The Three Veils of Negative Existence

000. Ain (Nothing; אין)

00. Ain Soph (Limitlessness;אין סוף )

0. Ain Soph Aur (Limitless Light; אין סוף אוֹר)


Name—English Transliteration



Ain—the Negative


Ain Soph


Ain Soph Aur

The Limitless Light

When we imagine God before creation, evidently there was nothing else other than God.  So there was nothing to relate to and nothing by means of which we could define God.  Hence in almost all philosophical systems, these define only out ignorance.  In Hebrew mysticism three levels of such existence are thought of.  The first of these is Ain

Ain עין

Ain is the highest and first of the veils. It is literally translated as 'nothing', or simply 'no'; it is absolute emptiness, the opposite of existence, complete absence.  God the Transcendent is called in Kabbalah Ain Ain means No-Thing.  

God, as the entity which is "truly One" (האחד האמת), must be free of properties and is thus unlike anything else indescribable.

We can say that the Ain is the causa causorum[Gnostic term: Causa Causarum - Latin for “Cause of causes.”]  of everything that is or will be. It is the uncreated Light, the one that was not created by any entity or Gods. The Ain is the absolute, above all things, all laws and it summarizes the perfect everything because everything is potentially in Ain.


Moses ben Maimon ("Maimonides") (1135-1204)

In his commentary on the Mishnah (tractate Sanhedrin, chapter 10), Maimonides formulates his "13 principles of faith". They summarized what he viewed as the required beliefs of Judaism:

1.         The existence of God

2.         God's unity

3.         God's spirituality and incorporeality

4.         God's eternity

5.         God alone should be the object of worship

6.         Revelation through God's prophets

7.         The preeminence of Moses among the prophets

8.         God's law given on Mount Sinai

9.         The immutability of the Torah as God's Law

10.       God's foreknowledge of human actions

11.       Reward of good and retribution of evil

12.       The coming of the Jewish Messiah

13.       The resurrection of the dead

Maimonides compiled the principles from various Talmudic sources.


"God's existence is absolute and it includes no composition and we comprehend only the fact that He exists, not His essence. Consequently it is a false assumption to hold that He has any positive attribute... still less has He accidents (מקרה), which could be described by an attribute. Hence it is clear that He has no positive attribute whatever. The negative attributes are necessary to direct the mind to the truths which we must believe... When we say of this being, that it exists, we mean that its non-existence is impossible; it is living — it is not dead; ...it is the first — its existence is not due to any cause; it has power, wisdom, and will — it is not feeble or ignorant; He is One — there are not more Gods than one… Every attribute predicated of God denotes either the quality of an action, or, when the attribute is intended to convey some idea of the Divine Being itself — and not of His actions — the negation of the opposite." (The Guide for the Perplexed, 1:58)

 Maimonides was perhaps the first Jewish Thinker to explicitly articulate this doctrine of "negative theology", which says there are no words to describe what God is, and we can only describe what "God is not". Ain literally means "absence" ,"not so" in Hebrew.  It is a negation existence

In Sankara's Advaita, neti neti is a Sanskrit expression which means "not this, not this", or "neither this, nor that" (neti is sandhi from na iti "not so"). It is found in the Upanishads and the Avadhuta Gita and constitutes an analytical meditation helping a person to understand the nature of Brahman by first understanding what is not Brahman.  All we can say, in effect, is that "It isn't this, but also, it isn't that either". In the end, we must transcend words to understand the nature of the Ultimate Reality beyond human realm and understanding..

 तत्त्वमस्यादिवाक्येन स्वात्मा हि प्रतिपादितः
नेति नेति श्रुतिर्ब्रूयादनृतं पाञ्चभौतिकम् ।। २५।।
tattvamasyādivākyena svātmā hi pratipāditaḥ /
neti neti śrutirbrūyādanṛtaṁ pāñcabhautikam //25//
By such sentences as "That thou art," our own Self is affirmed.
Of that which is untrue and composed of the five elements - the Sruti (scripture) says, "Not this, not this."  
Avadhuta Gita 1.25 on Wikisource

Ain is beyond Existence, separate from any-thing.  Ain is Absolute Nothing.

Ain is not above nor below.  Neither is Ain still or in motion.  There is nowhere where Ain is, for Ain is not.

Ain is soundless, but neither is it silence.  Nor is Ain a void- and yet out of zero of Ain's no-thingness comes the one of Ein Sof

"He who brings forth Being from Nought is thereby lacking nothing, for the Being is in the Nought after the manner of the Nought, and the Nought is in the Being after the manner [according to the modality] of the Being.  And the author of the Book of Yetzirah said: He made his Nought into his Being, and did not say: He made the Being from the Nought.  This teaches us that the Nought is the Being and Being is the Nought."

 Zohar III 225a, Raya Mehemma;  I.  Tishby, Wisdom of The Zohar , Vol. I

In the Eighth century Sankara's Advaita Philosophy this is the Nirguna Brahman - God of no properties

"It is not coarse, not fine, not short, not long, not glowing (like fire), not adhesive (like water), without shadow and without darkness, without air and without space, without stickiness, odorless, tasteless, without eye, without ear, without voice, without wind, without energy, without breath, without mouth, without measure, without inside and without outside.
Verily, at the command of that Imperishable the sun and the moon stand apart."

Brihad-Âranyaka Upanishad, 8th Brâhmana, 7 - 9 (translated by R.E.Hume, 1877)

Such a nothing has no purpose, no personality nor can we say it exist.  Such a Nirguna Brahman do not and cannot create.  However since there is a comprehensive fullness of properties potentially exist in the Nirguna Brahman, there arose the next veil.  How did it happen?  We are still in the darkness.  But since things exist.  It assures that it did happen.

Again it alone describes the Ultimate Brahman


It’s ……….Neti (नेति)…Neti(नेति)

न+ इति! (na iti)

It is  not this...no it’s something beyond this....

It’s really not this...

The Tattva the Brahman which I am searching is not this...

No! All this knowlege is not enough to describe The Brahaman or The Parmeshwar.

No! No....I am not satisfied its’ not this..neti neti...

When we start ‘Feeling’ this, not ‘Understanding’ this we result to feel ...again, ‘Neti’ ‘Neti’.....

And yes....Here it is....

All the definitions, books, concepts, words, languagaes, opinions, the spiritual paths, the illusions, the confusions, the questions and the answers, the thoughts, the satisfactions and even the feeling of uncompletenees...

Everything just ends, it’s not this....neti neti!

Then what is IT?

Neti Neti........."   http://narayankripa.blogspot.com/2012/01/neti-neti.html

In the Jewish Christian mysticism also the same is applicable when describing the ultimate Being.



Ain Sof עין סוף

Ein-Sof, the Infinite God, has no static, definable form. Instead, the Kabbalists conceive God, the world and humanity as evolving together through, and thus embodying, a number of distinct stages and aspects, with later stages opposing, but at the same time encompassing, earlier ones. The Kabbalist¹s God is both perfectly simple and infinitely complex, nothing and everything, hidden and revealed, reality and illusion, creator of man and created by man,. As Ein-Sof evolves it is progressively revealed as "nothing whatsoever" (Ayin), the totality of being, the Infinite Will (Ratzon) , Thought and Wisdom, the embodiment of all value and significance (the Sefirot), the wedding of male and female, and ultimately the union of all contradictions. Ein-Sof is both the totality of this dialectic and each of the points along the way. Ein-Sof  must be constantly redefined, as by its very nature, it is in a constant process of self-creation and redefinition. This self-creation is actually embodied and perfected in the creativity of humanity, who through practical, ethical, intellectual and spiritual activities, strives to redeem and perfect a chaotic, contradictory and imperfect world.

The Kabbalists used a variety of negative epistemological terms to make reference to the hidden God;

·         "the concealment of secrecy",

·         "the concealed light",

·         "that which thought cannot contain" etc. (Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah, p. 88) each of which signifies that this God is somehow beyond human knowledge and comprehension.

However, there are other terms, e.g., "

·         Root of all roots",

·         "Indifferent Unity",

·         "Great Reality," (Scholem. Major Trends, p. 12)

·         "Creator,"

·         "Cause of Causes" and

·         "Prime Mover" (as well as the term, Ein-Sof, "without end") which signify that God is the origin of the world, the reality of the world, or the totality of all things.

Yet in spite of the positive connotations, even those Kabbalists who utilized such terms held that they referred to a God who is completely unknowable and concealed. Of this God, the proto-Kabbalistic work,Sefer Yetzirah had earlier said "restrain your mouth from speaking and your heart from thinking, and if your heart runs let it return to its place" (Sefer Yetzirah. I. 8, as translated in Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar. Vol , 1 p 234).


The Creation Hymn of Rig Veda

Translation: Wendy Dongier O'Flaherty


There was neither non-existence nor existence then. 
There was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. 
What stirred? 
In whose protection? 
Was there water, bottomlessly deep?

There was neither death nor immortality then. 
There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day. 
That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse. 
Other than that there was nothing beyond.

Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning, 
with no distinguishing sign, all this was water. 
The life force that was covered with emptiness, 
that One arose through the power of heat.

Desire came upon that One in the beginning, 
that was the first seed of mind. 
Poets seeking in their heart with wisdom 
found the bond of existence and non-existence.

Their cord was extended across. 
Was there below? 
Was there above? 
There were seed-placers, there were powers. 
There was impulse beneath, there was giving forth above.

Who really knows? 
Who will here proclaim it? 
Whence was it produced? 
Whence is this creation? 
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. 
Who then knows whence it has arisen?

Whence this creation has arisen
- perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not - 
the One who looks down on it, 
in the highest heaven, only He knows 
or perhaps even He does not know.

Translation by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty. From the Book "The Rig Veda - Anthology" 

This points to the existence of a unique Creator who exists before the gods & creation


A  A

Sanford Drob's Symbols of the Kabbalah and Kabbalistic Metaphors .

As explained in Symbols of the Kabbalah, Chapter Two, Ein-sof provides a rational/spiritual answer to the questions "Why is there anything at all?" and "What is the meaning of human life?" Ein-sof begets a world so that He, as the source of all meaning and value, can come to know Himself, and in order for His values, which in Him exist only in the abstract, can become fully actualized in humanity. Ein-sof is both the fullness of being and absolute nothingness, but is not complete in its essence until He is made real through the spiritualizing and redemptive activity of mankind. Ein-sof is mirrored in the heart and soul of man, but, more importantly, He is actualized in man's deeds.

Ein-sof is discussed in detail throughout Symbols of the Kabbalah, but in particular in Chapter 2, pp. 60-119). Ein-sof is discussed in relation to Brahman in Hinduism, the Pleroma in Gnosticism, the One and the Good in Plato and Plotinus, the Absolute in Hegel, and the unconscious in Freud and Jung, in Kabbalistic Metaphors. Daniel Matt has written a scientifically oriented introduction to Ein-sof appears in Tikkun Magazine and is excerpted from his book God and the Big Bang.


Ein Sof (or Ayn Sof) (Hebrew אין סוף), in Kabbalah, is understood as God prior to His self-manifestation

Ein Sof (or Ayn Sof) (Hebrew אין סוף), in Kabbalah, is understood as God prior to His self-manifestation in the production of any spiritual Realm.  Ein Sof may be translated as "no end", "unending", "there is no end", or infinite,  "the Endless One" (she-en lo tiklah).

Ein Sof is the divine origin of all created existence, in contrast to the Ein (or Ayn), which is infinite no-thingness.

It was first used by Azriel ben Menahem, who, sharing the Neoplatonic view that God can have no desire, thought, word, or action, emphasized by it the negation of any attribute. Of the Ein Sof, nothing ("Ein") can be grasped ("Sof"-limitation).

It is the origin of the Ohr Ein Sof, the "Infinite Light" of paradoxical divine self-knowledge, nullified within the Ein Sof prior to Creation.

In Lurianic Kabbalah, the first act of Creation, the Tzimtzum self "withdrawal" of God to create an "empty space", takes place from there. In Hasidism, the Tzimtzum is only illusionary concealment of the Ohr Ein Sof, giving rise to Monistic Panentheism.  

In other words, "Ein Sof" signifies "the nameless being." In another passage the Zohar reduces the term to "Ein" (non-existent), because God so transcends human understanding as to be practically non-existent.

  Judah Ḥayyaṭ, in his commentary Minḥat Yehudah on the Ma'areket Elahut, gives the following explanation of the term "Ein Sof":

" Any name of God which is found in the Bible can not be applied to the Deity prior to His self-manifestation in the Creation, because the letters of those names were produced only after the emanation. . . . Moreover, a name implies a limitation in its bearer; and this is impossible in connection with the 'En Sof.'"

Before He gave any shape to the world, before He produced any form, He was alone, without form and without resemblance to anything else. Who then can comprehend how He was before the Creation? Hence it is forbidden to lend Him any form or similitude, or even to call Him by His sacred name, or to indicate Him by a single letter or a single point. . . . But after He created the form of the Heavenly Man, He used him as a chariot wherein to descend, and He wishes to be called after His form, which is the sacred name 'YHWH'.

Ain Sof Awr עין סוף אור

Ain Soph Aur is the lower veil, situated closest to the Tree of Life, and it proceeds from Ain Soph as a necessity. It means 'limitless or eternal light'. Without any limitations, all things happen by virtue of the fact that there is no reason why they shouldn't.

Ohr ("Light" Hebrew: אור‎‎) is a central Kabbalistic term in the Jewish mystical tradition. The analogy of physical light is used as a way of describing metaphysical Divine emanations.   The metaphorical description of spiritual Divine creative-flow, using the term for physical "light" perceived with the eye, arises from analogous similarities. These include the intangible physicality of light, the delight it inspires and the illumination it gives, its apparently immediate transmission and constant connection with its source. Light can be veiled ("Tzimtzum"-constrictions in Kabbalah) and reflected ("an ascending light from the Creations" in Kabbalah). White light divides into 7 colours, yet this plurality unites from one source. Divine light divides into the 7 emotional Sephirot, but there is no plurality in the Divine essence.  

There are a number of ways to look at these negative realms. One such representation if symbol of egg.

0. Ain, nothing, is the shell.
00. Ain Soph, limitless, is the albumen, or the white of the egg.
000. Ain Soph Aur, limitless light, is the yellow yoke.

From the yoke, emerge the universe, life, and all possibility.

One of the technical terms Hartshorne used is pan-en-theism, originally coined by Karl Christian Friedrich Krause in 1828. Panentheism (all is in God) must be differentiated from Classical pantheism (all is God). In Hartshorne's theology God is not identical with the world, but God is also not completely independent from the world. God has his self-identity that transcends the earth, but the world is also contained within God. A rough analogy is the relationship between a mother and a fetus. The mother has her own identity and is different from the unborn, yet is intimately connected to the unborn. The unborn is within the womb and attached to the mother via the umbilical cord.


The other way to visualize these realms is entirely abstract:

0. Imagine Ain, nothing: complete nothingness. No black, no space, no anything at all. Nothing.
00. Out of nothing emerges Ain Soph, no limit: empty, dark, endless space.
000. Only in this environment is it possible to cradle Ain Soph Aur, limitless light. The eternal space, or this eternal moment can now be flooded with light.


Ein Sof in Hebrew means Endless.  As the one to the zero of Ain, Ein Sof is the Absolute All to Ain's Absolute Nothing. Ain Sof Aur fills all in all and the source of all creation.

So far we have the picture of God who has no properties who cannot be called a Person since he did not exist as Person.  Personality is only expressed in terms of relationships.  Once the Trinity of Ein, Ein Sof and Ein Sof Auur is formed God became a family.  These were referred to in Jewish literature as Elohim in plural form of Eloah or as plural derivative of El.  

The Holy Trinity