RABBI BEN AZZAI
The first rabbi, called, the son of Azzai, tried to understand the Divine Presence with the Nefesh soul of the body (his Carnal Mind), and he died.
Rabbi Azzai’s motive for investigating and comprehending God was noble, but the mind of his body became so absorbed into the higher consciousness that he condemned the whole lower world, including his body, and it died.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
A kingdom that is divided against itself ceases to exist.
28 Peres; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
RABBI BEN ZOMA
(He Lost His Mind)
The second rabbi, called, the son of Zoma, tried to understand the Divine Presence with his Neshamah grade of soul and lost his mind (became insane), but he did not die.
Apparently, Rabbi Zoma was so able to comprehend and implement the Divine reasoning that he lost the ability to distinguish between the two realities.
Another possibility is, that to have a holy Neshamah soul that gazes upon the Divine Presence and a Nefesh soul of the body that continually beholds and is impacted by the bestial behavior, reasoning and sinful lifestyle of the lower world, was so disparate that Rabbi Zoma’s two minds could not dwell together in one vessel.
Rabbi Zoma’s ability, if he had it, to impose the rationale and morality of the higher world upon the lower world, would have saved the mind of his body from destruction. But, on the contrary, Rabbi Zoma futile attempts to make his lower mind reflect his higher mind, destroyed the mind of his body, and he became insane in this world.
The moral of the parable is that we should not pursue or acquire more spirituality that we are able to deal with in our present, fallen state.
16 Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
(He Became A Heretic)
The third rabbi, called, Acher (Elisha, the son of Avuya), tried to understand the Divine Presence with his Neshamah grade of soul and became a heretic.
Rabbi Avuya went further than Rabbi Zoma. He succeeded in imparting the ability to reason abstractedly and comprehend high spiritual concepts to the mind of his body, but he failed to impose the righteousness and morality of the higher world.
Acher looked like a great rabbi (teacher) to the lower world, but his doctrine was confused and erroneous because it did not come from the God world of Creative Power. It came from another root, the Dark World of Creative Power.
Wherefore, Rabbi Avuya is called, Acher, which means, the other one, because his doctrine sounded authentic, but it came from the Other Side.
(He Suffered No Harm)
The fourth rabbi is Rabbi Akiva, who entered PARDES in peace and left in peace.
Rabbi Akiva’s motives were pure. He entered into the PARDES in a spiritual state of peace with God, and also left in peace, because his heart never departed from that right relationship with God.
Rabbi Akiva continued to be motivated only by a desire to serve God, even after he experienced the glory of the world above and acquired the ability to use it for his own personal gain.