Somewhere along the way, I misplaced G‑d. The other day I realized that I hadn't seen G‑d in quite a while--probably not since childhood. And it's not just that I can't find G‑d--I also seem to have lost my sense of what G‑d is... Why did this happen? If I had Him when I was a child, why shouldn't I have Him now?
You've got one clue, but you missed the other. It has to do with your language. Call it "thing-fixation."
That's probably the main disaster of your childhood --not being weaned, not
leaving behind pampers for underpants, not sitting in a desk in first grade
--but when you learned about things.
The entire world has been reduced in our minds to a mass junkyard of thingy
stuff. So even G‑d gets defined as a thing...
I don't mean, "you learned about things of the world." I mean, you learned
the idea of things. You learned that the world is made of stuff, objects,
material goomp that's just "out there". Later in life, you started running after
those things, accumulating them, amassing more and more mounds of things to fill
your home, your backyard and your driveway. By now, the entire world has been
reduced in your mind to nothing but a mass junkyard of thingy stuff. So even G‑d
gets defined as a thing --and you're trying to find the place where He fits.
Because, after all, all things fit in places.
When you woke up to life as a small child, it wasn't like that. There were no
things. There was just the experience of being. Of sensing, of living, of
breathing and doing. Screaming, nursing, burping. Those were all real. Those are
life. Things are not real. Things are fiction. They don't exist. We made them
The Birth of Thinginess
How did things come to be? Here's my take on it.
In the beginning, there were no things. All of humankind knew life as does a
small child, even as they grew older and wiser. But then someone got it into his
head to draw pictures of all the stuff he had. Eventually, pictures became
glyphs, a nifty device for esoteric communication. Glyph-lovers--such as the
cult-priests of ancient Egypt--created thousands of glyphs to represent all the
stuff Pharaoh was accumulating. Soon the idea seeped into the spoken language,
as well: the idea of a "thing"--a static snapshot of a distinct whateveritis in
a frozen moment of time. Stuff was born. And the world was never again the same.
In Hebrew, verbs rule
Evidence? Because in ancient, biblical Hebrew, there is no word for stuff. Or
thing. Or object or anything similar. In raw, primal Hebrew, you don't say,
"Hey, where's that thing I put over here?" You say, "Where is the desired
(chefetz) that I put here?" You don't say, "What's that thing?" --you say,
"What's that word?" That's the closest you can get to the idea of thing:
a word. All of reality is made of words. Look in the creation story: The whole
of heaven and earth is nothing but words.
languages like English, nouns are the masters and verbs are their slaves, with
adjectives and associated forms dancing about to serve them. In Hebrew, verbs
rule. Big, little, wise, foolish, king,
priest, eye, ear--all of these sound like things, but in
Hebrew they are forms of verbs. In fact, according to Rabbi Yeshayahu Horowitz
(1560?-1630), author of the classic Shnei Luchot HaBrit, everything in
Hebrew is really a verb. Everything is an event, a happening, a process
--flowing, moving, never static. Just like when you were a small child.
In Hebrew, there is not even a present-tense. There are participles, but the
idea of a present tense only arose later. In real Hebrew, nothing ever is--all
That fits, because Hebrew was not written in glyphs. Hebrew was the first
language we know of to be written with symbols that represent sounds, not
things. With the Hebrew alphabet--the mother of all
alphabets--you don't see things, you see sounds. Even the process of
reading is different: when you read glyphs, the order doesn't matter so much.
You just sort of look and everything is there. Even modern Chinese glyphs can be
written in any direction. With an alphabet, sequence is everything. Nothing has
meaning standing on its own. Everything is in the flow.
Get The Flow
Things are not real. Things are fiction. They don't exist. We made them up.
The flow is real. Things are not real. Ask a physicist: the more we examine
stuff--what they call matter--we see that it's not there. All that's
really there is events: waves, vibrations, fields of energy. Life is a concert,
not a museum.
Think of writing music, as opposed to painting a portrait. The portrait
artist stands back and beholds his art, his still rendition of a frozen
moment--and he beholds it all at once. Then he politely asks his model to please
return to the pose of that which has now become the prime reality, the portrait.
A portrait of that which is but never was.
A composer of music cannot do this. You can't freeze a moment of music--it
vanishes as soon as you attempt to do such. Like the fictional stuff they call
matter: Frozen to absolute zero, without energy, without movement, it no longer
exists. Because, in truth, all that exists is the flow of being.
The flow of being: now you have found G‑d
The flow of being: now you have found G‑d. In fact, in Hebrew, that's His
name. G‑d's name is a series of four letters that express all forms of the verb
of all verbs, the verb to be: is, was, being, will be, about to be,
causing to be, should be --all of these are in those four letters of G‑d's name.
As G‑d told Moses when he asked for His name, "I will be that which I will be."
In our modern languages that doesn't work. We quickly slip into the trap of
thingness again. Who is G‑d? We answer, "He is One who was, is and will be."
There we go with the "thing that is" business again. No, G‑d is not a
thing that is or was or will be. G‑d is isness itself. Oy! The
frustration of the language. We need new words: Ising. Isness. Isingness.
Isifying. Isifier. In Hebrew you can conjugate the verb to be in all
these ways and more. Perhaps in English one day we will do the same. Until then,
we are like artists using pastels to imitate Rembrandt; like musicians trying to
play middle-eastern strains in tempered C Major.
And the proof: We ask questions that make sense only in English, but in
Hebrew are plainly absurd. Such as, "Does G‑d exist?" In Hebrew, that's a
tautology, somewhat the equivalent of "Does existence exist?"
There is no need to "believe" in this G‑d--if you know what we are
talking about, you just know. You will know, also, that there is nothing else
but this G‑d--what is there that stands outside isness?
Think simple: You wake up in the morning and,
even before coffee, there is
As for faith and belief, those are reserved for greater things. Like
believing that this great Isness that isifies all that ises cares, knows, has
compassion, can be related to. In other words, saying that reality is a caring
experience. Which reduces to saying that compassion is real, purpose is real,
life is real. That's something you have to believe. But G‑d's existence--like
most ideas that men argue about--that's just a matter of semantics.
Think simple: You wake up in the morning and, even before coffee, there is.
Reality. Existence. Not "the things that exist" but existence itself. The flow.
The infinite flow of light and energy. Of being, of existence. Of is.
Think of all that flow of isingness all in a single, perfectly simple point. Get
into it, commune with it, speak to it, become one with it --that is G‑d.