November 17, 2017

Daily Wisdom: ….A Vast Net of Jewels

imgres-1“Mystic philosopher Teillhard de Chardin writes, ‘The farther we penetrate into matter by means of increasingly powerful  methods – the more we are overawed  by the interdependence of all the parts.’  In the beautiful image of Mahayana Buddhism,  speaking accurately for the Kabbalah as well, the universe can be likened to a vast net of jewels–the reflection from one jewel contained in each. In the words of Isaac of Homil, and countless Hebrew mystics over the ages downing whiskey in European shtetls or running ecstatically through Jerusalem’s ancient streets, ‘Alt is Gud v’Gud ist Alt — All is God and God is All!’

[Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: Eros and Ethics Merge

imgres-6The Hebrew phrase or koan of “loosen the reins” is too wonderful not to share with you. “Harpeh et HaMoshchot.” Harpeh, meaning “loosen,” is also the word for heal. There is something powerfully healing in letting go of the tightness – loosening the fixities. The word for reins, moshchot, also means attraction or desires. Let your desires breathe; your deepest attractions are wise. Listen to them.

Implicit in the sexual circle are three levels. Circle: unchecked raw sexuality.  Line: sexuality delimited and controlled by ethics.  Circle: The Secret of the Cherubs.  The sexual models but does not exhaust the erotic. This is not an abandonment of ethics. It is a higher ethic which has absorbed the sacred intrusions of the line even as it  reintegrates the primal longings of the circle. Eros and Ethics merge.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

Daily Wisdom: The Identification of Genuine Need

imgres-7The practice of prayer is a teaching to the human being about the identification of genuine need. What is it that I truly desire? This is the sense of the popular aphorism, “Be careful what you pray for.” the prayers I choose to bring to God, the deep desire with which I pour out my heart like water before the living god, must be my most true, intimate, and genuine desire. Prayer is thus a spiritual exercise in the clarification of desire. Thus, side by side with spontaneous prayer and the creative prayer written by the individual who prays, there is also the prayer book written by the enlightened masters over the ages. It is not that their words necessarily contain mystical secrets to open the gates–although they well may–but rather it is that the prayer book is a great teaching on the identification of true desire.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Dance of Tears
(in press)

[Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: The Moment of Creation is One of Ecstasy

imgresOriginally, creation was said to have been a one-time event, an erotic, divine implosion in which the primal line bisected the primal circle and cosmos poured forth. This image was recast by post Renaissance Hebrew mystics in the light of the re-ascendancy of circle consciousness. Hebrew Mystic Levi Isaac, for example, opens his commentary with a radical assertion: creation is happening every second. The force of love which is divinity is constantly pouring through existence. Indeed, it is existence itself.

The moment of creation is one of ecstasy. Creation is an erotic outpouring, emerging from our ability to step fully inside, to touch what Levi Isaac calls ayin and Buddhists would call the void, to let the fullness of being pour through you.  Levi Isaac, seeker of Eros, simply cannot accept  the alienating masculine line image of creation common to the medieval schoolmen. For them, creation is a one-time event, which while originally caused by God, takes place outside of God.  Levi Isaac insists in a God who inheres in all of reality, in the ecstasy of creative union, replayed constantly in an eternal now. In his insistence, it becomes so. Thus for Levi Isaac, Luria’s image of circle being penetrated by line is the constant reality of existence. It is the yearning force of being – played over and over again.

We may at times lose touch with the interpenetration of line and circle, but is always present longing to be exposed.

~Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

Daily Wisdom: I NEED YOU

imgres-1Still more daring is the assertion of divine dependency on man which is made in the Talmudic masters audacious  interpretation of a verse in the prophet Isaiah, “You are my witnesses says the Lord, and I am your God.” Explain the masters, “when you are my witnesses I am God, and when you are not my witnesses I am not God.”

The key gift the lover gives to the beloved is to need the  beloved. And the converse. The gift of the beloved to the lover is to allow herself to need her lover. And of course the roles of lover and beloved are forever interchanging between the partners. This is the great gift of love for it fills the most basic and essential need of the human being; the need to be needed.

It is in being needed that we realize our humanity.  In being needed by God we disclose our divinity as well. There is no more ultimate need than to be needed by God. There is no more ultimate human dignity than to need and be needed by God.  What the mutuality of the covenant teaches us is that our need of him is but an echo, a reflection of his need of us. The great goal of spiritual work is turn God’s need – not into a merely human obligation – but into a genuine human need.  In doing so the human paradoxically begins to realize his divinity.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Dance of Tears
(page 379, in press)

 

 

Daily Wisdom: “Through my flesh I vision God.”

imgresA second source of authority for the Bible is spoken of best by that greatly afflicted mythical figure, Job. Job tells us, “Through my flesh I vision God.”  (Or, as nineteenth-century poet John Keats reformulated Job’s insight, “I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination.”)  For the mystical reader of biblical myth, to “vision God” is to understand being, for God and being are one.

Kabbalists read Job’s words with a pronounced emphasis on the word my.  “My flesh” means not only my physical form, but also the body of my life experience, my heart’s affections, and my imagination.  The verse is thus taken to mean that we access the epic of being through the drama of the psyche.  Each of us can access the psyche only through our singular psyche–that is, through our unique story.

Radical truth is to be found, albeit paradoxically, in radical subjectivity–in the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of the imagination.

 

Dr. Marc Gafni
Soulprints

 

Daily Wisdom: Frog Song

urlBy Marc Gafni

King David, the biblical author of Psalms, perhaps the greatest spiritual poetry every written, is walking by the river lost in ecstasy. In this state, he cries out, “God, tell me – is there anyone that has ever praised you as much as I?”

At that moment, a frog fantastically exclaims to him, “Be not so proud, David, for I have done more than you. You sing to God on occasion – I sing to God with every croak.” [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: Longing is the matrix of God’s revelation to us…

imgres-4We long for something deeper; something more, a higher and more noble authenticity. We masquerade in the mask of our wholeness knowing all along that it is but a charade; that we are part of larger whole with whom we yearn to be re-united. A shard of a shattered vessel whose hidden sparks seek to be uplifted and absorbed into the one even as they retain their sacred separate identity.  “As the gazelle yearns after the stream of clear water, so does my soul long after you, my God.”

Kalonymous  Kalman of Piacezna teaches in his book Holy Fire, “in response to our yearning for God, God longs and draws closer to us.” [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: Swords – On Thrusting and Receiving

imgres-5By Dr. Marc Gafni

The symbol of the line is the sword. In biblical Hebrew the actual word for  sword, often a phallic expression, is cherev. The sword and the lance are male symbols of thrusting forward, combat and conquest. The goal of the sword is to affirm which line (sword) is higher in the hierarchy. The sword is goal-oriented. It does not have conversation; instead, it takes control. The sword cuts  through and analyzes. The sword is the discriminating intellect which divides, categorizes and conquers.  Clearly the sword/line is both a powerful force of the spirit as well as a scourge.

The circle is not about thrusting forward. It is about receiving. In the sexual image the circle always receives the line’s forward movement. Whatever position one might take, it is always the circle which must receive the line. The circle listens, opening herself up to receive the line. She is able to absorb the line’s thrust – develop it, unpack it, and give birth to something entirely new. [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: What is “Temple Consciousness”?

imgres-3To be in temple consciousness is to be in God. Eros pure and simple. This shift in consciousness is hidden within the folds of biblical myth text itself. We have already seen that the biblical term lifnei hashem, usually translated as “before God,” can be more fruitfully unpacked as “on the inside of God’s face.”

This allusion plants the seed for the much more radical move made by mystic Isaac Luria in the 16th century. In Luria’s graphic and daring vision, the world is not formed by a forward thrusting male movement which creates outside of itself. Quite the contrary – Divinity creates within itself a sacred void in the form of a circle. This is the Great Circle of Creation. The circle, unlike in the original biblical image, is within God. It is an act of love which moves God to withdraw and make room for other – paradoxically – within God. [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: The Choir of Creation

imgres-2Lines and circles dance together in the hierarchy of nature. For chains for example are key to every eco-system. A chain is hierarchical, yet it is also made up of interloped circles! The balance of nature means that there is an appreciation for each, at every level. That you can’t be where you are without the other being where they are!

The erotics of interconnectivity however extend beyond the community of human beings. We are not alone on this planet. A wonderful encounter is recorded both in the Zohar and in an ancient Hebrew mystical text called the Perek Shira, the Chapter of SongThe Chapter of Song is a stunning tract which knows to tell that every creature on the planet has its own unique song. Moreover, it cites a sacred text from the Torah as the source of every creature’s song. The implication is radical and beautiful. The Torah, which includes all twenty-four sacred books of the Hebrew Bible, does not address humans alone. Both speak to and express in some mystical way all of creation.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

Daily Wisdom: Even God must be Becoming

imgres-2In Hebrew mysticism, in radical departure from Aristotle, being is infinitely inferior to becoming. Even God, to be perfect – argued the mystics – must be becoming. Which person do we think of as more evolved – one who is static or one who is always growing and expanding? Clearly the latter, respond the mystics to their own question. A person who is not growing is in some sense flawed. Some would even say that the moment we stop growing, we start to die.  Well then – why would you then deny God the same perfection?

When you give up your commitment to the next moment’s unfolding, you give up on God. On your divinely unfolding soul print. God’s gift to you is your life. Your unfolding and growth during that life is your gift back to God, for God expands in our growth.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

 

Daily Wisdom: Those who turn darkness to Light

imgres-7The members of the Zohar’s holy fellowship are called “Those who turn darkness to light.”

It was their profound engagement in their personal darkness which was the matrix for their radical creativity, their light. Zohar is only revealed through the prism of one’s soul print. All creativity wells from this place. In this spirit we understand Rilke’s advice to the Young Poet: “Go deep into yourself and how deep is the place from which your life flows.”

Not all of us are soul printed to write the book of the Zohar. But all of us have the creative potential to write a book of life that shines. That creative potential is our divinity. When we say God is one, we mean original. When the Hebrew mystic experiences herself as part of God it can only be through the path of her originality.  God is an original and can’t stand imitation.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

 

 

Wishing you all a wonderful and joyous Christmas

image002You are here to be the poem only you can be.
You are here to sing the song only you can sing.
You are here to be the Unique Presence of Being and Becoming in the world that no one else but YOU can be!

Classical enlightenment, the old enlightenment, viewed uniqueness as the enemy. The belief was that your experience of uniqueness would obscure the realization of your identity with All-That-Is. That ego or separate self is something to be surrendered, pushed aside, utterly dissolved in the timeless Absolute. There is an element of truth to this—the ego must be trance-ended. You must end the trance of the ego.

You will always experience yourself in part as a separate self—that is as it should be. If you did not, you would be psychotic or otherwise deranged. What you need to trance-end is your exclusive identification with your egoic separate self. For it is your sense of being, but a skin-encapsulated ego, that creates the sense of suffocation, fear, and drabness that passes as your life. This fundamental error in identity is the root of virtually all suffering. Your disconnection from your larger context, and the aliveness it holds for you, gives birth to every form of egoic grasping and addiction.

But the ego contains within it more than a glimmer of truth. As we’ll see later, the ego bears gifts that require clarification.

Clarification takes place through contact with the transcendent, resulting in the revelation of the larger whole of which the separate self ego is but a part. The gifts of the ego, which are the intimations of your infinitely valuable uniqueness, can then flower in your higher realization as Unique Self.

We must love and nourish our egos, not destroy them altogether. Ego prefigures and points toward Unique Self.

Dr. Marc Gafni
Your Unique Self, The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment
page 9 and page 16

Also Sharing With You this awesome audio/music clip from Dr. Marc Gafni that tells us that the only answer to outrageous pain is outrageous LOVE.

Daily Wisdom: A Paradigm Shift in Understanding Joy

imgres-1Joy, teach the Kabbalists, is both a source and a conduit of energy.  The word most often associated in Kabbalah with joy is chiyut, roughly translated as “life energy,” somewhat like the Chinese notion of chi.  To be happy is to be plugged into the chiyut of the Uni-verse.  The portal to that energy is the self, the vital Unique Self.  At the same time, once you are plugged in, the joy itself is not only an energy source but also serves as a medium to channel ever-more divine energy.

Dr.Marc Gafni
Your Unique Self
Page 224

Daily Wisdom: Joy is more than an attitude; it is a potent and powerful source of energy.

 imgres-2By Marc Gafni

The idea of joy as divine energy is expressed by the Kabbalists in many different codes.  Let me share one of them with you.

A favorite epigram of the Kabbalists is simcha poretz geder:  “Joy breaks through all fences.”  One Kabbalist, the master Simcha Bunim (whose first name actually means “happiness”), used this epigram to give a novel explanation of a famous mystical passage, “All the gates are locked, the gates of tears are never locked.”  Traditionally, this verse has been taken to extol the power of a broken heart to break through all barriers when all other avenues have proven ineffective.  When nothing else works, tears can still open the gates.

In a subtle twist, Simcha Bunim turns the passage on its head:  If you are sad, he says, then you can enter only if the gate is unlocked, already wide open.  Thus, God has no choice but to leave the gates of tears unlocked.  If you are joyous, however, then you can get through even the gates that are locked.  After all, simcha portez geder, “Joy breaks through all fences.”

Dr. Marc Gafni
Your Unique Self
Page 224, 225

Daily Wisdom: Enlightened Lovers, Shared Vision

One of the key values a couple must share in the biblical myth vision is a commitment to make the world a better place. They must be lovers not only to each other but to the world. This means that they are committed to looking beneath the surface of reality to search for the sparks of the sacred that can be hidden in the most unlikely of places. This is the commitment to love as perception: to find the good – the God points – hidden behind the obfuscating veils of an often painful reality. They are committed to healing and repairing the world even as they understand that they are not in control.

Their commitment to be lovers of the world together, and not only of  each other, finds a beautiful expression under the wedding canopy. In Hebrew mystical tradition, the bride and groom break a  glass to conclude the ceremony. Why do we break a glass?  The answer in the sources is zecher le churban ha mikadah, to remember the destruction of Temple in Jerusalem. We know that the Temple with its intertwined cherubs atop the ark is the symbol of eros and love – beyond the merely sexual. The couple is affirming the mystery of love hidden in the cherubic secret. They commit to make their lives a model for living erotically as lovers in the world.

Deeper still – the Temple is a symbol of a redeemed world. A world without stomachs distended from hunger, without soldiers killed at 18 and 19, without millions of people going to sleep alone, missing the warmth and comfort of another body. The world is filled with broken people. That is something we can never forget – especially under the wedding canopy, which is a symbol of hope and healing.

When we break the glass under the hupah, the broken pieces represent all the broken people in the world. We invite all of them, from Bosnia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Gaza and Jerusalem to come under the canopy with us. We invite them to participate in our moment of perfect joy when we are on the inside of the inside. The newlywed couple promises never to forget the emptiness. They commit to do something in their lives to make this world a better place to live, for everyone. This is the spiritual contract entered into by every bride and groom with each other. This is shared vision.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

Daily Wisdom: Find your Voice!

Only someone who chooses to step into her story can find voice and respond to her call.

Ah! From the soul itself must issue forth
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud,
Enveloping the Earth-
And from the soul itself must be there sent
A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
Of all sweet sounds the life and element

–Coleridge

(as quoted by Dr. Marc Gafni in Dance of Tears)

Daily Wisdom: He becomes the Language of God….

The human self understanding as “King,” stems from the insight, fruit of all serious spiritual practice, that all of reality is included in the divine. Once one realizes that all is the Godhead then one may draw one of two conclusions. First, one might say, well if all is God then I must immediately nullify and surrender to God. And that is good. However one might also say – if all is God, then I am God as well. And that is much better. For the first realization produces what Jewish, Christian and Eastern mystics have called Via Passiva. It’s a passivism, even a kind of resignation which results from the realization that human action is but illusion and the only will which is real is the will of God.

The second far deeper realization understands that if the human being is part of God then he is ultimately liberated. All of his actions count infinitely. He becomes the language of God. God’s adjectives, nouns, verbs, even God’s dangling modifiers. His identification with the divine is not emasculating at all. On the contrary it is radically liberating and empowering. His realization that there is nothing in the cosmos independent of God, the realization that is formally termed acosmism, yields not a tepid quietism but rather, what we have termed an audacious and impassioned “Non Dual Humanism.”

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Dance of Tears
(2013)

Daily Wisdom: The gates of tears are never closed

The wise of heart in biblical consciousness are those who are deeply connected to the inner emotional rhythms of their lives.  All personal growth is dependent on emotional intelligence – wisdom of the heart. And in Biblical thought we are alive for nothing if not to grow. The archetypal symbol of the spiritual emotional intelligence in much of ancient and  modern literature is tears.  Tears have the ability to be our inner masters. Each tear, or at least each form of crying opens up a new path to follow. Each bout of tears discloses something essential about the truths of our lives.

No two people cry alike. We have already mentioned 19th-century mystic Tzadok Hacohen of Lublin teaching that we are each are own esoterica.  We are each our own secret. Wisdom is esoteric not because it is intentionally hidden, teaches Tzadok; rather knowledge is kept secret because we are unable to access it.  Further when we do finally uncover wisdom, we are often incapable of transmitting it.

One portal however which remains, to our inner secrets – both to reveal them to ourselves and to share them with intimates – is through the gateway of tears. ‘All the gates are closed’, writes the Talmud, ‘the gates of tears are never closed.’

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Dance of Tears
(in press)

 

Daily Wisdom: God in second person is all about relationship

Whether the relationship is that of a servant to his master or a lover and his beloved or a relationship between partners or even friends, they are all “relating” to God.

The most powerful form of God in the second person is almost certainly the prayer experience. It is told that when Hassidic master Levi Yitzchak of Beridchev used to pray he would begin the standard liturgical form of blessing. “Baruch Ata Adonai,” “Blessed are you God,” and then break out of the mold of blessing crying out in sheer joy,  ” YOU… YOU… YOU… YOU!” He would lose himself in these words repeatedly shouting in ecstasy, “YOU… YOU… YOU!!!” This is the rapture of God in the second person.

For Levi Yitzchak the blessing is a kind of Buddhist pointing out instruction. It points however not to sunyata or emptiness but to God in the second person. Nachman of Bratzlav taught the spiritual practice of Hitbodedut.  In one form this meant walking alone in the forest “talking to God as you would to your friend.”

In God in the second person we meet God and bow. In God in the second person we meet God and partner. In God in the second person we meet God and love. The key however is the encounter. It is the encounter with God in history and in the lived reality of every human being that is the essence of the God in the second person experience.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Dance of Tears
(in press)