Celebrating the Spiritual Levels of Torah

Torah Portion for the week of Oct. 26 - Nov. 1: Lech Lecha

(Genesis 12:1 - 17:27)

An ethical imperative

The prototype of the spiritual Calling is revealed in this parashah, the Calling that challenges us to withdraw from both outer and inner conditioning in order to be fully present to the immediacy of each moment. Sometimes such a withdrawal requires an outer leaving; it always requires a radical inner shift. And it is not possible to "see" where we are going until we release ourselves from the bonds of our past conditioning.

And the Eternal One said to Abram, Get out from your country, and from your family, and from your parents' house, to a land that I will show you. (12:1)

The "Get out" in this verse also means "Go to yourself," and reveals the essential task of the spiritual quest. In order to free ourselves, we need to move behind the persona we have created and honor the greater consciousness beyond our ego.

The text then turns toward the consequence of heeding that radical invitation to honor our deeper nature and step beyond it onto a path we had not been able to see before:

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing; (12:2)

Abram, whose name changes to Abraham later in this section of Torah, learns of the rewards that await a successful spiritual journey. First comes the benefits that are attractive to the ego, to the personality -- the expansion of Abraham's tribe, the divine blessing, and the fame of a "great name." Those are conditions in the world that the separate self can understand and appreciate. But "you shall be a blessing" speaks to a far more profound identity.

Normally, we understand that we are "blessed" when desired things come our way. We feel blessed, for example, when healed from discomfort and disease; we feel blessed when we are happy with what happens to us in the world. But to "be" a blessing is so much more than any condition in the outer world can support.

To bless is to say, "Yes!" to what is. To be a blessing must then mean to exist in a state of "Yes-ness" that transforms the way we operate in the world. When we live in the state of being called "blessing," we approach all outer as well as inner events with that same deep "Yes!" This does not mean the denial of difficulty, but rather the total acknowledgment of the moment: "Yes, I am feeling this," "Yes, this is happening," "Yes, this moment is exactly as it is."

To be a blessing is to be open to each moment but to hold on to no particular moment. Blessing awakens behind all the shifting circumstances, events, perceptions, and feelings of life. To be blessing as a way of being in the world means one is present. To be present is to be fully engaged, to be holding nothing back, to neither resist nor desire anything other than what the moment offers.

Being blessing transforms the moment into a montage of possibilities. Our "yes-ness" opens our field of awareness, allowing us to realize options for feeling and action far beyond the confines of past conditioning. To be a blessing allows us to be most fully alive.

And here is the consequence of being a blessing, of living from the place of blessing:

And I will bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you; and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed. (12:3)

When so many of us no longer believe in a deity with a personality, what sense can we make of such a statement? This must be a way of expressing the natural effect that someone whose very being is blessing has on the world.

One who simply is blessing does not depend upon the blessings of others and will not absorb any curses coming their way. Those who themselves are open to blessing, to the "yes-ness," will always receive that. One who is engaged in cursing -- essentially judging and saying "no" to or about others -- will have their own energies reflected back to them.

The spiritual path involves a journey toward the awakening called "Being a Blessing." This state of being expresses a profound consciousness of acceptance that embraces self and other. Indeed, when one awakens as blessing, "all the families of the earth [are] blessed."

Focus Phrases

I gently meet and release old patterns of self-judgment.
I accept this moment exactly as it is.
I am an oasis of blessing.

Writing Prompts

My old self-judgments include the beliefs that. . .
If I was no longer affected by either blessings or curses from others. . .
When I imagine truly being a blessing to my world, I see. . .

“Torah is the book with no end, supporting our understanding of what it means to be a vehicle for the Spirit of Creation.”

Photo: Mark Reden