Fool for God
The following article is an exploration of the Spring holiday season and its spiritual implications. In it will be a unique perspective with a special emphasis on the importance of owning our dualities for the purpose of transcending them. The duality of Spring is that while it is a time for thorough "house cleaning" it also requests of us our lightness of being and simple trust.
When we make a complete and unconditional surrender and trust the mysterious, unknown void with our lives, we enter the domain of the Fool for G-d. We become a servant to G-d, which is as free as we can be as human beings. There is no way humans will ever experience pure happiness, peace or love without connection to Spirit. We will always encounter our next level of pain and challenge until we can hold on to our divine connection in all our human interactions and worldly activities. In being a Fool for G-d, we are led by the allure of a deeper mystery, a presence that leads to unimaginable freedom. This article is but one attempt to reawaken ourselves to the truth of that freedom.
The Birthing of a New Energy Cycle
Each year when the Sun goes into Aries, when the Earth begins a new life cycle at the Spring Equinox and when the Moon and the Sun join at the New Moon in Aries, we are offered another opportunity to redefine ourselves, our world and our place in it. The following is a study of some of the energy changes taking place this month.
The Talmud records: Conception of the world is in Tishrei (Autumn); Birth of the world is in Nissan (Spring). (Tosaphot; Rosh HaShanah 27a).
The Kabbalah distinguishes two types of spiritual dynamic. It speaks of an itaruta de-leylah and an itaruta de-letata, 'an awakening from above' and 'an awakening from below.' An awakening from above is an encounter initiated by G-d - an epic event in history, a miracle, a deliverance, a moment in which the veil is lifted from the course of history and the hand of G-d becomes visible. An awakening from below, though, is one that comes from the hearts and minds of human beings. Something within the human soul breaks forth and reaches out to God.
According to Talmud, the birth (of New Energy) happens this coming month, the Hebrew month of Nissan. This itaruta de-leylah , the Arousal (as initiated) from the Above contributes to the birthing in us. This birthing comes as a result of the conception of the earlier part of the year. But unlike the Fall/Winter season of conception, Nissan initiates a different energy dynamic. The connection we make with our Higher Power is no longer something we have to labor for, nor is it contingent upon any merit, but rather it is more about allowing and receiving. The "arousal" is initiated from Above.
Our job is simply to "clean house" in order that we may host this New Light, and allow it to stimulate in us a process of awakening to our Higher Nature.
When the Higher Meets the Lower
Itaruta d'leila, or "Arousal (as initiated) from the Above" gives us specific spiritual work to do. Our job is to allow the Divine to penetrate our very depths, our darkness, and the most hidden aspects of ourselves. According to Kabbalistic philosophy, the lower has to be transformed, not neglected, shunned or condemned.
What does it mean to "transform the lower"?
The lower part of us is the area of the psyche that an individual would rather not acknowledge. It contains the denied parts of the self. Since the self contains these aspects, they surface in one way or another. Bringing the lower into consciousness diffuses the charge that our darkness has over us , and in the process can even recover valuable resources from it. The transformation comes from having accepted your lower parts and integrated them as components of your Self.
Passover is a time of an incredible Itaruta d'leila, an undeserved outpouring of kindness and beneficence from G-d. Israel had descended to the 49th level of impurity and had almost no merits with which to beseech G-d for salvation. Nevertheless, G-d initiated a great Exodus for Israel. On Passover a person must be an open vessel to receive this blessing of Divine Flow. In preparation, we rid ourselves of chametz, all the vanity, the inflated ego, and the resistances for change. On Passover we must remove all the false exteriors, we must be free of obstructions, and open ourselves to receive G-d's blessing of new beginnings.
The Hebrew month of Nissan corresponds to the English month of April.
The English month April is when a new energy cycle begins. The word "April" comes from the Latin verb "Abrir" which means to open, to release. The term itself implies the energetic work we must do - opening and releasing - to clean house for the New Energy to enter and stimulate a change in us. "Spring cleaning" is a beginning point to host a Divine visitation.
Origin of April Fool's Day
Just as Nissan is the first of the Hebrew months according to the Torah, April was the New Year in the Old World calendar. Ancient cultures, including those as varied as the Romans and the Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day on April 1st. Even the Zodiac wheel begins with the constellation of Aries (April). But in the year 1582 this natural in-sync resonance with the cycles of nature changed, at least with a new Church mandated calendar. In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan.1st. Many countries, however, resisted the change. In fact, some European countries held out for centuries (Scotland until 1660; Germany, Denmark, and Norway until 1700; and England until 1752). But the first to resist the new calendar changes were in France. Still keeping their traditional calendar (celebrating April 1st as their New Year) they were labeled "April's fools" and it became local custom to pull pranks on those people.
Ironically, the word "Fool" is actually an appropriate term to describe the nature of the month of April. For just as Aries is the beginning of the Zodiac, the Fool card is the beginning point of the archetypes of the Tarot Deck.
Meaning of Fool Card - Beginning of a journey with simple faith. Leaping into some new phase of life. Being free spirited, carefree. (as in the Beatles song "Fool on the Hill").
The Zodiac sign Aries that corresponds to April is represented by a Ram's head, a symbol of "energy bursting forth, the creative force of Spirit", much like the Tarot's symbolism, it is the beginning of a journey.
Passover occurs this same month, for it is also a new beginning. It is the holiday commemorating the birth of the nation Israel into freedom after the being released from the constraints of Egypt.
On the Hebrew Calendar, the Jewish holiday of Purim - where one is expected to increase their joy, light heartedness and foolishness - comes before Passover. "This is no coincidence", my rebbe R. Shlomo Carlebach explained. "Purim comes before Pesach (Passover) because Purim prepares us for Pesach. I need to get in touch with my joy, before I can even begin to think of leaving my Egypt".
Court Jester as Enlightened Fool - Historically, the court jester was a state-sponsored mischief maker who was not only permitted, but hired to speak his mind--often in jokes, riddles or songs-- when others were forbidden in the presence of power. The jester was the only acceptable form of deviation in the King's courts, expected to poke fun at all the cultural taboos, to puncture the ruler's ego and publicly break rules, thereby allowing an outlet for otherwise "forbidden" insights, behaviors and feelings.
The ability to poke fun at the current norms and standards we set for ourselves, or imposed upon us by society is an important part of growth for it allows us to "unlearn". Unlearning is as important for growth as learning. Some of our present knowledge, beliefs, and assumptions about how the world is may no longer be serving our highest interest. The jester allows us to hold a mirror to ourselves and examine our own shortcomings. When we can do this with genuine humor and honesty, we can open ourselves to transformation.
Embracing the Paradox of the Season - Introspection and Foolishness
There are two main points which serve as our duality of Spring:
First, that a spring cleaning and personal inventory is necessary to receive the influx of Divine Light showered upon Creation during the Spring season. Second, that we must have an almost na´ve, foolish surrender into the uncertainty of our own personal journey. In a sense this is a duality in that one requires careful introspection owning all of our parts, which is no easy task. The other requires a detached involvement from the woes of the world, and a conscious "lightness of being". This dual task of living is the key to our liberation. It is when we can embrace both polarities and honor each as they arise, that we are in a better position to "spring forth".
It is when we can be the ALL that we are, our light and our shadow, that the Divine is able to find us at our home address. When we are not living at our home address, it is much harder for G-d to reach us. A spring cleaning may not be sufficient by itself. But a deliberate decision to return home and actually live there, will make a better chance for the transformation.
Why is it important to "own our darkness" as well as our light?
Simply put, because the darkness we don't own, owns us.
This Spring, we must accept that we are all here to learn how to navigate this human trip. Therefore, honor yourself and your path. Give yourself a break. Don't be so hard on yourself, yet don't forget yourself either. Celebrate this Spring with a good cleansing, and getting rid of what is no longer necessary, while always remembering to play.
It is this season that the Divine comes to not only fill our vessel with Light, but to also give us the strength to create that vessel, especially if we don't have the strength to do it by ourselves.
A Simple Fool's Final Prayer
May we give each other the strength to cast out of our minds, all the thoughts that are not of our highest and most noble nature. Please G-d, may we not be tempted to doubt the light that lights up the entire world. And through this light, may we become more familiar with the depths and power that we are, when we share in our Divine Inheritance together.
Preparing for the Exodus,
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