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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Psalm for Wednesday: Psalm 94, verse 9

הֲנֹ֣טַֽע אֹ֖זֶן הֲלֹ֣א יִשְׁמָ֑ע אִֽם־ יֹ֥צֵֽר עַ֝֗יִן הֲלֹ֣א יַבִּֽיט .9
Does the One who has implanted the ear not hear? Does the one who formed the eye not see?

In my commentary on this verse I continue the them from my previous commentaries (sorry it has been so long since my last one. See my posting from May 31, 2011 for verse 8 and a recap of the first 7 verses). I read this psalm as the struggle between humanity and the ego. The ego is what tries to separate us from the Divine in the universe. The ego is the enemy of Oneness.

What struck me immediately in this verse is the use of the singular nouns eye and ear, as well as the use of the two different verbs to describe their creation. God implants (literally, “plants” the ear and forms the eye. Then the psalmist asks the rhetorical question: “doesn't the one who created the eye and ear hear and see what's going on (even when we try to hide it)?” This is a theme first broached when God asks Adam where he is (after eating the fruit) and then asks Cain where his brother Abel is. If God is an omnipotent and omniscient creator, then of course God knows the answer to these questions before they are even asked.
So clearly God wants both to hear how Adam and Cain respond and to see how these two first humans use the faculties God has given them.

But, in this psalm it's a little different. God is not playing ersatz hide and seek with us. Rather, the psalmist is making it abundantly clear that, as we try to avoid the pull of the ego, God is always within us. God sees and hears all that is happening. And, by extension, God gives us the strength to subdue or negate the ego.

But God does not do this by any supernatural means. God does this by simply being a part of us. And we allow God to do this by acknowledging the divinity within and around us. God has implanted deep in us the the ability not only to hear, but to understand, the Truth of existence. God has formed the eye, which seems to be a simple, perfect orb from the outside, yet we know connects through the nerves to the brain and our innermost self, thereby enabling us to see beneath the surface. God is our ability not only to hear and understand, but to discern the difference between fantasy and reality. Between ego's lies and the Divine/human truth.

But why only one eye and one ear? I see this as a reminder that, though God is within and gives us the ability to see and hear in a deeper way, we are also partners with God. God is one ear and one eye only. If we rely solely on God to “deliver” us, without acting in partnership, then we will only understand a portion of what we hear. And we will see the world around us without any depth and with muted color. However, if we act as partners with God, not from the place of the ego, but from our neshamah/soul, that Divine spark within us, then we can see with both eyes and we can hear with both ears. Only then can we understand and experience the depth and breadth of existence. Only then can we see and hear the ego for what it really is. And only then can we begin to do the holy work necessary to bring Oneness into the universe and into our lives.

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