There are five relational movements towards becoming intimate with the Eternal.
It is impossible to have a relationship with an imaginary person. Likewise, it is impossible to have a relationship with the “idea of G-d.” One can only have a relationship with a real person who is fully present. To relate to you, I must be sure that you are there.
Piglett siddled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh”, he whispered. “Yes, Piglett?” “Nothing,” said Piglett, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
Knowledge is the experience of being certain of another’s presence. Every relationship is built upon knowledge.
Who are You? We are not alone. The universe offers us a relational home; not infinite emptiness. We are not here by chance. There was a beginning. There has always been an Eternal presence.
To know, one must think and struggle. Yisroel means the one who wrestles with G-d. To know, one must delve deeply into the mysteries of life. What is energy? What is the experience of taste and color? Is my sense of freedom real or merely an illusion fabricated by brain activity? How did natural law come to be? Does science have the answers? Not yet? Maybe never?
To know one must be courageous. One cannot be afraid of challenges. Truth takes on all comers. Dialogue must be tolerated. There is no end to thinking. One must own every decision made. One must be ruthlessly independent if one ever hopes to taste truth–never succumbing to the comfort of conformity. When we conform without thinking, we die. When we own our beliefs, we live.
Life is good. Every ray of sun fills us with pleasure. Unfortunately, we are often too busy or too distracted to experience the good. We need to savor the beauty of life. It’s not enough to know life is good. We need to feel it. We need to taste each bite.
We are lazy. We eat without tasting. Day after day, this habit leads to numbness. To appreciate the preciousness and goodness of a finger, a hand, a dance, a bath, a song, a blue sky, a smile, a hug, an insight, a flower requires choosing to experience the pleasure embedded in every moment–bursts of pleasure! To be in love with life! “If not now, when?”
Good and light are everywhere, in thousands of ways. We must become masters of appreciation, for there is also much darkness. If we fail to master the skill of appreciation, over time, the darkness consumes us and the Eternal Light is lost. Truth be told, just being alive is enough to fill our cups. “This is the day that the Eternal has made, we will exalt and enjoy it!”
Every ray of sunshine is also a gift. To feel and value its goodness is the art of appreciation. To experience it as a gift is the art of receiving. Not only is life good, it is a gift from the One who loves.
When we receive from the One who gives, we enter a profound state of relatedness. When we receive the smile or the open hand of a friend, we experience connection. We feel alive. Sometimes we just take without receiving. Then we feel alone and alienated. The heavens are constantly smiling at us. To receive that smile is to feel loved and profoundly alive. Receiving creates relationship. Taking destroys it. To move closer, we must acquire a gratitude attitude. Do you feel the love?
When we receive a friend’s warm smile, we can’t help but respond. We smile back. When a friend consistently showers us with love, we feel a soft bowing of the heart; a sense of indebtedness and we are ever so thankful for their gifts. When we recognize that the gifts we receive form Eternal are endless, we feel that same bowing of the heart…ever so gently.
Fear prevents our hearts from bowing. We are afraid of losing our selfhood and our freedom. Ironically, it is actually in the movement of bowing that we become ourselves ever more fully. And rather than losing our freedom, we become liberated from the shackles of pettiness and self-absorption.
Indebtedness is a fact of our being. It is a cosmic truth. We are radically dependent. But like Adam in the Garden, we feel like hiding. But our lover will not let us hide. He so much wants a relationship with us and this is why He gives us everything.
And when we are ready to respond and to bow, we discover something else moving–the impulse to do something; to return the love. But what can we do? What can we do for the One who needs nothing?
There is only one thing we can do for Him—live; live richly and greatly! “He is the king who desires life!” A parent wants one thing for his or her child—to be happy and live greatly. The Eternal wants the same for His children. His essence is love. It cannot be otherwise.
Once upon a time on a mountain top, He gave us His instructions for living, Torah. We were called to obedience and service. We feel uncomfortable. But our discomfort disappears when we understand that there are two types of service. There is the dehumanizing and crushing service of a slave to an abusive narcissist and there is the service of an adoring student to his wise and beloved teacher. This type of service is rooted in love. “With a great love have You loved us….” In such a relationship one becomes fully oneself and discovers his or her unique creative powers. In the former type of relationship, ones selfhood is crushed and ones creativity is annihilated.
Service is both a means and an end. It is a decision we make in order to learn and live. It is at the same time an authentic way of living. With service comes closeness and love, as the student cleaves ever more closely to his beloved teacher and mentor. He both learns and loves at the same time. Service is a process as life is a process. To embrace the process is to live with joy and vitality
Be real. Be honest. Be authentic. Be yourself. Above all, be human and live! For only when we’re alive does our relationship with the Eternal come alive. “And you shall live by them!” To live greatly—this is His only desire!