Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ki Teitzei: God's Love in Our Consciousness

If you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God, will deliver them into your hands (...)” (Deuteronomy 21:10)

This verse contains two statements. The first one is when we go out to confront our enemies, and the second tells us that God is who defeats them. Indeed we exit the peace and balance of our consciousness in order to “go out” to face issues, situations and people that in one way or another disturb our peace and balance. This seems to be the predicament of our lives on a daily basis amid ego's fantasies and illusions in the material world.

We experience separation and isolation from a reality that seems to exist on the grounds of culture, ideology, fashion, and social patterns that demand from us everything we can be, have and do, but not from who we really are. It's called consumer society in which we live to think, feel, speak and act based on its trends and not on our true essence and identity.

The more you have, the more you are respected; the more you act out of fashion's trends, the more you are emulated; the more unreal you are, the more admired you are. These fantasies and illusions, derived from ego's materialistic desires, are the inner and outer enemies that we must to fight as we go out into the world.

In this process the only reality that exists, God's Love as our true essence, fights our wars against the illusions we deal with every moment, day in and day out. God delivers our enemies as long as He dwells with us, within our consciousness, and the only way to have Him with us is by creating a space for Him.

This place is named Jerusalem and its Temple, as the highest awareness of our connection with God. This is why we pray daily asking Him to rebuild Jerusalem because in this awareness lies our Redemption from the negativity we have been trapped for a long, long time.

Our Sages say that “God doesn't dwell with the proud because he is full of himself”, and he is not willing to make room for God neither in his consciousness or his heart. This means that when one doesn't want to embrace His ways and attributes, he rather lives in ego's illusions.

God is sacred and He wants us to be sacred to Him, so He may dwell in us to fight our enemies.

“For the Lord, your God, goes along in the midst of your camp, to rescue you and to deliver your enemies before you. [Therefore] your camp shall be holy, so that He should not see anything unseemly among you and would turn away from you.” (23:15)

Let's be mindful that God is not separated from us, we separate from Him; and it's up to us to be the sacred people He wants us to be. Let's also be aware that our choice benefits us, not Him. God is the blessing in the “camp” of our life, and defeats the curse we find in the negative aspects of consciousness as well as in the material reality.

Our mystic Sages say that we are in the field of life to reveal the concealed Divine Presence in the world. This means that first we have to reveal Him in our own consciousness. There is no other way. We find our Creator in what is sacred for Him in us, because in His ways and attributes we are able to embrace the awareness of His Love as our Essence and identity.

We learn to know Him through His Torah, which “its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.” (Proverbs 3:17) and Torah's paths are God's paths. The Torah shows us how He relates with us and His Creation, and we learn that through our daily Torah study in order to be able to confront the darkness of material illusions (see our previous commentaries on Parshat Ki Teitzei: “The Ethics of Love” of August 14, 2010 and “Ethics in Love's Ways and Attributes” of September 4, 2011).

We already know that Love does not coexist with anything different from its ways and attributes, and this is the same context when we said above that God does not dwell with the proud. First we must remove what is useless in terms of beliefs, thoughts, desires, emotions, feelings, passion and instinct, including what makes us doubt and feel weak in our true purpose in life.

There are times in which we give more credit to what separates us and isolates us than the opposite. We rather trust and bend to lack in ego's fantasies and illusions than embracing the abundance of Love's attributes as our real fulfillment and true happiness.

“[Therefore,] it will be, when the Lord your God grants you respite from all your enemies around [you] in the land which the Lord, your God, gives to you as an inheritance to possess, that you shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the Heavens. You shall not forget!” (Deuteronomy 25:19)

Amalek represents not only doubt, uncertainty and hesitation regarding choosing what is good and right for us. He also represents all that is contrary to what is good and right. This is why we are strongly commanded to erase him completely from the world, by remembering every day what he did to our ancestors in their way out of Egypt. In other words, we have to keep on guard constantly against all that opposes Love's ways and attributes.

Amalek represents cruelty, abuse, humiliation, mockery and oppression against the weak.

“How he fell upon you on the way and massacred your stragglers, all those who trailed after you when you were faint and spent, and he did not fear God.” (25:18)

Hence we have to take this Commandment one step further by applying it to our own consciousness, because these negative and destructive traits are latent in our discernment, thought, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts.

Ego's selfishness can be ruthless with our compassion, destructive with our kindness, indifferent with our good values and principles, and indolence can eliminate positive endeavors. In this Commandment the Creator reminds us to be strong in who we truly are, and protect ourselves with the blessing of Love and goodness which are our common bond with His Love and goodness.

Thus He will be with us fighting our enemies to settle us permanently in His Promised Land, in the ways of pleasantness and peace.

For your Master is your Maker, the Lord of Hosts is His Name, and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, shall be called the God of all the Earth. (…) 'For the mountains shall depart and the hills totter, but My loving kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the Covenant of My peace totter,' says the Lord who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:5, 10)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Shoftim: The Justice of God's Love

The Torah commands us that “Judges and officers you shall place at all your city-gates.” (Deuteronomy 16:18). The Prophet tells us that “and I [God addressing Jerusalem] will restore your judges as at before, and your counselors as at the beginning: afterward you shall be called 'the city of righteousness, the faithful city'.” (Isaiah 1:26).

Also in our daily prayers we bless the Creator by saying, Restore our judges as they were at before and counselors as there were once. Remove our sorrows and troubles: we long for You Lord, to rule over us with kindness and compassion, with righteousness and justice. Blessed are You Lord, the King who loves righteousness and justice.

Let's reflect on the connection of these passages. There is an evident relation between placing judges in all our city-gates, and afterward we will call our city a righteous, faithful city.

If we consider Jerusalem as the highest level of consciousness -- which indeed is --, we need the Creator to assign the best judgment we can ever have, and that is His judgment. He rules with kindness and compassion, and loves righteousness and justice as His attributes He wants us to emulate because we are His children.

These attributes certainly remove our sorrows and troubles because God's ways do not cohabit with anything different from His attributes. These are the judges and counselors that we want God to restore in our consciousness so they can rule every aspect and dimension of our life. Thus His Love will reign with its inherent righteousness and justice in Jerusalem as the united awareness of our permanent connection to Him.

The process to do that is achieved when we pursue the fairness and rectitude God's Love pursues in His Creation.

“Justice, justice shall you follow, that you may live, and inherit the Land the Lord your God gives you.” (16:20)

It is such, for in this Land we are destined to dwell with Him. Our Land is the time and place where we live united with the One who gives it to us, where there is no room for other gods and idols (16:21-22, 17:1-3).

In God's ways and attributes there is nothing alien to them.

“When you come into the Land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.” (18:9)

We approach this awareness when we integrate all aspects and dimensions of consciousness as a harmonic unity free from negative traits.

“Be wholehearted with the Lord your God. For these nations, that you are to dispossess, hearken unto soothsayers, and unto diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not given you so to do.” (18:13)

First we must be wholehearted in our consciousness in order to be wholehearted with the Creator. Once we unite our intellect and discernment, thoughts and emotions, feelings and passion, instinct and actions under the rule of Love's judgment, righteousness, justice, compassion and kindness to approach life and the world, we will be wholehearted with the One only God because in this unity we allow Him to reign on us with His kindness and compassion.

This is about our Essence and identity that define what we are, have and do in consonance with our Creator's ways and attributes, apart from ego's fantasies and illusions (see our previous commentaries in this blog on Parshat Shoftim: “Approaching Justice as Love” of August 7, 2010 and “Living in Love's Judgments” of August 28, 2011).

The Prophet reminds us about the slavery of living under the yoke of the nations, the idols disguised as ego's fantasies and illusions that keep in captivity the higher awareness of our connection to God's Love that calls us to freedom.

“Shake yourself from the dust, arise, sit down, O Jerusalem; free yourself of the bands of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” (Isaiah 52:2)

It's up to us to walk out from the mirages of the material world by the hand of Love's ways, which are the true judges and counselors that must stand at the gates of every aspect of consciousness to keep it united and close to our Father and King.

After all He is who fights the battles against our own enemies, either be ego's illusions or people.

“When you go forth to battle against your enemies, and see horses, and chariots, and a people more [numerous] than you, you shall not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. (…) for the Lord your God is He that goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” (20:1, 4)

Let's restore our best judgment and higher values and principles at the gates of what we discern, think, believe, imagine, feel, hear, see, speak and do. Let them lead and guide all aspects of life honoring the justice and righteousness of God's Love along with His compassion and kindness to reign in our land, in Jerusalem our undivided capital and anchor of our permanent connection with the Creator. Amen.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Re'eh: Free Will in the Freedom of Love

Freedom of choice is the foundation of our relationship with God and His Creation.

“See, I give you today [a] blessing and [a] curse (...)” (Deuteronomy 11:26)

Countless times we have said that diversity is the premise for us to choose, and that anything negative should not be a choice but a reference to always choose the goodness of God's ways and attributes. God gave us free will to understand the essence and qualities of everything we relate to every moment. In this sense we must approach everything in full awareness of all levels of consciousness.

It implies that in this process these must be present: discernment as the wisdom to understand in order to know what we are about to approach, mindfulness to be aware of what our emotions and feelings experience with it, their intensity as the passion it arouses in our senses, and the actions we are eventually compelled by our instinct.

This is the integral approach to have in order to fully experience life and the way we relate to it, and this approach is activated only by free will. In other worlds, if all our levels of consciousness are not involved in our approach to life there is no real free will. This means that if we put aside or repress our emotions or feelings in what we discern, our experience of what we discern is not complete. Likewise, if we only devote our emotion, passion and instinct to experience something without discernment, we miss a greater and more fulfilling moment.

The lesson here is that no matter how different the dimensions of consciousness indeed are, we must integrate them harmonically in order to truly know what we have before us. Throughout our lives we seem to divide our consciousness under the belief that emotions don't mix with discernment, and that instinct is divorced from thought. In this predicament our idea or conception of freedom becomes something relative, therefore we are not completely free because we limit our power to choose only to part of our consciousness. In sum, we are really free when we choose in full awareness of all aspects of consciousness.

Division” in consciousness occurs when we have a separate approach to what we are about to experience, and this separation is the result of ego's fantasies and illusions. The moment ego dictates that only our discernment must lead or only our passion and instinct, we get trapped in the mirage of ego's individualistic desires.

Then we realize that our way out is our recognition that Love is the one and only capable to integrate all aspects of consciousness, in order to bring us to real freedom to live and experience life and the world in all their dimensions. 

As we approach this world with our entire consciousness, all its dimensions also unfold before us. This explains our limited perception of what we see around us, because the limitations imposed in our consciousness reduce what we see in front of us.

If we approach a person based either on beliefs (preconceptions) or on emotions, we will perceive him or her only within those frames. This explains prejudice, racism, apprehension, hatred and other limited approaches to all. Hence having a positive, integrating and embracing consciousness leads us to perceive and experience with an expanding and enhancing approach.

Our mystic Sages teach a higher conception of free will when they say that in the blessing lies the power to transmute and change the curse. This happens in the same way that Light dissipates darkness, as also happens with the expanding, integrating and embracing qualities of Love's ways and attributes to transform their opposite qualities and turn them into Love's domains.

Thus we are able to see that what we perceive and experience as negative, destructive and contracting can be transmuted by our desire to turn it into something positive, constructive and expansive. This is actually what we learn to do since the moment discernment is fully developed in our childhood. We learn to discern with the sole purpose to exercise free will. Ignorant people depend on the limitations of their knowledge to make their choices, hence limited people make limited choices.

We must clarify here that knowledgeable people do not necessarily make wise or positive choices, because knowledge makes us better only if we apply it for good. In this sense Love's ways and attributes are our best knowledge, discernment, understanding and motivation to be good and do good. Let's get it right, Love is the best measure of all things because Love doesn't have limits when we perceive everything through Love (see our commentaries on Parshat Re'eh: “Choosing the Blessing” of August 1, 2010 and “Seeing God's Love” of August 21, 2011).

We choose the blessing because God of is the blessing in His ways, attributes and Commandments, and also because He is our God and our Father.

“You are children of the Lord your God. (…) For you are a holy people unto the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be His own treasure out of all peoples that are upon the face of the Earth.” (14:1-2)

Our Father chose us to make us aware that we are an emanation of His Love, and His Love is our Essence and identity. Hence Love is our preferred reference and choice to make it prevail in the world. God entitles us to exercise our true identity in the awareness of Love as our Essence and freedom. In the total freedom that Love is we liberate our consciousness from anything opposite to Love's attributes, and in this awareness we enthrone Love in all the ways we approach life and the world.

Only then we will live the fullness and plenitude of His blessing, and transform all curses through the goodness of the blessing, the goodness of Love.

“Know Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6)

“(...) honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways.” (Daniel 5:23)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Eikev: Living the Love of God

In this portion the Torah keeps reminding us about our bond with the Creator as our greatest blessing and strength (Deuteronomy 7:12-24), warning us about the consequences of idol worship as our curse and weakness (7:25-26), and our duty and obligation to eradicate them from every aspect of our consciousness in the material world.

This bond with God through His Commandments is the foundation and the source of our life, understanding life as the blessing and goodness that God's Love gives us to enjoy in this world (8:1) after He redeemed us from slavery in Egypt (8:2-3).

The constant awareness of God as our one and sole Source of life and Redeemer is what reminds us who we are and from where we come. This is our Truth. God's Love is our Essence and identity, and as long as we live in His ways and attributes we are indeed alive. This is how we understand that Love is life and life is Love as long as we live by, for, in and with God's ways and attributes.

This is the greatest lesson of all to learn, that God's Love is our only and true sustenance, as it is written

 “(...) that He might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every thing that comes out of the mouth of the Lord makes man live.” (8:3)

God's words precede what is manifest in His Creation. In a deeper meaning, our life and support are sustained directly by His will, and not by our perception of the sustenance we find in the material world. In other words, our life depends solely on Him.

We assimilated this principle through the forty years that our ancestors spent in the desert (8:4) and is the premise to live our bond with God in the world, in the time and space He promised them, which we know as the Promised Land (8:6-9).

This Land is the material manifestation of God's Love for Israel in which we are entitled and commanded to live in His ways, in order for us to be always close to Him (see our commentaries on Parshat Eikev: “The Blessings of Love” of July 27, 2010 and “Because We Have to Love” of August 14, 2011).

Let's be aware that the Promised Land is the material realization of our bond with God as our blessing, identity and purpose in life. He blessed this Land, therefore we bless Him. By blessing Him we acknowledge not only what we are but what He is for us and His entire Creation.

The most succinct, clear, direct and effective way to realize our identity and bond with God is summarized in the four blessings we say in our Grace after Meals (Bircat HaMazon) as commanded to us.

“And you shall eat and be satisfied, and bless the Lord your God for the good Land which He has given you.” (8:10)

In these blessings we become aware that all sustenance comes from God's Love, that our sustenance and our Land is our bond with Him, that in our Land we have Jerusalem as our eternal and undivided capital and also as the highest awareness of our connection to Him.

This bond is fully manifest in the Redemption promised by God through His Prophets, which is enthroning the Messianic Era in the world.

God's Love, through our highest knowledge of Him represented by Moses, warns us time and again not to forget who we are and from where we came (8:11-16). He makes us remind that our oblivion is named after ego's fantasies and illusions.

“(...) and you say in your heart: 'My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth'.” (8:17-18)

This is the time in consciousness when we have to decide on what side we fight between ego's individualistic desires and Love's ways and attributes. We already know their differences, we have experienced them both, and the choice is ours. Either we live and die in ego's fantasies and illusions (“other gods to serve and to worship”) as it is written (8:19), or we live forever in God's ways and attributes which transcend time and space, life and death.

God's ways and attributes are our true life, and they are also our power and strength to defeat the negative aspects of consciousness that keep us captive in ego's illusions.

“Know therefore this day, that the Lord your God is He who goes over before you as a devouring fire; He will destroy them, and He will bring them down before you; so shall you drive them out, and make them to perish quickly, as the Lord has spoken to you.” (9:3)

The fire of God's Love is with us to burn our negative traits and trends, and the choice is ours to drive them out steadfast and erase them completely.

The Promised Land is the place and time that God has chosen for Him to dwell in the material world. This is why He removed the corrupted nations from its midst. The Torah makes this point clear when He says this through Moses.

(...) whereas for the wickedness of these nations the Lord does drive them out from before you. Not for your righteousness, or for the uprightness of your heart, does you go in to possess their land (...)” (9:4)

This is to demonstrate us again that He controls His Creation, including what is negative and corrupted before His eyes.

At this point is quite clear that the negative aspects of consciousness can be more powerful than our will to defeat them. This is why we need God's Love to fight our wars in order to live in the Land where He wants us to build a place for Him to dwell among (in) us.

Moses continues reminding us our tendency to bow to ego's materialist desires and fantasies, represented by idols (9:12-24).

We divorce materialistic illusions by becoming permanently aware our connection with the Creator.

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to revere the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (10:10)

Our Love is our bond with God's Love.

When we petrify our hearts in the attachment to the mirages of the material world, the Torah and our Prophets remind us to return to a heart of flesh and purify it from the negative trends of consciousness.

“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff necked.” (10:16)

Hence when we return to Love as our Essence and true identity, we also return to God's Love and His attributes.

“He does execute justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. You shall love the stranger; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (10:18-19), because “He is your Glory, He is your God.” (10:21).

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.