How many people have never heard expressions regarding angels, in some form of or another?
He or she "must have a guardian angel" is a remark we often hear when a near tragedy somehow results in a happy ending. We see these wonderful winged creatures in movies, on television, in books and magazines. What so amazes me is that, with all this widespread "familiarity" with the subject, so very little attention has yet been directed to the origins of our familiarity, or to the origins of angels themselves.
Angels, along with their Hebraic names, are just another example, just another aspect of the fast‑moving "Internet" of revolutionary knowledge that is now overtaking the consciousness of mankind. In our modern lives, so riddled by sudden changes, immediate adaptation is the only choice available to us. We have to travel the express lane or simply fall behind. With the advent of the computer age, we managed to face the problem of coming to grips with the unfamiliar, with having to learn an entirely new array of concepts and language.
This same idea applies to how we can come to grips with knowledge, unfamiliar to most of us, regarding angels. We can either reject the idea of resorting to something that sounds unfamiliar (I'm fully aware it can be a dilemma for many, confronting a strange combination of Hebrew letters, having never been exposed to any language other than English) ‑ or, we can embrace this universal tool to enhance our lives, regardless of our personal hang-ups. It's been done before. And it will happen again.
The difference now, the advantage we have in this Aquarius Age over the days of the dawning computer age, is how available information has become, including information about angels. It's everywhere. At the same time, let us not forget for one moment that the subject of angels is nothing new ‑ its origins date back 4,000 years.
Historically, myth and fantasy seem to combine to play a great role in determining our attitudes and our beliefs regarding angels. Ask a hardcore cynic what he thinks about angels, and you might hear a response along the lines of: "I'm from Missouri." But does this pragmatic, "show‑me" attitude necessarily reject a belief in angels?
In my personal experience, people who adopt this outlook seem to be dealing with an ego problem. They just aren't quite able to come to grips with the idea that there is more to reality than that which meets the eye. To recognize that unseen, metaphysical forces do exist could lead to having to reach an even more disturbing conclusion ‑ that they are not in total control. After all, how can one ever again rely on a decision mechanism if unseen forces are contributing to every ultimate conclusion?.
Twentieth‑century physicists have concluded that our universe operates under the jurisdiction of the "Uncertainty Principle." Simply stated, mankind can no longer be certain about our old, familiar level of existence, about our thought processes and their results. Apparently, say the physicists, there are metaphysical, non‑material forces out there, forces of energy consciousness of which we remain almost entirely unaware, but which influence our daily lives by exerting an unusual degree of pressurized consciousness on our brains, our minds.
The following excursus clearly demonstrates the inadequacy of our thinking processes. Take one minute each day and seat yourself in a very quiet place, make an attempt to quiet your mind, free from any thought whatsoever. It is a very rare individual who can succeed with completely quieting the mind for one full minute!
So, where do those uninvited thoughts come from? Or, rather, who is constantly talking to us? With whom are we conducting this ongoing, interactive conversation, as though we are addressing another human being before us? Just who are these unseen friends, or possibly foes, with whom we so naturally and automatically interact and react to?.
Few of us are truly connected at all times with what is really at hand. We can wander off in any given direction at any given moment, almost as if we are in a vehicle. But it is someone or something else that is actually doing the “steering,” leading us, giving us instructions about where we are to go.
For the most part, we pay little if any attention to these provoking, even time‑consuming, inner dialogues. But this excursus clearly reveals how little control we actually have, even over our own thoughts. And if we cannot maintain control of our thoughts, how can we reasonably expect to maintain control of our lives?.
And this brings us to the subject at hand. For angels, as referred to by the Zohar, The Book of Splendor are the forces that channel energy intelligence in its various forms. It is written in the Zohar that negative actions (breaking something, for example) attract the force of destructive angels to us; spiritual deeds and acts of sharing create an affinity with the positive aspect of energy, drawing positive angels to us.
The great Kabbalist Rav Isaac Luria, known as The Ari, explains in his writings that angels are energy forces, both good and bad, which are formed by the personal words and deeds of people. When a person occupies himself or herself with spirituality, prayer, meditation and acts of sharing, the breath of air that leaves the mouth becomes a chariot, a vehicle for these angels – they are informants of our own creation. Although these positive and negative entities have existed since long before we came into this world, they remain dormant, in a state of suspension, until such time as we create the suitable garment or vehicle through which they reveal themselves or make themselves manifest.
In other words, good fortune or tragedy are not occurrences that are simply and suddenly thrust upon us by a kind and compassionate Creator or an angry and unsympathetic Lord. We are directly responsible for the angels in our lives, and which angels will come in touch with us. Angels have no free will of their own. Their essence consists of a particular packet of energy, which is drawn upon by our words and our deeds.
What seems to emerge from the writings of The Ari is that, although angels were created by the Creator for the express purpose of maintaining balance within the cosmos, they have essentially "evolved" into entities that man alone "creates." Whether they are supportive or work against an individual depends upon the purity and the level of consciousness of the individual.
As people of faith, we are systematically conditioned to bless the Lord when we experience good fortune in our lives. Equally, we are conditioned to accept without comment the awesome punishment which at times invades our tranquil homes (Heaven forbid).
From a kabbalistic perspective, however, we view the true and absolute nature of the Creator as simply that of "sharing." If more people had this understanding and awareness, I believe, we might raise our questions beyond asking how our Creator could demonstrate or permit the level of violence we find in our society, holocaust after holocaust.
Perhaps, as a society, we would feel the necessity to elevate our consciousness, most particularly by questioning the way in which we behave with one another. With that manner of elevated consciousness, we would know that there is power in the words we speak, and we would guard them more carefully. We would see the connection between our words and our deeds, and their combined effects and influence on our own lives and the world around us.
Unfortunately, this knowledge is not widely understood. But there is no doubt in my mind that, were people informed about this and other kabbalistic principles concerning the universal laws of our cosmos, chaos and negativity (and as it is more commonly known, Murphy's law) would cease to exist.
The Ari brings into focus another element, and that is the position and role of the archangel mankind within the universal interplay of all forces and entities. It becomes quite obvious that the great kabbalist left little room for placing blame on others for misfortune. Murphy's law, or Maxwell's second law of thermodynamics (which holds that entropy will bring all existence to an end in chaos) are ploys, and they are employed by Satan to deceive us into shirking our responsibilities by placing blame on things outside ourselves, by looking for scapegoats (much like the reaction of the Israelites who crafted the golden calf).
Only recently has mankind begun to realize that answers and solutions to our problems will not be forthcoming from without, that rather they must originate from within, through the knowledge and consciousness of the individual. Government, medicine, economics "according to the experts" ‑ these are no longer to be perceived as cure‑alls. Each and every person will need to assume responsibility for paving his and her own destiny. That time is now.
And so the subject of angels has taken on new relevance and importance. The information concerning angels is more than information. It is knowledge, a necessary tool for acquiring a life free from chaos. As long as mankind has remained negligent about addressing the issue of accountability, however, that knowledge has remained concealed and inaccessible.
So far, we have come to understand that man is the creator of what I call primary angels. Sometimes our conscious meditation can combine with the force of these primary angels to bring into the arena what I call the secondary angels. These are the archangels and others, such as the Angel of Death, who existed at the time of creation.
"And he dreamed he beheld a Ladder set up on earth and its top reaching to the heaven and angels of the Lord ascending and descending" (Genesis 28:12). In its discussion on this verse, the Zohar asks, inasmuch as angels are supernal entities, should not the verse rather state it as "descending and ascending?" Here, too, the Zohar makes another distinction: Angels operating within the energy field of Israel ascended, while lesser‑energy angels descended to accompany him.
In other words, there are distinguishable and differentiating levels of angels. In this story, a changing of the guard was required. Yaakov was thus informed of this within his dream. And so he knew that he was to draw angels to himself. More particularly, he was to draw angels to himself who served within that theater of operation mandated to provide the protection he sorely needed at that time.
The Zohar implies that knowledge provides the necessary connection. Departing from the land of Israel, had Yaakov not been made aware of the change of guard, he might have been left abandoned, left to fend for himself.
Different angels exist to cover varied, in fact infinite, plans and purposes. There are those angels, for example, who are appropriate for carrying messages intended to reach the Lord. Moreover, each day brings with it a different host of angels to replace those of the day before, each angel designated to a different task and purpose.
The subject of angels is not one to be regarded as a curious notion that simply captures our imagination. It must be considered as a serious matter. Our lives may very well be affected by this knowledge. An angel is a powerful Light force entity, though it may not always be a "guardian angel."
A better noted and more familiar than even the guardian angel, feared throughout tradition, is the Angel of Death. According to the Zohar, the origins of this most chaotic of angels can be traced to the snake of the Garden of Eden. Confined to the parameters of the Tree of Life, the reptile's metaphysical and physical kiss of death remained inactive. But when the snake convinced Eve to join in, disobeying the command of the Lord by eating from the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, the trappings of Murphy's law began ‑ and there was no stopping it until Mount Sinai.
Even then, the freedom from chaos was short‑lived. An abrupt change in the consciousness of the Israelites was demonstrated with the construction of the golden calf. And ever since, the world has endured pain and suffering at the whim of the dreaded Angel of Death.
The Zohar states that no individual dies from a physical cause. There is no heart failure. There is no other vital bodily function that simply ceases to function. Mortality owes to no other culprit than the Angel of Death, who is free to enter when we create openings in our bodies.
In our quest for immortality, we require the services of archangels. Activating the positive energy that is generated by prayer and spirituality, these angels respond by acting as protective shields and transport vehicles. These positive angels combine with our collective positive activities to reduce the ability of the Satan to intrude into our universe.
This is a monumental effort. Its ultimate success requires the participation of all mankind. The prerequisite will be an entire overhaul of mankind’s consciousness. And it is imperative that all of mankind make a concerted effort to increase our collective awareness, sensitivity and tolerance.
Now that we have seen Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Independence Day, our imaginations have been activated. More of us are thinking about and searching for what angels are all about. The theater of operation is not "somewhere outthere." This ongoing battle, this encounter, takes place every moment of every day, day in and day out, all year long ‑ inside each and every one of us. Where is the Lord? A part of the Lord is inside of us. Where is the Ark? A part of the Ark is inside of us.
We are God. We are the Ark. The difference between ourselves and God is that God is quantum, all inclusive. We are only a part. The difference between ourselves and the Ark is that the Ark is also quantum, all inclusive. We are only a part.
In understanding the power that the knowledge of angels can give us, we begin to see that angels are no longer just for children's stories. Yet, in many ways, the concept of angels has been kept alive through those same children's stories, which did not succumb to Murphy's Law. Isn't it remarkable how truth appeals to children?
Thanks to all those wonderful guardian angels, with such beautiful wings.
Some Facts about Angels
This article originally appeared in Kabbalah Magazine Volume 2, Issue 1 (November 1996)