Spring the Fool
Spring arrives with a snowstorm, the new moon of Aries a ram leaping the rooftops of the city. I shaved all my hair for the occasion. Sometimes the universe appears foolish. Sometimes the fool is only performing, the joker the wisest of all the advisors.
The Kabbalists distinguish two types of consciousness – the rational, logical, self-aware mind with which we regularly trot our paths, from a non-linear, mystical consciousness that has the possibility of guiding us, when on occasion, we release the tight grip of control. In those moments the possibility of inspiration from a higher source arrives. When the driver’s seat is unoccupied, someone else can drive.
That first mind, the logical self, uses all of its prior experience to interpret the present moment. And it tells itself, that the meaning of wisdom is the sum of the lessons of our life story. Our life’s purpose, accumulation. But the repercussion of using this pathway alone, is that it teaches us to disregard the repetitive phenomena of life, and to behave in places that we’ve been a thousand times, as if we know all there is to know.
This is the wisdom of the fool. Can I stand in a place I’ve stood a thousand times as if I’ve never stood here before? The fool does not leave behind all she knows, but she let’s her accumulated experience rest, as she moves to dance in a field of as if.
This is why Moses was called the most humble of the prophets. God called to him with a little aleph. Even though God had called to Moses a thousand times, Moses never assumed the divine voice would resound in his heart again. He was foolish that way. Any one else would have grown accustomed to the call. Moses’ constant attention to his own assumptions and sense of self, this humility, is the force that invites God in.
The Zen Buddhists call this beginners mind. The master pours a cup of tea for a novice. He keeps pouring and pouring the cup spilling and spilling over. The novice shouts, the cup is too full! The master says, so is your mind!
Spring is the season to be a little foolish. For a week, we’ll take on a practice of relinquishing the bread of excess, for the bread of essence. Can we take stock of all that we assume about the world, and make do with less, that we might come out on the other side with a deeper appreciation for all that we have. Matzah is called lechem oni, the bread of the humble. Humble not in terms of means. Humble in assumptions.
Rabbi Zach Fredman