Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Destitute - A Meditation

A recent conversation had me thinking about a terrifying situation in life (may we not have to know of it.) The word "destitute" came up. I haven't consciously paid attention to it recently. On the contrary, words like "poor" or "lacking" - words so much more clinical in nature - are more the norm for today's society. "Destitute" on the other hand tells it all - no holds barred!

The Free Dictionary defines destitute as, "utterly lacking, devoid," and "lacking resources or the means of subsistence; completely impoverished". I was thinking of that other cruel sounding word which many "with means" are so fond of using, "indigent," to refer to someone considered to be a lost cause to the world, hopeless, and often even a waste to society (G-d forbid.) At least this is the way I've always heard it in the conversations I've been involved in.

I considered in my own mind the super abundance we seem to be living with, with most people oblivious to the reality of things. Sure in today's times, we are all poor. Nobody has any money. We're all suffering. The cliche's and platitudes continue ad nauseum. One dare never point this out to those making such original, caring statements, lest they bark up another dozen insults at the other's way of living. And then, just after their ingenious brilliance at the terrible state of life affairs, they'll continue with the importance of the next vacation they're planning for at least three weeks at the coast. They'll be sharing how their latest smartphone - just two months old, has already seen it's last - and it's time to upgrade! They might even laugh at their silliness at having dropped the last one down the toilet (a feat I have never understood,) and the necessity of purchasing a new one without delay! But the phone is not the only necessity. Today one needs the laptop (constantly updated!) for meetings, the Tablet (for ease of carrying around) and the electronic book reader - wherever one goes. All of course - for those in this senseless crazy situation of dire poverty!

I was thinking about the "greatness" of our generation today. Many commit themselves to an hour or so a day of introspective meditation. Feet folded a certain way. Hands positioned just right. Breathing - in absolute and perfect control. The relaxation is said to assist them with all of life's trials and challenges and help them to relax - so that perhaps they can get back into paragraph 3 again.

I considered the power of one of my favourite Torah books - Shaarei Kedusha (Gates of Holiness) written by Rabbi Chaim Vital and containing the secrets of some of the deepest levels of meditation available. The work may be a short one, but the effort needed in attaining these sublime levels of holiness can mean a lifetime of work. Not the kind mentioned in Paragraphs 3 or 4, but the kind related to that very word "Destitute". When one can truly understand it. When one can hear it, listen to it, and be so affected, that when one arises after having considered the total depth of despair another may feel when they are indeed destitute - that one can think of nothing less than doing whatever one can to assist them to succeed in life again - to have, just like everyone else does, to be able to live like others who do, and who themselves can become givers to others too.

Call it new-wave meditation if you like. It's something about hearing the reality of a situation. It's about being able to calm oneself enough - not for simple relaxation - but in order to listen and in order to hear the difficulty another may be going through (or if you like, to experience their joy too when the time comes!) When one arises after the session, the reality is so great, that it leaves nothing less, than the need to act in action. This is true holiness. It is true greatness. It is the most real of meditations possible because it affects oneself - and it affects another. It's not just something to think about. It's something to actually do.

Not for nothing does the Torah teach, "Action is the main thing!"

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