This topic, in our continuing MMM series, is called Let Go, Let G-d. Or, alternatively, how not to chase things in life.
This topic comes from my own, personal goals, but also relates to the Parsha of the week – Parsha Toldot. In it, we see a lot of chasing going on. This is kind of like an antidote to all that chasing.
Yakov Avinu, our father, Jacob, is a tam, a tamim, because he has a holy naivete, and he’s a non-chaser. But, he’s sort of forced into being a chaser. Because of his nemesis, Esav, whenever Jacob becomes weak, Esav becomes strong. So, Jacob is forced to be smarter and stronger, and to chase success in order to outsmart and overcome Esav.
Jacob’s chase is more spiritual in nature, and Esav’s is more physical. Jacob represents the mouth and Esav represents the hands, which is why Jacob had to disguise his hands to trick his father, Abraham, into thinking he was Esav.
The stronger we are in upholding the posterity of Jacob with our voice, with our learning, our Torah, our prayers, the weaker they are with their hands, doing things in the world that can jeopardize our wellbeing and our success, everything we’re shooting for.
It’s a “cancelling out” dynamic, so it is a sort of a chase. It’s a “righteousness vs evil” paradigm in the world, but it’s also an inner drive in us, probably preparing us for Messianic times to come. That will be a time when we no longer have to chase.
We have an image of all of humanity standing around in a circle in the Messianic times, where nobody is chasing anybody or needing anybody else. Everyone is standing on their own, facing the center, glorifying G-d. Each individual is complete, and others may watch, but there’s no more chasing going on. It’s a Let Go, Let G-d scenario.
So, what I’m trying to do is bring on that kind of consciousness with the concept of Let Go, Let G-d, and not have to chase. On a basic level of tools to use, one way to do this is to release the anxiety of the chase by giving it back to G-d. We can say, “I can’t do this, so I’ll let G-d do it. I’ll let G-d take care of my need for chasing, control and approval. I give all that back to G-d.”
There’s also a dynamic in life, based on physics, demonstrating that the more I chase, the more people run away from me. I am the once chasing in this picture. If I am not the one chasing, then others begin to do so.
Part of this whole dynamic of Let Go, Let G-d is to really be able to bring G-d into your life. We do this by understanding that the more we get out of the way, the more G-d can get involved and do things for us.
The opposite is also true. The more we say, “I got this, G-d. I can take care of it…” the more G-d will not be involved. We have to move in the general direction of not chasing, and of letting G-d organize things instead.
One aspect of this is equanimity. It’s to be able to say, “Whatever G-d sends me, good or bad, that’s the best thing for me.” We discussed this in our last MMM, last week, with the idea of Perfect-As-Is. What we’re talking about now is the other side of the coin. Even in the imperfection it’s all perfect, and whether it’s perfect or not I’m just going to let G-d take care of it. I’m going to trust in that.
I’m going to radically accept life and G-d, and see how life will play itself out in that way. It’s the key to getting back to the Garden of Eden, to the I and Thou relationship. We need to get back to that garden, by maximizing my “I,” meaning, in my life I’ve fully developed the essence of who I am, and also the “Thou,” meaning G-d is completely in charge of my life.
This is the same dynamic that balances Shabbat and the weekdays. Shabbat is a day for “Thou,” when G-d is doing everything to me and through me, whereas on the weekdays our perspective is “I.” The blinders are placed back on me for the rest of the week and I feel everything is all dependent on me. Next Shabbat, I remember it’s actually G-d doing everything through me.
So, there’s this constant tension, this constant dynamic to balance our perspective. The Arizal talks about a type meditation to bring this about, to channel G-d into my life and to do things with me. It’s called the Merkava Meditation.
This idea is extremely important, because whatever I do, whatever senses I realize, G-d’s character traits are doing it through me. This consciousness, this outlook I’m calling Let Go, Let G-d, can seriously bring G-d into your life. It can bring miracles, goodness, and healing into your life, the more you bring G-d into your life. It brings all kind of positivity into your life.
The more you Let Go and Let G-d, the more you make room for G-d in your life and the less you have to chase. The more you’re going with G-d, others may be inclined to chase you. We’re promised, when we do the will of G-d in the world, our work is sort of done for us.
The work of building our land, and our lives, the dirty work, all the other stuff will be done, to the extent we get ourselves out of the way. G-d says, “you guys are royalty because you have made me the king of your life.”
When we choose to make G-d the king of our lives, we know that kings have respect and he doesn’t do the dirty work. A king doesn’t do the menial labor. A king is someone who has other people do things for him. So, that’s part of the Let Go, Let G-d dynamics as well.
Even with something as simple and yet as difficult as making a living, to the extent we can Let Go and Let God, we can expend less effort in making our living in the world, the money, the food, all our needs. It’s because we have an outlook causing our reality to let G-d take care of things.
G-d may be saying “You really believe that? You really hold by that? If so I’ll do it for you. But, if you’re just saying you’ll do it, and you’re not really holding by that, it will catch up with you.”
We can grow, and get better and higher in our ability to Let Go, Let G-d, too. This is a recipe for higher consciousness, and a recipe for bringing the whole world into Messianic consciousness, where we are all moving now.
May it happen soon in our days!
The MMM theme this week is Perfect-As-Is, which is a perspective based on the fundamental Jewish belief that nothing bad comes from G-d.
And by extension, whatever comes from G-d is also personalized for us, even though it doesn’t seem to be, and it’s the best possible thing for us. That concept requires a huge leap of faith for every human being in this universe. But it’s what faith is all about, really. It’s the ultimate challenge of Emunah, of faith.
We may not understand all the challenges that come our way, but we can learn to embrace them, to accept them without understanding, just believing. When we begin to actually believe and move in the direction of accepting that whatever comes to me, every day of my life, is the best possible thing for me, then my mantra is Perfect-As-Is.
This doesn’t mean that things couldn’t be better or easier in our lives… if only this or if only that. No, there are no woulds or coulds or shoulds in this way of looking at G-d and at life. There is simply what IS, and that what IS is perfect as-is, meaning it’s a long way from imperfect.
Grasping to understand the idea of perfect is something that, by nature, will bring up all the imperfections. That’s just the way it works. So, what we are doing, therefore, is connecting to our imperfections, and we’re saying, “if it’s coming from G-d, it’s perfect.”
When we’re able to do that, we can begin to engage in a very intimate relationship with G-d. Essentially, we’re saying to G-d, “whatever you send my way I think is coming from you, and I say it’s perfect.”
And G-d relates to us in a reflective way as well. And whatever we send back to G-d we understand he will accept, just as we accept what G-d sends our way. Our relationship with G-d becomes an above-nature, as a result, and goes beyond what we deserve.
This relationship, one with feedback from G-d, so to speak, is also very healing. Personally, I find it easier to bring up the hard stuff, all the way to the surface where I can examine it. It’s like being my own therapist. When I can see my own stuff, I can accept it and embrace it, even if I don’t understand it. Once it’s brought up to the surface I’ll eventually take care of it.
That’s where the paradox of Perfect-As-Is comes in. We say it in order to escape the paralysis of not being able to process our lives. Our repressed feelings and fears can paralyze us, until we bring them to the surface and get a clear vision of how to fix them. It works, if we take the time to do it.
So, it’s a wanting of what IS in life. It’s a joining of the higher self and the lower self. It’s a place where we are able to step out of fear of whatever comes our way. It’s the opposite of that fear. It’s the road that can lead to true ecstasy and paradise by embracing everything that comes our way.
When we can do that, I believe we connect to what our Patriarchs and Matriarchs connected to, as we read in the weekly Torah portions… they never missed a day in facing everything that came their way and elevating it. It’s because they saw it all as coming from G-d, so that’s what they wanted. They wanted what IS, not could be or should be or might happen. They were fully present.
This is the key to mindfulness – incredible presence. This is the key to transcendent living, in a nutshell. You might say it’s the secret Jewish code.
It’s what the great sage, Nachum Ish Gamcu, said, “This, too, is for the best.” He said it about everything, and because of it he became schooled in bringing down miracles in this world. He completely it, and we can, too, by subscribing to the idea of Perfect-As-Is.
So, that’s our goal, and that’s our MMM for the week and the direction we’re going in. It’s certainly a long-term goal of consciousness for me, a key to extraordinary, providential living, a key to complete self-expression and a key to seeing G-d revealed where he’s normally not found.
Keeping in line with the series I started before the High Holy Days, this week I’d like to talk about MMM itself, what it is and why I do it.
I want to explore it, this consciousness I call MMM, which stands for Mystical Musical Meditations. This, I think, is a new artform, genre, type of teaching and experiential meditation. It’s a type of full self-expression that naturally evolved in my own life, through various presentations with individuals and with groups internationally.
It’s basically an expression of Allness. I sit there with a guitar and play, using up to 15 poems per week as a springboard to get across my weekly theme. It’s using everything that I know. It’s channeling a higher consciousness and allowing G-d to come through.
The MMM is based on mystical, Kabbalistic Jewish teachings, following a consistent theme and usually connected to the weekly Torah portion. But instead of an intellectual approach, it provides an experiential approach to learning. My MMM is my experience of these topics.
To present my unique “take” on a topic, I get myself into a sacred space and I recite poetry to give voice to the topic. I use music because music automatically elevates words. Words, poems, prose, teachings are elevated to a level that the soul can internalize and download more easily. Sometimes I speak in a spontaneous way, like hip hop or rap, and that’s how I’m able to get across a more authentic message.
The thoughts in my mind, my heart and my soul can be received in a fun, effortless way. I am also as much a part of the audience as everyone else present.
If G-d allows me to be a conduit for it, I want these expressions to be Messianic in consciousness, something expressing the energy of King David in those times when his harp would wake him up at midnight, the nights when he created the Psalms. They were composed with Ruach Ha Kodesh, The Holy Spirit. I want to partake of that same King David energy, too.
And I want to partake of a wider intelligence than most of us normally use to express ourselves. We are only using a small percentage of our emotional, creative and intellectual intelligence.
I want the mitzvoth and the Torah teachings to be about consciousness, not just something we understand with the left brain, but something we feel with the heart, and embrace with our right brain and our whole body and soul.
What jazz does to music I want MMM to do to Torah. Jazz takes a message and expresses it in free form, spontaneous art. Whatever comes out just comes out in different rhythms and dialogue.
I want each MMM to awaken exactly what each person listening needs to hear. This can only happen if I go deep into myself and partake within myself whatever a person needs to hear.
I want the music to turn into poetry and the poetry into music, where the words are stripped away into pure energy, on a level where both the higher and the lower self are touched. The fun-loving side of me, the Dennis the Menace within me, and all my memories… I want the MMM to purge whatever is going on in my life at the time.
But I want it to be a selfless giving as well, in a way that can really change people. I want each MMM to be part of the ultimate expression of who I am, giving voice to the greater part of each of us that needs to be expressed. It’s the essential part of ourselves, all of us.
G-d willing, I’m hoping to raise crops of other MMM people who share their own wisdom in their own groups, wherever they are located.
I’d like to make some MMM musical albums, outside of the traditional music industry, that represent the convergence of everything I do with other people, with myself and with G-d. I want to change consciousness with the whole project.
Following along in our holiday series, let’s talk about Sukkot now. It’s basically the second half of the High Holiday period.
The first half of the High Holiday period was sort of a self-discovery process called teshuva, a reawakening of who we are and want we want to do with our lives. We see G-d as our partner in this personal process.
After Yom Kippur, in the second half of the holidays we are ready to bond our newly-discovered selves with G-d in a loving, bonding way. It’s like a courtship or a marriage, and that sets the tone for the holiday of Sukkot. It’s not the same as the strict, fear-filled, first 10 days of the High Holidays. These are the love-filled days of the High Holidays.
The love-filled days culminate as we sit under sukkah, or a temporary booth for 7 – 8 days of use each year. We sit or stand inside it with the understanding that we don’t need the comforts of this world to be sheltered and protected and warm. We can enjoy protection in the flimsiest of abodes when we are trusting in G-d to care for us.
This is an analogy that applies not only to the sukkah, our temporary home during Sukkot, but also to our lives throughout the year. It is sort of an inoculation for trusting in G-d, and believing that even though it may not seem that the odds are with us, our trust in G-d is greater than out natural surroundings. You might say we’re loading up on our trust for the year ahead; we’re building our trust factor.
So, first we have the bonding factor, and then we also have the factor of holy space. Like Shabbat is holiness in time, Sukkot is holiness in a specific, small space. Just as we completely immerse ourselves into a mikvah, we immerse ourselves into a sukkah, and just by being in there we’re immersed in a holy space.
In that holy, G-dly space, we have access to higher beings. We have access to the seven ushpizim, the seven shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. We invite all seven shepherds into our sukkah every night, but the main attraction is the one associated with that night. Abraham is the first night, Issac is the second night, Jacob is the third night, Moses is the fourth night, Joseph is the fifth night and David is the seventh night.
We welcome them and literally try to feel their presence with us. We try to discuss their Torah, and their influence on us. It’s a paradigm we connect-up with on that night of Sukkot and for the rest of the year. It’s very timely as well, because right after Sukkot we go into the new cycle of Torah, which is all about the Patriarchs. We are introducing our new connection to the Patriarchs in the upcoming Torah cycle during the holiday of Sukkot.
We “shake off” the worldly aspect of our lives and enter another-worldly, higher-worldly place inside the sukkah. We thereby gain love of G-d, trust in G-d, and also happiness. We go out every night of Sukkot, just as they did back in the days of the Holy Temple, and we participate in a ceremony that emulates or approximates the ceremony of The Drawing of The Waters which took place just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. They brought in the water as an offering, and they danced and sang all night long. We, too, dance and sing all night long.
Sleep is over-rated during Sukkot. If you’re really keeping the holiday the way it should be kept, you don’t sleep at all outside of the sukkah, and of course there’s a party going on every night, so you really can’t sleep anyway because you can hear all the other parties in sukkahs in the neighborhood all night long. Sukkot is not conducive to sleep, which is a form of rectification of the whole sleep thing, too.
We go out into a sukkah, not only to party and to be happy with G-d, but also to gain, as it was said in the old days, a semi-prophetic state of Ruach HaKodesh. The happiness allows us to get to higher levels.
We also take the choice species of nature, the four species – the lulav (the palm vine,) the Etrog, the myrtle and the aravah. We take them and wave them, as though we’re waving the evil spirits out of our lives. That’s one way to look at it.
We are also attaching ourselves to the best of the supernatural by waving in all directions, which represents all the Sephirotic directions. We do that on Sukkot. And we do a lot of circle dancing, around and around the altar in the synagogue, and on Simchat Torah we dance around with the Torah. Circle dancing in Judaism is a type of dance which brings down that which is beyond to that which is within us. Circle dancing brings down the surrounding light by going around and around, bringing that which is beyond to that which is within.
It’s another expression of how we grow spiritually, bringing the part of the soul which is beyond us into the part of the soul within us. So, spiritual growth is happening in our circle dancing.
Happiness may be one of the hardest of the mitzvot of Sukkot because there are so many things that can aggravate us and cause us to get crazy, sad or mad. But we do have a mitzvah to be happy during the entire holiday, more so than any other holiday, even though it may be a challenge. Usually the amount, depth and quality of our happiness depends on the first half of the High Holy Days, the amount, depth and quality of our teshuva, of going within and purging whatever keeps us from connecting with our essential self and our connection with G-d.
The deeper we dive into the first half of the holiday, the deeper will be the happiness in the second part of the holiday of Sukkot.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. We may wonder if we need to do teshuva to properly atone for our sins, or so we only need the day itself. Our Sages tell us we need both teshuva and the Day of Atonement, the other opinion says we only need the day itself because it affects our atonement spiritually.
Our Kabbalistic Sages tell us that Yom Kippur represents Binah, which is connected to a higher world, the World To Come. So, we go into the higher world where there is no physical eating or drinking on Yom Kippur. Instead, our voices and our prayers serve as food.
In the higher world, the World of Truth we call Binah, we are so lined-up with the truth of who we are that our sins of the previous year are seen differently, by G-d and by us. We know we don’t want to sin, but we were stuck in the lower worlds, within the grasp of the Evil Inclination. But that behavior is not who we are.
One of the secrets of Yom Kippur is its power to atone. In addition, our Sages tell us that Yom Kippur is a time to go into Bittul, or self-nullification, a place where we want nothing but G-d. We think, “All I want is G-d, there is nothing for me but G-d.” When we do that, we also atone. G-d looks upon us and thinks, “All you want is Me? All I want is you, too.” It’s an exchange of love in that way.
Yom Kippur is also a day when our prayers are designed to help us ascend into new worlds, one world higher than the one before, until we reach the pinnacle, the crescendo at the end of the day, the Neilah service. It’s the closing of our judgment between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the period when we usually pray the hardest.
Back in the days of the Temple, Yom Kippur was essentially a “one-man show,” because the High Priest took over all the duties for the whole nation, although everybody was present and doing teshuva. The High Priest, however, offered the sacrifices and performed all the intense activities of the service, for the sake of all the people.
Everybody would fast, of course, but the High Priest placed the sins of all the people on the Azazel-bound scapegoat, and sent it off as a bribe or as “hush money,” so to speak, to placate the other side, and to keep it closed. It’s a big subject for another time…
Yom Kippur is the end of a 10-day period of teshuva, during which we are closest to G-d. It’s a great time to do teshuva, because our prayer books teach us to do teshuva, tefilla and tzedaka in order to banish the evil decrees. Negative decrees can be eliminated, but positive decrees are never rescinded. A chain of events may be put into motion, and it may be changed by getting out of our habitual actions in life and making changes.
We might change a particular habit, change our name, change our giving, change our judgments, change (or choose) our character traits, change our abundance and our G-d-connectedness. These things can be affected by our deep prayer, from our essence, and these things can change negative decrees. It’s much easier to change a decree before it occurs than after it happens.
It’s at the end of the Neilah service, the conclusion of Yom Kippur, when the decree is finalized for us. There are other chances, later in the holidays following Yom Kippur and even through Chanukah, but the main decree comes on Yom Kippur. That’s what we’re all working toward.
Our teshuva has to be testified by G-d, who knows the truth of our hearts. When we say we will be good, G-d knows the true testimony, the heart, the future. G-d knows what’s for real, or not. So, we need to be as real as possible in the process as well.
The day of Yom Kippur, the evening and the following day of fasting, consists of different confessions expressing sorrow for what we have done… “this is what I did, and I won’t do it again.” This, of course, is the verbal part of confession. The other component is the emotional part, genuinely feeling sorry and remorseful, and determining not to do it again.
It’s a good idea to begin the day with a sheet of paper listing what we’ve done, the things for which we want to repent. This is the time of year we diligently practice the three Ts – teshuva, tzedakah and tefilla, which is repentance, charity and prayer. Those are the three things that can banish a bad decree against us.
That’s a short description of the service of Yom Kippur. Hopefully, we come out of this day as a new person, refreshed and renewed, compared to the person we were before Yom Kippur. Each of us is hoping for a whole, new, purified version of ourselves.
Here are some of things I want to explore on Rosh Hashana:
Rosh Hashana is a judgment day unlike any other judgment day, because we dress in white instead of black, we eat apples and honey for sweetness, and we are experiencing a mixture of fear and love at the same time. We trust that it will all work out and that the King, the Judge, forgives us in the end. We are closer to the Judge during this time, more than any other time of the year.
So, it’s not simply a message of judgment, but also a much deeper message. You could say that G-d is making an inventory of everybody and everything in his world, and where they are, how they are fitting in to the plan. G-d wants to recreate the world, so he needs to assess who has a part in the plan now.
If who you are and who you have been makes you a good fit for the “new company,” which is the world as it’s being created. If not, there will be problems.
So, first, we need to come into Rosh Hashana and realize who we are and how we fit into G-d’s new world. We want to be partners with G-d in his new world.
Second, we need to understand that Rosh Hashana is a day of conception of the whole year. It could be described as “spiritual genetic engineering,” because we are literally being conceived anew, like a child being conceived by a man and a woman.
The lasting influence on a child, from the night it was conceived, endures throughout its lifetime. The time of conception has more influence than anything else in a child’s life, including the education, care and all other influences.
That’s what is happening for us on Rosh Hashana. We are conceiving our year on that day. So, our mood, our intentions, our plan, our vision, our clarity, our mission and our connection to G-d on that day is critical. It is the most important time because everything else will follow the beginning. The way we begin things is usually the way it plays out. When we begin a day in a good mood, thanking G-d and going with it, our whole day is affected.
And our whole year goes like that, too, when we begin our year in that fashion. It’s very important to begin the year in a very positive and very meaningful way.
It’s important to remember that we are not the ones doing the judging. G-d is doing the judging on Rosh Hashana. Don’t think that you have to get the prayers right or you have to feel a certain way at a certain time, despite interruptions in the services, when the shofar is blowing or any other time… Who knows what’s really happening for you? G-d’s eyes are not our eyes.
It might be that you had to get up in the middle of the night to change diapers or soothe a crying child, and those are the things that set the course for a great year for you this year. We don’t know any of that. We just need to go with the belief that G-d is judging us, and we are not judging ourselves or others.
Of course, there are ways we can sweeten-up the judgment. We can start by not judging others harshly, so that, measure-for-measure G-d will not judge us harshly.
And we can work on judging ourselves. If we take care of it, G-d won’t have to take care of it for us. We can judge ourselves by seeing who we are, what we are doing and where we want to go.
As our Sages tell us, we will be written in one of three books on Rosh Hashana. We can write ourselves into the book of the righteous, the book of the living or the book of the good. Or, we can write ourselves into the “middle way.” We are the ones doing the writing, because G-d has said, “You choose where you want to go.”
We need to come into Rosh Hashana with clarity on our choice as well. The ten days of Teshuva between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are the days we are closest to G-d, more than any other time of year. That’s a significant difference between Rosh Hashana and every other time of year, because normally we are not supposed to be close to a judge. A judge is supposed to be objective and not as close to us as possible.
But, G-d is different, so we, too, are different when we choose to take advantage of the time to be close, to talk to G-d and to listen. It’s also a good time to make radical changes in our lives, with the least amount of effort. Think of it, once again, as conception – you can create a whole new you more easily in these days, pre, post and during Rosh Hashana. It’s easier during this time than any other time of year, and you can take it to a whole, new level. It’s a great time to accomplish this.
Also, this is the time to partner-up with G-d. It’s the time to figure out what you’re doing in your life, and then to say, “G-d, here I am. You and I are partners. What can I do with my talents to help further your rectification and healing of the world?”
Do that, and you’ll be infinitely inspired and empowered to do whatever you are called to do. Essentially, G-d says, “You do for me, I’ll do for you.” That’s what partnership is all about.
Rosh Hashana is also the day that Adam was created, the first day of Adam, so to speak. That makes it the perfect day to consider how we can get back to the Garden of Eden. Just as Adam was put to sleep and Eve was created from part of him, and Adam found her as a separate being, the same thing happens with us and G-d. We (humans) represent the female and G-d represents the male, and we come together like Adam and Eve.
We can see ourselves independently, and able to enter into a relationship, a partnership with G-d. The whole month of Tishrei is a courting process between us and the King.
It’s the time of Life, the book of Life is open and we have to appreciate what Life is all about, how precious it is, and how we need to dig down to find and see how every aspect of our lives is valuable.
I call next week’s MMM “Essence-ing,” in English, and in a sort of casual way in Hebrew, “Pnim D’Pnim.” The idea is “the inner of the inner,” which is a concept I learned with my long-time mastermind partner many years ago.
Back when I was contemplating making the leap of faith required to leave my comfortable, secure home in Israel and travel to the United States to teach my stuff, I certainly needed courage and I also needed faith. But the most important thing I needed was actually Pnim D’Panim.
When I said, “I’ve never done this, I’ve never given classes in various cities. I’ve never prepared classes, advertised them and networked with people internationally, to get people to show up for my classes.” I’d never done any of it and I had no idea what I would be getting into.
How would I be able to stand up in front of a crowd and keep my mouth moving when I could barely catch my breath at the thought of speaking publicly? I had so many worries, and I honestly couldn’t sleep for a month before my first trip. So, my mastermind partner told me, “Yitzchak, what you have to do is go inside yourself and “essence,” for lack of a better word. You have to find the essence of who you are, and let it percolate or bubble up to the surface until it’s overflowing from you.
“To the extent you do that, you ‘essencize’ your life, and you find out who you are and what you have that’s unique, and come to an understanding of what you can give to other people that they cannot get from anybody else. And the deeper you go, the more passionately you go into this mind-state of consciousness, the less you’ll have to make any kind of efforts at all during your American tour. D
“Doors will be opened for you by G-d, the way the Red Sea was opened up for the Jewish people when they needed it. Everyone is going to be on your side, to get involved, to introduce you, to work for you, and to help you create connections with lots of people. You’ll have everything it takes to make it happen.
“G-d will give you the courage, the confidence and the words, but it all depends on how much you go into the essence of who you are.”
So, that’s how I was introduced to this concept of Pnim D’Panim. Now, let’s jump back into the present, when we’re very close to beginning a new year. Every year at this time I try to review all the highlights of my life, which for me, personally, prepares me and and “essences” me. It lights up my inner light, more than anything. I can clearly see that I’m much more of a human being than I thought, as I recall various parts of my past year while they are percolating through my mind.
The more I’ve seen lost parts of myself coming to the surface and into my awareness, the more I sense the world is meant to connect with me. The people in different parts of time, space and soul are reaching out, seemingly out of nowhere, to ask, “Hey, are you the Kabbalist Rabbi who helps people understand a million weird things, meaning whatever comes up in their minds?”
Questions like that one come up because the deeper a person goes inside, the more they will experience people and opportunities embrace them and chase them down, sort of like teenagers chasing after the Beatles in the early 1960s. It has that power because we are microcosmic beings, and the deeper we go inside ourselves, the more we wake up the world around us, especially the things that correlate to the deepest parts of ourselves.
And that is Pnim D’Panim. What can you do to get it? First, you have to see who you are and what your calling is in life, and hopefully be able to synthesize your core essence into a concept or a word. For example, “a transcender, a giver, a fixer, “ or whatever your word may be. When you have it, you can walk with your word, and make decisions from it, and speak from that place, that “identity word” of who you are. That is “essencizing.”
And you have what you need to blow past all the pettiness of life and get down to the core of it. People are going to feel that from you, and it will allow you to break through walls. When we speak from our hearts and souls it opens other people’s hearts and souls, too. When we speak from our essence, then me can “essencize” other people as well.
You have to find out who you are by studying your life, seeing the highlights of your life and what you are yearning for, what you really desire. What do you excel in and what are you struggling for? What MUST you have in your life? These are the questions that lead you to your essence point, and the answers will be provided as long as you’re receptive enough to hear them. Your answers are available 24/7 if you’re asking the right questions.
Go straight to the source and ask G-d your questions. Once you do that, you’ll give birth to your “essence personality,” and it will light up your way in your soul family, your people, in ways you never thought possible. And all this will happen without your personal, concerted effort. It’s unfamiliar to people who are living in the natural world instead of their own essence.
I’m referring to a concept that’s extra-ordinary and super-natural, which is – the deeper you go inside, the more the outside stuff is taken care of for you. So, that’s the challenge, and my MMM for this week. I’m curious where it will take me, where I’m going to take it, and who else is going to jump on board.
This will be the MMM for Parsha Re’eh this week, and the topic is Integrating the Lower Self, or the Lower Soul. This is a topic that really interests me, because most people are completely ignorant of it and suffer as a result of their ignorance of it. They simply don’t know how to integrate their Lower Soul into their lives.
The Lower Self, Lower Soul or Animal Soul… which is not the same as the Evil Inclination, not at all… but it is part of us which often takes over to sabotage us at the wrong moment. It can impair us in a negative way, or it can empower us in a positive way.
The source of the Lower Soul in Kabbalistic works is called The Left Side of the Heart or The Animal Soul. It’s associated with the original mix-up with the Tree of Good and Evil. It’s associated with Esav, the twin brother of Yaakov, and the Esau/Esav energy of unharnessed chaos, in a way.
When properly processed however, this part of ourselves becomes a great point of life force and empowerment. We have to integrate it, and it’s dangerous stuff because we can easily take it too far.
In a conversation with a friend of mine who is a Hollywood script writer, we discovered that he does not refrain from talking about the dark parts of himself because it gives him the creative edge needed in his business. The more he does it, the more his works become brilliant.
To bring this idea back to the Jewish sources, it’s like this – King David, at the end of his life, could not physically maintain warmth. So, after searching the Land of Israel, the most beautiful girl was found, and she was hired to lie beside him to keep him warm.
The meaning of “not being warm” in King David’s expression was, “libieb chalal bekirei” which translates as, “my heart is void inside of me,” and means that he had no desire for lower-soul stuff any more. It means he was complete and had no need for it, so that caused the situation he experienced at the end of his life, his inability to literally and figuratively warm himself up.
The body heat and the spiritual heat that warms people up is that Lower Self, that Animal Self, that stuff that’s coming from the Left Side of the Heart. King David didn’t have it, toward the end of his life, and he needed help to get warm, literally.
Moses, at the age of 120, right before he died, was completely lucid. And he said, “I can no longer go in and come out anymore,” which means he didn’t experience ups and downs any more. That Lower Soul is responsible for knocking us down so we have to climb up and reach a higher place. Moses didn’t have that responsibility any longer. He was not no longer a warrior and he didn’t belong in this life anymore because he had completed the job.
So, that lower part of ourselves, that Animal Self, is actually the part that keeps the life force alive. So, what we need to do to get to that part, to connect with it, and there are several different ways to do that. One of the ways to connect with that part is to clean it, clear it, and purge it.
We need to give it a voice. People who do Transcendental Meditation say a non-sensical mantra so that the mind will “sweat out” all of these lower soul thoughts, so that they are not just repressed there. They get processed, and that’s what keeps them calm during the day.
Debbie Ford, one of the original new age writers, wrote about the dark side of ourselves in a book called The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. The wrote about what she called a “shadow world.” We have many parts inside of ourselves, character traits which are not flattering and we’d never want written on our tombstone. We’d never want to become famous for them or have them written on our CD.
We may be lazy or jealous or just looking for a good time. Those are just some examples, and what we have to do is find our own character traits and bring them to the surface, so that we can make a deal with them, we can say, “ok, I’ll let you be a part of my conscious world if you don’t mess me around too much, and if you don’t steer me wrong.”
When we do that, we are able to integrate. Then we generate and ignite those parts of ourselves that, if we didn’t allow them to come to the surface in a healthy, sane way, they would derail us. They would sabotage us, at all the wrong times and in all the wrong ways. So, that’s another way to get to them.
Yet another way to get to them is to know how to mix them, to mix the strong parts with the weak parts, the holy parts with the not-so-holy parts. We can learn to unify them in a way which is healthy.
One way to do that is to look into our mind, which is what the Baal Shem Tov used to do. When we’re involved in a holy space, such as prayer or learning or something like them, we need to look at the thoughts coming to us. There are a lot of lower-self thoughts coming to us, saying, “raise me up!”
Some people are encouraged to go around, because it’s too dangerous to deal with the thoughts. But another approach is to say, “take those things and elevate them, to put them in the service of G-d.”
Instead of wanting to strong-arm people, be a warrior for G-d. It’s that kind of a work that we do.
Even in time management, we can process these things. We can take the Higher Self, which is what we should do, and the Lower Self is what we would do if we could, and we blend those together. We take the woulds and the coulds and, and scoring them on a scale of 1 – 10, and then looking at the combination of them and making it our priority.
Whatever scores a 10 on the woulds and coulds in my life is the first thing I’m going to do. It’s the most important thing, and the ones scoring 9 and less, are less important to me.
We can look at these lower parts of ourselves and rather than completely focusing on them, we can look at the positive side and try to bring that out to be the dominant side. We can mesh them together to achieve harmony in our lives.
We can look at the Esav side of ourselves, this animal energy we have, and if we can possibly put it into proper vessels, then we have harnessed the animal energy for holy purposes.
There’s a lot more to talk about on this topic, but that’s it for now.
The MMM theme for the week of Parsha Eikev is connection. Here’s a list of the things I want to share in my connection-themed MMM:
- The whole concept of connection or connecting, in Kabbalistic literature, is the juxtaposition of two Sephirotic aspects, one of which is always the source of all activation, movement and vitality. Everything is either a connection or a disconnection. Connections in Kabbalah are called “chasadim,” and disconnections are referred to as “gevurot.”
These are the universal activators of life, opposite of each other. Chasadim connect, and they are associated with water, and gevurot disconnect, and they are associated with fire. Many more parallel aspects exist, but I won’t deal with them right now.
- Another source of connection is the unification of the broken vessels of the world. Right now, we are in a 45-day period of time, from Tisha B’Av until the 25th of Elul, the day commemorating the creation of the world. Forty-five is the Kabbalistic code name for Tikkun, or rectification.
Connecting, then, is rectifying. And disconnecting is breaking, which is the opposite of rectifying.
- A Messianic consciousness source for connecting can be seen by understanding that a human being is a microcosm, created in the image of G-d. A microcosm is a brilliant mechanism of connection, and interconnection. Man as a microcosm, or a small world, is connected with the past, the present and the future. We are connected with all people in the world, all consciousnesses of the world, and with all aspects of life, if we know how to press the right buttons to connect.
- A Garden of Eden source for connecting comes from the Fall from the Garden. While the Fall created disconnection and duality, such as light and dark, life and death, anything and it’s opposite. The connecting aspect, the way we get back into the Garden, is by getting into the oneness. This is what will happen when we get into the Messianic period.
- A Cycle of Life source for connecting comes from time, which does not exist in a vacuum, but in brilliant interconnections. For example, the weekdays are connected with the Sabbath, which is connected with the next weekdays. Rosh Hashana, the New Year, is connected to the whole year, in fact there’s an intimate connection. Our lives are connected to the post life; it’s all going to be reflected in that way. Our present life is connected to our past life and our future life as well.
These are Cycle of Life connections. The more we connect them, the more we can tap into the healing potential of making connections, which is what it’s all about.
- A Bashert source for connecting is available in our relationships. Bashert means “meant for each other,” and it comes from historical connections we’ve had with each other, root soul connections. When we discover those connections and actualize them, then we can live in a win-win relationship, or a bliss-bliss relationship where we are completely receptive to each other.
You could say we complete each other, we are each other’s soulmate or soul sibling, and we turn the “me” into a “we.” That’s the greater possibility for connecting in relationships.
- A Me/Myself source for connecting is often called, “finding your calling.” We find our calling in life with what we most resonate with when we’re “in the zone.” Or, we find the most difficult thing in our lives and endeavor to take care of it. We can project how we will take care of it by finding our inner voice and by going down a path towards actualizing ourselves. That’s what we call, “connecting to myself.”
- A Faith in G-d source for connecting is when we have faith and trust in G-d, and when we see G-d’s hand at work 24/7, in everything we do in life. It’s available by connecting our will to G-d’s will, with our entire heart and soul and might.
On the occasion of the yartzeit of Rabbi Yitzchak Issac Luria, the Arizal, I want to talk about him because he was such an incredible human being. These are some things everybody needs to know, to understand what it’s possible for a human being to become in this world:
- The Ari was mean to be a spark of a part of the reincarnation of Moses, of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and possibly Moshiach ben Yosef (of the two Messianic presences, ben David and ben Yosef.)
- The Ari had the ability to look at another person with x-ray eyes, so to speak, and to see into their soul. He could look at a person and understand everything about them, just by looking at them. By sensing their aroma, he knew their essence. He could look at their forehead and understand their sins, and look at their eyes and see their soul, and bring it out to speak to it.
- The Ari could go to a graveyard and look at the souls of the people buried there. He was able to select a name from the Kabbalistic books he studied and speak a name from among the Sages, and that person would appear before him and answer whatever the Ari asked.
- The Ari could look at birds and understand their language, and look at trees and understand their language. He certainly was able to understand the language of Torah and, in fact, was a genius at understanding all of Torah.
- The Ari could look beyond the surface of a person and see what’s underneath, which may reveal that another soul is also inhabiting that person’s body. Not only in an evil, scary way, but also in a holy way. A person from a previous generation came to help another person along in this life, as a mitzvah. He could look at a student and stand up for them, because he understood that, as a result of their actions, they had the assistance of a Sage from 2000 years ago.
- The Ari was able to see, in a learning session during the day, where all the doubts came from. He would seek out these doubts, like a warrior in battle would seek out the enemy. Whenever he found a doubt, something that was unclear in the world of Torah exploration which is mean to be sort of a grey area, meaning not black and white, the Ari would seek out the doubt to destroy it. And that’s how he became a person of incredible clarity. Whatever he said, he said with absolute authority, unlike some of his students who had a harder time, and weren’t always clear about what he said, how much he said and what he meant.
- The Ari could draw down any soul from any time period, past or present, and bring it into the room.
- The Ari went up and visited the upper yeshivas when he went to sleep each night. He was escorted by angels to protect him on the way into Heaven, and he participated in the yeshivas of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Moses and any other Sages of his choice. He was welcomed with open arms.
- The Ari was able to come back and report what he learned. The accumulated wisdom, his entire body of knowledge communicated by the transcribers of his wisdom was collected from his age of 36 to 38. And that’s what he gave to the world, and it encompasses a body of knowledge which is huge. Every book of Torah you can find includes something from the Ari.
- The Ari was able to share just a fraction of all he actually knew, which became apparent when one of his students snuck into his room while the Ari was napping on a Shabbat afternoon, and he saw the Ari’s lips moving very fast. Afterwards, he was told that during the minute or two he saw the Ari moving his lips there was conveyed so much information through him that it would take 80 years to share with others.
- The Ari was simply a man of increbility, in every sense of the word… a man who knew the root soul of every person, where they were on their path, what they were supposed to be doing in the present and also in the future, and what they need to fix up in their lives.
- The Ari could take a soul out of a person and interview it, and find out where it’s going and where it needs to go.
- The Ari was incredibly humble. He never killed any living thing, although he could have done so at any moment.
- The Ari was speaking with angels at all times. And he understood the language of the body, physical features and facial features, their eyes, nose, mouth, ears and lines on their face. Doing so he could read the person’s reincarnations throughout their past lives.
- The Ari revealed to us methods and systems of Kabbalistic learning which answer the deepest questions ever asked by humans, all the paradoxes included. His account of the constriction of G-d’s presence and revelation in Creation, and his system of Sephirot are good examples. The Ari said he didn’t get anything of his own except what he gleaned from the Zohar of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and which he put into a system for others to understand.
- The Ari answered some of the biggest dilemmas regarding reincarnation, why bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people… he understood all that.
Those are just a few points outlining a truly amazing person, who emanated this access to wisdom every single minute of his life. He was a shining example of the extraordinary. From the Ari, we see the possibility of what a human can do and can be. He came here to fix the world, and teach through his main student, Rabbi Chaim Vital, who was prepared to be the Moshiach, but it was not the time in his generation as they were not worthy, so it didn’t happen yet.
We still have more work to do, but in the Arizal we can see what a human being can actually become.