Saturday, April 7, 2012

Four Pesach: The Seder as group therapy, as truth telling, as Satsang

The number "four" plays a big role in pesach. Four cups of wine. Four languages of liberation. Four fore mothers. Four questions.

Four was an important number for Apache Indians as well.

And Jung saw the number four as important too.

For Pesach to be relevant to me, it has to be about individual as well as collective liberation. Indeed, it is worth asking a chicken and egg question: Does individual liberation necessarily preceed collective? Or the other way round? Or do they happen simultaneously? Or is the distinction between the two artificial, and as Sri Nisarghadhatta Maharaj says: "I AM the people." (i.e He is not concerened with helping or saving "them" as he does not see His Self as apart from or separate to "them")

Given the thrust towards individual liberation (and what a virile word "thrust" can be) it would be great to continue the four tradition by inviting each seder participant to proffer a deeply clung to belief that people have begun to suspect may no longer be serving them, and then question it with four questions, courtesy of Byron Katie:

1)Is it true?
2)Can you absolutely know that its true?
3) How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
4)Who (What) would you be without that thought?

I often cling to the belief that I am inadequate, that I am not up for the task (and what is the task? Imake that up too, as I go along...)

1)Is it true that I am inadequate? No, in most contexts in my life I seem to be abundantly adequate
2)Could I ever know if I am absolutely adequate or inadequate?No, seeing as I will never know what I'm supposed to be adequate at - all my roles - father, brother, son, lover, provider, dependant, redeemer, destroyer - i have made up, and have made up their content, often by making up what "society" expects of me.
3) How do I react to the thought? I get sad and heavy? I loose contact with "now". with myself, and with the people around me.
4)Who would I be without the thought? Lighter, easier, freer, probably more effective. More generous, more available, more energised.

Nahafoch hu - (Hebrew = "the opposite is true) or in Yiddish: Punkt verkeerd

Turn the thought around

a) to the self ( Its not you who finds me inadequate, I find myself inadequate)
b) to the other (I find you to be inadequate, I judge you and dispense with you in the same way as I judge and dispense with My Self)
c)to the opposite (You find me adequate, I am adequate)

and find three specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true for you in the particular situation.

This pesach may we be freed from excessive eating, meaningless ceremony and sterile and platitudinous thought. The invitation to leave the psychic Egypt (in Hebrew etymologically Mitzrayim comes from the root tzar = narrow, place of constriction) requires a pathless exodus along a trail we have never been before. But en-couragement is vital to take the first step, and that we can do for each other, like Penguins on the lip of the Antarctic ice.

For thousands of years, at various times, there have been Jewish communities in Egypt, many of whom were able to live with a fair degree of freedom from persecution, and in prosperity. I wonder what it would be like as an Egyptian Jew to read the lines in the Hagadah about being brought out of Egypt. I suppose the same as it is for Israeli Jews living in Jerusalem to read the lines about "next year in Jerusalem." These texts and narratives occur in meta landscapes which don't necessarily connect to the physical landscapes in which we move and live.

faith traditions continue for as long as people cling to the metaphors they provide, or for as long as people find those metaphors more useful or comforting or powerful or better fitting or more accessible than personal metaphors they may be able to develop or that suggest themselves to them. See also being-about-our-business

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