I want to become a more spiritual person. I feel my life is stuck in a swamp of fashion, technology, and consumption. How do I break out of this and get in touch with my spiritual side?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
Simply put, when a person is seeking spirituality, it usually means trying to connect to a Power that transcends the mundane, that will connect to eternity.
However, there is another perspective.
Close your eyes for a moment and mentally draw a painting. It could be a picture of anything. Fill in the details and try to see it clearly.
That picture is completely unique because it is an expression of you. You are its creator; your signature is written all over it. And because it's an expression of you, that painting in your mind can teach us a lot about you.
What happens to the painting in your mind when you open your eyes? It's gone. It only exists as long as you will it to be.
Our universe is created by God. That means that everything in this world is an expression of Him since it all stems from Him. The world is united by a single, common thread - God - who is continuously creating and sustaining this image we call the universe.
How do we see this oneness in action? What impact does it have on our understanding of spirituality?
Let's take a look at some moments of spirituality we may have experienced. Everyone has encounters with the unmatched power of Niagara Falls, or standing in the Grand Canyon looking at the expansive night sky and sensing the infinite universe.
Consider the underlying properties in our moments of spirituality: Unity, Perfection, Eternity, Oneness, Absolute Power. All of these are aspects of God - the Infinite source of creation. The source of all of our spiritual experiences is God. During those intense moments of connecting to the spiritual, we feel ourselves transcend - literally lifting beyond the confines of this world - because we are touching God, the Infinite that transcends time and space.
The more we sensitize ourselves to the underlying unity of creation, the more we can sense and feel spirituality in everything we do. The best way to obtain that sensitivity is by learning Torah, which is a direct expression, so to speak, of the "mind of God." Torah also teaches us how to plug every aspect of life - food, relationships, even business - into the awesome unity of God.
I will just mention one example to illustrate this idea. Everyone must eat and drink in order to survive. Very often though, the act of eating is at best a transitory experience and doesn't provide any lasting pleasure. A Jew is obligated to say blessing before and after eating food. That means that one must pause for a moment before he eats anything and appreciate that what he is about to ingest is a gift designed with love and infinite precision by the Creator of the Universe. This small act can significantly enhance the experience of eating - changing it from a mundane act into a spiritual, meaningful experience. All aspects of Jewish life follow this basic pattern.
Best of luck in your search!