Sunday, April 29, 2012

Emor: Consecrating God in who we are

The sanctity demanded by the Creator from the children of Israel includes their priests as well, and this portion of the Torah refers to the service the latter perform in the Sanctuary or Temple.

The separation of roles regarding the priests does not imply different categories of sanctity among all the children of Israel. However, this sanctity is emphasized for the priests because they represent the full awareness of our permanent connection with the Creator and His Love, from which we all are created and sustained.

By its nature, this awareness is sacred because our attachment to God's Love depends on it.

“They shall be holy to their God, and they shall not desecrate their God's Name, for they offer up the fire offerings of the Lord, the food offering of their God, so they shall be holy.” (Leviticus 21:6)

We have said in previous commentaries (see in this blog Parshat Emor: “Life for Life” of April 25, 2010 and “Total Offering of Life to God's Love” of may 1, 2011) that through our offerings, which are our best thoughts, feelings and deeds, we sanctify ourselves and consequently our relationship with God. This higher consciousness, the awareness represented by the priest, we must consecrate all the time.

“You shall sanctify him [the high priest], for he brings the offering of the bread of your God; he shall be holy to you, for I the Lord who sanctifies you, am holy.” (21:8)

The bread of God is His Love.

This sublime awareness is kindled by the knowledge the Creator gives us to elevate all levels and dimensions of consciousness up to His Service, which we accomplish through Love's ways and attributes. God sustains His entire Creation with His Love, and we also must nurture our lives and the material world where we dwell with Love as our true Essence and identity, as the material manifestation of God's Love that is. That is our service in the world to honor His Love for us.

“(...) for the crown of his God's anointing oil is upon him. I am the Lord.” (21:12)

Again the Creator reaffirms His ways and means for us to follow and emulate when He tells us “I am the Lord”. In this statement He tells us, “Do as I say because I am telling you”. This also means that all we do in our lives must be aimed to sanctify Him.

“You shall not desecrate My Holy Name. I shall be sanctified amidst the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who took you out of the land of Egypt, to be a God to you. I am the Lord.” (22:32-33)

We mentioned in a verse above that the Creator anoints (enlightens our higher consciousness with the knowledge of Him) the priest with His oil, and in the last chapter of this portion He expands this enlightenment for all Israel to also kindle the Menorah of the Sanctuary.

“Command the children of Israel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to kindle the lamps continually.” (24:1)

This also means that the potential goodness and loving kindness of all levels of consciousness (the children of Israel) are commanded by the Creator to provide and bring the oil, the enlightenment for the high priest. In other words, the motivation to experience and enjoy our permanent connection with Him must come from the goodness and loving kindness that we infuse in our intellect, mind, thoughts, emotions, feelings, speech and actions. All the dimensions and qualities of our consciousness are summoned for this purpose.

This higher consciousness has the purpose of guiding and directing, as it is reiterated.

“And to My people shall they [the priests] teach the difference between holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the impure and the pure.” (Ezekiel 44:23)

The practical way to do it is by following Love's ways and attributes as the means to sanctify our consciousness and our surroundings.

It's important to underscore that the consciousness that Israel represents is multidimensional, and encompasses qualities, traits, aspects, and attributes that are destined to fully reveal the Divine Presence in the material world. The revelation of God to Israel at Sinai serve a dual purpose. One is for the children of Israel to assume their true Essence and identity from then on, and the other is for them to reveal the Divine Presence in the world from then on.

Once Israel experienced the Creator and His ways and attributes at Sinai, our destiny is to proclaim on Earth His kingdom and His glory, which are manifest in Love's attributes which must be the sole rulers of human consciousness.

This awareness teaches us to unify all dimensions of consciousness in the service of God's Love, and this service means to manifest Love's ways and attributes as the means to remove the unclean and impure in order to make prevail Love as our true Essence and identity. In this sense all the children of Israel are united under the permanent awareness of our connection with the Creator, and this awareness makes us priests.

This is the context in which we understand God's Commandment, “and you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:6). This identity makes us different from the other nations. The Torah is the instruction with which our Jewish identity teaches “the nations” that represent traits and qualities submitted to ego's fantasies and illusions.

The Torah teaches the entire humankind the difference between ego's illusions and Love as truth, and this is how we enlighten consciousness to dissipate darkness in all its dimensions. We realize and practice these teachings under the guidance of our connection with God's Love as the source of all that is.

In this realization and experience we are priests because we sanctify all we are, have and do, with the sanctity of Love in the awareness that we are permanently connected with our true Essence and identity, which is God's Love.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Acharei-Kedoshim: The Holiness of God's Love

The description of purity and impurity continues in Acharei-Kedoshim because it is relevant in the Torah to contextualize their aspects and messages, and the emphasis is both in avoiding impurity in all levels of consciousness and pursuing purity as the means to maintain closeness with the Creator. Again, this is reiterated at the beginning of Kedoshim.

“Speak to the entire congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, 'You shall be holy for I, the Lord your God, am holy'.” (Leviticus 19:2)

This is the premise and precedent for the second time that the Ten Commandments are mentioned in the Torah (see in this blog our commentaries on parshat Kedoshim in 2010 y 2011).

We know that the 248 positive and 365 negative Commandments of the Torah are aimed to make us pure and clean in our journey in the material world. Hence, we must constantly evaluate the nature of our individual reality or realities, what do they encompass, their origin and their purpose, and draw conclusions regarding what we consider positive and negative in our life.

We have said countless times in this blog that our predicament in the material world is to exercise free will amid true and false, useful and useless, good and bad, etc. We also said that discernment is a compelling precondition to be truly able to choose between truth and illusion.

In this awareness we are capable to assimilate what the Torah tells us regarding pure and impure, and also instructs us to do it in relation to our fellow human beings.

Our sages spent a sizable amount of their lives to teach us how to conduct ourselves before our peers and our immediate surroundings. These are the circumstances in which we observe not only the Ten Commandments but all the Commandments of the Torah.

We must understand our Creator's holiness in terms of what is holy in us. Proclaiming that He is our God and that He is holy should not a “one way street”. This is one of the reasons that in Hebrew the verb to pray is reflexive, and not an active or passive expression. It is something that we do with ourselves and for ourselves, for our own sake.

This action requires a thoughtful and mindful approach to ourselves in relation to our Creator, and this means that in our prayer we are together as One with Him. In this sense, the First Commandment of the Decalogue is not only about God but about our connection with Him: the One who brought us out of Egypt, the house of bondage. He is the Creator of all, who by His Love redeems us from what keeps us tied and bound to that which denies, oppresses, exploits and undermines who we really are.

Our God defines Himself for us in His First Commandment not as an abstract God to His people. He tells us in His Torah how to know Him through His works, ways and attributes: He is our sole Redeemer, and shows us how He does it. He is not just God, He is who liberates us from all bondage and exiles.

The Creator of all, our God, is One and therefore there is no space in our consciousness for us to dare conceiving “other gods”, and these include “idols from which our eyes go astray”.

We have said that the Hebrew semantic root of the word “idols” also means molds as masks, and from this we learn that wearing masks as adopted molds to think, feel, speak and act, simply represents what we are not in essence.

In other words, the Second Commandment not to have idols or gods means that our identity is defined by our relationship with the One and only God, as stated in the First Commandment. This implies that anything different from His ways and attributes must be rejected by us.

In this sense, the idols are those that we consider, think, feel or believe that are superior to us and worthy to be revered, followed, and even feared. This predicament is exactly our main problem because this kind of mentality is the root of our isolation, pain, suffering and fall.

In order to get out of such predicament, again we must use our discernment and mindfully identify the nature of our “idols”, the addictions to fantasies and illusions created either by ignorance or simply by ego's materialistic desires.

Is it glamour, fashion, sophistication, make-believe, arrogance, lust, impudence, indolence, greed, coveting, and their derivatives? And, if so, from where they come from? Do they come from a sense or feeling of lack? Or misguided desires? And, if so, are they part of who we really are, part of our true Essence and identity?

What went wrong that led us astray from the One and only God who is our sole Redeemer? Is it the social, cultural and ideological establishment that tells us who we are and what to think, feel, desire, speak and act, as well as the way they educate us in the schools and universities?

It must be something out there, because none of that is in the Torah and none of that is part of God's ways and attributes.

In this state of affairs we must discern about what is clean and unclean, holy and profane. In this discernment we indeed understand what does it mean “You shall be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy”.

This is how we grasp what the Torah means with the words “God created them in His image and likeness”, because His works, ways and attributes are such image and likeness that we are supposed to be, have and manifest as long as we are fully aware of Him as our God.

In this awareness we realize the meaning of being holy. Hence, the Commandment of being holy precedes the Ten Commandments as the obvious premise to approach our connection with God in general, and our relationship with our fellow men in particular.

In all this we realize the sacredness of God's Love as His ways and attributes, and our Love for Him and our neighbors as the material manifestation of His Love.

God created us as an emanation of His Love, and through His Love we are able to emulate His ways and attributes as described in His Torah. Thus we realize the holiness of His Love and our Love, and in this connection we are completely aware that He is our God who brought us out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage, because God loves us. In His Love, He also tells us that anything different from His ways and attributes are idols with which we deny Love as our common bond with Him.

In this bond we don't take His Name in vain, we observe and protect the Shabbat, we honor our fathers and mothers, we don't murder, we don't steal, we don't bear false witness, we don't covet, and we follow the rest of the Torah's Commandments with the same approach of sacredness.

This is the awareness represented by Jerusalem as the highest knowledge of our bond with the Creator, and this is why we have to rebuild our consciousness through His Love, as it's written.

“On that day I will erect David's fallen booth [succah], I will repair its branches and erect its ruins, and I will rebuild it as in days of old, so that they [the children of Israel] will conquer the remnant of Edom and all the nations, for My Name is upon them, the words of the Lord who bring this about.” (Amos 9:11-12)

Hence, we must allow His ways and attributes as the foundations and rulers of all levels of consciousness, our booth. In the awareness of His Love as our Essence and identity we are empowered to conquer and redirect the remaining negative aspects of consciousness (Edom and the nations).

Thus we realize that His Name, His Love, is upon us as our true Essence. This is the way we are holy, because our God is holy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tazria-Metzora: Cleaning our Consciousness with God's Love

Sometimes Pesach falls between parshat Shemini and parshat Tazria-Metzora and their contents are related to the Exodus from Egypt. Their specific references are about cleanliness and uncleanliness, and at the end of Shemini we read, “For I am the Lord who has brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God. Thus, you shall be holy, because I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:45).

The Creator takes us out of Egypt (which represents the negative traits and qualities in our consciousness as the unclean ways to face the material world) as a premise for Him and for us to be our God.

While we are under the dominion of negative beliefs, thoughts, emotions, feelings and passions, we live without God. He is the means to be aware of our true essence and identity. In other words, there is no love or its ways and attributes amid negative circumstances, because love does not dwell with anything different or opposite to its ways.

The children of Israel were aware that their forefathers knew that there was one God with whom they were closely related, yet under the oppression by the worse traits in human consciousness they doubted that their forefathers' God existed at all. If we put ourselves in their shoes, neither we would believe that there is a compassionate, benevolent and loving God.

We experience such feeling when we go through difficult circumstances in our efforts to survive and fulfill our basic needs amid increasingly hostile and adverse conditions.

In the case of our ancestors, they were completely dependent on the Egyptians for their survival and knew no other land to go. Hence, their deliverance depended exclusively from the God of their forefathers, and it happened because of Him. God sent them to Egypt and He took them out of there as part of His plan for Israel.

The circumstances now are different because we are under the dominion of our own material illusions that keep us separate from God, because we chose to follow them and not His ways and attributes. Now our deliverance depends on us and not on Him.

Making the choice to return to God implies separating our consciousness from the negative and adverse circumstances that we have created as real in our lives.

It works in the same way of the so called “revolutions” throughout history. People simply get fed up with the status quo, the oppression of the establishment's ideology, as well as social and economic patterns, and cultural trends that dehumanize our consciousness.

In Judaism, the difference between those revolutions and the Final Redemption is that in the latter all evil, wickedness and negativity will be eradicated, and we will be living only for the purpose of knowing God's ways and attributes.

This means that we don't expect it as a sudden unannounced miracle, but as something that we must pursue with all our heart, mind, soul and might. This we do by loving God enough to pursue in all our levels of consciousness love's ways and attributes as material manifestations of God's love. Then we will make possible the miracle of revealing His presence in the world, and turn it into a place for Him to dwell among us.

Our ancestors in Egypt had to leave the uncleanliness of the negative traits of consciousness in order to have God, so they could become holy because He is holy. Again, love as holiness does not cohabit with anything different to its ways and attributes.

This is why we must reflect on what is clean and unclean to tell the difference between love's qualities and ego's fantasies and illusions (see our commentaries on Parshat Tazria: “Speak Love” of April 3, 2010 and “Living in the Pact of Divine Love” of March 27, 2011).

All the Torah's laws regarding individual and collective purity are intended to make us aware of what is clean and the unclean in our consciousness. We have said often that our levels of consciousness are vessels in which we fill our thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts. They are designed to be empty in order for us to fill them with the positive qualities of love's attributes, and to do that we must first clean them from ego's agenda.

It's not an easy task, considering that we have been filling every aspect of consciousness with the wrong ingredients.

We are what we have in our thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts, and we know this. A negative approach is to start by looking in the mirror and ask ourselves if we like what we see or not. What we see in the mirror is only the reflection of the exterior of the vessel, not its content which is what we must evaluate: the ingredients that make who we think we are. Then we begin to make the inventory by identifying right from wrong, positive from negative, true and false, and so on.

It's not a judgmental process but a discerning journey in which we put to the test our free will. Discernment and free will go together in this, because if we are not able to discern we will never be able to properly exercise free will. We need to know first before making choices, and we all are aware of this.

The Torah instructs us to discern about everything because that is the way to acquire knowledge. In other words, we have to get smart before making decisions; and the smartest way to be is by discerning in, with, for and through love's attributes.

Our inner cleanliness is not about reflecting emptiness but by carrying love's ways and means in what we may believe, think, feel, speak and do. Consciousness contains vessels designed to be filled at all times, and we constantly must check if their content is clean or unclean, pleasant or unpleasant, uplifting or degrading, exciting or depressing.

Let's be aware that in love's ways there is no room from anything negative, so there's no such as thing as “it's OK to be sad” or “there's nothing wrong with being angry or upset” because once we fill our vessels with such feelings, they will drive us in their ways. Then don't blame God for it or anyone for our frustrations as the direct outcome of our fantasies and illusions, either be real or imagined.

Some say that the path of righteousness that leads us to real freedom and redemption is straight and narrow, and they are right.

As we follow love's paths, there is no point to look to the sides because the only sides are love's sides. Others say that we have to be constantly vigilant while we walk in those paths, because we can fall again into ego's illusions. Indeed, it's not an easy task but we have no other choice.

As long as we are fully aware of God's love and His goodness, as the moment to moment real experience that they are, we begin to live our own individual redemption. We realize this when we start cleaning who we are and what we have in order to embrace our God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Israel.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Shemini: Sanctifying our Connection with the Creator

We have learned that the preparation of the Sanctuary, the High Priest and the offerings are the means to be close to the Creator.

“This is it that which the Lord spoke, saying: 'I will be sanctified in those who are close to Me, and before all the people I will be glorified'." (Leviticus 10:3)

By directing all dimensions of consciousness (“all the people”) in Love's ways and attributes, God's Love will also be glorified because we will see Him manifest in all dimensions of His Creation. Let's reflect on the meaning of sanctifying and glorifying Him.

The psalmist helps us understand them through what he refers to as praising. King David's psalms (praises) explain that we do it by following God's ways and emulating His attributes which are His Love for His Creation.

We do it in our total freedom from ego's fantasies and illusions (“the nations”), and he also reminds us that we have to do it with all aspects, levels and dimensions of consciousness.

“Praise the Lord from the earth [our material life], great sea creatures and all [that lives in the] depths [the lower levels of consciousness], fire and hail [passion and passivity], snow and vapor [coldness and warmth], stormy winds that do His bidding [liberating thoughts], mountains and all hills [beliefs and ideas], fruit trees and all cedars [ways of truth and principles of righteousness], beasts and all cattle [instincts and passions], creeping creatures and winged fowl [lower passions and lifting thoughts], kings of the earth [habits and customs] and all peoples [lower emotions and feelings], princes [pride, ego's control] and all judges of the Earth [ethical and moral principles], both young men [avidity, intensity] and maidens [purity and modesty], old men [experience and wisdom] and children [innocence and reverence]. Let them [all] praise [give honor, make offering, be and express the Love of God] the Name of the Lord, for His Name alone is exalted; His Glory is above the Earth and the Heavens.” (Psalms 148:7-13)

Everything that exists emanates from Him and is sustained by God.

In terms of our consciousness, all its aspects that drive us to discern, think, feel, sense and act must be directed and guided to live God's Love in us and in all that He created for us to experience. We already know that what we perceive as “negative” aspects of His Creation -- those in which His Presence is not revealed to us --, exist as contrasting references for us to pursue the positive. As we learn about its goodness we prepare to transform the negative into positive.

This is the way we reveal God's Presence in the material world. Let's bear in mind and heart that the world exists for us to reveal the Presence of its Creator, and we do it only by being and manifesting His Love and the goodness of His ways and attributes.

We sanctify and glorify His Name by being and manifesting our true Essence and identity that is nothing less than His Love, and this is the way we 
elevate our life to be close to Him. In this process we fully experience His Glory, which is His Love.

“And Moses said: 'This is the thing that the Lord commanded you to do; and the Glory of the Lord shall appear to you'.” (Leviticus 9:6)

The narrative of Shemini continues making us aware that this process implies our clear awareness of the difference between ego's fantasies and illusions and Love's ways and attributes.

“And that you differentiate between holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean; and that you [Aaron] instruct the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.” (10:10-11)

The one who does it is Aaron the High Priest, the highest awareness of our connection with God's Love through Moses, the highest knowledge of the Creator. Let's be aware that the consciousness represented by Moses is our means to learn the ways and attributes to be always close to God and His Love (see our commentaries on Shemini: “Being Holy as Love” on April 2, 2010 and “Being Truthful in our Closeness to God's Love” on March 20, 2011 in this blog).

Nachmanides, the Ramban, tells us that some of the unclean animals forbidden by the Torah for consumption are predators and their qualities are a negative influence for us. We can't imagine ourselves behaving like snakes, scorpions, ravens, vultures or wild bests, though we know that there are people like them.

Our Prophets and Sages say that in the times of our Final Redemption every tree will bear fruit and all beasts will behave peacefully and lovingly, because the root of all evil will be completely eradicated from the face of the earth.

We have said many times that the Messianic consciousness is something that we have to generate, as our forefathers did under bondage in Egypt. They cried out laud for their Redemption, and our God heard and liberated them with the redeeming strength of His hand, the infinite power of His Love.

Some believe that our Final Redemption will come miraculously without us moving one finger to make it happen. They must learn from our history and the Holocaust in which the Jewish people were close to be annihilated. Almost nobody moved one finger to prevent it, and we now know what to do in order to never let it happen again, never again.

It's a lesson that cost more than six million lives to learn, and this means that we have to do more than moving one finger. The easiest thing to do is to blame God after we avoid our responsibilities and our part of the Covenant that He offered us through our forefathers. Even worse when we blame Him for the results of the choices we make! We claim and argue that our real freedom lies in our complete free will, and when evil appears in order for us to exercise free will we end up making negatives choices with their consequences... and again we blame God.

It's about time to realize that if we 
really desire our Final Redemption from all evil and negativity, we better start making the right choices and being aware of the positive effects that await us when we choose Love's ways and attributes. After all, Love is our true Essence and identity because we all come from God's Love.

Let's begin our Redemption by bringing to Him our offerings, our Love in what we are and do.

“(...) ascribe unto the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe unto the Lord the glory due unto His Name; bring an offering, and come before Him; worship the Lord in the radiance of holiness. Vibrate before Him, all the Earth; the world also is established that it cannot be moved. Let the Heavens be glad, and let the Earth rejoice; and let them say among the nations: 'The Lord reigns'.” (I Chronicles 16:28-31)

Once we recognize and learn His ways and attributes, may we bring to Him their works in what we are and do. In this awareness, may all aspects of our consciousness recognize that His Love rules His Creation. In the firmness of our Love may we meet His Love.

The psalmist also warns us about the consequences of our choices.

“But My people would not listen to Me; and Israel did not consent to Me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own counsels. If My people would only listen to Me, if Israel would only follow My ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their foes!” (Psalms 81:11-14)

Let's listen again to God's Love, and through our own Love let's defeat the negative predicament in ego's materialistic fantasies and illusions. In the Light of Love may we awake to our individual and collective Redemption, and in God's Love may we fully reveal His Presence in the material world. Then we may we say “The Lord reigns!”

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.