Beltane Mountain Moon
Back in the day, the now further and further away day, I always went to class. I might have missed a few, but it was rare. I enjoyed learning from lectures, getting in the mix of dialogue, thinking out loud. Last night I was the only student in the qabbalah class on Time.
Rabbi Jamie and I had a solid hour together talking about the nature of the sabbath, the notion of sacred time, and, hidden space-time. L’Olam va’ed, translated most often as forever and ever, has another translation, hidden time witnessed. The second translation, a qabbalist’s, points to the intersection of the three dimensions: space, time, and soul. Soul is consciousness in this frame. It is a nexus that is crucial to understanding existence per se. Without all three, space, time and consciousness, the fabric of the universe cannot exist, or, perhaps better, in my opinion, couldn’t be known as we humans know it.
The tao. The tao feels like the central idea that I have learned, even though it’s pretty damned slippery. Putting it into this qabbalistic paradigm, being one with tao is awareness of L’Olam va’ed. When our soul sees hidden time, we see reality as it is, a moving generative force and we can align ourselves with its flow, not impede it.
Being human is a daunting task, steeped in misdirection, existential isolation, perception clouded by tradition, by language, even by our body. Qabbalists and taoists and ch’an buddhists have worked, hard, to peel the onion of our awareness. They are subtle, in their own way as subtle as particle physics or genetics or neuroscience, attempts to understand this task, the one none of us can jettison, save through suicide. They differentiate from the narrowing tendency of science by insisting on a full, a comprehensive positioning of this strange creature that we are in the wild.
Make no mistake, the universe is the true wilderness and we wander in it as innocents, thrown into it for what reason we do not know, headed toward a destination we do not understand and cursed or blessed with awareness, consciousness, soul as we travel.
Thought experiments like taoism, qabbala, ch’an or zen buddhism try to shock us out of our stupor, the life lived without seeing the wilderness for what it is, the life lived within the conventions of a particular time, a particular language, a particular place, a life lived without knowing what life is. Most people find little reason to peak behind the curtain of this emerald city that we think is what is. The apparent life, the one with family and money and the NFL and food and houses and sunlight and night, seems to be all that could be. We do not question, we try to paddle the little barque of our body on this river (life) often using only our hands over the edge of the boat.
And yet there is more, not more in the sense of more layers or more depth, for those layers and depths, the wilderness, always surround us, are the water to which we are the fish, but more in terms of what we can know, what we can access, what we can use to help us become awake. Woke, in the current vernacular, not woke to racism and sexism and oppression in this instance, but woke to the true majesty and wonder of life itself, of this wilderness journey, this most ancient of ancientrails.
Do you want to wake up? Shake off the slumber of convention? Head out into the wilderness knowing it for what it is? If you do, there are paths to take, fellow pilgrims with whom to travel. I honestly don’t know whether it’s important or not to peel the onion, only that in doing so, I’ve become alive, able to see. And I prefer that consciousness, awareness to life as a long sleep.