Once upon a time, four rabbis made a journey to heaven. The first died, the second went mad, and the third turned into an atheist. Only the fourth, Rabbi Akiba, returned in one piece to tell the tale:
“In the first Hall*, which corresponds to the Kingdom of Creation or the spiritual aspect of the Self, Akiba says that he was in a state of Hasid devotion. Here, where Vilion, the Veil of Heaven*, is rolled away, he entered the world of Pure Spirit.
From this place, where angels and humans can converse, he rose in Tahor, a state of purity, to the second Heavenly Hall, called Rakiyah or Firmament, where the great archangel Gabriel is said to reside. This is the Yesod of Briah, the Foundation of Creation, the level* where the Signs of Heaven are revealed to the prophets. It is also the place of the Holy Spirit in man and corresponds to Daath, the non-Sefirah of Knowledge in the psyche.
The third Hall is called Shehakim, the Skies, and here, in a condition of Yashar, sincerity, Akiba was in the third Heaven, where the millstones of the Universe slowly turn to grind out time.
Thereafter, he rose to the fourth Hall, where he came into direct contact with the Divine in a state of Tamim or wholeness. This is the place where the three upper worlds meet, where Tiphareth of Briah and the Malkuth of Aziluth, the Kingdom of the Divine, touch Kether of Yetzirah, the Crown of the psyche. In this Hall, occupied by the great archangel Michael, Akiba came across the Heavenly Jerusalem and its temple.
Passing beyond the common limits of the human psyche – Akiba had developed a stable spiritual vehicle – he entered the fifth Hall of Heaven, called Maon, or Dwelling. There, he encountered the great archangelic Samael and Zadkiel, in front of whom he had to speak the Kedushah prayer of sanctification, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”
After proving his holiness he could pass on to the sixth Heaven of Makom of the Omnipresent, where he came into the company of the highest created beings gathered around the Celestial Throne. Je joined the heavenly choir singing praises to God.
At last, he came into the presence of God, when he ascended to the seventh Heaven, the Great Hall of Arabot. There, he stood erect, holding his balance with all his might, as he trembled before the Creator.
Safely, and because he was well grounded in ordinary life, Akiba descended, out of the presence of the Divine, down through the seven states of the spirit, into the seven lesser halls or levels of the psyche, and back into the body and ended his journey to heaven.
Additional information about the mystical experiences in the seven Halls/Heavens:
- Vilion, the Curtain: we experience God’s continuous re-creation of reality.
- Rakiyah, the Firmament: we have a vision of the Hebrew letters as channels of God’s creative powers and building blocks of reality.
- Shehakim, the Skies and Millstones: God calls us by our spiritual name and reveals our earthy mission. This reminds of Rev. 2.17: ‘…And I will give him a small, white stone on which a new name is written.’
- Zevul, the Abode (the fourth Hall or Heaven): a vision of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and how to materializing them in the physical realm. This is the descent of the New Jerusalem that turns our mortal body into a spiritual body (described in the Revelation).
- In Maon, the Dwelling or Residence, we learn about the divine forces that act through nature and enable us to channel God’s powers into our lives. Maon reminds of John 14.2: “In my Father’s house are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you.”
- In Machon, the Resting Place, the ineffable name YHVH is revealed to us. We behold YHVH’s omnipotence and omnipresence that is reflected in every aspect of Reality. Paul Foster Case elaborated that YHVH is a formula denoting Divine Reality: ‘That Which Was, Is, and Will Be.’ Each letter represents one of the four worlds: the spiritual world (Y), the creative world (first H – that’s where Akiba went), the formative world (V), and the physical world (second H).
- Arabot, the Heaven: We experience the Godness and bitul (cosmic consciousness). In Arabot we can also have a first glimpse of Ayin Soph Aur. Visiting Arabot turns us into a ‘divine chariot’, a vehicle of God that can act in all four worlds (Ezekiel’s vision). This allows us to extend the Light, Ain Soph Aur, and God’s intentions (Kether) into the physical world.
On a side note: how Tiphareth of Briah, Malkuth of Atziluth, and Kether of Yetzirah connect, is illustrated by a particular arrangement of the Tree of Life in the four worlds that you can view in this post: The Tree of Life in the Four Worlds. What Akiba called ‘psyche’ corresponds to Yetzirah in the illustration.
On a side note: when Akiba entered the Kingdom of Creation it says that he entered the world of Pure Spirit. This is misleading. He entered Briah, the creative world. The spiritual world is Atziluth. We enter Atziluth when we reach the Kingdom of Spirit, Malkuth of Atziluth. Mind the 10th statement of the Truth About the Self: the Kingdom of Spirit is embodied in my flesh.
* Hall, heaven or level are used synonymously in this text. They correspond to the seven levels illustrated in the featured picture. The illustration shows how the seven levels correspond to the ten Sephirah on the Tree of Life.
Picture attribution: Dlee @ pixabay.com