I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted. My 30 day challenge is apparently a challenge for me too!
Last night was the first session of WOW! In case you’re not familiar with it, WOW! is a program that I direct that is geared for Young Jewish Professionals. We come together, those with less formal Jewish education, those with more; those who carry their Jewish identity as a second skin and those who are unwrapping its new-found treasure.
I love it there. In a fractured world, it’s a haven of unity and inspiration.
We’re taught that ; when you pray, you’re speaking to G-d, when you learn Torah, that’s G-d speaking to you.”
So there you have a whole room full of people who G-d is talking to! And it surprises them. It surprises even me, how when you learn Torah, you are peaceful but exhilarated. Things just resonate. Everything else fades away.
My partner is Renee, who I met, some would say randomly, but if you see us together, you would say. “How could these two not meet?!
So we were learning together, literally sharing moments of ecstasy, and I’d like to share with you some of what we learned here so that you too can eat these delicious words for dinner!
Although I can recap, the book we were studying which is one of my favorite, The G-d Powered Life by David Aaron is so perfectly written, that I’m going to copy down every word of this excerpt for you. (Thank you Hadassa for doing so much of the typing!)
Kabbalah, which this book is based on, is the secrets of the mechanisms of the spiritual world. Kabbalah knowledge is universal truth. Read slowly and let the truth give you wings to fly. (Photo is of Renee)
The Me I Want To Be
At first glance this phrase seems ridiculous. Who is the ME I want to be? How could I not be me? And if I am not me, which seems kind of crazy, than why am I not me? Who is the Me that I am and what is holding me back from being the Me that I want to be?
They never regret who they are, and they have no aspirations to be other than who they already are. Have you ever seen a dog trying to be a cat? Or a cat looking at a dog with envy because the dog can bark and he can’t?
Unique to the human mind there exists a possible conflict between who I am and who I could be or should be.
We sense a distinction between our self and our character. This duality can create tremendous stress and even much psychic pain in our lives.
However, to hold us back from becoming the me we want to be, we must clarify the difference between the Self and the Me.
Let’s start with understanding the self. Did you ever play a kind of mind game as a child and ask yourself: “Who would I have been if my mother had married another man?” If you have asked yourself this question, it is because on some deep intuitive level you sensed you could have been somebody else.
You sensed that your inner self would be the same you, but it would be playing a different character. you sensed that there is a Self that stands independent of a particular Me. You sensed that the Self is immutable, but the particular character, the Me is not
In a sweet little book called, Children’s Letters to God, I found a letter that was particularly humorous: “Dear God, If after death you send me back, please don’t send me back as Jennifer Horton. Because I hate her guts.” Now how does a child intuit that she could come back and play another character?
In Kabbalah, there is much discussion about reincarnation and how we may return in numerous times to this world playing a different character in each life. Each of us may have been on Earth in an earlier lifetime, playing a different Me – a different character. For instance, the Kabbalah teaches that the soul that played Abel, who was killed by his brother Cain, returned in a later life to play the character Noah, and then returned again to play Moses.
It works a bit like casting roles in a play. An actor, who has been scripted to play a death scene, gives himself over completely to the part and dies in the most convincing way on stage. But he gets up when the curtain closes and lives to embrace a new role in a new show. Shakespeare was not far off when he wrote: “All the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players.”
You and I are like actors and when we come into this world, we are given a part to play. But don’t confuse the Self (the soul) with the Me (the character) , the part you play.
I know that I am playing a role, a character who is a Rabbi, who lives in Jerusalem, who is married, who has seven children and four grandchildren, and so forth. I know the Me who is this character. (RABBI DAVID AARON – the author)
But there is an aspect of who I am – my Self – that transcends this character. When I describe Me, I am describing my persona, my character, but I am not describing my Self. I have a role to play, but I am not that role, I am not that character.
The legendary actor Kirk Douglas shared with me a story that clearly illustrates this kind of confusion. Kirk was known for playing the tough guy, the macho man, the cowboy, and so forth. Looking for a challenge, he decided to play the struggling, sensitive artist Vincent Van Gogh in a movie called Lust for Life. This part was for out of character for Kirk at that time in his acting career.
When the news broke, he immediately got a call from his old acting buddy John Wayne:
“Kirk, what’s this I’m hearing about you? What’s a cowboy like you doing with a sissy part like Van Gogh?”
Surprised by the comment, Kirk responded, “John, I’ve got news for you – we are not cowboys, we’re actors.”
When we remember that we, too, are like actors then each and every one of us has the power to be the Me we truly want to be.
- There is the Me, which is ego consciousness. It is the character we play, and it includes our physiological clothing – such as our thoughts and feelings - and the physical sensations of our body. The fabric of our character is woven out of our thinking, speaking, and behavioral patterns.
- Then there is the Self, that is, the soul – a ray of God so to speak. This is the conscious self, the knower, the actor who plays the character. We will discuss later how, in fact, this self has two competing aspects that long to be integrated. One aspect – we’ll call it the creative self – works through the character, utilizing its strengths and weaknesses, and seeks to advance forward to fulfill its creative mission on Earth. The second aspect – we’ll call it the sacred self - yearns to retreat inward to experience its eternal connection to its divine source.
- And then there is the “I,” who is the Great I, the Ultimate Self, the Soul of souls – God. Of course, when we say, “I am,” it is not God, the Great I, speaking. It might just be the Self, or the soul, (a ray of the Great I) speaking but most often it is just Me, the ego.
The question is what type of Me is worth wanting to be.