KISMET= The Jewish Koan

INTRODUCTION

Black Elk summarises a very old manner of expressing Eros as the way of soul=

“[There is a] peace that comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realise that at the centre of the universe dwells the Great Mysterious, and that this centre is really everywhere, and also it is within each of us.”

The Daemonic as the way of heart is very different.

Like stringing a bow tightly to shoot an arrow,
God has finely wrought the human sinews of passion:
its dilemma wherein we are squeezed;
its suffering wherein we are deepened;
faith that risks existence;
truth that is the only ground over the abyss.

1,

Ross Daly — an Irishman who has spent much of his life in Crete and learned the Cretan lyre, becoming a master of traditional Cretan music – encapsulates the meaning of ‘Fate’ in the liner notes for a CD called ‘Kismet’ by Bijan Chemirani and Stelios Pretakis [2003]=

“The word ‘kismet’, or variations thereof [Qisma= Arabic; Kismeti= Greek; Qismet= Turkish; Qismat= Persian] is derived from the ..Semitic 3 letter verbal root QSM which means ‘to divide, distribute, assign, ordain.’ Kismet, in everyday usage, refers to fate, fortune, or destiny with the implication that this is one’s portion or share of the sum of reality or being.

The Middle-Eastern concept of fate, fortune, destiny, kismet, is.. often seriously misunderstood and even shunned by Western attitudes as mere ‘fatalism.’ ..a certain basic understanding of the [complicated] concept of kismet is probably essential to one’s understanding of any given aspect of the culture of those peoples in whose world it has a rather special place.”

The peoples for whom Kismet ‘has a special place in their culture’ are living in ancient lands stretching from the Balkans and Greece through Palestine and Turkey, to Arabia and Persia. It is a mid-point between East and West, neither Oriental nor Occidental.

But all the languages referring to Kismet derive it from the same verbal root in Hebrew, and therefore this shared intimation about Fate is essentially Jewish.

Indeed, QSM is arguably the Hebrew root which, though not identical with, is closest to the ancient Greek term ‘Daemonic.’

2,

A commentator on Hebrew terminology amplifies what Ross Daly has claimed about Kismet. There are several roots in Hebrew that mean ‘to cut.’ QSM is one such root. The commentator cites the Hebrew scholar Klein who says that QSM originally meant ‘to cut, break, divide, distribute, apportion.’ All this is implicit in the Hebrew ‘kesem’, the equivalent of Kismet.

The commentator also refers to what the Hebrew scholar Jastrow points out= that ‘kasam’ means ‘a carver’, and can be applied to God, but when thus invoked, God is no longer spoken of as ‘Creator ex nihilo.’ Hence, ‘kesam’ is the implement of the carving, not unlike the sword which Christ warned he was wielding [Mathew, 10, 34-35] when announcing he came not to create peace [Eros] but to sow conflict [Daemonic].

The same paradox inheres the Hebrew ‘cleaving’ to God, spouse, neighbour, world; the sharp cutting edge of the sword which separates and divides is necessary to the most radical heart to heart adhering. How can that be?

Jastrow clarifies traditional Jewish texts which imply that if a person invokes God in cursing someone else, then the curse rebounds on the one doing the cursing. Only God can cut the world, for the sake of a closer joining with it; when we try to do this, in God’s name, we inevitably become Satanic. This is the problem in fundamentalism, and really in any attempt to correct, or put right, other people. ‘Judge not, lest you be judged.’ Trying to be ‘the scourge of God’ always goes with refusing God’s scourging of oneself. In modern Hebrew kesam can refer to a ‘toothpick’, and it is best we clean our own teeth out, and not seek to put the bite on others. We can discern their failures, but to discern our own failings means accepting we and they are in the same sinking boat. People foolishly tear each other to shreds as the boat takes on ever more water..

The commentator goes on to a further amplification. He quotes again from Klein, who clarifies that ‘istaqsama’ means ‘he got a part allotted to himself’, and ‘qismah’ means ‘portion, lot, fate.’ Moreover, there is even a suggestion that QSM in one of its variants means to ‘swear’, or make a ‘vow.’

Thus QSM is the key to the Daemonic Fate that seizes humanity violently, and will not let go of those who must confront the existential reality that ‘it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God.’

“What do you want from me?”, the Daemonically afflicted scream at God. Only over time, in the throes of a long dereliction, does God reveal what he is doing with us.

What the Sanskrit root ‘RTa’ is to Eros, QSM is to the Daemonic.

3,

The very word Daemonic began in Greek as ‘a person’s share of happiness’, then by losing a prefix, became a person’s share of suffering, a person’s portion of the common fate of suffering that befalls all humanity. Hence the Daemonic is ‘fated suffering.’ The suffering ‘allotted to you, as your portion, of the sum of suffering that befalls everyone by virtue of existing in this world.’ That such suffering will indeed befall you, that there is no escaping from it, is Kismet.

Kismet is therefore initiatory into the Daemonic— the knock on the door at the hour of the wolf in the dark of the night which wakes you in a cold sweat; the unexpected and unforeseeable turn of events that changes your life forever; many things that happen ‘for no discernable reason’ but affect your life decisively for good or ill.

Christ on the Cross is the supreme apotheosis of fated suffering, and he knew it was his Kismet, though he humanly desired to avoid it, and wavered in confronting it in the Garden of Gethsemane before Golgotha. He did not ‘float through it’, he did not ‘rise above it.’ He did not detach his heart. He met it head-on. It hurt him. ‘Not my will, but thy will be done’ the human heart says to the divine heart when it has ‘fallen into the fearful hands of God’ and acknowledged that dynamic situation as the Fact of facts, the Reality of realities, and at last ‘accepts’ it. We humans always start by rejecting our personal and particular Kismet, as can be observed in the Psalms of David, and only through terrible struggles against its blow, followed by struggles in the abysses of its wound, do we finally reach the wisdom of accepting the fate, the share, the portion, the allotted measure of suffering, willed for our existence in this world by the Daemonic God.

This is not ‘submission’, out of fear of an authoritarian tyranny. It is ‘surrender’, out of trust in the unknown. The blow of fate, the wounding of fate, is not defended against, denied, fled. Rather, it goes into us, and goes far down. A blues singer from the American South recently chose as a title for her CD ‘deep down where the Spirit cuts into the bone.’ Federico Garcia Lorca calls it ‘the knife in the street.’ It always comes ‘out of left field.’ It cannot be expected and planned for. It overturns every apple cart.

4,

David in the Psalms says humanity is ‘wonderfully and fearfully made.’ Wonderfully made= Eros. Fearfully made= the Daemonic.

Even Eros has its fated portion of happiness, bliss, ecstatic release in union with what is good in life, but humanity’s greed and lust, envy and jealousy, rivalry and animosity, always demonstrate that we kick against this ‘portion’ of the good things, because we always demand ‘more.’ We wish for the whole pie, not our slice, and thus our wish-fulfillment phantasy, as Freud called it, echoing the Eastern Christian Desert Tradition of spirituality, is always in overdrive, in an overheated state, disappointed in the slice we do have, and restlessly seeking bigger, better, more and more. What we have is never enough. Gratitude for the slice of goodness we do have, and contentment with it, is a sign of Enlightenment in Eros. Just as ‘the water goes up and the water goes down’, so too accepting the one bird in the hand rather than being flooded with illusory wishful images insisting upon the two birds in the bush, is a spiritual yoga of Eros.

If we try to keep, hold on to, ‘own’, even the decreed portion of joy that does come to us, so we drive it away.

William Blake=

“He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy,
But he who kisses the joy as it flies,
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.”

Thus even what we are given as our share of the goodness of life cannot be ‘possessed.’ The open, non-grasping hand, not the closed, grasping fist, is the only way to relate to not only the inevitable comings and goings of Eros, the winter and the spring, the sour and the sweet, but also the very particular portion of Eros we are granted as our happiness, our joy, our bliss, during our brief sojourn on earth.

Kismet imposes limits, disciplines, yokes, in the journey toward the authentic fullness of Eros, as the ancient Greek myth of ‘Eros and Psyche’ makes plain. The soul is ‘schooled’ by Eros in how to love= how to respond freely and personally to the gift of love, how to take delight in love, how to let go of ego so as to cease blocking the flow of love. Everyone is a ‘learner’ in Eros. If we are genuinely growing, then ‘yearning’ replaces restless discontent and ingratitude.

Rumi [‘The Illuminated Rumi’, Coleman Barks and Michael Green, 1997, p 74]=

“How will you know the difficulties of being human
if you’re always
flying off to blue perfection?

..We need
ground
to scrape and hoe, not the sky of unspecified desire.”

Rumi says the soul has the shape of a bowl [p 89], and that the very longing for God without getting anything back is ‘the return message’ [p 78]. Thus= ‘Listen to the moan of a dog for its master. That whining is the connection.’

Rumi is not speaking of the Daemonic. He is telling us that on the path of Eros it is the negatives of life which bring us nearer to the real positive in all things than our ‘religious approximations’ which are like concocted menus compared to real food.

The Kismet hardest of all to embrace is that Eros is transitory in this life= it cannot be preserved, like a museum piece safely ensconced behind glass. Good things do not last. Russia’s cultural, social, religious, flowering in the nineteenth century ended. King Arthur’s Round Table ended. Jack and Jill’s romance ended. Chinese proverb= ‘if you want to be happy for a year, fall in love; if you want to be happy lifelong, take up gardening.’ Yet real love is akin to gardening. Eros is far from an easy stroll in the park. The paradox= fasting teaches us what it is to feast. A similarly important lesson is only learned by having our share of the good, not the ‘bigger and better’ version we wish for. The sulky child rejects the good thing he can, for a time, enjoy, because it does not match the fantasy-fulfillment that he prefers.

There is a working of Kismet even in Eros..

5,

Kismet is more radical in the Daemonic. Consequently, any person, or any culture, which rejects Kismet also rejects the Daemonic. The Daemonic is not an idea, concept, image, archetype, pattern, undergirding or overarching structure. It is an Unknowable and Inexplicable Presence, and Power, that strikes people in their heart whether they like it or not, are ready or not, recognise what is happening or not..

It breaks the heart.

This breaking of the heart on the road of the Daemonic is mysterious, and impossible to describe. Henry Miller, with all his élan, love of flexing his muscles in language and throwing off restrictive shackles, tells Lawrence Durrell a more fundamental truth about his life [‘Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller= A Private Correspondence’, ed. George Wickes, 1963, pp 374-376]=

“All I was trying to say, bedazzled as I was, and it was like trying to put a knife in a crevice, was: ‘What’s it all about?’ .. Looking back over my more tumultuous writings I begin to wonder if perhaps I was trying to hide something? Or perhaps I was hiding from myself. ..What I feel like saying sometimes—when the whole bloody Crucifixion comes to an end—is ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, don’t believe a word of it, it was all a hoax. Let me tell you in a few words the story of my tragedy’.. And what would be the story? That, wanting desperately to be a writer, I became a writer. In the process I sinned. ..I betrayed my wife, my child, my friends.. [because] I fell in love with the medium. ..I recorded what I saw and felt, not what was. ..I would like to talk to men or with men in a different way now. Like Parsifal, not Pagliacci. My heart was never broken. I’m intact..”

The Daemonic wound takes away this intactness. Only a broken heart walks the road of the Daemonic.

The person, or culture, not acknowledging Kismet is at a disadvantage, because when the ‘wound inflicted by the Daemonic’ hits them, they will have no ‘wisdom of the sages’ to help them honestly face, wrestle with, pass through, the Daemonic ‘long dark tunnel.’

They will blame the Daemonic lightning strike that burns up their existence as bad luck if they are narrowly secular, put it down to malevolent demons if superstitiously religious, or more commonly, people will try to deny the Daemonic has arrived..

We are, each of us uniquely, and all of us in common, ‘ordained’ to a suffering fate that is a calling which is key to the future redemption of existence in this world. It is in the process of redeeming the world that the human heart is destroyed and remade, forged in a fiery furnace, hammered on an implacable anvil, tested as to what it is truly made of in depth. God is relentless about putting humanity through this fated suffering, so that we will, in the end, come to a mysterious destination otherwise unreachable.

F.G. Lorca [lecture in Grenada, 1922]=

“..cante jondo always sings at night. It knows nothing of morning or evening, mountain or plain.. It is a song without landscape, concentrated in itself and terrible in the shadows, shooting its golden arrows that pierce the heart. It is like a formidable archer of azure whose quiver is never emptied.”

Andalusian Gypsy Flamenco=

“I climbed the wall;
the wind cried to me:
Why these sighs,
when there’s no remedy?”

And=

“If my heart possessed
windows, you could
look deep there, and see
me weep drops of blood.”

The Daemonic Wounding “is deep, ..more so than any well, more so than all the seas that bathe the world” [F.G. Lorca, 1922]. The blue archer brings forth the new reality of heart unobtainable in any other way.

6,

Ross Daly points out that the fate allotted one, ordained one, requires ‘improvisation’= though it befalls us as a fate we cannot change, never the less we develop our own unique reply to it. He says=

“Interestingly enough, the musical term taxim [taqasim= Arabic; taksimi= Greek], in common usage amongst the same peoples who speak of Kismet, is also derived from this exact same root. Taxim refers to a musical improvisation in a given melodic mode [maqam], and the implication seems to be that, through the medium of.. improvisation and melodic development, the mode is ‘divided, distributed, assigned and therefore ordained’.”

G. Marcel [1933] puts the same point in existential terms= our concrete life is “in every way ‘involved’, and therefore [finds] itself at grips with a fate which it must not only undergo, but must also make its own.. from within.”

Thus it becomes vital to distinguish ‘fate’ from ‘destiny.’

If we succumb to fate, then we lose our destiny. Yet only by accepting fate can we ‘carve’ out our destiny. It was Christ’s fate to carry the tragedy in the human condition, to bear the unbearable nadir of humanity, but it was his destiny to overcome the worst case scenario from within its abysmal ruination, and secure the best case scenario only from that reversal.

This is a paradox. This paradox marks the true passion from the bogus.

[1] Kismet is not fatalism= passivity. You just lay back, ‘out for the count’, and say you can do nothing. People can enjoy this suffering if they think it absolves them from responsibility and effort. Such is ‘fatalism.’ It invites the romanticising, and glorifying, of victimhood.

[2] Kismet is not the Western notion of activeness, of ‘pushing ahead regardless’, which makes the ego – not the heart – the hero. Christ, at the point of being crucified, declares that had he wanted simply to ‘crush the opposition’, he could have done so= he had the power to call upon a host of spirits who would have terrified the Roman Centurions and sent them into headlong retreat.. He also declared that no one was taking his life from him, because he was choosing to accept that the Cross must happen to him as the will of Yahweh his Father, and thus what he was doing was giving his life as a sacrifice. The Cross therefore rules out the central tenet of the heroic ego= the insistence on achieving ‘power over fate’, with its endless litany of conquest, success, winning.

[3] The true way is a third way, neither of these opposites of passivity or willfulness. A Jew once hinted at this when he spoke of not getting free of our troubles but growing with them= in reality, not growing but radically changing in our profoundest foundation, through these very torments. We shed both the passive fatalism of no passion, and the false activeness of the ‘forever undestroyed’ passion that believes it can ‘force’ its way ahead= but sooner or later reality pronounces that it cannot.

Moshi [‘The Ronin’, William Jennings, 1968, p 2]=

“When heaven is about to confer
great office on a man,
Heaven first exercises his mind with suffering,
and his sinews and bones with toil;
Heaven exposes him to poverty
and confounds all his undertakings.
Then it is seen if he is ready.”

The heart is not to be identified with feelings or emotions= your heart is your truth.

Without the truth of the human condition, and the truth of what alone redeems it — or harms it further, by betraying it for selfish advantage — there is no heart.

Viktor Frankl had found a means of escape from the concentration camp in which he was imprisoned. He had been careful not to tell anyone. On the evening he was to get free, something stopped him. He suddenly was disturbed, torn, conflicted. Then it hit him that the people imprisoned with him were his brothers and sisters, and he could not abandon them. He chose not to go. Rather, he chose to stay, so that he could continue to help his fellow sufferers stand up to the assault of evil everyone faced. Once this decision was made, his heart became clear, composed, at rest.

7,

In the Far East, ‘karma’ is interpreted in such a way as to eliminate any awareness of Kismet. In the West, ‘free will’ — or simply the belief that each of us is ‘master of their fate’ [captain of their ship vis a vis even the roughest seas] – is interpreted in such a way as to prevent any awareness of Kismet.

Kismet means that there is a presence powerfully intervening in the vicissitudes of existence, impacting what happens and influencing how things turn out. But it is in its workings obscure, not mechanistic; subtle, not gross. Kismet is nothing like a divine plan imposed on the run of events, to shape them according to a unilateral divine will. God’s workings are always theandric, and hence God improvises in response to our response. Kismet never over-rules human freedom, but confronts freedom with a choice over its very nature= the freedom to love, or the freedom not to love. ‘I set before you this day two paths..’

Kismet is very close to, if not identical with, providence.

There is no awareness of ‘the providence at work in things’ in the Orient or in the Occident.

In Greek, the term ‘pro-noia’ means that the universe is ‘positively disposed toward the mind of humanity.’ Both joy and pain, both marvellous fulfillment and pulverizing abandonment, are for our final good, though we may resent Eros for its ebb and flow, and in the grip of the Daemonic we may tend to judge ourselves basically worthless or want ‘to curse God and die.’

Nevertheless, the pro-noia of providence means that Fated Joy and Fated Suffering are both ‘for us’, not ‘against us.’ The sense that the universe is ‘against the mind of humanity’, not well disposed toward us, but indifferent or ill-intentioned, is in Greek ‘para-noia.’

The extreme of this state is evident in paranoid schizophrenia, where the warm welcome to the baby provided by the mother is replaced by hostility, coldness, threat. In para-noia, we flee existence as such, standing back, fearful to dive in and get involved. In pro-noia, we allow existence to get through our defenses, to really get into us, to rouse and penetrate our hidden heart, for better and for worse.

8,

For any person, or any culture, that recognises Kismet and the Daemonic at work in the world, a certain way of discerning ‘the things that happen’ becomes necessary. It is vitally important to discern the Daemonic will of God in events, in order to avoid both passivity — doing nothing – and false activeness — doing the wrong thing in the wrong manner.

It is not surprising that gradually ‘Daemonic’ became ‘demonic’ among Greek speakers, and others in the West who inherited the same misunderstanding. We must discern different ‘wills’ at work in the world. There is a divine will in events. But there is also a purely evil will seeking to direct the way things are going, the way things will finally turn out. The line between the one and the other can be, at times, ambiguous.

God is not only tough love. God allows evil to operate, at certain times, just as God helps us draw a line in the sand to stop evil at other times. God will even send evil to certain people in certain circumstances. The Daemonic God is ‘tricky.’ Evil, however plausible, however tempting, is always ceaselessly contemptuous of humanity, willing our complete destruction. Wisdom is needed in regard to such differentiating of the different kinds of spiritual intentionality impinging upon human existence.

“Discern spirits.”

St Anthony of Egypt [251-356 AD] taught his students that this discerning is the prime necessity. Many of them had indignantly protested to Anthony that love is primary, but he dismissed that as misleading, because without spiritual discerning we are deceived about what is and what is not love.

[1] The human passion, and its willing, can be moved by the divine will, and then its passage through ambiguity, ambivalence, contradiction, is qualitatively different. ‘All things work together for good to those who love God’ [Paul, Romans, 8, 28]. Hence, ‘thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’

[2] Yet the human passion can also be snared by the purely evil will, and then corruption, distortion, twistedness, takes over, slowly but surely. Martin Buber therefore distinguishes human ‘sin’ from demonically driven ‘wickedness.’ Hitler, and the entire Nazi Movement, were not simply sinful; by refusing to recognise sin for what it is, real evil of a spiritual nature gets in, and dominates. Wickedness signifies being possessed and ‘inspired’ by the Evil One whose Lie insinuates itself more and more into every aspect of the victim’s existence. It destroys them, and they pass on this destructiveness to the world.

[3] Freud said ‘character is fate.’ If we are touched neither by the divine will, nor the evil will, at work in the existential cauldron of this world, then we are condemned to remain forever stuck in childhood neurosis, endlessly repeating the infantile themes of early development; we act out these themes without any self-awareness of both the damage to our childlikeness and the childish compensations, and consolations, we put in place to try to pretend the damage did not affect us as it did. Such childlike injury, protected by a childish inversion of it, is re-enacted in adult life; this dual pattern is what Alfred Adler calls the person’s ‘Life Error.’

[4] ‘No man is an island, entire of itself’ [John Donne]. Our own will never acts in a vacuum, but is confronted by other human wills. Sometimes God inspires us to act in concert with other wills. Sometimes God inspires us to stand against other wills. Either way, this serves the will of God at different times in different places. The evil will, in contrast, invariably promotes an evil outcome from either the collective or the individual. Moreover, not only circumstances, contingencies, conditions, exactions, accidents, but also the sum of past human actions, impact upon our own will, meaning that it is subject to an immense push and pull of many forces, like a man trying to stand in turbulent water where many currents crisscross. Consequently, in understanding someone, all that they were up against, all they had to contend with, must be taken into account. Some people have more strength to withstand. However, it is not true that even these ‘tough guys’ are unaffected by what affects everyone. We all bleed.

The challenge to each person, and to a whole culture, tested by the Daemonic, is not to lapse into ‘God is punishing me’, but to understand ‘God is forging me like metal in fire.’ What is the dross in our nature to be shed? A lot of that..

Yet more centrally, what are the extreme changes in heart that are required? These do not come voluntarily.. They come through brokenness of heart, and the humbleness this brings.

True passion is humbleness–active.

9,

Many peoples and many cultures, even if ‘officially’ given over to Eros, have had intimations, experiences, sudden collapses of all ground beneath their feet, in the grip of the Daemonic. Some of the persons given a blast of the dragon’s breath are allowed to go back to the old dispensation. Others are more singed, and do not easily revert to what previously sustained them. Like the Jews, they confront an agonisingly protracted time in a ‘spiritually charged’ desert, an electric place that can destroy them utterly — or remake them for a very different calling.

In Orient and Occident, the dragon’s roar and the dragon’s fire haunt the periphery. In the mid-point from the Balkans to Persia, the dragon is more central. This is why the devilish opposition to the Daemonic is so fierce in this region of the world.

The hardest to bear, and endure, in the unending ‘night without stars’, in the endless wasteland of the desert, is that hell is plumbed, and the final heartbreak of humanity is uncovered. We are abandoned by God, even as we have abandoned God. In the absence of God, the devil comes and ‘sifts’ us, just as he was granted permission by God to do to Job.

St Anthony underwent terrible assaults by demonic forces alone in the wilderness. After a very long time of this, Christ appeared to him. Anthony reproached his Redeemer= ‘Where were you when I needed you?’ Christ replied= ‘I was right here, admiring your valour.’

In the moment of trial, we are bereft of all help. God is gone and the devil plays upon every point where our existential faith is vulnerable. The ordeal is terrible. The ordeal is real.

Never on the path of Eros is God really absent. The illusions of Eros have to be removed, but the progression towards ever more unity is never itself lost. It is evident in Rumi’s poetry that he has not tasted God’s desertion of the human heart= “Welcome difficulty as a familiar comrade. Joke with torment brought by the Friend” [p 77]. In the abysses of hell, the absent God ceases to be any kind of friend, any kind of lover, and this is why we rage against him, and despair of him, all hope extinguished.

10,

QSM contains the hidden secret of the Daemonic.

Fate divides before it can unite. This ‘divides then unites’ meaning of Fate is only understood in the Middle East; it is understood neither in the Occident [duality/willfulness] nor in the Orient [oneness/passivity]. The Jews were fated to have to come to terms with this paradox. For the most part, the Christians funk it.. They fear to grapple with God, honestly oppose God, and this produces cramped, insincere, hyper piety.. God invites us into war with his way before we can accept it; but when we do come to the divine heart out of opposing its way in our heart, we are reconciled to that way as never before.. Fate means a process which divides, then unites only after the dividing is worked through. People do poorly with the Daemonic because they are afraid of that ‘working through.’ The truth of Jacob= only honest contention brings about final binding.

This is the distinctive, and peculiar, Jewish Koan. It is absent from, and indeed inexplicable to, every form of Eros, whether in Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Greek Hellenism, or Shamanism. The sense of separateness in the Relative toward the Absolute is the error to be overcome on any mystical path. In the Daemonic, God’s otherness makes possible humanity’s personalness, and places upon the heart the burden and respect of responsibility for the deed of personhood. If the heart could not question, and reject, God, then it would never be free. In the existential radicalness of freedom, the heart goes against God, and is sundered from God. Yet God does not leave it at that. We oppose God, and God locks horns with our opposition, and through this two sided contending, the divine heart is revealed to the human heart, and finally, the human heart is won over. It cannot be compelled, intimidated, seduced, flattered, to give its true assent.

The mystical illumination that ‘God is nowhere, God is everywhere’, is not denied by Hasidism. However, Hasidism refers to this approach as ‘rational’, because the mystical path always makes sense. But, there is a different way God relates to the world which Hasidism calls ‘the divine madness’= through personalness, through the heart, through the freedom that risks the personal heart. This is a real gamble.

QSM is the ‘wild card’ by which God seeks to win the gamble with the devil who has bet God that the human heart is ‘not up to’ what God proposes to do with it. God’s honouring of the human heart is, from the devil’s perspective, madness indeed.

The mind can be described, with the right philosophy. The soul can be described, with the right poetry. The heart cannot be described. The heart is, like God, hidden and inaccessible. It must be searched for, and searched out, fathoming the fathomless. The heart is not the centre of a sacred geometry. It is ‘central’ more dynamically in being the prime mover of the rest of the body, the rest of the composite humanity, and thus the heart is the agent of action. ‘Men of courage’= ‘men of heart.’ The heart’s thoughts are its actions= there is no distinction. The heart makes decisions, makes commitments, vows itself to the world through its deeds. The heart also devises wicked schemes [Proverbs, 6, 18]. The obscure ‘counsels’ in every heart will, at the end of time, be exposed. The heart affects the rest of the person, and its stricken condition can ‘crush the spirit and dry the bones’ [Proverbs, 17, 22]. To lose heart, or take heart, is key to what we make of existence, what we do in existence= what we give to or withhold from existence. We are powerfully affectable, as well as powerfully affecting, because we have a heart. We are not ‘inviolate’, complete, a whole, in and of itself. Without loving God unreservedly, we will never love the world unreservedly. But we must look for God with all our heart [Deuteronomy, 4, 28-29], and only then will we find ‘the unknown God.’ Human beings judge by externals of appearance and behaviour, but God searches far into the heart. The heart ‘ponders’, the heart is meant to ‘understand’, and ‘wisdom will enter your heart’ [Proverbs, 2, 10], or in another translation, ‘wisdom will enter and extend your understanding.’ David to Yahweh= ‘in the hidden part you will make me to know wisdom’ [Psalm 51, 6]. The kingly heart is unsearchable to humankind [Proverbs, 25, 3] because it is most akin to God. Peter was ‘cut to the heart’ when he betrayed Christ three times. This is more than conscience= our heart is cut when we remember our calling, having thrown it away, or uncover it in the midst of troubling times. The heart also leaps in our chest, almost breaking the ribcage that contains it. Those not cut to the heart are not moved in heart= their heart becomes ‘hardened’, callous, obstinate, insensitive, invulnerable; such a heart cannot be moved in a new direction.

Yet, the strangest mystery of the heart is that it must initially say No to God’s heart before it can ultimately say Yes.

Through this, the devil’s inducements ‘not to have a heart’ are taken seriously, and are ‘gone into.’ The triangular contest between God, humanity, and the devil, reveals to the human heart the basis on which it can freely repudiate the unworthiness of the evil way and confirm the worthiness of the divine way acting in and through, with the co-operation of, the human will.

If we are not fully human, we will never be divine-human.

Hence the Messianic Spirit is given ‘in the heart’ [Paul, 2 Corinthians, 1, 22; and Paul, Ephesians, 3, 17-20]. For the Jews, as a commentator puts it, ‘soul’ in Hebrew – nephesh – cannot be translated as ‘heart’, nor can ‘heart’ in Hebrew – lev [lebh] — be considered as a synonym for ‘soul.’ This is even more so for the distinction between mind and heart. The mind has to be ‘taken down into the heart’, or it loses its link to what is human, and becomes enticed up into the sterile air of Abstractionism; the ‘pure mind’ wants to be an angel, a disincarnate spirit, and looks with disdain upon the body, soul, and heart.

On the Daemonic road, the heart has prominence, for at stake is not simply its renewal [the old possibility] but its reversal and divinisation [the new promise], which carries out the will of God.

We have a heart. God wants to give us a new heart, after terrible travail.

1 Samuel, 2, 6; 2, 8=

“Yahweh kills and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and brings up..
Yahweh raises up the poor out of the dust and lifts up the beggar from the dung hill,
to set them above princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.
[These are] the pillars of the earth which are Yahweh’s,
and he has set the world upon them.
..for by strength shall no man prevail.”