Friday, May 7, 2010

Grasping a Thought In Your Hand

Trying to understand the Creator with a human mind is like trying to grasp a thought with a hand.

(Tanya II 9)
Early on in my Kabbalah classes, I usually teach my students that Kabbalah does not teach us about our Creator. Rather, Kabbalah only teaches us about our Creator's revelations. Sometimes students react to this teaching with a puzzled look.
I remember the first time I myself encountered this teaching. It was a real let down! I engaged a Rabbi to teach me about my Creator and all he can offer me were teachings about something else.
To help my students rapidly get passed a moment where they might be experiencing an unsettled state of mind, I immediately do an exercise with them. The purpose of the exercise is to help them appreciate the limits of the human mind when it comes to grasping certain very elevated realities.
I’d select a popular student and ask him to try to grab a thought in his hand.
Typically, the student will shoot me this man, are you from out of space look.

Then in feigned seriousness I’d ask the student, “Why can’t you catch the thought? Come on ... maybe you just didn’t try hard enough. Please try again.”

To which the student wanting to duck out of an impossible task will respond, “Hands are not designed to grasp thoughts.”

Then I’d quip, “Neither are minds tools designed to grasp the Creator!”

With this exercise the student has come to appreciate on his own why he cannot grasp the Creator and comfortably self-adjusts his own learning expectations.


  1. We all have different parts to do. I'm saying basically the same thing as you're saying, but this is the way I see it. I'm using God as a Body although we could use anything to represent God. I think of humans being only one cell of the Body. We have a part of the Creator within us and understand the part we play ( That means mostly we judge ourselves). While the Creator understands all of us, we mostly understand our part (one little cell)and feel close to surrounding parts. Therefore, He appears to us any way He can. How can a great big Body appear to a human when we're only a cell--by a burning bush, by appearing showing his face in the middle of air (or pure spirit). Take all the things that are nonhuman, as oceans, flowers, etc. and all the billions of worlds and galaxies God is in charge of--layer within layers, valley within valleys, and we have some idea who God is.

    We work together as a single unit having different jobs to do. I think pure goodness can be born from this, minus all the extreme opposite God created, and a God can be formed, who is part of that Oneness. I'm not LDS, but I agree with Joseph Smith on this one (people overcoming in each world until they're in the likeness of God). I think there are trillions of worlds out there, and this pureness has a God who is part of the Oneness (God).

  2. Thank you for your comment. I want to make sure that I understand you. Are you saying that we are each a part of a greater unified whole ? Are you further trying to elaborate this idea metaphorically by saying that we are each cells belonging to a much larger body and that a single consciousness animates every cell?

  3. For the most part, yes. The Tanakh must be fitted together. As in Isaiah 45, a verse reads God is IN you (end of verse 14). We are part of the Whole. I recently read a book by a Jewish mystic (I don't like using that word, but that's the only way I know how to get my idea across). We're all joined and connected to each other. God will allow us to be connected by one of the many, many cords to see exactly how it feels to be someone else, an animal, etc. in the eternal world. Or even in this one.

    God is God over all the many world and ages. I'm giving an example only for this world. In the beginning, after God created the extreme opposite, we all strayed away (Psalms 14.3). Depending on how far we strayed, some of us have greater to return. We overcome and experience more, and can understand others more. The farther we strayed, or fell, the greater we have to return, and we'll appreciate all the more (As the deeper the root, the higher grows the tree). These become the Head people. All of us were not created at the same time. Some souls were created before others out of the Body (or any term you want to use, Tree, etc.)

    We were each made a part with our roles. Some of us have more curiosity and desire than others, etc. The ones who find God, can look down and see exactly where someone else is in their spiritual walk, but there is no way those who have not experienced can look up to see some of those flying with the eagles.

    Take this world and all other worlds, galaxies, and we're all connected by what I call ligaments. We're all joined. We're all a part of that Oneness.

    We're here to eradicate all evil. We're all creating all the time. But we can't do more than the role God made us. We are a part of Him.

  4. I should clarify that although God doesn't change,--He remains the same throughout the past and in eternities forever, His extensions--us--change, create, and will find Him although He's never lost us. It's like He has us on a lease.

  5. Very True! Thank you for sharing this. It's very touching and philosophically deep.