Adonai Echad

Even an ordinary human mind is multiple. We weigh different values against each other, we find ourselves torn in decision, we try on multiple perspectives, we feel the pull of different people’s influences on our thinking, we anticipate divergent futures branching from each notion. “We”, each of us. “We”, all of us. Both, always.

When we look out onto the world, it glows with blended lights and hums with polyphonous voices.

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It is paradoxical that we think of the purest light as white light, because that is precisely the least pure light. Normally, when we speak of purity we think of it in terms of removal of what does not belong. But with white light, no color of light can be excluded or strained out, or the purity of the white light is lost.

Infinity is analogous to white light, but to an extreme that defies comprehension. Infinity includes all, without exception. I would say that infinity excludes nothing, but it doesn’t. Nothing is also a part of infinity — and maybe the most important part with respect to finite human experience with infinity! Most of the time when we say “infinity” what we mean is actually “myriad”: uncountably many of something. But to speak of an entity as such is already to define it against something else (removing it from its infinite ground in order to set it against what it isn’t), in order to count it among other entities defined as the same kind of entity. Even generalizing all entities as something as general as “entities” defines entities against non-entity, thus truncating infinity at myriad. With respect to infinity, every removal corrupts the delicate omniclusion what is intended when “infinity” is said.

Of course, we can never positively mean “infinity”, or even “myriad” when we say these words, because avoiding exclusion is impossible. Try listing every object in existence, and you’ll forget to include a color, or quality, or concept, or number, or formula, or mood or some moment in time or perhaps the feeling experienced by some child who lived in what is now known as Bulgaria in the year 978 CE when smelling fresh-cut wood. Then consider the fact that each mention of an entity produces a new entity: that particular mention.

This does not mean “infinity” is a useless word or notion. It only means when speaking of infinity we maintain awareness of its inexhaustibility. We cannot know infinity (or myriad) — we can only know toward them. However far we go toward, we will never arrive. We cannot comprehend infinity, we can only invite it into our souls, a little bit at a time.

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Back to our own strangely multiple minds. I is one, but it is not a simple or atomic one. It is a one that is divided and one that can become more unified and feel more simple and one-like. Even a human mind taken from its social context and isolated is pluralistic. A single human mind can be conflicted or harmonious. A single human mind can exclude or persecute parts of its self, or even deny membership in I. But this alienated part of I, this sub-I, can be redeemed and brought back into the self’s fold.

For this reason, I believe I can say that God is distributed, and that each point of distribution is radiant, and still say “Adonai Echad.”

One of these distributed radiant points of God is you, so please shine favorably on me, with pure, hospitable, all-inviting light.

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