Enter Into Joy

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cast Aside What Limits You

Linda Gregerson: Poetry of the Fragile Body

— By Dov Baer of Mezherich

The human body is finite;
                  the spirit is boundless.
Before you begin to pray,
                  cast aside what limits you
                  and enter into the world of the Infinite.
Turn to God alone
                  and have no thoughts of self at all.
Nothing but God exists for you
                  when self has ceased to be.

Dov Baer (d. 1772) was the chief disciple and successor of Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov or “Master of the Good Name,” founder of the Hasidic movement of Jewish mysticism, which places devotional prayer at the center of the spiritual life.

I’ve chosen this passage to “unpack” —  line by line — as a daily practice to take me into the New Year.

And what is the “unpacking” process? It involves deep concentration on one line at a time, and then writing my response to that line – first with my dominant hand, and then with my non-dominant hand. There are plenty of references on the web to the process of dominant and non-dominant hand writing. If you haven’t tried it, you may want to. I venture a guess that you will surprise yourself.

I’ll be interested to see what this passage has hidden for me.

Line 1:
“The human body is finite”

Right hand (dominant):
Car crashes, cancer, broken bones, aging, infections, viruses, defective parts, exhaustion . . .  no chemistry, no exercise, no beauty cream, no positive attitude will win this battle in the end. Finito. This shell we step into has an expiration date stamped on the back, and no strategy, plea or negotiation will keep it animate beyond its time.

That being said, we sense that there is something more, something more to US. In our spirit, our mind, there’s a fleeting awareness of that which lasts.

So which part of our life experience gets the lion’s share of our attention? The finite or that intuited energy that persists?

“The human body is finite”

Left hand (non-dominant):
Isn’t it interesting? How this infinite energy + spirit at the core is housed in such a delicate + unforgiving marvel of a body? Sheathed in feathers, scales, bark or skin, and given families, schools, gaggles and forests to commune in. It’s our infinite education. The body may be finite, but the school term is not.
— Karen Blessen


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