What is life...?
Shomayim..the Heavens represents Life..
Aretz...The Earth represents death..
The Kli Yakar notes that in Bereishis (Genesis) the word Shomayim (heaven) is always situated near Elokim..the name for G-d that denotes Din or Judgement.
And Aretz (earth) is always near the name of G-d for mercy or Rachamim.
So basically Life is Din (judgement) and Death is mercy... How do we understand this?
Life is completion. Death is fragmentation. Life is wholeness. Death is separation.
When the soul leaves the body, the ultimate fragmentation has occurred.
Likewise the world itself has a soul. When one is connected to that soul..he/she is alive.
What is the soul of the world?
That soul is Reality... It's the Present... G-d lurks in that elusive thing called the present. That which is completely G-ds realm.
After all..we take actions for the future by setting things into motion and we could relate to the past through reflection and repentence..but the present is G-ds alone.
Is it too tiny to control..or even see..yet everything happens in the present.
The more one is connected to reality, the more one is marching lock step with the soul of the world the more one is complete.
Separation is when a gap starts to appear between your inner soul and the soul of the world. This is death..
This can happen a number of ways.
1. You do not accept yourself in your entirety.
This is basically when you hide certain parts of yourself from yourself.
For instance, if someone does something which is shameful, he might come to shul the next day and smother his guilt in a mountain of prayer and intense shuckeling etc... Or worse, he might be told by his Rebbe that the shameful thing that he did is not really him...but some evil force..
If one is not in complete contact with reality AS IT IS one can never be fully alive. Every thing a person does or thinks is HIM. It must be examined learned from..and ultimately forgiven. Shame can be a terrible thing if it causes one to disassociate himself from his dark side.
This is one example of fragmentation or death.
2. You do not accept immediate responsibility for wrongful acts.
This creates what I call spiritual debt. When one wrongs someone or G-d and then doesn't address it immediately..debt starts to accumulate and the gap between reality and yourself starts to widen.
3. You do not express gratitude immediately.
Another way of accumulating spiritual debt is by taking what you do not truly deserve, just like when you borrow money from a bank.
The way through this is by being truly grateful for all that you have and enjoy.
Three times a day during the Modim of Shemonah Esrei..stop, reflect and bask in the gratefulness. Think of your family members one by one..bring up their faces..and meditate on how lucky you are. Think of all the meals you've had since your last prayer, the weather, the fact that you have bread on your table and FEEL the gratitude with your very essence.
4. You leave gifts in the gaps..
We express gratitude for food, children and other gifts and we smother the unholy pleasures we take. Then there are these in between enjoyments, like watching a movie or reading a magazine etc.. We're not sure what to do with those. So we pretend they never happened and once again you start accumulating debt.
The truth is that every single thing that we enjoy is from G-d. We should make it a habit to examine every single enjoyment and decide what you want to do with it. If you honestly feel that it's important for you to read a book or watch a movie, then during your next Shemonah Esrei thank G-d for the enjoyment of that movie..it'll feel weird at first but after a few times it'll feel right. And if you can't get yourself to do that, then you should re-examine the importance of it and perhaps include it in your Selach Lanu. Don't leave ANYTHING under the rug.
That's called living attached to reality..
5. You're not authentic..
Being authentic is when you allow yourself to feel whatever it is your mind is telling you to feel. If you feel like crying...cry. If you're angry..then feel the anger, just don't let it overwhelm you. If you bury your emotions than you're running from reality and eventually the debt will catch up with you. For instance if something a family member does irks you and you just push it away..again and again then eventually it'll come out in a bad situation and cause tremendous damage.
These are just some of the ways one can choose between Life and Death...
Life means being attached to the soul of the world..reality. Walking and dancing with reality..step by step...
Death means separation and fragmentation..of yourself as a person as well as creating gaps between yourself and the present, thus accumulating spiritual debt.
In other words..Death is Rachamim (mercy). The whole concept of Rachamim is to allow people to catch up and repay their debt.
The more Din (Judgement) you allow into your life, the more connected you are to the source of Life.