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Habad Hasidic Wisdom and non-duality

Non-dual elements in philosophies interest me, and I recently came across the school of thought Habad Hasidism, which is the point of interest in this post.

I’m only trying to understand the philosophy of the school, so I’m aware of the cautionary mention in the FAQ that it isn’t advisable to get into Mysticism before fully reading the primary scriptures. Just clarifying this upfront.

Started off with reading Roman Foxbrunner’s book on Habad, but it didn’t address the philosophy directly, so I found another book by Rachel Elior – ‘The Paradoxical Ascent’ , which kind of addressed the basic philosophy in a straightforward manner.

With my limited understanding so far, Yesh(being) and Ayin(nothingness) are the unity of two opposites that constitute the Infinite Essence. It is from our relative perspective that Yesh appears to be separate from the Infinite, but Yesh is just an abstract manifestation of the Divine Ayin itself that appears distinct due to our own animalistic soul, which needs to be annihilated.

From the perspective of the Divine, the distinction of Yesh-Ayin also is necessary only to explain creation, but ultimately that one True, Divine, Infinite Essence is nothing but Ein-Sof, the eternal, that which existed always, and could manifest being out of nothingness.

So with this as the basic understanding, is it accurate to express that our true nature is actually not just the manifestation of the Divine in the nether world(not the mind-body, not the animal soul), but we are that Divine essence by defualt? This is where I try to understand the similarities with respect to strict non-duality that emphasizes the non-difference of self and truth, but here there is a clear emphasis on manifestation, and so the question only pertains to whether our true Essence is non-different.

Because our animal self is annihilated as per the opposites teaching to realize our own true Essence, and the stages in this journey is described in Tanya, that realization is nothing but to understand that there can’t exist anything that isn’t the Infinite Essence, implying we are that Infinite, albeit the creation powers.

Tanya – true nature

I do hope I’ve not misrepresented the teachings entirely, and apologize in advance for any mistakes. Please treat it as ignorance. I am interested to learn more about the Habad Hasidic philosophy, so any book suggestions would be helpful. Please do let me know if my surface level understanding of the philosophy is in the right direction.

Thank you.

PS : Kindly share where I can find a copy of the Shnei Ha-Meorot which Rachel quotes extensively in her book. Most of the quotations seemed very relatable to what I’ve expressed above.

Edit : Almost forgot. I’d love to know what is the general consensus of Habad teachings as per the more Orthodox Jewish traditions, because obviously there’s a huge difference in interpretation. Is the tradition still followed actively in modern times?

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