WHAT THE HECK IS CONSCIOUSNESS?
The word consciousness is not an easy one to wrap your head around — pun intended. I remember when I first heard Kabbalist Rav Berg use this word back in 1990, I had no idea what it meant in a practical sense. Over the past 23+ years, my understanding of the word consciousness deepened. It became more practical as my own consciousness changed and, hopefully, elevated on this difficult but priceless and rewarding path called Kabbalah.
It’s funny. The Rav always told me Kabbalah is simple. It’s not easy, the Rav clarified, but it is simple. Arriving at the destination called simple is a challenging and hard road to travel. The Rav always said you will know that you have found truth when something becomes simple enough for anyone to understand. If a concept is garbed in complexity and it is convoluted and sophisticated when trying to explain it, the odds are, it’s not truth.
Today, for me, the word consciousness is a far simple a term to grasp than it was 25 years ago.
So how can we explain consciousness in the Kabbalistic sense so that it is practical and comprehensible by almost anyone?
First thing we must do is to learn what consciousness is not!
Consciousness is not intellect or intelligence.
A serial killer can be brilliant but he has the lowest possible level of consciousness. So it has nothing to do with how smart one is.
Consciousness can be best understood two ways. The first concerns our level of purity in terms of caring for others and being free of the ego’s influence and all self-interest. The less narcissistic we are, the higher our level of consciousness. The less egocentric influence, the greater the consciousness.
The only way we can achieve higher levels of consciousness is by transformation from selfish to selfless. The arc of transformation is how we evolve consciousness. This is why computers and artificial intelligence will never lead to true consciousness. Machines do not have the power to elevate from selfish to selfless through independent free will. Machines can have intelligence. But never true independent, free-willed consciousness. Consciousness demands a connection to a higher dimension.
Perfect consciousness already exists in this higher dimensions, according to the Zohar. Perfect, infinite consciousness dwells at the very fundamental level of reality. When you probe to the very core of existence, beneath molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, to the very base line and inner most level of “space” we will find an infinite ocean of consciousness. This is what the Zohar said 2000 years ago.
Not only that, if we go a bit deeper we find out that molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles do not possess consciousness. Why? Because they ARE consciousness. Consciousness is all there is. There are not two separate entities, an atom and consciousness. Consciousness is the sum and substance of reality. Our world is made up of different waves of consciousness rising from the infinite consciousness that is the Creator permeating all that is and giving rise to all existence. As the Zohar says, the Supernal Thought and infinite waves give rise to all existence and woe to those who do not understand this. Even empty space is consciousness — specifically the desire to receive relentlessly.
This sea of unending consciousness is what the Kabbalists call Light. The same way a ray of sunlight contains all the colors of the rainbow, the Light (that shines from the Creator, the source of consciousness) contains all the ideas, blueprints, thoughts, dreams and imagination, personalities and identities necessary to bring forth immortal existence and a perfected world of paradise.
Only through inner change and free will of choosing selfless instead of selfish can we connect to this infinite realm of consciousness. Each human being taps into a portion of that consciousness and it’s up to us, the collective vessels of free-willed consciousness, to bring forth a specific and particular aspect of paradise into this world.
Now let’s take a simple and second example to explain what consciousness is.
UNDERSTANDING THE WORD CONSCIOUSNESS
To your childhood.
Remember the first time you learned to ride a bicycle?
Intellect is knowing the information necessary for bike riding. For instance, we know we must pump the pedals to accelerate and achieve forward motion. We know we must balance ourselves on two wheels so that the bike doesn’t wobble or tip over sending us crashing to the pavement, scraping our arms and knees. We know we must steer the handle bars in the direction we wish to travel. And we know if we pedal backwards the bike will begin to brake, relative the pressure we apply.
However, having all that information does not mean that we have mastered the skill of bike riding. Even though we know what we must do, the first time we ride a bike, we are unable to maintain our balance. We unable to coordinate the various aspects and skills necessary for achieving balance and constant forward motion. We have to use our intellect and constant thought to try to ride the bike, thinking about every move we are making. We are not yet riding a bicycle. Even though we want to. Even though we know what we must do. Usually, one of our parents has to hold the bike by the back of the seat so that we don’t have a nasty spill.
Some of us had training wheels on our bikes so that we could practice without tipping over.
So consciousness has zero to do with information or knowledge.
FROM INTELLECT TO CONSCIOUSNESS
There comes a moment, after a lot of practice, when we finally master the bicycle and we can ride on our own. Shortly after we literally become one with our bike and we are now bombing around our neighborhood full speed without even thinking about the necessary moves required to ride a bike.
That moment of oneness is called consciousness.
Specifically, it’s the consciousness of “bicycle riding.”
Before bike riding became second nature, it was only the level of intellect.
THE ORIGIN OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Kabbalah teaches that there are two realities — the 1% world we perceive with our five senses. And the 99% realm which is the source of all wisdom, knowledge and happiness.
The 99% is a realm of infinite consciousness. Let’s examine this further.
King Solomon once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
In other words, all the songs ever composed, all the inventions ever created throughout history, all the knowledge of mankind, it already exists in the 99% as part of that infinite force of consciousness that Kabbalah calls “The Light.”
For instance, the concept or force of consciousness called a bike, as well as the consciousness of traveling by bike, already exists in the 99% reality. As we practice riding a bike for the first time, we are building a vessel (desire) inside of us, gradually drawing down the force of consciousness called “bike riding” to fill that desire. After a certain amount of practice, our vessel is finally built and that particular frequency of consciousness now pours into us.
Presto, we are riding a bike!
It’s second nature.
It’s a breeze.
Guess what? The perfect world already exists!
But over the last few thousand years, we have been slowly, gradually, drawing down the various forces of consciousness that will bring forth that perfected, blissful world of existence.
We have been practicing the art of human existence for over 2000 years. For instance, in the area of travel, we have moved from horse, to horse and buggy, from bicycle, to trains, then buses, then to the automobile. Soon after we invented airplanes and finally we built supersonic jumbo sized luxury jets.
As our consciousness develops we are moving closer to the perfected concept of travel, or more accurately, we are moving to a place that transcends time, space and motion, a place of oneness and interconnection at the most profound level. According to physics, a particle of sunlight, known as a photon, experiences no speed, no time and no space. From the perspective of the particle of light, time shrinks to zero and space contracts to zero so the photon is everywhere at once. Why? Because time dilates and space contracts to zero at the speed of light. And light travels at the speed of light. Duh. However, only from our perspective does a photon move.
This lies at the heart of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
What Einstein did not know is that a photon is consciousness, a force of pure sharing without any desire to receive for the self alone (which science calls mass) and thus it is everywhere at once. When we achieve photon consciousness, (sharing without agenda, without “mass” or ego) we too will be everywhere at once, free to experience any part of reality, from any time period, from any perspective. I know, it’s a heady concept.
Our evolution of consciousness is also, in simple terms, reflected in the idea of a house. First we lived in caves. Then tents. Then huts. Then log cabins. Then brick or stone houses. Then beautiful homes and apartments and high-rise condominiums with air conditioning and luxuries and amenities that would sound like mysticism to the people who lived only 500 years ago.
We can now ask the question: Why is it taking so long to develop and progress towards the goal of a perfected world, where our houses, our cities, our transportation, our energy requirements, our entertainment and our technology and communication and health are absolutely perfect?
Here’s the long-held secret to the unleashing the power of human consciousness. Consciousness, as I said, is not about intellect. It’s really about our purity as a people. Purity means our desire to share (without agenda) and our willingness to love and identify the one blockage that prevents us from sharing and loving and caring.
That blockage is the human ego.
Ego is the mass that prevents all other particles, like electrons, from reaching the same “speed” or state of consciousness as a photon (particle of light).
Einstein told us that all other particles are governed by time and space because they have mass. If he only knew that mass was a force of consciousness called ego, then Einstein would have instructed us to remove our ego in order to transcend the limits of time and space. If we did, the entire cosmos—from creation till now—including the infinite future, would be ours to experience and enjoy.
You see, the problem is that you and I are made up of electrons. Electrons have a negative charge. In simple terms, they are the ego, the desire to receive. As we diminish our ego, we remove “mass” and we evolve closer to the same consciousness as light. Remember, we are not here to get rid of ego (electrons), but rather to transform the ego into desire to receive for the sake of sharing. In other words, use our body and our talents to serve our fellow man. Duh. When we do, the world, past, present and future, will be ours.
This is why Kabbalists and the Zohar use the word Light to describe the Divine Energy that radiates from the Creator. They understood that ordinary sunlight transcends all time and space and is everywhere at once, across an infinite cosmos. The Zohar described the Theory of Relativity 2000 years before Einstein by explaining that only from our perspective is there time, space and motion. It is our ego, the mass within us, that is creating time and delaying our redemption. If we remove time, the future will become the present.
THE POWER OF CONSCIOUSNESS
There are two ways to make contact with the 99% realm. One way is through pain and suffering, as we have done over the last few millennia. This is the slow way to evolve as a people and a world community. This is why the world is progressing so slowly over the last few thousand years.
The second way is to attack our ego and transform our selfish desires. Each time we nail our ego, we connect to the 99% reality. Both ego transformation and pain and suffering in the world helps us evolve. Ego transformation is the path of mercy and pleasantness. Individual and global suffering s the path of judgment and pain.
The only reason the world has experienced more progress in the last 100 years than all other centuries combined, is because the Zohar was revealed for the first time in history at the beginning of the 20th century. There is no other reason why technology and physics suddenly exploded transforming our world over night.
We went from horse and carriage to space shuttle in only a few decades.
It’s unheard of.
The reason the Zohar opened up the floodgates of human consciousness is because the Zohar is the primary tool to transform the ego and thus, transform the world. The Zohar is the merciful, pleasant way to transform and evolve and connect to the blueprint of paradise that exists in the 99% reality.
The same way we must practice bike riding using our intellect until that magical moment when we make contact with the 99% and thus bike riding becomes second nature, we must transform our ego by practicing sharing by using the tools of Kabbalah. Rav Ashlag, the founder of the Kabbalah Centre, explains it this way: As we practice being proactive, kind people who treat others with dignity, we slowly transform ourselves until that magical moment when our soul’s desire to share becomes second nature and it rules over our selfish ego. That is when sharing and caring becomes second nature to us. An Israelite will love a Muslim as he does his own brother.
Now we will have mastered the consciousness of Divinity, the God-like trait of sharing, unconditionally, with our fellow-man.
Follow this next idea carefully: When that epic moment occurs, our connection to the 99% will be 100%. This means, all the “ideas” and inventions and cures and technologies for creating a perfected world of immortal existence and bliss will pour into all of mankind and we will erect and construct that perfect world overnight.
All of us who study Kabbalah know we must share. We know we must not get angry. We know we must not be afraid. We know we must have certainty in the face of daunting obstacles. We know death is an illusion. We know the Messiah and the perfect world will soon come. But all of this is only intellect. We have not yet mastered this state of consciousness. When we do, all of this will become second nature in our minds then it will all manifest our lives. We will ride the bike of paradise and never look back.
So for now, we practice. This is why we use the 72 Names of God each day. This is why we scan, read, learn and simply carry around that Zohar. We are building our desire, our vessel and our consciousness. We are harnessing the strength and courage to diminish self-interest and ego.
The Zohar is the absolute most powerful tool and technology that we have for fast tracking our way to the perfected world and the transformation of our intellect into true God-like consciousness.
This is the gift God gave mankind.
We received it originally on Sinai, 3400 years ago.
It’s the power of immortality and it was Moses who connected humankind to the 99% and channeled it.
And we received it again when the Zohar was revealed in a cave 2000 years ago through the channel of Rav Shimon bar Yohai.
It didn’t last because we, the people, did not master the consciousness. We remained at the level of intellect. The negative force also exists at the level of intellect and thus, we fell to the dark side. The selfish side.
Today, its our opportunity to take that gift and practice.
Practice believing it.
Practice sharing this week.
Practice and work at defeating your ego every chance you get.
Know that Rav Berg is holding the back of your bicycle right now so that you will not fall off as you pedal along.
The Rav will then let go of that bike, and you will ride on your own.
This is the power of Zohar.
Let us strive to appreciate it.
And once we achieve the level of pure consciousness, we can think and dream and imagine paradise into existence with the power of our desire and thoughts.