As imagery goes, it’s hard to beat Sinai. Thunder and lightening, the Ten Commandments boomed out so fiercely it’s said the assembled folks heard color and saw sound. A synesthesia that gives insight into how we sometimes respond to powerful instructions or situations: with confusion, fear, and a desire to close our eyes, cover our ears, and run like hell.
Kabbalah’s literal meaning is “to receive.” Sinai’s in part a story about how our normal ways of taking in information were scrambled. A moment when listening meant being fully receptive, as individuals and a collective. Every fibre straining to take in holiness, because the impact of direct revelation is a full-body ride. Physical as well as mental. Emotional as well as intellectual. Spiritual and material at the same time, through the filter of our very human forms.
This doesn’t happen often, or often enough for some folks, especially those who’re focused on transformation. Mystics long for moments like Sinai. Some folks find glimpses though meditation, in nature, or flashes of deep personal insight. New love evokes a similar feeling, though we usually listen more attentively with other chakras.
I don’t know how you feel in those moments. For me it happens with a certain sense of knowing. There’s a completeness of attention when head, heart, body, and soul are in alignment. Times slows. Like a tuning fork aligned to a specific pitch that I recognize as a sense memory. I feel it and I am whole with it. I don’t reason or argue or bargain or try to weasel out of what I’m being told.
It doesn’t necessarily come as often or last as long as I’d like. But when it does, I feel much more willing to change the who and how of my everyday life. To live what I have been commanded, not just think about the possibility of change.
It’s all about being open. About allowing yourself to be changed by what comes in. And by what you do next.
Sinai opened people up by shattering the familiar. It took them out of their comfort zone, demanded their full attention, and ultimately their full surrender. It’s hard to do that for yourself, but you can create opportunities to listen more deeply.
Find the paths that make you feel this way. Walk them regularly and pay close attention.
Exercise: Some quiet evening write the original 10C one by one. Think about your relationship with each one. Literal murder’s probably not a problem. But as you work from the literal to the personal, think out of the box. Consider how you’ve constricted parts of yourself to accommodate a job or intimate relationship; it’s killing in a different form. This is a fascinating way to get perspective on your life and values. Witness what you feel. Pay special attention to the parts of you they touch fiercely. To what energizes you or frightens you. Listen carefully for the hints, whispers, and sparks that’ll follow. Take good notes.
PS for those in Eugene: Please come to TBI Friday Feb 1 where I’ll be giving a longer version of this dvar.