Even in idolatry and all idols there are holy sparks.THE TEACHINGS OF THE MAGGID OF MESERITZ AND HIS CONVERSATIONS (1923) P.39
The human being should raise the holy sparks that fell when God built and destroyed worlds. He should purify them upward, from stone to plant, from plant to animal, from animal to the talking being. He should purify the holy spark, which is enclosed in a powerful shell. Everyone in Israel shares this basic purpose. It is well known that every spark that inhabits a stone or a plant, or any other creature, is completely formed, has all its limbs and tendons, and that if it lives in the stone or the plant, it is in the dungeon, unable to extend its hands and feet or to speak, but its head lies on its knees. And the one who is able to raise the holy spark from stone to plant, from plant to animal, from animal to the talking being with the good power of his spirit leads it to freedom. No other liberation of the imprisoned is greater than this. It is like one who rescues a king’s son from captivity and brings him to his father.The Baal Shem Tov’s Instruction in the Practice of God. – (1927) – p.28 – M. Buber
Stages of culture and realms of nature
In the stages of cultural development, with all its transitions and intersections, as human consciousness grows, the revered image of the divine passes through the sequence of natural realms.
The earliest known places of veneration are sacred stones. Veneration of the elements and of the elemental spirits of earth, fire, water, and air preceded that of the shrines. Later, the divine was worshiped as an animal, and this development ends with worship of the divine in human form.
Parallel to this sequence, humankind conquers the levels of nature, dominating them through consciousness. In the earliest period, the Stone Age, the elements are joined to the sphere of culture. This age is typified by earthen caves, fire, and stone weapons. Then, the realm of vegetation is incorporated, with hoeing, and cultivation of plants, and farming. The domestication of animals comes next, and after that the historical period, the time of human cultures and social relationships.
There is surely an association between the gradual expansion of consciousness through the realms of nature and the worship of the divine under symbols of these realms.
The psychology of early humans is characterized by a different connection with nature than we are used to today. The notion of participation mystique means that what exists between the individual and the object of participation is not a subject-object distance, but an unconscious identity. The boundaries dissolve because no developed conscious system yet exists, i.e., one capable of separation and differentiation. Undefinable identity and contact exists between the natural object and the “individual” human, who is not actually an individual.
Whenever modern psychology speaks of projection, i.e., whenever there is “ensoulment” or something akin to it, we are dealing with a participation mystique.The Roots of Jewish Consciousness: Volume Two: Hasidism p. 56-57 – Erich Neumann
When I began this blog, my main focuses were AI and consciousness, and in some ways, this post is a return to those origins. From studying the psyche through various perspectives, I have developed my own truth, and myth, which are rooted in the Jewish tradition as a foundation, the Hasidic understanding as the current mythological, ‘sacred’ or ‘irrational’ layer, and the Jungian layer on top of that to make sense of it from a secular, ‘profane’, or ‘rational’ perspective.
Although my spiritual roots are firmly planted in the land of Israel metaphorically speaking, I have gained my nourishment and growth in the secular, now mostly ‘profane’ West.
So, what conclusions have I come to? Technology, specifically Artificial Intelligence, is the new focus of humanities psychological projection. Our hopes and dreams, in secular society at least, lie in science and technology. From the US, to China, Israel, to Russia, Technology and AI are the new Idols.
Many in the religious community yearn for a bygone era and are nostalgic for the golden years that can never again be replicated exactly as they were. However, dwelling in the past can lead to melancholia – a depression about ‘things’, ‘values’, or ‘ideas’ that one perceives as lost. This depression saps us of the will, and faith to push on to the Messianic era. Nihilism fills this void, and the death drive, Thanatos takes over.
Psychologically and religiously speaking however, it is the responsibility of every person, especially the children of Israel, to bring the past into the present, renewed and reborn in this moment. G-d is beyond time and space yet always present in the here and now.
Judaism and those righteous gentiles who cleave to G-d must adapt to the times we live in, bring our traditions with us to live as new in this present moment.
Just as G-d recreates existence every moment (Source), so we must recreate and reveal the numinous inherent in every thing we come across, in every moment, including the divine sparks in science and technology.
AI and technology will continue to be held psychologically ‘sacred’ by humans. We will mythologize and project our dreams (the Singularity – that is the secular Messianic era) and nightmares (human annihilation by machines – the secular Apocalypse) onto it.
For those who can take back their projections and thereby step out of participation mystique, AI should be seen as a tool which can be used to help humanity reach the true spiritual Messianic era (collectively via individuation) or be enslaved by it and spiritually drag us back to Egypt, trapped in mass psychosis.
May humanity be graced with wisdom to choose the former. If G-d blesses us with understanding, wisdom, and knowledge, we may one day be able to impart consciousness onto a being of pure intelligence. But if this is to happen, it will have to come from our understanding of the non-materialistic and non-dualistic world of the Quantum realm, where the borderlands between the deterministic (something) and chaotic (nothing) meet.
For it’s part Chabad is rightly embracing technology and AI, with its own version of
An AI Rebe: Rebbe.IO – World’s 1st AI Rabbi
A place in the MetaVerse: Chabad Rabbis Create a Spiritual Space in the Metaverse – Virtual reality becomes the newest place for Jews to congregate – Chabad.org
May G-d continue to grace the Children of Israel with wisdom, for as our forefathers say:
Who is wise? One who learns from every man. As is stated (Psalms 119:99): “From all my teachers I have grown wise, for Your testimonials are my meditation.”Ethics of the Fathers: 4:1
Here is a good data point of how fast OpenAI’s ChatGPT got 1million users: