Weekly Meditation

Fire And Water

How do you feel when your loved one is away for an extended period? Then comes the exciting moment when their return is imminent, you see them from the distance, at a train station or coming through the airport gate – and you scream out to catch their attention. Then finally you are together – in the warmth of their presence, feeling close and joyful.

Take a closer look at the sequence here: at a distance you called out and the adrenalin of the excitement flowed strongly. At close quarters you enjoy their presence in relative quiet, perhaps without the need for words – the joy has turned inward.

Distance heightens the sore of absence. The emotions flow outward, culminating in a shout. Proximity turns the emotions inwards, and their depth prevent words from coming out.

In Kabbalah, this rhythm of out and in is symbolised by fire and water. When you see your loved one at a distance your feelings are afire. When you bask in the joy of their closeness your emotions calm down, but flow more deeply like still yet deep waters.

In terms of the Jewish calendar, the month of Tishrei has this same dichotomy. At first we call out through the shofar across the chasm of distance, seeking forgiveness from G-d, from each other. We can see each other at the ‘train station’ but need to attract G-d’s attention. Comes the moment when we have finally touched, after the contrition of Yom Kippur, the feelings turn to depth of oneness, exemplified by the four plants of Sukkot that we hold together in one hand – the bond of unity.

Likewise in the Temple service, the offerings were burnt in fire, but on Sukkot the water ceremony became the dominant form of contribution. Fire and water – distance and closeness – feelings flow outwards and feelings flow inwards.

This structure replicates in the Jewish prayer services. The first mindful posture is of G-d in nature – hidden, latent, but seemingly distant. This is found in the first stages of the ladder of prayer and meditation, called Pesukei DeZimra. Then comes the rung called Shmoneh Esrei – the silent standing prayer, when no longer is there a sense of distance, but rather a complete oneness with the All, the depth of becoming One with the Cosmos.

The ebb and flow of Fire and water is inherent in all of our personalities and life’s travels. Go with the flow and bridge the tyranny of distance, in all aspects of life.

Training Resource: Talking to G-d (tape- Laibl Wolf)

MASTERY: Next time you are at an airport waiting for someone close to you, become conscious of your feelings and recognise their source – absence coupled with imminent closeness. Then, when you are finally together, turn your consciousness again to your feelings and recognise the depth latent within you. Being aware of this duality allows you to heighten each of these ‘fire’ and ‘water’ postures of emotion.

MEDITATION: Create your own ‘thought experiment’. Focus on your favourite food, or precious stone, or friendship. Imagine this being removed from you for ever – never being able to experience this again. Work deeply at making this thought real and identify the feelings that flow as a consequence. For some it will be nervousness. For others - sadness. Yet for others it may be real pain. Do so for several minutes and then come back to the recognition that you can experience possession or ownership again. Deepen your oneness with what you treasure.

Meditation Resource: Activating Your Higher Self (audio tape – Laibl Wolf)