Darkness Light

The experience of not seeing the light is the experience of darkness. When the light is not seen, it does not mean that the source of the light does not exist. Nor does it mean that the source is not shining; nor does it mean that the light has come disconnected from its source, for the rays of light are always connected to their source. Rather, it means that the light does not reach the receiver of the light because something has occluded the light, something has gotten in front of the receiver preventing the light from arriving.

The source of the light is God. The receiver of the light on the level of awareness is our consciousness. The receiver of the light on the level of spirit is our soul. It is we who occlude the light. When our consciousness does not receive the light, we experience darkness.

Darkness,חשך, represents that which is an obstacle to us. That which is an obstacle to us is that in which God is hidden for the purpose of its revelation. To be hidden means to not be in our consciousness. The revelation of that which is hidden requires a movement from us.

A fundamental aspect of our spiritual dynamics is the blossoming forth of Godliness, the manifestation of Godliness, the revealing of Godliness. Blossoming forth means that which was not in blossom and did not necessarily have to blossom, does blossom forth. The manifestation of Godliness means that the Godliness which was un-manifest, manifests. Revelation means that which had been unrevealed becomes revealed. And that which is an obstacle to us is not the hiddenness of that which is un-manifest. Rather, the obstacle is the lack of our own movement for we had forgotten or did not realize that it is un-manifest or hidden for the purpose of its own becoming revealed.

Now every obstacle has it own openings and every problem contains its own solution. (Rabbi Nachman, Garden of the Souls, Breslov Research Institute, Jerusalem, 1990, p94.) And the opening of our obstacles is accomplished by our seeking of God. And when we seek God, when we seek the truth, we make operative:

The openings of Your words illuminates, making the simpleminded understand. (Psalms 119:130)

Rabbi Nachman teaches:

For the illuminating word, i.e., the aforementioned words of truth, show him the opening. Thus the verse concludes: making the simpleminded understand -- the simpleminded who are situated in darkness and cannot see how to depart, will understand and see the openings from which to depart the darkness. (Rabbi Nachman, Likutey Moharan, Vol 10, Breslov Research Institute, Monsey New York, p22.)

When we seek the full truth, the complete truth as we can comprehend it on our own level, then the light of God which is enclothed in us illuminates the opening we seek. This is the meaning of:

The Lord is my light and my salvation.(Psalms 27:1.)

The Lord openest the eyes of the blind.(Psalms 146:8.)

Thus with the light which is enclothed in us, we illuminate the darkness חשך, the ignorance חשך, that which is dark, obscure or lacking חשוך, and we dissolve the obstacle.

We might think that the problems, the strife and suffering we have at our workplace, with our neighbor, in our home, or in our country are the real obstacles. We might think that the things which may make us sad are the real obstacles. But these everyday problems with which each of us struggles only constitutes the garment of the obstacle. They, in and of themselves, do not constitute the essence of the obstacle.

Rabbi Nachman teaches that the essence of the obstacle, the darkness, חשך, is holding back or withholding. For the essence of each obstacle we encounter is our own holding back from serving God. That is, the difficulty we encounter we perceive as a difficulty precisely because we are holding back, because we are not doing all we could to reveal the Godliness we are called upon to reveal, the Godliness which is our unique mission to make manifest in the Kingdom of God.

Each person

must do everything he can and then God helps him. (Menachem Schneerson, Sichos In English, Vol 12, Sichos In English, Brooklyn, NY, 1982, p8.)

And we can know that this is true because we believe:

Thy hand and satisfyeth the desires of every living thing. (Psalms 145:16)

Thou openest Thy Hand, they are filled with good. (Psalms 104:28)

This teaching puts a completely different perspective on the suffering and struggling and sadness that we sometimes have, that we experience, and that we see others experience. For it tells us that however real the suffering of our obstacles are, this reality is only the reality we experience when we hold back and do not utilize the openings provided for us. Thus the obstacles are, in fact, only the outward surface reality, the surface whose purpose is to hide the essence which it enclothes.

Now, when we see the material physical surface as the total essence, our intellect interprets this reality as empty. And indeed material reality in and of itself is empty. Why? Because empty means devoid of God, meaningless.

But when we see beyond the surface, beyond the sufferings of our ego, of our heart, and of our body, beyond the suffering we see experienced by our neighbors and loved ones, we see that the surface is really just the clay material by which we form our spiritual reality. It is this clay which becomes our opening.

But why, we ask, why is it that suffering and sadness have to be? Why is it impossible for the beneficence of God to be manifested continually. Why is it impossible for us just to be always in the light and always be joyful. Surely a God who is good can arrange a creation for our delight and constant pleasure. Why do we have to struggle to work for a living? Why can't we have all what we want all the time?

If we think seriously about these kinds of questions, we realize that it is our nature to constantly desire more than what we have, no matter how good our condition already is. Our questions about why we cannot have all we want then must change to the question why does God create us to have a nature of forever desiring what we do not yet have or have not yet attained? Why is it that we can never be satisfied always wanting more than what we already have, no matter how good what we already have is.

Here we learn that because God creates us with free will, we have a nature that forever desires. For it would be absurd for us to have a free will that cannot be used. And when we use it, we use it to desire what we do not already have. What could be more natural?

Thus, whether our desires have a material orientation or a spiritual orientation, they are never satisfied. Each instance of not-being-satisfied makes us sad. No matter how much we have already attained or achieved, no matter how much we know, and no matter how much we have experienced, from the point of view of the present moment the past of this having is gone and has no presence. The past of this attaining is gone and has no presence.

But so long as we are alive, each current moment makes a new beginning. And with a new beginning we have a new situation, new desires, new work to do, new potential obstacles waiting at every turn, and new potential struggles.

Each current moment and situation flowers a new beginning. This is the meaning of:

With a beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 )

Here heaven is the place from which the Divine Light comes and earth is the place of clay, the place through which the Divine Light is revealed.

Now, the earth was unformed and void. And darkness was on the face of the deep. (Genesis 1:2)

The earth is the place having simultaneously the possibility of being formed into a receptacle of receiving heaven or formed into a receptacle of not receiving heaven. Its beginning state is a state of being unformed. And in this manner the earth is deep. The darkness being on the face of the deep means that there has been no forming yet. The potential of the earth to be formed had not yet been actualized.

And the spirit of God moved over the surface of the waters. And God said: "Let there be light; and there was light." ( Genesis 1:2-3.)

The waters here indicate that the earth does not have a fixed shape. Just as water takes the shape of its container, so the clay of earth has the potential to take the form we direct it to take. God hovering over the surface of the waters actualizes the potential of the earth to be formed. And when God said: Let there be light the light issued forth from heaven and shined upon the earth, bathing the earth in the completeness of the light. And this is how the light of God became enclothed in us.

And God saw the light, that it was good. (Genesis 1:4)

It is the light which brings all the beneficence of God from heaven to earth. It carries only goodness, only bounty, only abundance. Therefore, contrary to the implicit assumption in the question we earlier asked about why is it impossible for us just to be always in the light, we are indeed always in the light.

And God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:4-5)

The dividing of the light from the darkness makes possible the situation in which we can use our free will to occlude the Divine Light. There was evening first and then there was morning means that first there is the call of darkness, calling for the light to be revealed. For darkness is the sign by which we know that we are called upon to reveal the light. Then there is the morning when the rising sun shines the light, when the light enclothed in us reveals the Godliness we are called upon to reveal. One day means that this is what happens in each moment, in each situation. For with a beginning heaven and earth are created for us.

What does this mean? It means that the new beginning presents our free will with a choice: how to interpret the new beginning. How to form the clay so that it can become a receptacle to receive the light; how to form the clay making the light be revealed.

That is, it is our responsibility, by being the agents of God, to make manifest the Divine Light. We do so by our expression. Expression is an outpouring of that which has been pressed in. Our expression is an outpouring of the light which God has enclothed in us. By this expression we declare what we are. And our expression depends directly on how we interpret the new beginning.

There are two dimensions relative to our interpretation: rationality and faith. An interpretation constituted by all rationality and no faith is one constituted by material, psychological, sociological, and ethical values. This kind of interpretation will yield us many insights about the surface structure of the new beginning. But it will not yield the insight of its essence. So with this kind of interpretation we will express obstacles and then encounter the obstacles we express. We will be in darkness.

An interpretation constituted by all faith and no rationality will be driven by the magical and the miraculous. It will yield insights of the essence, but without the body of the rationality, there will be little means to bring about the miraculous. So here too we will express obstacles and then we will be disappointed when we encounter the obstacles we express. We will not see the miraculous. We will be in darkness.

However, an interpretation constituted by a balanced blend of rationality and faith, a blend which has the necessary element of cleaving to God, such an interpretation leads us to know what our actions must be. And when we express our actions, not only do we do all we can, but by doing all we can we open the situation for God's help. And with God's help in the situation, the situation blossoms and we see the miraculous happen.

We thank Thee, ...,
For Thy miracles which are daily with us (Amidah Prayer)

The miraculous happens. The light of God, which is the essence of the new beginning, is revealed. The new beginning manifests its end completion and then gives birth to another new beginning. There is no struggling, difficulty, effort, or hard work and there are no obstacles.

There is a miraculous success. A success in ways that we may not even have anticipated, a success that may even surprise us. A success in which we know that the

success is not due to ... [our] own efforts, but to God. ( Menachem Schneerson, Sichos In English, Vol 12, Sichos In English, Brooklyn, NY, 1982, p7.)

There is a great joyfulness. But the joyfulness is not over the success. Nor is the joyfulness a joyfulness of our service to God. Rather, the joyfulness is a joyfulness over the revelation of Godliness by which we elevate the physical, a revelation of Godliness which in turn elevates us being closer to God and to knowing and loving God, and an elevation which glorifies the name of God.