(This is the first article in a new series on the Kabbalah of Love ? stay tuned for upcoming articles!)
What feelings do these words stir up in you? Longing? Excitement? Pleasure? Fear?
Whatever the feeling, if thinking about intimate love makes your heart beat faster, I'm not surprised. This feeling is more powerful than almost any we can experience. That's because it's nothing less than the touching of two souls.
Three years ago I suffered the terrible loss of a younger brother. In an attempt to actually experience something beyond the painfully limiting framework of the physical world, I made a couple of visits to a hypnotherapist who practiced past-life regression therapy.
Under hypnosis, I had an experience that I will never forget. I don't know whether it was a dream, a memory from another life, or my soul expressing itself through images, but this is what happened:
During the session, the therapist directed me to get in touch with "a memory from an earlier time". Suddenly, out of nowhere, I saw myself as a young woman, Polynesian perhaps, with long dark hair. I was standing in front of a small white hut, tall green bamboo plants swaying gently on each side. I walked forward and entered the hut. Inside I saw a simple room, a dirt floor and a long low wooden table. Cross-legged by the table sat a young man. As I entered, he looked up into my eyes and smiled at me.
What happened next is something that made an indelible impression on me.
As I saw his smile I felt a blinding, overwhelming love pass from him into me. The sensation was as strong as a physical blow. Without conscious thought, instantaneously, my entire being responded. I was flooded with a sensation of light, joy and oneness. I felt my heart ? my whole essence - leap out of my body toward him.
The experience was dazzling.
I don't think intimacy gets more intense than this, the tangible, intense, overwhelming merging of two souls drawn to each other out of pure essential love.
Here's my question: From where did this experience come? I was lying on a couch in a hypnotist's office. Outside of the silent therapist, nobody was there but me. In actual fact, at that moment of overwhelming love, unity and connection, I was, on the physical plane at least, entirely alone.
Whether or not this incident actually took place in some earlier life, at that moment this tangible joy, love and connection was coming solely from inside of me.
From where precisely did it come? Where was it hiding before this experience? And where did it go back to when the session was over? How can a feeling so pure, bright and overwhelmingly real be here one moment, gone the next?
Many years ago, when a cousin of mine was four years old, she suddenly looked down at herself and exclaimed: "I'm all alone!" Her mother quickly reassured her: "Don't worry, Sweetheart, I'm right here."
My cousin's response? "No, I mean in here! I'm all alone in here!"
That feeling of 'all alone' is something every one of us can relate to. Our bodies separate us from each other and from our Source in the unifying Oneness from which we come. But just beneath the surface there is a part of each of us that is never disconnected, never alone. This part is always present, but is concealed ? often completely - behind the stories, struggles and concerns of our ego-based identities.
This 'all alone' is the profoundest of illusions. And it's all the more profound because it feels so very real.
But this illusion is no accident. In order to allow for the existence of limitations, boundaries, separateness, polarity, conflict, and free choice (i.e. human existence) G-d performs a feat more challenging than any we can imagine. Like the hand within the puppet, He hides Himself within the fragmented details of Creation while at the same time remaining their activating force. Like the concealed hand does for the lifeless puppet, the spark of G-d concealed within you makes you alive. The goal: to see through the illusion and live in alignment with the truth.
In truth, despite my example, you are not a puppet. You are created in the image of G-d. You are invested with conscious awareness and the power to choose.
You can choose to relate to yourself only within the context of your limited 'role'; the specific circumstances, struggles and goals of your daily life. You can believe, or at any rate live, as if that is the whole picture. This is like identifying with the appearance and role of the puppet and with the script of whatever play is being acted out today.
Or you can choose to look deeper, seeing through the limits of your ego-based identity and immediate life circumstances to the Creative Divine spark that makes you live.
So what's this got to do with love?
Back to my experience. I didn't know who I was, much less who the man was. I was disconnected from all stories, agendas, past and future. I was disassociated from my identity, the puppet. But the love ? the leaping of my heart, my essence, to connect with another, was very, very real.
That's because love is an indelible part of the landscape of the soul. Like the spark within a flintstone - invisible but unextinguishable - the spark of pure unconditional love is concealed but infinitely present within the essence of every one of us.
Kabbalah often compares the soul to the flame of a candle. Just as a flame is always reaching up, trying to reconnect with its source in the supernal fire, at the pure heart of all love and yearning is the soul's passionate desire to reconnect with its Divine Source.
Within every human being who walks the face of this earth, there is a pure spark of the Divine Source of us all. Just as we're drawn to connect with our Source, we are drawn to connect with that spark. Your own pure essence is seeking to connect with the pure essence and spark of another.
As long as you identify exclusively with the puppet, i.e. your limited ego-based identity, the love that you experience will be limited as well. You will allow yourself to embrace only that which reinforces your ego, helps you meet your 'survival' needs, and protects you from a frightening sense of vulnerability. This level of love, although very human and an integral part of most relationships, is conditional and agenda-based.
But when you identify with the Divinity within yourself, the part beyond the stories and agendas, you create an opening for your essence. This automatically creates an opening for the essence of others. And wherever essence touches essence ? love ? authentic love - becomes revealed.
Making it real:
There are two basic paths to creating this opening, and both are important:
CREATE AN OPENING: Challenge the limiting boundaries of your identity by doing things that take you out of your comfort zone. It's especially important to do this in your relationships. For example: allow yourself to be vulnerable, let someone else be right, listen to understand instead of to be understood, open yourself to a new point of view, give generously of your resources even when it feels hard.
FILL YOURSELF WITH LIGHT: Nurture your inner spark by doing things that connect you with G-d and your own soul, a higher, truer plane of reality. Communicate with your Creator from your heart. Get more deeply acquainted with G-d's perspective and your soul's mission by learning, absorbing and integrating the deep, powerful light of Authentic Kabbalah. Give charity and practice kindness. Watch for your messages and for opportunities to make a difference.
All of these things will help you to expand the limits of who you know yourself to be and create an opening and channel for your essence to express itself.
? Shifra Hendrie, Kabbalah of Transformation
Shifra Hendrie is a personal and spiritual coach who has been studying and teaching the principles of authentic Kabbalah for over 20 years. Her unique, highly effective workshops deliver this transformational spiritual wisdom in a structured coaching environment, where it can be integrated and applied to core challenges of participants' lives.
To download Shifra's fascinating new book, "Seven Kabbalah Secrets that Can Change Your Life", which is free for a limited time only, go to http://www.KabbalahOfTransformation.com.