Sunday, April 24, 2011

Parshat Kedoshim: Being Part of God's Love

There are meaningful times in the Torah when the Creator "defines" Himself to us. Most of the times it seems enough to read "I am the Lord". When we read that He is holy, we reflect on the Commandments that precede such statement in the Torah.

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

While we read these Commandments in the context of His holiness, let's reflect on some of them in this portion.

"You shall not turn to the idols, nor shall you make molten deities for yourselves. I am the Lord, your God." (19:4)

Idols are ego's materialistic fantasies and illusions we give priority over Love's ways and attributes. Idols and molten deities are some of the translations of terms that originally mean "masks" that hide the real Essence of who we are: Love as our true identity.

Masks as darkness to cover the original Light from which we were created, hence it is us who place darkness over the Light we are. Masks and idols exist because we make them "for ourselves" as the verse says. In this sense we create our individual reality as the reflection of our own creation.

From this individual and also collective reality (because ego's illusions and fantasies are common among people that usually call them glamour, sophistication, class, taste, ideology, belief, tradition, social "values", and other cultural definitions) derive what the Torah calls idols as the root of ideas and feelings of lack that separate us from our true identity.

This eventually leads us to do what separates us from the holiness of Love.

"You shall not steal. You shall not deny falsely. You shall not lie, one man to his fellow." (19:11)

"You shall not swear falsely by My Name, thereby profaning the Name of your God. I am the Lord." (19:12)

As long as we live without the awareness of God's Love as our Creator and sustenance, we all live in lies and that make us thieves because all liars are thieves.

When we are blessed with talents and the potential for acquiring material riches, we must be aware that all we are and have is given by the Love of God. Thus, what we are and have is meant to be shared with others who have less.

This is God's Love's dynamics in order to empower us to create a better world for all, and this is the meaning of the verse...

"And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you collect the individual grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord, your God." (19:10)

In this awareness are able to understand the cornerstone Commandment of the Torah.

"You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." (19:18)

When we ultimately grasp that all in God's Creation is part of His Oneness, we will understand separation as the result of following the idols created by ego's fantasies and illusions. We can conceive and fully experience this Oneness through the awareness of our permanent connection to the Love of the Creator in a time and a space called the Shabbat and the Temple of Jerusalem.

"You shall observe My Shabbats and revere My Sanctuary. I am the Lord." (19:30)

Once we are able to know and experience God's Love as our Essence and true identity, we will fulfill the Commandment that makes us unique because we are part of Him.

"And you shall be holy to Me, because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have distinguished you from the peoples, to be Mine." (20:26)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Parshat Acharei: Living God's Love in the World

In this portion there is a new reference about the death of Aaron's elder sons: "And the Lord spoke to Moses after the death (acharei mot) of Aaron's two sons, when they drew near before the Lord, and they died." (Leviticus 16:1) to remind us about being and manifesting the ways of the Creator, and not our ways when we strive to be close to His Love for the sake of our Oneness with Him.

Our Sages have different opinions about the two sons who brought a "strange fire" to the Sanctuary and died there. They say that, one hand, the two brothers and deputy high priests were indeed bringing their individual versions of what an offering to the Creator should be, and on the other they did it with the ultimate intention of becoming One with Him "no matter what".

Our Sages teach us that the lesson here is to follow God's ways in all aspects of our lives, including how we relate to Him in our individual desire to be close to Him. They also indicate that our lives must be bound to His ways while we are in this material dimension, because here is where He wants us to reveal His Presence. With this reminder we recall the entrance of four of our ancient Sages into the Garden of Eden. One didn't want to return to the world and he left his body, one returned to the world and lost his sanity after realizing the difference between Earth and Heaven, one rejected any possible human wisdom and became a hermit, and one returned as if nothing had happened. The latter is referred as Rabbi Akiva from whom it is said that "he entered into Heaven in peace and returned to Earth in peace".

We must learn from Aaron's sons and Rabbi Akiva's visit to Heaven that we are meant to live our life in this world and not in a different dimension. We have said that the Divine Presence is already revealed in other dimensions that we call Heaven, Paradise, and other realities far beyond our mind. If we live in those there is no point to reveal or transform anything because everything there exists in its own perfection. It is in this material world where we are summoned by the Creator to fully reveal His Presence concealed under the darkness of our materialistic and egotistic approach to life. Hence, it is in this darkness that we must be and manifest Love's ways and attributes as the Light that dissipates the negative aspects of our consciousness that prevent us to live in the Love of God.

The parshah continues with the preparation of the High Priest for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). We have said that the clear discernment of our intention to be close to the Creator is what ultimately transforms (atones for) all aspects of our consciousness. This discernment makes a difference between two realities: "And Aaron shall place lots upon the two male goats: one lot 'For the Lord', and the other lot 'For Azazel'." (16:8). One representing the elevation of all dimensions of consciousness in order to be transformed by God's Love with the purpose to be and manifest His ways and attributes; and the other, all the negative expressions of our existence that must descend to the depths of nothingness (into the desert) from where they came: "The male goat shall thus carry upon itself all their sins to a precipitous land, and he [the carrier] shall send off the male goat into the desert." (16:22).

From this we learn that ego's (the male goat) materialistic fantasies and illusions (the sins) belong to the realm of nothingness, because they come from there and must return there. On the other hand, our dedication and devotion to Love's ways and attributes, and redirecting our existence in them, are the means to elevate us to the realm of the absolute Truth that God is. Our oral tradition tells us about Azazel as one of the two fallen angels during the times of Enoch, who taught women how to attract men by using make-up. One lower desire triggered by ego's illusion to possess and control, reinforced by another illusion called make-up.

Our offerings to elevate every aspect of consciousness to God's Love must take place exclusively into the Sanctuary (17:3-4) because it is there where we are completely aware of our connection to God. Any other place represents the lower dimensions that keep us separate from Him and therefore "cut off": "And they shall no longer slaughter their sacrifices to the satyrs after which they stray. This shall be an eternal statute for them throughout their generations." (17:7).

Later in the portion there is a new warning about not falling in the lower traits and desires that potentially lead to negative behavior: "Like the practice of the land of Egypt, in which you dwelt, you shall not do, and like the practice of the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you, you shall not do, and you shall not follow their statutes." (18:3). This is remarked by the repeated statement that we are created by God's Love, and it must be in Love's ways and attributes that we must conduct our lives: "You shall fulfill My ordinances and observe My statutes, to follow them. I am the Lord, your God. You shall observe My statutes and My ordinances, which a man shall do and live by them. I am the Lord." (18:4-5).

The portion ends with a reiterated emphasis (18:24-20) warning us that when we defile our consciousness by living under the rule of lower thoughts, emotions, passions and instincts, we expel ourselves of the unity that Love's ways and attributes are as the Promised Land that God's Love gives for us to proclaim His Glory in this world, "because He is the Lord our God".

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Parshat Metzora: Embracing the Purity of Divine Love

"This shall be the law of the metzora on the day of his purification: He shall be brought to the Priest." (Leviticus 14:2). Our Sages explain that the metzora is a person afflicted by tzaraat, usually translated as leprosy but they describe it a skin condition that appeared as a result of gossip and slander. They conclude that tzaraat was a Divine signal to make the slanderer aware of the gravity of negative talk as a result of haughtiness or arrogance that separates us from the unity that Israel must maintain.

Although in present times we are not afflicted by skin problems due to evil speech, we must be aware of our separation from others when ego's agenda is prevalent in the way we relate to them. The Priest, as the highest awareness of our connection with God, is who brings back the gossiper from is ego trip to the unifying power of Love's ways and attributes. Love is our common Essence that keeps us united as we care for each other, protect each other, and lead each other toward our mission to reveal the Divine Presence in the material world as well as in the entire Creation.

We must go beyond the shallowness of the lower aspects of consciousness and make them subservient of the higher purpose that Love, as our true Essence and identity, requires from us amid the limitations, obstacles and challenges we face in the material reality. We are limited to exist within the boundaries imposed by the laws of nature, the challenges posed by natural disasters, and the obstacles that they may become when our survival and well being are in peril. In this predicament things get worse when we don't act as the care takers of each other. Selfishness destroys the ultimate individual and collective well being that Love compels us to achieve.

We face natural disasters not as individuals but as the collective unity that we must be. We also must be united to overcome the social and economical turmoil caused by tyranny and despotism as two among other destructive expressions of the lower aspects of human consciousness. Repression, discrimination, bigotry, corruption, oppression, and their synonyms derive from arrogance and haughtiness as ego's illusions to feel superior and become a petty god who wants to control not just other people's lives and destiny but also the laws of nature.

The parshah continues with the cleansing and atonement of the slanderer, and later juxtaposes the male seminal discharge with the menstrual period of women as both impure states that need to be ritually cleansed. The common denominator of both seminal discharge and feminine blood discharge is the death of the seeds of potential life. In this sense human life is exalted as the highest expression of Creation, hence it must be valued and respected to the point that losing our potential to generate life (seminal discharge and menstrual discharge) makes us unclean.

There is an implicit lesson to learn from the laws regarding these situations and it is not only about being life but also being bearers of life. We learn from this that we can remain clean and pure before our Creator when we choose the blessings of life over the curses of death, as He commands us. Life is the encompassing principle and vessel of Love's ways and attributes to be manifested in the world, while death is the expression of negative traits derived from ego's materialistic fantasies and illusions.

We become impure and unclean when we deal with any kind of thoughts, ideologies or beliefs that engender negative results that ultimately lead to death as the negation of Love's ways and attributes. Israel is chosen to champion Love as the revealed Divine Presence in the world, and the portion ends with a reminder of this as part of our Covenant with the Creator: "You shall separate the children of Israel from their contamination, and they shall not die as a result of their contamination if they contaminate My Tabernacle that is among them." (15:31).

The Tabernacle represents the permanent awareness of the Divine Presence in our lives as long as we keep ourselves separated from the unclean and impure expressions derived from the death represented by all that can't coexist with Love's ways and attributes. In this portion the Torah reminds us again that arrogance is the root of the negative illusions that ego makes us believe and revere as the idols that pretend to deny the Love of the Creator as the One and only Essence and sustenance of all Creation including us.

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.