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A little fourth grade boy had just received a brand new bike. It was Fall, in a small Midwestern town—and as you might imagine—he was eager to ride it to school.

It was quite nippy out so before his father left for work he made sure the boy had on a warm coat and hat.

About three-quarters of the way to school—as his mother was just finishing her prayers and meditation—he called home, sobbing. “Mother!” he cried “my fingers are ice cold, they’re numb, and I’m scared.”

Apparently, not only was it cold out, but the windchill from the speed of the bike had made it much worse.

Did she scold him for not wearing his gloves? Did she blame his father for not making sure the boy was properly dressed? I’ll bet she was tempted!

But, no. She spontaneously declared to her son, “The warmth of divine Love is always present no matter what. You can never be out of the presence of God who is Love…” Then the boy interrupted, “Mother! My fingers just got warm.”

The transformation was virtually instantaneous.

What happened here? Was it the mother’s words? Positive thinking? Mind over matter?

From the immediate results of the mother’s prayer, I think we glimpse the importance of kavana. This Hebrew word is usually translated as ‘intention,’ or ‘sincere feeling.’  It also means to be “aware that you are standing in the presence of God.”

Tonight we’ll explore whether there’s a basis in Torah for an even higher sense of kavana—that is to be aware that you are standing as the presence of God, divine consciousness.

Might this be blasphemy? Rupert Spira, teacher of advaita Vedanta, points out that,

What is blasphemous
is to…set oneself up
as a being apart from God’s being.¹




Transcendental Prayer

The ability to fulfill such a high sense of kavana comes down to our ability to pray with what Kabbalah calls ‘bigness of mind.’ The Hebrew word is mochin de gadlut. This “big mind has no limit at all… Being primordial awareness itself,”² it’s a consciousness “of freedom, joy, and love…”³

We can also refer to this unbounded awareness as “divine Mind.”⁴ In fact, Rabbi Tzvi Freeman says,

When we plumb the depths
of the Torah with all our mind,

our intellect becomes
one with the Divine Mind.⁵

Quite the opposite, is the apparently separate self that goes by many names, from ‘monkey mind’ to ‘mortal mind.’  Kabbalah calls it mochin de katnut or “smallness of mind.” It’s a state of illusory “imperfection, sadness, [and] estrangement.”⁶

 One of the most common conditions
of small mind is its sense of confusion…⁷

Transcendental prayer, indeed spiritual living, requires the highest expression of kavana. This requires that we,

Return to the site of Oneness.⁸

Oneness is the source of existence, the domain of absolute perfection. When ‘there,’ by definition, we

Assume all the rights
and prerogatives of divine Mind.⁹

The immediate results of the mother’s prayer indicate this is likely where she was ‘standing’ in her thought when the phone rang. Remember, she had just finished her prayers and meditation.



Seventeenth-century French monk Brother Lawrence describes what Maharishi calls ‘transcendental prayer.’ He says,

When everything that can be taken
from us is removed,
all that remains is God’s being,
and we are that.

That is the practice of the presence of God.¹⁰

This is why the daily program for our early Jewish mystics included three rounds, with each round consisting of one hour of meditation, an hour of prayer, and then another hour of meditation.¹¹ That’s right: a total of nine hours of daily prayer and meditation.

The Hasidic Masters say,

In such prayer
you may come to transcend time…

There all things are as one;
Distinctions between [opposites]
like ‘life’ and ‘death,’ ‘land’ and ‘sea,’
have lost their meaning.

None of this can happen
as long as you remain attached
to the reality of the material world.

Here you are bound
to the distinctions
between good and evil…¹²

Opposites are found together.¹³ They just are. But when we transcend the relative field of opposites we’re left with the absolute ideas of God, divine consciousness. It’s then—in transcendental consciousness—

When the thinker is lost
in the eminence of Mind,
the healing takes place.¹⁴



Rabbi Tzvi Freeman describes eminence as the Shekinah which is the in-dwelling presence of God. He says,

The Shekinah is the one single consciousness
of everything that is.¹⁵

The Hasidic Masters explain pure prayer like this:

Take yourself out
of the words of your prayer.

Let your prayer not be for yourself
or your household,
but only for the sake of God
and God’s Presence.

One should be so absorbed in prayer
that one is no longer aware
of one’s own self.

There is nothing but the flow of Life;
all one’s thoughts are with God.

The one who still knows
how intensely one is praying
has not yet overcome the bonds of self.¹⁶

It’s this direct experience of torat emet, The Law of Truth,¹⁷ that sets us free.

Christians will recognize torat emet in Jesus’ teaching where he says,

Ye shall know the Truth
and the Truth shall set you free.¹⁸

The mechanics here are simple:

To know the Truth
is to be the Truth.¹⁹



‘To know the Truth’ means to cognize with spiritual vision, not human intellect. The Lubavitcher Rebbe says,

Inner vision is the foundation
from which meaningful thought begins
and with it all things resolve.²⁰


The Delusion of Separateness

If God is all Good, and the Law of Truth reigns, why do evil and suffering appear in the world?

For a moment, let’s set aside the Adam and Eve story we likely know, and take a fresh look at creation from the standpoint of consciousness being all there is. From this point of view, the creation story in Genesis Chapter 1 is about the manifestation of Ein Sof, eternal, absolute, pure consciousness.

God, being Spirit, creates with—what else?—the voice of divine ideas. God says, “Let there be”… and there it is!  It’s truly a cosmic sutra used repeatedly in Genesis Chapter 1 with immediate and predictable results.

This account includes the creation of both male and female in the spiritual image and likeness of God. There is virtually no difference between the original and the likeness. Same consciousness. Same divine attributes. As Rabbi Tzvi Freeman says,

It’s as though we are
God’s avatar in the world.²¹

Now in Genesis, chapter 2, there’s a radically different account of our origin. While there are several interpretations of this story, we’ll review the one we hear most often.

God creates Adam from dust or clay, and then Eve from Adam’s side. As the story unfolds, God places two special trees in the heaven-like²² Garden of Eden. One is the tree of Life. The second is the tree of knowledge of good and evil—that is, the knowing of the notion of both good and evil.

This notion of both good and evil does not exist in the first chapter, the absolute, all-Good account of creation. There male and female are made in the image and likeness of God.

In the second chapter, man and woman are different from God, each with a mind of their own. An allegorical walking, talking snake tempts Eve to partake of—that is to accept the notion of—both good and evil.

Then she tempts Adam, and he falls for it. And with their new point of view, they lay claim to all the fruits/faults of ignorance.

And, friends, so do we—whenever we partake of the notion, or the so-called knowledge, of both good and evil, and when we view ourselves and the world as separate from Divinity—as a material, rather than as a spiritual creation.

Kabbalah divides everything
in the world into either:

sitra d’kedushah [the side of holiness,
reflected by good inclinations known as yetzer hatov],

or sitra achra [the side of impurity
recognized by evil inclinations known as yetzer hara].²³

These are often said to be two sides of the same coin.

But wait! This is only an illusion. Rabbi David Aaron says of sitra achra that,

The basic message
is that we are on one side
and Hashem²⁴ is on the other.

Once we come to recognize
this powerful illusion as false,
we quickly see that Hashem
is always and only on our side.

There are not two sides,
only oneness and wholeness.²⁵

So, again we ask, what is the source of evil? Well, we’re getting there!



We often hear it said that since God is all, it must be obvious that God creates evil and sends suffering. The Rebbe offers a much more enlightened view when he says,

Evil does not descend from above.
The transmission from above is pure and coherent.

Evil is distortion and noise,
an artifact of our reception.²⁶

The Rebbe says we put ourselves in our own jail cell with a limited identity, rather than a knowledge of our “essential self that is one with the Infinite.”²⁷

In the Kingdom of God, absolute Good is the only presence, power and consciousness. A reality opposed to God is impossible! Why? Because God is infinite, absolute Good. And there’s nothing outside of infinity.

Each set of relative opposites is on a continuum. For example, from rich to poor. From health to illness. And so on. In his book Consciousness is All There Is, Dr. Tony Nader explains that,

Love can range from infinite love
…to hatred and ultimately
to complete separation.

Hate is still in the spectrum of love
but at the negative, opposite pole…²⁸

This description of hate seems shocking until we remember that darkness is not a ‘thing.’ It’s only a term for the absence of light. Likewise, hatred is only a term for the absence of conscious Love.

In fact, whatever appears as a theoretical opposite of holiness is only a term for a supposed power that has no source, no substance, no law. It’s an illusion created by a limited, material point of view that there is something apart from God.



In Vedic Science, pragya parad is understood to be the cause of all evil and suffering.²⁹ Translated from Sanskrit, pragya parad means ‘mistake of the intellect.’ In other words, it’s “ignorance, delusion and wrong knowledge.”³⁰ The modern Vedic sage Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says,

‘Mistake of the intellect’ occurs
when the intellect, drawn towards and
influenced by material consciousness,
loses connection
with the wholeness of consciousness.³¹

In reality, of course, the connection is never lost, because a mistake is only a notion, a belief, what Rabbi Jonah Steinberg calls a “delusion of separateness.”³²

I once heard Maharishi describe three classes of Ayurveda which is the medical aspect of Vedic Science. In essence he said:

  • Third class is when herbs and oils are used to promote balance.
  • Second class is the enlightened ability to know merely the name of the herb and promote a healing effect.
  • First class is to know there was never any pragya parad in the first place!

This is because “there is only one primal cause.”³³ And this cause is God, infinite, eternal Good. Rabbi David Aaron says,

According to Kabbalah,
we will realize in the future
that we never left the Garden of Eden.

In essence, we are still in the Garden of Eden.
We just don’t see it.
What needs to change is our way of seeing.³⁴

Let’s be clear that right where the problem seems to be, the absolute, spiritual fact exists. To awaken this in our experience requires that we exercise our spiritual vision.


Who Are You Being?

As Vicki Herriott said on Rosh Hashanah, this is a time “to remember our true selves and reflect the glory of G-d in its fullness.”³⁵

Torah reveals that our real identity is the spiritually perfect, infinite, eternal image and likeness of God.

We emanate directly from absolute wholeness, which means we have within us the consciousness and the qualities of absolute Good. There is not even the possibility of separation, except in belief. What’s more:

We’re divinely designed
to think and act
from that point of perfection.³⁶

Let divine Mind be yours! That is the highest kavana. To see as God sees, to know as God knows.

Regardless of what’s before our senses, it’s nothing—nothing—but a view of unseen perfection. Our ‘task’ is to let the fact of what is actually present be lively in our conscious awareness. There is ever only one thing going on. It is the One infinitely appearing as the many.

Maharishi reminds us that because we’re made in the image and likeness of God,

Perfection is already present within us.
It is only a question of awakening it.³⁷

In short, human consciousness equals human experience. Divine consciousness equals divine experience.

We’re called daily, sometimes hourly or even minute-by-minute to wake-up to our divinity. Here’s an experience I had this summer. It’s a small experience, but it proved to be significant for me.

I was driving alone 1,000 miles from home in a heavily wooded and sparsely populated area. Thoughts began to roll in: “You’re alone” “You’re lost!” “You’ll be late!” “If something happens, there’s no one around.”

What chatter this was from the small mind! Talk about fear and confusion! The Science of Being, however, reveals that the Kingdom of God is within us; that God and God’s creation is eternally one inseparable being.

As I turned away from the fearful thoughts, I spontaneously sank inward, likely due to some fifty years of prayer and meditation (yes, I was driving so my eyes were open). Then my inner voice spoke loudly and with absolute clarity. It said, “God is here—because I am here!”

With that simple acknowledgement of inseverability, a deep peace just poured in. It was a palpably holy moment.

I arrived at my meeting safely, in plenty of time, and—most importantly—with poise, purpose, and a resolve not to ignore such teachable moments.

The wise Betty Booth—dear mother of our Judy Booth—often told her daughter,

If we don’t know what we are,
how can we be what we are?³⁸

Yes, humanly speaking, we have our personal boundaries, but they are only due to an  delusion of separation. As Dean Draznin reminded us on Rosh Hashanah,

Holiness is within our grasp—
and in fact it’s our birthright.³⁹


Genesis 1 or Genesis 2

To help us remember who we are, here’s a revised poem entitled Genesis 1 or Genesis 2.⁴⁰



Where did it begin,
This idea called you?
In Genesis 1,
Or Genesis 2?

In Genesis 1 in the 26th verse
Man and woman are created with not a taint of a curse.
But in Genesis 2 in verse number seven
There’s a dust pair conceived.
They get ousted from heaven.⁴¹

So it really comes down
To which one you will claim.
What thou see’st thou be’st…
So what is your name?

There they both stand
Which one are you?
Is it the immortal, number 1,
Or mortal, number 2?

No, the thing they call man and woman
In Genesis 2
Is an ego-illusion,
It never was you.

So know who you are,
Take your place in the sun,
You’re the immortal and inseverable creation
Revealed in Genesis chapter 1.





[1] Rupert Spira, The Heart of Prayer, (New Harbinger Publications, 2023) p. 11

[2] Rabbi David Cooper, The Big Mind of Primordial Awareness, 09.20.2023

[3] Neil Tow, Kabbalah 8: Chasidism – Katnut & Gadlut – “Small” & “Big” Mind, 09.20.2023

[4] Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein, Jewish Science and Health, (Jewish Publishing Society, 1925), p. 16

[5] Tzvi Freeman, Getting Personal with G-d, 06.09.2023

[6] Neil Tow, Kabbalah 8: Chasidism – Katnut & Gadlut – “Small” & “Big” Mind, 09.20.2023

[7]  Rabbi David Cooper, Big Mind Practice,  09.20.2023

[8] Daniel C. Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, (HarperSanFrancisco, 1994), p. 108, see also note for “Aloneness and Abundance” p. 199

[9] Bicknell Young, God is Individual Consciousness, (The Bookmark audio)

[10] Rupert Spira, The Heart of Prayer, (New Harbinger Publications, 2023) p. 5

[11] Aryeh Kaplan, Meditation and the Bible, (Jason Aronson, 1995), p. 14

[12] Arthur Green & Bary W. Holtz, Your Word is Fire: The Hasidic Masters on Contemplative Prayer, (Jewish Lights Publishing, 1993), p. 56

[13] Living Now, Consciousness-based Education, 09.26.2023

[14] Gilbert Carpenter, Notes on Mary Baker Eddy’s Course in Divinity and Items from Gilbert Carpenter’s Collectanea, (Rare Book Company), p.237

[15] Tzvi Freeman, Kabbalah & Healing: A unique approach for healing professionals 09.05.2023

[16] Arthur Green & Bary W. Holtz, Your Word is Fire: The Hasidic Masters on Contemplative Prayer, (Jewish Lights Publishing, 1993), p. 55

[17] Malachi 2:6 JPS

[18] John 8:32 KJV

[19] Martha Wilcox, Notes from the Class Teaching of Martha Wilcox, (The Bookmark, 1986), p. 86

[20] Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, Supermind,

[21] Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, Kabbalah & Healing: A unique approach for healing professionals 09.15.2023

[22] Jewish Virtual Library, The Garden of Eden, 09.22.2023

[23] Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov, Kelipot and Sitra Achra, 01.09.22

[24] Hashem is a Hebrew word for God. Literally it means “the Name.”

[25] Rabbi David Aaron, Seeing God: Ten Life-changing Lessons of the Kabbalah, (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2001), p. 26

[26] The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, 10.15.2020

[27] The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Where the Self lives, 09.11.2023

[28] Dr. Tony Nader, One Unbounded Ocean of Consciousness: Simple Answers to the Big Questions in Life, (Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial Argentina. Kindle Edition), p. 136



[29] Wikipedia, The Problem of Evil in Hinduism,’s,ignorance%2C%20delusion%20and%20wrong%20knowledge 09.22.2023

[30] Ibid.

[31] Dr K K Aggarwal, Pragyapradh: The Mistake of the Intellect, Blog on October 31, 2011, 09.23.2023

[32] Rabbi Jonah C Steinberg, Beyond the Delusion of Separateness, December 6, 2017,

[33] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 203

[34] Rabbi David Aaron, The Secret Life of God: Discovering the Divine Within You, (Shambhala, 2004) p. 119

[35] Vicki Herriott, 09.27.2023

[36] Joy Hirshberg, 09.30.2023

[37] Attributed to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

[38] Judy Booth, Pearls, Wisdom from the Ocean of Mother’s Heart: A Collection of Sayings by Betty Booth, 1982, p. 9

[39] Dean Draznin, 09.27.2023

[40] Woodruff Smith, Genesis 1 or Genesis 2, 09.20.2023

[41] The heaven-like paradise known as the Garden of Eden

Copyright © 2023 Joy Hirshberg

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