A Final Comment on My Spiritual Path,
from the last chapter of Mending the Heart, Tending the Soul: Directions to the Garden Within
With each reading, I am more stunned by the wisdom and depth of the Five Books of Moses, and by the relevance of its teachings for each day, even each hour, of my life. Many of my friends and acquaintances have told me that I’ve changed markedly in course of working with it these last years, becoming more open, warmer, calmer, less critical, and more spontaneous. As is always the case, the hardest work has been in my most intimate relationships; but even here, the changes are striking.
I’m also aware that my sense of who I am has altered: in fact, there is no one being inside my head who is “me.” Instead of a single entity, that “me” seems to be an uneven collection of mood states, preferences, and habits of feeling and behaving. Sometimes one dominates, sometimes another, and some states of being occur more often than others. The specific combinations of states are what seem to characterize me as an individual, but I don’t feel defined by any one of them. And somehow, this awareness frees me from being bogged down in self-defensiveness.
With this awareness has come another experience—that of seeing this shape-shifting “me” imbedded in a process that spans all of space-time. I am a kind of impermanent concentration of energy and mass that can be located in this moment at this location, but I will pass like every other such concentration, whether human or dinosaur or carrot. Nothing persists, and, somehow, quite mysteriously, that is all right.
At the same time, I am aware of some component in myself that does seem both permanent and at the core of what I call “me.” It is the component that observes and notices the shape-shifting, and it seems to be genderless and simply aware. When I really pay attention, it seems to be an intimation of G-d, my own limited awareness of the infinite awareness of the Divine Presence within my own being.
Apparently, this awareness goes deep. For about half of 2011, I had a devastating illness requiring multiple hospitalizations. At one point, I was unable to move even to ring for a nurse because the slightest movement caused unbearable pain. The doctors could not agree on a diagnosis or predict what was going to happen next, but worst of all was my total helplessness as I lay there. To my amazement, I remained rather calm throughout the experience, feeling myself in the presence of something larger than myself that I can only call G-d, as I kept repeating the meditation that goes Adonai li, lo eerah, which means “G-d is with me, I shall not fear.”
Nothing of the physical world persists, and at the same time, nothing of this world exists in isolation. All is imbedded in the flow of time, all connected in one space across the universe, and all a manifestation of G-d. And when I pay attention, everything I look at pulses with life and sensuality, even the supposedly inanimate rock. Everything shimmers with radiance, with glory.
Everything and everyone is holy.