Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Face to Face


"And there arose no other prophet among the Jewish people like Moses, who knew the Creator face to face." (Deuteronomy 34:10)

One of the defining features of Moses' prophecy was that he knew the Creator "face to face". The idea of "face to face" means no barrier in connection. It's a stripping on every level of anything that stands in the way of connection, any blockages. Just like with a human couple, the clothing drop off at the moment of union. Hopefully, as the relationship deepens emotionally any barriers towards expressing innermost feelings also fall away. So too in our relation with our Creator, our inner barriers can dissolve in time to expose more and more of our interior to the light the Creator wishes to shine into us. These barriers are usually ego, our strongly defined notions of self.

When the blockages melt, there's a temporary loss of self-awareness. The entire creation feels like a dream just visited by its Dreamer. Since the Dreamer is One with His dreamscape and dream beings, we can sense that a single Identity runs through all reality. The notion that the dream isn't continuous with the Dreamer, that creation isn't continuous with her Creator, will finally feel to us like what it is - a fictional illusion! 

In the domain of the dreamscape, saints and villains alike are a single continuous identity with the Dreamer and each other. The difference is that the saints know this and the villains don't. Therefore, villains desperately cling to their illusion of self. They resist anything which doesn't enhance the sensational thrill of their illusion, sometimes at very high costs, often to themselves, but, more obviously to others as well.  

By contrast, saintly people don't make others pay a price to retain and enhance their identities. They're aware that they're dreamed into being, that they're simply continuous with the Dreamer.  Therefore, they expect to change with the flow of the dream. However, they are aware that their core identities are seamlessly bound with the Dreamer, a core identity that never changes as it runs, as a constant, through both dream and Dreamer. The core identity is really the Dreamer existing beyond any bounds of location, allowing Him to be at once both outside and inside the dream.

In the awareness of continuous identity, the saintly are said to be "face to face' with the Creator ~ "identity to Identity"  ~ One Identity. This core truth keeps the saintly from fearing change. Yet they possess a single overriding fear, they fear misalignment with the Creator leading to the sour fruits of unenlightened behavior. 

It's possible to taste the barriers dissolve on Purim. It is the essence of the practice of getting drunk on Purim; letting go of inhibitions, melting barriers and coming "face to face" with the Creator. It's all about losing ourselves in Him, to find ourselves in Him. 

What usually gets in the way of experiencing "face to face" with the Creator, or fellow humans, is shame. The human ego has a lot of trouble with bearing shame because at the core of shame is a sense of personal inadequacy. The person suffering from shame has difficulty owning up to a weakness that s/he needs help either overcoming or accepting. 

This is why Adam had to cover his nudity after eating the forbidden fruit. Prior to eating the fruit, there was no shame associated with nudity because it was clear that everything naked about him was designed to serve the Creator. Once he ate, his nudity became privatized. Nudity became a reminder of his weaknesses - how he humbly shares cravings with the nether creatures of the animal kingdom. He now felt less angelic than he originally thought himself to be. Since Eve acted first, she had to cover up even more. She experienced even greater shame. Human nudity no longer smoothly glided into a "face to face' relationship with the Creator, as a sense of personal inadequacy often taunted humans, "Reconsider your nature!"

In one of his last mystical discourses, entitled "I Arrived in my Garden", the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the Biblical prophets would strip naked in a state of prophecy, as King Saul did. He explained that the prophets reverted back to an Edenic state, where everything about a human being was "face to face" with the Creator. In this state, nothing of the person was his/her own, it was all the Creator's. All was openly in the domain of the rightful Owner. In such a state of consciousness human weakness actually finds a nurturing nest inside the Creator's love. Inside the Creator, there's no inadequacy. All the dreamed nest equally in the Dreamer. All are comfortably at home in their Source - as all are equally continuous with Him.

It seems like the first step of being "face to face" is honesty. No hiding. By creating a safe space, all can be honestly exposed, allowing  relationships of all types and levels can flourish and deepen. Sometimes a l'chaim or two can passport a seeker across the barriers of shame, easing the path to self-honesty, leading to a fresh inflow of inner freedom and busts of boundless celebration. Happy Purim !


1 comment:

  1. From my FaceBook notice about this blog:

    With my favorite Holiday Purim arriving, I wrote the following essay in a stream of consciousness style. I admit that I get just a bit "Purim crazy" this time of the year :) Here it is to enjoy and think (sorry, I meant "drink") deep :

    Ehud: Choni that is so special, chag purim sameach, dude!

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: I changed it around a bit today. I found a deeper truth.

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: Thank you Ehud. Shavau'ah Same'ach :)

    Ehud: shavua sameach gam lecha :)

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: todah :)