The world is what you think it is
There are no limits
Energy flows where attention goes
Now is the moment of power
To love is to be happy with
All power comes from within
Effectiveness is the measure of truth
This is perhaps the hardest of the principles for me to work with because it literally means there are no limits. Not only do I find that extremely scary but it puts a lot of responsibility on my own shoulders regarding what happens in my own life. In fact it puts all the responsibility onto my own shoulders.
Everywhere around us we find constrictions. We have to be at work at a certain time. We need to drink, eat, etc . . . We live with other people who may have different rhythms then we do. Limits, I have said, prevent me from achieving my full potential. But not really. I am learning another way to think about it: We do need limitations in order for our infinite divine spirit to come to earth in our earthly bodies. But how we tend to our bodily needs, how we enjoy what the earth has to offer, how we heal from illness, how we see the world from within our bodies is our choice and our responsibility.
I recently saw the movie The Theory of Everything which has been showing on HBO. It tells the inspirational story of Steven Hawking, physicist, all round genius. About 50 years ago when he was in his early 20s he was diagnosed with ALS and given only 2 years to live. But I guess the doctors were not sufficiently convincing about the limits of his life and so Steven Hawking continued living past his 2 year benchmark. And then he just kept on living on and on. Today he is in his 70s and as I write this just came up with a much heralded new theory about black holes. Along the way he had several children, two marriages and not only made new discoveries but wrote books making his esoteric knowledge about the universe understandable to us laypeople. In fact, he says that his grim diagnosis actually spurred him on to new thinking and revelations.
I will share one of the few experiences I’ve had in my life of “there are no limits.” It was in the 70s. I was backpacking with a group in Baja Mexico back in my college days. One girl, Mary, and I were always the last to reach camp at the end of the day. The guys and stronger girls always left us in the dust. In fact they even resented how we slowed them down so they never even waited for us. One particularly hot day we were both having trouble walking with our heavy packs. I was struggling to walk but Mary actually began passing out. No one else was in sight. This was long before cell phones so we were completely on our own in desolate desert wilderness. We stopped to rest and hydrate, but after a time it was clear Mary could not carry her pack any further without serious intervention. Even though I could generally had trouble carrying the weight of my own pack, I strapped her pack to my own and then we interlaced arms around shoulders to hold each other up and keep walking. We sang loudly to keep each other’s energy up. My memory banks do not recall how long it took us to reach camp but it did feel like hours. It is not something I could have ever thought I could do (nor have done since). The need was great and my mind stopped reminding of what I could not do, and so I could.
The Kabbalah Tree: This concept is expressed really well in the Kabbalah Tree. The tree has three pillars. The center pillar is the equivalent of the tree of life. The two pillars on either side are named the Pillar of Severity and the Pillar of Mercy. One of the most interesting analyses I’ve heard about these are this: The pillar of mercy is like an infinite soft ice cream machine that keeps pumping out its treats. But we can’t use soft ice cream that is strewn everywhere and is constantly pouring out unless we have a container for it. For that we need pillar of severity which provides the metaphorical cone or the cup that allows us to use the ice cream. It gives a shape to the treat to make it usable.
It is easy to judge “severity” as bad and “mercy” as good. But truly, we need both in our lives making both of them not bad or good but “existing,” “necessary,” “functional.”