Monday, June 27, 2011

"How does the Creator know everything?"


The Creator has no “outside”.
All Creation resides within Him,
United within His Beingness.
Just by knowing Himself,
He also knows everything else.

(Adapted from Tanya I 48)

This past Sunday my students had asked me, "How does the Creator know everything?"
I explained, "He knows everything just by knowing Himself."
The class shot me a puzzled look.
"Look" I continued, "The whole universe is inside of Him. There's no such a thing as being outside the Creator."
"Really?", Came back the incredulous response of several students.
"But ... the universe is so amazingly large. How does it all fit into the Creator", They protested.
"Ah", I lifted my eyes, "You think the universe is so amazingly large? According to Kabbalah this whole vast expanse that we see all around us it's merely a teeny tiny universe within a even vastly larger spiritual universe."
I waited to them to absorb what I just said. Once their faces and body language appeared settled, I continued, "And that vastly larger spiritual universe is merely a teeny tiny universe within an even larger spiritual universe. And that within an even larger one ... the process continues until universe is layered within universe like the layers of an onion with our physical universe right in the deep center. All these universes are inside of the Creator. He's around all of them."
However, we ran out of time. So I did not yet have the opportunity to finish explaining to the class how the universes are truly one within Him. My concern is that from everything I explained, a student can mistakenly walk away with the notion that the Creator is positioned around a "bubble". Within this "cosmic bubble" there's a layering of universes. However, this is not truly the picture I was trying to convey.
The picture I was trying to convey is closer to a dreamer having a dream. The dream, dreamscape and dream characters are not merely "inside the dreamer" - they are literally one with the dreamer. The very fabric of the dream is the dreamer himself. On the level of the dreamer's psychological fabric there's no distinction between dreamer and dream. They are seamlessly one and the same. So dreamer knows everything going on in his dream simply by knowing himself - for they are the same.
Similarly, in a metaphorical sense the Creator is dreaming creation into being. This is why He knows everything  that is going on simply by knowing Himself.

Hopefully, with the Creator's help I'll soon have the opportunity to convey this notion to my class.

As the Holy One fills the universe ...

  • As the Holy One fills the universe, so the soul fills the body.

  • As the Holy One sees and is unseen, so the soul sees and is unseen.

  • As the Holy One nourishes the universe, so the soul nourishes the body.

  • As the Holy One is pure, so the soul is pure.

  • As the Holy One dwells in rooms within rooms, so the soul dwells in rooms within rooms
     Let the bearer of these five qualities praise the One Who bears these five     qualities.

~ Translated from the Talmud, Berachot 10A

Delight in Love

The Dreamer and the dream are One.

There is no separation between a Dreamer and his/her dream. Every detail in the dream from mental space, the dreamscape, the characters are really crafted out of the Dreamer’s own mental forces. They are One with the Dreamer, despite often seeming like they are separate entities with their own identities. This experience is only a passing illusion. As the Dreamer awakens, their “identities” disappear; merging back into their Source - the Dreamer’s own mind.

Perhaps, this relationship between the Dreamer and his/her dream exists in our lives to serve as a tiny reflection of a much grander reality – the relationship between the Creator and His creation. In the Creator’s kindness, He allows us a parable in our daily (or nightly) experience to help us climb up to the more abstract notion of His relationship with the creation.

However, the Creator does not “sleep”. In His case, only the characters feel the dream. He feels awake. While the characters are caught up in illusion of identity separation, He experiences everything as a single merged identity – Himself!

As earthlings, we do not easily access a sense that our identities are really part of His greater identity. In order to even begin, we need to feel beyond our boundaries of self – another being beyond own skins. Loving another human being is the beginning of this growth. We can feel our identity enlarged and enriched by its merger with another identity.

In essence, love is not about merging living space, bank accounts or even bodies. It’s about merging identities. A good question to mentally ask your self on a date is, “Would I be happy to become this person?”

It’s best to resolve this question before “getting involved”. Once “involved” you’re passed the stage of this question. Now you’re working to become one with each other.

By becoming one, a couple draws down a revelation of the Creator’s own Identity. They do this by drawing down their shared point of identity merger within the Creator. The couple’s field of love forms a crack in the illusory wall of distinct identities - allowing each other a tiny peek beyond the wall into the real Oneness.

The Universe Needs a Creator

The universe needs a Creator because nothing can create itself. Why?

This is because there are only two choices of when something can create itself, either before it exists or after it already exists. Before it exists, it’s not there to make itself. After it already exists, there’s no need to make itself.

(“Duties of the Heart”, Gate of Unity)


Today, reviewing this concept was the highlight of my daily Torah study session. In the course of today's study, I have learned so many deeper concepts. I was baffled about why this teaching really stood out in my heart and imagination. Why wasn't it one of the deeper teachings that lingered on in my heart when I closed my books?

At first I thought maybe because this teaching comes as representative of a special time and place - the medieval Golden Age of Spain. This period was really the renaissance before the renaissance. It was a special time and place of high achievement, education, discovery and the arts. After musing a while, I felt that this could be a reason, however, I felt deep inside that there was something more ...

Finally it dawned on me that I was being subtly tickled by the underlying humor of the logic. I found it funny to imagine something that does not yet exist working to the point of exhaustion to create itself. I imagined the non-existent's gyrations and struggles as it engaged in the futile effort to exert and sweat itself into existence - like zero engaging in the impossible struggle to become one.

I also found it funny imagining something already existing struggling very hard at the redundant act of creating itself. The unstated silliness had silently reached me.

Humor makes a great teacher, even in disguise.

Cosmic Dreamer

A teacher of mine taught:

"As dream characters are one with the dreamer,
So is all creation One with the Creator."

What I love about this teaching is that it really provides a clear example to appreciate our relationship with our Creator. Think about it for a moment. A character that you meet in your dream is made up of you. Even if s/he feels to you like a separate identity, s/he's not at all separate from you. S/he's one with you.

Your being runs right through your dream character. S/he's through and through you - inside and outside. The only reason why for the moment s/he feels separate is because you're asleep. The moment you awaken, the illusion snaps and character's whole "identity" merges into his/her source in your identity, exposing a oneness with your own identity - a state s/he never really left.

This is how our identities (and indeed the identities of all created beings) are in relation to our Creator. He's the only real existing being. There is nothing outside of Him. So how do we exist?

We're like dream characters, temporarily under the illusion that we're separate idenitities, when in fact there is only Him. The only difference is that we're the only ones dreaming, He's not! He's fully awake. From His perspective all the dream characters never emerge as separate entities. There's just Him and all is merged with Him in Oneness. Only the characters themselves are caught up in the great cosmic dreamscape.

Varying levels of reality, like paradise and earth are just the characters' own varied experiences of lighter or deeper dream states. The earth plane, is a state of mind where the dream feels very heavy. Characters caught in this state are suffused with the sensation that they're really separate beings. It's rare to have any sense of the existence of a Source Being, let alone of being connected to Him as an Ultimate Identity from Whom all other identities emenate.

Paradise is an experience where beings are beginning to sense the presence of their Source Identity and feel intense pleasure from this amazing connection. While the sensation of being a separate identity continues, it is softer and more faded.

This teaching has practical implications in our day to day lives. We are all characters sharing the same cosmic dream. This makes us one identity with each other. As our right hands treat our own left hands, so we should treat each other. There's really only One Identity coursing through all of us.

To Give is So Precious

This is my take on why we came down into the world:

Before we were born we were souls enjoying heaven. Heaven was perfect. Everyone was so well taken care of. There were no needy souls. Without need, what could we possibly “give”? In His mercy on our predicament, the Creator sent us down into a physical place, where there is plenty of need & hence, also plenty of opportunities to “give”!

Next time you face human suffering and you wonder why?
Just ask yourself, "What would I expect a place where there are plenty of opportunities to give to look like?"
(Inspired by Rabbi Ashlag)
Our Creator loves to give. He created a whole vast creation just to have the opportunity to give to another. The greatest gift our Creator gives us is to be a part of this amazing opportunity and join Him in His quest to give. This is the way we come close to Him - just like a child imitating his or her parents' ways in the quest to come close to Mommy or Daddy.
Just to make our acts of giving extra special, the Creator made them challenging on varying levels. He gave us the freedom to choose whether we want to be selfish or selfless. On one hand, we can allow fear over the loss of our resources to plague us and close our hearts and hands to this amazing opportunity or we can allow ourselves to be open to that inner intuitive voice that reminds us Who gave us our resources to begin with and feel reassured by his amazing capacity to replenish them. In such happiness, we can celebrate our way towards making such a difference in our lives and in the lives of others by joining our Creator in His favorite activity - giving!
Yes, our Creator so giving that even allows us to do some of His favorite activity for Him.