There are two forms of knowledge through which the consciousness operates: the accumulative way, with which we are educated, and the non-accumulative way, espoused by the kabbalists who believe that the accumulation of information drowns the activity of will. The more a person has accumulated information, the less the availability of his or her own true will.
In children, the spontaneity of will is very apparent. We try to suppress and channel this availability of will by giving them more information. We believe that the information will change the quality of that will and prevent them from wanting things that will conflict with their surroundings. What is lost in this process of education is the spontaneity and the awareness of where the roots of the problems are or where the emotional knots are made. The trickiest is the accumulation of psychological information because it interprets the operations of the mind to the degree that when a person tries to reach for his or her own inner world of wills and true emotions, he finds ready-made formulas and information instead of his own true voice. This is how a person becomes estranged from his true nature and the true feelings of his heart. Within this process, people learn to use other people’s voices inside of their heads to solve and find their way within their own mental world.
The way of meditation is to suppress and subtract all of those layers in order to reach towards the true voice of a person. Meditation enables a person to return to the time when his will was available, to live that time again, and to use it now. Then he can better understand the root of how things have accumulated and where his true will and emotions were in the past, although it will not be the same as it was then.
Now, the person is not a child anymore. There have been mechanisms of pleasure and lack that have entered into his life and changed him. The return to the original state of the will of the child can be used to give a person a sense of how, historically, he has arrived at this particular point in his life. But it does not give the clue as to what he lives now. Instead it provides a methodology, another type of language.
This is where the Torah steps in. A person has to bear the responsibility of reaching the meaning of things now. The Torah teaches that what is meaningful in a person’s life is what is happening now. To reach for the point of meaning, one has to be in touch with the voice of one’s true will. When a person finds and has access to that true voice, naturally, he or she will have access to the will of G-d and the exact understanding of the place of his life.
This is one of the things that is brought about through meditation. It is not a method of therapy but rather the urgent need for a person to reach for his/her true voice. In addition, meditation enables a person to access the meaning of his/her life as it is happening now. Consciousness works by synthesizing everything that one lives in the present. That brings the awareness of Divine Providence.
This is the understanding that we live in the gaze of G-d and that everything around us is G-dly. The omer, the idea of inclusion, says that within the structure of creation, everything borrows from everything else. Even the higher, spiritual worlds and the Divine Attributes have participated in an exchange with the elements that were created, so that everything is found inside of each individual element.This is what gives the awareness of the present, and this itself is the structure of consciousness. Thus, the consciousness operates in a way that every element is represented and included in all of the other elements. The exposure to one of these elements now, brings the awareness of all of them.
This relates to what the Baal Shem Tov taught, that if you grasp a little of G-d, you have grasped the whole. The difference between the time in which a person is completely aware of the G-dliness around him and the time that he is not, is the fact that he is aware that it has not ceased, that there is no such thing as an increase or decrease in G-dliness. Where there is an increase or a decrease is only in consciousness. The awareness that every element element is inclusive of all the rest enables a person to find G-d right at the place where he or she is.This is brought about through the practice of the mitzvot [613 Commandments] and prayer, since every mitzvah is only the symbolic application of all the others in a particular form. Should just one of them be done with a spirit of all-inclusiveness, everything has been done. Should one person be loved with the spirit of all-inclusiveness, all of humanity has been loved. Should one individual live this moment with the spirit of all-inclusiveness and with the knowledge that Providence is operating now, he has lived a full life. Our wills, and our true voice reach naturally for the expression of that [Divine] will. The will naturally expresses that but our wills have been quieted and rendered mute with the accumulation of information that did not really have to do with the nature of will or the releasing of our true voice.
“Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeno, Hashem Echad,” (Hear/Listen Israel, Lord is our G-d, G-d is one) G-d is one, means that in everything you find the inclusion of everything, so He is one. This is how He is one, Prior to the time that a person has made that type of understanding active in his/her life, he/she has not yet understood the idea of the oneness of G-d. Idolatry places a middle entity between the present and one’s true voice.
The moment of meditation is a simple exercise but we have to understand how this simple exercise becomes included in the rest of our experience. In meditation, we learn to let go of everything that has a totalitarian voice which says, “I am everything.” Most of the thoughts in our minds have this claim, and catch our attention with this claim. Now something extremely important is happening, but the rest is as important. If I go with that thought and don’t let go of it, it creates in me the illusion that this is what my own thoughts are saying, this is what I am saying. This is the identification of one’s thoughts with one’s thoughts. The danger with this is that eventually a game of will will be played in which we will say, “this is really what we want.” And this is obviously the road to pain.
The meditation of “letting go” is a practice that in the words of the Sages is called “bitachon”, the idea of trust for and cleaving to G-d. This is the understanding that through His Providence things happen and we have no real attachment with them. Through letting go, I can come to the point of hearing my own voice and hearing the Will of Divine Providence. By becoming attached more to this or that, I build a wall between me and Providence, and I am not able to be a witness to the Providence with G-d. I can spend my whole life erecting and worshiping false gods, and I have not yet come to the point of oneness.
Egypt was the land with a king who claimed to be everything. Pharoah said that he was G-d, claiming he did not need to go to the bathroom, etc…. This is where our consciousness has been imprisoned. The liberation of Egypt is the liberation of the voice. For the voice to express itself from the narrowness of the throat referred to as “Egypt”, the illusion that there is a king has to step down. The weeks of the omer, [counting 49 days between the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot] in which we prepare ourselves for the reception of the Torah, is a time in which we come to the realization that one element would not exist in the same realm as the others, unless it includes all the others. The role of existence is that everything is included in everything else. When we try to deny this, claiming that this or that person is not good enough, we miss the point.
Love is not a conceptual understanding that I have to love everyone. I can say that I love everyone all day long and I won’t love anyone. This is why the Torah says, “You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.” If you are able to love your fellow Jew, then the love of humanity can follow. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the author of The Zohar, said that he and his ten students made the entire world stand upon their love. This means that the existence of the whole world depended upon the love that those ten individuals had for one another. Their love was so true and unquestioning that it became the place of the inclusion of all other loves.
When a person starts to focus on his or her true voice at the time of meditation, all of the thoughts and images that act as obstacles for that expression, emerge. To prevent these obstacles from blocking one’s true self, it is important to let go of them, to let them pass by without investing importance into them. A person does not counteract these thoughts by trying to focus all of the time because within this attempt is the will to take control. The practice of meditation itself will bring the person the clarity to know when he or she is in touch with the depth of his or her own expression and when he or she is being played with and tossed around.
Originally, the transmission of the practice of meditation was placed in the hands of the kabbalists, about whom it says, “The voice is the voice of Ya’akov, the hands are the hands of Esau.” This is the blessing that Ya’akov received from his father Yitzchak, which he passed on later to his son Yosef, as expressed by the verse, “And he made for him a coat with lines, “pasufim”, the lined coat.” This verse has been translated erroneously in the King James Bible as the “coat of many colors.” The idea of passing on the coat with lines is the passing on of the prophetic tradition. Ya’akov conferred on Yosef the ability to interpret dreams and know their prophetic values.
The sages say that the letters which comprise the initials of the the phrase, “And he made for him a coat of lines,” have the numerical value of the word for voice. Yosef inherited the ability to recognize the divine voice from within all the other voices that line a mental world. How a person distinguishes his divine voice from amidst all of the others is the idea of the separation between all of the voices in the thoughts of a person. A person must search for that one voice which is his true voice, which expresses and integrates within itself all of the meanings of the other voices that are only an illustration and a commentary upon the main voice.
The main voice is the one that is closest to the idea of silence. This is described by the prophet Eliyahu when he was chased by the soldiers of Ahab into a cave where it says that he saw a strong wind, a fire, and a great noise. Three times he observes the wind and says, “G-d is not in the wind.” He observes the fire and says, “G-d is not in the fire.” He observes the noise and says, “G-d is not in the noise.” Then he hears a “thin voice of the silence’” at which point G-d speaks to him and says, “What do you hear, Eliyahu?”
Yosef received the ability to recognize this time voice of the silence through which he found a code for the interpretation of events, dreams, etc…. He foresaw this in his dream about his brothers, coming and bowing down before him in Egypt. This dream mapped the beginning of the exile of the Jews in Egypt and the redemption. Initially, the voice spoke within him, and afterward all of the Jewish people lived the history of the unfolding of that voice. Initially, we were slaves in Egypt and then we were freed from slavery by the inheritor of the voice, Moses.
When a person is in touch with his true voice, and has developed the necessary diligence and patience, he goes into prayer and meditation with the knowledge that the rest of his day and all of the events in his life are there to open him up to a greater involvement in the practices of meditation and prayer. All of the rest of the mitzvot and the Torah that he learns are only a commentary upon and a guide of the path of how his own experience of his life will be.
From the prayer of such a person, the gates are either opened or closed. The accusations are either active or silent. The identification between the strong forces in this world and G-d are made clear, and people gain the ability to truly open up their minds to G-d. Just one person on the level of Yosef ha-tzaddik, inherits the practice of meditation and prayer. He has balanced all of the levels of attention to the divine that occur in the world.
The way to touch the universal is, instead of reaching for the universal in a conceptual way, to drive one’s attention to the most private and intimate points of expression in one’s own life. A person reaching for the universal in a conceptual way will call the universal by one name or another. The basis for contention in this world is that each person has an understanding of where the world should be, and these understandings naturally clash and bring more wars than understanding into the world. Only when a person has touched the point of intimacy within his or her own life and has come to the point where what he or she is expressing is hardly explainable to oneself, it is so intimate, only then has one come in touch with something that is of a truly universal nature, and that puts him at peace with the rest of the world. Then a person has a true grasp of what is universal and what he is touching in him or herself is true also for the other, beyond the boundaries of belonging to particular groups of people or races.
Looking for the concepts that will save one’s mind from being in conflict with the rest of the world will not help, because every concept has a counter-argument. But there is no counter-argument to one’s existence. It has been willed by G-d and it is the expression of G-d which happens at the most personal level in a human being. G-d is found in a person’s most private voice. Eliyahu came from being chased by the soldiers of Ahab, at a time of war and upheaval in Israel, and looked for G-d. G-d was not in his anger and rage that the prophets of Baal had led all of the Jewish people to worship foreign gods, or in his feelings of injustice over treatment of the lower classes by the upper classes at this time. Only when he understood that G-d was not in any of these emotions was he able to express his most intimate voice, that the Torah calls, “the quiet murmur of silence.” The moment he found G-d in this expression, he fell on his face before the greatness of such a thing.