Rebbe Nachman of Breslav says:

“For the Jew must constantly gaze into [הסתכל] the [Divine] wisdom of every matter and bind himself to the [Divine] wisdom and intelligence that is to be found in everything.” [1]

If Divine wisdom and intelligence are [considering their unity, we could say “is”] found in everything, why isn’t this apparent to us?

ּBecause since Adam and Havah’s disobedience in Eden, we’re bound by the experience of our senses. Before that, their perception wasn’t limited to the physical senses alone; they could see a Light from one end of creation to the other. [2]

That same unbounded, enlightened perception is actually our “natural” state, too. Without it, we’re living lives of limitation — like children with healthy legs who aren’t walking. The best and brightest of us, the most successful, the most powerful, harbor fear in our hearts because we see only what our physical senses allow us to. And we call this “normal life.”

We didn’t “lose” this unbounded perception as a result of Adam and Eve. We can never lose it, because it’s part of our essential makeup. It simply became obscured to us. We’ve forgotten it and, through disuse, have ceased to even look for it.

Rebbe Nachman therefore begins his Likutei Moharan by saying that the fundamental practice required to re-awaken our “natural” state of perception is [הסתכלות]. This is more than light-hearted “gazing,” although the verb-root might sustain this meaning. Rather, it means that we must contemplate deeply and repeatedly the truth that Divine wisdom and intelligence is eternally in all things and events.

“Things,” seem to exist, yet they’re constantly changing. Cells break down and are replaced. Inanimate objects erode and decay. So, even their “existence” is only momentarily apparent [a state which, in Vedanta philosophy, is called “mithya.” “Maya” can’t/doesn’t exist at all, or seems to exist only by misperception — e.g. the world is “flat”].

Is there less “existence” because a thing disappears? Is there less “existence” in a pebble than in a mountain?

We never “see” existence; we only see its manifestations. We believe — wrongly — that “existence” is an offshoot of “things.”

Reality is the opposite: “things” are expressions of Eternal, Unchanging Existence. That was the Rambam’s (Maimonides’) teaching too:

“…All that exists only exists through His true Existence.”

And this can be known by contemplation:

“The seeker, using discrimination in assessing the values of the world, will eventually realize the perishable nature of the entire creation. Contemplation on the perishable nature of creation will eventually take his mind to some deeper reality underlying the ever-changing phase of existence.” [3]

It’s also true that the evidence of the senses tells us that the “material” and the “physical” are two separate, unrelated things, although we might concede that the “spiritual” is “in” the “physical” in some incomprehensible way.

To properly understand this, we must cease to make a distinction between “physical” and “spiritual.” We must, in Rabbi Lichtenstein’s words, “abolish the line of demarcation” between the “spiritual” and the “physical.” At first, intellectually and mentally; later, experientially.

People say today “I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.” They mean that they seek spiritual experience without specific dogmas or rituals.

Without criticizing them, I say: No such thing exists.

Spirituality is Life Itself. It’s always creating. Disallow It expression through certain forms — it will create others. In fact, we ourselves will create them.

Ritual without Spirit is “unnatural,” too, like believing in a body without a soul; recognizing a person by his/her appearance only, without acknowledging his/her unique personality.

A robot could pray just as well as a person who only says the words; who stands, sits, sings or is silent when indicated, but without any sense of personal meaning.

Let us then consider deeply and repeatedly: The “material” is only the outward expression of the “spiritual.”

They are eternally one.

When this Unity is revealed to us in some event, we often call it “miraculous.”

As, for example,  when a single day’s worth of oil burns for eight days.

In truth, it’s a glimpse into the life we are created to live.


[1] Likutei Moharan 1:1

[2] G’morah to Mishnah Hagigah 2:1 and elsewhere 

[3] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; The Science of Being and the Art of Living; revised edition © 1966; p. 284