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How inappropriate! Especially on the night when we are meant to celebrating our status as a kingly nation and a people of princes. Why did the author of the Hagadah insist on this disparaging historical reference? The answer to this question brings to the fore a basic point of growth in Torah that is so vital for our modern times. It revolves around the understanding of the nature of the world we live in, this world or olam hazeh.
Text: Ephesians Thesis: When we live into the grace of God the light within us produces what is good and exposes and transforms darkness into light. If you watch any cable television at all you know that there are numerous cultures within our larger culture as a country.
Our country is not all Capital Hills and Cherry Creeks. Swamp People. Mountain Men. Ice Road Truckers. American Pickers. The Kardasians. Bizarre Foods focuses on regional cuisine from around the world which is typically perceived by Americans as being disgusting, exotic, or bizarre.
In each episode, Zimmern focuses on the cuisine of a particular country or region. He typically shows how the food is procured, where it is served, and, usually without hesitation, eats it. Bizarre Foods America, Wikipedia. Every culture is different or has its own unique culture. Culture is defined as a pattern of human belief and behavior or the customary belief and social norms of a social group. A culture is a group of people living by the same standards. I read an interesting article that ran in the Washington Post last November citing the existence of 11 separate nation states in the United States where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.
In mapping the 11 nation states within the United States they cited the distribution of linguistic dialects, prevalence of different religious denominations and a county by county breakdown of voting in every hotly contested presidential race in our history. So many teachers speak in such a glossy, new age, live-your-dreams sort of way as to infer that the dark underbelly of consciousness can be bypassed quickly and easily.
Not enough teachers paint an honest picture of how much pain we actually carry, of what we have endured and taken on unconsciously from our parents, their parents, and society at large. Not enough speak to how much our trauma clutters our senses and keeps the light faded from sight, and how inured we have become to this reality. And not enough teachers elucidate how much devastation one may experience in entering dark waters, and how much fear is used to avoid them.
Being Aware of Your Life
An apropos book title for those who wish to feel into the well of their past and experience what becomes of their external world when their inner world falls apart. They speak as if it is that easy, a snap of the fingers! A quick way for them to make money off of you!
Many speak as though transformation is as simple as letting go of a few things, believing in yourself, setting some goals and honoring your values. Change may be, and that is all many people want.
But I am speaking of transformation , of not just clipping weeds, but pulling them out by their roots; of not simply gathering belief, but of questioning it as well, of emptying, again and again. Look for inspiration in the metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly.
Mikeitz: Transforming Darkness to Light – Mashiach ben Yoseph – Aura of Torah
Transformation is not about becoming a happier, more productive caterpillar! Light demands darkness. Certain teachers may struggle to offer compassion and meet people in their anger, shame, guilt, and pain if they have not walked the long night of the soul, the 40 days and 40 nights that, for most, lasts years. The Indian sage, Jiddu Krishnamurti, was known for his lack of patience and understanding. He spoke to them as if perplexed by their ignorance, partly because he had to travel little distance in his own.
He oozed arrogance, speaking as if liberation were as simple as making a choice , and shared little compassion for the tendrils of trauma holding us back from feeling at choice. His blithe disregard for the searing pain held in the human heart along with his hubris fueled his need to berate those in the audience who could not digest what he was saying, who showed resistance, who needed more than make the choice.
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Right, got it! This is not easy in a culture that prioritizes thinking and accomplishment over feeling and healing; that would rather have you fit in than feel. Choice depends on awareness. Awareness depends on light. And light depends on darkness. Going through the darkness takes time. Another teacher I did a workshop with is well known for his stance on environmentalism and deepening a sensuous relationship with nature. He has written a few celebrated books on how our perception of nature as a static backdrop versus a sentient and intelligent organism causes us to destroy it.
I agree wholeheartedly. However, when I told him that our relationship with nature is dependent on refining our nervous system and opening the sensory gates blocked by trauma he quickly and arrogantly brushed my comments aside. He had little respect for therapeutic paths and how the traumas inflicted onto nature are a mirror for our inner trauma, our inner nature. He then told me how to live my life. My sensory gates suddenly opened wide allowing me to experience and perceive life with such clarity and understanding, transforming me forever.
However, these gates eventually closed after a few months, but not all the way, remaining more open than they had ever been. They remained open enough to remind me of what I longed for—a deeper connection with life—, but also of the work needed to keep opening myself further. For most on the spiritual path this is the way it works.
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That work is accomplished by both doing what brings us joy—chasing our dreams, attending ecstatic dance classes, spending time in nature, eating good food with friends—as well as entering the dark waters of our shadows and trauma, and refining our nervous system in the process. It is not one or the other, but both. Too much digging and we forget to live. Too much glossiness and we bypass the stark reality of our humanness. We become like so many light seekers—ungrounded, flakey and guru-chasing.
They unreservedly go around telling people this, and then quickly create a business to help others become awakened. They have found the light, they say, yet forget that all children are naturally in this enlightened state, and people have awakening experiences all the time.
But to the degree that they make it so, they tempt themselves into bypassing the dark and into confusing awakened with awakening. They then stop doing the groundwork. You never get there, much like how you are never fully authentic. You are always authenticating yourself.
Light is What Transforms Darkness
Verbs are better descriptors than adjectives in this ever-changing existence. You continue the journey into the light by sinking into the darkness more and more. And just when you thought you could not uncover another layer, there is one more waiting for you. The dark descent into the underworld of my trauma and grief has certainly been my journey.