Rabbi Nachman said that when he fell, or made a mistake in prayer he would stop and start again and he would do this as many times as was necessary to do it right. There is somehow something comforting in that thought, that we, even when we are down, have the chance of rising if we apply ourselves.
So, related to that, recently I have felt as if I have been putting my life together. I feel as if I have been putting together broken pieces of my life. And I had hope of… something, I don’t know what. And now, because of something that has happened today I feel like my life is spiraling into decay and misery again.
But you know, that’s only perception. The reality has a lot to do with our perceptional filters. The truth should be closer to “Tracht gut, vet zein gut!”. I understand that it is important to turn a negative situation into an opportunity to do good, but it is not so easy to think positive when things go wrong. We need to bolster ourself, to strengthen ourselves each time we go into the world. The other day a person was telling me about visualization techniques, how it is important at the beginning of each day to visualize things going right in your life and then you would act to make those things happen. I told her that was called prayer.
I’ve been through some hard times and I have been having trouble finding work. I got involved with this program to improve your self image and social skills in preparation for work. The irony is I didn’t get along with the person running the course, so I’m suddenly out of the program.
The reason for the conflict is I am stupidly hopeful and stubborn like an ox. And I tried for three days to make it work even though I was probably telegraphing all over the place that I was unhappy with the program. And so it failed for me three days later. Maybe I should have left the program in the beginning when I thought it was wrong for me.
Well, I am through wasting my time. I have animations to do and other people for me to relate to. That all sounds harsh. But, yes, I am bitter. I am mad at myself for wasting my own time. I am sure that they are all decent individuals but I should have more discrimination.
Which brings me to the point I am exploring. How does the above situation and attitude scan with Chassidic philosophy? We need a behavioral/ethical guide or else we are lost. At least I do. I need an anchor. I need a guide, a plan, and I can either agree or disagree and see how actions fit to my life. I think we all need an ethical guide, maybe, or we are acting in a harum scarum way based purely on our own whims. We need to check ourselves against benchmarks which are thousands of years old.
Which brings me to another set of volumes which I am looking to acquire. The Shulcan Aruch. This clarifies the 613 Laws into a certain format and I have read fragments of the introduction and it’s magnificent what I have read. I wonder if study and prayer will transform me and strengthen me enough to deal with the world. I don’t know. But what else is there? Sometimes it gives me peace and happiness. As I said in the previous post I have more fundamental Torah to read before things like Likutey Moharan and Shulchan Aruch.
As for this program which I left perhaps I should have been home reading Torah instead of attending a work program. I am a 51 year old man with three degrees who has been all over the world and has had stories and plays produced and a video shown in the New York Metropolitan Museum. However, because I can’t make a go of it financially I need to become involved with programs which may lead to me finding work. Long term the animation may pan out, but it is a lot of work and there are no guarantees. I was asked in the program what my problems were and how I intended to fix them. I started quoting Hillel and telling her how that helped me in my daily living. And suddenly I am trying to explain the backdrop of Jewish history and philosophy and how I got involved in all this. That has little to do with finding work, does it?
Torah says gossip is a major sin. That means complaining about someone else or even yourself or your life is a sin. I can see how that works. Gossip/bad words damage the person talked about, the gossiper, and the listener. And it perpetuates itself. It is like shredding a down pillow and casting the feathers to the wind. There is no way to get the feathers back and fix the pillow. We are all images of God, reflections of the Divine, and if a person insults or degrades another they insult the Divine. If a person cannot be constructive and assist the Divine Spark within the broken shell to Shine then they are being destructive and driving the Shekinah into darkness.
I know where I am and what I believe. What I am trying to do, all alone, is incorporate Chesed, Chassidic philosophy, into my life. THAT’S the program I need. THAT’S the community I need.
I cannot believe that I and the larger world is irredeemable. The Zohar lists in the preface the groups that have a place under the Shechinah, including the proselytes, Noahides and nations – and I pray I am among them. In the seventh precept it describes the circumcision of proselytes and their acceptance within the Jewish community and I wonder about later discussion. We are all part of the Adam Kadmon, the primordial man, and all the Sparks should return to The Source. Adam was not a left hand alone but a whole man.
Well, perhaps we are all the broken bits and pieces and together we all comprise a whole. I have seen diagrams where each sephiroth has within itself a whole tree. Perhaps that is what we are trying to do, repair ourselves and others so we can be raised up and join the whole. Perhaps that is what community is all about.