WANT A LIGHT? THE ABCs of KABBALAH
A story is told about three men who were imprisoned in a dark dungeon. Two of them were intelligent but the third was not very smart. Everyday, when their food was lowered into the dark dungeon, the third fellow would fumble with the utensils, break the plate and cut himself with the knife. One of the clever fellows would help him by practicing a routine with him to handle the darkness, but because the food was presented in a different way each day, it always confused him. The other prisoner then said, “Let’s bore a hole in the wall and let a ray of light in, and then he will be able to see and eat without help.”
The Kabbalah is all about light. It’s main message to us is that we have the power to increase the spiritual light in the world or decrease it. All our actions, words and thoughts control the dimmer switch that turns the light up or down. What is the power of light? When you turn the light on in your room it lets you see what is there. Otherwise you grope in the dark, knock things over, bang your knee and walk into walls. This is also true with spiritual light. Without it, your spiritual world is dark. Without spiritual light you can’t see love even when it is right in front of you. You knock over people who love you. You step on souls. You walk right past meaningful moments. And you have no sense of direction.
According to the Kabbalah a person who only has access to physical light lives in the World of Shells or Peels — called Olam HaKlipos. Such a person only sees physical things, those which are external and superficial. The shell or the peel is only the outside of the fruit and is therefore secondary to the fruit. If you can only see the shell or peel, you confuse the wrapping with the true contents. You are impressed with the packaging and miss the true gift inside.
Kabbalah teaches us the secrets of how to access the spiritual light that lets us see what’s inside. Given that what you see is what you get, when you want to receive the eternal spiritual gift wrapped in this world, you need to increase the spiritual light to see and get inside. This physical world is only the packaging but what is the gift inside?
What is the greatest gift you could ever give or get? Presence. Not presents but Presence. When I think of my childhood, my most precious memory is of my mother sitting by my bed and reading to me Winnie the Pooh. What is so great about that? My parents gave me lots of gifts. I got a terrific train set and lots of other toys. But they didn’t last and they mean very little to me today. What I still treasure and continue to enjoy are those precious moments when I knew my mother was there for me. She wasn’t interested in Pooh Bear or Piglet. She never read those stories at any time for herself. My mother concentrated her entire being into those moments and was completely there for me. She gave me the greatest gift you could ask for — her Presence.
What is Presence? Presence is like chocolate cake. I can’t tell you what chocolate cake tastes like; you will only know how delicious it is when you taste it yourself. I could tell you what the ingredients are, but the cake is greater than the sum of the ingredients. Presence is like the color green. I can’t tell you what it looks like, but when you will see it, you will know. I could tell you that it is a combination of blue and yellow but even those are colors that you can only know experientially. And of course even after you see blue and yellow, green is greater than the sum of the parts. So I can’t tell you what Presence is. I can tell you that its ingredients are love, care, respect, honesty, meaning, beauty, kindness, wisdom and much more. To know Presence you have to experience it.
According to the Kabbalah, G-d created you and I and put us into this world to give us the greatest gift imaginable. Divine Presence. Kabbalah calls this “Shechina”. Divine Presence or the “Shechina” fills everything.
But how do we turn on the light that lets the eyes of our soul see it? How do we become receptive to the ultimate gift of G-d loving presence? By giving our loving presence to each other so that we become receptive to the Divine Presence. And the more you give, the more you receive.
CAN YOU REALLY LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOUR SELF?
After reading this essay, you’ll never look at yourself — or others — the same way again.
The actor Kirk Douglas once told me that when people compliment him on a performance, they often tell him how great he was at losing himself in the part. “You just became Vincent Van Gogh! You were so wonderful.” And he answers, “No, you lost yourself in the part. I can’t afford to lose myself in the part. I have to pay attention to the director, to the cues. I have to hit the mark just right so the action is in the camera frame. I must stay aware that I am an actor acting a part.”
So a good actor plays his part, but he doesn’t get lost in his part. He can’t even begin to think he is the character he is playing. On the other hand, it is not like he doesn’t embrace that character with a tremendous amount of love and give everything he’s got to play that character to the best of his ability. But he doesn’t get lost in the part and start to think he is in fact Van Gogh, or Napoleon, or the President of the United States, or a serial killer or whatever.
Similarly, you — the soul — are playing a character. You must always be aware of that. We are each playing a character, and it is important that we not confuse the “self” with the character.
Another way of putting this is to compare your character to a garment. So you see a man in a white uniform running down the street holding a net. Well, you might guess he works for an insane asylum. The garment indicates the role he is playing but not who he is. He might then go home and then put on some sweatpants, and go out running again, but now he is an athlete.
Your garment is never your essence. The clothes you wear are not you, they are on you. Similarly, your character is not your “self.” So you must never confuse the two. You must know the difference.
You do not have a soul. You are a soul. But you have a character. And you—the self— are a soul, a ray of G-d—the Source of all self—our shared Greater Self.
When you are trapped in your ego, you end up doing a lot of harm in many ways. Just as you identify yourself with your career, or your emotions, or your opinions, so you identify others with just their egos and personas and you never connect with them as souls.
The Torah teaches “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but if you cannot love your “self,” you cannot love the “self” in someone else.
So you say, “How’s it even possible for me to love my neighbor? I don’t even like him. I can’t stand his dumb ideas and he talks too much. Love him? No way. At best, maybe I can force a smile when he comes around.”
When the Torah says love your neighbor as yourself, it doesn’t mean that you have to love your neighbor’s ideas, nor opinions, nor actions, and certainly not his clothing.
Love your neighbor as yourself means you can hate his ideas, be annoyed by his talk and his walk, but still love that person.
We are commanded to love each other, and we can love each other, because we are not the characters we play. Each one of us is a soul, a ray of the Great “I.”
I am commanded to love your “self” in the same way as I love my “self,” because we are both rays of one shared Great Self, the Soul of our souls — G-d. Notice how that sentence in the Torah ends: “Love your neighbor as yourself, [for] ‘I’ am G-d.”
I need to get beyond my ego, and I need to see beyond your ego. Then I can love you, and help you get beyond your ego too. Then, we can work together to fix and improve the characters we are each playing, and thereby let the light of G-d — the Supreme Self shine through us.
When we forget the essence of our soul itself, when we are distracted from introspection, from the content of inner life, everything becomes confused and doubtful. The beginning of repentance which immediately illumines the darkness is that a person return to himself, the root of his soul, and he will at once return to G-d, to the soul of all souls. This is true for the individual, the entire nation, for all of humanity, for the perfection of existence as a whole; its ruin always comes when it forgets itself. And if the person says s/he wants to come back to God but is not prepared to gather in its own dispersed [powers] then this is a false teshuva and s/he is using G-d’s name in vain.
– Rabbi A.I Kook, Orot HaTeshuva Ch. 15:10
How to Succeed at Sacred Selfishness: The Ultimate Happiness Secret
I had a student who told me, “My father was an atheist and the most moral man I ever knew. I don’t believe that had he been a believer, he would have been any a better person.”
I asked him, “But do you think your father might have been more holy? Because our ultimate mission in life to become holy.”
The meditation that is recited prior to doing a mitzvah (commandment) is “Blessed Be You, G- d … Who has made me holy through the commandments.” It says holy, not moral. Now, of course, you can’t be holy if you are not moral, but the goal is to be holy.
Often people’s morality comes out of weakness. They don’t do the right thing because they want to. They do it because of a social consensus which they are afraid to violate. If they were to violate it, they would be considered politically incorrect, socially unaccepted, and maybe even punished.
Now if that is the foundation of morality, then morality is weakness. It’s giving in.
Holiness has none of the weakness of this kind of morality. Holiness is the ultimate wholeness. Holiness is not surrendering to society’s consensus, but asserting my “self” with the strength of being connected to the Great Self, the One Self we all share—G-d.
And you know what the irony is? When I act out of ultimate wholeness, I am really being selfish. My goodness to you is very selfish because you are a part of my self. How can I not be good to you? How can my right hand not be good to my left hand? We are part of the same whole.
Morality wants you to be selfless. But holiness wants you to be wholly selfish.
There are two kinds of selfishness. There is holy selfishness and there is unholy selfishness. Unholy selfishness is when I experience myself as separate from you and therefore, I exploit you for my personal little needs. Holy selfishness is when I would never exploit you, because you are a part of myself, and we are a part of the One Great Self — God.
When I know that hurting you is hurting myself and hurting my self is hurting you, I wouldn’t do it. This is not a bad selfishness. This is a good selfishness. This isn’t weakness. This is strength. This is the power of being real with our true self. Holy selfishness flows from your connection to the One Great Self we all Share.
Let’s take an example. Sherry and Judy are walking down the street. They see this old man dressed in ragged clothing. He clearly hasn’t had a shower in weeks. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out his life is not a picnic. So both Sherry and Judy dig deep in their pockets and each one pulls out ten bucks, and they each give it to him.
Sherry did an act of morality and Judy did an act of holiness.
Morality is motivated by social conditioning, social approval, perhaps guilt and embarrassment of how much I have; maybe a hope that what goes around comes around, maybe a desire to protect my own wealth and, perhaps a hope for some reward. For Sherry, it’s worth the sacrifice.
And all of that is great, but holiness is more.
Holiness is motivated by the deepest source of my “self.” It is a natural, spontaneous uncalculated expression of “self,” without consideration of reward or punishment. It is self-evident. If I saw myself on the street, I would give to myself. Well, Judy just saw an aspect of herself on the street. And of course, she gave.
Now Sherry’s morality is great but holiness is much greater.
Holiness takes us to the peak of ourselves, to the apex where all selves meet, where the more you love yourself in this true sense, the more you love G-d and everyone else.
The goal is to be whole in One with everyone.
Tapping the Transformational Power of Faith
During the seven days of Passover we are required to eat only Matza– unleavened bread that looks somewhat like a cracker and is made of just water and flour. The Matza reminds us that we were slaves to the Egyptians who treated us as if we were subhuman and fed us brittle and tasteless unleavened bread. The Matza is therefore referred to as the “bread of affliction.” However, Matza also reminds us of how we left Egypt in an astounding record time, faster than it takes dough to leaven into bread. How can Matza be both a sign of our painful affliction and our joyous freedom?
The Zohar, the Kabbalah classic, refers to Matza as the “Bread of Faith.” In other words, when we eat the Matza, we are internalizing the message of faith that it embodies. That message is — know that even if you hit rock bottom and feel far and alienated from G-d, G-d is right there to help you and free you from your enslavements, addictions and obsessions. Even when you feel that it’s been years that you are trapped in your personal Egypt and it would seem that it will take years to get out– just know, as the Psalmist put it, “The salvation of G-d is within the blink of an eye.”
Although Matza is the very bread of affliction and exile, at a blink of my eye, it can become the bread of freedom and redemption. Revolutionary transformation is available to us all, as long as you believe it can happen. The paradoxical symbolism of the Matza teaches us that G-d Himself, at any moment, can do a miracle for you. Even if you reach the bottom, never despair, never give up. Therefore, Matza, the “Bread of Faith,” is an antidote to despair and nurtures within in us faith and hope.
The Exodus from Egypt assures us that if the Jewish people could get out of Egypt, then we could get out of any situation. Certainly G-d could have orchestrated the Jewish people’s liberation through some kind of worthy deed that they would do to earn them their freedom. However, He precisely arranged it to be without merit so as to instill forever within us the confidence that His love is unconditional. Therefore, no matter how low the Jewish people or any of us may fall, we should never despair.
The paradoxical symbolism of the Matza also teaches us that in the very bitterness of affliction and exile, lays the sweetness of freedom and redemption. The great Hasidic Master, Rabbi Nachman of Breslav taught, “Being far from G-d itself is for the purpose of coming close…the downfall can be transformed into a great ascent.”
It all depends on the way you look at it. The Matza itself is basically tasteless. If you want, you can taste the freedom and redemption that lies at the core of affliction and exile.
Perhaps this is the meaning of G-d’s response to Abraham when he requested a sign that the land of Israel would be an eternal inheritance for him and his descendents. G-d showed him the future history of exile. Abraham experienced a great darkness and fear. But G-d comforted him saying, “Know that your offspring will be strangers in a strange land. There they will be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years. Also the nation that will afflict them I will judge and your children will leave with great assets.” In other words, although your offspring will endure much suffering, they will survive and even profit from it. So don’t worry, don’t lose faith. Even the darkest hours are the very seeds of growth, transformation, renewal and redemption.
Rav Nachman of Breslav also taught, “Sometimes when you want to come close to G-d, you encounter new and even greater obstacles than before. However, don’t let that discourage you. G-d is only challenging you so you will try even harder and thereby come even closer. It’s really all for the best.”
The Gerrer Rebbe, another great Hasidic Master, taught that on Passover we can achieve a huge leap forward in our spiritual evolution. In other words, in general, great feats take much time. However, on Passover, we can accomplish great moves at a “beyond-time” pace.
The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mizraim, which also translates as “narrowness.” Indeed, Egypt represented the deification of the narrow confines and limitations of nature, time and space. To leave Egypt also meant to leave this narrow and confining attitude. It meant leaving the world of nature, science, logic and reason and enter into a new worldview—the world of faith and unconditional love.
There are many people who own mansions and yet there is never enough space in their lives for others. And even when they are free of any obligations of time, they never have time for others. These people live only in the world of time and space. However, in the world of love, time and space are not obstacles.
Passover is the birthday of the Jewish people. It is a time to remember that we are children of G-d, born with an innate G-dliness. Our relationship to G-d is similar to a parent and child relationship. From the child’s perspective he and his parent are two separate beings. However, the parent sees herself and her child as one. Therefore, the parent loves the child with the same unconditional love that she has for herself. Sometimes parents give to their children not because their children deserve it but simply because they are their children–an extension of their own selves. However, with all the love a parent may shower on her child, it is up to the child to acknowledge and thereby enjoy the ecstasy of that connection.
The Torah refers to the Jewish people, so to speak, as the firstborn child of G-d. This is because the Jewish people are the first nation in history who believed that G-d is like a loving parent and they are His beloved children. And His love is unconditional and forever.
May everyone in the world realize that they too are beloved children of G-d.
Space and time are not conditions in which we live; they are simply modes in which we think… it is clear that the space of physics is not, in the last analysis, anything given in nature or independent of human thought, it is a function of our conceptual scheme [mind]. Space as conceived by Newton proved to be an illusion, although for practical purposes a very fruitful illusion. .. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. ~Albert Einstein
Passover: You Are Loved
Passover commemorates the miraculous exodus of the Jews from Egypt. After 210 years of oppression and cruel servitude, an entire people leave in astounding record time, faster than it takes dough to leaven into bread. We celebrate this event with a festive meal and ceremony called the Seder, during which we recite the Haggadah-the telling of this wondrous historical episode. The Exodus from Egypt, however, is not just another milestone in the history of the Jewish people. In fact, every holiday is actually a memorial to the Exodus. Even Shabbat is referred to as a “Zechar L’Yitziat Mitzraim,” a remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt, although it has no apparent connection to the Exodus. In addition, every Jew is obligated to see himself as if he personally had left Egypt and to recount it every day. The first of the Ten Commandments is: “I am YHVH your G-d Who took you out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” The Zohar, the magnum corpus of Jewish mysticism, explains: “This is the foundation and the root of Torah, all the commandments, and the complete faith of Israel”. Thus, the Exodus is the seminal event of the Jewish calendar and of daily Jewish consciousness. Although the obvious theme of the holiday is freedom it is commonly referred to as Passover. Wouldn’t “the Holiday of Freedom” or the “Exodus” be more appropriate? Jewish tradition teaches that it is so named because G-d passed over the houses of the Jews when He caused the death of the first born of the Egyptians during the tenth plague. This disturbing image of G-d, hopping and skipping over the Jews’ homes, is also hinted at in the Song of Songs, which is read on Passover: “Behold the voice of my Beloved comes skipping over mountains, hopping over valleys.” Indeed, the oral tradition emphasizes that it was G-d Himself who was skipping. The Jerusalem Talmud establishes that G-d personally came to redeem Israel, He did not send an agent. A verse in Exodus reads, “I will perform judgment-I am YHVH.” The famous Torah commentator Rashi from the eleventh century explains that G-d is assuring them that “I Myself and not an agent” will deliver you from your oppression and enslavement. Couldn’t G-d have simply decreed the death of the first-born without all this skipping around? What is the significance of His personal involvement? It is common knowledge that the Jews in Egypt deteriorated to the 49th level of spiritual impurity and moral decadence. Our sages tell us that G-d saved them just before they fell to the last level, the fiftieth, which is total spiritual suicide and obliteration. In other words, the Jews were actually unworthy of liberation. So why did G-d free them nonetheless? A careful reading of the Exodus story shows that the predominant message of the liberation of the Jews is the revelation of the profound truth of “I am YHVH.” We know that each Divine name indicates a different encounter with G-d, revealing different attributes and perspectives of the Divine truth and our relationship to G-d. Elokim is G-d revealed as the Creator of nature, borders, rules, principles, and regulations. This is the name that appears throughout the creation story. In addition, this name refers to G-d when He is revealed as a Judge, committed to laws, order, justice, consequences, cause and effect. G-d, as Elokim, responds measure for measure to the choices and deeds of people. Therefore, G-d as Elokim cannot save the Jews, because they don’t deserve it. However, G-d is not only referred to as Elokim, but also as YHVH. This divine name is mentioned when G-d is revealing His compassion. It indicates that G-d is not only a Creator, a Ruler, and a Judge, but also a compassionate Sustainer. He lovingly extends and shares His being with us, perpetuating our existence at every moment. We do not exist independently of YHVH, rather we are unified with Him as the rays of the sun are to the sun or the thought is to the thinker. Therefore, YHVH suggests that G-d is like a compassionate parent and we are His children. G-d as Elokim is committed to the laws of nature and only works within the limitations of time and space. Therefore, G-d as Elokim could not liberate the Jews from Egypt. G-d as YHVH, however, is beyond nature. He is the miracle worker Who, in the name of love, can transcend time and space and perform supernatural feats. Indeed the exodus of the Jews was miraculous. The Egyptian military security was so tight that no slave had ever succeeded in escaping Pharaoh’s captivity. And yet the entire nation of three million people left Egypt in less time than it takes for bread dough to rise. To mobilize my own family to leave the house takes longer than that. G- d, however, not only suspended the laws of nature, He also suspended the laws of justice. This perhaps is the greatest miracle in the exodus story — that even though the Jews were undeserving and unworthy to be liberated by G-d as Elokim, they were nonetheless saved by G-d as YHVH. Judaism teaches that the essential name of G-d is YHVH, and that the essential attribute of G-d is love and compassion. This basic truth is embodied in the Exodus story and therefore we must remember the exodus daily. The name Elokim, however, is really only an aspect of the name YHVH. In other words, the divine attribute of justice is an aspect of the attribute of love and subordinate to it. Such is the way of true parenthood: because of my love for my child I establish for her rules and regulations. I create a world of law and order where her choices incur real consequences. I judge her, reward her and discipline her, all for the sake of empowering her to take responsibility and become who she can be. However, since my judgment is because of my love and thereby subordinate to it, there may be times when I will be compassionate towards my child even though she does not deserve it. I will “pass over” my standards of judgment and be compassionate, in order to save my child. I will overrule my rules in the name of love. This is the meaning of the verse in the Song of Songs; “Behold the voice of my beloved comes skipping over the mountains, hopping over the valleys.” Nothing can stand in the way of G-d’s love for you. No obstacle is too great. His love transcends all barriers. This is the inner dynamic of this miraculous event and this is one reason why this holiday is commonly referred to as Passover. G-d, in order to pass over the homes of the Jews, passed over His attribute of judgment in the name of love. The Zohar teaches: “Even though G-d loves justice, His love for His children overcame His love for His justice.” One more vital point needs elucidation: Why did G-d require the Jews to sacrifice the Pascal lamb and smear its blood on their door-posts? Did G-d really need this sign to identify Jewish homes and pass over them? There really is one obstacle that can stand in the way of G-d’s love. G-d can love us, but He can’t make us believe that he loves us. A poignant passage in Isaiah portrays this impasse. The Prophet is defending the people, claiming that they are sinning because G-d is not present for them. G-d responds [Isaiah 65:1]: “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for Me. I was ready to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said ‘Here I am, here I am.'” G-d may pour upon us all His love, but it is up to us to acknowledge and accept it. We have to make some overture, some sign, which is what smearing the blood on the door-posts was all about. G-d did not need an identifying sign, but we had to identify ourselves as wanting redemption and believing it can happen. G-d says to the Jews, “Nothing can stand in the way of My love for you, except you.” Passover is the time to experience and acknowledge G-d’s unconditional love for you. That’s why it is the foundation of all the holidays, of all of Judaism. Without the acknowledgment that G-d loves you enough to redeem you even when you’re not worthy, you have no inkling of G-d’s relationship with you. That’s why we read the great love poem, the Song of Songs, on Passover. That’s why we spend hours reciting the Haggadah, like an enamored lover describing every minute detail of how her beloved proposed to her. The more we acknowledge G-d’s love, the more we will experience His unconditional love. May you have a happy Passover, basking in G-d’s loving presence.
Passover is Coming: Love is in the Air
Getting out of Egypt was more than a political emancipation of the Jewish people. It was a spiritual transformation. The Jews were not only physically enslaved but also spiritually enmeshed in Egyptian culture. Egypt was the epitome of egotism and haughtiness. But in truth we all know that in actuality, a person is egotistical because he lacks true self-esteem and confidence of his self-worth. His haughty airs are really a cover-up, a guise. He is trying to compensate for his painful sense of inadequacy and insecurity.
Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher living in the Twelfth century, explains that humanity’s lack of self worth was what led them to idolatry. He explains that the ancients were unable to fathom that G-d would personally care about them. Therefore, they sought out help from an intermediate power other than G-d. They believed that their lives were guided by the power of the stars because G-d, the Creator, does not personally care about them. They reasoned, “Of what worth are we that the Creator would have any regard for our situation?”
The Passover story teaches us that this despairing attitude is false. A verse in the Torah reads, “Don’t make intermediate gods, guard the Festival of the Matza.” The Sages explain this odd juxtaposition: “This is to teach us that anyone who disgraces the Festival is as if performs idolatry.” In other words, celebrating Passover affirms our belief that G-d loves us and personally takes care of us; there is no need for any intermediaries between us. To think otherwise is the beginning of idolatry.
Judaism teaches that G-d’s love and care for us is unconditional. Therefore, in the times when the Temple stood in Jerusalem we were obligated to come there and, so to speak, greet G-d face to face. Of-course the presence of G-d fills the earth and we are in His presence wherever. However, in Jerusalem that truth is more readily experienced. On the holiday of Passover even a simpleton with no preparation could experience a sudden quantum leap in his spiritual level and feel worthy to enjoy a personal loving relation with G-d. Each and every one of us is befitting to bask in G-d’s loving presence.
The Torah refers to a Festival as a Moed, which literally means “to meet.” The portable sanctuary that the Jews carried with them in the desert was called the Ohel Moed—the Meeting Tent. It was a place to meet G-d. The Festivals, however, are a time to meet G-d. The Torah also refers to a festival as a Mikra Kodesh a “Calling of Holiness,” because it calls forth from each of us our innate holiness and godliness. Therefore, to deny yourself the celebration of a Moed—a direct meeting with G-d — is as if to accept the claim of idolatry; that G-d doesn’t love and care about you because you are insignificant and, therefore, unworthy of His personal attention.
In truth, we are always connected to and loved by G-d. However, three times a year on the holidays of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot we are able to readily feel that truth without preparation.
Sick Minds, Sick Bodies: The power of our beliefs to heal or harm
The Jewish Sages gave a spiritual rather than physiological explanation for the disease tsara’as (generally translated as “leprosy”) which affected not only the body but also clothing and the walls of houses. According to one source several sins could possible be the cause:
R. Shmuel bar Nachmani said in the name of R. Yochanan: Because of seven things the plague of leprosy is incurred, namely, slander, the shedding of blood, a vain oath, incest, arrogance, robbery and envy. (Arakhin 16a)
However, most Sages concur that the main cause for tsara’as was slander and gossip.
The Kabbalah teaches that the world you and I live in is a product of our perception of reality. The philosopher Immanuel Kant probed this concept. He asked: Do we see reality or do we see our perception of reality? Kant’s answer is that we do not see reality, but only our perception of reality. In other words, is this world reality? No, this world is your perception of reality. Therefore, the focus and clarity of your consciousness will determine the kind of world you live in.
Each one of us has a choice. You can believe that this world is filled with the presence of G-d who cares about it and guides it. Or you can believe that this world is one big accident, a chaotic mess. The choice is yours. But remember what you believe is ultimately what you will see and experience. What you believe creates the world you live in.
How would I act if I really believed that G-d’s presence filled my life, my home, my office, my city, my world? How would I speak to my wife and kids? How would I treat the stranger? To the extent that I think, speak, and act in accordance with this heightened awareness, to that extent, G-d can be present in my world.
The so-called “good- deeds” and “rituals” of Torah tradition are designed to be building blocks to nurture and concretize consciousness all day long, so that I can channel G- d’s presence into the world and into my life.
By increasing my consciousness of G-d, I thereby allow the light of G-d and all the gifts of spiritual wealth to pour into the world. Few realize the true goodness in deeds and the real richness in rituals. They are really invitations to G-d. What we are saying in both words and actions is, “G-d, I want to get You into my life!”
The Kabbalah teaches that you and I have the dimmer switch in our hands. We can either turn the light of G-d up, creating a whole and radiant world filled with health and joy, imbued with the presence of G-d, or we can turn the dimmer down, creating a dark, gloomy, ugly, Godless world.
Our consciousness, which is nurtured by our thoughts, speech, and actions, becomes the vessel to receive the divine presence and the vehicle to transmit the divine blessings into our daily lives.
WHY G-D LOVES ATHEISM ~ Rabbi A. I Kook / The Pangs of Cleanings
The greatest impediment to the human spirit, on reaching maturity, results from the fact that the conception of G-d is crystallized among people in a particular form, going back to childish habit and imagination. This is an aspect of the offence of making an idol or a likeness of G-d, against which we must always beware, particularly in an epoch of greater intellectual enlightenment. …
Since the thoughts concerning G-d in their basic elements are unclear, G-d is conceived by the masses and even by individuals who should be their leaders, as a ruthless power from whom there is no escape and to whom one must necessarily be subservient.
No grandeur of G-d is then manifest in the soul, but only the lowliness of wild imaginings, that conjure up a form of some deceptive, vague, angry god that is dissociated from reality. It confuses everyone who believes in it, depresses his spirit, blunts his feelings, inhibits the assertion of his sensibilities, and uproots the divine glory in his soul.
If such a person should repeat all day that this faith is the faith in the unity of G-d, his statement would be empty, and it would register nothing in his soul.
Every sensitive spirit must turn his mind away from this. And this is the atheism which is due to arise prior to the messianic liberation, when the knowledge of G-d is due to run dry…