Sunday, September 28, 2014

Crossing the Rubicon

“When the Baal Shem had a difficult task before him, he would go to a certain place in the woods, light a fire and meditate in prayer–and what he had set out to perform was done.
When a generation later the "Maggid" of Meseritz was faced with the same task he would go to the same place in the woods and say: We can no longer light the fire, but we can still speak the prayers-and what he wanted done became reality.
Again a generation later Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov had to perform this task. And he too went into the woods and said: We can no longer light a fire, nor do we know the secret meditations belonging to the prayer, but we do know the place in the woods to which it all belongs–and that must be sufficient; and sufficient it was.
But when another generation had passed and Rabbi Israel of Rishin was called upon to perform the task, he sat down on his golden chair in his castle and said: We cannot light the fire, we cannot speak the prayers, we do not know the place, but we can tell the story of how it was done.
And, the story which he told had the same effect as the actions of the other three.”
.................Told by S.J. Agnon to Gershom Scholem. From "Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism by Gershom G. Scholem." Schocken Books, 1954.

I specifically opened this article with this quote as this was the trigger for my writing on this topic.
As many of you know the meaning of "crossing the Rubicon" is the crossing the point of no return, I do not intend to spend time on this title.
In a true seekers life every stage of his life is a point of no return not from a mental perspective but from an inner experience. While the accumulated knowledge one gains guides one to choose the optimum path towards a greater transformative experience, through a relation to the state of current knowledge, the relation between the knowledge and experiences themselves should be points of no return by not holding on to past illusionary realities which were mere external tools at a specific space and time. One should be vary of the immense possibility to regresses or relapses into the lower stage of consciousness by this relational attachment.

It is like the game of "snakes and ladders". While ladders are the combined aspects on one's cumulative knowledge and experience, which elevates your consciousness, the elements which constitute the aggregation of  knowledge can be useful in future exercises in gaining the higher insights but it is a pitfall if one relapses through the mouth of the snake into a lower level of consciousness by unnecessarily holding on to the rigid relation between the knowledge and experience, as this has to be continually transcended. The ability to move on beyond the past experiences with relation to tangible realities but seek something beyond in an increasingly abstract fashion is the key to sustained success.

The story told above demonstrates this truth. The path towards the mystical experience consists of a physical space, a certain level of ambient illumination and a sacred fire. The meditation and prayer used by Baal Shem was unique to his state of spirituality, ecological consciousness and mental makeup. This can be replicated only up to a certain time frame as we are in the process of continuous evolution both at the level of human consciousness as well as at the level of the planetary consciousness, which incidentally involves current state of our ecological awareness and our own relation to the increased or decreased sensitivities to factors which were relevant to our goal.
As we see in the story above, within two generations the physical ambience where Baal Shem sought and gained his transformative experience has completely changed through the loss of the sacred fire and subsequently the method of prayer and modality of meditation themselves were forgotten. The whole process of the intuitive experience was still experienced with only the forest or physical space being the common thread to the past. After a generation even that was lost and Rabbi Israel of Rishin summarises that the past knowledge only survives and all other factors have vanished but still the experience can be gained from a different set of mental positioning.

In most organized religions, this aspect of addressing the evolutionary trend in human consciousness as well as the changes in the socio-ecological-knowledge structures and the resulting impact on human consciousness are not taken into consideration. Whether it be the ancient rites and prayers or the need for certain physical, spatial and ritualistic agencies are still adhered to thus as a result the transformative inner experience is totally lost on the masses.

Increasingly, the past should serve as a coarse reference and a skeletal framework on which new meanings and deeper elements must be weaned to evolve a paradigm shift in our process of transformation.

"Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky.
Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon's location.
However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger." ............ Sixth Patriach Huineng

Let our daily lives be filled with thoughts, words and actions which are focused on the goals of inner transformation.

Love to you all


  1. The ways and means to reach a higher level of consciousness differs even from one generation to the other.Even though the aim is the same I very much differ from the methodology adopted by my parents and I should be ready to accept the changes the next generation might embrace even though it might look radical in my view. Change must be accepted and admired in the given context.
    Good writing!

  2. Thank you EMPTY for your feedback. The appreciation of the evolutionary nature of deeper inner search is mandatory in worship without which all spiritual practices become empty rituals.