Thursday, October 23, 2008


Sheldon Stoff

In the belief that if we learn to share that which we deem best from our thoughts and experiences with our fellow humans, I make these attempts at such expression. It is audacious to try to explain what little I know about the eternal One, of which, in itself, I know nothing. The divine that I experience is only one small drop in that ocean of divinity. I feel that I must go beyond the written word toward experience in order to catch a glimmer of some attributes and emanations of the eternal One. So, I meditate, opening myself to our constant lover, and then I try to pass something of my thoughts and experiences with on to you in the hope that you will also come to know that love which is beyond all knowing.

We are told that the eternal One created both space and time. Jewish mystics often refer to creation as Ein Sof, which means Endlessness. Quantum physics teaches us that we are all created beings, united in unbounded consciousness. Ancient India, and today, Ervin Laszlo, refer to the word Akasha or “cosmic sky” as encompassing all of space. “A-Field” is another term for it. In this “A-Field, consciousness is to be found, in varying degrees, all beings, space and material. There is a luminous unity within the thoughts of our common creator and lover.

In effect, we humans are a small part of a community of life, but it is a community that is endless. This community is also intuitionally connected. This community existed even prior to physical creation. Brothers and sisters are everywhere joined together within the A-Field. Without and within this A-Field of connection is that which birthed it and sustains it, the eternal One. To repeat, the eternal One is WITHOUT and WITHIN the ALL and sustains it with a love impossible for us to even realize.

Peter Russell says it this way: If our own essence is divine, and the essence of consciousness is to be found in everything, everywhere, then everything is divine. Panpsychism becomes pantheism. It doesn’t matter whether we call it Universal Mind, Allah, God, Jehovah, the Great Spirit, or the Quantum Vacuum Field, we are all of that same essence.

We are stardust. We are also divine. Our actions must reflect who we are and who we are becoming. We are whole. We are holy. Our souls are created by God. The whole universe is created for us.

The first act of creation by the eternal One was that of the incubation of souls. These first souls were loved as a mother loves her offspring. These first souls also had a strong desire to share and return this love. In order to have this happen, the eternal One created the physical universe. Physical experience was necessary for the souls to share and offer love. As creations of the eternal One we are holy and have a spark of the divine within us, a spark called by various names — “souls” and “consciousness” being the most common. Just as all creation was planned for evolution, so must we now endeavor to expand our consciousness and become more fully evolved, as was intended in the beginning. How to approach this profound understanding? Since all humans and all “things” were created in God, our attitude toward everything must change as we awaken to this reality. We are firmly in connection to all that there is and all that will ever be. I can only begin to think of the implications.

Monday, October 6, 2008

What Does It Mean To Walk With God?


I have two sons, Jesse and Joshua, who are now in their fifties. Prior to the conception of each of them, their mother and I prayed that “this child will walk with God.” After the birth of each, we again prayed that we could give him that which he came to us for. We also prayed that we would learn the lessons than he would provide for us.

Now, I am seventy-eight years old, and although I have used the expression “to walk with God” for all these years, I realize that I scarcely know what that means.

What does it mean to me “to walk with God?” Knowing that what we term “Sacred Scriptures” provide many, many examples, I have often relied upon their advisements. Three stand out so strongly in my mind. The first is Hillel’s injunction to “learn to love God and all of God’s creatures.” The second is Micah’s directions: “And what the Lord does require of thee: Only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” The third is and shall ever be: “You shall love your Eternal God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your might.”

These examples are an adopted part of my consciousness. Now, I want my own understanding. At my age, it is not enough to have reached out to make these directives my own, as I have fully tried to do. For more than fifty years, I have sought to find answers through personal meditation. Having been taught, those long years ago, that meditation is an entrance into the world of spiritual understanding, this is a practice I have followed ever since. For answers to my deepest questions, it is an awesome step beyond the intellectual and the rational. What answers might I receive? What veils might be lifted? How might my understandings grow? I fully believe that each of us must pose our own questions and find our own answers.

I will share something of my own personal experience. After an unsettling start at meditating with the question “What does it mean to walk with God?” I suddenly “knew” that I was with Rabbi Isaac Luria, who, through his writings, had guided me in the past. Rabbi Luria of Sfad, Palestine, (1534-1572) had clarified for me much in Kabbalah, and he had always seemed “to be there for me.” During this particular meditation, he gave me one simple answer which spoke volumes. He said, “Always have your heart filled with love and have the strongest desire to bestow it upon all that you meet.”

While still in that meditative state of consciousness, I received many other thought gifts, and additional insights were still being showered upon me as I awakened in the morning. After all these years, as I walk among the autumnal dance of the leaves in my garden, I find that I recall many and much and I still ponder them as I still pray to know what it is to “walk with God.”

I am suddenly reminded of a film about Carl Jung, the image of him near the end of his life, and his response to a question about whether he believed in God. He make a soft fluttering sound with his lips and said, “Well I know…!”

So…Dear Reader, with your indulgent permission, in the coming days of this autumn and winter, I will attempt to write from time to time of those “thought gifts” and in so writing I will be re-membered with them, and thus, it is to be hoped, grow more in my own attempt to walk the walk.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I-Thou: The Missing Ingredient

I-Thou: The Missing Ingredient
By Sheldon Stoff

Martin Buber saw Israel as a homeland, wherein there could be a flowering of true brotherhood of man, a true relationship with life, with the natural world, and with spiritual beings.

"When Dag Hammarskjold’s plane crashed in Northern Rhodesia, the Secretary General of the United Nations had with him the manuscript of a translation that he was making of Martin Buber’s classic work I and Thou. It is because of this book and the philosophy of dialogue that it presents that Dag Hammarskjold repeatedly nominated Martin Buber for a Nobel Prize in Literature. I and Thou is recognized today as among the handful of writings that the twentieth century will bequeath to the centuries to come…"

The foregoing is the opening statement in Maurice Friedman’s introduction to Professor Buber’s Between Man and Man. One of Secretary General Hammarskjold’s last acts was the writing of a letter to Dr. Georg Svensson to recommend that Dr. Buber, Jewish philosopher and theologian, receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1938, when Professor Buber spoke in Germany about the menace of Hitlerism two hundred Nazi Storm Troopers stood surrounding the audience in an attempt to intimidate him. His friends knew that he was to be arrested the next morning, so they flew him out of Germany that night. They brought him to Palestine, and there he established himself in the Arab quarter of Jerusalem. He believed in brotherhood, and he practiced brotherhood. In 1967, when the Egyptian troops briefly took over that section of Jerusalem during “The Six Day War” they ordered a special guard to surround and protect his house. He was a “holy man” and they honored him.

During my university years, I carried on a long correspondence with Dr. Buber. He became one of my mentors. His seminal work, I and Thou, had been a best seller on college campuses in the United States for fifty years. In this book, Dr. Buber describes two kinds of relationships. The relationship of "I-Thou" is a relationship of caring, empathy, respect, cohesion, and even love. The other kind--"I-It"--is a relationship characterized by distance, coldness, analysis, manipulation, and even hatred.

How can it be in a world with three mighty religions—all preaching the “word of God”—that we have continuous wars and terrorism? In proliferating distortions, religious leaders all too often stress differences rather than the central message which is held in common. That message in common, that common denominator, is love and compassion for all.

It is incumbent upon the United Nations organization to mediate the current urgencies of political and economic agendas in order to actualize that common denominator, that “I-Thou” principle which must define humankind. Martin Buber put this very clearly and simply. We need to listen to him:

"And in all the seriousness of truth, hear this: without It man cannot live. But he who lives with It alone is not a man." (Martin Buber)

In a war between such divergent ideals, only the finest ideals will have a possibility of long-term success.

Editor’s Note: Now Professor Emeritus at Adelphi University, Dr. Stoff taught a course on the philosophy of Martin Buber while he was studying for his doctorate at Cornell University. He is author of The Two Way Street, The Human Encounter, The Pumpkin Quest, and Universal Kabbalah: Dawn of a New Consciousness.