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How to Grow Toward being Non-attached and Loving

Question: I was listening to one of your recordings about Chesed (loving-kindness) and attachment. Attachment is so strong to us, like coffee. I don’t know how I’d do without coffee. My question is: I am so attached to my children – how would I decrease that attachment?

This is a hard question, as so many questions are. It can be answered from the intellect, but it is a matter of the heart. Words cannot explain it away.

The heart loves, and the best it can do is to learn balance.

We sing about the world as a narrow bridge, where it’s so easy to fall off on one side or the other. We learn how to balance ourselves.

Of course we’re attached to our children – who wouldn’t be? They arrive so helpless and so cute. We love them, we protect them, we invest ourselves in them. We pour so much into them. No wonder we’re attached. We can’t push that aside with words or intellect. And then, after we’ve given them everything, they grow up and leave us. We are glad to see their independence, but sad to see them go.

When they leave, we miss the place where we used to pour so much giving, so much attention. Now it’s gone.

What do your children want from you the most? Your attention. They crave attention. That’s really all they want from you.

It’s the same for all things. Even inanimate objects want your attention, which is really your love.
In giving your present-moment attention, you give love.

Giving your full attention enlivens both you and the object of your attention.

As humans we are designed to pour forth loving attention.
When we do this, we ourselves come alive and feel good.
Of course we are mirroring the loving attention of God.

When you give your attention, you are Present.
You are in this moment, not in the past or the future.

The present moment is flowing through. You cannot hold onto it, cannot attach to it.

Attachment happens when we bring our past or future to this present moment of attention.

In meditation you stay here now in the moment and just be. Even though past and future stories will appear.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you will get rid of your stories. We humans will always have our stories. The practice is to do our best not to grab the stories.

So there you are, giving your attention to something or someone, perhaps to your grown child. A story of your past or future gets pulled into this moment. Whether the story is happy or sad, desire or fear, it is still a story. It doesn’t necessarily pertain at all to this Present Moment of what’s happening now.

It could be a story of your shared history or a personality flaw you’ve always seen in them or an old guilt or regret you still hold onto in yourself. It could be a story of the future, a worry or a plan about your expectations for them or your relationship with them. None of it pertains to this fresh unique moment you spend with them right now. But there it is. You grab the story and hook it into this moment. This is the beginning of another attachment.

This is where we begin to say, “I need you, I love you, you mean the world to me, you are mine.” We get possessive. We think we possess them.
With each phrase of claiming this person for ourselves, we are binding them. Binding them tighter and tighter.

Eventually they don’t feel this binding as love. They feel it as control, and it is.
That’s attachment. We need them, we control them.

Our spiritual path is to learn balance. Learn to love without attachment, if we can. Easier said than done, of course.

We hope to love unconditionally.

The only way to do that is to fully allow people to be as they are.

We give our attention and love to whatever arises in this moment, without grabbing a positive story or a negative story about it.

The person offering unconditional love is the one everybody falls in love with. They are so easy to be with. Non-attached.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Volume 5, Walking the Bridge: to Freedom and Light

heart-water-stone-balance by Hippopx

(Thanks to Hippopx for this balanced heart image.)

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How to Get in Touch with Rahamim – Mercy, Balance, Intelligence, and Love

Isaac’s teaching continues –

Question: The meditation prayer you gave us – “Merciful Father, have mercy on me” – can you please tell us more about that?

“Harachaman rahem alai.” The prayer centers on the concept of “Rahamim,” which means balance. Not only balance but a kind of mercy that has intelligence and love.

Chesed (loving-kindness) always says “yes,” and Gevurah (discipline, strictness) says “no.” Gevurah makes good rules to follow. But as time goes by, old rules might be outgrown. Times change, and what may have been a good rule becomes less suitable.

Rahamim is able to see what is appropriate each moment and apply the best response. It is a blend of any amount of Chesed or Gevurah to fit the situation.

When we ask for something, of course we like to hear “yes,” but sometimes it’s actually more merciful for God to say “no.” The reply depends on the larger picture.

In the world before this one, the ancient world of “Tohu,” there was great contrast. Things were either complete sweetness or total restriction and destruction. A world of extremes. Things were black or white, no shades of grey. This contrast was too much for our vessels. The vessels shattered. It was chaos.

Then came the next chapter in the cosmic dream, the world of “Tikkun” (“repair”), where we are now. Here you can have very cold water and very hot water mixing together into the sink. This we can handle. Our vessels can handle this blending much better.

Rahamim allows this blending. Every response may be a different blend of hot and cold. Rahamim mixes Gevurah and Chesed. It’s a mixing bowl.
Rahamim is the very quality that lets us repair the world.

So when we use this prayer, “Harachaman rahem alai,” we are saying not only “Bring balance to me, God” – we are also saying, “Help me bring balance to the world.”

For example, my child asks me for a third ice cream cone. What’s my response? I know he wants it, but the best answer is No. That looks like Gevurah (strictness) to him. But really it is Rahamim, balance with intelligence and love, because it is to prevent the child from a stomachache.

Or let’s say you visit someone in the hospital, and they are miserable. Is it your best approach to go in and cry with them? No. Neither can you walk in and tell jokes. You bring your mixing bowl. You bring Rahamim: mercy with intelligence, a blend of Gevurah (discipline, strength) and Chesed (loving-kindness).

Comment: It is a comfort to know that Mercy is pouring upon us, with all the destruction of that horrendous earthquake this week. It’s difficult to hear about this suffering.

Oh, yes. Suffering is real. You can’t tell the sufferer to look beyond their pain. They can’t do that. You would feel just as bad if you were in their place.

For your sick friend in the hospital, when you face this situation with Rahamim, you don’t need words. You don’t need to verbally support, defend, or avert their worries. You can just reach out and hold their hand. You bring love. You bring balance and mercy – Rahamim.

When you simply hold their hand, you bypass the whole ping-pong of thoughts that ask, “Will I get better? Won’t I get better?” You don’t even get into that.

You just offer your love.

Excerpted from chapter 3 of Volume 2, Walking the Bridge – With Balance.

Pray Peace God Dove Soul Hand Prayer Trust
Pray Peace God Dove Soul Hand Prayer Trust
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Give Attention with the Heart and Light up the World

We know about paying attention, like paying attention to the teacher in the classroom. There’s a difference between ordinary paying attention and offering loving attention.

Feel the difference for yourself.
We offer loving attention with our heart, not our mind.
It is the ability to connect with our heart, not with our mind.
Engage in loving attention and see if you can get a stronger feel for it.

Darkness is the opposing force to light and love. Our sages tell us darkness is the force of illusion. The biggest place to find it is in this physical world of “Assiyah.” In fact they call this the world of illusion, the False World.

But keeping your flame lit dispels illusion.

It’s like in the movie house, when there’s plenty of darkness, you see and engage with the drama on the screen. You think the movie is real.
But when light arrives, it’s like the house lights are turned up, and the movie disappears. The illusions disappear.

In the place of light there are no more illusions.

Many people live with the movie, however.
They are invested in desires and fears, running after desires and hiding from fears.
This can go on for lifetimes. It does not matter.

Eventually the person will become aware that their desires and fears are illusions.
When this is revealed, it comes with the knowing that these things always were illusions.

So your good deeds light up the world and light up the fire in your heart.

However – sometimes service becomes a burden. When we have tons of work to do for others, our ordinary eyes see overwhelm in our life.

Yet the flame in your heart tells you that service is the whole reason you are here on the earth. Service and good deeds are the fuel for the fire in your heart.

There’s a story about a man in Europe who started a charity fund that grew larger and larger until it was difficult to handle all the duties of that. He didn’t know what to do. It was getting to be too much. His wife suggested that he go ask the Chofetz Chaim what to do. (Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan of the Mussar movement, died 1933.)
So the man traveled to a town in Poland at that time to see the Chofetz Chaim.
When he walked into the Rebbe’s home, the Chofetz Chaim was just finishing his supper, saying the final prayer. The prayer says “goodness and kindness chase me all the days of my life.”

Right then and there the Rebbe turned to the man and explained to him, “Your good deeds will chase you all the days of your life.” The message was to keep serving in the way he had been doing.

We should continue serving because we light up the world.
This is our purpose in being here.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 28 of Volume 5, Walking the Bridge: to Freedom and Light

flickers we light the world _ J3SSL33 on Flickr

(Thanks to J3SSL33 on Flickr for this image.)

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Relax and Be Home in the Heart of Binah

Binah is the Mother who is calling us home, just like Mom would call you home to dinner.
Return to the Place where we are One.

This is the Place we live in with our hearts, not our minds.
The mind is all about limitation and definition.

We think we know who we are with our mind. Our mind holds onto certain stories about us. Out of these stories we define who we are in the world. I construct myself out of my stories.

The older we get, the more we are restricted by ever more stories about ourselves.
But the stories are not really Who we Are.

When astronauts look back and see the earth, they see seamless continents and oceans. But on our globes and maps we have lines dividing countries from each other. The mind does that. It sets up limitations. It contains. It compares. Meanwhile the earth itself lives without lines, without borders. That is the Reality. The borders are constructed by the mind only.

Binah calls us to return to our hearts.

The heart has its own awareness, deeper than the mind.

When you put your attention fully into your heart, you find it is without limits.

In a room full of friends, as you place yourself into your heart, you automatically connect with everybody. You love everybody, and you know they love you. It is possible to settle into this awareness so deeply that you recognize, at the heart level, you are everybody.

All are you, only you, so you are here alone. Alone but not lonely.

Alone in this sea of love in the heart.

There is nothing to prove or to define. You are already “there.”

You are immersed, and all of it is You.

There are no borders or boundaries to You.

Now when you go to the heart in this way, it doesn’t stop the mind from chattering. The mind still talks, but you can relegate it to the background, as if somebody in the house left a radio on. You don’t have to go there and find out what the radio is saying.

You just let it be, and you stay in the heart.
The mind-radio is just a bit of background noise, nothing to worry about. Pay no attention to it.

How do you know you are moving into this heart-space?
You will find you have increasing energy. Simply more energy to do whatever you need to do. Less energy is spent, so you have more of it.

People ask, doesn’t it come with spiritual powers?
Well, why would you need powers? This is full contentment and nothing to do, nothing pressing. There’s nobody to impress. There’s no reason to have powers.

You’re already there.

You’re in contentment.

These words are from Isaac, in Chapter 30 of Volume 4, Walking The Bridge: With Courage And Trust.

Heart leaf Flickr
(Thanks to Flickr for this heart leaf.)

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The Freedom and Peace of Non-attachment

Question: How can we practice equanimity better?

I’ll give you a story from our Talmudic Sages. Once there was a king who was ready to turn his kingdom over to his son. But he wanted to make sure his son was of strong character, that he would rule the kingdom well. So the king hired a prostitute and told her, “Your job is to be as alluring and enticing as possible toward my son.” He told his son, “Your job is to absolutely resist.”

This is a metaphor for us, as we resist attachment to the pains and pleasures of the world. You can look, but don’t touch. Don’t get embedded or attached.

To maintain the pillar of equanimity and the vertical connection, you become the Witness. The Witness or Observer simply looks. This is not a cold look. The Observer loves everything it sees. But it is not attached to what it looks upon.

Comment: In the metaphor of the prince and the prostitute, it seems like the moment you ask the other person for something, you have attached.

Yes, that’s more like business.
Chesed is giving love. Gevurah is business.

God looks upon us with Chesed, looking and loving and giving to us. It’s different than our human love. In human love, I give you flowers and I want a kiss. It’s an exchange.

With true Chesed, you are simply loving without expecting any kind of return.

The Observer can have such broad vision. Like King Solomon. They said Solomon was so wise, he was above the angels and the demons. He could order angels to do his will. But he could also order demons to do things. This is often misunderstood. It wasn’t that he was consorting with demons. Rather, his vertical connection was so strong that both angels and demons were under his power. Both the light and the dark. His wisdom was so strong he could see beyond duality.

Comment: I like that image of keeping the guard at the gate of our pillars. I think that will help me hold my tongue and not react in my habitual ways.

Not reacting is important.
Gain that distance, so you can see the big picture.

In our tradition, within our long list of 613 mitzvot (good deeds), we have 365 negative commandments. As in, don’t do this – “Thou shalt not.” Every one of these is about keeping your distance. Love the world, observe the world with love, but keep your distance. Don’t engage in these particular activities.

In holding this distance, in non-engagement, non-attachment, we actually bring more blessing upon the world.

Excerpted from chapter 14 of Volume 2, Walking the Bridge – With Balance.

On a side note, here’s a God-wink that came in my fortune cookie a few days ago. It made me laugh loud, since this line is one of my favorites from Reb Nachman – and is the title of our series.
That narrow bridge.
Have no fear: another flavor of non-attachment, hey?

Are you getting some fun God-winks lately? Please share with us!

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