Written by Chaim.
Life rides on a very deep and delicate paradox involving consciousness.
On one side, we live in this physical world, which stands the farthest away from God, and therefore the lowest in terms of spirituality. We, ironically call that “life” even though, on the grand cosmic scale, it is considered to be death (due to the distance from God). Yet, when we pass away from this world, we immerse in worlds filled with light and delight. And, ironically again, we call this “death”.
Our consciousness wanders and wavers between these two realms, real death (life) and real life (death). To be able to perceive real life, a person needs to momentarily shut down his external senses. Through meditation, and temporarily nullifying his cognitive senses of the material world, a person is able to apprehend godliness, the spiritual realm. The same situation happens to consciousness when a person fasts (like Jews do twice a year) or when any pleasure is denied to the body. Whenever this happens, there’s an immediate gain and being mindful of these shifts in consciousness refines our perception of the true reality.
Some time ago I wrote an article on “The Fall of Hedonism”. In it, I discuss a little more the sudden interest in true spirituality that many people are feeling. It’s not by chance.
I often get the impression that people think that death happens in an instant, that leaving this world happens in a snap. That’s partly true. However, according to King Solomon, there are five stages of death. Each of these stages happens through life and progress in a seamless, almost imperceptible, manner.
A person might be young, breathing and with a sound body, but be on the last “stage of death”. Another, old and sick, still might have years of life ahead. As one would expect, this all depends on how much importance one gives to true spirituality and how much importance one gives to physical pleasures. Of course, when death actually happens, consciousness instantly quantum jumps to another dimension. But, up to a certain point, it’s possible to apprehend a lot by minimizing the weight the physical body imposes in our souls.
True spirituality is, in essence, the search for God and the nullification of our little selves (the ego, if you will) to Him. When that happens (and it can keep on happening constantly), we experience elevation and divine consciousness. We are not bound by physicality and our soul can express itself. It’s a unique feeling that can’t be conveyed into words (except by approximation) but must be experienced, personally and subjectively.
A shift in consciousness: what’s most important?
This relationship between the Creator and us gets even more curious: In essence, God gives us existence and we try to annul it. It’s important to be mindful of that.
As Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (the Ramchal) exclaimed in his book “The path of the just”, who can actually claim physicality has brought unbound delight and fulfillment?
It’s true, isn’t it?
Even the richest people in the world have troubles beyond our imagination, sometimes even making paupers happier by comparison. True fulfillment comes as a result of a person pursuing spiritual goals. On the outside, it might seem like he/she is suffering, but inside, there’s genuine happiness.
So, in essence, we seekers are all trying to go back to the Source where everything is peace and delight. But we can’t just go back at will by ending life because we have a mission to accomplish. The mission is to draw down divine light into this lower world. Therefore, going against that initial command would be sinful. If God is perfect, then he wouldn’t bother creating the world at every single instant if it didn’t have purpose, because purpose stands at the highest point of thought and is the source of all action. Purpose drives us, moves our internal worlds and makes life possible and bearable.
Now, for a fun question: What happens when we “meet” God?
Let’s say a person’s life ends, his soul is taken up to be judged (by whatever standards people hold), and he stands “face to face” with the Creator. What would that little soul do next?
Can you imagine it? Wouldn’t it be crazy?
The answer is simple: nullification.
It’s not difficult to understand, actually. Aside from the many feelings of shame, happiness, fear and exhilaration, the soul cries, laughs and bows in humble acknowledgement of the master of the universe. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the “fairy tale” or not, true reality is equal for everyone like oxygen. Everyone is bound by it.
This situation could be comparable to facing a great king of flesh and bones. If a person knows the king has his entire life in his hand but desires to bestow the ultimate good to that person in a loving relationship, that person would be filled with feelings of shame, happiness, fear and exhilaration amid cries, laughs and bows in humble acknowledgement.
What did such a king see in this humbly person who is nothing compared to him?
Sadly, we don’t really have a good point of reference in history, because monarchs have seldom displayed any shred of righteousness, let alone any love for their people. Yet, on one point, we are ever trying to move our consciousness further up, abdicating our petty desires (this is the meaning of “bowing” towards the King of kings). On the other we have to stay here and transform our reality.
The bottom line is that life and death stand in a continuum of different states of consciousness. It’s being here and there at the same time. It’s moving forward and backwards and that’s a very deep matter.
This is why people who had near death experiences relate they’ve experienced otherworldly matters. Some were even granted extremely high knowledge they didn’t have before. This knowledge is not acquired by verbal communication by rather, by non-verbal communication, through images, but we’ll have to discuss this later.
In the end, the physical and spiritual worlds are intertwined and our consciousness stands connected to them. Materiality is just condensed spirituality.
Reducing the weight of the physical refines our perception. Reduce it too much and life goes away.
So the balance is very delicate
Stick to the middle path and enjoy the present.
Chaim is a Jewish author, mentor and business graduate who resolved to go on a spiritual journey back to his roots. He publishes his texts on spirituality at The Lightning Candle, but also enjoys writing Fantasy stories. Currently he lives in Israel with his family.