How we view life is huge!!!!!! On it hinges how we view passing on. Do we view life in continuity or as cessation? Such questions are important, as they bring us to the next stages along our journey. Even if we think we have the answer, we must re-ask the question. The Passover Seder teaches us this. Each year, we’re asking the same four questions. But is it the same four questions? Is yesterday’s four questions asked in childhood, the same as those four questions asked in adolescence, the same as those four questions asked in early adulthood, the same as those four questions asked in middle age, the same as those four questions asked in old age?
Yes each year, new life experience makes “the same old questions” somehow different questions. Yes each year, new life experience makes “the same old answers” somehow different answers. As we become different, while the same, so the same questions somehow become different, while the same, and the same answers somehow become different, while the same. Life’s experiences season us into vessels to perceive the same differently; as the sleepy perceive differently than the awake, the satisfied perceive differently than the hungry and those whose questions are answers perceive differently than those whose answers are questions.
And so the ever-present question of the continuity of life necessitates a re-asking! What does it mean to be alive and what would it mean for life to continue? The Jewish Mystics left us with a formula, originally from Job, to springboard into spiritual questions, “From my flesh I perceive divinity”. The meaning is to look at one’s own organism first and work to the answer from that starting point.
What I see today, when working in that direction is that there’s a general soul of humanity. The Jewish people are a unique section of that soul, animating humanity’s heart (in the classical understanding of the term). As cells are alive via the life force which animates the body, so I am a cell animated by the soul of my People. Just as when a cell passes on, so the life force which animates does not go out of existence, but joins back with the general flow of the body’s life force, only to eventually animate another another cell, maybe a whole different kind of cell, so too with the soul which animates my body today. We’re sparks of a larger soul or life force on a journey.
This not only applies to humans, Every flower on a tree born this time of the year is a unique projection and animation from the tree’s own life force, the tree’s own soul. If fruited, the tree will extend more of it’s life force into it. If faded, the life force will be drawn back into the tree.
Our lives continue on and on eternally, not because we are isolated identities, but because we are little bits of an identity much, much larger - as a single cell among billions sharing from the body’s larger soul, as branches share life from a tree. So a cell, even while expressing its own unique tiny soul is within holistic continuity with its mega-soul.