Chapter 1 How Do We Define G-d?
G-d. The very word evokes the widest possible range of emotions.
Some people emphatically believe, others emphatically disbelieve, while others argue agnosticism.
Who doesn’t have a strong opinion about G-d?
People could debate one another about G-d for their entire lives and never come to a conclusion, because they all may define G-d differently.
Many who claim to reject G-d are actually rejecting a false definition of G-d, if they were presented with an accurate description there might be no argument.
Practice and Theory
When it comes to the word “G-d” we all have some preconceived image.
Some people may retain the image from nursery school of a man in heaven hurling down lighting bolts when we misbehave.
To a child, G-d may simply be someone who is even bigger and mightier than his or her father.
Perhaps this is an acceptable image for a young child, but for an adult to think of G-d in such simplistic, corporeal terms, is plainly insufficient.
Your own definition of G-d may be based on the opinions and attitudes of people whom you consider to be religious.
You might have a negative impression of G-d based on hypocrisy you experienced at home or at school. Or you might have warm feelings based on the loving ways of your family, friends or teachers.
Your feelings about G-d have also been affected by the books you have read, the classes you have heard and thousands of other influences.
Before attempting any discussion about G- d therefore, it is vital to peel away the layers of terminology and impression.
The first question is: Why is it even necessary to define G-d? Why can’t everyone have his or her own definition?
Because our attitude toward G-d is not a private affair.
It affects how we behave at home and in public, how we treat our family and our co-workers, and how we see our role in life.
A person who wishes to lead a meaningful life must ask himself: What is G-d? And why do I need G-d in my life?
How you answer these questions will define, more than anything else, who you are and how you live your life, for the question of G-d is at the root of all human behavior.
Practice and Theory
Any human definition of G-d though will be limited by the subjectivity of human comprehension and the boundaries of human knowledge.
After all, we have no model other than ourselves against which to measure.
So using ourselves as templates we try to extrapolate outwards to G-d.
But are we really in a position to be able to define G-d?
After all, are we seeking to define a G-d created in the image of man or a man created in the image of G-d?
Since G-d is the Creator we are created in His image.
Since G-d is a reality He must be defined in His terms, not ours; for He also created the laws of logic and reason.
Obviously, it is not sensible to assume that we the creatures can define our Creator.
No matter how sophisticated a machine may be, it cannot tell us about the engineer that created it or about the vision and hidden forces that inspired him to create.
Chapter 2 What is Reality?
Let us examine the different approaches to defining reality.
We must first recognize that reality, like anything else is defined in part by the instruments we use.
Does reality consist only of what we experience on a sensory level, of what we can see or hear or taste or touch or smell?
This definition cannot be accurate, for it ignores our intellect and emotions.
Is reality therefore defined by our abilities to think and feel in addition to our sensory capabilities.
This to is insufficient, for it precludes the subconscious which cannot be entirely accessed either cognitively or emotionally?
We can never define total reality, for it encompasses far more than our limited human instruments can observe or experience.
Human beings are but a small piece of reality, one part of a much larger whole.
The part does not define the whole, rather the whole defines the part.
Why is that we have such a large vocabulary when it comes to discussing business or recreation or the weather, but when it comes to talking about our intimate selves, we struggle to express our feelings?
Shouldn’t it be easier to discus our innermost emotions than superficial external matters?
And yet, the more intimate the feeling, the fewer words we seem to find.
The reason for this paradox is that language is a limited instrument that cannot contain the intensity of deep intimate expression.
To communicate such intimacy, we use other languages – the languages of poetry and music and art, even the language of silence.
We can stand before a beautiful painting and feel its effect, but our verbal language may be inadequate to describe that effect.
Similarly, we have insufficient tools to define reality.
So how do we know it exists?
The same way we know that our intimate side exists even if we cannot touch or define it.
We may be unable to define love, for instance, but when you feel a loving embrace is there any doubt that the emotion is just as real as the embrace itself?
To see truth, to glimpse reality we must learn to look at our existence in a new way.
By the very limits of nature, ours is an “outside in” form of observation.
What our human instruments are able to observe and experience – sensorially, intellectually and emotionally – is only an indicator of what lies beneath the surface.
We begin by observing the physical phenomena around us, and then use our minds and feelings to strip away the outer layers, trying to comprehend the forces within, that make nature behave as it does.
If we were able to strip away all those layers, we would begin to have a glimpse at reality.
As it is, we perceive at best a few outer layers of reality, leaving the inner layers untouched.
If we cannot perceive reality, how can we have a real perception of G-d?
Because G-d wants humans to reach for Him, search for Him, and unite with Him.
So through the Bible, G-d chose to define Himself, to allow us to understand and know him, and then actualize His reality in our lives.
When G-d sent Moses to liberate the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage, Moses asked G-d to describe Himself so that Moses could prove G-d’s existence to the people.
G-d replied “I am who I am.”
By saying so, G-d was describing the essence of his reality – that is, He exists because He exists.
Human beings understand existence only as a process of cause and effect; we cannot comprehend or even imagine an existence that is undefined. That has no cause, that is totally unlike our own.
Our concept of existence is based on empirical perception, something exists only after we prove that it exists.
On the hand, G-d has no cause other than Himself, nothing preceded Him, His being derives from his own self.
G-d’s existence must exist, for it is true reality.
So G-d is an existence that is unlike any existence, “a non existential existence.” It is real because it is real, a reality that exits because it exists, “I am who I am.”
Therefore we cannot define G-d.
If a person were to use the human mind to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that G-d exists it would not be G-d that he discovered, it would only be a product of the human mind.
To truly know G-d’s “nature” we would have to be like G-d.
To begin to understand G-d then, we must learn to go beyond our own mind, our own ego, our own tools of perception.
Only then will G-d emerge.
To look for G-d with our eyes, with our intellect, with our logic, would be like trying to capture the sun’s light in our hand.
G-d is undefinable.
The fact is, then, that we cannot find G-d.
We must allow G-d to find us by removing the obstacles in our lives that prevent Him from entering – self–centeredness, dishonesty ignorance or even our very fear of acknowledging something separate and greater than ourselves.
By understanding G-d as the essence of absolute reality, we come to the awesome realization “There is nothing else besides Him.”
Or even more simply “there is nothing else.”
From the perspective of an absolute reality, there is truly nothing else.
This is the cardinal rule of existence: if you place an object a 100 cubit feet inside a space of a 100 cubit feet, no other object can share that space.
Likewise, if you have an object of infinite size, no other object can possibly occupy any space at any time.
This is the case with G-d.
The absolute reality of G-d while it extends beyond the conceptual borders of “existence” also fills the entire expanse of existence as we know it.
Which leaves no space possible for any other existence or realities we may identify – the objects in our physical universe, or the metaphysical truths we contemplate, or our very selves.
Should we conclude then that none of these things exist?
No, for G-d has told us that they do.
But they do not exist in their own reality; they exist only as an extension of Divine energy, a created part of an absolute G-dly reality, a far different reality that our mind alone can perceive and all our instruments can experience.
To understand and enter this absolute reality, we must learn to suspend our rigid human perception and allow ourselves to develop new ways to see think and believe.
And in order to do so we must first stand in awe of G-d.
Chapter 3 Why Do We Exist?
Why We Exist
Once we recognize G-d as the absolute reality, we must question human existence.
We know that we exist (because G-d told us so) but we also know that there is nothing to say we must exist.
G-d’s universe would hardly cease to be if any one of us had not been born.
Indeed, G-d’s absolute reality would not be affected in any way if our entire existence had never occurred.
Our creation, therefore, is G-d way of choosing each of us to exist.
None of us is here by accident, we are here because G-d wants us to exists. But why?
G-d creates the universe and life as we know it to fulfill His vision as a Divine architect “G-d desired to have a home in the lowest world.”
He created the earth, the resources that rest within it and the human beings who dwell upon it.
It is our duty to tap those resources in order to refine and perfect the material world and make it a home for G-d.
This is the purpose of human life.
In order for us to achieve this purpose, G-d created this “lowest” world, our world.
It is a world in which G-d’s reality is initially obscured, where we see human reality as primary.
Why did G-d choose to obscure his “authorship?”
Because in order for man to truly exist, to make choices in life, we are allowed to experience ourselves as an independent reality.
If we had no independence, our existence would be meaningless, we would be like mere puppets on a string.
Instead, G-d created an “agnostic” world, where his reality is not visible.
He obscured His presence for us so effectively, that we actually perceive ourselves as the only reality.
We may understand that G-d is reality, but we experience G-d’s existence as something outside ourselves, as a superimposed reality, whereas in truth, it is G-d who is real while our existence is on “the outside.”
Is our existence Necessary?
There are layers and layers of comprehension dividing our sensory reality from the absolute reality of G-dly energy.
Is this a game that G-d is playing, hiding himself from human eyes?
On the contrary, it is a gift, an opportunity for us to grow accustomed to the landscape.
Before a child can write, he or she must first learn the alphabet.
And before we can understand the brilliant light of G-d’s reality we must first let our eyes grow accustomed to the light that surrounds us.
Then we can use our light to peer inside the many layers of a deeper reality.
But if our entire existence is based on the principle that G-d is obscuring his presence, how do we know that we actually exist in His eyes?
How do we know that we are actually accomplishing anything by perfecting our material world?
In the Bible, G-d tells us that he wants us to Know Him, but how can we know a G-d that is totally beyond us. And does G-d really care about what we do?
The answer to these questions lies in understanding the mysterious and complex processes by which G-d created human existence.
G-d, who is Himself undefinable and indescribable chose to create man and place him in a physical world that is both definable and describable.
He also chose to manifest Himself in this world through the laws of logic that he created, through the awesome design of nature and of each human being, and through Divine Providence.
We are allowed to experience these Divine attributes so that we can begin to comprehend G-d and have a personal relationship with Him.
Then we learn to abstract Him, ultimately realizing that G-d is even beyond anything that we can abstract.
Yes we do actually exist from G-d’s perspective, and G-d does care about what we do – not because we need to exist or because G-d needs to care, but because He chooses it to be that way.
So his care for us is absolute, non-arbitrary and non-compromising.
The fact that G-d obscured his presence from us so that we feel that we are an existence unto ourselves does not mean that we do not exist from G-d’s perspective.
G-d’s concealing His presence is not an absence of light, rather it is like a container that hides from our eyes that which is within the container.
And what is inside the container is G-d’s pure light and energy.
On our own though, we do not exist for “there is nothing else besides Him.”
But “with Him” we exist.
What is not real is our perception that our existence is all there is.
It is not within the scope of human intellect to comprehend how G-d can conceal His presence while allowing us to carry out an independent existence.
But this mystery does not limit our relationship to G-d, it actually enhances it, further demonstrating how far removed G-d is from our existence, thus inducing our greater reverence of Him and our longing to draw closer to Him and integrate His reality into our lives.
Practice and Theory
Uniting With G-d
In order to unite with G-d we must combine both perspectives, G-d’s and ours.
We must firstly begin with using our minds and hearts to discover and understand G-d as much as we are capable of; then we must accept that the human mind is not everything, that some things simply cannot be understood with our limited perceptions.
This acknowledgment allows us to better relate to the very mystery of G-d’s existence.
We recognize the paradox that G-d is beyond reality as we know it, while at the same time encompassing reality.
That G-d is able to create the finite and the infinite, the physical and the transcendent – because He is completely beyond both; He is neither defined nor undefined.
By contemplating this mystery we raise ourselves to an entirely new plane; above all we come to relate to G-d on his terms.
Since G-d wants us to unite with him, He created an elaborate and elegant process by which we can do so.
We begin by probing and asking questions, then emotionally grappling with our existential pain through our search for meaning.
We slowly scale the vast mountain of reality, step by step answering some questions and discovering new ones continually finding deeper answers until we finally begin relating to and uniting with G-d.
We come to realize that we cannot define G-d; we accept that He is beyond all definition, including the term “beyond all definition.”
This is the ultimate unity: In a world of definitions and paradoxes, we recognize G-d who is beyond all definitions and paradoxes.
Practice and Theory
From “outside-in” to “inside-out.”
Everything in this universe consists of two dimensions, an outer dimension and an inner dimension.
Over time, we come to understand this dichotomy within ourselves.
We recognize that although the physical is the more visible outer dimension, it is our inner dimension – our emotions, our desires and aspirations, our souls – that is far more important.
We must train ourselves to look at the universe in the same way.
It is a matter of changing our perspective from “outside-in” to “inside-out.”
Instead of looking first at the outer layer then traveling inward we must learn to see the inner layer as our primary force.
And we must cultivate the experience of this layer to the point where we can use it to inform the outer layers.
At first it may seem impossible to get to know a G-d who is so different from us.
But G-d gave us the ability to talk about him, and told us that we must do so.
We can find G-d within ourselves, and we can find that G-d is well beyond us.
It is our duty, and our greatest challenge, to recognize the differences between human reality and G-dly reality, and to accept the opportunities he has provided to transport ourselves from one realm to the next.
Chapter 4 How Do We connect With G-d?
Practice and Theory
Connecting to G-d
To find G-d we must slowly acclimate ourselves to spiritual growth.
We must rise step by step until we can begin to see the universe from a spiritual perspective and ultimately from G-d’s perspective.
This journey completes the circle of our cosmic mission – starting in G-d and ending in G-d thus fulfilling the vision of our Creator.
Practice and Theory
Two steps to uniting with G-d
The first step in this process is simply acknowledging a reality that is far greater than ourselves, and acknowledging that our reality is not real on its own, it is but an extension of Divine energy.
The second step in this process is to make this world a comfortable dwelling place for G-d.
Ultimately we unite both realities ours and God’s.
Practice and Theory
Uniting G-d Within Your Reality
We accomplish this unity by living a material life in service of a spiritual goal – by actualizing our soul, our inner layer - to direct our bodies, our outer layer, toward a higher purpose.
A person may spend 90 percent of his life eating, sleeping, earning a living, recreating, and otherwise tending to his material needs.
But if all of this is done in order to devote his remaining 10 percent to prayer, study, charity, and other G-dly endeavors, then he or she is actively transforming the very nature of our physical reality.
By opening our mind to a new possibility – that our human reality is really but a small part of an all encompassing reality – we are able to move beyond the boundaries of human existence.
We begin to learn to think like G-d Himself.
We learn to embrace faith and reason, independence and unity.
Once we have risen above the limits of human thought, we can incorporate this higher knowledge in our physical lives – in our logic, our emotions, and most importantly in our conduct.
As the sages instruct us, “As G-d is merciful, you to are too be merciful. As G-d is companionate, you too are to be compassionate.”
Such G-dly conduct creates a unity between man and G-d, which is the goal that we were put on earth to achieve.
Your very perspective of the world begins to change, you begin to glimpse the “light” within the “container.”
You recognize G-d in everything around you.
When you eat, you understand that you are nourishing yourself for constructive and G-dly purposes.
You realize that every object has a Divine purpose greater than the mere fulfillment of your own needs.
Your table is meant for study, your living room for meaningful conversations.
Your job is no longer just a means to earn a living but an opportunity to behave more morally and ethically, and to introduce G-d into our world.
A doctor recognizes the Divine wonder within the human body and an engineer sees in his work a reflection of Divine design and unity.
And finally, you learn to be sensitive to Divine Providence.
You recognize that everything from the fluttering of a leaf in the wind to the movement of the galaxies is driven by G-d’s hand.
Instead of looking at life from the outside in, you learn to look from the inside out.
The next time you take a business trip or a vacation, do not be preoccupied with the trivial or external aspects of the people you meet, of the things you see.
Instead, examine your life at a new level of reality, and ask yourself: Why has G-d brought me here?
What deeper lesson am I to learn from this encounter?
As you search for the meaning in everything that happens in your life, you will find your life itself becomes more meaningful.
Your daily interaction, no matter how trivial, will take on a new significance.
As you begin to peel away the many layers that obscure G-dly intellect, your own intellect and sensory perception grow stronger.
The real world begins to emerge, no longer shrouded in confusion and darkness, but bathed in the light of a higher knowledge.
At that point, we achieve an unprecedented feat: while maintaining our existence, we recognize ourselves as a manifestation of G-dliness.
In addition, we introduce a new energy into this “lower world;” we help reveal G-d’s essence in a universe that originally saw itself as independent and opposed to G-d.
We recognize that our world, which feels that is has no cause, could have been brought into existence only by a Divine architect, an unknowable nor definable G-d who has no preceding cause.
To accomplish all this, the Divine architect provided a blueprint, a road map that illuminates the world’s many winding dark paths.
This road map is the Bible which provides mankind with the directions to lead a meaningful and productive life.
It gives us the insight to see beyond the outer layers of our physical universe and behold the G-dliness within.
It shows us the good deeds each person must perform, the means by which we define our lives and our environment.
Every human being has a small corner of the material universe that is to be refined and prepared as a home for G-d, whether he or she is a doctor or a scientist, a clerk or a truck driver, a parent or a teacher.
And when the entire universe comes to behave in accordance with intentions of its Creator, we enter into the Messianic Age – the time of redemption and the revelation of G-dliness throughout the universe.
By suspending out egocentric drives and reaching for G-d, we don’t become less, we become more.
Since we and all our material pursuits are transient by nature, so too are all of our material rewards and goals.
When we connect our lives to a reality that is real and eternal, our every activity and accomplishment becomes more real and eternal.
Practice and Theory
You are a Special Agent
G-d chose each of us to fulfill a unique mission on this world and endowed us with unique abilities and characteristics to accomplish it.
Practice and Theory
From Meaningless To Meaningful
Paradoxically your life becomes meaningful only when you discover how meaningless it is on its own, in relation to G-d’s existence.
But ultimately once you achieve G-d’s perspective, you see that your life could not possibly be more meaningful.
Practice and Theory
Overcoming our subconscious hesitation in admitting G-d’s all encompassing reality
It is interesting to note that many people tend to question G-d’s existence with far greater rigor than they question many other aspects of their lives.
Think about how often you rely on the expertise of others to determine your life decisions.
We accept the judgment of doctors and scientists.
We accept the advice of people who tell us how to eat and sleep, how to play and work, what to wear and how to behave.
How often do you ask to examine the research that went into the doctor’s prognosis, or ask to inspect the kitchen of a restaurant where you are eating?
When it comes to G-d, though, we are far more skeptical.
Why do we suddenly become so rigorously logical?
Is it that we fear the enormous responsibility we are accepting once we embark on our Divine mission to lead a meaningful and productive life.
Practice and Theory
Transforming a Dream Into Reality
People today are increasingly talking about G-d, about the need to return to a pursuit of higher values and greater awareness of our spiritual mission on earth.
All this talk is well intentioned, now is the time to do something about it.
Allow G-d into your life.
It doesn’t take much.
G-d asks each of us only for a slight opening through which he will provide the widest entrance to an absolute reality.
Devote just one small corner of your life to G-d, but use that corner for no other purpose.
Practice and Theory
Lifting the curtain and letting G-d’s reality be the true reality
We are the generation that will complete the process of bringing to consciousness G-d’s presence in the world.
Let us finally raise the curtain that has shrouded G-d’s presence for so long.
We are tired of the masquerade.
We have been waiting and G-d has been waiting.
Let us not make Him wait any longer.