Netzah is all about doing. Hod is all about being. We need to be careful in Hod. Hod is beyond thought, it is beyond action, it is beyond. Some think that Hod is about “doing nothing.” But doing nothing is still doing. Hod is not about doing nothing, its about being everything and being nothing. Confused, then you have a handle on the Yin Yang of Netzah/Hod. If we dissect Hod into its 7 Omer parts, we just might begin to understand its gentle power.
HESED OF HOD
If Hesed is love and Hod is being, then Hesed of Hod is being in love or it is the love of being. Being in love is not an action. It may be recognized in action, but being in love is not an action, it is a state of being. I look over at my wife and a warm sweet feeling fills me. No words or actions transpire, she doesn’t even know that I am staring at her or that my heart is overflowing – Hesed of Hod. When I watch my son win an award, when my daughter announces her intention of going to Israel to study Judaism, I become even more aware of my Hesed of Hod for them. But when I allow my soul to soar there is an awareness of the flow of life, the beauty of being. We are individual parts of a bigger whole. There was a marvelous movie called “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” made in 1957. The last line speaks to the realm of Hesed of Hod. The protagonist, shrinking smaller and smaller finally accepts his fate and lets go saying: “And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears locked away and in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God there is no zero. I still exist.” In the last moments of the movie the incredible shrinking man enters the realm of Hesed of Hod.
GEVURAH OF HOD
What judgment (Gevurah) can exist in Hod? Judging others is way too active. Even self-judgment might be too active for the house of Hod. And yet, a little judgment, just a bisel helps guide our being-ship. Being flows and yet it could use a little rudder. Just a bisel, a tiny bit of correction to guide our being, without tipping into the realm of action. There was mayor of New York, by the name of Ed Koch. He was known for asking the question, in public; “How am I doing?” The question within the Omer count of Gevurah of Hod is; “How am I being?” It is the preliminary, the preparation before we let go. I was watching Curling during the Olympics. Don’t laugh, but after a few minutes, I was getting into it. I liked it. But with all the effort of sweeping and not sweeping, there comes a point where one has to let go. That image of the curler letting go of that big ‘stone’ is, for me, the endpoint of Gevurah of Hod.
TIFERET OF HOD
I was talking with my friend Joan last Shabbos and trying to share my view of Tiferet of Hod. I was having a hard time putting into words the idea of the love of being and the gentle judgment of being and the balance between the two. While stammering and babbling, I was trying to balance a rather thin book upright. It was not thick enough to balance until I opened it a little. Joan’s daughter was there and it struck her as something brilliant. I, of course, pretended that it was brilliant and that I had done it on purpose. But, I realized what she saw that I hadn’t. To become balanced we have to become more open. This is especially true in the realm of Hod. I have to open myself up to love, the simple love of being. And at the same time I have to hear that little soft jimny cricket on my shoulder voice of judgment. When I am open to both and let go of both, I find myself balanced like a thin book standing on end, covers open to receive and give.
NETZAH OF HOD
Ok how can this be possible. How can there be action within being. Isn’t being the opposite, the Yin to action’s Yang? And yet there are times when action flows within being. When I try to find an example, the first thing that comes to me is Aikido. In Aikido we emanate, we are action within being, as we gently flow with our partner while redirecting the partner away from hir aggressive or destructive path. In our discussion, Joan’s daughter Diane suggested dancing. Clearly she has never seen me dance but I get her point. Netzah of Hod has to do with action that flows from our being in concert with everything.
HOD OF HOD
I asked Joan about Hod of Hod in terms of the aftermath of the gentle action of non-action which is Netzah of Hod. In sitting quietly it came to me that Hod of Hod is the moment after we kiss our children good night. I said to her: “I don’t know how to explain that being moment!” She smiled and responded with the best explanation. She simply said: “I remember!” There is a power within Hod within being. It is the being within being. Those moments of memory touch the very essence of being. I remember. I remember the feeling of my father holding me as a child. I remember, my mother’s up the scales laughter. I remember my brother standing up for me. I remember tucking my children in, kissing them goodnight. These beautiful quiet memory moments are found in that quiet peaceful realm called Hod of Hod.
YESOD OF HOD
Being begins within. If we are in the flow of being, that flow must start from deep within ourselves, our souls. We bring into deep consciousness the balance of Netzah and Hod both leaning in to the side of Hod. With meditation and memory, with quiet calm we feel Hod reaching into the depth of our being, the Ki/Chi/Prajna connection of one cell to all life. We are that cell, part of the organism that is being. And we carry the whole of that organism, the whole of life within our very being. There are times, during meditation or davenin that we become one with what we are doing, what in Japanese might be called Mushin poorly translated as ‘no-mind’. Have you had that kind of experience where no thought exists, the you no longer is separated from the cosmos, and all is one. Then you realize that you are there and, of course, when you realize, you are no longer there. The connection has changed, the oneness is not ‘one’ but ‘one with’ and there is a separation.
MALCHUT OF HOD
Once being is deep set, we are not only part of the flow, we can direct our flow as well. Malchut is the directing of the Ki/Chi/Prajna out into the world. There is true power in being. Deep-seated profound being that emanates into the world is Malchut of Hod. It can be felt in the great sages who teach with their actions. It can be found in the warrior’s sword as it lies gleaming peacefully in its scabbard. And it can be encountered in the bored young man who tests his Hod power through Subway Zen. Subway Zen is an ancient esoteric art that I made up one day on the subway on the way to seminary in New York. The first level to master is standing on the subway and not holding onto anything. Finding the inner balance of being and letting it flow through the body, is the goal of this deep practice. Once this is mastered, the student moves to stage two which is standing on one foot as the subway bobs and weaves under the streets of New York. This task is made more difficult by the strange looks and comments of the other passengers. But when the adept moves to level three, this problem is alleviated. Stage three is to stand on one foot on the small platform between the cars. This should not be attempted by any but the most foolish of individuals as it can lead to injury, death or worst of all great embarrassment. Turnstile jumpers and those who wish to smoke various smoking mixtures gather without judgment on the small platforms between the cars, filled with the soot and dirt and pollution trapped in the subway tunnels under New York. They tend not to treat the subway Zen practitioner with scorn. Maybe they are more enlightened then those who ride within the confines of the subway car. Maybe they, who ride on the outside of the car, have seen life in a different light and are closer to the goal of Hod enlightenment. Maybe they are so stoned that it seems normal to be standing on one foot on the ledge over the cables and steel connecting one car to another.
On whatever level we choose to express the power of Hod, it enters our outer world, the world of Malchut, emanating from our inner world of being.