After a three day holiday of Shabbat and two days of Shavuot, where just before the holiday I learned a powerful personal lesson that I wrote about in What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, life feels new. After writing that “there was no need to meditate or close the eyes because there was no self…” and “when I chose to meditate, it was with G-d first and to internalize that foundation,” I noticed myself asking the following question:
What does the purpose of tools become?
The best answer I received was from Rabbi Manis Friedman during the end of the recording of Episode 6 of our series:
At first [the tools i.e meditation] were helping you get where you need to be. After the fact, you have gotten them where they need to be. They started off as secular personal stuff, now you’ve turned them into support for mitzvahs. They’ve become part of your Godly life so you’ve elevated them. They need you more than you need them.
This lesson, along with last week’s lesson, re-introduced the direct power and healing of studying Torah. Usually I write about an experience throughout the week and I am no Rabbi (yet at least), but based on last week’s lesson and “identifying with Infinity… allows everything and every tool to express who you are,” then studying Torah is direct access to G-d. Whereas the tools helped “get where you need to be” by means of getting beyond the ego, after the fact you realize that, “He is most accessible (psalm 46:2)” in the words of Torah, which is One with Him. Then, one elevates the tools by using them in a way of support for study. However, it almost seems like the word study is from our perspective. Rather, when one studies the words of Torah, as a great sage once remarked, “then God, so to speak, is talking to him or her.” Thus, it would seem that studying could really be called listening! And the tools of meditation, nutrition, exercise, and those that support whole health, are used for the purpose of improving one’s ability to listen.
It follows then that we must understand the difference between reading and studying. Whereas reading is the action or skill of reading written or printed matter silently or aloud, studying is devoting time and attention to acquiring knowledge, in this case what G-d is trying to tell us individually and collectively. In other words, reading and studying could be likened to hearing and listening. The latter is a sincere interest in what the other person or the author of a subject, in this case G-d, is trying to convey to you. Life becomes an intimate conversation with the Creator of the universe, and as Stephen Covey taught in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” And not by means of getting something, but genuinely to “know Him in all your ways” (Proverbs 3:6) like one who sincerely wants to understand his or her spouse.
How can we show G-d and ourselves that we want to listen to Him?
First is through the words of Shammai who said, “set a fixed time for your study of Torah” (Ethics of Our Fathers 1:15). The Lubavitcher Rebbe comments in Biurim that “even if you can only study for a short period each day, the study you do at that time should be permanent - engraved upon your heart so that it lingers with you throughout the day.” If one considers learning like a conversation and one wants to understanding the Speaker, take to heart the Talmudic teaching in Yoma 80a:4-5, tafasta merube lo tafasta, tafasta mu'at tafasta, meaning if you grasped many (merube), you did not grasp anything; if you grasped few (mu'at), you grasped something. Sometimes when your spouse is out of town, a phone call lingers with you throughout the day and assures your connection.
Choose ahead of time the specific subject you will study. This helps you prepare mentally with what you’re going to learn, as well as in coming prepared. It can be likened to choosing a type of date ahead of time or what you and your partner will talk about, while allowing for spontaneity of course.
Be consistent - as consistent as possible - with the time. If you miss a day or are past the time you set, exercise compassion. Your Spouse is very understanding and forgiving, so long as you:
Be Active in your learning. Before you start learning something new, ask yourself “how can I become more active in my learning?”. Click on the link to learn about the F.A.S.T.E.R. method from Jim Kwik in Limitless.
Review (the R in Faster). If learning is creating new connections in the brain, then reviewing it is keeping the connections there. It’s showing yourself, the other person, and G-d, that you truly want to understand.
Wishing you success in your studies and your grasping of the subject!