If God is all there is, how can we exist?

Do you think I’m overly self-centered or is it just me?

The notion of God being “all there is” and yet creating a separate universe is one huge paradox.  How can I say that there is only the Oneness of God, that there is nothing else but God, and still speak about the existence of a world seemingly separate from Him? 

To understand this apparent contradiction, consider our earlier appellation for God, the Ein Sof (the Never-Ending One), and consider as well that the Power of the Ein Sof is called Or Ein Sof – the Never-Ending Light.  Imagine that all there is, as far as the eye can see, is light.  For this exercise, try to visualize yourself standing inside the orb of the sun.  So, I ask you this question: from deep within the sun, surrounded by nothing but sunlight, would you be able to see an individual ray of sunlight?  No, you would not.  You would be able to see that ray of sunlight only once it radiated beyond the boundaries of the sun – into an area that was “not sun.”  From your vantage point within the sun, an individual ray of sunlight would be absorbed into the zillions of other points of sunlight surrounding it.  

As a second example, imagine that all of existence were soup.  Not a pot of soup, or a bowl of soup, just soup, occupying every point in the universe.  Would you be able to separate out one drop of soup?  No.  Where would you put it?  If all there was were soup, how could you remove a drop of it?  Since there is no space that is not soup, you would have to “carve out” a space where there were no soup in order to separate out a drop of it and place it there.

This is the conceptual framework in Kabbalah that explains how God created a physical, material world within a spiritual world where His Or Ein Sof occupied every point.

Read on.

Scripture teaches, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  The Buddha says there is no “self,” so maybe you’re off the hook.

If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?  

So, in order to create a space in which the material world could exist, the Never-Ending Light had to withdraw – or contract – a part of Itself, all the while maintaining Its status of “all there is.”  Once that space came into existence, it could begin to be filled with other creations.  This is where the “beginning,” began; this is where “time” was created.  

And here is the tricky part: the essence of the Never-Ending Light continued, and continues, to exist in that same spot; it is only that the Omnipresence of the Never-Ending-Light has been contracted to allow for the existence of the physical world.  This is something only God can do: “exist” and “not exist” at the same time.  

While God created us to perceive ourselves as independent of Him, in actuality, not only is He “still” there in hidden form, but He also continues to create us moment by moment by moment.

Morris is travelling by train from West Hempstead to Penn Station.  It’s 11:00 o’clock on a hot night, and everybody is trying to get some rest.  Suddenly, Morris hears a voice from the back of the car, “Boy, am I thirsty!  Boy, am I thirsty!”

This is repeated over and over every few minutes.  “Boy, am I thirsty!  Boy, am I thirsty!” and each time, there is more and more desperation in the voice. 

After awhile, an irritated Morris reaches into his bag for a bottle of water.  He gets up to give it to the kvetcher.  “Here Grandpa,” he says, “Drink up.  And then be quiet, will you?”

The old man drinks deeply, heaves a lingering “aaaaah,” and settles back, satisfied.  

Morris returns to his seat and closes his eyes once again.  

All of a sudden he hears, from the back of the train, “Boy!  Was I thirsty!  Boy, was I thirsty!”

The manner in which the old man continues to “create” his thirst even after it is quenched gives us an insight into how God continues to create the world from moment to moment.  When something is created from nothing, it must be created continuously, or it will cease to exist.  

As an example, when you create something from something, like a table from wood, the creator, in this case, the carpenter, can walk away after completing his creation, and the table will remain a table.  But, when one creates something from nothing – consider a thought or a daydream – unless that person keeps the thought alive in the mind’s eye, the image will disappear.  So too, God must keep creating the world – His “daydream” as it were – and if He does not, then the world would not just disappear; rather, it would never have been.  After all, it was only a daydream. 

Think about it.

On Rosh Hashanah, Max was leaving the synagogue when he spotted the rabbi, standing at the door, waiting to shake his hand.   

As Max approached, the rabbi grabbed his arm and pulled him aside.  “Maxie,” he whispered discreetly, “How come I only see you here a few times a year?  You should step up your involvement in the shul and become more of a ‘soldier in God’s army.’”  

“I’m already a soldier in God’s army, Rabbi,” Max whispered back.  “I’m in the secret service.”

Feeling “separate” from God is just an illusion; an illusion that God creates, and allows us to assert, moment by moment by moment. 

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