A Journey to Heaven
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.