Entering the spirit of Passover

As we come to the parting of the sea on Pesach, we’re all being taken on a journey to develop more awareness about the spirituality that’s hidden within Life itself. The Counting of the Omer, which begins on Tuesday evening, was designed to give us more insight about ourselves.

How do we reach the inner core of who we really are, and discover where we are in our understanding of life?

Simply being a good person is an important beginning, but there’s a need to peel away the layers of hurt and maybe fear, to uncover the true vulnerability of every mortal human being. As each layer is released it leaves a sting on the heart. Every sense of letting go creates a vacuum of uncertainty: If I give up my cherished possessions—either material objects or my adamant beliefs—will I still be me in the way I’ve always been, or will I become less than my true self? Can I trust this inner process of searching for meaning, or am I simply losing my mind?

This is when we need to know the teachings of the sages: those who’ve gone before us and carved out the way to follow. Their words are in our prayers, our psalms, our proverbs, and in so many ancient stories where people are on their quest to reach the highest understanding—to search for hidden treasure, concealed within the soul, or to reach the King, who can unravel the mysteries of life.

But it’s not enough for us to simply say their words. If we don’t know where we are, or why we’re doing what we’re doing in our Judaic culture, or why so many people have gradually left the fold, we won’t be able to develop a deeper understanding of why we remain committed to it.

As soon as we’re ready to gradually allow the restrictive layers in the shadows of our mind to be explored and integrated, we’ll start to notice the gentle easing of our concerns and fears as they fall away, and we’ll be able to experience the promised inner peace of trust that can nourish our soul and take us home.

Please join us as we study teachings from the Jewish sages on the counting of the omer. Then we’ll follow with a short meditation on the Shema.

Date: Saturday, April 12th
Time: 5.25 pm. (Before Mincha)
Location: Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Beit Midrash (downstairs)

The challenge to our consciousness

We are all forms of consciousness. Even though we are clearly separate physical beings, there’s more to who we are than just our physicality. Our consciousness is, in fact, part of the consciousness of the universe. So, when we are ready to accept this fact, we can begin to experience the harmony of the universe, and learn to live within its flow. Once we start living in this way, we’ll find that everyone and everything we are in relationship with will start to blend into our own inner harmony, and we can find it possible for all of us to relate to each other in ways that will resolve any complicated situations that arise.

This means that we all have the capacity to create more peace and more joy in our hearts and in the world. All it takes is our commitment to come to terms with this amazing fact, so that we can experience our beautiful planet and magnificent human race in a more delightful way.

So the challenge for all of us is to believe in the possibility that this is true. No story can make it so, no teaching can confirm it for us–the only way we can even begin to suspect it might be true is to explore this possibility for ourselves. Every one of us has the potential to develop this awareness and come into the realization that it is true.

One fact we can all agree on is that we are all physical forms of life who contain consciousness. Now, without any scientific proof that there is consciousness within the entire universe, we need to explore our own consciousness for ourselves, and over time, come to our own conclusions.

This information will become more believable once we start to practice silent meditation. The proof of this possibility exists within every one of us.

For more information see www.myraestelle.com.

“Why are you drilling a hole?”

Two people were peacefully sitting in a boat on the river, when one of them began to drill under his seat, making a small hole in the boat. “Why are you drilling a hole?” the other person asked.

“What do you care?” the first person replied. “Am I drilling under you? I’m drilling under my part of the boat!”

“Fool!” said the first. “Wherever you drill, both of us will be lost along with the boat.”

This story comes from a teaching in the Midrash (Vayikra Rabba, chapter 4), and it’s quoted by Rav Ashlag in his teaching on Mutual Responsibility to illustrate the matter of mutual obligation in each society.

I couldn’t help thinking about this story when I began to learn of the dangers inherent in our use of fossil fuels, most notably the recent desire to add poisonous chemicals to water, and then force this water underground to obtain the natural gas deposits that exist there in the shale.

This process, called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” drills a hole for a pipe deep into the ground, below the water table, and then extends this pipe a great distance sideways, so that it can allow poisonous water to be forced through it, fracturing the shale rock, which causes the gas to be released.

Drinking water in the surrounding areas of this process have been found to be contaminated, so people living in the houses there can no longer even shower in the water that’s coming out of their own faucets. The air and the soil in those areas contain contaminates so strong that it is sickening and sometimes killing the livestock in the farms — livestock that usually provides milk and meat for the whole country.

Research data concludes that fracking leads to damage to the local environment through contamination and negatively impacts the earth’s biosphere.

The Tyndall Center, http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/shalegasreport, a Collaborative working with the research and scientific community to advise business leaders, policy advisors and influence the mainstream media and public in general, has revealed through analysis that fracking chemical mixtures used are known and suspected carcinogens that are not only toxic but mutagenic. When the chemicals return to the surface after injection, they carry with them heavy metals, radioactive materials and methane gas.

Ground water and aquifers are damaged by fracking and those effects are impossible to reverse.

In another study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , the current method of carbon capture by storing the gas underground is directly causational to earthquakes.The damaging results of this activity can clearly be seen in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country where this method of extracting gas has been happening for some time.

We can often see commercials on TV and in the newspapers about the potential profits that can be reaped from this supposed windfall of abundant fossil fuels beneath the surface of the earth, when some lives have already been irreparably damaged by this activity, experiencing painful sickness and loss of livestock in various parts of the US.

There appears to be a complete denial of the damage being done to our naturally clean water supply. The only solution is for as many of us as possible to insist to our lawmakers that following through with these efforts is a very short-sighted venture. Our lives, and the lives of our children, are far more important than any amount of fossil fuel the earth can provide.

In response to all those who ask where our energy can come from, there is an unlimited supply of energy that causes no damage to the earth: it comes from the sun and the wind. Some forward thinking countries, including Israel, are already creating new ways to harness the sun’s power. It’s here for the taking, without harming our land, our air, or our water supply. When we care about the quality of life in this way, we create a healthier existence for the world’s population. Our children, and our children’s children, deserve nothing less.

Myra Estelle

The Listening Room

I’m delighted to announce …

THE LISTENING ROOM

a new program at HIR, beginning this coming Shabbat afternoon, Nov 3. I will be leading a space for spiritual reflection and Jewish meditation, where we can listen to the deeper essence of our own self. This will take place every Shabbat between Mincha and Maariv. For more information please contact info@myraestelle.com or see more about my teachings at www.myraestelle.com.

We’re all forms of consciousness

Someone just told me that a class podcast of mine has been really helpful for her, so I’m posting this free 3 minute excerpt from one of my classes here. When you click on this link you’ll hear the way we’re all connected to the consciousness of the universe. You’ll find more complete class downloads for free on the Classes page. The beautiful music is composed and played by my very talented friend, Shoshannah.

we’re all forms of consciousness

 

 

 

Let’s admit it …

Let’s admit it: sometimes we have a hard time accepting the truth about ourselves—even when that truth can help us. Think of Copernicus, who struggled to get the idea accepted that the earth went around the sun. Think of Galileo, who managed to prove that fact, but was still challenged by the prevailing authorities to recant his calculations. And yet, it’s now clearly understood that our planet is really constantly in motion around the sun.

This resistance is quite understandable. We can’t feel the earth spinning on its own axis, so when we see the sunrise, it looks like we’re standing still on solid, stationary ground, and the sun is gradually rising in the East.  Even now, our own experience might make it hard to accept this as a fact, but we have enough proof from humanity’s forays into space to believe that it’s true.

In another natural aspect of our lives, we know that we have energy in our body that allows us to function in the world, but every night we run out of energy and need to lie down to go to sleep. We don’t question this fact; we simply feel tired and know that we have to sleep. Everyone takes this for granted as a natural process. Just like the cell phones we plug into an electric socket at night, so that their batteries will recharge for the next day, we turn out the lights and close our eyes for several hours so that our inner battery, our energy, can be recharged for another day of activity.

Now we’ve come to a time when we need to reach beyond our current awareness to realize something even more profound about our lives. We need to come to the realization that we have energy because we are part of the energetic system of the planet we inhabit. Even though we’re separate individuals walking on top of the earth, we’re still dependent on the ecosystem of the planet for our existence. Its air, water, soil, and weather systems, are all an essential source for our energy’s survival. Our very breath is dependent on this ecosystem.

And yet some who live here, on our planet, would question the necessity for the air to be quite so clean, for the water to be completely free from any contamination or poisonous chemicals. It’s as if they don’t realize that we’re dependent on these gifts to keep us alive. Maybe they just don’t see the full picture.

To paraphrase the psalmist: “And they say, ‘[The Universe] will not see, nor will the [Universe] of Jacob understand.’ Understand, you boors among the people; and you fools when will you gain wisdom? [The Universe] that implants the ear, shall It not hear? The [Universe] that fashions the eye, shall It not see? … [The universe] knows the thoughts of man. (Psalm 94:7-9)

Even though we can’t see the source of all that exists, we are clearly part of something much greater than ourselves. Even though we can’t see the energy that supports our lives, the necessity for it becomes clearly evident whenever it’s taken away from us. Let’s not be blind to the need to protect our supportive ecosystem, if not for ourselves, then for our children and grandchildren.

Let’s think very carefully before we fracture our soil with poisons that could contaminate and destroy our pristine water supply. Let’s consider what we’re creating for the generations to come when we pollute the air with our fossil fuels. Even this beautiful planet, with all that it keeps giving us, cannot expand in size to provide an endless supply of whatever we want. It’s now up to us to create a more balanced approach to everything we want to accomplish, so that we can ensure a more sustainable path for all of our activities.

When we do our part to nurture the planet that gives us life, we will not only be nurturing our own lives, but also the billions of lives that come after us, who are relying on us to leave the world with the same healthy abundance it’s provided for us.

 

Trust

When we learn to trust the supportive, coordinating power of the universal energy, we allow the unexpected to happen. Sometimes the unexpected is called a miracle. Usually a miracle is within the normal realm of life, but occasionally might go beyond it. Sometimes it is simply the perfect timing of a series of events that seem to have happened by chance, because no one planned them. No human being, that is.

It takes a great deal of determination to resist any negative doubt that’s created by a crisis. Even though we might act responsibly and do all we can to solve a problem, there are times when a solution still seems too far away. It takes an enormous amount of trust to focus on the present moment, to release our control of the future and let it unfold in its own way. This takes a great deal of belief, not in the “best of all possible worlds,” but in the fact that everything happens for a reason—everything that happens is a lesson to increase our awareness of the way the world works.

(Excerpt from The Way The World Works: A Journey Toward Inner Peace)

Announcing a new ebook edition of ‘The Way The World Works: A Journey Toward Inner Peace’

A lot has happened since I first published The Way The World Works sixteen years ago. Many more people have now come to realize that there’s more to life than we can see with our eyes—there’s also an unseen, inner support system that can increase our awareness and enhance our experiences as we go through life. While the pull of earthly gravity keeps us close to the ground, there’s also a spiritual gravity that is pulling us toward the Infinite. We don’t see either one, but they’re both clearly present all the time.

This book is about the latter, the one that is rarely discussed out loud. Many people have said that it has helped to strengthen them through any challenges they’ve been facing, and others have simply said it’s reassured them that they’re not just imagining some of the new realizations that have come their way.

Some will hotly deny that such a revolutionary inner experience could possibly be true, but those who have ridden the wave of this enlightening inner process know full well that we are all on a trajectory toward a greater wisdom, enriched by a greater love.

When I first published this book, I had already experienced five years of a life-changing meditation practice. This enlightening process opened my eyes to the rich complexity of the way the world works. In addition, I had studied many teachings from ancient sages, both religious and others, as well as those of psychology, sociology, and spirituality, which confirmed and expanded my understanding of it all. When people asked me to share the insights I had gained, I incorporated many of my realizations into the original content of this book. Now, after experiencing more than twenty years in this process, I’ve re-edited this ebook edition to add more clarity to the original text.

Copies are available through amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and itunes.apple.com

Toulouse

When we come to understand that everything is interconnected with everything else, it seems incongruous that there is evil in the world. Where is the “oneness” in all of this?

According to the kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, the entire world has light—evil is really the absence of that light.

When we discover this light within our own self, it has the capacity to illuminate our way in life. It can make us realize the consequences of our actions and guide us in our decision making so that we can achieve what we’ve set out to do.

A lack of light means a lack of love—a lack of compassion, respect, and understanding. Without light we could cause harm unintentionally and bring an experience of darkness to another human being. When we make a conscious decision in the way we approach our life, by choosing to nurture the light within and be attentive to express it in our actions we can, one by one, make progress in dissolving darkness. It would be extremely naive to expect this to happen overnight, but like a stream of water that wears away a stone day by day, consistently focusing our attention toward a lightness of being has a way of lifting our spirit and clearing the air around us.

When we look at the acts that are considered evil in the present day, we can see that evil is not a thing in itself, but a belief in the hearts of the perpetrators that life—even their own—is of no value. In their tragic acts of violence they have projected that lack of light on to the rest of humanity, creating fear and suffering with their actions. Their lack of light is clearly their lack of appreciation for the great responsibility that comes to all of us with the gift of being able to choose. Sadly, their choice has been to damage the light.

We each have the capacity to eventually eradicate darkness in the world through our determination to consciously create an abundance of light. In the same way that even one small light can illuminate a room that has been filled with darkness, when we take on the responsibility to live in a compassionate way that is in partnership with the light from within, and support those who wish to do the same, we can create such an abundance of light that ultimately evil will not have a space to exist.

In elevating our own consciousness we don’t just create our internal peace—we also expand our ability to transmit this peace to others, and have a healing effect on those around us. In this way we can eventually transform any darkness into light.

Adapted from “Awakening Love: A Spiritual Quest Into Judaism” by Myra Estelle. www.myraestelle.com

Sing!

Within everyone’s heart is the ability to love. No matter what our background–whether it was experienced as loving and safe or maybe harmful in some way–we each have within us a compassionate love that wants to be in harmony, in coordination, with everyone and everything else on the planet. When we learn to reach within to this precious part of our own self, we can find a sense of joy that’s not easy to describe.

It is this healing process that will eventually nurture all of humanity back to health and strength. Only this deep, abiding love can carry us through to peaceful, joyful coexistence with every other being on earth.

When we sing together, we awaken this love.

You can listen to a chant on the “downloads” page at www.myraestelle.com.