Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reflections on י-ה-ה-ו

Judaism's monthly cycle begins in the Spring with the month of Nissan. The second month of the cycle is called Iyar. The Divine Name for Iyar is י-ה-ה-ו. It’s almost like the name for Nissan which is י-ה-ו-ה. The only difference is the inversion of the last two letters. The ו-ה becomes ה-ו.  

 י-ה-ו-ה is an acronym for the verse, “May the heavens celebrate and the earth rejoice!”  י-ה-ה-ו is an acronym for the verse, “May the paiser praise, enlighten and know”. י-ה-ו-ה’s acronym addresses the universal ~ the heavens and earth. י-ה-ה-ו’s acronym addresses the personal ~ a praiser who praises, becoming enlightened and knowledgeable.

Each month has as its Divine Name a unique permutation (or letter scramble) of י-ה-ו-ה. All the Divine energy found in all the permutations of י-ה-ו-ה get their initial burst of energy from  י-ה-ו-ה, during the month of Nissan. Then the next eleven months are revelations of various aspects of this Name. It's like the month of Nissan is the wetting of a towel and the next eleven months are about wringing out the towel in eleven different contortions. So in Nissan it will simply drip freely, without effort. Then in the following months, various contortions will wring out the more deeply embedded liquid from various regions of the towel.

In the month of Iyar, it seems like the universal blessings of Nissan, י-ה-ו-ה, become personal. They reach down from their universal perch into the domain of the personal. In fact, the two months are so closely tied that there is even a second Passover in Iyar - when in Temple times, those who needed to, could bring a fully legitimate Passover offering. Unlike Nissan, since Iyar is more personal, it comes along with an element of education and work ~ a big theme in the Omer count.


In י-ה-ו-ה the maturing male letter is the ו, while the maturing female letter is the second ה. Depending on how they are viewed, they are either brother and sister to each other or husband and wife to each other ~ in the mystery of the appellation given to the woman in The Song of Songs, “My sister, my bride”.

The other two letters, י-ה, are the parent letters which birth and nurture the ו-ה ~ the sibling couple. The י is the father letter and the first ה is the mother letter.

In Nissan’s Name, י-ה-ו-ה, the masculine receives more nurturing than the feminine, as the ו is closer to the parent letters י-ה. In Iyar’s Name, י-ה-ה-ו, the feminine receives more nurturing than the masculine, as the second ה is closer to the parent letters י-ה.

The ו has more to do with the universal. Among other indications why, it represents expansion into the cardinal six directions of the universe. So it makes sense that Nissan has more to do with the universal.

In contrast, the letter ה, being feminine, has more to do with the personal ~ as in personal growth. So it makes sense that Iyar is more personally oriented.


The Divine Name for Iyar is י-ה-ה-ו. I have noticed that the two feminine ה letters are surrounded by the two masculine letters י and ו. It bears the appearance of the masculine cradling the feminine. It’s a precious feminine center-point surrounded by an expansive masculine context. It’s like the feminine afterglow-filled void lodged in the midst of the Infinite Light. In a sense, this is actually the proper placement of masculine and feminine. As a pearl lodged within flesh of an oyster, the feminine is supposed to be a precious center-point within a masculine context ~ as in Psalm 45, “All the honor of the princess is within.”

I wonder what’s unique about Iyar which allows for this particular placement of letters י-ה-ה-ו. This month is intentionally sandwiched between two major Jewish Holidays ~ Passover and Shavuot. It’s actually intended as a bridge between them. In a general sense, the י can be seen as the energy of Passover. It’s raw and seminal! Plus, the Lurianic meditations teach that the maturing male ו grows to the level of father י on the first night/day of Passover. However, as the light of growth is raw and seminal, it lacks stability and doesn’t stay. As receiving vessels are absent, it can’t process.

The processing happens over the next 49 days, during the Omer count. One of the main themes of femininity is processing ~ the womb which develops a fetus. Then the light returns on the 50th day to stay, on Shavuot, even stronger and more solidly than it initially appeared. So the  two feminine ה letters symbolize wombs which process. Perhaps, each ה letter is for a different part of the Omer count.

Since the whole month of Iyar is dedicated to this womb/processing period, it’s symbolized by the two ה’s in the middle, bridging the active masculine revelations of both Holidays. It’s zodiac sign is the ox, pulling the plow to work over mother earth for seeding, gestation and growth. It’s a womb month, a month when so much happens to prepare for birth.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Mystique of Prosaic

The mystique of exoticism,
 The lure of the strange,
Drives the heart wild,
 With passions for the unknown.

Many have gone for long,
 Chasing after emptiness,
Disguised as substance,
 Only to vanish into mirage...

What it became up close,
 Was a heap of prosaic rubble,
Whose dust vanished,
 In the wakeful winds.

As each forey commenced,
 Freshness n’ renewal rushed in,
As a gushing stream...
 Suddenly, “A coming to life!”

Once the clouds n’ shrouds,
 Gave way to bright clarity,
The dawning light shown,
 A goal which wasn't;
Leaving the seeker,
 Tired n’ life ebbing...

However,  in the exhale,
 Born in defeat n’ surrender,
Comes a fresh spirit,
 A hopeful renewal of life.

There's new awareness,
 In the gift of the nearby,
Where the formerly prosaic,
 Becomes ripe with depth.
The “simple n’ easy”,
 Speak with unanticipated soul.

The seeker seems sought,
 As surroundings come alive,
Speaking aloud in “miracles”,
 The language of simply being.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

To Ask & to Re-Ask !

How we view life is huge!!!!!! On it hinges how we view passing on. Do we view life in continuity or as cessation? Such questions are important, as they bring us to the next stages along our journey. Even if we think we have the answer, we must re-ask the question. The Passover Seder teaches us this. Each year, we’re asking the same four questions. But is it the same four questions? Is yesterday’s four questions asked in childhood, the same as those four questions asked in adolescence, the same as those four questions asked in early adulthood, the same as those four questions asked in middle age, the same as those four questions asked in old age?

Yes each year, new life experience makes “the same old questions” somehow different questions. Yes each year, new life experience makes “the same old answers” somehow different answers. As we become different, while the same, so the same questions somehow become different, while the same, and the same answers somehow become different, while the same. Life’s experiences season us into vessels to perceive the same differently; as the sleepy perceive differently than the awake, the satisfied perceive differently than the hungry and those whose questions are answers perceive differently than those whose answers are questions.

And so the ever-present question of the continuity of life necessitates a re-asking! What does it mean to be alive and what would it mean for life to continue? The Jewish Mystics left us with a formula, originally from Job, to springboard into spiritual questions, “From my flesh I perceive divinity”. The meaning is to look at one’s own organism first and work to the answer from that starting point.

What I see today, when working in that direction is that there’s a general soul of humanity. The Jewish people are a unique section of that soul, animating humanity’s heart (in the classical understanding of the term). As cells are alive via the life force which animates the body, so I am a cell animated by the soul of my People. Just as when a cell passes on, so the life force which animates does not go out of existence, but joins back with the general flow of the body’s life force, only to eventually animate another another cell, maybe a whole different kind of cell, so too with the soul which animates my body today. We’re sparks of a larger soul or life force on a journey.

This not only applies to humans, Every flower on a tree born this time of the year is a unique projection and animation from the tree’s own life force, the tree’s own soul. If fruited, the tree will extend more of it’s life force into it. If faded, the life force will be drawn back into the tree.

Our lives continue on and on eternally, not because we are isolated identities, but because we are little bits of an identity much, much larger - as a single cell among billions sharing from the body’s larger soul, as branches share life from a tree. So a cell, even while expressing its own unique tiny soul is within holistic continuity with its mega-soul.

Friday, April 14, 2017

On the Spiritual Value of Evolution

Philly Willie

London has Big Ben,
 Philly has Willie Penn,

Perched atop City Hall,
 He has weathered it all.

As Winter opens to Spring,
 About him birds finally sing.

Gentle breezes softly blow,
 As ambient sunlight bursts aglow.

But of what joy is a season,
 To a statue who can’t reason?


In Reflection:

The Lurianic work “The Gate of Meditation”  is about the growth of everything to become vessels for God’s Light. It’s so exciting!!!!!!!! I am particularly thrilled that I can study from it’s wellsprings with my Wife. To me, becoming vessels for God’s Light is why the human capacity for evolution is soooooo important. What evolution means is that we have a plasticity - we can “become”. We can grow into greater vessels for His Light.

Even without evolution, we each have a capacity for growth but within a certain naturally circumscribed range. What evolution does is that it extends us beyond that range and possibly leads to a kind of “group growth” in roughly similar unison.

One may wonder, “Well it’s very nice that humans evolve into something more for the sake of spiritual growth, an increased capacity to bear greater spiritual light. However, how does this change the universe - the subject of the Lurianic writings on cosmic repair?”

Truthfully, as we perceive the universe, so it is! Our growth in perception is identical to the growth of the universe. So for example, the statue of William Penn atop City Hall, weathers it all. However, since it’s perception is limited to what molecules can perceive, so despite being draped in the sunlight of Spring, it knows nothing of this warm sunlight. Now, let’s say the statue evolved into a tree. Suddenly, the surrounding sunlight becomes very meaningful. It will grow branches and leaves upward to meet the sunlight. By its movement and change, it will express new awarenesses. Now if the tree evolved, into an animal, at the slightest discomfort it would crawl down from atop its perch. And if human, it would try to find its way into City Hall below to make some desperately needed political reforms.

At each stage Willie Penn, perceived the same world very differently - all because he spiritually evolved. His perception capacity grew, along with the intelligence and sentience to process that particular perceptive level. So it could also be claimed that as he spiritually grew, he noticed his world grow too. But, really nothing changed about his world. All that happened was that he became something spiritually more. Similarly, the reason why the world about us looks as it does, is because we are who we are.

Yet, we have the capacity to spiritually evolve - to grow. With the help of various technologies, biological or otherwise, God has given us the capacity to self evolve. This capacity will only grow with time. This could bring the kind of growth changes within a few years that theoretically could have taken millions otherwise. I don’t necessarily see evolution as the exclusive province of darwinian thought. (Also, my usage of such a notion does not mean that I necessary subscribe to the scientific opinion that creation happened via evolution.) I see in it the capacity to build of human perception which is ultimately identical with building of the universe humans inhabit.

With new perceptions and the necessary intelligence to process them, so much of what we know about reality will also grow. It’s also possible that we’ll grow beyond our current level of free choice. Also, many of our questions will instantly fall away, to be replaced with whole sets of new ones. We will experience of the love of beingness, with a depths never before perceived. It will be like experiencing God’s breath, blowing calming breezes of love, on us wherever we are.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Philly Willie

London has Big Ben,
 Philly has Willie Penn,

Perched atop City Hall,
 He has weathered it all.

As Winter opens to Spring,
 About him birds finally sing.

Gentle breezes softly blow,
 As ambient sunlight bursts aglow.

But of what joy is a season,
 To a statue who can’t reason?


Monday, March 20, 2017

A Universe on the Grow!

In Expression

What's Your Compassion,
 Whilst lacking recipients?

What's Your Infinity,
 In absence of the finite?

What's Your Eternity
 Without earthly temporality?

Your Infinite Light,
 Is Your Infinite Life,
Endless in potential,
 Whilst latent n’ lurking,
Yearning for expression,
 Burning for actualization!

For even n’ especially,
 Within the Infinite Light,
To be denied expression,
 Is to be denied reality!

Being Sweepingly Seamless,
 Means Oneness, no drops...
For to express a drop,
 Is to express everything.

To express everything,
 Is to silence a drop;
Which is a definite,
 Very “All or nothing” deal!

So to nuance nuances,
 Within Infinite potential,
As vast ocean recedes,
 Around a tiny air bubble,
So Infinite Light receded,
 Leaving a tiny vacated space.

Now there was needy,
 Lending reality to Compassion.

Now there was finite,
 Lending reality to Infinite.

Now there was temporal,
 Lending reality to Eternal.    

Now there was lack,
 In multiple hues n’ versions,
Lending reality to,
 Multiple nuances of potential,
Awaiting expression,
   Within vast Infinite Light!  

Recently, some in the physics community have been considering a theory called, “A multiverse”, which claims the possibility that our universe is just one of many. About 1997 I considered a similar possibility, just not from the perspective of physics, but rather from the perspective of Kabbalah. Though I ultimately rejected the idea, the exploration enlightened me; with much learned on the journey.

In Kabbalistic parlance God is often called, “The Infinite Being”. The term “Infinite” is used here in the sense of “no limitation”, nothing which any finite entity can relate to. The Lurianic school of Kabbalah teaches that our universe began inside of an attribute of the Infinite Being called, “The Infinite Light”. For our purposes the Infinite Light can also be called, “The Infinite Life”, i.e. God presented as being infinitely alive and also the infinite source of life. To my understanding, this is the most primal attribute of God that the human mind can identify. (Unless I am misunderstanding, it seems to me like there are a few Kabbalists who prefer that their students think of the Divine Will as the very earliest identifiable attribute, but logically speaking, being alive precedes having a will.)    

The Infinite Light withdrew from an area within His midst to make space for a finite universe. An Infinite system lacks variation and thus, carries a connotation uniformity or evenness. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that the force of withdrawal was even on all sides. As equal force was applied on all sides, the resulting vacated space ended up shaped very evenly, like a ball or sphere; a tiny bubble nestled in the midst of the Infinite sea of Light.  

The interior of the vacated sphere eventually became our universe. As with a human, the universe has both a body and various soul levels. The universe’s body is the physical part, which is perceptible to scientists. The universe’s various soul levels are the parts which are not detectable by physical means, as they are beyond the range of anything to do with physical senses or possibly even the current limits on biologically bound intelligence. They are realms which are typically conceived of as being home to various levels of souls, angels, divine forces, divine names and certain divine attributes, etc. So to travel into the spiritual realms, is to travel into the very soul levels of the universe.

Lurianic Kabbalah teaches that the universe was created to give meaning to the endless array of latent nuances of potential within the Infinite Light by providing them with a stage for expression. For example, of what meaning is there to God’s attribute of kindness or compassion if there is nobody to whom to be kind or compassionate to? Therefore, there needs to be a world to serve as a stage where kindness and compassion can be meaningfully acted out. (see beginning of Etz Chaim or of Adam Yashar)

Being that the Light is Infinite, so too is the contained latent potential - with an endless array of nuances yearning for expression. Actually, the latent nuances awaiting expressive manifestation must by far outweigh those which had actually been manifest at the time the vacated space took shape. If so, then why were only a select few latent nuances allowed manifestation, leaving the vast majority in abeyance? If the goal is near-full expression of these nuances, how is such a limited selection helping the process?  

In one form or another, I have harbored this question in my heart for about the past twenty years. The question has coaxed me to consider whether many universes simultaneously happen within the Infinite Light, like a family of tiny air bubbles materializing in a vast sea, with each giving expression to different sets of the latent nuances. This way other sets of nuances unexpressed in one universe, might actually find expression in another universe. Then in the aggregate, the Infinite Light would enjoy near full expression of His latent potential.

When I ran this idea past my Kabbalah teachers, I was told that even if multiple universes co-exist within the Infinite Light, they would not serve the purpose of lending vaster expression to the endless nuances of potential within the Infinite Light ~ as each universe would not be different enough from the next to accomplish this. In an attempt to clarify, they gave me an answer which I did not understand all that well. Hence, I continued to harbor the question for about the next twenty years.

Today, I have come around to their conclusion, but for a different reason (as I still do not clearly understand their reason). Very basically, greater numbers can’t do justice to express that which is beyond numbers. For example, a million infants won’t collectively add up to the intelligence of a single adult Einstein; reflecting the various nuances of his intellectual potential. Similarly, one universe or a zillion universes will still lack the ability to grasp at, manifest and express the endless sea of nuances existing within the Infinite Light.

Imagine bringing a net to a well to fetch water. A net can’t really grasp the water. It can only to get wet. Obviously, the answer isn’t to bring more nets to the well. The answer is to bring along a more solidly developed container - like a bucket.

Similarly, the only way to gather more expression from the Infinite Light is to grow and develop the very universe which already exists ~ so that it may become a vessel to manifest something more and higher. This would be akin to an infant growing, maturing and eventually becoming Einstein’s prized student.

The universe’s growth includes the various states of pre-messianic refinement, the messianic era, the era of resurrection, the ultimate Sabbath and all the stages beyond ~ millennium by millennium. The choice as to what expression to begin the universe with, probably just has to do with what’s minimally necessary to manifest for the universe’s birth and early stages. Once the universe grows and grows, more and more latent nuances within the endless potential get expressed into manifestation. It would seem like this process can continue on and on, until nearly all nuances eventually find expression in the ever maturing universe ~ whose stages of maturing and growth are endless. Viewed from the past, it’s always an adult. Viewed from the present, it’s always maturing. Viewed from the future, it’s always an infant ~ or even a fetus.

Of course, if this process were to actually reach the point where every latent nuance of potential became manifest, the ever-growing universe would totally merge into Infinite Light ~ becoming a single unit. Such an outcome would effectively end the whole process of lending expression to the Light’s endless sea of seamless potential. As the Medieval Jewish poet proclaimed, “If I knew Him, I’d be Him”.

Since the Infinite Light is beyond any type of time, as far as He’s concerned, every stage of the universe whether past, present or future is experienced simultaneously. He experiences the great deluge and the great resurrection at once! This not only refers to the earthly side of these events, but, also to the spiritual side of these events as well ~ as each event which happens physically also happens spiritually. Each event has it’s body and soul. Therefore, every possible expression of the latently seamless potential within the Infinite Light can be appreciated at once. It’s like someone looking in a mirror and seeing every stage of his/her face from infant to aged at once, in the single flash of a glance!   

As I’m contemplating this topic, I am reminded of a passage in the Zohar which mentions that all three patriarchs of the Jewish people had four wives. By Jacob, it’s clearly spelled out in Genesis that he married two sisters and their servants - equaling four wives. By Abraham it’s derived by the passage stating that later in his life he had “concubines”, plural, after Sarah had passed on and Hagar was dismissed (following a different opinion than Rashi who states that Hagar was later taken as Keturah, i.e. both names belong to the self same woman).

When it comes to Isaac, the Zohar wonders how did he have four wives? The Zohar responds that Rebecca was so amazing that Isaac had four wives in her. She was seamlessly multileveled. This is how I feel about my own Wife. Every level within me yearning for expression finds a matching level mirrored back to me in her. Similarly, the Creator does not require multiple “wives”, i.e. universes. Just one great universe in continuous growth does the best possible justice to the goal of expressing nearly all capacities seamlessly latent within His Infinite Light.

So unlike Abraham and Jacob, Isaac’s marital situation was closer to the true Jewish ideal; as it more closely resembled the relationship the Infinite Light to the universe ~ one cosmic male discovering nearly full expression of self mirrored back by one cosmic female.