“The Project” is to help heal the world by healing ourself and being the best we can be. We all have something to contribute and are in the place we are for a reason.
“The ultimate objective of spirituality is not to remove the existence of evil or humanity’s negative traits. Instead, we must confront and transform these dark forces, for it is only through the struggle of transformation that we ignite the spark of divinity within us.” – The Zohar
I want to dive into dark places in my own life. But, you know, sometimes I am the most creative when I am in the dark places.
So I believe the life of an Hassidic Jew demands certain behaviours, certain ways of looking at the world, which may be incompatible with certain projects I want to engage in. And then again, maybe not. I look up at the two quotes above, the one by Michael Berg and the one from the Zohar, and I think maybe these same behaviours and ways of looking at the world provide me with the framework and the strength to safely engage with the world. If I did not study Torah and Tanya and Rabbi Nachman of Breslov I would be lost and destroyed. I think all this study, prayer and rigorous code of behaviour is the only thing that can save me from my own life, because my life is pretty screwed up. But, at the same time, I have to address my own life, don’t I, or else what is the point of being at all?
Is Hassidic Judaism is all about separating the sacred from the profane from and not engaging with the rest of the world? Isn’t engaging with the world why they travelled, The Baal Shem Tov and his crew… and Shimon Bar-Yochai and The Companions?
According to the myth, which is True because it represents a higher meaning, non-Jews and Jews – all mankind – are related to Adam. And when we speak of the Primal Adam we are speaking of Eve as well, because, before they left the garden of Eden, that perfect place, they were joined right down the backbone. Let us be straight. Adam/Eve, for all his/her good intentions, when he/she “ate the apple” chose evil.
I could imagine Adam was naive. I could imagine that Adam, being the first human being who walked with G-d regularly, was the most spiritually connected human to have ever existed and the most powerful being in Creation. So Adam looked into the darkness, into pain and loneliness and greed, so he could understand it.
I can imagine that G-d said, “This is too dangerous for the Adam Kadmon to explore the intricacies of light and darkness alone. In this concentration, Adam’s explorations can Destroy Creation. Let’s spread Adam’s soul out through time and space and in the long term mankind can come to understand the Truth of Light and Darkness.” And G-d caste Adam out of Pardes, into time, and Adam’s soul shattered into all the nations of the world.
Adam had a book of Divine Revelation which was taken from him when he left Eden. When he was cast out he stood in the river, drowning, and begged for a return of that knowledge (Zohar Berashith), so as to not be separated from G-d completely, and The Book of Adam was returned to him, because when we ask G-d correctly, G-d responds. Adam is Mankind, and the Jews are part of Adam, and – despite the separation of the Holy from the Profane – to perform Tikkun Olam, the totality of Creation and how the Light filters through the shells must be addressed.
But what does all this mean in reality as we understand it?
Writers are supposed to write what they know, and through my experiences I have been through things other people have not. Yet there must be something universal so that others can grasp what I am trying to say. I don’t know myself so how can I worry about others. Just me. Ok? Just for now. Just me?
I want to go into my own life and tell the truth, diving into metaphor and lies when I need to tell the WHOLE truth, because a writer, an artist, a poet, can only tell the truth when he lies, because the artist would destroy himself if he told the public the truth about his life, so he turns the truth into lies so he can tell the truth. When you read a book with the disclaimer “None of theses characters represent people living or dead,” you can be sure the book is talking about real people, otherwise it wouldn’t need the disclaimer. And the Truth is, if it is a good fiction, seeing as there are seven billion people on this planet, the characters represent somebody, if not everybody.
When I was in Art College I took film and learned to write storyboards. A storyboard is a lot like a comic book. A film takes a lot of effort and time. You have to get money and cameramen and crews and actors and equipment and locations and permits and transportation and catering… Maybe, for now, I just need to make comic books. Movies (and theatre) may come again, or maybe movies are for people with the energy of twenty year olds. So at 51 I am making a comic book about my life.
Rabbi Nachman says that if you fall it is because you are set to rise to a higher level of G-d awareness. The farther you fall the harder you have to work to get back up. But “I” don’t think this is automatic. Relating to my situation, Hassidic Thought will give me strength so I will not crumble into misery when I deal with issues in my own life. In fact, maybe I can take the knowledge of my horrible past and turn it into an inspiring story.
The Divine represents the best inside me that if I can be. I know I Exist and I know the universe exists and knowledge of G-d may well be above my pay grade. Nevertheless I think and therefore I am. Thought makes everything a possibility.
Blessed be The Lord of The Universe.