© 2020 Drew T. Noll

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Inside the Outside and the Path to Enlightenment

Dull, wet, waxing and waning, my hearing isn’t what it once was. Swimming in the deep blue Mediterranean lagoon, called ‘Generation,’ playing with bubbles like imaginary dolphins that float next to the Leviathan’s island ridgeback, I am privy to stories from the ‘next’ generation, stories of stairways long since buried by turbulent sands with oversized rodents trapped within. The big blue Mikveh is waiting, calm serene, and crystal blue, for the summer to begin and my ears to fill with brine and glorious cloud canopies.

While swimming within the womb of the Universe, I can only think of one thing. It is a question that tumbles in my mind — somersaulting. It goes like this:

Assuming that Mankind, the entire species both male and female, evolved from lower life forms, making their way up Darwin’s ladder, sliding along Occam’s razor, becoming human beings through a process of evolution of the physical and devolution of the spiritual, then how do we explain, within this paradigm of entropy, this dissertation on the measure of uncertainty associated with random variables, how do we explain ‘first cause’ or ‘the origin of life?’

Swirling in underwater circles, with waving arms and legs curling fetal… tucked in tight, I see the answer — floating. It goes something like this:

We can’t.

So, we are needlessly prodded, as we spin in the womb, kicking and twirling, with the next perplexing question breaking over the horizon, while the giant sea turtle’s back shakes, while supporting the ancient pillars that hold up the Earth:

If we cannot, with verifiable principals of scientifically acquired observation, define ‘first cause,’ how can we explain our existence without invoking the concept of a Creator or a First Being?

The answer, once again, goes something like this:

We can’t.

Now we need to question this most difficult of quandaries, we need to take a breath and plunge down to the root, to attempt to see with eyes-wide-open, the sandy bottom, past the edge of the spongy, soaked crust, all the way to the foundation stone that supports the truth of the world, but first:

We have broken the surface of the heavy water dilemma and have now come to the realization that we really ‘only’ have a choice between two options, one great and one small. In order to plunder the significance of our findings, to recognize the true nature of the Universe and to understand why we, each and every one of us, are here, we must chose which path to follow, i.e., either ‘God created the Universe’ or ‘we don’t know.’ We must ascertain whether a human being, one who seeks truth and enlightenment, really does, after all, have a choice to make in the first place...

The answer, while back-stroking by, bobs up. It appears to be this:

Since choosing ‘we don’t know’ does not lead to anything, much less truth or enlightenment, the most rational choice for a human being, one seeking truth and enlightenment, is to choose that God or a First Being created the Universe. We must also assume that we are all ‘enlightened human beings,’ since the un-enlightened human beings have stopped reading this from loss of interest, having become satiated with the possible answer to anything and everything of ‘I don’t know,’ or essentially, ‘I don’t care.’

Now that we have verified that we are all human beings on the path to enlightenment, we need to ask ourselves this critical and subtle question:

If enlightened human being #1 spends his or her time removed from the complexities of Humanity, communing with nature, and focusing on higher realms, while enlightened human being #2 spends his or her time living within the realm of Humanity and delving into the complexities and chaos that exist there, which enlightened human being is closer to the First Being — closer to the Creator of the Universe?
And the answer is:

It depends; if the world extends from the First Being, from God, with no real interest from Him about the workings of the world or of Humanity, then enlightened human being #1 is closer to God. In contrast to this, if the world is in a constant state of creation and comes from God in an absolutely deliberate way, in every moment, because God desires a relationship with the world, with Humanity, and with each and every human being, and we are interrelating to one another, essentially communing with the Creator at the same time, then enlightened human being #2 is closer to God.

Question:

If enlightened human being #1 (the ‘focusing on higher realms’ or ‘ascetic’ enlightened human being) is closer to God (which means that Humanity as a whole is just a sort of distraction or a byproduct of a hiccup from God), how is it possible to be enlightened in the first place? If we are essentially nothing, without meaning, with no recourse whatsoever, how can we possibly attempt to even try to understand anything as meaningful as God, the First Being, Who Created the first cause, Who created life?

Answer:

We can’t.

Question:

So, if enlightened Human Being #1 is only irrationally enlightened, does he or she really belong in the enlightened human being category?

Answer:

No.

OK, so now that we established that the people that are still reading this are not ‘irrational’ beings that ‘just don’t know or care,’ we can, while holding our breath for just a little longer, ask this:

If God truly does run the world, infusing it with His energy at all times, then why do bad things happen to good people and good things to bad people?

The Midrash tells a story about how one day, as Moses was herding his father-in-law's sheep, he saw a soldier ride his horse down to a stream next to a meadow. The soldier dismounted to have a drink of water and then got back onto his horse and rode off. Moses noticed, because of the glinting reflection from the sun, that as the soldier rode away, he had accidentally dropped a sack filled with what looked like gold and silver coins.

As soon as the soldier rode over the hill top, a young shepherd boy came to the meadow next to the stream from the canyon below with his flock of sheep. As the boy was about to leave, he noticed the bag of coins laying there and opened it up. He happily gave thanks to God for sending him this treasure, saying, "Now I won't have to work for my mean and rotten boss anymore. There is enough here to support myself and even my mother for the rest of our lives!"

A while after the young shepherd left, a beggar came to the same meadow to eat and rest. He ate a few hard pieces of bread, drank from the stream, and fell asleep on the grass.

Then, as Moses watched, the soldier returned over the hill looking, no doubt, for his sack of money. He tore down the hill an searched for it, but not finding it, he woke the poor man and demanded that he give back the money if he valued his life. The poor man denied having his money until the soldier went into a rage and killed the poor beggar in a violent fit. After searching the beggar's bag and not finding his money, the soldier gave up and rode off.

Moshe, who saw all this, then turned to God and asked, "How could you let all this happen? Where is justice? Why did the soldier, who was probably taking his earnings home to his family, lose the money? Why did the young shepherd, who just wanted to have it easy and quit his job, find the money? And why was the poor beggar killed!? Where is the justice in all of this!?"

God answered Moses, "You only saw part of the picture. Now I will show you what happened before all of this and you will understand what really happened!" God showed Moses the following vision: A father was walking with his young son in the dead of night when all of a sudden he was attacked by a thief. The thief stabbed and killed the father, took his money and fled. A young man stood by and watched this happen but didn't come to aid the father or his son. As the thief frantically fled the scene, he unknowingly dropped the money and lost it. The young man that had been watching the whole time, offering no help, picked up the money sack and quickly stowed it his jacket, keeping it.

God told Moses, "The father who was killed was the parent of the young shepherd boy who found the sack of money. The poor beggar killed by the soldier at the stream was the thief who killed the father of the young shepherd in the dead of night. The soldier you saw that lost the money in the meadow near the stream is the young man who stood by, doing nothing, while the thief killed the young boy’s father and stole the money that he then dropped while fleeing."

God then said to Moses. "The poor man who murdered the boy's father was executed, the soldier that offered nothing but selfishness gained nothing but frustration and the young shepherd boy received his father’s money back, as it rightfully belonged to him!"

I look up, seeing the sun shimmer above the surface of the water far above, and realize the story began way before that night and it will go on long after. I begin my long swim back to the surface of the blue, sparkling water and I realize that, on the one hand, I am ultimately insignificant to the world, including any opinion I myself can come up with to explain my own existence; yet, on the other hand, I am everything to the Creator of the Universe and I know that the ‘entire’ Universe was created for just me. Looking at the sky, rippling way above me, after having attempted to commune with the Universe for just a short period of time, I know that, as I emerge from the womb of the Universe, I will be breaking through the surface of a significant understanding... that goes like this:

I have understood that without the Torah, without the law and the history, without the stories and secret levels, without the Five Books of Moses and the Oral Tradition that we were divinely given on Mount Sinai, we would be, today, without schools, without hospitals, and without justice systems. We would have an elite class that shared the spoils of war amongst themselves that would be about 1/10 of 1% of the overall population and because of the lack of a Sabbath, we would have no week at all, causing every day to blend into one long tedious existence (the likes of which can and does exist in China or India today).

Ultimately, peace between nations would be unheard of, since we know that the 3 top ‘human on human’ killers of human life ‘of all time’ were: # 3 - German Nazi Fascism WWII atrocities killing civilians and concentration camp victims (12 million people dead), # 2 -Stalin and the Communist Revolution in Russia (23 million people dead), and # 1 - Mao Ze-Dong and the Communist Revolution in China and subsequent genocide in Tibet (49-78 million dead). All three political movements were anti-religion in nature and all three espoused the elimination of God within the human experience.

What I have learned, in my short and pitiful attempt at becoming a newborn, at communing with the Universe in the last hour before Shabbat, swirling in the sea of Generation, is that when we eventually open our eyes and look for the real truth behind ‘human’ existence, the Torah will be there, waiting patiently for us. What I now know is that what our eyes and ears tell us isn’t reality. Our perceptions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are only perceptions… and they are entirely subjective. If we suspend judgment of others, good or bad, and turn our subjective judgments into objective realities, we are essentially giving up our illusion of control over our environment, of who we ‘think’ we are and at the same time, maintaining real, truthful control over our moral centers, we are cleaving to God.

This is the anniversary of the Mavi Marmara terrorist attack and the next illegal flotilla, inspired by President Barack Obama’s best-selling book (The Audacity of Hope) and supported by his long time friend from Chicago (Prof. Rashid Khalidi, director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs…), is coming as we speak. This week’s parsha is Shlach (Numbers 13-15) and it is about the Spies… If you want to know more about ‘all’ of the above, click here, (its short...) but breathe first! Remember, we have been communing with the ‘inside’ of ‘outside the Universe!’

Shabbat Shalom!!