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Parashat Chayei Sarah 5781 — 11/14/2020

Parashat Chayei Sarah 5781 — 11/14/2020

Beginning with Bereishit 5781 (17 October 2020) we have 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 will be describing the project. The next four parshiyyot, Noach through Chayei Sarah, we will lay out a foundational understanding of Vedic Science, to the degree I am capable of doing so. Beginning with Toledot we will start examining Moreh Nevukim.

Bereishit 23:1-25:18

Seven States of Consciousness — Conclusion

We left off last week one shy of our full complement of seven states of consciousness. To recap briefly, the fourth state of consciousness is transcendental consciousness, which is consciousness alone with itself, with no objects of thought or perception. It is unbounded, eternal silence. When this state becomes stabilized in the mind so that it coexists with waking, dreaming and sleep states of consciousness, we have a fifth state, called Cosmic Consciousness. At this point the mind is fully expanded, infinite, but our perceptions of the outside world remain the same – surface-level, bounded, rigidly defined. Now our appreciation of the world starts to expand, and we begin to perceive subtler and subtler levels of the object in front of us. When our perception reaches the very finest level of the object, where its individuality has just begun to sprout from the level of universality (analogized to the Unified Field of physics), this is a sixth state of consciousness, called Glorified Cosmic Consciousness (because it has the same basic structure as Cosmic Consciousness – infinite, unbounded inner consciousness and boundaries of perception, only now the boundaries of the object are perceived in their subtlest, most glorified state, sometimes called the celestial). The traditional Vedic literature calls it Gd Consciousness.

There is one more step of development possible. Recall that physics tells us that everything is the unified field vibrating within itself, expressing itself in a set of rich patterns of vibration that we perceive as outer reality. That means that not only are we unbounded and infinite, as we have known since we started to experience transcendental consciousness, but the object is also. With time, the intellect and the perception rise to the point where the finest, celestial value of the object of perception is transcended and we perceive/evaluate the object as having the same quality as our Self – pure universality. This is called Unity Consciousness, because a unity has been created between subject and object on their most fundamental, and common, level.

As Unity Consciousness matures, the unity between the subject and the first object of focus begins to expand outward, progressively encompassing the secondary, tertiary, etc. objects of focus, until even the most peripheral perceptions, and even objects that are not within our direct perception, are perceived as nothing other than the infinite, unbounded basis of all existence. Wholeness is all-pervasive; our awareness, both inner and outer, is dominated by wholeness, unboundedness, eternity. This is the most fully mature and advanced state of awareness possible to a human being according to Vedic Science.

Consciousness and External Reality

When we first begin to experience the transcendent, it is silent, flat and structureless. It is consciousness with no objects of consciousness, no thoughts or perceptions, and consequently there can be no space, time or motion (or change). It is like the flat surface of the ocean when all the waves have settled down – it is infinite and completely featureless. However as we become more and more familiar with the transcendent, we start to perceive a kind of virtual structure within it, and one that eventually ramifies into all the forms and phenomena of creation.

How does this work? We began our consideration of transcendental consciousness by considering ordinary waking state of consciousness, in which we have a subject (ourselves, the observer) and an object of observation. The process of observation connects the two. Now when the concrete object goes away (be it an external object or a thought), we are left with our consciousness, awake in itself. We are still conscious, but of what? We have lost all outer objects, but we still are conscious of ourself. That is, pure consciousness is Self-aware – it plays the role of both Observer and Observed, and there is a virtual process of observation taking place within the nature of pure consciousness. This Self-aware or Self-referral nature of pure consciousness sets up a kind of virtual duality, or virtual structure, within the unbroken silence of pure consciousness. The Vedic literature describes the relationship between pure consciousness as Observer and pure consciousness as Observed in terms of an infinite frequency vibration between the two. Perhaps we can think of the process of observation between the Observer and Observed generating this vibration, and since there is no separation between the two poles, the vibration can be of infinite frequency. Just a reminder – this is a poor attempt to describe in words what is a direct experience on the most profound level of silence, and should not be taken very literally.

This infinite frequency vibration is composed of an infinite number of lower-frequency vibrations, which we begin to perceive as experience grows. It may be likened to someone approaching a marketplace – at first they hear only the general hum of the market. As they approach, they can start to pick out the calls of the various vendors that go together to make up the hum originally heard. The various patterns that these lower-frequency vibrations make are the very patterns that constitute the forms and phenomena of creation.

Vedic science further asserts that the vibrations in their specific sequences are discernable as the sounds of human speech; specifically they are the sounds of the Veda itself. Thus the Veda is a record of the way pure consciousness manifests itself to itself, how vibrating within itself it appears as external reality. The reality of the Veda is in the Veda itself, trying to “translate” it into another language is worse than useless. The Veda must ultimately be cognized by a seer of the Veda. If all of this sounds familiar to those who have some knowledge of esoteric Judaism, that’s because we have very similar traditions about what Torah is, and what the sounds of the Hebrew language are. We will return to this issue in our discussion of Rambam, probably many times.

This concludes our brief overview of Vedic science. My copy of Rambam is bristling with yellow sticky notes marking passages that call out for explanation, and Gd willing we will begin that process next week.


Commentary by Steve Sufian

Parashat Chayei Sarah

After Sarah passes, with Gd’s Presence in her as it was and is in Abraham, Abraham sends his servant, Eliezer, to look for a spouse for his son, Isaac.

What qualities would we want in a servant who we send to an unfamiliar world to select a spouse for our beloved child?

What strategy would the servant use to select exactly the right spouse?

Abraham sends his trusted servant Eliezer to look for a wife for his son Isaac.

Eliezer’s name means “Help of my Gd”: Eliezer is servant of Gd first, Abraham second.

This is the perfect quality we want in a servant: the servant will act according to Gd’s Will and ours will be fulfilled in alignment with Gd’s Will.

Abraham, therefore, trusts not only Eliezer’s loyalty but his competence — his competence on zeroing in on the right bride and his judgment in making sure the bride really is the right bride.

Eliezer’s strategy is not to stay within his limited ability but to ask Gd for guidance. As he approaches a well in the country to which he is sent he prays in his heart that Gd will bring a woman to the well who will offer to give him not only a drink from her pitcher that he asks for but also that she will offer to provide water for his camels also, even without his asking. Eliezer values generosity as a sign of love and appropriateness.

Before he even finishes this prayer, a woman appears who fulfills his request.

This a sign of considerable purity in Eliezer and also in the woman, who is Rebekah and who becomes Isaac’s wife.

Rebekah leads Eliezer to her family and Eliezer explains his mission: to find a bride for his master Abraham’s son, Isaac.

“Will you marry him?” his family asks.

“Yes, I will”, Rebekah replies, a sign not only of generosity but of her own judgment that Eliezer is connecting her with the love that Gd intends for her, a marriage that will enable her to be not only a good and happy wife, but a good servant of Gd.

“Will you leave tomorrow?” Eliezer asks.

“Yes, I will”, Rebekah replies, a sign of trust.

And when Rebekah meets Isaac they love each other and Isaac is comforted for the loss of his mother, proof that Eliezer was a good and competent servant, one who fulfilled his master’s wishes, one to whom Gd responds even before the wish of his heart is completely stated.

In our lives we do our best “to love Gd with all our heart and soul” and “to love our neighbor as ourself” so that we are good servants of ourselves, our families, our communities and Gd and also we are trusting recipients of Gd’s messengers and servants.

We do our best to be trustworthy, competent, loving, generous and to welcome in the Shekinah, Gd’s bride, not only on Shabbat but every moment and to be Gd’s bride ourselves. And beyond this experience, we seek to restore ourselves and to be restored to the Oneness, within which the duality of Gd and us exists. This is the marriage of the small self to the larger Self and the marriage of the Self to the Self.

Not only the meaning of this parshah helps us in this delightful activity but even more fundamentally, the sound.

Here is Rabbi Michael Slavin, from the Chabad Brooklyn central synagogue, where the Lubavitcher Rebbe presided, reading “Chayei Sarah”:

Baruch HaShem.