God

The Best Possible Conditions

Exceprts from Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott:

Some of us have cavernous vibrations inside us when we communicate with God. Others are more rational and less messy in our spiritual sense of reality, in our petitions and gratitude and expressions of pain or anger or desolation or praise. Prayer means that, in some unique way, we believe we're invited into a relationship with someone who hears us when we speak in silence.

Prayer can be motion and stillness and energy—all at the same time. It begins with stopping in our tracks, or with our backs against the wall, or when we are going under the waves, or when we are just so sick and tired of being psychically sick and tired that we surrender, or at least we finally stop running away and at long last walk or lurch or crawl toward something. Or maybe, miraculously, we just release our grip slightly.

Prayer is talking to something or anything with which we seek union, even if we are bitter or insane or broken. (In fact, these are probably the best possible conditions under which to pray.) Prayer is taking a chance that against all odds and past history, we are loved and chosen, and do not have to get it together before we show up. The opposite may be true: We may not be able to get it together until after we show up in such miserable shape.

But in any case, we are making contact with something unseen, way bigger than we could ever imagine in our wildest dreams, even if we are the most brilliant, open-minded scientists and physicists of our generation. It is something we might call divine intelligence or love energy (if there were no chance that anyone would ever find out about this). Prayer is ushumans merely being, as e. e. cummings put it—reaching out to something having to do with the eternal, with vitality, intelligence, kindness, even when we are at our most utterly doomed and skeptical.

My belief is that when you're telling the truth, you're close to God. If you say to God, "I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I don't like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You," that might be the most honest thing you ever said. If you told me you had said to God, "It is all hopeless, and I don't have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand," it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real—really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.





See also: To Get Back There

The Best Possible Conditions

Exceprts from Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott

Some of us have cavernous vibrations inside us when we communicate with God. Others are more rational and less messy in our spiritual sense of reality, in our petitions and gratitude and expressions of pain or anger or desolation or praise. Prayer means that, in some unique way, we believe we're invited into a relationship with someone who hears us when we speak in silence.

Prayer can be motion and stillness and energy—all at the same time. It begins with stopping in our tracks, or with our backs against the wall, or when we are going under the waves, or when we are just so sick and tired of being psychically sick and tired that we surrender, or at least we finally stop running away and at long last walk or lurch or crawl toward something. Or maybe, miraculously, we just release our grip slightly. 

Prayer is talking to something or anything with which we seek union, even if we are bitter or insane or broken. (In fact, these are probably the best possible conditions under which to pray.) Prayer is taking a chance that against all odds and past history, we are loved and chosen, and do not have to get it together before we show up. The opposite may be true: We may not be able to get it together until after we show up in such miserable shape.

But in any case, we are making contact with something unseen, way bigger than we could ever imagine in our wildest dreams, even if we are the most brilliant, open-minded scientists and physicists of our generation. It is something we might call divine intelligence or love energy (if there were no chance that anyone would ever find out about this). Prayer is us—humans merely being, as e. e. cummings put it—reaching out to something having to do with the eternal, with vitality, intelligence, kindness, even when we are at our most utterly doomed and skeptical.

My belief is that when you're telling the truth, you're close to God. If you say to God, "I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I don't like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You," that might be the most honest thing you ever said. If you told me you had said to God, "It is all hopeless, and I don't have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand," it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real—really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.    

 


 

See also: To Get Back There

Disorder

Dilapidated Old Barn by Michael Bilodeau

What It Looks Like To Us and the Words We Use
by Ada Limón, from American Life in Poetry: Column 445

All these great barns out here in the outskirts,
black creosote boards knee-deep in the bluegrass.
They look so beautifully abandoned, even in use.
You say they look like arks after the sea’s
dried up, I say they look like pirate ships,
and I think of that walk in the valley where
J said, You don’t believe in God? And I said,
No. I believe in this connection we all have
to nature, to each other, to the universe.
And she said, Yeah, God. And how we stood there,
low beasts among the white oaks, Spanish moss,
and spider webs, obsidian shards stuck in our pockets,
woodpecker flurry, and I refused to call it so.
So instead, we looked up at the unruly sky,
its clouds in simple animal shapes we could name
though we knew they were really just clouds—
disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.

This Inexhaustible, Untidy World

Green River, Utah, August 30, 2013

I Believe Nothing
By Kathleen Raine, from The Collected Poems of Kathleen Raine

I believe nothing  what need

Surrounded as I am with marvels of what is,

This familiar room, books, shabby carpet on the floor,

Autumn yellow jasmine, chrysanthemums, my mother's flower,

Earth-scent of memories, daily miracles,

Yet media-people ask, "Is there a God?"

What does the word mean

To the fish in his ocean, birds

In his skies, and stars?

I only know that when I turn in sleep

Into the invisible, it seems

I am upheld by love, and what seems is

Inexplicable here and now of joy and sorrow,

This inexhaustible, untidy world

I would not have it otherwise.

Talking About The Indescribable

Reza Aslan speaking with Terry Gross about his new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (July 15, 2013):

People like Meister Eckhart professed this kind of understanding of the relationship between God and humanity, the relationship between creator and created. The purpose of the mystics, whether they're Sufis or Jewish mystics or Christian mystics or what have you, the purpose is to break down the wall that separates us from God to have an intimate divine union with God. And so that's why some of this language would sound familiar to a lot of people of different faiths....

I think that if you believe that our experience of the world goes beyond just the material realm, that there is something beyond, that there is a transcendent presence that one can commune with, then it's only natural to want to reach out to this transcendent presence, to want to experience it in some way. That's what religion does.

I mean, you have to understand that religion is nothing more than just a language made up of symbols and metaphors that allow us to describe to each other and to ourselves the ineffable experience of faith. I mean, when we talk about God we're talking about something that is, by definition, indescribable, indefinable. You need a way to talk about God and so what religion does is it provides a readymade language that allows you to be understood when you're talking to your own community.


See also (from Shinzen Young): 

Love Kept Demanding More

Topiary Park, April 18, 2013

Christian Wiman, in conversation with Krista Tippett, from "A Call to Doubt and Faith," On Being, May 23, 2013:

I think there's some kind of excess energy. We tend to think of love as closing out the world and we can only see the face of the beloved. You know, everything else goes quiet or goes numb. But actually what I experienced was that — and I've experienced it again with my children — is that the love demanded to be something else. It demanded to be expressed beyond the expression of the participants. You know, it kept demanding more.

That excess energy, I think, is God. And I think it's God in us trying to return to its source. I don't know how else to understand it. But if I think of myself as having returned to faith — and I do think of that, although I feel like I'm a desperately confused person. When people look to me for advice or direction on faith, I just feel sometimes like it's hilarious. You know, I think we have these experiences and they are people reacting against the word spiritual these days. But I don't know what other word to use at this point. They are spiritual experiences and then religion comes after that.

Religion is everything that we do with these moments of intense spirituality in our lives, whether it's whatever practice we have, whether it's going to church, whether it's how we integrate sacred text into our lives.

Being religious or taking on some sort of religious elements in your life, you're not necessarily saying I agree with everything that this religion says. What you are saying is that I've had these incredible experiences in my life of suffering or joy or both and they have demanded some action of me and demanded some continuity of me.

And the only way that I know to do this is to try to find some form in it and try to share it with other people.

Listen to the produced or unedited conversation...

Invited to Forget Ourselves

Topiary Park, March 2, 2013

Excerpt from New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

What is serious to [humans] is often very trivial in the sight of God [aka Nature, Time, Source, Mystery of Life].  What in God might appear to us as "play" is perhaps what God takes the most seriously.  At any rate the Lord plays in the garden of creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear God's call and follow in the mysterious, cosmic dance.  We do not have to go very far to catch echoes of that game, and of that dancing.  When we are alone on a starlit night; when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children; when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet Basho we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash -- at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the "newness," the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.

For the world and time are the dance of the [Source] in emptiness.  The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast.  The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity, and despair.  But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there.  Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it or not.

Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.

How Can We Live Together?

How Can We Live Together?

"What we need to learn is how can we live together with people whose views we don't actually like very much? That's the far greater challenge, without attempting to convert them or dismissing them and denying their right to exist parallel to us. It's really about the stranger...It's basically saying we have a shared humanity even with people who don't seem to take the boxes that we have put in place in terms of recognizing what a good human is."

~ Alain de Botton

The Infinite Horizon Against Which Is Set Every Word

Team Building (Align), June 16, 2012

Excerpt from "How Silence Works: Emailed Conversations With Four Trappist Monks," by , The Awl, June 1, 2012:

I would say that silence has become natural for me. This is not the case with most communities of monks. In community, we tend to struggle with silence. A human being is a social creature, and we find that, while maintaining silence alone is natural and a blessing, cultivating silence in a group is hard and a discipline we have to commit to over and over again.

I would not speak of the “sacrifice of words” except in relatively rare instances when a passion moves me to speak and I struggle to hold my tongue. The silence which is my natural habitat is not created by forcibly sacrificing anything.

When a man and woman meet and fall in love they begin to talk. They talk and talk and talk all day long and can't wait to meet again to talk some more. They talk for hours together, and never tire of talking and so talk late into the night, until they become intimate—and then they don't talk anymore.

Neither would describe intimacy as “the sacrifice of words” and a monk is not inclined to speak about his intimacy with God in this way. Is silence beneficial for all people?

I would say the cultivation of silence is indispensable to being human. People sometimes talk as if they were “looking for silence,” as if silence had gone away or they had misplaced it somewhere. But it is hardly something they could have misplaced. Silence is the infinite horizon against which is set every word they have ever spoken, and they can't find it? Not to worry—it will find them.

Reality Revealed through Oblique Ways

Goodale Park, April 15, 2012

Excerpts from Christian Wiman's On Being conversation with Krista Tippett, "Remembering God," April 12, 2012: 

I've been sick lately and I actually had a bone marrow transplant back in October and was in the hospital for quite a long time. And one of the things, poetry died for me for a while. I found that it just wasn't speaking to me. I think I had certain expectations that took me awhile to realize were false expectations. I think we often talk about poetry getting us beyond the world, taking us to the very edge of experience and then getting us into the ineffable. I have to say, when I was faced with the actual ineffable, I didn't want poetry that gave me more of the ineffable. What I wanted was some way of apprehending the world that was right in front of me that was slipping away.

I wanted the world in front of my eyes, and the poems that I found useful were absolutely concrete, sometimes not at all about religious things and not at all about spiritual things, but simply reality and reality rendered in such a way that you could see it again. There's a great quote from the mid-20th-century literary critic R.P. Blackmur. He was talking about John Berryman. He said that his work, you know, "adds to the stock of available reality." It added to the stock of available reality, and that's a good way to think about what a real poem can do. It suddenly makes the amount of reality that you have in your life greater. You're able to apprehend more of it.

...Physics is so fascinating to so many of the contemporary poets. [mabye because] there is some kind of reality that's being revealed that we can only reach through oblique ways. You know, I think it reaches way back. It's why I'm drawn to mystics like Meister Eckhart and more contemporary ones like Simone Weil and language of Apple Faces, where you state something, but the statement sort of unstates itself. So that Meister Eckhart said, you know, "We pray to God to be free of God." We ask God to be free of God. And I don't think he wanted to, you know, give up his religion. The idea wouldn't have occurred to him, but he wanted to give up that idea of God as being this thing outside of our consciousness.

I think one thing poetry can do is take us to those places where reality slips a bit. You know, what we think of as reality slips a bit, like those equations in physics and suddenly we're perceiving something differently than before. And it's not — it's not all airy-fairy mysticism either. It's quite angular and hard-edged and that's what I think the analogy is with physics and with physical science.

...We tend to think of love as closing out the world and we can only see the face of the beloved. Everything else goes quiet or goes numb, but actually what I experienced was that — and I've experienced it again with my children — is that the loved demanded to be something else. It demanded to be expressed beyond the expression of the participants. You know, it kept demanding more. That excess energy, I think, is God and I think it's God in us trying to return to its source. I think it's — I don't know how else to understand it, but if I think of myself as having returned to faith, and I do think of that, although I feel like I'm a desperately confused person and when people look to me for advice or direction on faith, I just feel sometimes like it's hilarious.

But I think we have these experiences and they are people reacting against the word spiritual these days. But, uh, I don't know what other word to use at this point. They are spiritual experiences. And then religion comes after that. Religion is everything that we do with these moments of intense spirituality in our lives, whether it's whatever practice we have, whether it's going to church, it's how we integrate sacred text into our lives. Being religious or taking on some sort of religious elements in your life, you're not necessarily saying I agree with everything that this religion says. What you are saying is that I have had these incredible experiences in my life of suffering or joy or both and they have demanded some action of me and demanded some continuity of me, and the only way that I know to do this is to try to find some form in it and try to share it with other people.

...The way I've defined it to myself is I think of belief as having objects. Faith doesn't have objects. Faith is an orientation of your life or it's an energy of your life or however you want to define it. But I think it is objectless.

That has helped me to at least understand those terms somewhat and to explain to myself why I do need some sort of structures in my life. I do need to go to church. I need specifically religious elements in my life. I find that if I just turn all of my spiritual impulses, if I let them be solitary as I am comfortable in being, I'm comfortable sitting reading books and trying to pray and meditating, inevitably if that energy is not focused outward, it becomes despairing. It turns in on itself and I will look up in a couple of months and I find that I'm in despair. So I think that one of the ways that we know that our spiritual inclinations are valid is that they lead us out of ourselves.

The Oneness Behind All the Religions

"Faith precedes belief systems. That means that faith is the consent or surrender to the divine reality — or to the ultimate reality or whatever its name is in the different religions — before it's broken down into different belief systems which are bound to be influenced by the cultural conditioning  of the person or the reformers who worked on that religion. So faith, when it becomes contemplative, begins to perceive the oneness behind all the religions — before the experience of God was broken down into various belief systems. " ~ Father Thomas Keating

I Will Be Who I Will Be

Excerpt from “Exodus: Cargo of Hidden Stories,” Being,  April 14, 2011:

Krista Tippett: Let's talk about also the very mysterious name of God when Moses encounters God in the burning bush. He says, "Who should I tell them I saw?" And the name that comes back now, or the way it's often translated in English is, "I am who I am." I've also heard it translated, "I am becoming who I am ehyeh-asher-ehyehbecoming." How do you read what is said? And say it for me in Hebrew as well, if you would?

Avivah Zornberg: Yes. It's Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, and literally it just means, I will be who I will be. And I think there's just no getting around it. Some of these translations are just mistranslations.

Ms. Tippett: Right, yes. And they don't help, do they?

Dr. Zornberg: They really don't because, actually, God is being evasive. God is saying, “I'm not giving you a handle.” You want a handle of some kind to hold on to, to say, "Now I've got him." That's a name. And instead he answers, "I am the very principle of becoming, of allowing the possible to happen."

Listen to the unedited conversation…

Beyond the Mind

Excerpts from Emptiness Dancing by Adyashanti:

The mind can’t fathom that there can be a true intelligence, a transcendent intelligence, that isn’t the product and outcome of thought and conceptual understanding. It can’t fathom that there could be wisdom that’s not going to come at you in the form of thoughts, in the form of acquired and accumulated knowledge.

The true spiritual urge or yearning is always and invitation beyond the mind. That’s why it’s always been said that if you go to God, you go naked or you don’t go at all. It’s the same for everybody. You go in free of your accumulated knowledge, or you are forever unable to enter. So an intelligent mind realizes its own limitation, and it’s a beautiful thing when it does.

When you stop holding on to all the knowledge, then you start to enter a different state of being. You start to move into a different dimension. You move into a dimension where experience inside gets very quiet. The mind may still be there chatting in the background, or it might not, but consciousness is no longer bothering itself with the mind. You don’t need to stop it. Your awareness just goes right past that wall of knowledge and moves into a very quiet state…

…Once your conceptual world of knowledge gets put in its rightful place, it is transcended. You see that you are eternal consciousness now appearing as woman or man, this or that character. But like every good actor, you are not what you are appearing as. Everything that exists is consciousness appearing as, or God appearing as, or Self appearing as, or spirit appearing as. The Buddha called it no-self. When that’s seen, you see Unity. There is only God. That’s all there is: God appearing as floor, as a human being, as a wall, as a chair.

No knowledge, no statement of the Truth touches what’s eternal, what you really are. And no statement about how to get there is true either, because what gets one person there doesn’t get another person there. A mind that likes to look for the one truth path cannot find it. Of course, the mind doesn’t like that. “No right path? Nothing that could be said or read that ultimately, in the end, could be true? The most enlightened being can’t speak the Truth?”

No. It’s never been done, and it never will be done. The only thing you can do is to put a pointer on the way that says, “Look that way.” A false spiritual arrow is one that points to the wall and says, “Look this way.” A true arrow is one that points beyond the wall of concepts.

Let Everything Happen, Just Keep Going

Two poems from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours translated by Joanna Macy, from “A Wild Love for the World,” Being, September 16, 2010":

Onto a Vast Plain
[listen]

You are not surprised at the force of the storm—
you have seen it growing.
The trees fless. Their flight
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward. All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.

The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees' blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit:
now it becomes a riddle again
and you again a stranger.

Summer was like your house: you know
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.

The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.

Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.

Go to the Limits of Your Longing
[listen]

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

The Torah and the Golden Rule

From The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions by Karen Armstrong:

The Great Transformation on Google Books …the most progressive Jews in Palestine were the Pharisees, who developed some of the most inclusive and advanced spiritualities of the Jewish Axial Age. They believed that the whole of Israel was called to be a holy nation of priests and that God could be experienced in the humblest home as well as in the temple. He was present in the smallest details of daily life, and Jews could approach him without elaborate ritual. They could atone for their sins by acts of loving-kindness rather than animal sacrifice. Charity was the most important commandment of the law. Perhaps the greatest of the Pharisees was Rabbi Hillel (c. 80 BCE-30 CE), who migrated to Palestine from Babylonia. In his view, the essence of the Torah was not the letter of the law but it’s spirit, which he summed up in the Golden Rule. In a famous Talmudic story, it was said that one day a pagan approached Hillel and promised to convert to Judaism if the rabbi could teach him the entire Torah while he stood on one leg. Hillel replied simply: “What is hateful to yourself, do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary. Go learn it.”

*     *     *     *     *

From “Modern Lessons From Hillel,” All Things Considered, September 7, 2010 :

“Not much is known about the life of the rabbi and Talmudic scholar Hillel, who lived 2,000 years ago, but his teachings have shaped Judaism. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's forthcoming book Hillel: If Not Now, When? argues that Hillel has as much to teach the 21 Century as he did his own.”

Look Back with Firm Eyes

 Adirondacks, August 7, 2011

Self Portrait
by David Whyte, from Fire In the Earth

It doesn't interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.
I have been told, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

 

I Have to Call Myself Back

“I’m very bad when it comes to worship. This is just me. This is probably a terrible thing to say [in a church], but I don’t need it very much. I try to live in this kind of presence and a kind of awareness and I have to call myself back time and time again to remembrance of who I am. Partly, I think, all that’s because as a kid, as a Presbyterian, I had to go to church four times on Sunday. That wears out your patience and your ass. I’ve sort of done my stint. But that’s just me. It’s not other people.”

~ Sam Keen, author of In the Absence of God: Dwelling in the Presence of the Sacred

The Stage is too Big

"This mosaic image of the Crab Nebula was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope."

“It doesn’t seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space, and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil—which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.”

~ Richard Feynman, speaking in 1959, quoted by James Gleick in Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (1992)

 

The Highest Form of Intimacy

Excerpts from “A Monotheistic Model of Love,” by Gilla Nissan, Parabola (Spring 2010):

parabola-35-1 In B’re-sheet, Genesis, during the process of the creation of the world, it is said that God separated the water into two: sha-ma-yim, the water of above, and ma-yim, the water below. The Zohar: The Book of Splendor, a collection of works ascribed to Simon Bar Yochai of the second century CE, goes on to say that the lower waters missed and longed for the higher waters and so cried out to unite back with them. The Hebrew words reflect this deep relationship: mayim, meaning water, and shamayim, meaning sky.

God tried several times to create the world. He used equal measures of compassion, che-sed, and judgment, din. More than once the world collapsed until He incorporated an extra measure of ra-cha-mim, another word for compassion. Without love the world cannot exist, yet we humans were given freedom to love or not to love. God so wants to be known and be loved out of free will; forced love is no love at all.

*     *     *

The Hebrew language has gender; we refer to God in the  masculine; although, in His true nature He is William Gesenius's Hebrew punctuation (i.e., Yahweh)without gender. In the Tetragrammaton, Yud Hey Vav Heh, the unutterable name of God, the letters vav and heh represent the male and female forces of providence. The male force is that which acts upon the world, while the female force is that which allows the world to be receptive to God’s power. We refer to God as Him because we want Him to act upon the world through the male force of providence. The Hebrew word for Divine Presence, on the other hand, is She-chi-nah, a feminine noun.

*     *     *

Rodin's Le Baiser (The Kiss) in the Tuileries Garden in Paris According to the Zohar, love begins with a physical attraction, then communication and speech. A kiss is the merging of one breath with another. As closeness occurs, the lovers stop speaking and are merely aware of each other’s breath. Finally, they come even closer, to the point of physical contact, and their communication becomes a kiss. Here they are aware of each other’s life force. Kissing, explains the modern mystic Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, is a natural consequence of increased intimacy in speech. Two mouths come closer and closer, and progress from speech to breath to the kiss. The kiss, then, is the highest form of intimacy.

The Zohar describes four levels in the intimacy of love: physical attraction, speech, breath, and the kiss. These same four levels exist in the relationship of a person with the Divine. These levels are to this day reflected in the structure of the daily services in the synagogue and private prayer, moving the worshipper from one level of intimacy to another. The impact is deeply profound when one’s ka-va-nah, intention, is aligned with the words.