Rivkah (the friend and study partner I’ve written about here) and I were studying about consciousness.
On the topic of consciousness our text, Alei Shur brought a metaphor of magnetic fields, saying that just as physical magnetic fields exist in the universe, in which a star for instance can be pulled slightly off its course, similarly there are spiritual magnetic fields where we can find ourselves pulled in one direction or another.
We can either be in a good magnetic field or a bad one. If we give in to our urges we may think we will appease these urges and make inner peace. Instead the opposite is true. We are not at peace with ourselves. The only peace is when the higher knowing self is in charge, not when our whims are in charge.
I thought about one such magnetic field I found myself in recently. We were on a family outing to a big park. We had the picnic food and the frisbee and badminton and all that. One thing got in the way. Someone had wanted to take my husband and myself out to a restaurant, as their way of showing their appreciation to us for something we had done for them. I accepted the invitation.
At some point I realized that the only time they had to do it was when we were going out with our family. I didn’t reschedule with them but said we will drop our family off at the park, go out to eat with these people and then go back to the park.
I tell this story not to get down on myself but to learn from it. When I look at it from a distance I can see that there were several points along the way where I could have rescheduled with them. Right from the start I could have said “Sorry, today is not a good day for us.” When we left the park I left with a heavy heart. I could have listened to the message of my heavy heart. When we got there they called to say they would be late. I could have said at that point “Let’s go back to the park and reschedule this dinner.”
Instead I was pulled into this orbit of “Just leave things as they are. Let’s just do it.”
We had a nice dinner and we did play a bit in the park but not as much as I would have liked.
Only a consciousness of inner knowing can make a person really free. The ability to get in touch with our intuitive sensitivity to what is right gives a perception of reality that comes from a transcendent perspective rather than a narrow self-centered perspective. In this case my self-centered perspective was the magnetic field that plows through warning signals to just stick to a plan, as nonsensical as it may be. The positive magnetic field was the pull to take charge, have the real me stand up and say “We’re canceling the dinner and staying at the park.” This is actually the whole point of Judaism, to put the person in control of himself.
If we are lucky we can escape the struggle itself between doing what is right and what is wrong in a given situation. We can bring ourselves into the magnetic field of being so enthused and drawn to what’s right for us that the question of what to do falls away.
The more conscious we are, and the more we pull ourselves away from the orbit of our little “wants” and into the orbit of what our soul Wants the more inner peace we will find.