In our time, I think the great spiritual challenge is learning how to stay grounded and not be sucked into the whirlwind of anger, hatred and argument that has come to define our time. I deal with it by avoiding the argument and using good – small acts of great kindness – to keep me focused on what is meaningful and important in life.
My friends Shirley and Fred Foster sent me a book on one of my favorite subjects, the Kabbalah, the mystical school of writing and thought written by unknown Jewish mystics and scholars.
Nobody knows who wrote the varied texts of the Kabbalah, but I have always been drawn to its beautiful, even sexual notions of religion, feminism, the environment and a deep kind of spirituality.
There is almost no part of the Old or New Testaments that don’t bother me at times and turn me away, but there is no part of the Kabbalah that makes me uncomfortable or leaves me uninspired or enlightened.
In the Kabbalah, God is a kind of unapologetic Pope Francis, he cautions people to love Mother Earth, and Shekinah, his divine feminine colleague, streaks across the sky in her chariot, scolding God for leaving humans imperfect and unfinished, and sending her cherubs to sting the cheeks of people who fail to love and honor the earth and the environment.
In this religious text, sex is great and should be celebrated, donkeys are wise, rabbis and priests are foolish, and we all are given the creative spark, and humans are hopelessly flawed. About the only thing the God of the Kabbalah cannot forgive is the failure of people to use the spark they were given.
It is astonishing to read religious texts that are so beautiful and mystical.
Shirley and Fred recently sent me a fascinating book called The 72 Names Of God: Technology for the Soul, by Kabbalah Scholar Yehuda Berg.
Like most things related to Kabbalah, it is complex and difficult reading. Also rewarding and exciting, the people who wrote the Kabbalah were wonderful writers and creative thinkers, free of the clunky and ponderous dogma that marked so many early Jewish and Christian theology.
Our national identity is no longer focused on spirituality, but on division and conflict. It is almost impossible to escape it, our only real choice is to succumb to it or to learn how to defuse it and live in peace.
Argument accomplishes nothing in my view of the world, perhaps the right and the left will simply end up devouring one another, maybe that is God’s solution to the intractable failings of human beings.
That might be a good solution for many people, but I don’t wish to be a part of it. I don’t wake up in the morning thinking about what Donald Trump is doing, I wake up thinking about how I can contribute to life in a positive and meaningful way.
He will answer to his God, I will answer to mine.
In Technology For The Soul, Berg writes that according to Kabbalah, we all have a spiritual field of energy that extends a little more than seven feet from our bodies. Although we can’t see this field with the naked eye, it’s as real as the invisible atoms in the air, and as undeniable and influential as the unseen force of gravity.”
Whenever this field is charged with negative or stressful energy, we find ourselves in a lower state of being, often suffering from sadness, stress, depression, hostility, fear and uncertainty. Or we are just plain unhappy.
“Unpleasant places and gloomy people influence our lives when we come into close contact with them, Berg writes.”
This culture of argument and hatred is a violation of our personal space, suggests the Kabbalah, it disturbs energy in a way that is harmful and unhealthy to us and our well-being.
The Kabbalah, I should say, was written before smartphones and CNN and Fox News and social media, it was easier for them to withdrawn into their field of positive energy than it is for me or you. Our spiritual challenges are so much greater.
But they do have so much wisdom to offer us, and we don’t get much from the seers and pundits who get to go on television and scream at one another.
For me, this is remarkable thing about the Kabbalah, every time I read it I say yes, yes, this was written for me, this is what I feel and believe, this is a faith I can enthusiastically embrace.
Berg suggests a meditation to counter this negative energy and stress, and I will write it here and also record in audio below.
“Purifying light banishes unseen ominous forces and deactivates harmful influences lurking nearby, including those that dwell inside of you. Stress dissolves, pressure is released. Balance and positive energy permeate your environment.”
Audio: I like this meditation, and read it below on the audio app.