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To Gaze Upon the True “Face” of God
by Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.
What do we really understand about God? Are our ideas about God really just a myth? Is what we deeply believe really just an illusion? Does God really exist as we think? If so, what exactly is God? Is God a he, a she or an it? Is God supposed to be like us, or are we supposed to be like it?
As human beings, we all have a lot of questions. I would say that the only thing that we have more than questions is the number of half-truths that we call answers. We all think that we know so much, and yet, as we learn more about the universe around us, we come to the slow and necessary realization that we really know so very, very little.
We know that the universe is beyond our present measure. We cannot understand the whole of it, not even in theory. Without at least an actual picture of the whole, no one can make an honest projection about what the whole might look like, or what the whole might possibly mean.
Without knowledge of the whole, all we have are pieces. Individual pieces of a puzzle do not reveal what the final, finished picture looks like. What then can we say or know about the whole, about God, when all we have are just pieces to the puzzle?
Religions come along and offer us grandiose pictures of what each claims to be the whole. Needless to say, the whole picture as perceived by one religion is radically different, and often contradictory to the whole pictures perceived by other religions. Then, those who embrace one perception of the whole picture attempt to convince others why their picture is the only right one. Needless to say, those who embrace the other grandiose pictures defend their views, and equally attack those others who do not embrace them. This battle of perceived whole pictures is the cause of many wars amongst human beings.
We argue and bicker, murder and wage war, all over pieces of a puzzle, which none of us can put together to form the whole picture. Rather than admit that we cannot see the big picture, we create illusionary ones, and then fight to the death to validate our personal perceptions. We fight and die to validate dreams. We fight and die to force others to accept the illusions and blinders that we ourselves have cloaked over our own eyes.
With all these illusions and dreams, we wonder why we never awaken from our collective human slumber. We questions why is it that we never join together to seek to put all of our disjointed puzzle pieces together, to help us all see what part of the big picture that we are actually able to see.
It takes courage to admit that a dream is just a dream. It takes strength to admit to an illusion is really an illusion. It takes resolve to awaken, to search for truth, and to admit that we have not yet achieved our great goal of knowing the full extent of the greater picture.
We say that our universe has a creator that we call God. Our religious traditions tells us that the Presence of God is to be found in every element and aspect of being, regardless of what it is, or where it is. How does one see the Presence of “Being”? How is “Being” to be experienced? Religion and spirituality, after all, seeks to experience God, to see “His Face.” How does one experience “Being,” how does one see the “Face” of “Being”? Is “Being” a “being,” is it a personality, an individual? The concept of “Being” seems to transcend any limitation of individual. “Being” seems to imply a reality that encompasses all, and has no personification, be it a face, hand, eye, or word.
“Being” is a very important concept, because Torah teaches that God's “Name” means “Being,” specifically “Active Being,” the reality of Being, the activity of Being, the movement of Being. All of these things describe what the Biblical word YHWH (the Tetragrammaton), the Name of God actually means.
God, the Creator, is Being itself, living, vibrating, functioning and pulsating. Being (YHWH) is itself Life, Consciousness, and Sentience. Being, YHWH, the Presence of God is to be found in every element and aspect of being, regardless of what it is, or where it is. How then can we embrace a dream, a fantasy, an illusion, that God is like us human beings in any semblance or form? How can we compare “being” with “Being”?
We are indeed like God in that we human beings possess life, consciousness and sentience. We possess life, inside and outside of our mortal bodies. We are beings of luminescent light, not crude lumps of matter, and flesh. To realize and experience this highest of human truths is what religions, and spirituality are supposed to be all about.
Unfortunately for we human beings, religions, for the most part have become a part of the world of politics. Maybe this is not such a bad thing. Because now we can remove spirituality from religion, with all its tainted politics, and place it (spirituality) in the realm where it rightfully belongs. The proper realm of spirituality is not in the domain of politics, rather spirituality rightfully belongs in the domain of psychology.
If God is YHWH, and YHWH is Being, and Being is life, consciousness, and sentience, then it is the exploration of these things, life, consciousness and sentience, that will bring one closer to the true “Face” of God.
Yet, the Torah teaches us a rather strange lesson. God said to Moses (Ex.33:20) that, “no man can see my Face and live.” The “Face” of Ultimate, Active Being, YHWH, is beyond the conscious comprehension of human beings. To try to consciously and intellectually encompass the whole of being, the entire universe, would fry our cerebral circuitry. We are not yet smart enough, or evolved enough to accomplish this magnanimous task.
God, instead of showing Moses, His “Face,” the whole of Being, showed him His backside. Now, what is the meaning of the “backside of Being”? How can we understand this? Do we again stumble into the pit of literalness, of dreams and illusions, and try to visual Active Being to be like one of us human beings, with a physical face and back? Did not the Ten Commandments specifically prohibit us from doing this? Do not such literal ideas violate the very essence of creating a prohibited “graven image”?
God is not a man that he has an image like ours. We are created in the image of God, not the other way around. For us to create an image of God in our likeness violates the fundamental definition of idolatry. This is why Torah prohibited graven images. This edict was issued to help our human minds to let go of all the dreams and illusions that God is somehow like one of us.
To this day, this Divine edict still stands, the prohibition against idolatry is still in force. If we wish to see the “Face” or even the “Backside” of the Life, Consciousness and Sentience of the Active Being of all existence, YHWH, then we must cast away the idols that our minds have made, which our thoughts cling to, in order to give God a false face to make Him appear to be one of us.
In the days of Moses, and through the period of Solomon's Temple, once a year, on the high holiday of Yom Kippur, the High Priest of Israel would enter into the Holy of Holies and gaze upon the Divine Presence (the Shekhina) as it dwelled upon the Ark of the Covenant. God's Presence could actually be seen in this place, at that time. Yet, what exactly did the High Priest see?
The High Priest did not see any semblance of a human form. What he saw, to the eye, may have only appeared as a ball of blue light. What the Priest's eye saw is not important. What is important is what his mind saw. The mind of the High Priest was able to gaze upon the proverbial, metaphorical “backside” of YHWH. What the mind of the Priest perceived and understood was the operations of the essence of Being, active, and functioning, permeating all life, all consciousness, all being, all things, everywhere, throughout all time and space.
On Yom Kippur, the High Priest attained what we today call God consciousness. For the short time that the Priest stood in front of the Ark, he ceased from being only man with a sense of personal identity, and was absorbed into the Active Being, and thus became a conduit and channel for the Active Being (YHWH) to communicate with the mind of a human being. From this encounter, the High Priest, upon return to his normal state could bring the reality of his experience to his people. This was what we call, the blessing.
Although today, we have no Priest, no Temple, and no Ark, each of us can spiritually walk this path, and seek this experience internally. Yet, for it to be real for us, as it was real for the High Priest, then like with the High Priest, we must make this experience, a psychological journey, stripped and removed from all religious embellishments, and from all cultural or political limitations.
Experiencing the Active Being of existence, is not something that can be argued or fought over. It is the ultimate reality which we human beings can experience in our present finite, mortal forms. If we wish to see God, then we must cast aside the idols of our minds, we must put aside the illusions and dreams that our religions have taught us. We must seek the Active Being YHWH for what IT is, and not for what IT is not.
We can experience God. We can each know the truth. Yet, this truth comes at a price, that price is our discontinuing our embrace of falsehoods. Falsehood is not to be defined by competing religious doctrines. Falsehoods must no longer be allowed to be defined within the dark union of religion and politics. Falsehoods are psychological lies, that limit human consciousness from exploring life, and seeking its secrets. Only in this pursuit will one ever gain a glimpse at the Active “backside” of God, YHWH, the Living Presence, the Shekhina.
God is everywhere, gazing upon us. There are ever so few who gaze back, who know how to gaze upon the reality of Active truth. To teach humanity this lesson was the Ark and the Tabernacle built in the first place. Today, even without the physical structure of the Ark, we can psychologically embody it, and transform ourselves into beings that seek the experience of God consciousness.
If we follow the proper psychological path of spirituality, we can discover not only the “backside of Active Being,” we can also discover our true inner collective human face, and realize internally, once and for all, what it means to be a being created in the Image of God.
The Written Works of Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright (C) 1997 - 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.