A Guided Meditation with Barbara Marx Hubbard
Follow along with this evolutionary meditation below:
Read Along with Barbara Marx Hubbard’s Evolutionary Meditation
Let’s take a meditative moment now. You can do this anytime, every day. Just place your attention at the origin of creation, in the mind of the divine, in the infinite, and just breathe up the core of that spiral of evolution. Universe, up through all the billions of galaxies. The planet Earth. The coming forth of life on earth, animal life of human life.
Now place that core of the spiral in your lowest Chakra, and let it be the source of security, the process of evolution within you. Now breathe the core of the spiral up through your generative organs. And realize, invite the core of the spiral to shift those cells within you from degeneration toward regeneration. Since you are a future human with evermore to express.
Now, bring that core of the spiral up into your solar plexus. Feel the yearning to empower, to give forth your power in all its fullest, holding that core of the spiral within it, and then let it go out and express the full radiance of your being.
Now let’s bring the core of the spiral up into your heart and feel within yourself the love of the process of creation itself, of the divine intention, of the impulse of evolution in your heart. And breathing it in for a moment, feel a person that you deeply love, and allow that impulse to go into the heart of that person. And then ask that person to let that impulse go into the people they love. And then, allow them to express that impulse to the people they love.
And allow the impulsive of love to spread further and further into the world. Each of us is only six degrees of separation from anyone in the world. And in this meditation let’s allow the impulse of creation to reach through our hearts, to those we love, to those they love, to all love one another.
And infuse the noosphere, the thinking layer of earth, with that energy that will bring our entire planetary consciousness alive, awake and aware of the emerging humanity that we are becoming.
And then, now just come back to center. Feeling yourself to be a member of a planetary communion, of pioneering souls everywhere on earth, arising, awakening, and feeling their connectivity throughout the planet. For this is actually the truth. It is happening now. Thank you.
This is an excerpt from the online course “Becoming a Future Human.”
Who do we need to become in order for humanity to make it though its current dangerous technological adolescence and to create a world that is truly commensurate with our full human, scientific, social, spiritual, and technological capabilities? If you are here to embody your unique gift fully for the benefit of all life and play your role as a steward of the cosmos and the birth of a new humanity, then welcome! This course is for everyone that knows humanity is at the brink of an epochal shift, that believes we can create the world the great sages knew was possible, and that wants to be a part of co-creating that world together.
Enjoy the Meditation with Dr. Marc Gafni and Read the Transcript Below
Get comfortable. If you are listening to this while you are driving please don’t get comfortable. Anyone else, get comfortable, in a good posture, your back upright, not rigid. Your chest is lifted and open. Become aware of the sensations in your body. Feel your buttocks sitting on the seat. Feel your spinal cord lifting up to the heavens and down, rooted, as axis mundi, as what the Sufis call the pole, into the earth. Your Unique Self becomes the pole between heaven and earth. Feel the sensation of air against your skin, feel your clothes as they sit on your body, feel the air as it moves across your face, feel your muscles throughout your body. Feel your belly.
Be present with the sensations of your body, bring awareness to these sensations and when your mind wanders, gently bring your mind, in a nonjudgemental way, back to center and pick up from where you left off. Become aware of your breath. Feel the breath entering in and out of your nostrils. Feel the warm air, feel the parts of your body that move with the breath, feel your chest rising, your belly expanding and contracting. Feel your abdomen, feel your shoulders dropping.
Noticing, becoming aware, not directing your breath in any way, and stay there for a while, following your breath.
by Dr. Zachary Stein – after the 15th and final Wisdom School at Shalom Mountain, which concluded a 10 year cycle
In a popular culture that has re-packaged the great cultural revolutions of the 1960s we have to ask exactly where and what a “counter culture” could be in today’s world. One answer is that the counter culture has gone mainstream, it’s everywhere now—massive numbers are marching for women and the Earth, even more are engaging in political critique and ethical activism on social media. Cultural evolution proceeds via the center metabolizing the periphery; the fringes of culture move to the core. What was a rare view becomes common and identity formation and cultural production follow suit. Whole industries spring up around ideas and practices that used to be tucked away in obscurity. As the mainstream drifts to accommodate and commodify cultural innovations for the masses, true cultural innovation continues underground, as it always has been, articulated first and raw in some place off the map.
Across the centuries, mystics have convened mystery schools on the edges of civilizations and worldviews. Intentionally small and remote, peopled with trusted initiates, these schools have been the storehouses of innovations in consciousness, sourced in ancient traditions, guided by a memory of the future. Off stage and out of sight, a few have always been preparing seeds for planting in the compost of the rapidly degenerating culture of the so-called civilized.
The Catskills seem to be trying to hide Shalom Mountain in clouds and endless back roads, making it feel secluded enough to shout secrets into the air through a megaphone. The mystery school displaces the center of self and knowledge, shifting us to the surrounding realms of imagination, memory, instinct, and revelation. Everything is on the table, as Gafni becomes a trickster, weaving Tantric Kabbalah from ancient texts, modern science, and depth psychology. Paradox and laughter co-emerge in the dissolution of culture-wrought truncations of self, world, and God. Audacious sovereign greets audacious sovereign in a dance of co-empowerment and natural hierarchy. Gafni is repeatedly moved to tears by sacred texts, so much so that a late June thunderstorm is easily felt as God moved to tears by reading the book of Gafni’s life. So much was taught that I might only select one lesson—one from the calm in the morning after the storm.
T’shuvah means literally “to turn” and is usually translated as penitence or repentance, meaning roughly to turn towards one’s sins and mistakes, to understand them, and to fix them. This is exemplified in the tears shed by King David before the profit Nathan, followed by the King’s humble admission, “I have sinned.” He had sinned, and would sin again. David, like others in the line of the Wisdom of Solomon, is identified as one whose greatness is intimately bound up with flaws and error. The finitude, limitation, and darkness of the human being have long been the mystical keys that open the heart of Tantra. We are exactly (precisely nobody but) the ones making mistakes, taking risks, landing in failure, illness, and shadow. Religions are built around the core idea of a fall. From Adam and Eve to maya and samsara, humans are destined to make mistakes and live with them. You and I will make mistakes again and again. On one view this is terrible—the fall is our shame, and it means that no one is innocent, no one is really truly good. On another view—the non-dual view—the fall is great news because everything is grist for the Divine Mill. The Good is not some static absolute innocence of non-action. The Good is making mistakes in the right direction. We can only learn and evolve by virtue of the mistakes we make and how we respond to them.
T’shuvah is a practical answer to the idea that because humanity is destined to make mistakes we are all tragically flawed. T’shuvah is a practice for turning mistakes into insight and transformation. The practice is clear, simple, and could not be any more radical in a broader cultural where mistakes in some areas of life are enough to mark someone as untouchable for life. What could be more radical than a practice allowing for an individual and collective turning toward sin, failure, and mistakenness? We can all lose face together, abandon the moral high ground together, and turn then toward each other before God, seeking only learning and transformation through and within our own and each other’s mistakes. Individually and as a culture we must turn towards our mistakes and thus toward our Unique Selves, which are fumbling toward actualization, making mistakes in the right direction.
Importantly, the situation and dynamics in which we make mistakes have occurred before and will occur again. History repeats itself, both personally and culturally. T’shuvah becomes a kind of mystical fixing when practiced as way of life. By turning towards the dynamic that caused us to fall, seeing it, and committing to change it into something new, t’shuvah liberates the memory of each person and culture, destined as they are always to carve a unique path of mistakes. History itself must be unwound from the trauma of repetition and freed from the faltering stutter of eternal return. Beyond and after the total reciprocal forgiveness of each and everyone there is a new planetary culture that is possible. The mystery school felt like a living visitation from the future of humanity, transformed from the fall, moving up from Eden.
Watch this teaching by Dr. Marc Gafni as our special gift from our Online Course on Reclaiming Eros:
Some of the themes Marc Gafni covers in this video:
- The lineage of the “Einstein’s of Consciousness”
- King Solomon, his wives, and the Temple in Jerusalem
- The Raiders of the Lost Ark – The Ark of the Covenant
- The Practice of Jewish Yoga
- The Talmudic Story of the Poisoned Cookies
- Temple Consciousness and Sexuality
- Eros in Exile
- Reclaiming Eros = Reclaiming Temple Consciousness
Imagine being fully expressed with an unstoppable life force that aligned you with the will, the desire, the knowledge and the creative impulse to engage ALL areas of your life full-on; without fear or shame stopping you from moving forward. Imagine the transformative power and positive impact you’d have on your personal relationships and potentially be a major influence in the world.
This is what you will learn and become through taking this 9-week video course, professionally filmed on location during the First Festival of Love in Holland.
How can you become a beacon of light and love in the midst of all the pain you face – both yourself and the pain you see in the world?
How can you become a beneficial healing presence on the planet?
These are the questions that we need to answer in order to create a Politics of Love and an Integral Planet.
In the video below, CIW President Dr. Marc Gafni shares a daily practice from his tradition called participating in the pain of Eros in exile. What that means is that you open yourself up to the pain of the world without becoming dysfunctional.
That means you plug into the portal of pain in a way that’s powerful rather than impotent.
In this mystical practice that Marc Gafni transmits in his video, you open up to the pain fully for 5 minutes a day. You might do it by getting silent, bringing to mind images of pain, and letting your mind dwell in it. You might do it by reading a newspaper article.
By opening yourself to the pain fully for a limited amount of time, you realize a deep mystical knowing: When you enter the pain, you find yourself participating in the sweetness of the Divine.
The alive personal intelligence of All-That-Is is both the infinity of intimacy and the infinity of pain. The Divine pain is infinite. In this sacred practice, you are entering into God’s heart and are participating in the pain of the personal Eros of All-That-Is. In that participation, an infinite sweetness emerges.
Yeats wrote of this sweetness, in the understated but raw Eros of his verse:
When such as I
Cast out remorse
So great a sweetness fills my breast
We can dance and we can sing
We are blest by everything
And everything we look upon
When you step inside, you are blessed by everything. The contraction melts away and you feel the aliveness and awakeness of the feminine Goddess Divine – the personal embrace of the loving intelligence of the universe.
You have the power to love and dance and sing and create.
You are empowered to become a beneficial healing presence on the planet.
Enjoy this video by Dr. Marc Gafni:
Barbara Marx Hubbard and Marc Gafni in Dialogue during her Evolutionary Testament Webinar
We are excited to share with you the recording of this exciting webinar from Barbara Marx Hubbard’s online course about her newest book The Evolutionary Testament of Co-Creation: The Promise Will Be Kept. CIW-Founder Marc Gafni was invited as a guest speaker.
In this webinar, you will learn:
- Why God is not only the infinity of power but also the infinity of intimacy
- How YOU are God’s or evolution’s unique intimacy
- Why God (or reality or the universe) needs YOUR service
- How evolution creates newness through joining separate parts into a larger whole
- Why your birthday is the day when God decided that She couldn’t do without you
- How to Become the New Human by joining genius as Unique Selves
- What happens in the “tomb of metamorphosis”
- How Sacred Text Study can be recovered as an essential part of our Evolutionary Spirituality Practices
Within a lively Question and Answer section, Barbara and Marc express their desire to work together more deeply for the sake of the Planetary Awakening and the Unique Self Symphony coming alive. They are inviting a small group of about 25 people to Barbara’s Center in Berkeley for a Sacred Retreat on Evolutionary Spirituality in May 2016.
If you are interested, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch and listen to the webinar here:
The Three Levels of Sacred Text Study
- Hach’na’ah = Submission: A total surrender to the text, where we read the text as if it was written directly by God to us. This is the way fundamentalists read sacred text as the only valid way. In Evolutionary Spirituality we recover Stage 1 as an important but not exclusive practice.
- Havdalah = Separation: Here we take a step back and separate from the text to analyze it. We look at the historic context. We compare it to other pieces. We ask ourselves: “What might that mean?” This level is the scientific way of reading the text.
- Hamtaka = Sweetness: This level transcends and includes the first two. The reader penetrates the text while simultaneously fully receiving the text. In the non-dual merger between the reader and text, new revelation is born. This is the way of the evolutionary mystic.
Read more about Sacred Text Study here.
An unedited first draft text from the forthcoming book The Path and Practice of Outrageous Love by Marc Gafni and Kristina Kincaid
The way to awaken as an Outrageous Lover is the practice of writing Outrageous Love Letters. The ultimate awakening of the Outrageous Lover is the realization that your life itself is an Outrageous Love Letter. This path and practice will be fully described in the Outrageous Love Process in last section of the book.
Outrageous love is awakened through the practice of writing outrageous love letters. Evolution becomes conscious to itself through your awakening to the realization that your life itself is an outrageous love letter. You are a messenger that forgot your message. Your message is You! You awaken by remembering that you are the personal face of the evolutionary impulse. Through your own evolution of consciousness you participate in the evolution of love.
To awaken as an outrageous lover is to become intimate with reality itself. You recognize that you are living in an intimate universe in which you are seen, witnessed, addressed and called. You are called to realize that existence needs you as an intimate partner. Reality needs your service. Your Outrageous Acts of Love become the text of the Outrageous Love letter which is your life.
Your life is your Outrageous Love Story. Living your life as an Outrageous Love letter comes from the realization that all of existence needs your intimate witnessing and partnership.
By awakening as the evolutionary impulse and activating your capacity for outrageous acts of love, you come into intimate union with the universe, and the universe comes into intimate union with you.
Editor’s note: The following essay is published as a white paper of the Center for Integral Wisdom think tank. Our Spirit’s Next Move blog is pleased to announce the paper’s availability.
Implications: A Great Voice Which Does Not Cease
Some teachers have taught that revelation heard long ago at Mount Sinai when God spoke to human beings was an event occurring once in the lifetime of the universe, calling it according to its biblical phrasing, “A great voice which did not continue.” Again, the mystics insist that another reading is possible. In the original Hebrew, the phrase “did not continue” can paradoxically be read as “did not cease.” The voice of Sinai is accessible even after the echoes of the original revelation are long since lost in the wind. The voice of revelation has never ended.
So if the voice still continues, in what form does it live on?
It thrives in the voice of the human being who speaks from the silence. This is what I have termed Silence of Presence. When we listen deeply, we are able to uncover the God-voice within us. We become present in the silence. We are called by the presence–the God-voice within us–that wells up from the silence.
Indeed the entire cultural –spiritual enterprise of the Judaic spirit in the post biblical age is to hear the voice, even in – some would say especially in – the silence. The Biblical age ended when God stopped talking. For the Buddhist, even if one were to assume some notion of divinity – there is clearly no such absurdity as a talking God. For the Hebrew however, the essence of divinity is a talking God. Indeed the Hebrew God of the Bible talks almost endlessly, pouring out 24 books of divinely spoken or inspired word – the Hebrew Canon. What to do then when God stops talking and retreats into silence? In the interpretive reaction to this silence Judaism and early Christianity parted ways. For Christianity the cessation of speech by a talking God could only be a portent of divine withdrawal of favor. They interpreted the silence as a silence of absence. God no longer talked to the Hebrews for he had chosen a New Israel. The post prophetic Hebrews however refused to accept this understanding of God’s silence. This is the silence, not of abandonment they insisted – but of mature love. It is not silence of absence but silence of presence. Imbued with intense and profound religious passion they listened to the silence and insisted that they heard God talking. That speech is the Halachic enterprise, which insists on the radical presence of the divine in every facet of existence. It is only in this sense that we understand the Rabbinic comment after the temple’s destruction, “God’s presence in this world now rests in the four cubits of Halacha”. It is not a statement of dejection or resignation – it is rather the confident commitment of the lover.
Editor’s note: The following essay by Marc Gafni is published as a white paper of the Center for Integral Wisdom think tank. Our Spirit’s Next Move blog is pleased to announce the paper’s availability.
Ten Words to Live By
The second biblical myth word symbol of freedom is actually mistranslated into English as the Ten Commandments. The people, so the story goes, having fled Egypt, gather at the foot of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. Of course, nowhere in the biblical myth is there any mention of Ten Commandments. Here is where the old witty maxim, “Reading the bible in translation is like kissing a woman through a veil,” becomes not altogether untrue. In the original Hebrew, the people receive at Sinai not Ten Commandments but “Ten Words.” Here Voice becomes Word, the articulation of speech. It is the beginning of the vision that follows revolution.
The third word symbol is no less than the word “Messiah.” “Messiah” in the original Hebrew is understood by the Kabbalists, quite astoundingly, to mean “conversation.” Master Nachum of Chernobyl, mystic and philosopher, points out that the Hebrew word for messiah, Mashiach, can be understood as the Hebrew word Ma-siach – meaning “from dialogue” or “of conversation.” His assertion radically implies that the Messiah is potentially present in every human conversation””every mutual act of voice-giving.
All authentic conversation is sacred conversation. The ability to have an honest face-to-face talk in which both sides are true to themselves, vulnerable and powerful at the same time, is Messianic.
Simply put, sacred conversation is the vessel that receives the light of Messiah.
By Marc Gafni
Editor’s note: The following essay is published as a white paper of the Center for World Spirituality think tank. Our Spirit’s Next Move blog is pleased to announce the paper’s availability.
The Second Stage: from Silence to Sound
The beginning of freedom is the emergence of voice. This stage is expressed both by the initial cry of the Israelite slaves that broke their silence, as well as by Moses’ arrival on the scene. “When Moses came, voice came,” writes the Zohar. Moses does what the charismatic revolutionary always does: he gives voice to the people. Indeed, biblical myth text records the beginning of redemption with the following words: “”¦It came to pass in the course of many days that the King of Egypt died and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage and they cried out and their cry came up unto God.” The enslaved Israelites are received by the presence of God at the point when they move from the dumb silence of the slave to sound which is the beginning of speech, the characteristic of a free people. This “cry” is not an elegantly articulated protest – it is a cry as in the cry of a wolf, or the cry of an infant. It is primal, impassioned, pre-civilized, a howl of protest that makes it into the halls of heaven, heard by God himself.
For the first time the enslaved can express distress. They seek to articulate words that are not yet ready to form themselves on their lips. At this stage of moving toward freedom, we do not yet know how to tell our story. We do not know what we would do with the world if it were given over to our stewardship. We just know that we must protest.
The biblical myth symbol (Leviticus 25) for the transition from slavery to freedom is the primal blast of a ram’s horn. No trumpet of gold, it is rather the rawness of the ram’s horn that captures the slave’s first fitful sounds. The first thing a revolutionary movement must do is sound its ram horn–start a newspaper, set up a radio station, build an internet site. It is not by accident that the fundamentalist and totalitarian states are trying to disallow or severely limit internet access. Freedom’s beginnings are expressed in the first shouts of protest.
The sixties and seventies were such second-stage revolutionary generations. This helps explain why so many sixties hippies became late seventies and early eighties yuppies and then transformed again into the establishment of the nineties. The feeling of distress generated protest – sound and even the first glimmerings of voice–but there was no alternative vision of society to generate “speech.” Similarly, many third world revolutionaries reflect such second stage thinking. Consequently, as we all know, that not a few third world revolutionaries became the leaders of far more repressive regimes than the ones they overthrew. Because they lacked speech to articulate the primal manifestations of voice, they needed to repress all of their own pain, the very distress and disease that initially led to the revolution.
Editor’s note: The following essay is published as a white paper of the Center for Integral Wisdom think tank. Our Spirit’s Next Move blog is pleased to announce the paper’s availability.
“As the Kabbalists point out, the word Moses spelled backwards is Ha Shem, meaning ‘the name.’ Importantly, Ha-shem in biblical Hebrew also is the most common reference to God’s name. When you respond to your call and realize your soul print, fully becoming your name, you become one with God. When Moses did this, he found his voice, he became a prophet.”
By Marc Gafni
To live your story is to move from a state of slavery to freedom. Slavery is not limited to our old image of the oppressed Hebrew or black slave being whipped by the cruel master. We are all potentially free, just as we are all potentially slaves. Our intent in this brief essay is to at least begin to unpack a core intuition of the Zohar that a free person is a person who has found voice. As we shall see in the very last paragraphs of this discussion the implications of freedom are wondrous indeed!
The Hebrew name for the Passover Storytelling Ritual, which celebrates and reenacts the dynamic movement from slavery to freedom, is Pe-Sach. Renaissance mystic Isaac Luria reminded us that Pe-Sach is a combination of two words Peh, meaning “mouth,” and Sach, meaning “talk.” Pe- Sach, therefore, means the mouth that talks.
One school of Hasidic masters unpacks this idea by defining redemption as the emergence of speech. To move from a dumb and mute existence to a communal storytelling existence is to undergo redemptive transformation. “To be redeemed,” writes one mystic, “is to lead a history-making, storytelling, communing, free existence.” To be in exile is to lack history, tell no story, fail to commune, and exist as a slave, silent.
The most oft cited source for this idea is a stunning passage in the Zohar which describes the Egyptian slavery as the “exile of speech.” In Kabbalah, every biblical nation represents a different organ of the body; Egypt represents the throat. The mystics read the Hebrew word “Egypt” literally as meaning narrowness. The throat is, of course, the narrow, constricted passage between the wide spaces of the heart and mind. The narrow throat, Egypt, is thus the ideal symbol for the exile of speech. Speech remains caught in the throat, in the dark passage, and can’t make it to freedom’s gateway, the mouth. Redemption comes in the birth of the word. In the actual process of your retelling, you reclaim your story. But to be capable of retelling your story you need voice. Redemption then is the process of finding voice.
By Dr. Marc Gafni
Summary: The four faces of eros, described by Marc Gafni in this excerpt from Mystery of Love (2003), are 1.) being on the inside, 2.) fullness of presence, 3.) desire, and 4.) interconnectivity of being. As Marc describes, with its mystical role in these four expressions, the face itself is the truest reflection of the erotic. In the flow of eros, we access the experience of being on the inside of God’s face, which Marc explores here through the Temple mystery of the sexually entwined cherubs atop the Ark who are positioned face to face; the Hebrew word “panim,” which means “inside, face, and before;” and the erotic experience of having a true face-to-face conversation. This significant passage from Mystery of Love invites you to embody the erotic””which is modeled but not exhausted by the sexual””more deeply in your own life.
Eros has many expressions. Each expression is hinted at in the temple mysteries. There are four faces of eros which, when taken together, form the essence of the Shechina experience. In this essay, we will explore the erotic understanding which forms the matrix of the secret of the cherubs and informs every arena of our existence. As we shall see, at the very heart of Hebrew tantra was a very precise and provocative understanding of the relationship between love, sex, and eros. This will open us up to a whole new understanding of our sexuality and will show us the way to erotically reweave the very fabric of our lives in more vivid patterns, sensual textures, and brilliant hues.
The First Face of Eros: On the Inside
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The cherubs in the magical mystery of Temple myth were not stationary fixtures. No, these statues were expressive, emotive. They moved. When integrity and goodness ruled the land, the cherubs were face to face. In these times, the focal point of Shechina energy rested erotically, ecstatically, between the cherubs. When discord and evil held sway in the kingdom, the cherubs turned from each other, appearing back to back instead of face to face.1 Back to back, the world was amiss, alienated, ruptured. Face to face, the world was harmonized, hopeful, embraced. Thus, face to face in biblical myth2 is the most highly desirable state. It is the gem stone state of being, the jeweled summit of all creation. Face to face, to be fully explicit, is a state of eros.
By Marc Gafni
This post concludes the “Protest as Prayer” series. It is continued from post 14.
It was late one Friday night, with the Sabbath candles flickering in the darkness, when the Rebbe stood up. He had been especially pensive this night: wrapped in thoughts and prayers of his own. He walked purposefully to the table, spat on his hands and snuffed out the Sabbath candles. In the sudden darkness the shocked Chassidim heard the cold fury and despair in their Rebbe’s voice resounding in the gloom as he intoned: “There is no Judge, and there is no Judgment.”
Rebbe Menachem-Mendel of Kotsk then walked out of the synagogue, locked himself in his room, and never came out. For over twenty years until his death he remained in isolation and spoke not another word. But his Chassidim did not reject him as a blasphemer, nor a madman. In his silent solitary rage the Rebbe of Kotsk became more respected, more loved than ever before, as the Kotsker Chassidic tradition flourished in all its contradictions.
Somehow the Chassidim understood that ultimate Doubt, ultimate challenge, when conducted from within deep relationship, paradoxically can become the ultimate service, the ultimate worship.
By Marc Gafni
This post is continued from Part 13.
We began with three truths. God is good. God is powerful. Good people suffer. These are the three truths of Job. We hold all three. We can live in the deep and painful uncertainty of not always knowing how all three fit together. Those unable to hold the uncertainty emasculate God. This is Harold Kushner’s basic move. God can’t do anything about evil — God is nice but not powerful.
Others, unable to hold the uncertainty, emasculate man. That is pious orthodox thinker Gottlieb’s move. He has theo-logically solved the problem of suffering. He denies the rage, the protest, the unanswered question which defines Jewish text. He cannot live with the uncertainty of the question so he must argue that certainty has been achieved and the question answered.
By Marc Gafni
This post is continued from Part 12.
One of the most striking formulations of the Yehuda Moment in Chassidut is the movement’s founder, the Baal Shem Tov’s, teaching on a verse in the Book of Job. The verse in Job reads “There is a spirit in man — the breath of God — which gives wisdom.”
These words, which appear towards the end of the book, are spoken by Elihu in rejection of the ”˜punishment for sin’ theodicy offered as a certainty by Job’s friends. The Baal Shem Tov interprets the verse: ”˜The breath of God is the spirit of man’.
By Marc Gafni
This post is continued from Part 11.
That this is true is mystery and mystery is esoteric — it is secret. Secret, not because, as it is usually explained, it is forbidden to reveal the mysteries to the uninitiated; rather, secret because it is not possible to reveal the mysteries at all. For if the soul is not ready to receive the mystery then the secret cannot be transmitted. The holy energy of uncertainty is in the realm of mystery. I cannot fully explain. Yet two guidelines for those who would struggle to understand are in order.
The Rebbe of Kutzk teaches about the old man and the young baby. They both ask the same questions. ”˜How, When, What, Where – Ayeh?’
By Marc Gafni
This post is continued from Part 10.
The Zohar writes that the Shechina is called “I”. This is a particularly dramatic way of expressing the idea that the Shechina speaks through the human voice. This means that whenever a person finds their voice on the deepest level, they are finding the voice of the Shechina. The human cry to God “Please be King” is also God crying out through the same voice, “Please I am trapped — bound in chains — free me and let me be King.”
God’s voice and our voice are one. The language of God is man.
By Marc Gafni
This post is continued from Part 9.
To go one step further — God feels the pain of the sufferer through the agency of human beings who feel the pain of other. God feels, not only but also through, human agency. We are God’s emotions.
Based on this understanding a number of mystical writers provide us with the vocabulary to re-think the idea of God’s Kingship. It was with this quandry that I introduced the problematics of God-language in a world that suffers. How can we call God King?
By Marc Gafni
This post is continued from Part 8.
The implication of this Kabbalistic strain of thought needs to be unpacked more fully. One of the core ideas in the Lurianic understanding of the religious act is the need to identify with the pain of the Shechina in exile. According to the Talmudic masters the divine presence — the Shechina — is exiled with the Jewish people. In one of the most daring affirmations of divine intimacy, the Talmudic teachers and later the kabbalistic masters insist that the transcendent God of the Bible becomes incarnate in the suffering of the Jewish people (and, I would add, of all people).
By Marc Gafni
This post is continued from Part 7.
An early Kabbalistic text, Bahir, declares that there are ten levels which link the world of the divine with the world of man. Each one of these ten levels of divine presence represents another dimension of God in our world. They are referred to as the Ten Sefirot. When we perform a commandment, says Luria, we participate in one of these levels of the divine.
Indeed the mystical writers point out that the word ”˜Mitzvah’ has more than one meaning. Simply of course it is man’s commandment. The human in doing a mitzvah is thus seen as responding to a divine command which comes from outside the human being.
There is however a second sense of the word Mitzvah. It means Tzavtah — to be together with. When one performs a mitzvah one literally merges with divinity. One is together with God. In the mystical understanding, each Mitzvah moves me toward merger with a different Sefira, a different level of divinity. However, says Luria, we are only able to participate in the lowest seven levels. The human being, trapped in mortality, can never touch the highest three levels of divinity in this world. And yet one word can reach the heights. Ayeh.
Ayeh in Hebrew has three letters, alef, yod, hey. Alef, says Luria, is the letter that represents Keter — the divine crown, the highest sefirah – the level of divinity in the world. Yod represents Chochmah — wisdom, the second highest level. And Hey is Binah — intuitive understanding, the third highest level. When the human being cries out to God in uncertainty — ayeh — he expresses the highest three levels of divinity and in so doing reaches beyond his mortal limits to touch “the highest.” Luria affirms that the expression of uncertainty in God does not contradict spirituality, but rather is the highest expression of the human search for divine connection.
Ayeh — where are you — the ultimate uncertainty — is then the highest level of religious authenticity!