If you look at it you can’t see it. If you touch it you can’t feel it. If you listen to it you can’t hear it. What is it? The realest thing you will ever experience.
What do you consider more real: The tangible or the intangible; the visible or the invisible? Many people would quickly choose the tangible as something closer to reality than the intangible. After all, it can be empirically proven to exist.
Empirically. Hmm. Let’s explore this further.
Did you ever experience something sacred in your life?
You may naturally ask what I mean by “sacred.” In Hebrew sanctity is “kedusha,” which means apartness – apart and special from our usual experiences.
Based on that definition, what was the most sacred experience in your life?
Was it a moment of love? A moment of beholding the awe of nature’s beauty or being moved by a stirring song, the birth of a child or being in the presence of a tzaddik?
All the above are sacred experiences. However this leads us to the next tier: What is the root of all things sacred? What is the “personality” of sanctity?
This leads us into the actual nature of reality.
One of the most powerful lessons in the study of reality comes when Moses asks G-d – in these 40 days preceding Yom Kippur when Moses beseeches G-d for forgiveness – “show me Your Face,” and G-d replies: “No one can see My Face and live.”
G-d taught Moses – and all of us – a vital lesson: Reality exists not because you see it, but because it just is. If you see it, touch it, hear it – it may be your subjective reality, but it’s not necessarily absolute reality. Indeed, if it’s real because you sense it, then it will as real as your senses are. However, if it’s real because it is just real, then it’s reality is boundless.
So back to the initial question: If you look at it you can’t see it. If you touch it you can’t feel it. If you listen to it you can’t hear it. What is it?
Answer: Reality. The truth: The real unadulterated truth of everything – untouchable, invisible and silent.
Not invisible or silent as in non-existent; rather, being so real that it simply cannot be contained in our limited senses.
You see, the more real something is the less expression and definition it has. This may sound counterintuitive, but let’s look at our own selves. Why is it that we have many words to discuss superficial matters like the weather, sports and gossip, but so few words to express our most intimate dimensions? If someone asks you to speak about your inner self you are left silent or with few words. It would seem that we would have many more words to express that which is closest to us than that which is far more external!
Words are containers. And like all containers they have limited parameters. They may be able to express superficial and surface level experiences. But when it comes to a deeper experience, words can be inadequate. We then use the language of metaphor – poetry, art, song, a kiss – whose broader containers can express more intimate experiences. When you travel deeper into the soul, even metaphor is wanting. A cry, a gasp, a laugh, a mere sound may be the only way to express that inner dimension.
The deepest part of your intimate self – the essence of your soul – can only be expressed through utter silence.
“And behold, G-d passed by and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke pieces of rocks, but G-d was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but G-d was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but G-d was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice.” (Kings I 19:11-16)
So paradoxically, the deeper you travel into the recesses of your soul, the less expression you have. The more intimate the experience, the fewer the words. The closer you get to reality, the more intangible the experience.
This is not due to our limited ability to define the intimate. Rather is it due to the very nature of reality: Its depth is simply indefinable. [Compare to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle].
Yom Kippur is the day of the Essence. When we enter the holy of holies and experience ultimate intimacy. What is intimacy? Existence as it is at its bare essence, stripped of all layers.
More than that: At its bare essence we experience things from the inside out instead of from the outside in. Where there no longer is a distinction between subject and object, between verb and noun; where you no longer experience something, because you are the experience.
Therein lies the mystery of sanctity. Sanctity implies that it coexists with its contrast: the profane. Or else there would be nothing unique about sanctity. Hence, the declaration “to separate between the sacred and the profane.”
Regular life is lived on one dimension. Sanctity reveals the reality within.
Yom Kippur – the holiest day of the year – carries the secret of sanctity, of intimacy, of the deepest truth. The power of silence.
Fasting and refraining from material activities on this day (to the extent possible) strip away layers as much as is possible without annihilating our independence or us. This opens the door to our true selves – the supra-sensual self that transcends our senses and our defined experiences.
Yom Kippur is actually a study in reality; a challenge to each of us to define what is real and true in our lives: the food you eat, the shoes you wear, the delights you enjoy, or your inner soul.
Yom Kippur is the birth of the untouchable – the root of all that is truly intimate. Yom Kippur is the birth of intimacy – a day when you can learn the secret of being comfortable with your vulnerability, to get stronger as you get more exposed.
By not partaking in your material activities and opening up your undefined self, you then have the power to infuse the transcendent into in the daily grind of your defined life throughout the entire year.
Time. Space. Man. On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, you enter the holiest space in existence and experience the holiest part of yourself.
Take advantage of this awesome opportunity by suspending your senses this Yom Kippur, and allow your true self to emerge. The Real You. Your senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell – are only tools to interact with the world around you. You don’t need eyes to see yourself or ears to hear yourself. When you suspend your senses, what emerges is the real you. Then you can bring that reality back into your senses – so that you can actually touch the untouchable.
One day. Just one day we are asked to enter our “holy of holies.” This gives us the power to be real the rest of the year.
So this Yom Kippur open yourself up – and may you experience the REAL YOU.
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