Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming by Catherine Shainberg

Posted: April 5, 2011 in Book Notes
Tags: , , , ,

I sleep but my heart is awake. – Song of Songs 5:2

  • Dreaming emanates from our right brain which, along with the rest of our brain, never stops emitting nerve impulses. This is a natural result of being alive. Like breathing, it goes on day and night.
  • The left brain is abstract and talks of mind, the right brain is spatial and speaks of body.
    • The right brain doesn’t “think”, it experiences. Its realm is the body, its language is formed with images (The process by which the right brain translates our sensory experiences into awareness).

The poet’s language, with its “head of emotion,” its associative images, its leaps, brings us closer to the real thing. The farther poem gets from its initial worldly circumstance without breaking the thread, the more content it has. – Robert Bly

  • Poets flourish at precisely this juncture between the imaginal and the verbal. To them the dream world is primal; verbal language is the servant of dream. For the poet, living movements of the imaginal body gives rise to words as the earth gives rise to a fountain of life. The words of the imaginal body don’t necessarily follow each other in a rational sequence as they would in an intellectual argument. In poetry there are leaps, amazing juxtapositions, shocking associations.
  • Disowning its twin sibling which is the imaginal mind, the conscious mind has fed upon its ability to “know” reality. For four centuries and more it has glorified in measuring, verifying, and proving what it knows. A huge cultural ego has grown around this ability to fix knowledge.
    • In the words of this theorizing ego: What cannot be proven is not true, what is not verifiable does not exist.
    • This way of thinking is very seductive, as it greatly reduces the uncertainties we face and allows us to believe that we control our environment.
  • What cannot be proven is not necessarily untrue.
    • This allows us to accept what we “see” while we yet lack the simply logical tools, or a paradigm, to prove it.
  • Is fear not there to teach us courage?
    • Confronting mysteries may lead us on fascinating adventures we would otherwise miss if we were to give in to our fear.
  • We can hold onto what we think is stable: the outside world. We cling to our supposed ability to distinguish the separation, for we are convinced our safety depends on our being able to see reality as it is.
  • The true juncture between the two world is the body. Trust your body.
    • Your sensations are the pathways in both directions, to the concrete and to the dream world. The senses act as doors that swing in or out at will.
  • Dream acts on the physical world.
    • The images may be “fantasy,” but their effects are real.
    • Imagination affects the physical, and vice versa.
    • The two world interact through the body.
  • By paying attention to your senses, you catch the tail of the beast. Staying grounded in the present and becoming skillful at listening to what your body’s senses are telling you is the first step in your training as a dreamer.
    • Victory over our illusions and projections comes when we are able to distinguish, in our bodies, the difference in sensation between our surface reactions and our true intuitive feelings.
  • We live in a world made recognizable through patterns and forms and, should they disappear, this world would become lost to us.
  • While we would feel totally naked and vulnerable without a sense of boundaries (left brain: stability), at the same time we long to escape their imprisonment (right brain: freedom).
    • We need shape to shape ourselves. Yet we also need a vacation away from shape to allow ourselves, when we return, a larger gamut of choices within the patterned tapestry of this world.
  • We can sustain some chaos, but pattern grounds our lives.
    • Without pattern, life cease to make sense.
    • The mind is insatiable in its search for meaningful patterns.
    • This is the paradox you will encounter as you become a true dreamer: to be able to experience the lightness and freedom beyond pattern and yet remain grounded in your earthly body!
  • In perceiving your world you create it. What you are attracted to defines the way you see the world and yourself.
    • You make the world fit into the parameters of your strange attractors.
    • Since you gravitate only towards certain configurations and ignore others, your worldview is essentially limited and your beliefs about your possibilities are also restricted.
  • The destiny of man is to fully embody the potential offered by the genetic structure that is given to him. Each human being incarnates to fulfill that purpose. But human beings respond to their environment, they have the power of choice…
    • More difficult to deal with than genetic endowments are the environmental restraints which have conditioned us, through repeated programming from the outside, to a narrowed perspective on life. This conditioning is there from the beginning of life.
    • We are self-referent creatures, we train ourselves as we go along, digging ourselves deeper into the groove we have chosen. Then we train our children to do the same.
  • Hypnagogic images: These images appear at the threshold between waking and sleeping, when all your habitual processes are reversed (you are lying down, not standing; your eyes are closed, not open; your muscles are relaxed, not working). You are too relaxed to want to manipulate your images, and thus this hidden inner world – the reverse of the outer world – comes out to play.
  • Imagine that you have been in a dark cave for many days and nights. When you come out into the sunshine the probability is that you will see only swirling colors, hazy shapes, and unfocused senses which you will misinterpret. In the same fashion, you have been in the open cave of the outer world far too long, and have forgotten how to “see” in the dark.
    • When you focus in this new world, you scan the whole picture without ever narrowing in on one particular form. You learn to watch a pattern without getting caught in the pattern.

Rabbi Hiyya said: When the evil inclination (the unexamined impulse) starts to attach itself to a man it is like someone coming to the door (of a house). When he sees that no one tries stop him, he enters the house and becomes a guest. He notices that no one tries to stop him or send him on his way. Once he has entered the house, and still no one tries to stop him, he gains the upper hand becomes the master of the house, so that in time he exercises control over the whole household. – Zohar II, 267B – 268A

What has been done in time must be undone with time. – Colette Simhah Aboulker-Muscat

  • Wouldn’t it be great to be able to stop?…To say “no” and, in so doing, be the master of your needs rather than their slave?
    • …by reigning in their instinctual nature, we can make this great energy available for positive, creative purposes – bringing in extra soul, vital energy.
  • Habits are ingrained in the body. You must work with the body if you wish  to change your habits.
    • To be successful, you must replace this old habit with another “better” habit.
  • Life is movement.
  • Strange attractors – empty lungs and air – have found each other. From the initial shock of their meeting, the whole pathway and form of their interaction is forged into a pattern of exhaling and inhaling. The impulse of the empty lungs to kick back when incited or pricked by the air is what we call an “instinctual reflex.” We can say that our instinct is to breathe out.
    • In the same way, the first encounter of eyes and light stimulates the impulse to see forms; the first sounds activating our ear drums stimulate the impulse to hear sounds; the first meeting of body and space stimulates the impulse to move; skin and touch stimulate the impulse for contact; an empty stomach stimulates the impulse to eat; too much stimuli stimulates the impulse to shut down and sleep.
    • These are all reflexes and instincts, impulsive movements in response to outside stimuli.
    • Our inner nature encounters outside nature and habits of interaction are formed.
    • Fear gravitates toward anger.
    • Just as our bodies are subject to the natural pull of gravity, our psyches are attracted to our more natural urges (desires and reactions).
  • The truth is that there is no sin, only a lack of awareness of where to direct the great waves of our emotions.
    • Blocking an instinctual movement is like blocking the raging torrent. Tension builds and builds, to the point where something has to give.
    • Remember – the movement must go somewhere, for once it is triggered it cannot stop moving until, like a wave, it has exhausted its potential.
  • Being able to observe yourself is the first step in clearing the mirror, while recording your movements brings your observations into concrete focus.

A dream that is not interpreted is like a letter that is not read. And come and see. If one does not remember it, it is as if one had never known it. Therefore whoever forgets a dream and does not know it, will not benefit from its fulfillment. – Zohar I, 199B – 200A

  • Nightmares don’t vanish so easily. How can they, since they are our perception of chaotic sensations produced by our very real emotions?
  • Disease can manifest at four different levels:
    • The physical
    • The emotional (fantasies, illusions, destructive patterns of behavior, etc.)
    • The mental (obsessions, compulsions, schizothymia, paranoia, etc.)
    • The spiritual (indolence, indifference, bitterness, accidie, loss of meaning, apostasy, etc.)
    • One thing you may be sure of, if there is backed-up energy, disease will eventually make its appearance at one of those levels of your being. Can you imagine living in a house where a supporting wall is cracked? If you can’t trust the stability of your own home, you won’t find much enjoyment in your life. Your anxiety and obsession about the cracked wall can cause you to lose your healthy grip on reality. Added to this, instead of dealing with the source of your disease, you are now obsessed about its effects.
  • Repetitiveness is a call for help.
  • We are call caught in some form of repetitive behavior, simply because we are human. It is the nature of our world to be limited by form and habit.
  • Remember, our feelings are not emotions.
    • Emotions are reactions to blocked desires, expectations, claims, etc.
    • Emotions is a movement out, a spark of electricity in reaction to an outer trigger, while feeling is a state of being.
    • Emotions are not thoughts. They are experiences. When you feel anger, you whole body is involved.
  • We need the flame of emotion to light the fire of feeling.
  • Since feeling is triggered by a response, it always comes from the heart realm.

Men and women are animals so long as they react. They only become human beings when they learn to respond.

  • Respond instead of react – adequately address the necessity of the situation.
    • Responding means transmuting emotions into feeling.
    • Why not simply be present to what is presented to us and look necessity in the face?
  • Despite what you say to yourself, the dream is you. You are its audience, yes, but you are also its author…you are the creator of your dreams.
  • Remember that the place inside you where dreams are created is fundamentally optimistic and free.
  • As an old pattern moves into a new configuration, you will feel moved in your entire being.
  • Whereas the conscious mind seizes, directs, proceeds linearly and by elimination, the dreaming mind dissolves, transmutes, leaps ahead or in any which direction – like the all-powerful queen in the game of chess.
  • For, like that famous fruit [Adam and Eve’s apple], truth to us is both good and evil and must be handled with care.
  • As true disciples of scientific side of the Enlightenment, we have been taught, and we teach our children, to step out and, unfortunately, to stay out. Objectivity is our credo. We pride ourselves on being able to distinguish, to separate, to study each aspect of a matter.
    • It is time we remembered that experience as a way of knowing is powerful, valid, and equal in importance to our ability to reason and employ logic as means by which to reach the ultimate goal of “knowledge.”
  • The disease of our modern times is our need to dissect, describe, classify, and interpret experience.
    • With too much information at our fingertips, we are reaching the breaking point where real meanings gets lost in the mind’s deconstructing process.
  • Continually exploring one direction to the exclusion of the others is an impoverishment. To become true dreamers we need to explore all directions.
  • Law of open-endedness: If we set out to ask a question and rush to answer it, we haven’t allowed the question to hang suspended over the void. We haven’t listened.
    • Open-endedness creates the space for a response to come. This space (the pause) is not only the secret of knowing yourself, it is the secret of all healing. Within the pause, the response finds the room to emerge. Open-endedness allows the source to be triggered and the imagination to unfold creatively.
  • How will you ever learn to focus your imagination if, at the very beginning, you are already questioning its validity?
  • Is “vision” a prophetic message from the gods? Or a blueprint of our inner structure that, when unfolded, reveals the true purpose of our being?
  • Don’t worry whether your first memory is an authentic memory or simply a “screen memory,” because either type is capable of becoming your personal myth, as it is its effect on you that is important.

There is a time to laugh and a time to cry. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

  • None of us is immune to the inexorable order of things.
  • The only difference between you and those you envy is a difference in timing.
    • Like the phoenix, they have resurrected themselves from their ashes, whereas so far you haven’t been able to do so.
    • Even when you are in possession of the inestimable treasure of having discovered your purpose in life, you still must face the struggles inherent in accomplishing that purpose.
  • When the conscious mind acknowledges its failure and gives up trying to solve the problem, there is room for the emotions to be felt. This does not mean that the conscious mind goes to sleep. Instead it relinquishes center stage and steps aside to place itself in the observer’s position.
    • Just allow yourself whatever emotion you feel and acknowledge your experience…This allows you to sink into the body of the experience, the domain of the subconscious mind, where two seemingly opposite tendencies can co-exist. It is in this cauldron of paradox that “something other” can emerge.
  • Curiously, being both minds at once, you are the conscious mind amazed as new pattern and directions emerge, and the subconscious mind at play, skipping in the woods! Observer and participant all in one…
  • Memory is selective.

All happy families resemble each other, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. – Leo Tolstoy

  • True, we can be stuck remembering a happiness we lost, but it is regret and loss that motivate us to spend time with the memory, not happiness.
  • Emulation is a very persuasive and seductive argument when you are young and inexperienced (Isn’t that exactly what Eve wants to be, like God? Don’t kids just want to be like their parents?). But, to keep you out of danger, obedience is required.
  • Separation is the first wound.
    • The first wound was separation: another word for it is “stopping.” You were stopped, denied fulfillment of your longing to be One with your mother, with God.
    • Fear and anxiety, anger and frustration, guilt and resentment; these are the dreadful mix-ups arising from the original wound of separation.
  • Unresolved emotions and thwarted desires crowd our minds, pushing against us, intruding on our present, muddying our vision of the future. Isn’t it time we did something about them?

In returning and in rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. – Isaiah 30:15

  • Can we give rise to love and goodness in place of reactivity and thwarted desires?
  • It takes only an instant, a shift of seeing, for fear – the ogre – to become servant to our kavanah.
    • Imagine that instead of being a passenger in the speeding train of your life, you are the switchman at the central switchboard…While you speed along in your train, you are also “considering,” from the switchman’s position, the train’s direction.
  • Remember, we cannot dispense with an emotion without replacing it with something better, in the same way that we cannot dispense with a bad habit without replacing it with another, better one.
    • Where there is an empty space you must dream up something better or the empty space will fill up with the old dream again, and you, sadly, will be back where you started.
  • You can teach anything to the body so long as you teach it in the regular intervals of natural rhythms of beats and pauses.
    • Seven and multiples of seven are natural rhythms.
  • You eat three times a day or five and, because you eat this frequently, think how often during the day food comes into your thoughts. If you have been habituated to pray to God three or five times a day, God will come into your thoughts more often than into those of someone who is not practicing daily prayer.
  • As we strive over and over to return to the heart center through our dreaming, the physical world strives to unman and unbalance us and cut us off from our true feelings again and again.
  • …we learn to become one with the movement and to rest ourselves in the rhythm of the flow.
  • Isn’t it finally obvious that keeping dreaming and consciousness apart will only lead to more opposition?
  • A consciousness that cultivates sobriety (patience, attentiveness) will be rewarded with an insight to the “laws” governing the “irrational.”
  • Can we embrace our two worlds, supporting their differences, contradictions, and opposites equally, beyond opinion?
    • Paradox means (para) “beyond” + (doxa) “opinion.”
  • Attaining balance is always precarious…consider this task of balancing, to be a work in progress. Perfection is of the moment only.
    • Total illumination is not of this world: there are always new causes for unbalance, and new heart spaces to grow into.
    • In bodywork, balance is achieved by equal pressure converging and diverging at the same time from all directions.
  • When we open us to allow all manner of creatures, ways, and truths to exist side by side, understanding, wisdom and compassion develop exponentially.
  • Switch your energy from indecision and idle irritation to active participation in the flow.
  • Since it is no use trying to compete with consciousness, why not elicit its cooperation? Why not use it to watch, not only the outer world which it does by predilection, but also the inner world?

Imagination is more important than knowledge. – Albert Einstein

  • Practice speaking from your “insights” (speak directly from the dream image instead of short-circuiting half of your brain’s input) and soon your two languages will blend. You will have created for yourself a new, fresh, and very alive way of communication. It will free you from calculation and manipulation. The grace, ease, and magic of dreaming will animate all of your encounters.
  1. moshesharon says:

    That high School kids are still saying that geometry is a waste of time because they can’t possibly see what possible use they would ever have for it, strikes a familiar chord. This was exactly the same conversation some forty-five years ago when I was in the tenth grade. It’s amazing that after four and a half decades, no one is bothering to teach kids how to relate. So children are still asking the same question, “Why do I need to learn this stuff?” However if teachers would tell them, “Circular motion is the foundation of time and space,” it might perk some interest because it’s all about shape, which Wikipedia defines as “the external two-dimensional outline, appearance or configuration of some thing — in contrast to the matter or content or substance of which it is composed.” Additionally, the interesting thing about this concept is that despite the connotation of physical structure we seem to be able to apply it also to the realm of intangibles, so these ideas about shape are taking shape. But the point here is that shape is the foundation and infrastructure of all existence and that the key to success and joy is in the forms and structures of the universe by which we shape our thoughts into action to achieve all objectives. Thoughts, for the most part are responses to stimuli emanating from the world around us, which is a hodgepodge of geometry. Hence, the shapes of this finite world influence, impact and inspire what we think, which, in turn governs all of our actions. Some questions have answers and some don’t, but the bottom line is that we need to look at each of the basic geometric figures as they exist in our language, culture and the world around us so that we may uncover some of the secrets of life to achieve joy and success. Therefore, seeing stimulates thought, thought causes speech, speech transforms to action and action leads to success. So, look, see and enjoy. More at http://thoughts4thesoul.wordpress.com

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