Middah of the Month-Practicing Non Dual Judaism-Yirah (Awe)
by Nancy Aron
Compiled by Kevin Morgan.
- Is it Fear or Awe?
Tara Sophia Mohr writes Wise Living, where she also offers her Goals Guide, “Turning Your Goals Upside Down and Inside Out (To Get What You Really Want).
Rabbi Lew describes yirah as “the fear that overcomes us when we suddenly find ourselves in possession of considerably more energy than we are used to, inhabiting a larger space than we are used to inhabiting.
If you’ve felt a calling in your heart, or uncovered an authentic dream for your life, or felt a mysterious sense of inner inspiration around a project or idea, you recognize this description.
Yirah (awe and fear) is the fear that shows up in those moments when we uncover a dream, access our real feelings about an important situation, or contemplate taking a big leap toward a more authentic life. We feel sacred awe, which has a kind of trembling in it.
Often, pachad (projected or imagined fear) comes up in those moments, too – a deep and panicked fear of failure, criticism, loss of security.
In our culture, we often conflate both strands, and simply call what we are experiencing “fear.” But we can discern them more closely, and in doing so, more effectively manage fear so it doesn’t get in our way.
- In the Footsteps of Yirah – Rabbi Avraham Elya Kaplan
Yirah is not anguish, not pain, not bitter anxiety. To what may yirah be likened? To the tremor of fear which a father feels when his beloved young son rides his shoulders as he dances with him and rejoices before him, taking care that he not fall off. Here there is joy that is incomparable, pleasure that is incomparable. And the fear tied up with them is pleasant too. It does not impede the freedom of dance … It passes through them like a spinal column that straightens and strengthens. And it envelops them like a modest frame that lends grace and pleasantness … If a person is sure that the “bundle” of his life’s meaning is safely held high by the shoulders of his awareness, he knows that this bundle will not fall backwards, he will not forget it for a moment, he will remember it constantly, with yirah he will safe keep it. If every moment he checks it—then his heart is confident, and he dances and rejoices
- Understanding & Experiencing Yirah – Alan Moranis
When a human being experiences yirah, that experience directly awakens a spiritual consciousness just as an alarm clock awakens a sleeping person. Compared to moments of yirah, we may, indeed, be asleep much of our lives. When overtaken by yirah, we experience a tremendous spiritual reality that is ordinarily hidden from us. Yirah gives us a direct experience of the Transcendent in that very moment, pointing our hearts directly to the divine Presence.
Through the extraordinary experiences that generate yirah, you become acquainted with the spiritual charge that is available to you every moment of the day. If you undertake to grow that experience in you, as you become more adept at finding yirah, you will find it arising in you not only in the extraordinary
like birth and death, great mammals and kaleidoscopic sunsets, but in a cup of tea, a flower, the flow of traffic, the ability to hear, and almost everywhere.
- Yirah, the Awe of God – Rabbi Yoel Glick
To feel the awe of God is to recognize before whom we stand in prayer and service. Who are we and what are we really? It is astonishing that a tiny speck of dust that exists for only the blink of an eye in the grand immensity of time and space can commune with the omnipotent, omnipresent, and all-knowing Lord of the Universe. To have the awe of God is to internalize the truth that any importance that we have arises out of God’s infinite compassion and lovingkindness, and not from any merit that we have earned on our own.
- One Power Governs all Things – Mooji
“What is the point, if there is a point? Just to be in awe of this tremendous principle. It is life itself, but life in its form is continuously changing. But in its formlessness is so pure…
Many years ago I remember saying there is no tree inside a tree, no cloud spirit inside a cloud. No horse inside a horse, there’s no man inside a man. All these forms, consciousness and the life force is dancing. It’s consciousness, but who can see consciousness? Like the wind, you can feel it but nobody sees it…”