Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Chime of the Soul

The other day, I had a beautiful memory of a special moment in my early 20’s; circa 1990. Having recently relocated from New York City to South Florida, I just discovered wind chimes and found them totally enchanting. I felt like listening to them is listening to the music of the wind.

During that time I attended a university which had a wide open lawn. Perched in the center of the lawn was a wooden gazebo. Hanging from it’s concave center was a very finely crafted wind chime. I used to sit in the gazebo and meditate to the pretty tonal sounds, hoping for a message from the pleasant breezes.

Having been taught in my spiritual studies that the whole universe is like God’s “garments”, I had hoped to learn how to see and hear His messages from the movements of His “garments”. This included the movements of the sun, moon, stars, birds, animals, fish, streams, ocean waves, natural sounds, cloud formations, thunder, rain  ...

Some may have thought this an effort in the direction of augury; forbidden by Judaism. However, I was not seeking to predict the future, just to have an active line of communication with my Creator. I was so awe struck by just His “garments” and marveled such at His mystery that fell in love with Him. And what’s a relationship without a continual flow of active communication?

Looking back, did I ever feel that I absorbed a message from the breezes? Did the melodious wind chime in the gazebo ever speak to me? No, it hadn’t. It would be too simplistic to say that I felt like I was addressed in a language which I simply did not understand, as if stopped by a foreigner groping for directions. Actually, I felt more like a fish asked to describe the water or as a person asked to describe his or her own face without having ever looked into a mirror. Whether or not this was true, this was how I truly felt.

After trying to hear the wind chime’s message, I continued on to meditate regularly in nature. I lived in South Florida throughout the decade of the 1990’s. I regularly meditated along the nature trails of Greynolds Park (on the lush banks of the Oleta River) and sometimes even in the Florida Everglades. Being mosquito infested, the nature trails in South Florida are usually not great places to sit in one spot for too long. So, I’d stroll the trails talking to God along the way. I referred to these sessions as “walkie talkies”.  Though not by conscious choice, in most cases the “talking” was mental rather than oral.

During these outings into nature, I cannot claim to have discerned the messages of the Creator’s “garments”. Still, the natural setting did serve as a ripe environment for me to hear the messages of my own soul. Plus, the Creator’s “garments” did serve as a great resource and inspiration for contemplation and self-realization. 

Over and over again, I remember realizing how privileged I was to be privy to the artwork of the greatest Artist in all existence. I strolled passed streams, and wooded areas in utter awe over the Divine Artist Who created all of this! I marveled at how the artistic scene I see here and now will never ever be seen again. Unlike a static painting in a museum, it shifts and is constantly re-painted each mili-fraction of a second. The cloud formations populating the expanse of the sky and framing the tree tops, are constantly reshaping. The sun’s position is in orbit. The birds are on the move. The turtles are swimming. The crabs side step their way between the river and their holes. The coconuts bob along in search for solid soil. The breezes constantly shift their intensity and direction. Even some feral monkeys play among the branches. And watch out, there’s a huge spider web! Yes, it too is part of the art, just don’t get entangled. LOL

Perhaps, I was never intended to hear God’s language through nature. I was just intended to be immersed in a fertile setting to hear my own soul. I guess where He talks, so does the soul.


Sunday, December 24, 2017


While in the midst of a longer than expected vacation, I wonder what to do with all this unexpected free time. There are so many options leading people to use their vacation time in a variety of different ways; often ranging from just vegging to exerting oneself in a full out adventure. And then of course, there’s everything in between. In almost everyone’s work life the work schedule tends to upset the life balance. What all these choices have in common is that they’re attempts to bring some sort of balance to one’s life; whether it’s time with family, friends, rest, hobbies, interests or simply catching up on having fun.

As for my vacations, I try for a slightly “different” kind of life balancing (when I can). I take my guidance from the earliest known moment when any sort of vacation happened in recorded reality. Kabbalah teach that God withdrew His Infinite Light, leaving a vacated space to populate with finite realities. Until then, everything was awash with Infinity and there was no room for anything finite to exist. This vacated space was the very first known vacation in the history of anything.

We usually think of vacation primarily as an opening in time and not necessarily in space. However, let’s not get too caught up on this. Firstly, Einstein taught that time and space is deeply intertwined. At least for Einsteinian purposes, the two are exactly same thing. Secondly, the Kabbalists were likely appealing to what’s easier for the human imagination to process. Since we actually see space, it is relatively easy for our minds to depict; whereas, time tends to be more abstract. To think in spatial terms about a vacated space in the midst of the Infinite Light, just takes imagining a dark spot in the midst of an immense expanse of light. Even if the thinker knows that this is not the real deal, still it tentatively serves as a useful mental representation. However, to try the equivalent on the time model would require a much larger leap into the complexities of abstract thinking.

Why did this vacation emerge in the earliest reaches of identifiable reality? The main text describing the vacated space, explains that it occurred in order to allow God an arena of expression for His names and attributes, i.e. a stage to act on. For example, only in a finite reality can God’s compassion be actualized into expression. In singular seamless Infinity, there’s no need for compassion.  

We are enjoined to imitate God’s ways; thereby, aligning themselves with Him. Since His vacation was designed (as if) for the purpose of His own self-actualization, it is helpful for us to do the same on our own level. By doing so, we add to our own personal and spiritual growth. For those whose daily work is not very self-actualizing, this may be their opportunity to reset their life balance and introduce some long awaited self-actualization activities into their lives. And for those whose work is already self-actualizing, it can never be self-actualizing enough. There are always pockets of oneself which get repressed in the course of the daily grind. It’s just unavoidable. A vacation might be just that golden opportunity to discover activities which bring out these pockets of self onto life’s stage in the most productive way possible.   


Thursday, December 21, 2017


The Light of God is alive,
  Cause this light is life itself.

As a stream meandering its way,
  Down a lush verdant mountain,
So, it flows down the levels of heaven,                          
Trickling down, drip drop, to earth.

Everything around us, EVERYTHING,
  Is alive with the self-same light.

When will people learn?
  Yes! When will they learn?


Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Fighting Optimism!

Last night, on the fifth night of Hanukkah, I was given a very inspiring gift, the chance to meet someone I have been praying for, for the past couple of years. She was diagnosed with “c” and a mutual friend had asked me to include her in my prayers.

It was a true pleasure not only to meet her, but to see that thank God her return to health is progressing along very nicely. As she related to me her story, she punctuated it with much faith and optimism. I sort of expected this, as I have heard that many, who have recovered, mainly managed it by riding on a wave of faith and optimism.  However, her attitude also conveyed a tonal quality, which I had not at all expected. I heard a “fighting spirit”!

To me, optimists were people who definitely made their earthly efforts, but, their faith emerged from a mainly passive approach and attitude. Even, this recognition was a paradigm shift away from what I believed in my 20’s, some 20 years back. Then, I believed that work and effort basically meant nothing. It was all up to God literally. I felt that hard work largely displayed a lack of faith. Everything was given miraculously. This extreme passive faith, at the time, colored my whole life perspective. Of course, it was encouraged along, by being surrounded by successful family members (on all sides) whose harder times were either behind them or kept very discreet; likely, out of concern for worrying loved ones. So, I never had anyone openly model for me what a “fighting optimism” looked like. Also, a string of siblings who passed away young from a genetic disorder encouraged me to look more heavenward than earthward for the “real answers”.

So, in my early 30’s I suffered until I came to realize that even if my faith is passive, my accompanying work needs to be active; at times, very active!  Life was not working out like a magical carpet ride. This was a huge paradigm shift and rude awakening for someone like me.  Slogans like, “Courage is faith which has said its prayers” began to resonate for me.

However, last night’s encounter was not only with a new person, but with a new attitude - “a fighting optimism”! She smiled wide as she assured, “I am going to beat this!” In a world no longer pervaded with much open prophecy, God often communicates via events, opportunities and out of the mouths of others,

It’s interesting to me that I had this encounter on Hanukkah. Wasn’t a “fighting optimism” what the Hasmoneans were all about? With the kind of passive optimism I had harbored just a moment before my encounter, the Hasmoneans would have waited out their oppression in hiding, praying and living as Crypto-Jews, some 1,700 years ahead of the Spanish inquisition. This is not to cast judgment on what occurred in Spain, as the circumstances were vastly different and therefore, not open to comparison. It’s just to say that a passive faith and optimism would have not achieved the great miracles of Hanukkah.

A “fighting optimism” is rooted in the conviction that yes, we must fight; yes, God wants us to fight; yes and most importantly, God is with us in the fight. It’s even more than simply “courage is faith which has said its prayers”.  It’s that courage is the prayer!


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Light, Water & Fish

In Judaism, an employee must be home before the onset of the Sabbath with enough time to fill a barrel of water, fry a small fish and light a candle in honor of the Sabbath. When reading this requirement, I wondered about the choice of Sabbath preparations used to mark this time period, as the Sabbath is known for so much else as well, such as: prayers, blessings, wine, special loaves of bread and piping hot stew. So, why were these three chosen?

Possibly, it’s because the work week is an expression of restraints on God’s holy light to some extent or another. During the work week a person often struggles and sweats to earn a livelihood. Sure there’s God’s help, but, it’s open expression is somewhat restrained. The Sabbath on the other hand, is a time of grace. During this period God’s light is more openly revealed.

Light, water and fish all emerge from a more openly revealed state of God’s light. They’re Sabbath-like in that sense. Earthly light is an extension and reflection of God’s own light. Water is God’s agent to expansively grant life to all organisms on this planet. Fish is a child of the water, as it emerges from water. Accordingly, what these three share in common is that they’re all expansive expressions of God’s open kindness.

Now the choice of preparations used to mark the minimal required time period for an employee to be home before the onset of the Sabbath suddenly makes sense. It marks the minimal time needed to shift gears from God’s restrained light to His openly revealed light.





It seems to me that in Kabbalistic thought the notions of light and life are interchangeable. It seems like they are two ways of referring to the same reality, though different aspects of that reality. If so, why doesn't electrical light or candle light seem alive in the way plants, animals and humans do?

I think electric light or candle light is alive! But, it's in the category ofwhat’s called in Hebrew domem ( דומם ), meaning silent, along with rocks and other inorganic materials.

At this level of life, the entities are silent about the life they bear. Yet on Chanukah, we use that "silent" light/life for our menorahs; possibly to teach that even what seems silent, in the right context, can be still quite expressive. It can be used to express a message of freedom of worship and hope.

One day such lights will even be more expressive; actively conveying an expression of life on their own accord. Truthfully, there is no such a thing of something which is not alive. Every detail of existence exists because some drop of God’s Infinite Light flows through it. If it’s not alive in some sense, it would not exist at all. The drop of Infinite of Light which flows into what appears to our naked eyes as inanimate is simply hidden. However, since darkness is nothing more than compacted and suppressed light, there’s nothing which is not filled with life and hence, very alive!

Part of the hope which Chanukah holds out for us is that there will yet be a time when the hidden light will be revealed. The hidden light is not merely a heavenly light, from a higher realm, which will pervade earthly existence. It is also a light which is hidden within the bowels of the physical itself, which is yet to be discovered and/or revealed. There will yet be a time when the light from below will match the light from above in sublime union!

May it happen in our swiftly in our days!

---------🔥🔥🔥🔥  🔥  🔥🔥🔥🔥 --------

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Letters of Thought

In several places in his Magnus opus, Tanya, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi makes reference to twenty two letters of thought. By this he refers to the communication which goes on inside of one’s own mind/brain. One may think that he’s referring to the conversations we have in our own heads using our native languages. At times, I considered such a possibly myself.

However, I never felt entirely comfortable with that answer because Rabbi Shneur Zalman clearly states that behavioral actions cannot occur without their first being a communication from these letters of thought. There are populations of people who don’t have a verbal language. Among them are babies and deaf mutes. Yet, they clearly act. So, by virtue of their capacity to act, they too must be in possession of these letters of thought.

So, these letters of thought cannot be referring to internal conversations in one’s own mother tongue. It must be something deeper and more innate; something shared by all humans. Today, we have technology which can serve as a model to help explain what the letters of thought possibly are.

Most people are familiar with computers. Regardless of the native language of the user, all (or at least many) computers share the same innate computer language. From this innate language, the computer forms and projects images, words, music, sounds, etc. into a medium understood by the user. For example, though the computer does not think in the user’s native language, it can communicate with the user in his/her native language.

Similarly with the human mind/brain, buried within there's likely an innate language which is hardwired into every human being. It’s likely extremely similar or even the same within every human being. This language has it’s own basic combining components which operate like letters to make words, i.e. larger units of communication. According to the Alter Rebbe there are twenty two of them, matching the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

I call this language “Brainish”. As there’s English and Spanish, so there’s “Brainish”.  Just like with the computer’s mind, “Brainish” also forms and projects images, words, music, sounds, etc. into a medium understood by the person’s conscious mind. From there the person can have an internal dialogue, speak with another, dream, play, act, etc.

It might be useful for the future of humanity to discover and understand how to consciously access “Brainish”, as this can go very far to increase intelligence and communication in all sorts of ways.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Ladder of Light

Visible light is merely the low end of the light spectrum.

Beyond are light waves vivid with the consciousness of plant life.

Further beyond are light waves spirited with animal life.

N’ even beyond that are light waves which are human souls.

This light spectrum continues up, even higher and yet higher...becoming increasingly alive.

Always remember that what you see is barely the lowest rung of this massive ladder.


Utopia upon Utopia ...

As the knowledge base of humanity grows, dark spots leading to ignorance and misdirection shrink.

Knowledge will beget knowledge.

Then kindness from below and blessings from above will permeate the human condition;

Commencing a utopia, commonly called, "the messianic era" ~ followed by utopia upon utopia upon utopia upon...

In a never ending stream of succession.  


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Updating and Transmitting

The Zohar (Vayetze 158b) explains that the Book of Psalms was composed with divine inspiration, רוח הקודש. Yet, earlier in the same section, the Zohar also explains that the book was a renewal of songs from earlier times. Usually, one associates divine inspiration with special guidance to yield brand new knowledge, not simply as an aid to recast what’s already known.

The lesson to me is that often knowledge which resonated well in past generations can’t simply be transmitted, as is, to a new generation. What worked then does not necessarily work now. Rather, a special divine inspiration is required to lend spiritual guidance to do a creative repackaging; allowing old teachings to come alive with a contemporary feel; opening the ears of audiences will be receptive in rapt attention.

In line with this, King David and his fellow composers probably felt that a simple repetition of songs known from the past, felt sterile and lacked resonance. They needed to rework these songs with a fresh surge of creativity, which fed off of divine inspiration, so the songs could speak freshly and relevantly. As Psalms are filled with biographical tidbits of King David's life, it’s likely that the updating went very far; though without obscuring the core messages.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Image of God

The Book of Genesis assures that all humans are created in God’s image (1:26). This is mentioned first in the account of creation and reiterated later to Noah after the flood, when God reminds him why human life is sacred (9:6). Therefore, the sacredness of every human life cannot be ignored - regardless of the atrocities that humans seem capable of. Yes, we have to concentrate on our better side to get a better result out of this sacred project called, “humanity”.

Somehow, we need to learn how to recognize the divine image in ourselves and in others. In most cases, one needs to learn how to manifest his/her own divine image before being expected to recognized it in others too. Of course there’s the (currently) rare exception of a human being whose divine image is so fully manifest that s/he can serve as a model for others But, today such a person, who can easily serve as a light for others, is not commonly found.

It makes sense to me that manifesting one’s personal divine image and recognizing it in others is the spiritual project meant to be shared by all human beings. However, we need to be able to identify what a “divine image” even is before we can talk about proactively manifesting it.

At the very least it means that there’s something divine in the soul of every human being which is not shared by the rest of creation present in the physicality of the universe. It’s not simply speech or even intelligence, as the snake in the Garden of Eden had both and still didn’t have a divine image.

Obviously, a divine image does not mean that God’s essence has an image. Images are limitations, as they have boundaries. God is absolutely Infinite. Nothing of boundaries can be ascribed to Him. However, His revelations within finite realms, can take on finite forms. However, they are not Him. They are merely His projections. These projections or revelations are from Him, but they are not Him. It’s in this spirit that the Midrash describes Him as alternatively appearing like a warrior at the Red Sea and as a white haired sage at Mount Sinai. Also in this spirit, the prophet Ezekiel described what he prophetically envisioned as bearing “a likeness as the appearance of a man” (Ezekiel 1:26).

The Biblical commentary “Kli Yakar” picks up on this and explains that it’s possible that human souls derive from the prophetic image of man which God projects to represent Himself to the prophets (Genesis 1:26). In this sense, we are created in the image of God, that manlike image which God sometimes uses in prophetic revelation. In other words, the image which the prophets see, is not just mental imagery. It has a spiritual reality, no less than souls or angels do.

So what does this manlike image stand for, which is common to all human beings? Quite possibly, it stands for the revelation of unity in a world of separation. This unity is not intended to dislodge distinctions, but, rather to unify them. Without distinctions, there would be many unified facets and potentials which would never find their way into revelation. For example, without cellular differentiation during gestation the genetic potentials for various body parts (like arms, legs, torso, ears, eyes..) would never manifest. Such bio-distinctions are hugely valuable for the vast unifying genetic potentials they tease out. On the other hand, without a unifying life force streaming into all these distinct body parts of what use would they be? Proper coordination between them would be mostly or even entirely lacking. These precious distinctions require a unifying connection.

In humans, the image of God or the soul, is this unifying connection on the biological level. However, that’s just the start of what the image of God does within a human being; as it’s largely passive and not proactive. Each creature from the plants, the fish to the massive mammals have some spiritual force, which they’re passive to, also accomplishing the coordination of all their parts. Such a force within them is not yet called having the image of God. The real experience of the image of God is more active. It truly manifests when humans actively unify the diversity found their personal life situations and in those of others too.

The cultivation of this sensitivity and skill begins with a worldview which appreciates both sides of the equation, both the unity and the diversity. Understanding that life does not automatically come with both sides working well together, one calls on his/her desire to give (and sometime even his/her desire to receive) to promote this sacred project. In today's world, it seems to be our active work as a force for unity amid the plentiful diversity is what best manifests the image of God in each and every one of us.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee, Turkish coffee,
 I used to think of you as mud!

I’d glance beneath surface,
 N’ behold a swamp in my mug!

The mire was deep enough,
 To house half my pinky within.

Now that my Wife prepares it,
 So deliciously filled with her love,

Neath surface all I can see,
 Is sediment of her sentiment!



Amidst Paradox

If paradox scares you,
 N’ makes your head spin,

Then make it a subject,
 Of your daily meditation.

Chart its two dots,
 In absolute opposition.

Then draw a line,
 Right between them.

A “line” but not,
 A literal geometric line.

Rather a string of ideas,
 Like beads along a necklace.

Perhaps, this string,
 Is not even really linear.

It may snake and curve,
Setting new dots on its way,

To expose pearly depths,
 Gleaming amidst paradox.


Your sweat is worth it!
 Your wisdom will glow radiant,

As each paradox,
  Signals an awaiting depth.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Soul n’ Brain

I am particularly perturbed by experts who proclaim that there is no need for a soul to explain the psychological aspects of life. They feel that because they can concretely point to a neurological process, the whole human mind can be explained exclusively on biological terms. This is a very superficial perspective.

The biological brain is merely a very complex vessel to receive the spiritual influx of a soul. Of course, tweaking any vessel will affect its capacity to hold. Just try passing a pin through a plastic cup containing water and see what happens.

So too, tweaking the biological brain will affect its capacity to grasp, carry and convey the influx of the soul. That does not mean that biological life is soulless. It just means that the precise and complex vehicle to convey the soul has been compromised. A brain damaged person is by no means a soul damaged person.

I remember reading an account of a neuroscientists who boasted that there's really nothing meaningful to an out of body experience because he induced one by tinkering with a certain nerve. Reading this account, I wondered at the amount of bias this scientist brought to his work. Why didn't it occur to him that he discovered a way to expel the soul from the body? Don't worry; a week later, the same magazine featured another scientific personality who was making a case for near death experiences.  LOL!

But, my point is that it should occur to thought leaders in the neuroscientific world that just because you tinkered with the radio does not mean that you tinkered with the broadcast. The brain is like a radio picking up the broadcast of the soul (which is not in physically defined space).

Actually, a computer would be a better analogy than a radio. The wireless internet flow can be compared to the soul and the electrical juice to the biological food. Diminishing or enhancing a computer’s functioning has no impact on the wireless stream of information flowing from the internet, only to the computer’s capacity to process and convey it. Imagine a computer technician boldly declaring that there's no such a thing as internet because he can fiddle with a few wires and internet capacity is suddenly turned off. Furthermore, he concludes that the internet is really something generated from within the computer itself. It has no external source! I He’d be declared an instant laughingstock!

However, this is equivalent to what neuroscientists do when they suggest subtly or more openly that a human has no soul just because they successfully tinkered with the organ which receives flow of the soul, processes it and then conveys it. How sad!

Studying the soul itself is really outside the scope of the field of neuroscience. They shouldn't be the one's purporting to inform the public on such matters. That would be like an lawyer posing as a physician. They’re two separate fields. It just doesn't work!

I cannot say for sure who is qualified to responsibly share such notions with the wider public, in a way that makes it across religious and cultural lines. However, honest silence is better than misinformation. Also, there's a body of responsible research done on large pools of people who had near death experiences and underwent past life regression. I am sure that much information about the human soul can be gleaned from there in a way that can be accepted across the wider sweep of religious and cultural boundaries.