Monday, December 29, 2014

All Union is Really Reunion

Last week’s Torah portion is visibly about union via reunion, as there’s a huge and celebrated reunion between Joseph and his family. And though barely mentioned as such, it must have been a reunion with much sacrifice, as a whole huge family, living in their dream spot, uprooted themselves to make an “apology in motion” and a demonstration of love to a family member who was treated unfairly and cast years earlier into an unjust situation.

Technically, Joseph’s wishes could have been fulfilled by having Jacob move to Egypt with a retinue of key family members. The rest would keep the Jewish settlement in the Holy Land going, a project which I am sure Joseph would have appreciated; visiting with their Egypt bound relatives from time to time and transporting goods back and forth.

While such visits might not have been easy, from the way the Torah describes Joseph’s brothers descending to Egypt to buy grain, it certainly does not seem like it was overly burdensome (inconvenient maybe, but overly burdensome not). As a common trade route, there must have been well worked out ways of making the journey back and forth between the Holy Land and Egypt.

Yet, the whole family decided to all move down to Egypt. Why? It must have been to make the reunion especially warm and fuzzy for Joseph; to really heal his psychological wounds.

This leaves me wondering why the brothers’ repentance was not deemed complete to the point that well over a millenium later, maybe closer to two, there was the story of the ten martyrs. During this incident ten holy sages were cruelly executed by the Romans, allegedly to restore balance to cosmic justice misaligned by Joseph’s sale into slavery.

When is enough, enough?!

I say the same thing about the exile we currently find ourselves in. And it’s not only the Jewish people who are in exile, all humanity is in exile; indeed, the whole planet is in exile. The displacement of one, sets off the displacement of all. Of course, there’s always room for human beings to improve in the areas of Torah, prayer and acts of kindness, but when is enough, enough?!

“Better to be the tail of the lion than the head of the fox.” Let’s have a messianic era already, even if it means that we don’t deserve the “cadillac” version of it.  Far better is the least ideal version of a messianic era than the most ideal life exile can offer.

Like the reunion of Joseph’s family, the messianic era too will be a union which is really a reunion. The way the Jewish people are one spiritual community above, actually one meta-soul above, so will the Jewish people be united below.

In a sense this like soul mates. The difference is that soul mates are still one soul on lower spiritual levels, closer to the earthly realm. Whereas, the souls of spiritual communities differentiate higher up. So in a sense, the messianic era union of people below is an even more poignant and more a intense union/reunion than soul mates, for it’s drawing spiritual energy from a unified state even higher up. This could be why it’s harder to attain. To date, many people have married their soul mates, while nobody has really experienced the messianic era.  

However, this notion can give emotional strength to non-soul mate couples too by making them aware that they too can attain a point where their souls are one; only it’s higher up and likely to be a point shared by others as well (not exclusive to themselves). However, with effort it can still be drawn from to enhance their marriages.

It seems like since the universe (spiritual and physical) exists in the Creator’s Seamless Oneness, there really is no such a thing as a union which isn’t also a reunion. It’s just a question of how far one has to stretch upward to reach the original point of union prior to differentiation.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Union via ReUnion

Intimacy of soul mates are baby steps towards prophecy. The essence of prophecy is union with the "Shechina", i.e. the Divine Presence. In this state the prophet's consciousness temporarily moves closer to his/her Divine Source. In a more ideal state of this experience, total union is achieved where the prophet's consciousness becomes seamlessly continuous with his/her Source. Consciousness merges; totally sheltered, nurtured, pleasured within the "Shechina's" cosmic womb ~ a spiritual fetal experience.

It's the highest possible experience of "other" which is really "same". It's an "other" which became "other" through the illusion of fragmentation, but was really "same" all along. It's the highest kind of union ~ as it's ultimate reunion. Yes, the highest of union is really reunion.

Uniting with a soul mate is a lower level of the same idea. Though it's not perched at the heights of prophecy, it's still union via reunion. It's about awakening to one's greater expanded self through love, caring, sharing and intimacy. It would make sense to me that just like there's a climactic moment in prophecy where the union is most intensely tasted, so too with soul mates in love. It's in the moment when the illusion of being separate selves most intensely dissolves and a feeling of seamless continuity takes over.

I still wonder whether I have tasted a spark of this the other night. Suddenly in the midst of conversing with my special  someone, my heart felt simultaneously lost and found in her's ~ we were like a single continuous heart. A tent of shared consciousness surrounded us. Internal barriers dissipated. I forgot the verbal content the moment our conversation concluded. However, the feeling of our hearts being aligned in singular continuity lingered on and carried me.

I wonder whether this is a sign.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Awaiting Love

  • I have many family members whom I love, friends who I am close to, but, the love of my life I still await.

  • I've been disappointed in love and fear that I might feel uncertain even if I were to stare her in the face.

  • My hope is that she'll recognize me first and inspire me to see beyond the fog of grief into the sunlight of her soul.

  • There is a cheerful side to this too. There is a kind woman who's trying to do exactly this for me. She tells me that on her side there is no fog. She assures me that the identical light she sees in her heart, radiates in mine too.

  • I truly give her a lot of credit and maybe, someday my heart in marriage.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

God’s Language

This evening was interesting for me. It's the 19-20th of Kislev. Normally it's a time I celebrate with others the inner mystical teachings of Torah being freed to radiate throughout the world. However, there was no celebration in my locale which spoke to me. I've been bored and overdosed on the repetitive messages, stories and food of these local celebrations in the past, with their sadly too predictive no to low mystical dose.

So I decided that regardless, I'll do something positive in the spirit of this evening. I prayed that God should teach more of humanity His language. I mouthed the prayer before I understood what I requested.

Then I backtracked and processed what I just prayed for. I work as an accountant. I flashed back to my very first accounting class. The Professor, Lucille Genduso, asked her class, "What's the definition of accounting". Various students opined creative answers. When she heard enough, she flatly stated, "Accounting is the language of business."

Then I thought to myself, if accounting is the language of business then the Torah's mystical teachings must be the language of God. By studying it, we are probably forming the basis of a language not only to communicate with each other about God, but more importantly for God to communicate with us.

However, there's a complication. The present popular styles of mystical thought being taught are probably more akin to that language's alphabet rather than it's functional vocabulary. That's why contemporary study does not automatically translate into understanding God's messages. A baby who can recognize alphabet sounds alone, "aaah"-"baaah", does not yet understand language. Yet, this rudimentary stage eventually does leads to language development. Similarly, I believe that teaching what's presently and popularly available in the field of Jewish mysticism will eventually lead to becoming receptive to Divine communication; maybe not now, but certainly sometime in the future.

When I dream of a universal messianic age, I dream of the return of prophecy. I dream of a time when each human being will be in full communication with God.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Net Pleasures, Growing Relationships

Is a paradise beyond one’s level to absorb pleasure a paradise at all? Maybe, it’s actually the opposite of a paradise? The reason I bring this up is because the texts I study often discuss levels of paradise. They say that there are those who enter lower levels and those truly worthy who enter higher levels. Yet, do those on a higher level actually receive more spiritual pleasures or have they simply built up their their capacity for receiving spiritual lights to such a pitched level that their tolerance for divine lights has also increased? Therefore, maybe it takes more spiritual lights to provide them with the same pleasures as lower leveled souls experience with less lights.

We see similar phenomena in this realm. I was thinking of using drug addiction and tolerance buildup as my example, but let’s stick with a healthy example. A middle class person enjoys an occasional fine dine as a treat. Maybe, two to four times a year, on special occasions, s/he’ll visit a restaurant offering fine cuisine and really take in the flavors, textures, fragrances, refined atmosphere and company. To a fairly wealthy person, visiting such a restaurant might be something s/he does every week or two. Clearly, the very wealthy person does not derive the same pleasure per visit as the middle class person does. To derive the same pleasure, the wealthy person needs to visit a much more exclusive restaurant; one even more refined and cultured.

Whether or not I am correct, I don’t fully know. However, following the principal “the heavenly kingdom is like the earthly kingdom” or “as below, so above”, it makes perfect sense to me that the same pattern applies to pleasures in paradise. As the levels of pleasure we receive on earth are largely shaped by our capacity to receive pleasure, so too, with the pleasures offered in paradise. The more developed one’s capacity to receive, the more spiritual lights are needed to achieve the same level of pleasure. This reminds me of the saying, “Little children little toys, big children big toys.”

If this is the case, why grow, when the same net pleasure can be provided for less just by being less? Perhaps, an answer can be found in the phenomenon called, “Been there, done it!”. After enough repetition the old level gets boring and loses its capacity to provide pleasure. Constant pleasure is not pleasure at all. The lights it provides cease to excite. How many times can a studious first grader find excitement in the ability to put together the letters “c”, “a”, “n” and spell “can”?

When the old level is worn out, listless and boring, new capacities need to be built to receive new lights. This is what gets the growing going. This all explains why the “pleasured” wants to grow. However, it does not explain why the “Pleasurer” creates the need for growth to begin with, if there’s not necessarily a net increase in pleasure at all.

Think about it. In such a scenario, the only thing really increased is the dispensing of the substance which creates pleasure (i.e. spiritual lights), but not the pleasure itself. Perhaps, that’s exactly the point. Ultimately, what the Creator seeks is a relationship. The pleasure is only one factor in the relationship. What the relationship really centers around is the “substance” which creates the pleasure rather than the pleasure itself. The first set of ten commandments offered a deeper relationship than the second set. The ten commandments are a “substance” or spiritual light around which a relationship with the Creator is formed . The higher Garden of Eden represents a deeper relationship with the Creator than a lower one. Again, the revelations in each Garden form the substance which the relationship is formed around. They are mediums of relationship, not unlike an activity shared by a loving couple.

Interim levels of pleasures just create the incentives to grow and build up soul/body units to the levels where their relationship with their Creator deepens. The more developed the person, the more of the self is invested and involved in the relationship. So while pleasures are important, they’re largely in service of the actual goal, the relationship.

This also changed the way I understand one of the central teachings in Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto’s “The Way of God”.  He assures us that the Creator only wants to impart goodness and benefit humanity. I usually understood this to mean that the Creator wants to endlessly pleasure us. However, now I understand the Creator’s “doing good” in a different way, i.e. building an ever growing and deepening relationship with us.