Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Desert as a Field of Life

The experience of our ancestors in the Sinai desert after the Exodus from Egypt set a principle for us, individually as Jews and collectively as a Nation. We understand their journeys in the desert as a transition process between slavery in Egypt and freedom in the Promised Land, darkness and Light, exile and Redemption, ignorance and knowledge. It seems to be a process in which there are many elements involved with total freedom as the common purpose. Life itself encompasses a similar process as the vehicle that supposes to be the means and the end for freedom. We have said many times that freedom is inherent to life in the sense that freedom is the means to experience it in a meaningful way. For this we have to define "freedom" and "meaningful". Even though both terms seem to complement each other, they may mean something different depending on who defines them and this also depends on the circumstances and the borders within we live.

We also have said often that Love is what gives sense and purpose in life, while the opposite of Love's ways and attributes deny any sense nor purpose in life. With these premises in mind we are going to approach "desert" and "journey" as well as "transition" and "purpose", among other terms relevant in the message that we aim to convey here. The desert is a place related to barrenness, lifelessness and something unable to sustain life. We can't live in a desert as a dwelling place unless we bring with us what we are going to need there in order to survive. The material world offers more suitable places, and the last place we want or need to go is a desert, except if we can find in it an oasis or an enlarged version like the one called Las Vegas. 

It's amazing what ego's materialistic desires can achieve to the point of building an entertaining city in the middle of the desert dedicated to fantasies and illusions. It sounds like defying the whole point that the Torah wants to teach us about Israel's journeys in the desert, which was to be closer to the Creator and not closer to ego's desires. The desert is the absence of anything that invites our consciousness to desire or to possess, simply because there is nothing there. We leave behind the accessories for a life in comfort in order to find something that gives meaning to any possible material asset to experience life in the best conceivable way. The desert, the land of nothing, the non-having and non-desiring place becomes the setting as a precondition to start knowing the One who created all and owns all. 

As we reflect on this, we start realizing that we humans do not really own anything, neither in the material world nor in the spiritual world. This is easy to confirm this when we realize that we don't take with us what we have when we die. In other words, we must realize that the only "possession" is our consciousness as long as we live with it in freedom. This is one of the lessons about knowing the Creator when we "meet" Him in the wilderness of Sinai. We can stand before Him when our consciousness is free from the bondage of material illusions we call "possessions" and other fantasies created by ego's desires.

Our mystic Sages say that we have to empty our consciousness in order to make space for God's blessings, which are His ways and attributes for us to experience and manifest in what we think, feel, speak and do. This conclusion is based on the Talmudic quote, "The Creator doesn't dwell with one who is full of himself", just because he leave no space for Him. Hence, the main obstruction to approach Him is the way we conceive ourselves individually, and what we do with our life according to such conception. Here we start to make the classical existential questions related to who or what we are, why are we here, etc. In the answers we suppose to find the whole point.

Most people believe that we are the result of our circumstances, and we act according to them without objections because "that's all there is". If we are not happy with that, we try as much as we can to change things and turn our circumstances according to what or who we think we are or "should" be. The other day an Israeli newspaper mentioned a new book of about a religious character whose life and deeds are based on legends that have been modified or transformed according to the interests of a particular religion. This book pretends to give a different perspective or vision about this particular character based on other legends and the author's own interpretation of them. He is basically trying to change a myth with his own version of the same myth, a lie from another lie. Most of us do the same regarding beliefs, customs, habits and views about things and people, and we are (not all of us) changing throughout our lives according to the times and circumstances.

We must assimilate the "desert" as a state of consciousness in which we make a space to meet the Creator. In order to enter this space we must reflect on our needs in every aspect of life, and come to the awareness that all our needs are fulfilled by God. If we don't realize this, we are back into the bondage of an approach to life that commands us to live according to ego's "rules of the game" or "fair play" in the fields of the material world. This is when we rather return to the consciousness of "Egypt" than pursuing a consciousness of real freedom in the fields of God. We have to embark in a journey in a desert with many stops and turns until we empty all levels of consciousness in order to let God fill them with the Essence of who we truly are. 

In this process God's Love is fully revealed to us in direct proportion to the space we allow for Him in our consciousness. The more we experience Love and manifest Love, the more we are able to transform darkness into Light. Our Sages say that a good deed is rewarded with the opportunity to do another good deed, and it makes sense because once we see the Light and hold it in our hands we are able to illuminate dark places. They also refer to the light of fire as something that we give or share without losing it, as it also happens with Love's ways and attributes. We give Love without losing it. We understand Love as something endless and infinite as God's Love, because it is our Essence and identity as well as the source and sustenance of life.

We realize this when we entrust ourselves to leave behind the mirages, fantasies and illusions of what we are not, and the "desert" is the empty space in our consciousness where this endeavor takes place. Here is where we stand before our Creator, who tells us that we are His and belong to Him, not to ego's illusions. Not to Egypt, not to Vegas, not to consumer society, not to "light" culture, not to vanity and glamour, not to futility, not to a meaningless life. In the desert we meet our Creator and in the desert we build a Sanctuary for Him, a place in the highest level of consciousness in which both our highest awareness of Him and our highest awareness of our connection to Him are the main leading and driving forces to approach life and the material world as emanations of God's Love.

In order to understand and assimilate the knowledge of life and the world, first we have to know their Creator and His Love; and we do this through Love as our common bond with Him. Let's leave behind our bondage to the material illusions fabricated by ego and engage in our individual inner journey to the place where only the Truth of who we are dwells, and let's dwell always in this Truth. This is Israel's legacy, inheritance and destiny as the state of consciousness in which God's Love fills every space of who we are as His children and as His chosen people, because we chose back to embrace Him as our Father and our King. This is our true Essence and identity, either in the desert or in any other place, to turn the desert into a field of life as He conceives it for us.

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From the Book's Foreword

Let's reexamine our ancestral memory, intellect, feelings, emotions and passions. Let's wake them up to our true Essence. Let us engage in the delightful awareness of Love as the Essence of G-d. The way this book is written is to reaffirm and reiterate its purpose, so it presents its message and content in a recurrent way. This is exactly its purpose, to restate the same Truth originally proclaimed by our Holy Scriptures, Prophets and Sages. Our purpose is to firmly enthrone G-d's Love in all dimensions of our consciousness, and by doing it we will fulfill His Promise that He may dwell with us on Earth forever. Let's discover together the hidden message of our ancient Scriptures and Sages. In that journey, let's realize Love as our Divine Essence, what we call in this book the revealed Light of Redemption in the Messianic era.