholly supersensible—that is the changeless principle that the wise behold as the origin of all things." Many centuries later Jacob Boehme wrote: "It may fitly be compared to Nothing, for it is deeper than any Thing, and is as nothing with respect to all things, inasmuch as it is not comprehensible by any of them." The same thought is elaborated in the Mystical Theology of Dionysius (accepted to this day as an orthodox manual by the Roman Catholic Church) when, after showing that Spirit cannot be any material thing, the author goes on to say: "God is neither soul nor intellect, nor has He imagination, nor opinion or reason; He has neither speech nor understanding, and is neither declared nor understood."

Dionysius means that Spirit transcends all its creations.

He seeks also to remind us that the knowledge of the Cosmic Mind is perfect, embracing past, present, and future in a timeless Now. God does not imagine, because imagination is a mental approximation to something not actually perceived. He has no opinion about anything, for opinions are always tinged with uncertainty, and He is absolutely sure

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