The rich Jewish mystical work of the Middle Ages, the Kabbalah, teaches that all pleasure is due to sparks of the Divine meeting other sparks:
When you eat and drink, you experience enjoyment and pleasure from the food and drink. Arouse yourself every moment to ask in wonder, ‘what is the enjoyment and pleasure? What is it that I am tasting?’
Answer yourself, ‘This is nothing but the holy sparks from the sublime, holy worlds that are within the food and drink.’
This teaching surely resonates with today’s science that tells us all our food and drink, due to the process of photosynthesis, are expressions of sunlight. And our brains too are engaged by the light we eat. Our thoughts are descendants of the original fireball, original creation.
The Kabbalah teaches that holiness is an educing of the spark from within. These sparks accompany our moments of pleasure when we undergo such experiences within the full context of the divine presence:
When you desire to eat or drink, or to fulfill other worldly desires, and you focus your awareness on the love of God, then you elevate that physical desire to spiritual desire.
Humans are busy raising holy sparks–
We constantly aspire to raise the holy sparks. We know that the potent energy of the divine ideal—the splendor at the root of existence—has not yet been revealed and actualized in the world around us.
We are here to awaken sparks—indeed “in proportion to the sparks we raise, our lives are enriched.” It is from the heart that our sparks fly. “Love and sparks from the flame of our heart will escort you.”
Meister Eckhart talks often about the “spark of the soul” that is so linked to the divine and the Holy Spirit. He gives credit in more than thirteen sermons to Avicenna, the Muslim philosopher who lived 200 years before him, for this concept of the “spark of the soul” which is a way of talking about where the divine dwells in all of us.
Thus Jewish, Christian and Muslim teachers agree on this rich naming of the “spark of the soul,” the divine spark in all of us.
The Kabbalah celebrates on-going creation by way of a light that shines daily:
Every single day, a ray of that light shines into the world
and keeps everything alive, and with that ray
the Blessed Holy One feeds the world….
Since the first day, it has never been fully revealed,
but it plays a vital role in the world,
renewing every day the act of Creation!
Queries for Contemplation
Try meditating on each single ray that shines into the world and keeps everything alive. Be with it. Let it talk to you, renewing you and every day and continuous creation.
Eating and drinking and other pleasurable acts: Can you deepen their meaning to recognize them as sacred acts, as God gifting us on a daily basis? Does that hasten the day when you work more deeply for justice so that more can come to the table?
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.