A Message for Our Times
These days I often think of the words of my first spiritual teacher, a woman by the name of Etty Hillesum. Etty is often referred to as ‘the Mystic of the Holocaust’. While living under Nazi occupation in Amsterdam, Etty wrote in her journal:
“One thing is for sure, one needs to help extend the supply of love on this planet earth. Every little bit of hate that one adds to the already existing overload of hate, will make this world more desolate and more uninhabitable. And of love I have much, very much, so much that it really adds weight and is not small any longer. I know that a new and kinder day will come. I would so much like to live on, if only to express all the love I carry within me. And there is only one way of preparing the new age, by living it even now in our hearts.”
Etty did not survive the Holocaust. She was murdered in Auschwitz when she was 29 years old. What did survive was her brilliant mind and her deeply compassionate heart, captured in her journals, titled ‘An Interrupted Life’ and ‘Letters from Westerbork’.
Given the circumstances of our times, I feel that this message was as true for Etty as it is for us. We for sure we need to take a powerful stand against the forces of evil which are so pervasive and all around us, wherever we turn. And, at the same time, I’m with Etty in that we can only create the kind of world we want to live in by living from that place right now.
Drinking from the Well of Joy
When I ask Etty and other ancestors who died in the Holocaust for guidance, the answer that comes to me is:
How I understand their message is that even while living in the midst of darkness, we must never forget to drink from the well of joy that lives within us. To me, it’s an encouragement to fully embrace the gift of being alive and to share this gift with others.
Living ecstatically to me is about something so much bigger than ‘having a good time’ or even ‘having great sex.’ It is about creating experiences of rapture in our lives, where we feel connected to something bigger than ourselves.
Ecstasy has many faces.
We can experience ecstatic states through sexuality, dance, music, nature, art, as well as experiences around birth and death. The common thread that runs through it all is that these experiences of profound connection fill us with a new kind of vitality, joy, love and radiance. They are experiences that uplift us. And we need experiences of ecstasy while walking through the shadow of the valley of death. Because it is from a place of being uplifted that we can help uplift the world around us.
Look at the video for more about how to invite experiences of ecstasy into your life.