I was looking up some mystical interpretations for Shabbat, and I started thinking about how you are supposed to get a new soul (or vayinafash, get re-souled), and found the phrase for that special extra shabbat soul- “neshama yesairah.” Apparently Rashi defined this phrase as a “widened heart for resting and happiness,” which for some reason made my mind leap to Chogyam Trungpa’s explanation of the spiritual warrior’s heart:
“When you awaken your heart, you find to your surprise that your heart is empty. You find that you are looking into outer space. What are you, who are you, where is your heart? If you really look, you won’t find anything tangible or solid… If you search for the awakened heart, if you put your hand through your rib cage and feel for it, there is nothing there but tenderness. You feel sore and soft, and if you open your eyes to the rest of hte world, you feel tremendous sadness. This sadness doesn’t come from being mistreated. You don’t feel sad because someone has insulted you or because you feel impoverished. Rather, this experience of sadness is unconditioned. It occurs because your heart is completely open, exposed. It is the pure raw heart. Even if a mosquito lands on it, you feel so touched… It is this tender heart of a warrior that has the power to heal the world.”
It’s a sort of graphic description of the power and importance of softening your heart- that opening our hearts is sometimes painful, but through that pain and messiness is the only way to be touched by the world and, in that exchange, heal.
It bothers me that sometimes worship on Shabbat is so happy happy happy- that there’s no space in some circles for feeling the weight of the past week, the past lifetime, and holding that along with the lightness and bliss of Shabbat. What I mean is that I am really interested in transforming that “unconditioned sadness” into compassion and peace and joy through Shabbat, not try to set all of that aside for Shabbat.
Also, while I’m pondering this new soul business, I love the concept of getting re-ensouled for Shabbat, but it doesn’t make that much sense to me that the new Shabbat soul completely disappears after Havdalah- I’m wondering what remnants of that new soul, what residual joy and peace and lovingkindness gets mixed up with your regular soul and is incorporated more and more each week. My hope is that, like Trungpa’s idea of an empty heart, each time I am resouled through Shabbat, there is more tenderness and less tangibility, a waking up of my soul, an opening of my heart, and a chance to practice making everything holy, at least one day a week.