Monday, June 27, 2005

Xi'an Musings

When you wake up in the morning, who are you? Are you the person through whom you walk through the day, or is that person the person you wear to blend into your environment?

In truth, I have no idea who I am. I can describe to you my attributes, but to define myself by them can be deceiving because I can change them and form the habit to have different attributes. What about the way I look, is that me? Not really, this is a mask, just as are my clothing.

A close friend of mine would say that my identity is defined by my soul, and through that I know I am a Jew and so that should be my identity because after I die, and after my body has perished, what will be left is the spiritual stuff that entered into my body before I was born. He would say that my body is an extension and a physical manifestation of myself; a tool through which I interact with the world and am given the privilege of doing godly things (mitzvahs) to bring godliness down into our physical world; this is the goal of my life, and it is the goal of all of creation.

Yet while this sounds to me like we are by nature a collective mind, just as we were before the Tower of Babel, however our individuality is just an effect of the scattering so that we didn’t wage war on G-d. Nevertheless, here, millennia later, I sit in my hotel in Xi’an, China, searching for my identity but finding none with no purpose.

Why do I get the nagging suspicion there is no personality here? Why do I feel that I am only left with the mannerisms and the norms that have been dictated to me by the world I live in, and so I am stuck playing a game of right and wrong and just following the rules?

Today our group walked through the Muslim Market, which in its essence was more Chinese people selling blocks and blocks of the same junk and Chinese food. I am surprised that I’ve never had the temptation to go back to eating non-kosher food. Kashrut (eating exclusively kosher) was the easiest thing that I took on; this is amusing to me because food was my greatest enjoyment, especially with the amazing fast food restaurants I loved to frequent. Yet while I wondered today how interesting it would have been to eat a scorpion on a stick, or the innards of a snake, I could pass because the thought that non-kosher food would become part of me gives me the feeling that somehow I would tainted and that my spirituality would be poisoned on a very real and physical level.

Yet with all the spirituality, all I am given is clarity to know right from wrong, but this does not help me to feel good about doing right. I was once told that I would never feel good by doing a mitzvah, as physical light and chimes would not visibly come from the Tefillin that as a Jew I put on ideally every day during Morning Prayer.

Analyzing my six needs, namely 1) certainty, 2) uncertainty, 3) connection, 4) independence, 5) contribution, and 6) growth, I feel that I have all of these with the exception of connection when thinking about it from an iceberg level. While I do feel connected on an intellectual level to my Creator, and while I do feel a physical connection to my environment, it bothers me that I don’t understand the utility of this connection. Most of all, I don’t feel a connection to other people or a special other which makes me feel disconnected and incomplete in the world. Every night I come home to an empty room.

Lastly, I feel as if I have not yet found my purpose in life, so I am still wandering, endlessly searching for the specific meaning of life. I see myself as an inventor as I have all my life, and I’ve always known the feeling of the technology I want to invent, but I have no idea how to invent it, how to go about getting the funding to research it, or whether what I am searching is actually real in the universe. I suppose I went to law school with the purpose of learning how to move through the legal system to get the funding and the permits to create and protect this idea when it reveals itself to me. For the meantime, in going to law school, I always thought that working with inventions in Patent Law would lead me closer to that goal and it would pay the bills along the way.

Life is not about pleasure for me, nor is it about acquiring luxury or wealth. My life goal is to find tangible knowledge to make the spiritual physically perceptible and usable. Why? Perhaps because I believe humanity is going through a shift akin to the messianic teachings of which being Lubavich I have kept myself separate from so that I stay neutral towards the politics of it all; because I believe the story of the creation of the world in the Torah (Old Testament) happened and that story is continuing even today with the pages being written as we speak; because even before I became religious I was exposed to too much mysticism and I wanted to separate the real from the fake; because I read too many how-to books on astral travel, ESP, and other topics that didn’t work when I worked for months trying to perfect the techniques; because I feel that there are too many theories out there and not enough tangible, testable facts that lead people to their beliefs. Perhaps I just want to know the truth and I don’t want to be lied to anymore with people’s beliefs.

1 comment:

Rowan said...

Hang in there Zoe! You'll find your path in your own time.