One day I was walking into center of Jerusalem, the usual route I take along Jaffa Road, and I suddenly realized that when I walk, I keep my head pivoted in a certain direction, straight and down. I don't look up. I asked myself, "Why don't you look up?" So, at that moment I looked up, and I saw a completely new and different Jaffa Road.
I used to think that Jaffa Road was stores and tree trunks. I didn't know that there are incredible canopies of leaves above from majestic fountains of palms reach up into the sky, sweet singing birds flying to and fro, and beautiful multi-story buildings with arched windows, ornate balconies adorned with filigree ironwork, and emblems sculpted in stone. All of a sudden I saw a whole new world just because I looked up and expanded my vision for a moment.
The world you see is a function of how narrow your view is. Just for a moment, look at the room you are sitting in. Rather than focusing on anything in particular, try to see it with the fullness of vision: the ceiling, the floor, the corners of the room, all four walls. Do you perceive a different room?
Now, if you could just transfer that fullness of vision to everything you see and do, then you'd be living in a different world. And that world might give you a taste of what the Garden of Eden must have been like.
It should not surprise us to learn then that the first man and woman were in the Garden of Eden because they were able to experience the All the all-embracing and all-pervasive loving presence of G-d. They felt one with G-d, one with all of creation. But when they ate from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, they damaged the breadth of their spiritual perception. As a result of that damage, their perspective became so skewed that they could only see a very narrow slice of reality, which they perceived as the physical world. Indeed, as a result of their change of perspective, they even experienced themselves as physical.
The Jewish Oral Tradition, the Midrash, tells us that in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve didn't have bodies of skin, they had bodies of "light." The Midrash also states that everything in the Garden of Eden had that same quality: "There were no shadows in the Garden of Eden." In other words, nothing was opaque or heavy or dark or solid the way we experience matter today. There was a luminescence to everything.
The difference was all in how Adam and Eve saw and experienced their world. Their bodies, the trees, the animals, the birds were translucent so that through the tree you could see the bird, so that the bird appeared to be inside the tree, and through the bird, the elephant, so that the elephant appeared part of the bird and of the tree, and through the elephant, a horse … and man and woman and fish and water and sky. Nothing obscured anything else and it all appeared part of the same beautiful whole. Adam and Eve experienced The One in all and the all in One.
It's only after Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree when they partook of the knowledge of good and evil that they experienced themselves as heavy and opaque. Suddenly, they saw they had bodies of flesh and they experienced themselves as garbed in a sack of skin that set them apart from all.
When they experienced themselves as having bodies of light, there was no sense of separation between themselves and the rest of reality. Their entire self- definition was bound up with the All. They didn't know it could be any different.
The snake was the one to tell them that it could be different it could be better. The picture the snake painted for them in the famous story went something like this: "Hey Eve, come have a bite … G-d doesn't want you eat from this special tree because He is afraid that if you eat from it, you'll be just like Him." Then the snake went into his best line: "You know why He is doing it, don't you? He wants to be the only who is independent and powerful. He wants to be the only god He doesn't want competition. So, He's keeping you down … subordinate … inferior. But if you eat from this tree, you'll see things in a whole new way. "
That was the lie of the snake presenting G-d and humanity as separate conflicting entities.
Once Eve, and later Adam, bought into this lie, into this illusion of separateness and independence, they began to have exactly that experience. That is exactly what happened to them. They suddenly experienced their bodies as physical opaque, solid, heavy. The physical body of the human being was born out of the mistaken attitude that to be separate and independent would be somehow better.
ONE OF A MIND
As the children of Adam and Even, we experience ourselves as isolated, independent, self-defined entities, separate from all the whole reality in which we truly find our beings. This lonely experience is the snake's lie, and the source of much of the pain and evil in this world.
The Kabbalah describes the force of evil as the sitra acher meaning "the other side." The reason it is so called is because its basic message is that we are on one side and G-d is on the other side, that G-d is not on our side. But once we come to recognize this powerful illusion as false, we will quickly see that G-d is always and only on our side. There are no two sides, only oneness and wholeness all in One and One in all.
The physical world appears dense and opaque, because we see reality from such a narrow perspectivewe see only a partial picture, a fragment of reality. Because of the narrowness of our vision, everything appears hard, solid, each object distinct, separate and unrelated. We experience a different world than the one that is the true reality. What is it that creates this illusion? The Kabbalah says that it is our attitude of separateness that creates for us a world of klipos, literally of "hard shells." We become encased in hard shells that separate us each other and from G-d.
It may surprise you to hear that the Kabbalah teaches that in the future we're going to realize that we were in the Garden of Eden all along. We never left it. We feel like we left it, because we left it with our minds, we closed our souls' eyes to see it all. By narrowing our vision, we entered this self-imposed prison of perception, thinking we are separate from each other and from G-d. We suffer a visual myopia which the Kabbalah calls mohin de katnus or "narrow mindedness." When you are in a state of mohin de katnus, then you only perceive a narrow slice of reality and everything is fragmented and disconnected.
But there is another way of seeing based on a different mindset. The Kabbalah refers to it as mohin de gadlus, broad mindedness. An open mind sees a broader view and gets the total picture. The broader, more expanded our minds are, the more we see reality as it is and experience the all in One and the One is allG-d in our world and in our lives. It's a completely different level of consciousness.
According to the Kabbalah, "Spiritual seeing" is a way of seeing holistically, where a person sees the whole rather than just the separate details. It's about opening yourself up to the total picture, the all.
"Secular seeing," is just the opposite. In fact, in Hebrew, the word chiloni, meaning secular, comes from the word chol, meaning sand. Just as sand is made up of small, separate granules, so secular seeing is a way of seeing the world as made up of small, separate components.
The Kabbalah teaches that, before the creation of this world, G-d created vessels and then projected endless divine light into the vessels. But the vessels broke. Why? Because they were trying to capture the endless divine light within their very narrow limits. Rather than give themselves over to the light, the vessels tried to consume the light and confine it into their constricted borders.
The only way to receive G-d's light get is all is to surrender to it. Spiritual seeing is an act of surrender, seeing without any expectations to understand, without trying to fit it all into whatever you already know. We give our minds over to what is, rather then expect what is to fit into my mind.
The Kabbalah explains that Abraham was an antidote to the mistake of Adam and Eve. He began repairing the broken vessel of consciousness bridging the gap between perception and reality.
Abraham was not simply a saintly individual. He set the cornerstone for a new world consciousness. Abraham was the first person to acknowledge G-d as the ultimate all-inclusive reality.
In contrast, the pagan world around him worshiped the disparate forces of nature and created a perceptual world of separate, conflicting powers, personifying gods at war with each other.
Abraham was the first to see it like it is and thereby initiated the return of the all-embracing and all-pervasive presence of G-d back into our world.
Abraham was blessed with "all". He experienced the all in One and The One in all.