Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rami: Response to Mike's 3/31 Posting

So beautifully put, Mike. I am always intrigued by your spiritual experience of the Presence of God. And I love the image of the household gods of greed, fear, vengence, etc. Wonderful!

There is a Jewish ceremony one does when moving into a new house or apartment. In addition to inviting guests to celebrate the move and to put the mezuzah on the door signifying the house as a Jewish home, we also use bread, salt, and a broom. The bread and salt are a way of asking that God never leave this household bereft of the basic necessities of life; the broom deals with your household gods.

Each guest is invited to sweep out one of the household idols saying, “My this home never be visited with anger,” or “My this home never be visited by violence,” etc.

In my own life I have found that the household gods are highly portable. I carry them with me in the back of mind, and I listen to their litany: “You can’t live without us; you can’t live without us!”

This reminds me of what I said earlier about reading the “You shall not” of the Commandments as meaning, “You are capable of doing without” or “You can live without.” God’s commandments are a direct refutation of the litany of the household gods.

I find it helpful to do more than listen to God speaking from the past, however. I have to actively cultivate my capacity to be aware of the Presence of God here and now. While the experience itself is a matter of grace and beyond the control of the egoic mind, I do think it is both possible and wise to exercise our capacity to have the experience. Prayer, chanting, and meditation are my chief spiritual exercises.

My meditation is silent, so nothing to say about that, and my chanting is a bit complex and not readily explained in print, but the prayer I practice is most is easily explained. It is called gerushin and is the Jewish equivalent of St. Paul’s notion of “ceaseless prayer”.

Gerushin means “to separate,” as in to separate oneself from the harmful voices of the idols worshipped by my ego. The practice is the ceaseless repetition of a Name of God. I repeat HaRachaman, the Compassionate One.

This Name is meaningful to me for several reasons. First is the Name used by Reb Nachman of Breslov, an 18th century Hasidic rebbe (spiritual master) from whose teachings I learned the practice. Second, my Hebrew name Rami is short for Rachmiel which means the Compassion of God. And third, in Hebrew rachmanut, compassion, comes from the Hebrew rechem, womb. When I repeat HaRachaman I find myself embraced by the Shekhinah the feminine noun we use for the Presence of God.

I realize this post was a bit extraneous, but we will let an editor sort that out.

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