My Beloved, I searched for you outside thought I found you who cannot be found you were, to me, nowhere in this world frustrated with the search, drawn within away from it all, by Love to love, you were magnified in the silence; now, I receive you in the taste of everything we together reaching into the world from the inside the futile search having died in the beauty of this Grace
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The Polish founder of Hasidic Judaism, healer, and mystic, Baal Shem Tov, spent a Shabbat in Kolomaya. On the night of Shabbat, he sensed the presence in the town of a holy soul radiating great light. He went out to walk about in search of that light.
The Baal Shem Tov passed by a home, he saw the light radiating from it. He heard sounds of singing and dancing. The door was slightly ajar, and he entered and saw Rabbi Yaakov Koppel dancing ecstatically before the Shabbat table, upon which was good food for the Shabbat celebration.
Rabbi Yaakov Koppel sang and danced a long time; then, he stopped and noticed the Baal Shem Tov. He welcomed his guest warmly, and the Baal Shem Tov asked him, "Why do you sing and dance this way before eating?"
Rabbi Yaakov Koppel replied, "Before I partake of the physical food, I stand in front of the table and absorb the food’s spiritual essence. Sometimes, I become so aroused that I sing and dance."
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Often, we seem to share about silence as though it's emotionless, and that can sound lifeless. I like this idea of being aroused, I think feeling is important.
Silence is emotionless, feeling is important. The body goes through varied states in meditation, as outside meditation. You, at least for a time, are the Watcher, the Witness. In this, even amid a storm of emotion, equanimity is present, for this calm is the nature of Silence. Finally, your life becomes the Silence. This process becomes reality for you both inside and outside your times of quietude. At each phase, the inside life and outside life have to be oneed in harmony.
You are like one looking at the river of thoughts and sensations, you do this until even the Watcher, or Witness, is no more. You have been drawn back into the Fount of equanimity, which can never be known from the body, only into the body from deeper-than-the-body.
What happens to this one watching?
The Watcher, or Witness, dies into the act of watching. It will not dissolve in the Self-awareness, however, if you, as self, cling to being the Watcher. This is why mindfulness is not a final destination, but only a place along the way. Mindfulness keeps intact the ego watching and, then, becomes watching. Finally, Watcher, watching, river become oneed in harmony, a new life is born. Awareness, now, is simply aware; awareness is. Here, you are in harmony with Life, all else are the details of life.
What about the feelings of ecstasy, as in the story?
That is a feeling state, this comes and goes, below is Feeling, sense of God. That the euphoria comes is a gift, that it goes is a gift. As you are drawn more into the One, you will have a reduction in toleration of excitement.
Even the sense of spiritual aridity is a natural part of the expression of Life. This feeling of absence is a feeling state. Do not resist it, become intimate with it. Like the Lotus in the mud, we must live in the mud, there we discover Love. The mud means fully being in this incarnation in body and fully in the world we live in. Even if one lives mostly in solitude, he or she must be totally in the world, inviting the world into the silence and solitude. "Mud" is not bad, it is simply mud. Invite the mud in. Awakening is awakening to your being the Lotus.
And in the story, the Rabbi acknowledges the arousal may or may not occur, when it does, he responds appropriately with a physical means to express the deep feeling of ecstasy. This ecstasy is the Self rising to the surface of the body, taking the body into Itself. When one is not acting from the body, but as with the Rabbi, in response to the hidden presence, the Self of Presence, the Divine One, which he knows is within the food and enfolds the food, the presence in an apparent object and your presence meets in a holy conjunction. This happens in the larger Presence, the Essence enfolding and unfolding all presences, which are differentiated but of the same singular Grace. Being differentiated-but-alike allows the recognition of presence-with-presence, in Presence.
Who recognizes this presence?
No one. Recognition arises in the conjunction of the sacred intercourse, presence-with-presence. When two meet, one is seen, for one sees one; that is, oneness is seen, seen arises into the experience of the body.
So, trying to see this never works?
Never. The effort for recognition to arise blocks the recognition arising. If it were you recognizing, you could do something to make recognition happen, but recognition is not your recognition, you cannot do anything other than prepare for the visitation. This is symbolized in the Child of Light, Jesus, being born in the stable in Bethlehem. All Mary and Joseph could do was prepare a place for the birth of the Light. How ironic, the humble place he was born: so, remember the mud. The birth of Christ is never ostentatious, often unseen, quiet, adorned with humility. Even as for a witness to his awakening, the Buddha touched the Earth, saying the Earth was witness. Contrast this with much religion, with many politicians, with corporations, with Hollywood. Grace feels no need to dress up to get your attention, for Grace is of all humble, and its strength and beauty is in the humility. We see Grace, in all its humbleness, when we are humble enough to see.
Some of us don't feel ecstatic, I rarely feel excited in such an exuberant way as in the story of the Rabbi.
Interesting that the word "arousal" literally means "a by rouse stirring up," from the Old French. The word was used of a fowl shaking its feathers. How you express this being-stirred-up will be influenced by many factors likely, including natural temperament and group. The Hasidim are a movement known for outward expressions of ecstasy. Yet, for some, especially persons who engage a lot of time in silence, one will move, over time, toward a quieter, more inward expression of enthusiasm: by the way, enthusiasm means "being engoded" or "being in-God." We could say, "God dances, though differently, the same dance." Nevertheless, this inward motion does not negate more obvious outward expressions, yet, these will become the exception.
Why does ecstasy become more reserved over time for those in a regular engagement with silence?
For the Self, or essence, initially fused with body identity, is being released to Self-identity and, likewise, to the Source of Self and body. Where identity is located in the spirit-soul-mind-body continuum, from that you will live and express. A wise one can observe someone, and he or she can sense what address he or she lives at, so to speak.
What's this Self?
That which wears the body.
How does this help the world?
The Silence is the deepest intimacy, there you see all in God and God in all. Each being is a refraction of one Light, a spark of one Fire of Love. Realizing this, for one thing, we could no longer engage in war, for war is a defamation of the image of God. We would see how unreasonable war is, and how evil the killing in the name, of all things, God. War, between nations and between and among persons, is based on emotion. Only in the heart of Life do we find Love that is most reasonable and most thoughtful, for it is present prior to all that appears to divide us. In truth, nations are divided, for we who comprise the nations are divided within ourselves. Peace among us can only come when we each are in peace, until then, we will think we have a sane reason to fight. Until peace within, we will have killing and being killed without, whether internationally, on our streets, or in our homes.
Should one engage in war?
As I said, until peace within, we will have war, regardless of our efforts for peace without. We can only find peace within, and that pertains to those who are against war, too. The fight is in us, and only Grace can remove the fight. Let us, however, not turn this into a moral matter presently, that would detract from the point made as to peace. Agreeing about war or not war is not the answer to war; the question and answer is peace.
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*The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.