Editors note: This week The Meaningful life Center began
a fascinating five-part special series of interactive programs
called The Sound of Light: The Spiritual Physics of Chanukah
– Secrets to a Balanced Life, led by Rabbi Simon Jacobson.
Is there a person on Earth that does not,
at times, experience tension? Yet, we are always in search for calm and peace.
Excellence in everything we do, whether
it is personal, social, political, scientific, romantic or professional, is
always defined by finding the right balance and harmony, the right symmetry
between diverse forces.
Yet, try as we might, tranquility defies
us. Who does not struggle, for instance, from the conflict between home life
and career? Between your personal standards and the demands of the marketplace?
Between the need to survive and the yearning for transcendence? Who has not
in some ways compromised their idealism due to the peer and social pressure?
In one way or another, we all suffer from various conflicts in our lives.
Often these struggles lead to anxiety and other forms of emotional debilitation.
What would we do to eliminate anxiety in
our lives, let alone discover the secret to finding balance in all our endeavors?
All tension results from the friction of
dual forces rubbing against each other. If there were only one force in our
lives there would be no possibility for anxiety. Imbalance by definition means
two things that are in a state of disparity with each other. Agitation is
a result of being in one place when you aspire to be in another.
Seemingly only two solutions are possible
to resolve the tension of life: Either you cease aspiring, hence no more anxiety.
Or you resign yourself to the fact that you will also be anxious about things
that you cannot acquire.
There is however a third solution. And this
lies in understanding that the conflicts in our lives are rooted in forces
that are inherently in harmony with each other, yet at some point and for
some reason their fusion was ruptured, and they turned against each other.
The secret of balance is, then, about discovering
the rhythm that lies within the different forces in our lives. Like a dance,
life is about cadence – learning how to navigate the vicissitudes, the rise
and fall of the waves.
The ancient mystics teach it to us this
existence vibrates with pulsating energy. When we learn to recognize it, this
energy manifests itself all around us – in light and sound, in your heartbeat
and your breath, in your dreams and in your realism, in your tension and your
of this balance is called “ROTZO AND SHUV”: Tension and resolution, yearning
and returning, speaking and listening, exhaling and inhaling, contraction
and expansion, action and reaction.
to create balance between two states of being – the present state and the
one you aspire to – rotzo and shuv serve as a dual, to an fro movement: First
you reach and yearn to something greater, then you return and internalize
is generated through this dual movement: Like a pumping heart, the contraction
is then followed by an expansion that propels the blood to flow through the
body. Like an archer drawing back his bow in order to thrust the arrow forward.
in our lives is, then, really a necessary step that propels us to reach a
greater place. Our challenge in this process is twofold: 1) To ensure that
the tension is healthy, one that is part of a growing process rather than
obsessive and demoralizing. 2) To ensure that the tension is measured, tempered
and followed by resolution. Once we internalize, we then experience a new
rotzo, a yearning to reach yet a higher level, with the inevitable amount
of tension this yearning will cause, and then to internalize this new level
we climb from one state to a higher one. Rotzo and shuv are the two steps
– the dual movement – that allows us to aspire and integrate.
Manifestations of this dual movement abound
everywhere. Light, for instance, is an energy that consists of both wave and
particle. Modern physics is just beginning to discover that which mystics
were always aware of: All of existence consists of a pulsating dance of energy.
Please refer to the articles I wrote last year, The Physics
of Chanukah and Chanukah
Lite, which explore the dual nature of sound and light, the parallels
between physics, psychology and mysticism – all applied in our personal relationships.
The first step in achieving balance is by
beginning to recognize and identify the dual forces of particle and wave,
rotzo and shuv, in everything around and within us.
The second step is to begin aligning ourselves
to the inner rhythm of life.
At birth our bodies and souls are aligned.
Like a hand in a glove, a newborn child, like untouched snow, reflects a seamless
flow between matter and spirit (body and soul). Witness the symmetric breath
of a young child, the perfect heaves of his/her chest as s/he inhales and
exhales. But as we grow older and toxins fill our lives (and our lungs), the
balance begins to waver, until they reach a state of utter dissonance.
This conflict manifests itself in the perpetual
struggle of our lives between spirit and matter – between self-preservation
and transcendence, selfishness and selflessness, between the animal soul and
the Divine soul.
Indeed, the Kabbalah teaches us that the
cosmic order of creation and existence parallels that of a child’s development,
in which the first stages maintain a “smooth” balance between “light” and
“container,” between energy and matter, wave and particle, rotzo and shuv.
As the process evolves, the two forces begin to experience tension and dissonance,
until they “explode” in what is known as “shevirat hakeilim” (breaking of
the containers). The work that follows is called “tikkun” – the essential
mission of our lives: to repair the rift between matter and spirit, and realign
them into the seamless whole that they truly are.
This is also the central theme of the story
of the twin brothers, Jacob and Esau, in this week’s Torah portion. The twins
represent the two forces of matter (body) and energy (spirit), particle and
wave, rotzo and shuv. The battle between them reflects the existing tension
between these two poles. But inherently they are twins – in need of and complementing
each other. And ultimately, they will reconcile and achieve complete integration
(see The Plot Thickens).
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As an exercise, create two columns on a piece of paper. In the first column
list examples of “rotzo” in you life – experiences that cause you anxiety
and tension. In the second, list experiences that bring you peace. What aspects
of your life are “particle-like” in nature, limited to a specific time and
space, and which ones are “wave-like” and all encompassing.
Next, identify an area (or areas) in your life where these two forces act
in harmony with each other. Not as two entities, but as one continuous flow,
like the throb of the heart, the rhythm of the breath, where the heart’s contraction
and expansion and the lung’s exhale and inhale are but two steps of one movement,
two notes in one musical composition.
It’s always easier to begin with examples of this rhythm in our professional
lives – in music or the arts, in business or science, or in any other of our
systems that be. The reason for this is because we are more detached and objective
about these areas in our lives then the more personal and psychological ones,
where we will encounter emotional resistance to getting beyond our anxieties
Once we begin to recognize patterns of the pulsating dance within life around
us, we can then recognize by contrast the areas in our lives where the imbalance
still prevails. This helps us apply the same principle of rhythm and symmetry
to the more tenuous areas in which we encounter emotional resistance.
For next week’s workshop, try the following: Choose an area or system in
which you have expertise and identify how its success is dependent on the
dual movement of rotzo and shuv. Define how this dual “wave” movement creates
balance. Identify its parallels with the dual movement in other systems. It
may help to review the articles I mentioned earlier, The Physics
of Chanukah and Chanukah
Lite for a breakdown on some of the parallels.
At next week’s workshop several people will present their ideas in various
areas, including: Business, jewelry design and music.
We welcome your contributions as well. Our objective is to generate a synergy
of different ideas, empowering each other in the quest of finding peace and
harmony in our lives. With your permission, we would also present your thoughts
at our upcoming workshops, as well as post them on the multi-media presentation
we intend to create on our website.
Interactive spiritual experience has the power to forge a community of kindred
spirits, that can give us all hope and confidence in the