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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Deeper is Higher - I and the Divine

“While the Baal Shem Tov was in Kutov, he used to meditate in the mountains and fast from one Shabbos until the next. The purpose of his meditation (hisbodedus) in the mountains and wilds of the forests was this: he sought to become one with his inner being – with his feelings and thoughts; to hear the voice of his inner soul from her very depths, without any admixture of external influences, the hustle and bustle of the city and its surroundings; to become lucidly aware of the flow of his inner being and its inclinations, and to bring them entirely under the authority of the mind, freed from all external distraction. Prior to him, spiritual seekers devoted all of their energies to searching out all that exists above and below, and completely forget about themselves and their physical existence in order to know their ‘I.’ By contrast, the Baal Shem Tov introduced a new method of spiritual probing: a way to become an explorer of one’s inner being, and to vigilantly observe whatever took place in the chambers of one’s heart and soul, all of one’s inner faculties, and every movement, however great or small."

"The exercise of dis-identification is based on the realization that we have in our personality many things, but we are not those things. For instance, we have a body, but we are not the body. We have emotions, but we are not the emotions, because emotions are changing, contradictory and so on, while the self-awareness is always the same. For instance, when we say, ‘I am tired’, it is a mistake of psychological grammar. The ‘I’ cannot be tired; the body is tired. So the exact formulation would be, ‘My body is tired.’ Instead of saying, ‘I am angry,’ say, ‘the emotion of anger is present in my self, in my awareness’. And the same with the mind. It works all the time, registering many things. But I am not the mind. ‘I have a mind, but I am not a mind.’ What remains? Simply the ‘I’, the observer of the whole panorama, phantasmagoria, of the changing personal life...

"A third step in Psychosynthesis is the recognition that the personal self, the pure self-awareness at the core of the personality is the reflection of a higher Transpersonal Self.... But it is not something different; it is the source of the reflection. For instance, the sun can reflect itself in many mirrors. There are not two suns (in our solar system). It is just the same reality that is reflected at another level of reality. The essential quality is the same. It is always light and heat, however attenuated and coloured."

"Adam the Second explores not the scientific abstract universe but the irresistibly fascinating qualitative world where he establishes an intimate relationship with God. The Biblical metaphor referring to God breathing life in Adam alludes to the actual preoccupation of the latter with God, to his genuine living experience of God rather than to some divine potential or endowment in Adam symbolized by imago Dei. Adam the Second lives in close union with God. His existential "I" experience is interwoven in the awareness of communing with the Great Self whose footprints he discovers along the many torturous paths of creation."
-Rav Soloveitchik, The Lonely Man of Faith, pg. 22

"I am in the midst of the exile" (Ezekiel 1:1).

"The inner, essential "I"-whether individual or communal-does not appear by itself. Rather, it appears in relation to our holiness and purity. It appears in relation to the amount of supernal power that, with the pure light of an elevated illumination, burns within us.

"Both we and our forefathers sinned" (Psalms 106:6).

"This refers to the sin of Adam, who was alienated from his essential being. He turned to the consciousness of the serpent, and thus he lost himself. He could not clearly answer the question, "Where are you?", because he did not know himself, because he had lost his true "I."
He had bowed to a strange god.

"And that was the sin of Israel, who "ran after foreign gods" (Deuteronomy 31:16). We abandoned our essential "I": "Israel rejected goodness" (Hosea 8:3).

"In the days of creation, the earth itself sinned. It denied its own essence. It constricted its power and went after limited goals and purposes. It did not give all of its hidden power so that the taste of the tree could be equal to the taste of its fruit. Instead, it raised its eyes to look outside of itself. It considered a trivial future and way of being.

"At that time as well, the moon complained. As a result, it lost its internal orbit, the joy of its portion. It was dreaming of a superficial beauty of royalty.

"Thus does the world continue, sinking into the destruction of every "I"-of the individual and of the whole.

"Learned educators come and focus on the superficial. They too remove their consciousness from the "I." They add straw to the fire, give vinegar to the thirsty, and fatten minds and hearts with everything that is external to them.

"And the "I" gets progressively forgotten.
"And when there is no "I," there is no "He," and how much more is there no "You."

"The Messiah is called "the breath of our nostrils, the anointed one of God" (Lamentations4:20).
This is his might, the beauty of his greatness: that he is not outside of us. He is the breath of our nostrils.
Let us seek Hashem our God and David our king.
Let us tremble before God and His goodness.
Let us seek our "I."
Let us seek ourselves-and find.
Remove all foreign gods, remove every stranger and illegitimate one.
Then "you will know that I am Hashem your God, Who takes you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. I am Hashem."
-Rav Kook, Orot Hakodesh III, pp. 140-41

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