Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shapes & Sizes


I remember reading years ago from the writings of the deep mystic, Rabbi Tzodok HaCohen of Lublin, that the reason why the Creator made such a huge universe is because there are deep mysteries of Torah which can only be gleaned from such an immense universe. Future discoveries into the expanse of the universe will simultaneously enlighten science and Torah; as fields of knowledge become woven into a more integrated whole in the messianic future.

The other week an interesting cosmic insight dawned upon me. I think it might be one that at least points in the direction Rabbi Tzodok intended.  First a lead-in story:

One morning the other week, while ordering coffee at a Starbucks cafe’, I shared an inspiring thought with the woman behind the counter. My intention was to lend additional meaning to my good morning greeting. I figured that hundreds of people will probably wish her good morning that day. I didn’t want my wishes to be reduced to yet another of many exercises in polite exchange.

So I enhanced my greeting by sharing with her the idea that it takes a whole universe, with all of its immense size and shape, just to bring the marvel of life to a single human being for just one second. Truthfully, I made this statement to her as I’ve made it to others before, as a matter of faith or intuition with no actual logic to back it up. I trusted it because it was one of those concepts that sent the truth chills up my spine. However, this time something different happened. For the very first time, my mind suddenly lit up to the logic behind what I was saying.

Here’s what flashed in my mind: Einstein taught that space and time are a continuum - i.e. two experiences of the same entity. The fact that humans don’t automatically perceive this has more to do with the limits on the human perceptive faculties than with the pure reality of time and space.

The implications of space time being a continuum carries many startling implications - like the theories of relativity, a new theory on gravity, time dilation and the unchanging speed of light in a vacuum.

I realized at that moment that if time and space is a continuum then what happens to time has to somehow be reflected in space and vice versa, what happens in space has to somehow impact time. Shaking one end of the universe’s tablecloth will cause the other end shake as well. It follows that we only experience time as we do because the universe is currently sized and contoured as it is. Give the universe different sizes or shapes and the experience of time is altered as well. An alteration in space is an alteration in time.

Once my mind was going with this fresh idea, I took a seat at a cafe’ table, pulled my prayer/meditation diary out of my bag and started writing in deep and sweet contemplation. In the midst of my writing, I recalled that the scholar of Kabbalah, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan taught in his commentary to “Sefer Yetzirah”, that Kabbalah was aware of this continuum pre-Einstein. However, Kabbalah labels this continuum not merely “Space Time” as physics does, but, as “Space Time Life” (in Hebrew “Olam”, “Shanah” and “Nefesh”). Life is seen as yet another dimension of the universe that goes along with space and time.

Taking the dimension of life into account, it follows that just as the size and shape of the universe seem likely to have a profound effect on the experience of time, they probably also has a profound effect on the experience of life as well. Vice versa, the experience of life probably also has a profound effect on both collective and individual experiences of time and space. Now I understood the logic of why it takes a whole universe to give a single human being one second of life.

It can be actually appreciated on two levels, physics and Kabbalah. For those who feel more at home in physics, simply the whole way we experience time, the marvel of a single second, is dependant on how space is sized and shaped.

For those who are at home in Kabbalah, this tightly interwoven relationship between time, space and life is a basic reason why it takes a whole universe, with it’s immense size, shape and history, to bring the marvel of life to a single human being for just one second.

As my pen continued to flow across the page, additional insights continued to flow into my mind. It suddenly occurred to me that this interwoven fabric of time, space and life might also clarify a variety mystical phenomenon reported through the centuries, like how certain mystics were able to experience “shrinking of the road” - meaning that their travels occurred much faster than normal. These mystics existed in a higher state of life. Their consciousness vibrated at a much higher level. The very vibrancy of life force shrunk space and time for them personally because life is in an inverse relationship with time and space. Life is spiritual. Time and space are physical. It’s the nature of the spiritual to overwhelm the limitations which maintain the physical state of reality.

Another spiritual phenomenon which I realized can be explained with this fresh understanding is the prevalence of open miracles and the availability of heightened states of prophecy in ancient times. According to both the big bang theory and certain explanations of the “tzimtzum” the universe is expanding outward like a balloon. This means that space is constantly enlarging. It would stand to reason that space is larger today than it was in ancient times, which means that the life factor was automatically more vibrant, on a higher level, than today.

Whether the change in the universe’s size between now and ancient times is tiny or vast might be irrelevant. It could be that even a tiny enlargement can make a difference if the universe’s membrane crossed a critical spatial threshold. The implication is that as space enlarges humanity tends to lose levels of spiritually sensitivity and orientation because the life dimension stretches out thinner and gets diluted in enlarging space. As a result, miracles and prophecy become less common.

Don’t lose hope. In a few previous essays, I explained that as the universe reaches full size, new spiritual light will flow into space from beyond space. When this new living light flows in, the life force that was previously stretched thinly by expanding space will be reinforced and life’s full taste will be restored.

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