Tzimtzum (Şimşum)

Isaac Luria introduced the concept of Tzimtzum (Şimşum) which states that God began the process of creation by “contracting” His infinite light in order to allow for a “conceptual space” in which a finite and seemingly independent world could exist. This contraction, forming an “empty space” in which creation could begin, is known as the Tzimtzum (Şimşum).

The great scholar of Kabbalah Elliot R. Wolfson explains Şimşum as follows:

“the condensation of the infinite light to a point, the indivisible unit that comprehends everything in its seemingly endless divisibility.” [1].

Wolfson points out that the concept of Şimşum is very similar to the concept of “individuation” by Jung [2].

The Şimşum concept is also similar to the “subjectivation is always followed by objectivation” concept I introduced in the article “A Fundamental Principle“. I should also mention that Jung’s “individuation” concept is close to the “subjectivation” concept explained in that article.

Let’s see the brief summary of the subjectivation/objectivation:

Let’s define subjectivation as the identity forming process. When the reality (consciousness, field, substance, potential, etc.) is mapped to a point by a limiting, binding, localizing, encircling, internalizing force a center is formed. This center is the identity. The center point cannot hold the reality. The reality will express itself in a different way as an orthogonal flow coming out from the center. Let’s refer to this flow or expression from the identity point as objectivation. Subjectivation is always followed by objectivation. The internalized (subjectivated) reality at the newly formed center is expressed (objectivated) in stages or in time. If the internalized (subjectivated, referenced, localized) reality is infinite then the unfolding process will never end. The objectivation flow is a relative reality. The flow emerging from the nucleus is orthogonal to the nucleus-forming force (curvature). That which emerges from the singularity (nucleus, center) is not contained in the singularity. The nucleus or singularity is a “reference” or a “name” of the reality. The objectivation comes with multiplicity. The flow from the nucleus forms multiple units or wavelengths. The flow from the nucleus can also be described as evolution. The objectivation flow does not dissipate the identity. The nucleus exists during objectivation. The flow continues as long as the nucleus exists.

I was not aware of the Şimşum concept until recently. I was pleasantly surprised by the similarities. I was very happy to see that when we open our hearts and minds to divine inspiration we discover the same universal principles independently. I don’t have a Jewish background (don’t know about past lives) and I did not study Kabbalah so it is very reassuring that human beings raised in totally different environments have common intuitions regarding the metaphysics of creation. This strengthens my conviction that we are all connected to the Cosmic Mind. Obviously we use different languages and different conceptual tools and different cultural expressions but the universal principles described by these spiritual philosophies are the same at the core.

Elliot R. Wolfson has deep insights into the Şimşum. The following paragraph may not be comrehensible at first reading but if you meditate on his koan you will gain a new understanding of the Şimşum.

“Habad cosmology builds on the platform of the Lurianic interpretation of the beginning as the contraction of the infinite origin that begets the space (halal) devoid of itself, the vacuum that comes to be as what must have already been within the plenum, as the plenum, by definition, cannot not be but all-comprehensive, and hence it must comprehend in the nothingness of its being even the being of its nothingness.” [1].

[1] Elliot R. Wolfson, “Open Secret”, Columbia University Press (2009) ISBN 978-0-231-14630

[2] Jung, “Dream Analysis”, pp 288-289


About Suresh Emre

I have worked as a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory. I am a volunteer for the Renaissance Universal movement. My main goal is to inspire the reader to engage in Self-discovery and expansion of consciousness.
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