Enter Into Joy

Friday, December 31, 2010

Cast aside what limits you

Installation by Yayoi Kusama
Starting December 27, 2010, I chose the following 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.

— 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.

Line 4
cast aside what limits you
Right hand (dominant):
Oh boy, I know there’s a deeper response here. I’m not getting there. What limits me? 

Limits me from doing what?
Accomplishing my artistic goals?
Getting my way?
Having what I want?
Arriving at a full blossoming of Love?
Doing this important work?
Descending into self will + selfishness?

How do I not throw the baby out with the bath water? If I cast aside everything that limits me, what the heck is left?

The list of limits:
Dwelling on the faults of others
My dog
The cats
(Dec. 31, 2010)
The laundry
Self will
Frittered time:

Every entanglement — whether with a person, a habit, or an emotion — is a tether. How do you slip out of the collar, but still love the leash, and the one who hooked you to it?

Yet . . .
. . . the words “cast aside” suggest that we choose to construct this burden, that we either carry, confront, or live within it.

My image suggests slipping out of a collar that another has put on me.

The author’s suggestion is that it is my invention to walk away from — to shed something that once I may have called ‘mine.’

Line 4
cast aside what limits you
Left hand:

When this coat has grown too small, take it off, leave it be.
It may fit someone else perfectly.
Kick it to the side.
Make room.

This could take years.
1 year – abandon silly distractions
2 year – get a smaller house
3 year – clean out closets.
4 year – forgive everyone
5 year – forgive yourself
and on and on . . .
Finally – give up the ego.

But if we’re going to do this every time we pray, we need to be a bit of a quick-change artist. Get naked right now. Humble yourself. Fess up. It’s a good thing that talks with God are a ‘come as you are’ party. Otherwise, we’d never get past the velvet rope.
— Karen Blessen


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