Reb Yissachar Dov of Radoshitz traveled to see his rebbe, Reb Yaakov Yitzchak, the Chozeh of Lublin. Arriving at his rebbe’s study, he said, “Show me one general way that all of us might serve God.”
“One way?” the Seer said. “What makes you think there is one way? Are people all the same that a single practice would suit them all?”
“Then how am I to teach people to find God?” Rebbe Yissachar Dov asked.
“It is impossible to tell people how they should serve. For one, the way is the way of study; for another, the way is the way of prayer; for another, the way is the way of fasting or feasting; for another, the way is the way of service to one’s neighbor.”
“Then what shall I tell those who ask me for guidance in this area?”
“Tell them this,” the Chozeh said. “Carefully observe the way of your own heart, see what stirs your passion for God and godliness, and then do that with all your heart and all your strength.”
Everyone hungers for a system that will take her to Truth. Everyone wants to know the formula that will bring him God-realization. Even if one chooses not to follow the path, it is supremely comforting to know that there is one. And that is what we all want: comfort. We want a God that is attainable. We want a God that is knowable. Ultimately, we want a God that is safe and controllable. But the true God is none of these things.
Torah tells us that God is ehyeh asher ehyeh, “I will be whatever I will be” (Exodus 3:14). God is infinite becoming, arising from infinite being. There is no way to God because God isn’t anywhere but right here. There is no method for achieving God because God is already “yours.” This is what the Zen people call “looking for an ox while riding on the ox.” You already have the thing for which you are looking. What is needed is not d’veikus, union with God, but da’at d’veikus, realization of the union that already exists and always has.
What is your way to this realization? It must be your way, not another’s. To follow another’s way is to imitate truth, and a truth that is imitated is no longer true. The Seer of Lublin says that there are as many ways as there are people. If you are a student –— study! If you are a devotee –— pray! If you are an ascetic –— fast! If you are an epicurean –— feast!
The value of religion is that it preserves examples of the many ways to da’at d’veikus. The problem with religion is that it often insists that only one of these ways is legitimate. When it comes to spirituality, do not fall for “one size fits all.” Find your size, and wear it proudly.