Kol Ha'Olam Kulo
Kol ha'olam kulo
Gesher tzar me'od
Veha'ikar lo lifached k'lal.
The Whole wide world is a very narrow Bridge
The Main thing to recall is to have no fear at all
Lyrics from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov; Melody from various influences
Nishmat kol chai tevarech et shmeich shekhinah eloteinu eloteinu
The essence of our lives is praising you Yah; The breathing of All Life is blessing you Yah
Taya Shere, Hebrew & English Set to Blackfeet Melody
Thank you for being present here today on Palm Sunday as we begin a holy week, spring emerges from underneath the snow, sap rises through tree roots up trunks to awaken buds, the moon waxes, and the sun heads towards the horizon. The First Nation people of this land, the Abenaki’ call this moon Mozokas “Moon of Moose Hunting” and it is in honor of them and all peoples still seeking sovereignty and freedom from oppression that I dedicate this offering.
This week Jewish people throughout the world are cleaning our homes of any last vestiges of ‘Chametz’’leavened products’ that represent any aspects of our lives in which we are ‘puffed up’ to prepare for a festival of freedom. This spring festival celebrates the historic event of the Israelites’ liberation from Egypt, can be understood and experienced as a universal opportunity for the human species since so many different peoples have and currently are being liberated from oppressors and yet several have not yet discovered a path to freedom, including part of each and every one of us in this room.
We are told that in each and every generation we are to see ourselves as if we had been liberated from Egypt which means that while in some areas we may be free, in other areas we are still enslaved. In this sense this time allows us to strengthen our focus, our resolve, our vigilance to guard freedom, to notice where it is absent in our lives and the lives of those around us, and to thus embark upon a cyclical process of ongoing liberation discovery. We are told in the Torah that every day we must personally “go out from Egypt” we must escape from the limits, temptations, obstructions, and distraction that exist on the physical plane to our spiritual realities.
Let us all take four deep breaths together.
According to how the kabbalists interpret Genesis, there were four phases through which creation took place and consequently our mystics teach that these four levels or worlds are occurring simultaneously at all times. Each world is represented by a letter in the tetragram you may know as YAWH which we call (YHVH) Adonai. You can imagine a spiral ladder going from the upper to lower levels; this model is by no means linear since various levels can occur at once or in various orders. They are as follows from upper to lower:
- Yud (known as Atzilut) represents initial inspiration; this world emanates in the realm of wisdom. This is akin to Divine revelation, before thought when cosmic awareness is flowing through.
- Hey (known as Beriah) represents the broadening of concept; this world creates understanding. This is when the intellect and cognitive faculties get on board and help the rest of the being integrate the message.
- Vav (known as Yetzirah) represents emotional involvement in plans; this world of formation occurs through the foundation of kindness. This is when the message begins to enter the cellular structures of matter.
- And finally Hei (known as Assiyah) is where action happens through manifestation of whatever project occurs. This is the physical plane of doing where most of us experience much of daily existence.
In this light through inquiring within, the inner architecture of our beings, our consciousness, where our hearts and minds unite becomes more clear. A keystone prayer in Judaism known as the SHMAA calls on us to listen deeply how all is one. In knowing this and peering into the inner architecture where dichotomies, polarities, separations appear, we can reorient and adjust these potentially misaligned areas. When we do so consciously, we experience remarkable ripple effects through other areas of our lives and consequently how we contribute to the world. Similarly underneath this architecture we have the opportunity to connect to the source spring well where the so called building materials (if we follow this analogy through) arise from and where an underlining unity of harmony actually exists. The SHMAA refers to this underlining humming that pervades our breath, ocean tides, wind ripples, sun sets, seasons arising...
Many rituals within the Passover seder that will occur next friday and saturday eve, recounting the journey from slavery to freedom, involve activities repeated four times as they transition from enslaved into free actions; this process is gradual & multidimensional.
Recently I was listening to a podcast called ‘On Being’ in which the Krista Tippett interviewed oceanographer Sylvia Earle known as ‘Her Deepness’ in which she described the first walk alone on the ocean floor without a tether at 1250 feet which is under a quarter mile of water and asked the nearby submarine to turn off the lights so that she could see the soft glow of the sky, surrounding deep darkness and brilliant bioluminescent creatures that lived there.
When she later discussed this with her astronaut friend, Buzz Aldrin, he recounts that he and Neil Armstrong had the same amount of time she had for her solo walk on the ocean floor about 2.5 hours to walk on the moon for the first time. It is interesting to note that most of our society knows about that moon stroll but not as many people know about this first deep ocean stroll. While both walks required tremendous technological achievement and bravery one occurred in a place devoid of life as we know it while the other was amidst teeming diversity far beyond most places on the planet and potentially the solar system. Why is it that much of our species are so intrigued with going outside of ourselves to outer space more so than deep within to the inner space which actually sustains our life and may be from where all of our lives and patterns on this planet emerged?
Sylvia Earle recounts that we have only seen, let alone explored, 5% of the ocean and therefore it certainly is a frontier. Similarly how familiar are we with the inner landscapes of our lives? What kind of frontier lies within? It is in this question that I invite us to venture as we recognize the mysterious force of gravity which keeps our bodies tethered here on earth. As we study what is happening on earth today in 2018 we see a planet undergoing the 6th Great extinction where nonhuman species are disappearing at a rate 1-10,000x more quickly than previous extinction rates at around a dozen species a day, where climate change has caused millions of humans refugees seeking safe new homes to begin again, where gun violence continues to threaten the lives of the most vulnerable populations of our species who are rising up to inform a government who are charged with protecting lives, where ancient libraries of fossil fuels and old growth forests are being extracted at rates far faster than we can possibly return carbon stores to support future life, where First Nation people and ancestors of slaves are rising up to reclaim their rightful sovereignty, where underneath the Dow Jones numbers our extraction civilization previously run by a patriarchal, white supremacist capitalist framework is crumbling and its lack of resilience and planetary accountability is becoming transparent; we are living in a time of great opportunity. The opportunity is so raw that each of us is called to identify our role in how we are shaping life on earth.
While it took us quite awhile to get out of Egypt as the Pharoah kept changing his mind and then once in the desert, had to go through many more gates of purification before we were to receive original instructions from our maker, the actual leaving of comfort that we had gotten accustomed to in slavery over 210 years and exit from our oppressors is the main focus of this holiday. We left a brutal & relatively settled life dependent upon agriculture and commerce for a unpredictable, itinerant lifestyle in the desert relying only on what the Creator provided. This opportunity of surrender and revealed release allowed us to realize the inner architecture of our existence and how fooled we had become in mistaking the conditions of our existence. Similarly for any of you who have experienced deep silence on a retreat, for a day, on your meditation cushion, in prayer, you know that underneath all the scurrying, striving, trying, doing, accomplishing..there is a vast ocean of presence..of life...of layers of awareness and consciousness far beyond the control, influence, noise, or power of our tiny beings. It is into this vast pool of existence that we can return to at this time and in purifying the material plane of our lives we can be more clear travellers to and from this realm of sourcespring well.
Just as there are several worlds or dimensions to our lives that may be occurring simultaneously, so too are there several dimensions through which we can experience and share this liberating process: as individuals in our internal consciousness and homes, in our relationships with our loved ones and family, in our neighborhoods and communities, in whatever groups we may identify with be they class, gender, race, interests...or that society arranges us in; we are invited to break through the walls of these divisions, to discern the values promoted through the society we live in, to identify the ethical framework to which we adhere which transcends the material flesh and from here we reengage with our daily material fleshy lives with carlifying tools.. Each effort of freedom we make whether it is on the internal level of rewiring thoughts, or adding more time for prayer and meditation, or setting aside more time and money for others, or sharing more space with our family, or reaching out to a group of people very unlike ourselves with kindness, or taking extra care of the ecological community around us…. I bless us all however you experience this time of year to have the space, the clearing, the fresh opening to discover new levels of freedom, to engage with raw opportunities to rewire old patterns, to join with others in opening the gates so that more beings and the planet earth herself can be free from the shackles of the limits of our human species. Thank you. Amen and Shalom.
Every effort we make towards freedom even if invisible to tangible planes, is perceived and make a difference in creation more liberation for all. As the Israelites escaped their oppressors, the ocean allowed them through. Thanks to all of you brave souls who go in without knowing if the waters will part.
The Ocean Refuses No River (x2)
Hallelu Hallelu Hallelu (x2)
Lyrics and melody from Rainbow family