Mystic, artist, and author David Chaim Smith returns to the show as our guest in podcast episode 104 (he appeared previously in podcast episode 83). His amazing book The Kabbalistic Mirror of Genesis was recently published by Daat Press.
“The original text of The Kabbalistic Mirror of Genesis was written between 1997-2007 during my 10 year hiatus from visual art, when spiritual practice and scholarship was my main concern. The book is a radical analysis of the first 3 chapters of the Book of Genesis. It assumes the form of a line by line commentary of the biblical text, and is supported copiously with quotes from many important and obscure Kabbalistic and alchemical texts. It directly challenges both exoteric as well as esoteric assumptions about the nature and function of Biblical creation symbolism and creativity itself, and brings into question many conventional modes of interpretation that have gone unquestioned for centuries. For better or worse, it is unique in all of western esoteric literature as the only study of its kind.” – David Chaim Smith
As we begin the interview, David describes what makes his commentary on the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis unique. Primarily, he discards several commonly held beliefs about the text, including religious meaning, the idea that it is a literal history of the creation event in linear time, and the morality that is often associated with the story through ideas such as original sin, the fall of man, and messianic redemption. David is not a theist and does not “reify a creator God.” He repeatedly stresses that he is only interested in the symbolic language contained in the text which reveals a masterful exposition on the nature of human consciousness.
David describes the first chapter of Genesis as an exposition on the creative process through the agency of the Ten Sefirot of the Tree of Life, providing a way to examine all phenomena. He defines the second chapter as “… a symbolic account of the primordial gnosis of the human mind in its capacity to open and reveal its potential.” The esoteric equations therein containing the meaning of Adam are profound, according to Smith. He refers to the the third chapter as showing “… the consequences of conventional habituation, which is a turning away from the capacity to the primordial gnosis which is our birthright … the story of the ‘so-called’ fall … is another encoded series of equations that describes the function of consciousness engaged in a certain activity.” From there we spiral off into explorations of the implications of David’s ideas and interpretations, the nature of consciousness, both illuminated and mundane, challenging not only conventional exoteric religious dogma, but accepted esoteric doctrines as well.
Not only is David Chaim Smith’s artwork phenomenal as vibrant biomorphic phantasmagoria that beautifully conveys the majesty of creation through symbolism of ancient Kabbalistic texts, but his writing, and the accompanying diagrams and drawings, is of such an exquisite caliber that it often leaves me speechless. The Kabbalistic Mirror of Genesis provides a lens through which to gain entirely new perspectives and vistas on the nature of creation, the world, and ourselves. In so doing, it reveals something far different, and far more elegant and profound, than a mythology of mankind’s origin. This book has the potential to restore the Book of Genesis’ inner meaning to any reader ready to receive it. I highly recommend it!
In the Occult of Personality Membership Section, David Chaim Smith talks more about his radical, non-religious mysticism, the joys and hardships of contemplative practice, the nature of consciousness and creativity, and much, much more. Join us!
The Kabbalistic Mirror of Genesis: Commentary on Genesis 1 – 3 by David Chaim Smith (also available directly from Daat Press)
“A Blazing Mirror of Itself” by David Chaim Smith
“Reification (fallacy)” Wikipedia entry
“Nondualism” Wikipedia entry
“Tzimtzum” Wikipedia entry
The Fountain of Wisdom tr. by Mark Verman
“Nisargadatta Maharaj” Wikipedia entry