Aloneness and connection: the theme of our universe

From the viewpoint of Kabbalah, relationship is the entire theme of creation. 

The One has become Two and then Many, yet each and every part remains connected to every other and to the whole. The transcendent and the immanent, the personal and the impersonal, the material and the highest realms of spirit are present everywhere.

Our essential dilemma as humans likewise is rooted in the underlying conditions of separation and connection.

We feel both our essential aloneness, and the vast possibilities of what it can mean to give and to receive in relationship. 

This is true whether we consider the nature of our relationship with a friend, a significant other, or The Significant Other who devotional poets have long called The Beloved.

The single word “cleave” carries the essential paradoxical dynamic of relationship. This Janus word looks in opposite directions at the same time, signifying both to separate or hew apart, as well as to adhere closely, with strength of attachment. Without the hewing, there is only enmeshment: no real connection, no space into which giving and receiving can be offered.

 

Cleaving

by Sara Eisenberg

 

I have long forgotten what I was made for:

to cleave, to cling and to hew all

at once.

 

With two fingers I tap

on the clear frigid air

of this first morning of the new year,

it shatters but holds together.

 

That same air must pass through

warming shades of blue

wool across nose and mouth to deliver

its essential lode to lungs that

have a new freedom I cannot account for.

 

I cross the room, walk smack into swags of

unseasonable gossamer, that sticky stuff

that has ambushed me in the late-summer garden,

and now presses itself into my crevices as if sealing a vow between

two solids.

 

No longer am I spread out over vast distances, destined

to spin, order and turn worlds,

harbor and protect legions, heedless of sleep: labors suitable to

whole colonies of social insects.

 

To be in my very own skin

where there is space between us

where breath may pass, and words, and love,

that cleaving we were made for.


Banner photo: Duke Gardens by Pat Merriman, Hillsborough Art Gallery, Hillsborough, North Carolina

 

It’s not about anything but love

It’s curious how I’ve been drawn back repeatedly to an area in the Catskills that I have visited regularly for close to forty years. Clearly it has been home to me in some way I have not been able to name.

There is a “there” there, but what is its nature?

Spiritual initiations and awakening, weeks of study and following ashram discipline, Jewish Renewal retreats, gatherings with healing colleagues, meditation and prayer and practice – and family events. For the past eight years the family events have included pilgrimages to Stagedoor Manor, a camp for serious theatre geeks from which my grandson will “graduate” in a few weeks, then head off to college.

But what is it really that has drawn me back over and over again?

As I drove south through Sullivan County a few days ago, returning to Baltimore after a camp performance week-end, I once again considered this question. When my daughter and I arrived on Friday afternoon, we had been greeted with a double rainbow. The weather had been sunny and pleasant with a few heavy downpours. As we left were still under the influence of Saturday evening’s gloriously silver full moon. Nature was certainly at its kindest this trip.

And we had been inspired by six shows from Friday through Saturday evening, full of gifted and spirited acting and song, and enjoyed the particular dance that happens every summer as various family members and friends disperse go to different shows and come back together to exchange “wows!”

….and then I heard these words spoken in the voice of one of my teachers:

It’s about love.

It’s always been about love.

It’s not about anything but love.

When I thought it was about wisdom, it was about love.

When I thought it was about skill, it was about love.

When I thought it was about duty, it was about love.

And what is the nature of that love?

The nature of that love is action, not sentiment.

In Hebrew, the word for love is Ahava, which has a numerical value of thirteen. The word for One is Echad, which also has a numerical value of thirteen. Coupled, in relationship, their value is 26, the numerical value of the Unpronounceable Name of God.

And so it goes: we think that we travel, we think we gather and disperse, we think we study, we think we perform on stage or off.

While what we really do is love.

Receive and give over and over again.

Express the One – endlessly and concretely. Humanly, that is to say imperfectly.

Sing the Unpronounceable with our imperfect human actions.

 

 

One! The singular sensation that fuels A Life of Practice

The inner workings of A Life of Practice  

Those of you who have been drawn to this tribe of Good Enough human beings have told me that you appreciate the perspective of A Life of Practice with its focus on becoming not more perfect but more human. Over the past year you have responded especially to posts that offered open-hearted personal stories and models of how to engage with practice in daily moments both challenging and celebratory. I greatly appreciate your traveling with me, and your comments along the way.

What I want to share in a deeper way is the beating heart that fuels me to live A life of practice: Nondual Kabbalistic Healing© (NKH). NKH was developed as a curriculum of healing and awakening by Jinen Jason Shulman. It integrates the wisdom of Buddhism and Advaitic understandings of nonduality with the wisdom of the Kabbalah and the insights of  modern psychology. This is a path towards realizing, for each of us, our unique humanity, and living a life of vital and intimate relationships.

I began to receive healings and then study this work over twenty years ago with a “goal” of becoming more human. If you had asked me what that meant, my answer would have been vague.

 

One! Singular sensation…  (from the Broadway musical, Chorus Line)

Nondual Kabbalistic Healing © is rooted in a practice that underpins all of A Life of Practice. One! that helps me to wrestle with the unending dualities of life. One! that keeps me moving with life, whether or how these dualities get “resolved.”

And that One! is:  a radical practice of Oneness.

 

What do I mean by a radical practice of Oneness?

The central prayer of Jewish worship is known as the Shma: Shma Yisroel HaShem Elokeinu Hashem Echad. I learned this prayer as a kid in Sunday school, where it was translated as: Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.

Another and quite accurate translation is: Listen, you who wrestle with God, Reality is One Thing.

In NKH, we throw everything up against this statement. I mean, everything.

Whatever limitation or wart you want to leave out: include.

Whatever the shadow cast by the brilliant sunbeams of your latest inspiration: include.

Whatever you cannot bear turning away from in disgust: include. Include even your turning-away.

Because all those things we edit out or orphan: they haunt us.

They too want to come in out of the cold.

This is the radical practice of Oneness, the alchemical power of Kabbalistic Healing, and the heart of A Life of Practice.

This Oneness is not prescriptive: how human life should be in some idealized or actualized state, some Golden Age past or future.

This Oneness is descriptive:  true to how life actually is, lived on the ground, in the mind and imagination, in the heart, in the soul.

 

This Indivisible Oneness is a fabric embellished by the moments of our One Life

Some of those moments feel like shining, precious gems, others like bird droppings. Yet all are adornments. One Life. NKH’s radical practice of Oneness invites me to make use of everything I am and experience, a  potent compost that nourishes and sustains a life of practice.

 

Practice is our faithful and trustworthy ally on the journey – because we do still need to journey within the One.

The “journey” is then our gradual, erratic, persistent wandering, awakening to the Presence of God, to Reality, to our own glories and limitations, an integration of our split-off parts, an enlivening of the everything that is right here, right now.

Me and my practice – we keep moving with the movement of life.

And on we dance, awake and awakening, healed and healing.

 

Reflection: 

How are you faring in your “journey”?

What have you accepted?  How have you changed?

What have you brought in from the cold? What remains huddling outside?


Let’s talk about your journey. For a free 30-minute consultation with Sara: https://alifeofpractice.com/contact/

One! Sara guides you though a 3-minute video exercise:  https://alifeofpractice.com/welcome/

A Society of Souls, Jason Shulman’s School of Nondual Healing and Awakening, offers a four year professional training program:  http://www.kabbalah.org