A passage in the Talmud reads, "Da lifney mi ata omeyd -- Know (be aware) before Whom you are standing.”
This text often appears in the synagogue, on or near the Ark that houses the sacred Torah scrolls. It teaches that we should
live our lives as though always standing before the Holy Ark, i.e., knowing that our every act and thought are fully
open to God’s view.
was on our initial visit to the community, before we had decided to move to Normal, that I was confronted with the practical
implications of standing not before God, but before someone with a paranormally intimate view of me. “Take your filthy
hands off my daughter and keep them off!” Tanya upbraided me.
Now I hadn't physically touched Tanya's attractive teenage daughter but was as guilty
as Jimmy Carter of the lustful thought. This rebuke was my notice Tanya ran a tight ship when it came to sexual energy in
particular. Since most of us were used to giving our fantasies free rein, her psychic sensitivity on this score made us nervous
and kept us vigilant.
The realization that our sexuality could be observed, even in the absence of the slightest verbal
or behavioral “come on” cast a whole new light on our social mores. We began to notice how much sexual communication
takes place long before rising to the level of suggestive speech or body language. Our liberated culture has gone almost completely
unconscious in this regard. As Dillon used to put it, the same man who might shoot you for touching his car thinks nothing
of it when you dance cheek to cheek with his wife!
But Tanys's zero tolerance for energetic smut was practical, not prudish.
Considering the level to which we were holding each other accountable, we could hardly have overlooked foreign sexual incursions
into the eternal soulmate relationship. And it would have been the height of duplicity to ask another member of the group
to lower his emotional guard enough to process* with me . . . while I was entertaining sexual fantasies about his wife!
Or to be having sex with my own wife
while thinking about someone else’s. Indeed, we considered it the spouse’s job to ferret out any such energetic
philandering. If my partner didn’t know (or care) where my consciousness was, so long as my sex organ was present and
accounted for, both of us were being energetically unfaithful. For our goal was to stop using anyone as
a sex object, from the total stranger to our own spouse.
In the case of the spouse, that might mean initiating process, even at the cost of coitus
interruptus. In the case of an attractive young stranger, it meant envisioning her mother and father standing
right there beside her; loving her in a more personal way than I might, in their absence, have been inclined to.
"Da," they'd be saying
if I would only hear them. "Know before Whom you are standing."
*As used here, "process" means to identify and try to work through some underlying conflict or relational