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Thank you, that was really helpful. I think (and hope) I understood what you explained. it’s funny, because i’m very much so a person who understand that the American mentality of seeing results and judging success is not the way it should work. Yet I suppose my problem is that I put a lot of pressure on myself and I get nervous that I won’t be able to get the true meaning out of Pesach…that my head will become occupied with other, less consequential matters. So I felt like I needed a defined course of action to direct me.
I guess it doesn’t necessarily work that way, especially with freeing oneself, which is such an internal process that external actions might not suffice, as you said. I think I need more time to sit and simply think about it. I have been working on freeing myself for over a year, and boy, does it take time. I wonder what type of freedom we can achieve within this short period of time before Pesach. Is it possible or is it more of a reminder?; an awakening to begin this process for the rest of the year and our lives? If so, I should worry because I’m ahead of the game! (that doesn’t mean that i don’t still have work to do!).
It makes a lot of sense how you put it, about how you’re enslaved to something. Most people think of it the other way around- that when you do what you want, you’re free, and when you have to force yourself to do something, its being enslaved. But it’s not so- when its not what you really want, rather it’s what you don’t want causing you to do something you do want, you become enslaved, but then you free yourself of that prison, rise above that situation, you’re free. did i get it? i don’t know if what i wrote makes so much sense, but it does to me so i guess that’s what matters!
About what you said about breaking patterns…i agree, we must be able, because certain people are able to do it. i don’t know if it’s that we haven’t received it..i think it’s more that we haven’t discovered it yet. actually, maybe it is also receiving, because you have to be open in order to receive something. perhaps it is that we don’t want to change ourselves so we’re not open, or fully open. so that’s the first step- to truly want to free ourselves from our bad patterns, desires and inclinations.
i’ll just keep striving, and that’s all that matters.as long as i keep walking forwards… it’s not about how far i get. i still have a concern that i won’t be able to get into the right mindset on pesach. i find it difficult to force myself into a certain state just because it’s a specific time i’m supposed to feel something….it’s sort of unnatural and not easy to do.
i would respond to your email better but i’m falling asleep (jet lag…i just got “home” yesterday), so i hope it was coherent.
thank you again
You’re the BEST! You’ve got so much more than you have any idea. Yes, you ‘got it’. You’re already ‘on the bus’. Think of it as if you’ve got a ball of twine all entangled and you’re in the process of disentangling it. You know how you struggle to find the right ‘pull’ and struggle and struggle and things get tighter, then all of a sudden a bit of a breakthrough and things begin to flow and develope and you’re on a roll until the next group of tight entanglements. etc. etc. etc. So you’re on your way.
Some other thoughts: You’re only 18, what do you expect of yourself. Try and experience of the freedom of self acceptence. As far being in the right frame of mind? You’re doing your spiritual bedikat chametz. That’s what all this communication is about. Be here now, plugged into the moment, plugged into what’s percolating up and through you and trust that when Seder comes you’ll be ‘there’, also. And of course, talk to HaShem. Daven to be ‘there.’
You’re really fine. You identify and articulate hard to reach inner places quite well. So enough of the self doubt. Just be doing the work as you already are. So far, it looks really good on you. As far as understanding that freedom comes from being able to rise and choose to do that which you don’t want? You’re right on. How empowered and even somewhat self-satisfied do you feel as a result? It’s not what you overcame, it’s THAT you overcame! and it lets you know that you can trust yourself to be able to do it when you need and especially when you want to.
Keep on keeping on. Be proud of yourself.
I have really great stuff to help with knowing, understanding, experiencing Passover in a real way. Two spiritual guides to the Holy Day; one from my teacher Reb Shlomo Carlebach and the other unknown. Any one interested, please drop me a line at email@example.com.
I have been recently been in touch with a friend from 30 years ago, from another time, another place, another consciousness. Here’s some of the conversation. Mostly me, as usual.
I can see that you live in a very deep way, that feelings are how you are to the world and how you want to communicate with everyone. On a very deep level.
What would be the point of living any other way? And why would one want to live any other way? And where did the notion originate that there should be or is any other way to relate? And it’s more than just emotions and feelings. These are just words that we use to locate from where within, something originated. But we each understand these words in different ways, depending upon so much. Not the least of which what we have learned beyond what we think something means or represents. It depends on what we have invested our lives to knowing and of course an argument exists that we need all the different ways. If there were no academics, who would teach the new doctors and scientists and architects and engineers and all the profession society depends upon.
Equally, the argument can be brought that unifying link between all these different kinds of people is a universal way of relating; with trust and without fear, with courage to know rather than retreat into the seeming safety of ignorance. Emotional intelligence is key to making life work. Without, relationships simply cannot prosper. So while society grows exponentially in technological advancement, love just doesn’t work, marriages just don’t endure and children pay the price. And the systems just don’t work and people suffer. And mostly because of the decultivation of innate emotional intelligence that is the one thing more than anything that we bring into this world from heaven.
I watch and experience so much needless suffering because people are so traumatized that they can’t overcome barriers of heart and mind, spirit and soul, and therefore loose that which they want the most: to love and be loved. To know beyond knowing that they are not alone in the world. It is the one thing that unifies all human beings. Even the one that consciously chooses to remain alone, does it because the trust and faith in love has been robbed from him. So we substitute and adjust and continue wondering about our lives. And I could go on, of course, but for now…..
There is real sense of boundarilessness (is that a word?) that I get from you.
While you sense it to be boundarilessness (why not it be a word? and who cares, anyway), it is not, It is something else. The hint of lack of boundaries with emotions is a powerful conditioned fear. And yes, within society as it’s currently constituted, this concern is real, prudent and proper. But it also contains within it an admission of something powerfully wrong and beyond the means, will and/or know-how to overcome. Consequently, the lid is placed at the earliest of age. My job is to work to fix that brokenness. It is the ultimate job there is. We are attending to the trees and water and animals and air. We’re becoming evermore conscious of diet and finances and, and, and….except for the most important thing: us. More carefully delineated, constructed and articulated boundaries and borders exist within conscious community. Its part of what being conscious is all about. And it is out of conscious community that the notions of borders and boundaries in relationships emerged to be part of society’s lexicon. In Yiddishkeit, we call it the halachot and mitzvot of tzniut, lashon hara, etc. The lack of such is a societal disease of epidemic proportions. And that is because relationships are out of whack and people posses little intelligence as to what their feelings and emotions are and what to do with them and about them.
I know very few people who live like that. It is something that most people can’t take except in small doses.
This is for a number of reasons. First and most obvious is because people have a hard enough time with managing their own lives and have little energy to loose themselves in someone else’s krechtzing. We’re afraid to get too caught up. And we don’t know how to help or respond anyway. Hang out in most hospitals. When a person or loved one need emotional intelligence the most, it is rare to come. And this from the institutionalized healing world.
I remember far too well the masks and costumes people employ to ‘make it’ in New York. I just read an article in the Times about the minimum costs of attire to be and remain successful in the investment, legal and banking worlds: upwards of $67,000 and that’s with economizing. I remember in my early enthusiastic, shtark hippie days in ’91 or ’92. I was riding on the Lex line downtown to city hall district. I was of course, invisible in my Guatemalan clothes. There was a guy, late 20’s, early 30’s, in a suit, checking him reflection in the subway car window and making adjustments to his tie and smoothing out his hair and, and, and…. And then I began to imagine him in different outfits. I imagined him in his tennis togs with the sweater over his shoulders, his Banana Republic khakis in a bar with the guys, etc. And I realized that he didn’t exist. Just his wardrobe and he became whatever he was wearing. The clothes make the man.
How could such a guy ever know what a woman wants or needs or is or even realize the significance of the degree and depth of his ignorance. And how could such a creature ever really know how to cultivate and nurture that lies deep within the souls of his children. When he has to put on so many different masks and address people in so many different ways depending upon standing and relationship and evolution and enlightenment, how can he know who he is, let alone, anyone else? Small doses? The problem is small vessels, not knowing about vessels, not knowing you get them and increase their capacity and that doing this transforms all existence. Having small vessels is metaphorically like have thin veins. Heart pays the price.
Here’s a question from one of my students and my response to her:
shalom how are you?
i don’t really know where i’m going with this, but i felt a bit confused after your class tonight. so i sat in a park and thought about freedom…how i’m enslaved and how to free myself. it was hard. i came up with some things and in that moment i felt like i was
already beginning to free myself, but then once i left that zone, i began to feel myself slide. i don’t quite know, how throughout my day, to free myself, when i’m not alone meditating. it’s not easy to have that consciousness all the time, even most of the time.
any advice for me?
The process of freeing oneself from one’s attachments is exactly that: It’s a process. The only ‘arrival’ point, ultimately is the ‘end’; you’re tikkun’s done, you can go now.
But there is of course, more to it. It’s almost an attitude. On the one hand proclivities, patterns and impulses remain, but since I am NOT those things, I can adjust how I relate to them and therefore can become more free of them. It’s truly hard to know where nature and conditioning, self or otherwise, separate. I myself, have more questions than answers about this. Rav Sholom once asked me whether Shlomo gave us enough to break our life’s pattern’s. I immediately said, “yes.” Then I thought about it. And thought and thought and thought some more and continue to think about it.
The answer I ultimately came up with is yes, he gave us enough. The questions is, what of it did we receive. For the moment, allow me this:
I believe freedom is more a consciousness state than a behavioral one. It is how I relate to that which is outside of me as well as that which is inside of me. Example: I hate winter. I hate the cold. Spiritually, I love and revere the rain, but hate being out in it. If I was a total slave, I wouldn’t get out of bed from mid November until mid-April. If I am less of a slave then I free myself from my bed and work my way up the ladder: get dressed, drink something hot, dress intelligently, go out, etc. Each step reflects a greater measure of freedom from the conditions that I hate and their mastery over me.
The inner aspect is, while I do all those things, how do I feel about it all. At first I’m cursing under my breathe as I get out from under the covers and feel physically assaulted and afflicted by the cold I feel. And then there are the gradations. When I can go out and not be cursing under my breathe at the weather, when I can feel the discomfort but not focus on it, rather the place or event or task I am going to, I am more free. Hope you get the idea.
Meanwhile, I am attaching another Spiritual Hagadda Guide – based on Chassidus, but not Shlomo.
Most important: From Pirkei Avot: “Lo Alecha HaLacha Ligmor, Aval Lo Atah Ben Chorim l’Hivatel Mimenu.” Literally, It is not upon you to complete the task (What do we really know about completion?), however, neither are you free from striving.
The confusion I believe comes from our definition of success, indeed from even looking to define success. I believe this is an American slavery. We can’t quantify what we are capable of in the absolute as we don’t know to what and where HaShem is leadiing us. So, Holy, Sweet …….: Free thyself from the slavery of absolutism, foreign definitions of success, of the voice that says, ‘uh uh, not enough’. You get the idea. Take a load off sister. You’re an outstanding young woman who has amazing things in store for herself.
We are blessed. We have Chagim U’Zmanim L’Sasson – Holy Days and Times for Ecstatic Joy. The Jewish People have been gifted with periods out of space and time. Shabbat and Holy Days allow us to connect with eternal truth, that which is always, as opposed to being held prisoner to the vagaries of the conditions of the seeming reality of the moment and believing that that’s it. Aside from the uniqueness of each Shabbat and Holy Day with their specific message, teaching, intention and opportunity, they should serve as protections from despair and liberating enablers to bring the Coming World.
I live for Shabbat and Chagim. The truth is, it’s very simple for me. The only real work in this world is to do that which we aren’t: relate to each other on the highest and deepest of levels; helping one another live outside ‘olam shel sheker’. If every evil in the world is some manifestation of relating to the other wrongly, then the opposite should be its tikkun. So I had the most awesome, redemptive Chanukah in Uman and Mezhibuzh and I had the most real, profound Purim ever. But what then? The drop off from the eternal to the temporal has become so breathtaking that I no longer fully know how to be in either. Read the rest of this entry »
Forgive me blogsters, for I have sinned. It has been 37 days since my last posting. “Where did I disappear to?” you ask. Good Question. One that I’m not sure I have a coherent answer to. My life is one that runs in fits and spurts. I go through deep, profound experiences and then find myself in a blank space, not sure how to proceed.
These are blinding times; blinding with the speed of significant change as well as blinding to see with clarity and unity, the meaning of it all.
When I originally planned this blog, my notion was to speak freely and help readers make sense of our times and draw the imperatives that emerge. But when change happens so quickly, when events seem to move faster than is possible to react to, when it seems that Heaven is so much in command that action on our part is absurd, it’s hard to counsel.
Further, events and developements are moving in a direction that causes profound confusion in my self-image. I see myself as radical in vision; identifying with the sensibilities of the left. But when I see what I have to say, I seem to be coming from the more narrow, parochial Jewish nationalist perspective. How to understand this contradiction is for another post. Read the rest of this entry »