Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trust ~ Daily Meditation

Recently, I was asked on facebook for a recommendation on how to maintain and even grow one's trust in the Creator.

I replied, "This is why even though I don't officially consider myself a full follower of Breslov Chassidic teachings, I try to practice Rebbe Nachman's recommendation to seclude myself with my Creator for an hour a day (or maybe two half hour sessions a day). I feel that for me talking and communing with the Creator daily does wonders for my trust in Him. It sensitizes me to His presence. I'm sure that just like there's a different key for each door, so too there's a different key for each person's spiritual growth."

The person whose question I answered appreciated my answer and requested that I craft a blog essay, cast in the spirit of my response.


Imagine you have the opportunity to spend time with someone who truly loves you, possibly a lover, a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, your child, a very close friend, etc. Wouldn't you crave for that special moment? Now let's imagine that even though you truly love this person with all your heart, somehow, this person loves you even more. Wouldn't this make the meeting so much more special? Wouldn't you yearn to bask in such an intense aura of love? Now, let's up the level. Let's say this person doesn't merely love you even more, this person loved you Infinitely. How does that make you feel? Don't you really crave spending time with this person?

I know I would and in a sense I do. Though the Creator is not a person, His love for each of us is literally Infinite. It's simple logic. Everything about Him is Infinite. There's nothing finite about Him. Therefore, if He loves, He loves Infinitely. Since He proclaimed His love for all people, He must love everyone Infinitely. This is why I crave time alone with Him each day - like a personal date with my Lover. In this space of time, I can pour out my thoughts, feelings and musings to the One Who loves me most.

Truthfully, even what I've shared till now is a vast understatement. He doesn't merely love me immeasurably more than I love Him, He loves me Infinitely more than I love myself. However much I love myself, it's still finite - as I'm a finite creation. He easily surpasses my limited self love just by being Infinite. So when I am pouring out my insides to my Creator, I am in the midst of a session with a Being Who loves me so profoundly that He loves me Infinitely more than I love myself. How can I possibly miss an opprtunity for such a precious connection? My hearts jumping in anticipation for the very next opportunity. To sit in the presence of this Being and spend time with Him in open communication is so pleasurable. I feel luckier than a child awaiting his first taste of birthday cake !

His love for me is so infathomable and so unconditional that I can trust Him with everything and anything. I can let my hair down and tell Him my most private thoughts that I dare not tell some of my closest friends. I can trust Him with them. Truthfully, He knows them anyways. It's the whisper of His voice that I hear right through them. Yet, despite His knowing, my own efforts to unravel before Him, to undress and expose my naked heart, contains a beauty all of it's own. I can trust Him with my emotional fragility and vunerabilites. My human weakness is  safe to expose before Him. His unconditional acceptance dissipates the shame of weakness.

Not only can I trust Him with all my emotional fragility and vunerabilites, but, I can also trust in His uncondtional love to handle my physical ones as well. I can trust Him to carry me through the journey of life, guiding me along the path which is ultimately for my best. Though I walk blindly, I implicitly trust my all knowing and all loving Creator to guide me along. He knows my journey. He designed it with Infinite Love.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cosmic Continuity

The phrase "as below so above" means that everything physical is really continuous with spiritual reality and therefore, has spiritual counterparts. What is below on the earthly realm metaphorically mirrors what above in the spiritual realms; it's just that the limitations of our capacity to perceive  doesn't allow us to see whole entities. As a result, we can only follow any given entity with our eyes up to the edge of our perceptive limits. 

Lurianic Kabbalah describes a cosmic event called "the shattering of the vessels". In the early universe, the basic primal spiritual forces, known as "sefirot", shattered - as they were unable to contain the spiritual light streaming into them. The light was simply too expansive for their rigid positions to hold onto. Being unable to serve as vessels to contain the light, they exploded. The shards of the explosion became the spiritual and physical building material of the lower realms. One might wonder whether this fragmentation seriously compromises the potentially seamless continuum between the spiritual and physical reality and therefore, brings into question whether the lower realms truly mirror their counterparts in the highest realms.

I'd suggest that there probably is some compromise. However, the lower realms still mirror the higher realms. Only, it's fragmented mirroring, as the mirrors (or lower realms) are fragments. Fragments can cause some distortion. Looking at one's face by loosely bringing together bits and pieces of a broken mirror doesn't exactly make for a great image. Obviously, more fragmentation means more potential for distortion. However, every fragment is still reflecting some piece of the image.

The cosmic repair work to mend the fragmentation is done through our prayers, good deeds and kindness. In response to our good behavior the Creator rearranges the material across the various spiritual realms and creates new spiritual structures. These newly reconstituted spiritual structures are called "partzufim" (which is the Greek word for "faces", as borrowed by Hebrew/Aramaic). Continuing with the mirror metaphor, when the mirror is put back together, then it reflects the full face, not a fragmented one. Maybe, that's why what's repaired is referred to "partzufim" or faces. 

One of the Creator's tools used in this repair work is a new kind of light which He streams into the space of creation through the "line of light". Unlike the first light which streamed down the "line of light", shattering the vessels, this light is much higher and helps build and reinforce the repaired structures, so they don't shatter again. One might question, "If the second light is even higher than the first, how does it avoid doing damage?"

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov was fond of saying that the sickest patients require the most profound physicians.  Since these patients are in such a fragile state, someone whose merely a "good physician" might ruin them. They need the best of the best.  So too with the light, the highest lights have the greatest ability to deal with the most fragile situations. The first light is like the "good physican", whom though well meaning, ruined the situation. The second light is like the "profound physician" who brings a new depth of skill and understanding to heal the situation.

The "line of light" is the main cable bringing down spiritual lights from the "Infinite Light" into the space of creation. I think of it as a kind of cosmic spinal cord, which extends the commanding signals of "Infinite Light" into the space of creation. Before entering the space of creation, this new light needs to be filtered. Otherwise, it will overwhelm the creation. This filtering function is performed by the "line of light", as it controls the flow of light streaming into the territory of creation.

Based on this, know that everything you consciously think, feel and speak somehow affects how well our earthly realm mirrors higher reality. Being in full awareness of this, turns each and every moment into dearly precious opportunity.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Smile !

Today, I learned that people's faults are far less noticeable when they're happy.  Happiness is a spiritual light that can magically overexpose the dark streaks in our souls.  Bathed in brilliant light, they fade from view.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Birthday !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today is my birthday on the Jewish Calender - 23rd Cheshvon 5772

My meditation for today:

I admit to myself that in my past there were "three biggies" which served as my main doorways to happiness. They were my abilities, growth and achievements. My happiness was held hostage by these three "bandits"; or so I thought. Closer to the truth, I did not allow myself to be happy. I blocked it's inner flow as one plugs a fountain.

Today, I pray to my Creator to please turn this situation around. Please allow my happiness be a constant flow, streaming in from the sensation of life itself. Please allow my happiness become the main doorway to express my abilities, to grow and achieve. Please help these "three biggies" resonate off my happiness the way a lively melody dances off a fiddler's strings.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Soul Soles

I've often heard that the Grand Rabbi Menachem Mendel Scheerson, of blessed memory, had taught that the generation of Jews who will greet the Messiah will be reincarnations of the Jews who were redeemed from Egypt.

In all sincerity this teaching raised a serious question in my heart, for which generation of Jews is not a reincarnation of the generation who were redeemed from Egypt? Let me explain my question a further. All Jewish souls  in all the subsequent generations derive from 600,000 root souls manifest in that generation, with each Jewish couple of that time sharing a single soul root. In later generations these souls further sub-divided - like a flame lighting many candles. Therefore, as the Jewish population grows beyond 600,000 couples it is possible for many people to be derived from a single root soul. This is the mystery of how every Jew was present at Mount Sinai (see  "The Gate of Reincarnation"). So why does  Rabbi Schneerson single out the generation who will greet the Messiah as reincarnations of the Jews who left Egypt, when this was seemingly also true of so many other generations as well?

Last week, while ruminating over this question in meditation, a possible answer arose in my mind. I think the Messiah's generation is probably the "feet" of those 600,000 root souls. I don't think any previous generation, as a whole, was the "feet" of those souls (i.e. soles of these souls). Chassidic teachings explain that the soles are imprinted by the energies of the entire person. This might be the spiritual basis for reflexology. The Jews who stood at Mount Sinai where probably the head (i.e. brains) of those souls. Each subsequent generation was possibly one soul level lower, going down the spiritual anatomy, until a generation whose the "soles" of these souls arise (which I truly hope is us). When a higher level incarnates, it outshines all lower soul sparks and their radiance is lost in the higher soul light - like the light of a lantern in high noon. So though the "feet" were also present at the foot of Mount Sinai, they were outshone by the "head". The same can be said for later generations, since all body levels are higher than the feet. 

If my understanding is correct then, paradoxically, the "feet" which stood around Mount Sinai, will become the "ears" for the revelation of Messiah's Torah.


Many Paths ... Many Journeys.

In a recent conversation with my Mother, I remembered this special story -  which I'm sure does it's work within my subconscious, helping to ensure that I view others positively: 

In the town of Mezhirich during the 1760's dwelt was a saintly spiritual leader named Rabbi Dov Ber. Rabbi Dov Ber developed a large following of disciples, most of whom were spiritually advanced in their own right. Among other reasons, they were drawn to him largely to the learn the art of spiritual leadership. He was like a general training generals.

One day, Rabbi Dov Ber was visited by a wealthy admirer. During the visit, the time arrived for Rabbi Dov Ber to deliver an impassioned lecture to his inner circle of disciples. Being present, the wealthy man sat through the lecture drinking in every word with the excitement of someone who had just discovered the sweetness of nectar for the very first time. During the lecture, Rabbi Dov Ber heaped dear praises on the amazing spiritual benefits of living an ascetic lifestyle.  When the wealthy man heard these words, they cut through his heart like a knife. He thought to himself, "I must be at a tremendous distance from anything spiritual. I live in the lap of luxury, rolled up in delicate comfort, the very polar opposite from the blatant recommendations of my spiritual master."

As soon as the lecture ended, he approached Rabbi Dov Ber and pleaded, "Holy master please put me on a program of asceticism. I too want to be spiritual!"

"Your spiritual program is to keep doing what your already doing. Eat three sumptuous delicious meals a day. Please don't compromise on an iota on your usual culinary pleasures.", offered Rabbi Dov Ber.

As soon as the honored guest look leave, the inner circle of disciples converged on their master and questioned, "You had him so turned on. He was about to abandon the life of flesh for a life of the spirit. Why did you allow this precious opportunity slip away so easily?"

"What appeared to you to be an opportunity for this man, would have been a terrible mistake; actually, a lost opportunity for him," sighed Rabbi Dov Ber. "He's a soul that came down into the earthly realm for a very special spiritual purpose, to spend his life of giving charity.  Therefore, the Creator blessed him with plenty to give. This is his spiritual work. A lifestyle of asceticism will just get in his way and confuse him. When the needy come knocking on his door, he's liable to think to himself that if he can subsist daily on a few crumbs of dry bread then they can probably exist on rocks and pebbles. However, if he allows himself to cultivate a sensitive palate for the heights of culinary pleasures, then he'll also cultivate the emotional sensitivity to, at the very least, provision the needy with some nice moist bread."

Lesson: It's easier to view others positively when we realize that each person is placed by the Creator on a different, but equally valid, program of  spiritual growth. There are many paths and many journeys. No two people have the exact same journey.

(This story is retold from Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin's Chassidic strories arranged by the weekly Torah portion - published in English by Artscroll)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Expanding Universe

This is a very brief blurb of what I hope will become in the future a fully developed user-friendly essay (either written by myself or someone else). This idea might still be too esoteric for today, but, it will probably be exoteric for tomorrow. Respecting this possibility, right now the blurb is written in a way that people with a basic education in Kabbalah or Chabad Chassidic Philosophy will understand:

It seems possible that the reason why scientists see the universe expanding is because Lurianic Kabbalah teaches that the "tzimtzum",i.e. the contraction of the Infinite Light, repeated itself ten times. With each repitition the outer wall of the "tzimtzum" once again expanded out further; ultimately, expanding ten times - only, in our much slower time zone the expansion has not yet been completed. As a result, our realm's version of the "reshimu", i.e. the cosmic feminine, is not yet fully developed and the Infinite Light's "line of light", i.e. the cosmic masculine, had not yet entered our realm. When she fully matures and the "line of light" enters, the universe as we know it will be much more spiritual than it is now.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Duel Versions


Yesterday, I read in the Talmud (B'rachot 5B) a story about a sage who unknowingly erred and once behaved beneath the expectation for someone on his spiritual level. This sage made his living selling wine. Compassionately, the Creator brought his attention to his accidental misbehavior, signaling him to make amends. Suddenly, his stock of four hundred wine barrels turned into vinegar  - losing most of their value.

He asked his fellow sages, "Why did this happen to me?"

They helped him examine his deeds until the incident which he was oblivious to had surfaced. At first, he defended his behavior. His colleagues broke through his defenses, forcing him to face up to what he did. Then he realized that he should have handled the situation differently. 

When he resolved to make amends, a miracle occurred. There are two versions of this miracle. One version is that all the vinegar turned back to wine. Another version is that the price of vinegar rose to match the price of wine. Thus, he was able to sell his stock without incurring a loss.

Often enough when a story has two versions, I am left wondering, "Well, which one is correct?"

In this case, I am thrilled that there are two versions of how his impending loss was averted. Between the duel versions of the story lies a valuable lesson. One version, the vinegar turning back to wine is a miracle beyond nature, as it's unnatural for vinegar to revert to wine. The other version, the price of vinegar rising to match the price of wine is a miracle within nature. It's easy to point to market forces which can occasionally fluctuate in an unpredictable pattern, temporarily bringing up the price of the unexpected commodity.

The lesson is that the Creator can achieve the exact same goal with either kind of miracle, whether beyond nature or within nature. Therefore, we shouldn't feel less cared for by Him if nature isn't overturned to meet our needs. Most miracles today are disguised as natural occurrences. We just need to keep our eyes open to appreciate them.