The Experience of Experience
The experience of something is always in the moment. This is easy to see. Before and after we experience, we can think about the experience but we are not experiencing the experience. Experience only occurs in present tense—in the moment.
This means, if there are two people in a loving relationship, the connection between them is the loving itself. That is to say, the way their relationship gets the status of love is due to the times of active love they experience together. It is then that their relationship is manifesting itself. That is when the couple is truly living their relationship. So, the experience of love is the loving. It is the vehicle by which the lover loves his beloved.
"Loving," by definition, involves conscious acknowledgement and participation. For example, commitment, living together, vacations, interaction, communication, and doing things for each other are all pathways by which the lover loves his beloved.
However, in the case of a person who is not consciously aware or active, he would not experience his relationship. For example, if a person was to wake up in middle of the night, sleepwalk to the ATM, withdraw cash, and give it to his spouse, he would not experience himself as her provider in that act, since, even though he gave her money, he is not consciously aware of it.
Similarly, if you have sung a love song to your beloved, you have a wonderful memory. If you will sing a love song to your beloved, you feel anticipation. But when you are in the singing act—that is ecstasy. It is within the singing act that your relationship is becoming actualized and manifest. It is in the loving, which is expressed in this instance by way of the singing, that you feel that, despite the fact that you and she are two different and separate entities, you are actually one.
Love Songs to God
Every morning, Jews say and sing verses of song to God that are to be as love songs before the main prayer. It is for the purpose of being involved in the experience of one's love relationship with God.
(In Temple times, one of the main jobs of the Levites is to make music and sing to God. The Hebrew word levi means to escort. Kabbalah teaches that the Levites were called by that name since their singing brought, i.e., "escorted," themselves and those who heard their singing to experience the oneness of their relationship with God.)
And the same applies to all of Judaism and life in general.
Climbing to Success
People think they have a goal to get to, but often it is the experience of getting there that they are really after.
For example, if you were to ask a mountain climber what his goal is, he would tell you that he wants to get to the top of the mountain. But, imagine you were to offer him a ride in your brand-new air-conditioned helicopter. Most likely he would turn you down. Well, why is that? After all, is his goal not to get to the top of the mountain? And here you are offering to get him there comfortably within ten minutes!
The answer is that this mountain climber was mistaken about what his goal actually was. His goal was not to get to the top, but the experience of climbing to the top. His goal was in every step of the way.
A World of Difference
Similarly, many Jews think that Judaism is all about getting to the World to Come. But there is a deeper way to look at life.
In a sense, there is no "World to Come" without "This World."
For example, imagine a couple that has a party in honor of their fiftieth wedding anniversary. The bliss they each experience is the result of the sum total of the choices they made toward their spouse minus the missed opportunities and barriers put up in their relationship by choices made against one another. We would not say that the fifty years leading up to the party is one "world," separate from the party itself which is another "world." Rather, it is really all one; there is no bliss at the party without successful choices the fifty years prior. After all, if a couple was married when they were each 20 years old and immediately decided to go their separate ways and live on opposite sides of the world for the next fifty years, when they reunite for their fiftieth wedding anniversary at age 70, they would not feel bliss; if they would feel anything other than indifference, it would be the pain of missed opportunity.
Likewise, if all of my life I look at the relationship I have with my spouse and the choices I am making toward her as a move to increase the bliss I will feel at the party for our fiftieth wedding anniversary, our whole affiliation with one another will be shallow and hollow. I am never going to truly experience our relationship.
Similar to the fiftieth wedding anniversary, the top of the mountain is a plateau we may be moving toward but it is not the true goal of the climber. The goal of the climber is to experience being a climber, just as the goal of a spouse is to experience being a spouse. So too, the goal of a Jew is to experience being a Jew.