The ‘Noah’ movie got stuck in my head. There may have been mixed reviews about the film, but does it matter what other people think when we are moved by something? A bizarrely gripping set of characters in the film are known as ‘The Watchers’, strange rock-like people who, we are told, are angels that became trapped in physical form and must stay there until their inner beings are finally released and allowed to re-ascend to heaven(1). What struck me most was their inner beauty; they are physically awkward, being formed from earthly matter and clunking around in their bodies, but their eyes glow brightly from within and they never forget for a single moment who and what they are.
At times I feel like one of those rock-men. They represent the human condition in a nutshell, or a rock-shell. We are infinite beings temporarily sojourning in a human shell. Our lives contain many physical needs that need taking care of – feeding and maintaining our bodies, playing our role in society, fulfilling communal obligations – but we also have many opportunities to remember that part of us is eternal.
Many of today’s spiritual seekers fall into a trap of sorts. One can easily focus on purely spiritual matters, avoiding earthly responsibility and ultimately getting disconnected from daily routines. Spiritual pursuits are important, but the gas company still needs to be paid if you are plan to use the heating, and taxes need to be accounted for if you would like the emergency services to function. There is a balance to be struck.
An ancient agricultural cycle told people to “count for yourselves seven weeks” (Lev 23:15), measuring out offerings of barley for each day. This ‘omer’ cycle was later revealed as the basis of a major Kabbalistic programme which simultaneously repairs a different aspect of our soul on each of the 49 days of the count (as it happens, this is the topic of my next book The Kabbalah Sutras, details of which will be revealed soon!).
This 49-day cycle has contains endless possibilities for spiritual growth that has a very real impact in our physical realm. The Hebrew word telling to count – u’sphartem – also means to tell a story and to be a sapphire or shine (2). In essence the book of Leviticus was actually commanding people to understand the deeper story of themselves, and to ‘shine’ for seven weeks. Seven is really a metaphorical number for the physical aspect of our lives, so while you are going to be in this physical body, start shining!
We can apply this principle to a meditation, yoga and prayer practice, and being mindful of the eternal part of our soul whilst caring for the physical aspect of our being. As our day progresses we can look for opportunities to keep shining when it comes to our business activities, and to keep contributing to the lives of others. As our days end and our physical bodies tire, we might continue to radiate our inner light in the realm of our relationships, focusing on bringing a higher energy to those whom we love most.
Even on those days when you feel stuck or heavy like a rock, let your light shine out. Magic can happen.
Marcus J Freed
City of Angels, May 2014.
(1) This myth is taken from the apocryphal Book of Enoch – one of the volumes that never made the final cut for the Biblical canon.
(2) See the ‘Sefer Yetzirah’, an early Kabbalistic work.
(context: Parshat Emor)