“Do not exalt any path above God. There are many paths that lead to God.
So people are capable of finding and following the ways that suit them,
provided they do not stand still.” Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
A Vessel without Light Breaks
A parable is a vessel for the message within it. So too, the word is the vessel for the expression of thought. And if one speaks without Kavanah, it is the very enactment of the “Breaking of the Vessels” (1), for in such a case, there is no inner life to the words. But when one divests oneself of materiality, which is the person’s body and “vessel”, one is able to behold the inner nature of the vessel, the life and light of the letters.(2) When one is divested of corporeality and is enclothed in one’s words, one is in a state of D’vequt. Take care not to lose the concentrated stream of awareness and fortify yourself on high.
(1) The cosmic rupture at the beginning of the process of creation that enabled duality and evil to manifest in creation, for the sake of providing humanity with free choice; as a means toward the individual growth of awareness and integration with the Primordial Tiqqun. But whereas the original “breaking of the vessels” occurred as an act of Divine Will for the reason just mentioned, this breaking, due to the seperation of one’s intent from one’s words, serves only a destructive purpose. It is interesting to note that whereas in the Creation process, the vessels broke due to a superabundance of light, here, they shatter due to too-little light. This is no doubt because the provision of light that cannot be integrated also leaves the vessel empty and unsustained.
(2) This subtle teaching contrasts the the divestment of intent [which is like the “light”] from words [which are like “the vessels” – and as a result of the seperation of light from vessel, the vessel falls and breaks – as in the Zoharic-Lurianic formulation]; with the divestment of one’s awareness [which is again, the light] from the body, which is here described as the outer manifestation of the inner nature of the vessel. But here, in contrast with the Creation from Nothing, rather than causing the breaking of the vessel, one discovers the true essence of the vessel – the divinely communicated outer world of information that enables the stability of the outer world – in a dispassionate way.
“To be whole and free is to live and manifest on the material and immaterial planes in harmony with the spiritual laws that govern all that there is. It then becomes our duty and responsibility to transmit and reflect in our daily lives, and to our utmost ability, the highest vibrations of the universe and of our Creator.”
The Sufi’s deep longing for union became a poetic ‘pain’. Pain is the longing of the ‘lover’ to rejoin the ‘Beloved’. Pain represents the friction and struggle that comes from having to live in this transient world with an ageing body, all the while longing for union with one’s own vast God-consciousness which transcends the trivialities of this world. Uncertainty and insecurity of every arising moment and day, not knowing how the mind will unfold in its search of the path is also the source of this pain. This is a pain without a cure. The Sufi would rather die than live without the pain of that longing for union. It is a joyful pain, the pain of being alive, the pain of being in love with, but separated from, the Beloved.
The Beloved is indeed the goal, the lover is the veil,
The Beloved is indeed immortal, the lover’s life must fail. – Rumi
There is no hindrance between the Beloved and the lover,
You are yourself the veil in-between; remove the cover. – Hafiz
My painful nagging is that your pain will not fade.
He who bears the pain of the Friend would become immortal
in the love and grace of His Fellowship. – Ansari
I have fallen in an ocean and I see no shore.
I am afflicted with a pain that has no cure. – Attar
I have inherited a pain from the Friend,
Which I will not exchange for a hundred thousand cures.
How are we going to heal ourselves and others? By first becoming convinced that love is a principle of nature. We have ample evidence scientifically, logically, and intuitively that there is no need for anyone in the world today to speak of love as mere sentimentality. We have to practice the Presence of God as love, as friendship, as peace, as joy, if we would know the fulness of the adventure of living.
It is a terrible burden to dislike people and to be critical. All it does is cover up a perpetual pain in our own heart. It is a whistling in the dark to keep up our own courage. How much easier it is to love people, to learn to forgive rather than hold grudges. We should not go to bed at night until we have cleared our mind of every animosity. Love is the greatest healing agent on Earth for our body as well as our affairs.
To be a friend is the greatest privilege I can experience. Therefore, I extend loving friendship to all I meet. I identify myself with the givingness of God’s own nature, knowing that I am in league with the highest force in life.
From far to near my own shall come to me. Even now it is coming to me, and I receive it. My own is now manifesting itself to me, and I see and know its presence. My own knows and responds to me. The drawing power of that inner spirit within me is now attracting and drawing into my experience all that is good and perfect. There is nothing within me to hinder or to delay it. My own cannot be kept from me, neither can I keep my good away from me. I receive it now. I now receive my good.
Love is more than a sentiment. It is a need, a hunger, a thirst that is perfectly natural. Anyone who thinks he can live and be happy without it does not know what he is talking about – psychologically, emotionally, or spiritually. Love is the beginning and end, the impulse in nature that will not be denied.
Let us think back beyond the individual to the Source of all life. I believe that the whole universe is the givingness of the Creative Spirit – to the delight of Its own Being – into the creation that is Itself in that creation. Love is the principle of Life, for it is the nature of everything to give. Only the one who loves so much that there is no longer any room for hate will ever arrive at the place where, if there may be hate, he will never know it. We are afraid of greatness because we are so tied down to littleness. We clutch the littleness anxiously and jealously, but so precariously, to our hearts. It is essential to see beyond the littleness to something bigger. None of us is as perfect in expression as we ought to be. So the challenge to each of us is to be great enough to rise in love, in charity, through understanding and compassion. Love is the lodestone of life.
I respond lovingly to all persons. Recognizing that the spiritual life is the real life, I surround myself with love, the key to joyous living.
“Let us learn to let go, to not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the circumstances and conditions of this world. Let us constantly remember that at the heart of ourselves, as at the heart of all human beings, there forever stands a silent and watchful guardian: the Master Within.”
Why Renunciation is Prescribed for Seekers of Truth?
by Jayaram V
Summary: This essay explores the importance of being yourself and seeing things clearly as they are
Try to speak truth for a whole day and see what happens. You will be considered a troll and shut down by many from their communication channels. You will be regarded as a trouble maker, or a dangerous person. People are comfortable with their illusions. If you try to rupture them, you will invite trouble. Therefore, for most of us truth is what is socially acceptable and justifiable rather than what is true.
Being yourself is the first step to be true to yourself. It is an important step in your self-transformation and inner purity. Not many people can practice it, for the same reason as stated before. They cannot alienate people by speaking truth or being truthful. Even the most powerful people on earth have to play to the gallery and act according to their hopes and aspirations rather than the reality of the situation.
The world loves myths, not truths. If it is not so, most people who are admired and remembered in history will not be there. Studies in human psychology show that human beings may rewrite their memories to feel comfortable with themselves and avoid unpleasant memories. Our survival instinct tells us how to get on well with the world and avoid conflicts to regulate our relationships. People know instinctively that they cannot be likable or friendly with others without wearing masks and using politically correct language. For their peace of mind and yours they know that it is better to tell you what you like to hear rather than what they need to say. They embrace your idea of truth rather than theirs because they need your love and friendship rather than your anger and vengeance. Therefore, the freedom to be themselves and truthful remains a distant ideal for many and comes to them at a great price.
Being yourself means you have to be your authentic self and speak from your heart how you feel or what you feel about yourself and the world. It is being honest in your thinking and judgment seeing things as they are, without the distortion of your mind. It is to avoid self-deception and know truthfully what you feel and think. You cannot do it unless you remove the delusions that you build in your mind to create the narrative that suits you but does not really represent you. It may address your fears or your needs, but not the truth of your being.
Knowing yourself is an important part of being yourself. Unless you truly know your feelings and emotions, how can you know who you are? To know yourself truly, you must learn to see things as they are. You must become an impartial observer so that you can see the logical fallacies and irrational beliefs that interfere with your perception and understanding. Paying attention to your own behavior and thinking gives you an opportunity to become familiar with your ego and its behavior, or how it creates an alternate reality to ensure your survival and wellbeing in a world of egos.
The world is a major distraction in your quest for truth, while the mind with which you perceive it is like a nebulous prism. Your perceptions are therefore rarely free from distortions. In your dealings with the world, you are mostly guided by your fears and concerns or your need for security, approval, and belongingness rather than truth, which is why many relationships in your life are built on weak foundation and do not stand the test of truth or trust.
The problem is not because you are inherently weak. It is because the world puts so much pressure on you to confirm to its standards and values. When you live amidst people, you cannot be true to yourself and others, without hurting them or creating enmity or misunderstanding. It is also why spiritual life is so difficult to pursue and why not many people can abide by the instructions that are mentioned in our scriptures for self-purification. People love myths and illusions rather than reality. Therefore, they will not like anyone who wants to snap those balloons of illusions with which they decorate their lives.
If you want to practice deeper awareness, objectivity, and mindful observation, you must find opportunities to spend time with yourself and develop the courage to accept truths about yourself. Spend few quite moments each day for introspection and confront your own illusions, self-deception and mental distortions, as if you are taking a mental bath to cleanse the impurities of your mind that accumulate each day through your public persona. It is the best approach when you cannot renounce the world or live in isolation.
Our scriptures prescribe renunciation and the need to live in isolation because they are aware of the corrupting influence of the world upon your thinking and behavior. They know that you cannot practice truthfulness or any of the Yamas (restraints) and Niyamas (observations) that are mentioned in our scriptures without upsetting your life or your peace of mind.
In today’s world, everyone cannot practice renunciation or go to a forest to live in isolation. Therefore, for them the best alternative is to find time to be alone, and practice detachment, mindfulness, introspection, and discernment to know themselves better and be honest with themselves. Those few moments they spend alone, reviewing their actions, will do them immense good to be self-aware, realistic, alert, and smart. If you cannot be truthful to others, at least be so to yourself, the one person who matters most in your life.