Saturday, December 25, 2010

Life Attracts

Contemplating Everglades,
Day's beautiful, sun smiles.

Everywhere, colorful birds:
Flying, perched, calling ...
The sky's alive with wings.

Waters also teem with life:
Fish, turtles, saw grass ...

Waters attract many birds,
Desiring her full inner life. 
In nature, life attracts life.

When you wish to attract,
Glow bright with inner life.
In nature, life attracts life.



    }}}}
    ~~~~~~~~~
               OOO

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Souls Entwined

Within the expanse of the universe's emotions, dwell many souls.
Two souls, spirally entwined, spiral toward loving lights beyond.
Twined, one, their spiral spin casts radiant vibes as they pass.
Their vibe stream reach many souls, infusing them with ecstasy.

The vibes themselves tell a beautiful story of yearning and love.
Freshly harvested from loving each other in the universe's body,
The twined couple continued their bliss in an emotional paradise,
Hoping to dissolve their borders and melt into each others being.

Their long journey initially began as a drop of the universe's love,
A love impulse flared forth from the universe's deepest emotions,
Bearing a message to spread love throughout the universe's body.
The "love drop" dropped lower, parting - male and female souls.

Upon entering the universe's body, they entered their own bodies.
Each raised in a loving family, to best cultivate their depth of love.
But, Boy Soul was cocooned in a selfish wrap, a past life vestige.
Every face he saw and kissed was really his own, mirrored back. 

Beings in the feeling realms shuddered in pain over his blindness.
They gathered and determined to wait for this cocoon to unravel.
Otherwise, he would not be able to appreciate his "soul in waiting",
Nor would he be able to spread love around the universe's body.

Moving him along, winged beings vibed him with questions on life.
He suddenly wondered obsessively how and why he exists at all.
One fine day in a cafe', he shared brews and laughs with a mystic.
Mystic beckoned him to join mystics working the "kindness crew".

He joined "kindness crew", doing varied missions of compassion:
Sheltering homeless, visiting sick, drug rehab, battered women ...
Eventually, he settled into performing comedy, to cheer the sick.
He visited hospitals, nursing homes, infirmaries - birthing laughter.

With kindness, selfish streak slowly shrunk, shrunk, disappeared.
With selflessness, his show grew more flowing and spontaneous.
Nurses gathered around patients, relishing his entertaining treats.
Such joyful laughter resonated deeply, often fading illness in light.

A nurse befriended him, hoping to become his comedy partner.
For so many years, she prayed for a Mr. Right to enter her life.
While waiting to nurture a family, she turned to nurturing the ill.
Now, she saw something familiar in the light of Boy Soul's eyes.

She wanted to become him, to bring about healing with laughter.
He wanted to become her, to be even more giving and nurturing.
Under the glint of a silver moon, Boy Soul and Girl Soul twined.
Each became the other, finally becoming "partners in kindness".

They traveled around to cheer the ill and train healing comedians.
A new wing of the "kindness crew" grew under their loving care.
Soon, their students made students, expanding the reach of love.
To their joy, the couple's kindness kept rippling around the globe.

Their fruitful efforts created many imitators - the best compliment !
One day, they were bedded together in a shared a hospital room.
They beamed at a crop of students, competing for their laughter.  
Laugh led to laugh, until twined they laughed out of earthly bonds.

Wrapped in cloth of kindness, they laughed their way to paradise,
Twined, spiraling ever deeper into the universe's vast lovescape .

                             ~~~~~~~~~OO~~~~~~~~~


This poem was written in praise and thanks to our Loving Creator 
"Who prepares the footsteps of man" and brings souls together in love,
to illuminate the world.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wick to Flame

Wick to flame, wick to flame, wick to flame ...
My course wick returns to Your refined flame,
Again, again and again, hoping to catch fire,
Hoping to catch fire with Your holy teachings.
If she's held there long enough, it will happen.
             
                             ()
                () () () ()   () () () ()
               _______________
                 _____________

Monday, November 29, 2010

Floating Coconut

Meditator strolled by the river bank.
Nearby, bobbed a floating coconut.

Weeks passed, he revisited the spot.
Weather dried up, river bank receded. 
Coconut now lay nested on soft soil,
Sprouting a lush frond filled sapling.

Meditator contemplated the scene,
"How far has the river carried you,
To your destined sprouting patch?
How far does life's river carry us,
To sprout on destined fertile soil?   
                                             
     ~~~~~~~~~~~O_______

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wind in Fabric

"I open wide my boat sails,
Boat sits, going nowhere,
Til You wind-fill my fabric."

       ~~~~~~~~~~~


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two Cells

In an embryo, two developing cells met :
A baby heart cell and a baby brain cell.

Heart cell carried a drop of brain light.
Brain cell carried a drop of heart light.

Attracted, they danced to each other.
Upon contact, they exchanged lights.

Heart cell surrendered her brain light.
Thus, she blossomed into a full heart.

Brain cell surrendered his heart light.
Thus, he blossomed into a full brain.

They exchanged drops for a reason:
Not merely, to attain their own lights,
But also to release what's not theirs.

Carrying another's blessings "blocks".
The holder blossoms upon surrender. 

Surrender is more than just letting go,
It also crafts vessels to hold new gifts.

        ***************

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sacred Teachings

With sacred teachings,
Eat delicately, 
So every subtle taste,
Will resonate within.

    ~~~~~*~~~~~
 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Garment of Thought

_______________________

The aroma of fresh coffee filled the room.
Shelved books, splashed radiant colors.

Bookstore cafe' full, soft background music.
Sage sat at coffee table, bent over a scroll.
 
The scroll was so ancient, yet so modern.
It's luminous words read in flashes of light:

The scroll's radiance caught Seeker's eye.
He stopped by Sage, offering a fresh brew.

Sage saw Seeker's face alive with interest.
He invited Seeker to read an open passage:

Before heaven and earth were created,
There was a vast cosmic mental space.

In the vast space grew a precious garment,
Fabricated entirely from cosmic thought.

Wrapped in thought, Creator faces created.
Donning the garment, He designs worlds.

He brings His prophets close to the garb,
When He desires to enjoy their intimacy.

From the garment, He transmits thoughts,
Disguised, they mask as human thoughts.

Many human ideas are "sparks of the garb".
Within them are live sparks of their Wearer.

Seeker: "Can ideas taste of their Wearer?"
Sage: "Ideally, they carry His divine flavor.
However, dull perception casts darkness."
Seeker: "Is this why people turn to logic?"

Sage: "Yes, for now logic is their safety net.
Soon many will travel a path of tasting truth."

Seeker: "When will this movement begin?"
Sage: "When selfish cocoons peel away,
With Kindness, Selflessness, Oneness..."
    ________________________
       _____________________
           _________________
             ______________
                ___________
                  _________
                      _____
                        ___
                         ~              

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Droplets in Love

Soul filled the whole mental space with consciousness.
Night descended, body slept, soul ascended to heaven.
She left a soul drop behind, to maintain her earthly nest.
As soul ascended higher, soul drop parted, two droplets.

Droplets engaged a lively discussion about feeling love.
Little droplet: "Why love you, I feel so separate from you?"
Big droplet: "All life's differences spring from one source."
Little droplet: "But, I don't feel continuous with your being."
Big droplet: "All streams must flow from a single fountain.
Think your heart into feeling bonds of love. It's possible."

Morning dawned, soul began descent to her earthly nest.
In her arriving shadow, the two droplets now felt so close.
They merged in passionate ecstasy, fused into one drop.
Soul backed off, allowing them to separate once again. 
Then she came closer in, they repeated their ecstasy.
Finding love too precious, she held back from entering.

She just hovered above and kept varying her distance.
Moving farther away, caused the droplets to separate.
Moving closer in, caused them to merge in sweet love. 
She decided not to wake so fast, as dreaming is bliss.


If she landed, their identities would dissolve in her's.
As long as she dreamed, they would joyfully live on.



       _____________*    *______________
                                    *

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Life's a Dance

_____________________

Up and down, whirl around, life's a dance.
Weather flows hot, cool, warm, cool, cold.

Life is always transitioning, rarely rigidly.
Autumn, leaves green mix with red, golden.
Spring, some trees buds, others flowering.  

Fuzzily, paths open up to life's next season.
Sometimes changes move softly, a waltz.
At other times tempestuous, like a salsa.
Celestial music always guides life's dance. 

A wild dance arouses deaf to ask, "Why?"
They hear no music, their ears, unrefined.
Yet, their eyes behold violent movements.
Without music, a dance seems senseless.

There are few among deaf who sense more.
They surmise drops of music from the dance.
With effort, they surmise what they don't hear.
They are the disciples of mystical teachings.

The true mystics actually hear life's music.
They see all dancing blissfully wed to music.

A child observed the dance and wondered.
He asked for the Musician and He appeared !
Child and Musician became sweetest friends.
Since then all deaf can befriend the Musician.

 ~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~*~~~~

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Drop in the Ocean


--------------------------------

Sage met wedding jester; greetings, smiles.

They embraced in special friendly warmth.

"Oh, jester you always share so much joy.

Today, touch me with deep spiritual insight."

Begged sage. "A rare offer." smiled jester,

"Do you know more than most people?

What each person knows, is but a speck.

The 'unknown' is a vastly vibrant ocean.

The 'known' is barely a moist drop - lost!

Shall a tiny drop boast over his vast ocean?

Can you boast over your slightly larger drop,

When you share with all the massive ocean?"

Sage's eyes lit up, face radiated satisfaction,

"Thanks, you returned my long lost teaching."


                                                        
      ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ 

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Soul

---------------------------------------

A soul basked in paradise, suffused with light.
No needs, no wants, floating, ease and delight.

In the midst of misty sweetness, she reflected,
"I've been given everything, except for "giving".
My Giver's giving fills me with desires to give.
Please Giver, allow me to be like You - giving."

The Giver answered His beloved's prayer.
She was escorted out of her realm of light,
Descended levels, until reaching the night.

The realm of night flickered, dimly lit.
Souls, both suffered and pleasured in it.

Living this seesaw wore down the soul.
She wept and scrunched into a fetal ball. 


In the midst of pain, arose a thought,
"Weep? Your prayers were answered.
You dwell in a gift. Celebrate living!
Pain's a womb that nurtures giving.

Can a realm of giving look any different?"
 
           ***********************
                **************
                   *********
                      ****
                       **
                       ~
                                         *

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Kabbalah Mind Puzzle

Note: This post might be partially unintelligible without a basic understanding of some of the Ari z'l's teachings


Dearest Brother,

I have a puzzle on my mind. I want to share it with you to see how you resolve it (maybe, share it with Rabbi ... for his pleasure as well).

Here goes:

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan writes in several different places and I also heard it in Rabbi Ashlag's name that the way the notion of "space" work in the spiritual realms is by the principal of similarity and dissimilarity. Two entities are similar, they're close. If they're dissimilar, they're far. Humans tend to use this notion in human relations, probably because relationships are somewhat spiritual. A person can live next door and be "far" from his neighbor. By contrast, another person can live at the other end of the world and be "close".

With this groundwork laid down, let's examine the "empty space" prior to the introduction of the "line of light". It was spherical because there was no up, down, right, left. On any given perimeter, every point along that perimeter was equidistant from the Infinite Light. For example, when the "empty space" expanded out ten times, it left grooves (like the rings of a tree) at each spot that was a previous outer border. Each point along a given groove should receive an equal portion of light from the Infinite Light. It does not matter whether the points are on a 60 degree angle from each other or a 120 degree angle from each other. The determining factor is the distance from the Infinite Light.

Well, if each point on a given groove, before the is introduction of the "line of light", was really receiving an equal portion of light from the Infinite Light, then each point is identical. What defines anything is the amount of light it receives. Beings receiving the exact same amount of light (in quantity and quality) are so similar that there's no distance between them - they're really just one entity. If they're one entity then there's should not be a spherical structure of equidistant points, but rather there should only be one point. So how can there be a sphere with many points, finding themselves equidistant from the Infinite Light and yet, often quite distant from each other?

I'm curious to learn how you (and Rabbi ...) deal with this puzzle. The answer that flowed into my mind contains a beautiful real life lesson of human growth and development - but, I don't want to bias your answer(s) with my own.

Have Fun !

Love,
Choni


The answer that flowed into my mind:
It seems likely to me that when the "line of light"  enters the "empty space", it does not enter from an arbitrary spot. There is probably a designated spot that's most conducive for it's entry. Otherwise, why would the entry point be at that particular spot and no other? 

When examining the words of the Ari z'l in "Etz Chaim" we find that the only entity in the entire system defining the main directions, (front / back, right / left, and up / down) is the "line of light" itself. Since this is the only guide post provided, it makes sense that even prior to it's entry the "line of light" is somehow already defining the directions. This means that on some underlying level there's already a sense of direction - although it's not overt.

The substance of "empty space" closer to where the "line of light" is due to eventually enter, must have unique qualities which allow it to accommodate the "line of light" and is perfectly placed to await the "line of light's" entry.  Areas designed to have a closeness with the "line of light", but not to experience the full impact of entry, will be a bit further away. Yet, other areas not designed to be very distant from the experience of direct impacted at all, will be at the opposite end of the "empty space". This positioning of the areas of the "empty space" is based on a very "subtle differentiation". On the surface all areas probably look alike. However, their unique potentials to interact with an event that's about to happen is different, but does not yet manifest a difference in their appearance, except in one area - their position. Yet, these differences are "subtle" enough not to undermine the evenly spherical appearance of the structure. Still, this "differentiation" is sufficient to allow spots on the exact same sphere within the "empty space" to lie at distant reaches from each other.

The lesson I take from this is that like a spot in the "empty space" a human often finds himself or herself seemingly voluntarily bringing his or her life into a certain situation. If asked, "Why?" The person probably wouldn't be able to give the real answer because it's a case of, "He doesn't know, but his higher self knows." Even if the person can offer some logical answer, it's only at best a desperate groping on life's surface to make some sense of the his or her behavior. Truthfully, what's motivating the behavior is a soul getting ready for a unique encounter with spiritual light. For the soul to be a receptive vessel for this light, the soul needs to be in the right life situation; in the right spot in the "empty space". A little further away and the light might be too weak. A little closer in and the light might be too strong.

So when we see children gravitating towards certain academic interests &/or skills, it's likely that these preferences are motivated by a soul trying to find her place in the sphere of life where she makes her best contact with the light, even if the light has not yet descended. It's important to allow that process to be and not tell a child, "I don't see the benefit, so please move over to where I'm standing. Hang out under my streetlamp."

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Rose Called to the Breeze


----------------------------------------------
The rose called to the breeze,
"Please, spread my fragrance."
The breeze carried her fragrance.
Her scent wafted into an open window.
Her sweetness aroused a couple to love.
A child grew within to encompass "little soul".
He grew without, reaching for "big soul".
With more soul, more secret wisdom.
More secret wisdom, more teachings.
Students stream in, students stream out.
People taste  their souls, a sweeter world.
All because the breeze loved the rose.

  ** *** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** *** **

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Noah's Gem and Window


In this week's Torah portion G-d tells Noah how to make a tzohar for the ark. The classical Biblical commentator Rashi relates that two definitions of tzohar  have come down the line of Jewish oral tradition. Both definitions refer to a source of illumination. One tradition defines tzohar  as a large luminous gem and another tradition defines it as a skylight. 

Lurking within uncertainty of tzohar's  definition, the great chassidic master Rabbi Nachman of Breslov drew a wonderful spiritual lesson.  In his magnum opus Lekutey Moharan he noted that the Hebrew word for Ark is taivah, which is also the Hebrew word for "word"; Namely, a "word" of prayer. Rabbi Nachman related that there are two ways to fill our "words" of prayer with light. One way is to be like a "skylight"  receiving our light from an outside source of inspiration - like from someone else's holy teachings. Another way to fill our words of prayer with light is to be like a "luminous gem", to be able to internally generate our own spiritual creativity needed for prayer. This way we can either illuminate our words of prayer from an outside source, like a "skylight", or from an inner source like a "luminous gem".

There's a story told by Rabbi Nachman that once upon a time a King had asked his two trusted friends to paint the walls of his throne room. Each was given a wall facing the other and a year to get the job done. One friend got busy right away. He drew a curtain over his half and worked diligently on his part of the project. The other friend couldn't muster up the inspiration and procrastinated.

As the year was drawing to a close, the diligent friend's work was almost complete and the procrastinator realized that he had to come up with a plan, very quickly. Like his friend, he also drew a curtain over his facing wall and with just a week to go, seemed to be feverishly at work.

The appointed day arrived. The King appeared with his entourage to dedicate his new throne room. The two friends greeted the King at the door and escorted him to their work. The diligent friend opened the curtain and a splendid nature scene dazzled the eyes. Now it was the turn for the other friend to show his work. He too removed the curtain revealing a freshly mirrored wall, brightly reflecting the scene the first friend had worked on from across the room.

The King was pleased with both friends and rewarded them handsomely.

Why was the King equally impressed with the mirrored wall, which did not seem to be as creative as the painted wall?

Perhaps, an answer can be found in the difference between whether the Ark was illuminated by a gem or a window. The gem represents an active inner dynamic generating new light, while a window is merely a passive channel allowing in light that already exists on the outside. While it's easy to see the value of being a gem, there is a unique value to being a window. The light of a gem, like the King on a chessboard, cannot reach everywhere too easily. This luminous source needs a means of conveying it's light into new territory. If all it encounters are other "gems" then it will never be able to extend it's light into distant areas. Therefore, the King was celebrating both sides of a single dynamic - the friend who can generate new creativity and the friend who can successfully convey that creativity into a new area. Both are needed.

Rabbi Hillel Paritcher commented in his commentary to Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch's "Kuntres Hitpa'alut" that it should not make a difference to a person how he received a new Torah teaching, whether it was generated in his own mind or conveyed to him by someone else. In either situation, whether he's a "gem" or a "window" for the idea, the same G-d arranged that the idea should reach him. 

Truthfully, life is not black and white. Most people in certain situations play the role of "gem" and in others the role of "window/mirror". Sometimes, it's a dynamic back and forth. It's a balance. The main thing is to celebrate both as G-d given.

An Afterthought :
Truthfully as I was in the process of writing this piece, more ideas flowed into my mind. However, there just was not enough time to put it in. However the gist of it, is that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe drew a parallel between Noah's Ark and the Holy Temple. Basically, he said that the Ark was the Temple of it's day. This is why the Ark had a space warp making room for all the animals species. This is also why reproductive behavior was forbidden (just as it would be in the Holy Temple). So it's possible that the issue of whether Noah illuminated his Ark with a precious gem or a skylight might be the difference of whether the Ark contained the sanctity of the First Temple or the Second Temple. The first had the Tablets, a luminous gem. The second did not have the Tablets on site and needed to act as a skylight - drawing holiness from beyond.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Where Are The Holy Tablets?"



Sometime during the first half of the 18th century there was a Maggid, a preacher, living in the town of Mezbohz who harbored a life long dream to relocate to the Holy Land, the Land of Israel. However, this wish was balanced against the reality that he felt needed in town. He couldn't in good conscience just abandon his flock.

 One day in the middle of his glowing spiritual career of inspiring the Jews of Mezbohz, the holy Ba'al Shem Tov moved into town. With a such a holy master to guide the people, the Maggid felt that his shoes were more than amply filled and no longer saw any reason to hold back on his dream to finally move to the Land of Israel. Every so often, he'd ask the holy Ba'al Shem Tov whether the time was right to set out on the journey and with each request the holy Ba'al Shem Tov sweetly responded, "Not yet."

There came a day when the Ba'al Shem Tov left Mezbohz on one of his long journeys. For the Maggid the Ba'al Shem Tov's long absence was his moment of opportunity. Living in abject poverty, it did not take long for him to sell all his meager possessions and scrape up the money he needed for the journey of his dreams. As was the custom of saintly Jews of that era, he began the first leg of his journey on a Friday. The idea was just to travel to the next town over and settle down for the holy Sabbath before resuming the journey on Sunday.

The Maggid huddled his Wife and children into a small wagon containing all their worldly possessions and started riding. Reaching just past the outskirts of town, whom did they meet? None other than the Ba'al Shem Tov himself traveling back to town from the other direction. The Maggid greeted the Ba'al Shem Tov a bit sheepishly. Embarrassed for having tried to sneak his way past the Ba'al Shem Tov, he shrugged, "Holy master what could I do? I just couldn't take living in diaspora any longer."

The Ba'al Shem Tov looked at him with deep understanding eyes. "Ok, I hear you.", He offered. "Please do me just one small favor. Spend one more Sabbath with me in Mezbohz. If you still want to leave after that Sabbath, you have my blessing."

"Holy master.", Protested the Maggid, "I have no money left nor a house to live in. How will I spend Sabbath in Mezbohz?"

"No problem, I already thought of that. You and your family will be my honored guests for this Sabbath. All your expenses are on me.", Offered the Ba'al Shem Tov.

With such an offer what could the Maggid do ? He turned around his wagon and followed the Ba'al Shem Tov back into town. As a true guest, for the rest of that Friday wherever the Ba'al Shem Tov went, the Maggid followed along. Later in the afternoon, the Ba'al Shem Tov visited the town's Mikvah, a spiritually purifying body of water. He was so holy that his immersion left an positive energetic impression in the waters.

When the Ba'al Shem Tov emerged from his ritual immersion, the Maggid undressed. It was his turn to immerse. He spent quite a while in the Mikvah. After emerging, he shared with people that he changed his mind. He's staying in Mezbohz.

When asked what happened that caused him to decide on staying, he related, "After the Ba'al Shem Tov emerged from the Mikvah, I went in. I saw myself in the Land of Israel. I was surrounded by a group of angels. I asked them to point me in the direction of the holy city of Jerusalem. There, I was in Jerusalem. I asked them to point me in the direction of the Temple Mount. There I was. I asked them to bring me into the Holy Temple. No problem, I was in the Holy Temple. I asked for the Holy of Holies. I was escorted into the Holy Holies. In front of me stood the gilded ark of covenant with it's two high winged cherubims. I requested for the lid be lifted off. I wanted to view the holy Tablets brought down by Moses himself from heaven containing Ten Commandments. They lifted the lid for me. My jaw dropped. The inside of the ark was empty... no Tablets."

"What!", I cried out in disbelief. "Where are the holy Tablets?"

"Oh, you want the holy Tablets.", the angels rejoined. "If you want the Tablets, they're no longer here. They're now in Mezbohz."

-----------------------------------------------
Dear Reader, "What lesson(s) do you draw from this story?"

What I draw from the story is that the Creator really did answer the Maggid's prayers and repond to his dreams afterall. Only, the answer was so perfect that the Maggid did not realize that his prayers were answered.

The Creator answered the prayer within his prayer. On the surface the prayer was to move to the Holy Land. However, on the deeper level the real prayer was to access the Holy Tablets. So the Creator arranged his access to Holy Tablets. He was living is Mezbohz and had direct access to the Holy Baal Shem Tov.

However, he did not realize what he really prayed for and wanted until he was faced with the possiblity of having the "surface prayer" answered at the expense of the "deeper prayer". Then, he was faced with what he was really requesting.

Many times the Creator answers our prayers so beautifully, that we don't even realize that our prayers were were fulfilled.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Deeper Prayer

-----------------------
The holy Baal Shem Tov had appointed a close disciple to blow shofar for his community Rosh Hashana morning. In preparation for this holy assignment, the disciple carefully studied the meditations from the holy Ari z'l designed to accompany blowing the shofar and studiously committed them to memory.

These meditations include visualizing combinations of various divine names at certain key moments during the sounding of the shofar.


The intensely awaited moment finally arrived. The disciple was standing before the holy congregation on that holy day, in that holy moment. As he raised the shofar to his quivering lips, he reached into his memory bank to retrieve the meditations, but to his own surprise his mind did not cooperate and blanked out on him.


Now he was forced to sound the shofar without the "crown jewel" he had so carefully crafted to accompany this precious moment. The imperfection of his performance was too personally glaring to ignore. So broken, so crushed, so humiliated, he blew the shofar in a deeply saddened state.


At the conclusion of the prayer services, after his last sounds vibrated across the sanctuary, the Baal Shem Tov approached him with very warm congratulations. Surprised and taken aback, he explained to the Baal Shem Tov how he broken hearted he was for not remembering even a single meditation. He doubted that his performance was really proportionally equal to the congratulations he had just received.


Strangely, the Baal Shem Tov's smile grew ever more radiant as his disciple bemoaned his "poor" performance. Finally, when the Baal Shem Tov's joy had brimmed over he replied, "That's exactly the way one is supposed to blow shofar, with a humbled heart! Praying with a humbled heart opens up far more gates in the heavens above than any mystical meditation can."


Lesson: The mystical meditations are certainly very important. However, they are not substitutes for the basics that prayer is supposed to contain - like a feeling heart. In this particular case, the disciple was so busy with the meditations that he would have been distracted from mustering up the level of heart needed as a very basic ingredient for his prayer. As we approach Rosh Hashanah remember, "Pray out of the depths of your heart".

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Humility

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rabbi Moshe Cordavero taught that the path to humility is to truly value all creations. This is what the Creator Himself does. ~ "Palm Tree of Deborah"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dearest Creator,

Over the years I've heard many suggestions describing the core attitudes that lead one on the road to a life of humility. Among these are an honest perspective of one's abilities and weaknesses, not thinking too highly of oneself, a realization that if someone else had my abilities s/he might have put them to better use. While these attitudes are valuable, they only seem to work by acknowledging something not too positive about myself. They don't easily evoke my celebration of life.

However, I recently learned a path to humility that's all celebration !

In Rabbi Moshe Cordavero's "Palm Tree of Deborah", he quoted from "Chapters of the Fathers" that a person should not be dismissive of anything created. S/he should value every single creation. The very fact that You created it is evidence enough that You value it. If You value a creation then certainly we, humans, should.

So by journeying through life considering each and every creation valuable, humans can become humble in a way that celebrates life, along a pathway of validation and inclusiveness, leading to expansive consciousness. Oh Dear Creator, please help me "celebrate my way" to humility.

Tonight with Your help, I realized another aspect within this teaching. My life situations are also Your creations. Often, I don't easily think of my situations as Your creations. This is because of my own subjectivity distorts my perspective. Yet, regardless of my perception, my situations are Your creations. They simply are. Applying this humility teaching to my life situations, beckons me to value each of my situations and not dismiss them. You value them enough to create them. So too, I need to value them and smile.

Yes, I'm going through a challenging life situation. However, I did not create it. You did. Therefore, it must be tremendously valuable. Perhaps, the value is a "Mitzvah", an opportunity to perform a spiritual deed, lurking within. Maybe this loving opportunity is the whole soul of the situation. Please help me discover and do this "Mitzvah", for this itself might be the true value of the whole situation.

Thank you for the prayer.

Love and Kisses,

Choni

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Light

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Light,


You evoke mystery.


Mystics envision you.


Auras are made from you.


You’re a precise surgical scalpel.


Objects can’t reach your speed,


Whose constancy boggles, best minds.


While whizzing by us, you don’t travel at all.


While flashing in “light years”, you’re timeless.


You are at once opposites, particles and waves.


You’re a great teacher, twisting our perspective.


We used to think time and space were solid.


We used to think all shared a single clock.


Mental veils ripped, beckoning us to peer beyond;


Beckoning us to embrace space - warped and timeless.


This is how you’re escorting us to appreciate our Creator.


You’re walking us along a red carpet to the timeless Being.


With such an amazing servant, what can one say of his King?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Memories

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From the perspective where I am coming from the Creator has granted us "memory" as a kindness. Its a tremendous blessing to have. I am one of those people who see memory in a positive light.

Yet, to some memory also seems to be associated with prolonging profound pain. For example, throughout world history it seems all too common for individuals and nations to bear long historical grudges over painful deeds committed years, if not centuries, beforehand. As the person or nation is reminded, the pain is being replayed and relived.

An example that most people can relate to is the memory of a loved one who had passed away. Reminiscing about the loved one can be more than simply a walk down memory lane. It can be an encounter with profound pain. So perhaps memory is not such a blessing after all?

Its an Interesting question. However, it seems to me that reliving pain through memory is not a result of having too much memory. Surprisingly, it's actually a result of having too little memory.

Let me explain. Memory comes in two forms: horizontal and vertical. (These are my own made up terms.) Horizontal memories are a collection of memories from our earthly experience, here in physical form. It's what we refer to as history - whether its personal history, national history or world history.

Besides horizontal memory, there is also vertical memory. Vertical memories are memories of experiences in the higher realms from which the soul descended before entering the body. These could be memories of past lives, memories of between lives, memories of the heavenly court, memories of early stages of existence, memories of who we'll morph into in the future, etc. In short, memory of spiritual history.

The reason why horizontal memory can cause such pain is because we don't have sufficient vertical memory to match it up with. The vertical and horizontal versions of memory are a couple. They're supposed to get married, becoming one flesh, one memory.

Without being paired, the horizontal memory remains like a lifeless body craving the supportive animation of vertical memory. However, even without  vertical memory every detail of life on the earth plane is really directed from Above. So behind every horizontal event there is a vertical event. It just needs to be remembered, in order to complete the story of what happened. But, if we don't remember the higher parallel event then we know far less than half the story. Sometimes knowing a half story can be less helpful than knowing no story, at all.

We need to somehow grow in vertical memory in order to sweeten our horizontal memory. From a Jewish perspective this is what will happen for everyone in the days of the Messiah. However, even today there are great saintly individuals who are already privy to vertical memory, to one degree or another. That's the Creator's gift to them in order to help them guide others.

When the Messiah's era arrives vertical memory opens up on a grand scale, not just for individuals, but for everyone. There are many things we can do to bring forward that day. Among them bringing peace and friendships between peoples, praying and helping people get along, acts of kindness, more involvement in the spiritual side of life, etc. 

With our momentary lack of vertical memory, horizontal memory can be meanwhile sweetened somewhat by finding common ground and interests in broad areas. For example, group projects that appeal to what is universally human, to shared spiritual beliefs and values, etc. This can be accomplished through art, Internet friendships , study groups, prayer circles, educational ventures, etc.

There's an old Jewish story that humorously demonstrates the pitfall of humans having insufficient vertical memory.

Long ago, in a Jewish Eastern European town, there lived a very old, but healthy man. People in the town wondered about his "secret". One day a group of people gathered the courage to ask him.


"So what's your secret?", Chimed their ring leader.


"What secret?", Questioned the old man.


"You know ... how you managed to live so long and remain in such great shape", clarified the ringer leader, as if the old man should have known why he became an object of attention.


"Oh", Laughed the old man. "That's an easy question to answer. I never in my whole life complained. So they never felt compelled to take to where the answers are."

Up until contemporary times vertical memory usually only becomes available to a person after his or her earthbound existence. Let us hope to a brighter tomorrow when the missing memory will also become available to human beings, in bodies of flesh, here on earth. That's part of the sweetness the Jewish people, and many others, look forward to in the Messianic era.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Paradigm Shift

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It has been a long and short sixteen years since the great spiritual leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel Scheerson has departed. To many who just marked the anniversary of this very difficult date, he is known simply as the Rebbe, a term that carries multiple connotations of endearment.

Peering through the time tunnel of all those years since I first became introduced to his teachings, I reflect back on how my life has been so far touched by his teachings.

Truthfully, his teachings enriched my understanding in too many ways to innumerate. However, there is one teaching that keeps popping up as I look back.  However, in order to appreciate why this teaching hit the spot with me, I need to lead up to it.


It's human to make certain automatic assumptions about the very fabric of existence, simply taking certain features of the universe as axiomatic. For instance, it's common knowledge that certain people once accepted that the earth is flat. This was axiomatic to their world view. Many thought that if a sailor went too far out to sea, he'd slip off the edge of earth and be cast into space.

I have found a couple of my own similar "axioms" over the years that needed correcting. In my early teens I thought that time was simply part of the very fabric of existence. I thought that time had to be extremely primordial because everything needed a framework of time to exist in. If it had no time to exist, it would cease existing. If there's existence, then axiomatically there also had to be a time frame work to allow it's existence.

Based on this perspective, it seemed perfectly plausible to pop the question to a Rabbi, "Who created the Creator?"

He calmly responded, "Well, the Creator created time just like He created mountains and lakes. Since time is His own creation, He's beyond time, completely transcending it without being affected by it."

"Notions like before and after are functions of time. Without time, there's no before or after. Therefore, your question does not even begin."

I must admit that it was a real paradigm shift for me to essentially flip frameworks. Instead of thinking of time as so axiomatic to reality and unintentionally considering it an all encompassing framework, including of the Creator Himself, I now began to think of the Creator as the all encompassing framework for everything, including of time itself. From this point onward, I considered time merely a sub-framework (which still encompassed much of creation).

I encountered a paradigm shift of similar magnitude from studying the Rebbe's teachings.  Like time, I thought that logic and reason were part and parcel of the very fabric of existence. Only, this "axiom" I carried  into my adulthood; Possibly because Judaism, being quite at home in rational and logical thought, rarely challenged this "axiom". The few bumps I encountered carrying this "axiom" on Judaism's road I simply glossed over as ideas that might one day make sense when thought through more carefully (possibly in a mystical light).

When studying the Rebbe teachings I encountered for the first time that the earliest stages of creation were pre-logical and pre-reasonable. At these very early stages the Creator was just expressing His divine desire. Only later on in creation, He created logic and reason as a means for bringing His primordial desire into fruition. 

This is similar to an architect who first desires a certain house and only afterwards draft blueprints on a drawing board, charting a logical course to bring his desire into fruition.

Therefore, logic is just a created tool to bring the divine desire into fruition. However, just as the Creator transcends time, so too, He transcends logic. Logic is a creation just like mountains and trees (and time) are.  Consequently, reality passed through a phase when logic and reason had not yet emerged on scene. Creation was naked divine desire, yet to don clothing of logic.

When we look at certain Biblical commandments, many make sense, some don't. While it might make sense not to allow certain social ills that almost everyone can relate to, do all the ritually based commands readily make sense, if at all?

This was how the Rebbe's teachings paradigm shifted me, I was taught to realize that a command is a divine desire. As desire the commands were brought into being before logic was. Therefore, the commands are truly beyond logic. Therefore, they are not bound to follow logic. Sometimes on the way down to the earthplane, like much else of reality, the commands dress themselves in logic - either more fully or less fully. However, the logical side of a commandment, no matter how compelling, is only its clothing, not the real commandment itself.  The real commandment is a soul that logic cannot contain!