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Parashat Ekev 5781 — 07/31/2021

Parashat Ekev 5781 — 07/31/2021

Beginning with Bereishit 5781 (17 October 2020) we embarked on a new format. We will be considering Rambam’s (Maimonides’) great philosophical work Moreh Nevukim (Guide for the Perplexed) in the light of the knowledge of Vedic Science as expounded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The individual essays will therefore not necessarily have anything to do with the weekly Torah portion, although certainly there will be plenty of references to the Torah, the rest of the Bible, and to the Rabbinic literature. For Bereishit we described the project. The next four parshiyyot, Noach through Chayei Sarah, laid out a foundational understanding of Vedic Science, to the degree I am capable of doing so. Beginning with Toledot we started examining Moreh Nevukim.

Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25

This week I want to take up another aspect of Prof. Pines’ discussion. He writes:

   Moses, whose request to apprehend Gd’s essence was refused because it was impossible to fulfil it, was granted another boon: he achieved knowledge of Gd’s workings in the universe (I 54). These divine activities, taken in conjunction with the various descriptions and qualifications given to them by people judging them from the human point of view, represent Gd’s attributes of action. On one hand knowledge of these attributes is the only positive knowledge concerning Gd possible to man, On the other hand this knowledge – if it is unadulterated by human moral judgment – can practically he equated with the grasp of the sequence and (natural) causes of the natural phenomena.
   Thus Maimonides is quite consistent when, in a formula that forcibly calls to mind Spinoza, he speaks of “divine,” i.e., natural, actions (III 52). The study of nature and of the order of nature is the only way open to man to know something of Gd.

Here, it appears that we are turning away from “negative theology” into something more positive and definable, and that is Gd’s interaction with the world. Even Moshe Rabbeinu could not “see Gd’s Face” (i.e. understand Gd’s essence) since the very fact of having a human nervous system precludes us from perceiving or experiencing the total unbounded abstraction that is beyond imagining. Nonetheless, even though Gd remains transcendental to the world, wholly apart from all its activity, Gd still acts within the world, and it is an understanding of the nature of this interaction that Moshe was given.

This appears to be a contradiction in terms. If Gd is transcendental and detached from the world, how is it possible for Him to act in the world, and if Gd is acting in the world, doesn’t that show that He is not transcendental to it? Furthermore, what does Rambam mean when he appears to conflate “divine action” and “natural action”? In what way is the study of nature the only way we can come to know Gd, even partially? Here I believe that both modern physics and Vedic Science have a great deal of light to shed.

First, we consider physics, which has progressively unfolded a more and more comprehensive and unified view of the universe. Our current view, which is not fully developed in all its details, posits the existence of a single field with multiple modes of vibration, each of which has states that appear on the surface to be the various elementary particles and their interactions. One of the interactions between particles is the gravitational interaction, which was long assumed to be force like other forces. Einstein’s General Relativity theory showed to be due to particles traveling along the straightest possible paths in a curved spacetime. Some promising Unified Field theories therefore actually derive our three-dimensional space + 1 dimension of time from the equations of the Unified Field itself, as a lower-energy limit of a larger, multidimensional space. However that all works out, the upshot is that the only thing that really exists is the Unified Field. Everything that we perceive (measure) is an expression of the Unified Field – a rich and complex pattern of vibration of a field that itself never changes. Think of the waves on the ocean – they’re a pattern of vibration of the ocean, yet the ocean never changes.

Now there is obviously something missing in the above. We have been saying that the vibrations of the Unified Field “appear to us as” particles, forces, etc. But who is the “us”? We are our consciousness, and consciousness is outside the physical system, only appearing when we make a measurement of the system. This process of measurement leads to all the famous paradoxes of quantum mechanics, implying that there is an interaction between consciousness and the physical world. This is something that we know even without quantum mechanics. If I want to do something, the wanting to do, or the intent, is a mental process that takes place in the individual consciousness. Somehow that impulse of consciousness gets translated into electrical impulses in the brain and nervous system which makes our muscles move our body through space and time to accomplish that original intent.

As physics has progressed, we have consistently found that disparate things that interact with one another turn out to be parts of a single, unified, underlying reality. We conclude that consciousness and the physical world form one unified reality, not two separate spheres.

How can we explore this reality? There appear to be two separate paths. The one corresponding to the physical side of life are objective means of gaining knowledge – measurement, observation, deduction. In short, science is a very refined way of getting to the bottom of a matter – it has led us to the Unified Field after all! On the side of consciousness, we have what are called “subjective” means of gaining knowledge. Since consciousness is awareness, self-reflective, we can explore consciousness using consciousness as our primary tool. This is, in fact, what we do when we practice the TM technique – we are exploring the deeper levels of consciousness, all the way to Pure Consciousness, using our consciousness as the “measuring instrument.” Since the technique is reliable and repeatable, it qualifies as scientific knowledge, especially since the results of the TM practice can be, and have been, quantified and measured.

In the seventh state of consciousness, Unity Consciousness, we perceive Pure Consciousness to be the ultimate Unified Field, pervading both subjective and objective realms. Our minds are fluctuations of Pure Consciousness, our bodies are fluctuations of Pure Consciousness, the objects in our environment are likewise fluctuations of Pure Consciousness. Yet Pure Consciousness is transcendental to all its own internal, virtual dynamics.

I think the reason we can make these apparently contradictory statements, that Pure Consciousness acts yet does not act, is because all action is actually virtual activity within Pure Consciousness. Seen in one way, we have activity and we have silence, and the two are utterly different. Pure Consciousness remains silent within itself, and activity seems to go on by itself. On a deeper level, we find that Pure Consciousness and its internal, virtual activity, cannot be separated or considered separately. It all depends on our point of view.

We will continue this line of thought next week.


Commentary by Steve Sufian

Parashat Eikev

“Eikev” means “Because”. This parshah begins with Moses saying “..Because you will heed these ordinances and keep them and perform, that the Lrd, your Gd, will keep for you the covenant that he swore to your forefathers “ And this includes Blessing, Loving, Protecting, preventing illness, providing manna in the wilderness so that all will know that ”…man does not live by bread alone, but rather by, whatever comes forth from the mouth of the Lord does man live.” (Deuteronomy, 8:3, translation).

Since everything comes forth from the mouth of Gd — all the diversity and stages of Creation were and are continually created from Gd’s words — this statement needs interpretation.

A good way to look at this is that Gd wants us to humbly open ourself to the Wholeness that is Gd and not to be lost in fragments like material bread.  This principle allows us to experience and act on all the commandments Gd has given in Torah — not just the Ten, but all 613.

Trying to obey them from the limited level of our individuality, would be hard and, at the moment, impossible since some of the commandments depend on the existence of the Temple. And yet Moses speaks Gd’s word to us in this parshah: obey and be blessed. disobey and be cursed?

Through humility, however, we open our heart to Wholeness, to all the streams, letters, words, stories, commandments that perpetually reside in Wholeness, Gd, One. We go beyond the limited interpretation of Gd’s Words and experience Gd within Them: we are not limited to the Bread of Gd’s Mouth but Experience the Wholeness within which each limited value of Gd Exists.

Moses says (Deuteronomy 11:20 “For if you shall diligently keep all this Commandment which I command you, to do it, to love the Lord, your Gd, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave to Him…” (Kabbalistic Bible, edited by Yehuda Berg) “…then all will be well, the Lord will drive out the nations before you and the land shall be yours.”

Putting Gd first, loving Gd, we are guided by His Love to walk in His Ways and our life is a life in harmony with Gd.

This harmony grows when we humbly prepare ourselves each day with whatever of Torah we can, whether it is letter or spirit, and innocently do our best to live a good life, a holy life, being practical, but not letting our concept of practical be limited to our own material needs, rather letting it serve the purpose of loving Gd, loving Wholeness, not being lost in detail, being charmed by detail only to the point that it serves the growth of Love of Gd, of Wholeness, in our life, and spreads it to all lives.

In this way the appropriate commandments and the appropriate obedience occur to us as they are needed in a joyful, effortless way so that our lives become a blessing and Gd’s Blessings come to us and through us to all around us.

We, in our congregation, do seem to be humble, joyful, loving, blessed so we seem to be substantially following Gd’s commandments as Moses presented them in time 3500 years ago and, as on the deep level of Wholeness, Moses is still presenting them to us, and Gd is still Blessing us and Giving us the simplicity to love, be Loved and to be restored to the Awareness that there is nothing but Wholeness, Gd, One, and we are This One, playing the game of hide-and-seek, playing the role of our individuality and of all individualities, including each of the 613 Commandments, all nations, all souls.

Baruch HaShem