The holiest month of the year (fact checking led to the shocking conclusion that no one holyday list is definitive…. or unbiased) and its blessings are here, again under pandemic conditions. That makes it once more very rough on geographically dispersed families — extra blessings to them. Thank goodness one&all can fall back on the re-cultivated community experience of the past years with its re-valuation of neighbourliness.
Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer remarked “In Praise of Theory” — “today, it seems, there is no need to assert that the future path of humanity depends on things other than technological inventiveness and skill in dealing with the bottlenecks of global industrialisation.” And yet a lack of “wholeness,” a feeling increasingly tangible since the beginning of 2019, is beginning to crystalise — haltingly in the mass media — as THE contemporary HUMAN issue. Wholeness can start to emerge once I start simply accepting that I alone am responsible for my every choice and immediate Life situation. In other words, for the results of the quality of my 3+4D relationships.
Is Man a “universe” full of multiple other universes?
The more objective scientific knowledge we gather on the nature of life on Earth, the more challenges we seem to be subjected to; and most humans have like the scientists difficulty in predicting the major ramifications of having all this knowledge. “Change is like death: you don’t know what it looks like until it’s staring you in the face,” says Geoff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park 5… I contend that it’s time that individuals, ie. you and I, not society/ government/ community/ experts, start purposefully working on achieving
- our intention to be “whole” persons & households, co-workers & organisations;
- the most effective design of wholeness-supporting structures and systems — just like we do with every normal household problem solving project;
- living consciously in this endless innovation loop, and not trying to slow it down/control/divert or stop it.
Perhaps simply accepting 6 (= 1.+2.+3.) as a sine qua non of human Life[mfn]https://youtu.be/UX-lQykOrRg[/mfn] will bring about my deeply desired result: peace and joy. For aren’t these three points precisely the challenges humanity is repeatedly given through the ages’ saviour-birth stories?
‘We Are All God Carriers’, by Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater of the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center*, 02/26/2011; an appreciation of a talk by Anglican Bishop Tutu.
[Bishop Tutu] preached that we have become desensitized to the notion of holiness, for which he placed no blame, but stated as fact. Do we see the face of God in every person that crosses our path? Do we remember the teaching, in the Jewish tradition he said, that tells us of the midrash that an angel walks in front of our every person, no matter man or woman, young or old, straight or gay, black or white or brown, Jew or not, an angel walks in front of us and announces, “make way for the image of God, make way for the image of God.”
We are all God-carriers, he kept repeating, God’s stand-ins, God’s viceroys. And, we don’t remember it. Tutu asked what the world would be like if we all believed, truly believed, the words of our respective scriptures, the words that we hear in synagogue, church, mosque, shrine, or other “places of worship,” that tell us this week in and week out. Would we kill one another, would we hate one another, would we destroy one another, if we truly believed the words of our tradition? Would we kill others if we believed it was killing a part of God every time? What do you think?
The Torah offers us a pathway to think about this idea of holiness, of course, in the same section that was read that morning, Leviticus 19. That got me thinking about an idea, one that crystallized during my weekly meditation sitting group here at PJTC*. There is a difference in life between living ethical and living holy, between setting up a society that seeks fairness and equity and a society that goes further and seeks holiness amongst the people. In parshat Mishpatim, which comes after the experience at Mt. Sinai, we get pages of laws, rules and guidelines for establishing ethical communities, from treating slaves fairly (which was a huge improvement for the time), restitution for damages, civil law, injury law, fair treatment of workers, money lending, caring for the poor, as well as not mistreating the stranger, widow or orphan, a running theme in the Torah. I noticed something interesting in this whole section: only at the very end, and really in relationship to not eating flesh torn from the beasts of the field, does it say anything about being holy. These laws are what God expects of us humans in building a community, the ethical import of differentiating ourselves from the animals. We need laws to function more efficiently and in safety; we need laws to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity. But, these laws say nothing, really, about being holy. For that, we need Leviticus 19.
One Saturday morning, an old, shabbily dressed man happened to be walking through an elegant suburb when he spotted a huge, beautiful synagogue. He entered during the service, and took a seat in the rear pew. The well dressed congregation was unnerved by his appearance. As he was leaving the service, the rabbi told the old man, “Before you come back again, please pray and have a talk with God. Ask God what God thinks would be the proper clothes for worshipping in this synagogue.” The next Saturday the old man returned to the synagogue in the same shabby clothes. After the service, the rabbi again asked him whether or not he had talked to God about the appropriate attire for synagogue. “I did talk to God,” the old man replied. “God told me that He wouldn’t have any idea what was appropriate attire for worshipping in your synagogue. God said that’s because God’s never been in here before.”
This little joke illustrates what Leviticus 19 has to offer in regard to holiness. Unlike Mishpatim, in this part of the Torah, in the parsha called Kedoshim, literally meaning holiness, we are exhorted to dig deeper into ourselves and work to create a society that is not just fair and just, but truly holy, emblematic of God here on Earth.
… We are holy when we work to eliminate hate from our hearts, for there is no law against that; we are holy when we don’t insult the deaf, for there is no law against that; we are holy when we turn away from revenge or holding a grudge, for there is no law against that. We can’t legislate holiness, it is the truest essence of being created in the image of God. We are God carriers, and this is our mission in life. It is not enough to create ethical societies, for that is just the beginning.
Hold ever before you the vision of the new heaven and new earth. ~ Eileen Caddy[mfn]For some info on the Findhorn Founders’ philosophies see this post.[/mfn]
A wise person never asks what another person serves, for only his/her actions will speak the truth. ~ Seneca
May we bless all with our brightest light in this festive season and let it shine on through every thought, word and deed in this coming year! ☮️