The Invisible & The Visible

The great idea upon which all the significant developments of the twentieth century had rested: the invisible is more important than the visible.

Buckminster Fuller’s students once asked him to name the most important figure of the twentieth century. Sigmund Freud, he said without a moment’s hesitation. They were shocked. Why Freud? Why not Einstein, about whom Fuller had written extensively, or some other figure from the world of science or economics or architecture, to which he had devoted his considerable energy? So Fuller explained himself. Sigmund Freud, he said, was the one who had introduced the single great idea upon which all the significant developments of the twentieth century had rested: the invisible is more important than the visible. You would never have had Einstein if Freud hadn’t convinced the world of this first. You would never have had nuclear physics. For all Freud’s animus against Judaism, his idea was an extremely Jewish one. In fact it may not be too much to suggest that it is the Jewish idea. Judaism came into the world to bring the news that the invisible is more important than the visible. (From "This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation,” by Rabbi Alan Lew

This Shabbat (Sabbath) in synagogues around the world, Jews read from the same section of the Torah, called "Parshat Ekev" (Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25). In it we are reminded of the most important tenet of Judaism, Christianity and Islam - what Judaism calls, “the Shema,” or the monotheistic claim that God is one: Shema Yisrael, Listen, O'Israel….God is one.

Although this is often bypassed as some obvious, or even trivial notion, "God is not two; God is one,” actually, it is a deeply sophisticated concept. It is at the core of any, and every, worthy pursuit you have ever, will ever, undertake. As my teacher, of blessed memory, Rabbi Alan Lew, shared above, it was at the heart of Freud’s thesis that the invisible is more important than the visible. It is arguably the foundation upon which western civilization has been built.

What we see, how it appears, the way things seem to be is not always, or often, the truth. 

The physical is an illusion. The senses are deceiving. That which is visible is fleeting. That which is invisible is real.

Call it God. Call it the Divine. Call it the Force. Call it the Invisible. It doesn’t matter what you call it. 

The invisible is more important than the visible. 

This is the source of every great innovation, discovery, creation and human contribution.

Shema Yisrael - Listen up you entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists, researchers, leaders, creators and trailblazers -  

The invisible is more important than the visible. So keep questing after what is real.

Rabbi B