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14:56
WALTER BENJAMIN LIVE! "storytelling", part 2. The writings of Walter Benjamin are a bridge linking the Jewish hassidic mysticism of Nachman of Breslav with today's secular avant garde cultural scene. In this 102 minute video my project is to bring to life Benjamin's essays "The Storyteller" and "Unpacking My Library", by making use of Gestalt Therapy dreamwork that I personally do on one of my own dreams. The dreamwork serves as a means to illustrate how Walter Benjamin's ideas find expression in typical human situations. My main thesis is to demonstrate that what Gestalt Therapists label "dreamwork" is one example of what Walter Benjamin labels "storytelling", what Nachman of Breslav labels "torah" or "prayer", and what Bertold Brecht labels "epic theater". In this dreamwork (or storytelling or dvar torah or prayer or brechtian theater performance) I am dealing primarily with my relationship to my deceased father, Henry Wepner, may his soul rest in peace even in spite of my artistic shenanigans. Benjamin was a colleague of both theater director Bertold Brecht and Torah scholar Gershom Scholem. Benjamin's work relies heavily upon Nachman of Breslav's "Collected Essays" ("Likutei Moharan"), which fall within the Platonic stream of dialectical thinking. I like to think of Nachman of Breslav, Walter Benjamin, Fritz Perls and Lee Breuer (of the Mabou Mines Theater) as "rebbes of the avant garde". This project combines new dreamwork on my own life with excerpts from 20 hours of my other videos, and also with fragments of 1500 pages of my essays, all of which you can find in their original complete form at my website. TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD ALL MY VIDEOS OR ESSAYS (ALL AT NO CHARGE), PLEASE VISIT MY WEBSITE: franklynwepner****. ALSO PLEASE NOTE MY NEW EMAIL ADDRESS, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH ME ANY COMMENTS ABOUT MY WORK: fwepearthlink****. IN THE LISTING OF VIDEOS THE LETTERS (HQ) REFER TO A HIGHER QUALITY VERSION OF THE VIDEO, WHICH IS AVAILABLE TO YOU IF YOUR COMPUTER CAN HANDLE IT.
19 Jul 2011
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14:37
WALTER BENJAMIN LIVE! "storytelling", part 3. The writings of Walter Benjamin are a bridge linking the Jewish hassidic mysticism of Nachman of Breslav with today's secular avant garde cultural scene. In this 102 minute video my project is to bring to life Benjamin's essays "The Storyteller" and "Unpacking My Library", by making use of Gestalt Therapy dreamwork that I personally do on one of my own dreams. The dreamwork serves as a means to illustrate how Walter Benjamin's ideas find expression in typical human situations. My main thesis is to demonstrate that what Gestalt Therapists label "dreamwork" is one example of what Walter Benjamin labels "storytelling", what Nachman of Breslav labels "torah" or "prayer", and what Bertold Brecht labels "epic theater". In this dreamwork (or storytelling or dvar torah or prayer or brechtian theater performance) I am dealing primarily with my relationship to my deceased father, Henry Wepner, may his soul rest in peace even in spite of my artistic shenanigans. Benjamin was a colleague of both theater director Bertold Brecht and Torah scholar Gershom Scholem. Benjamin's work relies heavily upon Nachman of Breslav's "Collected Essays" ("Likutei Moharan"), which fall within the Platonic stream of dialectical thinking. I like to think of Nachman of Breslav, Walter Benjamin, Fritz Perls and Lee Breuer (of the Mabou Mines Theater) as "rebbes of the avant garde". This project combines new dreamwork on my own life with excerpts from 20 hours of my other videos, and also with fragments of 1500 pages of my essays, all of which you can find in their original complete form at my website. TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD ALL MY VIDEOS OR ESSAYS (ALL AT NO CHARGE), PLEASE VISIT MY WEBSITE: franklynwepner****. ALSO PLEASE NOTE MY NEW EMAIL ADDRESS, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH ME ANY COMMENTS ABOUT MY WORK: fwepearthlink****. IN THE LISTING OF VIDEOS THE LETTERS (HQ) REFER TO A HIGHER QUALITY VERSION OF THE VIDEO, WHICH IS AVAILABLE TO YOU IF YOUR COMPUTER CAN HANDLE IT.
19 Jul 2011
117
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13:45
WALTER BENJAMIN LIVE! "storytelling", part 4. The writings of Walter Benjamin are a bridge linking the Jewish hassidic mysticism of Nachman of Breslav with today's secular avant garde cultural scene. In this 102 minute video my project is to bring to life Benjamin's essays "The Storyteller" and "Unpacking My Library", by making use of Gestalt Therapy dreamwork that I personally do on one of my own dreams. The dreamwork serves as a means to illustrate how Walter Benjamin's ideas find expression in typical human situations. My main thesis is to demonstrate that what Gestalt Therapists label "dreamwork" is one example of what Walter Benjamin labels "storytelling", what Nachman of Breslav labels "torah" or "prayer", and what Bertold Brecht labels "epic theater". In this dreamwork (or storytelling or dvar torah or prayer or brechtian theater performance) I am dealing primarily with my relationship to my deceased father, Henry Wepner, may his soul rest in peace even in spite of my artistic shenanigans. Benjamin was a colleague of both theater director Bertold Brecht and Torah scholar Gershom Scholem. Benjamin's work relies heavily upon Nachman of Breslav's "Collected Essays" ("Likutei Moharan"), which fall within the Platonic stream of dialectical thinking. I like to think of Nachman of Breslav, Walter Benjamin, Fritz Perls and Lee Breuer (of the Mabou Mines Theater) as "rebbes of the avant garde". This project combines new dreamwork on my own life with excerpts from 20 hours of my other videos, and also with fragments of 1500 pages of my essays, all of which you can find in their original complete form at my website. TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD ALL MY VIDEOS OR ESSAYS (ALL AT NO CHARGE), PLEASE VISIT MY WEBSITE: franklynwepner****. ALSO PLEASE NOTE MY NEW EMAIL ADDRESS, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH ME ANY COMMENTS ABOUT MY WORK: fwepearthlink****. IN THE LISTING OF VIDEOS THE LETTERS (HQ) REFER TO A HIGHER QUALITY VERSION OF THE VIDEO, WHICH IS AVAILABLE TO YOU IF YOUR COMPUTER CAN HANDLE IT.
19 Jul 2011
188
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11:09
WALTER BENJAMIN LIVE! "storytelling", part 5. The writings of Walter Benjamin are a bridge linking the Jewish hassidic mysticism of Nachman of Breslav with today's secular avant garde cultural scene. In this 102 minute video my project is to bring to life Benjamin's essays "The Storyteller" and "Unpacking My Library", by making use of Gestalt Therapy dreamwork that I personally do on one of my own dreams. The dreamwork serves as a means to illustrate how Walter Benjamin's ideas find expression in typical human situations. My main thesis is to demonstrate that what Gestalt Therapists label "dreamwork" is one example of what Walter Benjamin labels "storytelling", what Nachman of Breslav labels "torah" or "prayer", and what Bertold Brecht labels "epic theater". In this dreamwork (or storytelling or dvar torah or prayer or brechtian theater performance) I am dealing primarily with my relationship to my deceased father, Henry Wepner, may his soul rest in peace even in spite of my artistic shenanigans. Benjamin was a colleague of both theater director Bertold Brecht and Torah scholar Gershom Scholem. Benjamin's work relies heavily upon Nachman of Breslav's "Collected Essays" ("Likutei Moharan"), which fall within the Platonic stream of dialectical thinking. I like to think of Nachman of Breslav, Walter Benjamin, Fritz Perls and Lee Breuer (of the Mabou Mines Theater) as "rebbes of the avant garde". This project combines new dreamwork on my own life with excerpts from 20 hours of my other videos, and also with fragments of 1500 pages of my essays, all of which you can find in their original complete form at my website. TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD ALL MY VIDEOS OR ESSAYS (ALL AT NO CHARGE), PLEASE VISIT MY WEBSITE: franklynwepner****. ALSO PLEASE NOTE MY NEW EMAIL ADDRESS, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH ME ANY COMMENTS ABOUT MY WORK: fwepearthlink****. IN THE LISTING OF VIDEOS THE LETTERS (HQ) REFER TO A HIGHER QUALITY VERSION OF THE VIDEO, WHICH IS AVAILABLE TO YOU IF YOUR COMPUTER CAN HANDLE IT.
19 Jul 2011
192
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13:56
WALTER BENJAMIN LIVE! "storytelling", part 6. The writings of Walter Benjamin are a bridge linking the Jewish hassidic mysticism of Nachman of Breslav with today's secular avant garde cultural scene. In this 102 minute video my project is to bring to life Benjamin's essays "The Storyteller" and "Unpacking My Library", by making use of Gestalt Therapy dreamwork that I personally do on one of my own dreams. The dreamwork serves as a means to illustrate how Walter Benjamin's ideas find expression in typical human situations. My main thesis is to demonstrate that what Gestalt Therapists label "dreamwork" is one example of what Walter Benjamin labels "storytelling", what Nachman of Breslav labels "torah" or "prayer", and what Bertold Brecht labels "epic theater". In this dreamwork (or storytelling or dvar torah or prayer or brechtian theater performance) I am dealing primarily with my relationship to my deceased father, Henry Wepner, may his soul rest in peace even in spite of my artistic shenanigans. Benjamin was a colleague of both theater director Bertold Brecht and Torah scholar Gershom Scholem. Benjamin's work relies heavily upon Nachman of Breslav's "Collected Essays" ("Likutei Moharan"), which fall within the Platonic stream of dialectical thinking. I like to think of Nachman of Breslav, Walter Benjamin, Fritz Perls and Lee Breuer (of the Mabou Mines Theater) as "rebbes of the avant garde". This project combines new dreamwork on my own life with excerpts from 20 hours of my other videos, and also with fragments of 1500 pages of my essays, all of which you can find in their original complete form at my website. TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD ALL MY VIDEOS OR ESSAYS (ALL AT NO CHARGE), PLEASE VISIT MY WEBSITE: franklynwepner****. ALSO PLEASE NOTE MY NEW EMAIL ADDRESS, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH ME ANY COMMENTS ABOUT MY WORK: fwepearthlink****. IN THE LISTING OF VIDEOS THE LETTERS (HQ) REFER TO A HIGHER QUALITY VERSION OF THE VIDEO, WHICH IS AVAILABLE TO YOU IF YOUR COMPUTER CAN HANDLE IT.
19 Jul 2011
158
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12:05
WALTER BENJAMIN LIVE! "storytelling", part 7. The writings of Walter Benjamin are a bridge linking the Jewish hassidic mysticism of Nachman of Breslav with today's secular avant garde cultural scene. In this 102 minute video my project is to bring to life Benjamin's essays "The Storyteller" and "Unpacking My Library", by making use of Gestalt Therapy dreamwork that I personally do on one of my own dreams. The dreamwork serves as a means to illustrate how Walter Benjamin's ideas find expression in typical human situations. My main thesis is to demonstrate that what Gestalt Therapists label "dreamwork" is one example of what Walter Benjamin labels "storytelling", what Nachman of Breslav labels "torah" or "prayer", and what Bertold Brecht labels "epic theater". In this dreamwork (or storytelling or dvar torah or prayer or brechtian theater performance) I am dealing primarily with my relationship to my deceased father, Henry Wepner, may his soul rest in peace even in spite of my artistic shenanigans. Benjamin was a colleague of both theater director Bertold Brecht and Torah scholar Gershom Scholem. Benjamin's work relies heavily upon Nachman of Breslav's "Collected Essays" ("Likutei Moharan"), which fall within the Platonic stream of dialectical thinking. I like to think of Nachman of Breslav, Walter Benjamin, Fritz Perls and Lee Breuer (of the Mabou Mines Theater) as "rebbes of the avant garde". This project combines new dreamwork on my own life with excerpts from 20 hours of my other videos, and also with fragments of 1500 pages of my essays, all of which you can find in their original complete form at my website. TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD ALL MY VIDEOS OR ESSAYS (ALL AT NO CHARGE), PLEASE VISIT MY WEBSITE: franklynwepner****. ALSO PLEASE NOTE MY NEW EMAIL ADDRESS, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH ME ANY COMMENTS ABOUT MY WORK: fwepearthlink****. IN THE LISTING OF VIDEOS THE LETTERS (HQ) REFER TO A HIGHER QUALITY VERSION OF THE VIDEO, WHICH IS AVAILABLE TO YOU IF YOUR COMPUTER CAN HANDLE IT.
19 Jul 2011
139
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14:20
WALTER BENJAMIN LIVE! "storytelling", part 1. The writings of Walter Benjamin are a bridge linking the Jewish hassidic mysticism of Nachman of Breslav with today's secular avant garde cultural scene. In this 102 minute video my project is to bring to life Benjamin's essays "The Storyteller" and "Unpacking My Library", by making use of Gestalt Therapy dreamwork that I personally do on one of my own dreams. The dreamwork serves as a means to illustrate how Walter Benjamin's ideas find expression in typical human situations. My main thesis is to demonstrate that what Gestalt Therapists label "dreamwork" is one example of what Walter Benjamin labels "storytelling", what Nachman of Breslav labels "torah" or "prayer", and what Bertold Brecht labels "epic theater". In this dreamwork (or storytelling or dvar torah or prayer or brechtian theater performance) I am dealing primarily with my relationship to my deceased father, Henry Wepner, may his soul rest in peace even in spite of my artistic shenanigans. Benjamin was a colleague of both theater director Bertold Brecht and Torah scholar Gershom Scholem. Benjamin's work relies heavily upon Nachman of Breslav's "Collected Essays" ("Likutei Moharan"), which fall within the Platonic stream of dialectical thinking. I like to think of Nachman of Breslav, Walter Benjamin, Fritz Perls and Lee Breuer (of the Mabou Mines Theater) as "rebbes of the avant garde". This project combines new dreamwork on my own life with excerpts from 20 hours of my other videos, and also with fragments of 1500 pages of my essays, all of which you can find in their original complete form at my website. TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD ALL MY VIDEOS OR ESSAYS (ALL AT NO CHARGE), PLEASE VISIT MY WEBSITE: franklynwepner****. ALSO PLEASE NOTE MY NEW EMAIL ADDRESS, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH ME ANY COMMENTS ABOUT MY WORK: fwepearthlink****. IN THE LISTING OF VIDEOS THE LETTERS (HQ) REFER TO A HIGHER QUALITY VERSION OF THE VIDEO, WHICH IS AVAILABLE TO YOU IF YOUR COMPUTER CAN HANDLE IT.
19 Jul 2011
170
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7:43
HQ, ISRAEL & THE ENEMY. a scary werewolf story. what seems at first to be a simple story for children turns out to be a profound example of what today we call gestalt therapy. text by permission of howard schwartz, editor of "gabriel's palace, jewish mystical tales". in this story we see the baal shem tov (hebrew: "master of the good name") - the founder of hassidism, according to some - in his youth struggling with two opposite sides of his personality, the good side and the evil side. the evil side takes the form of a werewolf, and the young tsaddik succeeds in doing some serious symbollic centering work. for your information, the germanic word "werewolf" derives from two roots, "wer", meaning "man" and "wolf", i.e., a man capable of becoming a wolf when the impulse moves him. a footnote to this story is that fifteen years ago i created the music in a single improv session at the keyboard, without even a single pause. i simply read the story to myself and my fingers attempted to come up with sounds that fit the action and mood at each moment of the text. then, since the story was longer than the text i had created, i simply reprised the music i had recorded when the initial music ended, with a slightly faster tempo to fit the heightened dramatic tension of the story's ending. the end of the story coincided with one of the cadences of the music - and in the appropriate minor key. voila! finally, this week i added the video images. THE FOLLOWING ESSAY APPLIES NICELY TO THIS VIDEO, THOUGH HERE IS NOT THE PLACE FOR ME TO TRACE ALL THE PARALLELS. ALSO, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE WAY THIS UPLOADER GARBLED UP THE DIAGRAMS IN THE ORIGINAL PDF OF THE ESSAY. BRIEFLY, WE MAY REGARD THIS VIDEO AS A GESTALT THERAPY CENTERING SESSION BY THE BAAL SHEM TOV. IF THE ORIGINAL STORY IS LOWER LEVEL LANGUAGE, THEN WE MAY REGARD THE ENLIGHTENMENT THE BAAL SHEM TOV ACHIEVES BY CENTERING HIS SPLIT PERSONALITY AS AN ASCENT TO PURE LANGUAGE, THE WORD, PURE IDEAS, PROPHECY EXPERIENCED BY A TSADDIK. BY ENTERING THE HEART OF THE WEREWOLF, FOR EXAMPLE, THE BAAL SHEM TOV ALSO IS PLUMBING HIS OWN HEART AS PART OF THE KABBALISTIC PROCESS OF "TSIMTSUM" (CONTRACTING HIS EGO) SO HE CAN BE REBORN WITH A HIGHER POINT OF VIEW ABOUT LIFE. FRANKLYN WEPNER franklynwepnergmail**** JULY 2006 GESTALT DREAMWORK AS "TRANSLATION" GESTALT DREAMWORK CONSIDERED FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF WALTER BENJAMIN'S "THE TASK OF THE TRANSLATOR" FW: What is a translation, in its broadest sense? Think of angels or saints travelling up and down from earth to the heavens, on a ladder or whatever other means of transportation they have available. That is one sense of the term "translation". Then, think of a set of Russian Dolls, or an inverted stack of bowls with the smallest on the bottom. Translation implies moving up or down the stack, from smaller to larger envelopes, or from larger to smaller envelopes. Now think of a stack of inverted gestalts or monads in a monadology, such as comes to pass during a Gestalt dreamwork session. Here again the motion is from smaller to larger and more encompassing envelopes, or the reverse. This time we are talking about envelopes of awareness or the circumference of a contact boundary. This also is translation. But what does this sort of translation have to the translation of a text from one language to another? FW: Especially relevant to this discussion is a remarkable essay on "translation" in all the above senses by the literary critic Walter Benjamin. The essay is entitled, "The Task Of The Translator: An Introduction To The Translation of Baudelaire's Tableau Parisien". The original was written in 1923, and recently it was republished as part of an anthology of Benjamin writings called "Illuminations". Walter Benjamin was a friend of the Kabbalah scholar Gershom Scholem, and he availed himself of the latter's library of Kabbalistic sources. Like Scholem, Benjamin made use of a mix of idealistic philosophies: Gnosticism, Plato, and Aristotle, all from a Kabbalistic point of view. In addition, there are in Benjamin's work obvious references to alchemical lore, perhaps that of Paracelsus. What follows are some selected passages from Benjamin's essay on translation, along with by my own commentary. WB: A translation issues from the original - not so much from its life as from its after life. For a translation comes later than the original. In translation the original rises into a higher and purer linguistic air. FW: The translation or "after life" of a text, is, dialectically speaking, its final cause (Aristotle) or the good which comes from it (Plato) or the Word of G-d which is revealed through it (Kabbalah). This is a pietistic point of view which places the spirit of the law above the letter of the law, and hence puts great value in the role of a translator or interpreter of texts as a prophet of the Word. A literary translation, therefore, is a spiritual ascent of both text and interpreter to the level of divine immanence and universal man, man who thinks in encompassing Platonic ideas. The translated text resides in a higher level of the logos, or Word than did the original. The translation comes later than the original, after the original has passed through the concrete dialectic or biological clock. During that concrete dialectical process the constellations of polarized ideas (X/-X) making up the alchemical water and earth of the text are processed by alchemical air and fire. In the course of this process the microcosmic constellations of the original resonate with corresponding constellations of ideas on higher macrocosmic levels of the logos or Word. A true translation, hence, conveys the macrocosmic echo (Benjamin) or shadow (Artaud) or Double (Gnosticism) of the original text. As alchemy Benjamin's goal of a "pure language" is an attempt to distill from the dross of the original spiritualized gold. Here is the concrete dialectic or biological clock which underlies much dialectical thinking. I have explained this diagram in several other essays and here I will deal only with those aspects necessary for the present discussion. ARISTOTLE & PARACELSUS ON TIME & THE ELEMENTS: "THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK" G-D "RIDING THE ARAVOT", ACTIVE INTELLECT ANGELS AS MESSENGERS FROM OUTSIDE fifth element, macrocosm ↓ microcosm 0:00/12:00 midnight fire 1:00 11:00 6 AM water, ↓ Y ← 0 air, 6 PM deduction X / -X ↑ induction earth, impasse 12:00 noon WB: The life of the original attains in the translation to its ever-renewed latest and most abundant flowering. Being a special and high form of life, this flowering is governed by a special, high purposiveness. The relationship between life and purposefulness, seemingly obvious yet almost beyond the grasp of the intellect, reveals itself only if the ultimate purpose toward which all single functions tend is sought not in its own sphere but in a higher one. FW: With all this talk of flowering we can suspect to find Paracelsus' biological clock lurking in the underbrush, and we recall also Fritz Perl's use of the plant metaphor in "Gestalt Therapy Verbatim". A Gestalt dreamwork session is a translation of the dream as original text into the existential message of the dream as translation to a higher level of integration. The language of the final synoptic idea employs more encompassing, stronger gestalts, less confused ideas, than does the original. Gestalt dreamwork as translation is an ascent from low order monads to higher order monads of a monadology, or from malchut to chochmah on the Kabbalist's "tree of life". In the biological clock above translation is another label for logical induction, the ascent from the extremes of the impasse to the moment that the new idea bursts through and negates all negations of the One Without A Second. WB: Here it can be demonstrated that no translation would be possible if in its ultimate essence it strove for likeness to the original. For in its afterlife - which could not be called that if it were not a transformation and renewal of something living - the original undergoes a change. Even words with fixed meaning can undergo a maturing process. FW: Perls and Paracelsus share the metaphor of growth as a ripening, maturation and coming to fruition. Words, for example, do not mean the same thing when spoken as part of the existential message at the end of the dreamwork that they do when first used to describe the dream itself at the beginning of the session. During the dreamwork the words undergo a ripening, progressing towards the ideal goal of being an articulation of the Word of G-d, i.e., an explosion into authenticity. In Nominalist jargon, we can say that what initially was merely a web of terms about reality gradually is displaced by language which more and more codes for the divine omnipotence, reality itself, which is struggling to burst through the veil of mere verbalizing. Poetic use of language is an intermediate level use of language, culminating in the dreamwork session as a whole constituting one Word of G-d crystallized in the existential message of the dream. For the dream itself, as Maimonides tells us, is only the unripe fruit of prophecy, only 1/60th of prophecy. The dreamwork, in the form of the concrete dialectic, is what ripens or matures the dream to the level of prophecy. A ripened, perfected dream constitutes on example of what Maimonides labels a "prophetic vision". It serves as a vehicle, "merkavah" (Hebrew: chariot) which allows the prophet to receive the Word, i.e., the existential message of the dream. An example: let's imagine that the initial dream contains a tree that the client describes as "beautiful, with lots of leaves". Next he identifies with that tree in a dialogue with the sky and involves his body, his emotions and his personal associations to, say, his father as a source of protection against too much light. Finally, that tree is part of an overall gestalt expressed by the existential message of the dream, wherein he identifies with universal, complete man and is able to say goodbye to his father. He no longer has a hole where his own center ought to be. The word "tree" remains the same, but its meaning has expanded to the ends of the Gestalt protagonist's universe. WB: Translation is so far removed from being the sterile equation of two dead languages that of all literary forms it is the one charged with the special mission of watching over the maturing process of the original language and the birth pangs of its own. All suprahistorical kinship of languages rests in the intention underlying each language as a whole - an intention, however, which no single language can attain by itself but which is realized only by the totality of their intentions supplementing each other: pure language. FW: Benjamin here is perhaps alluding to other essays he has written on the Name of G-d. A Gestalt session, since it is transpiring in concrete, biological now time - the messianic now - is an ongoing naming of the contact boundary, which in its totality often is labeled an experience of "the Glory of G-d". This piling up of awareness moments or Names is labeled the Glory of G-d in view of the Hebrew root "koved", meaning on the one hand substance or tangibility and on the other hand "glory". Hence it refers to the tangibility of the client's experience of his contact boundary. Each time the protagonist says "I am aware of X" he is giving an account (Greek: "logos") of another aspect of G-d's face, countenance or presence in the space. A hint of the complete Name would be attained by a Gestalt protagonist who proceeds with the process till arriving at a culminating explosion into authenticity. Benjamin's notion of a "pure language" implies the complete Name, and hence for most of us is merely an asymptotic process of successive approximations. Perls and Goodman, in "Gestalt Therapy", make a distinction between contactful and noncontactful use of language using the secular jargon of existentialism, by distinguishing between poetry and verbalizing, or being real and talking literature, or being believable and using aboutist elephantshit. Gestalt work on awareness transforms language from talking literature about one's life to active involvement in living one's life here and now. Language which serves to express the Word is prayer. Gestalt work is meditative process as prayer, when it is considered from a religious point of view. FW: Another analogy that can be drawn between Gestalt dreamwork and Benjamin's linguistic musings involves the term "history", a word which has many ramifications in dialectical philosophy. By "the suprahistorical kinship of languages" Benjamin is referring to what Perls in his own jargon labels "the rhythm of contact and withdrawal". Each cycle of the rhythm of contact and withdrawal, each rotation of the biological clock, each beat of the concrete dialectic, constitutes - from the point of view of the subject doing the process - a world with its own language. This is so since each cycle of the rhythm of contact and withdrawal includes its own movement from thesis (X) to antithesis (X/-X) to synthesis, and incorporates all the alchemical elements: water, earth, air and fire. It is a complete world with its own governing idea. "History" here is another word for the gradually emerging Word or the logos (account of the dialectic). Hence the suprahistorical kinship of languages is the gradual maturing of languages from beat to beat of the dialectic, each language more mature, closer to the Word or existential message of the dream than was its predecessor. Ultimately - so Benjamin maintains - a state of pure language is attained by man at the level of universal man, prophecy or the messiah - which Perls labels innocuously "the coming solution". WB: In the individual, unsupplemented languages, meaning is never found in relative independence, as in individual words or sentences; rather, it is in a constant state of flux - until it is able to emerge as pure language from the harmony of all the various modes of intention. Until then, it remains hidden in the languages. If, however, these languages continue to grow in this manner until the end of their time, it is translation which catches fire on the eternal life of the works and the perpetual renewal of language. Translation keeps putting the hallowed growth of languages to the test: How far removed is their hidden meaning from revelation, how close can it be be brought by the knowledge of this remoteness? FW: What remains hidden in the original, microcosmic text is the macrocosmic text, the Word or logos or concrete dialectic. Since it is this dialectical process which - for dialectically inspired folk - man and G-d share; therefore, when it is said that man is made in the image of G-d the implication is that man shares with G-d his participation in the concrete dialectical process. Now, this is not to proclaim that "G-d is dialectics, selah"! None of the authors we are dealing with here presumes to know that which according to his own tradition is unknowable, i.e., the complete definition of G-d. Rather, by examining the actions of man in what are considered to be his most inspired, truthful moments idealist thinkers get a notion of how G-d operates, his Divine action as immanent in the world. They postulate this ideal of universal man (authenticity, truth, prophecy, metatron, Moses, Jesus, etc.) as the goal of human striving, and build their philosophies accordingly. Universal man thinks not just ideas, but he thinks Platonic ideas, pure, unconfused ideas, ideas divested of self-interruptions. FW: In a literary translation, or in a Gestalt dreamwork session regarded as a process of translation, true meaning - the Word - is not to be found in the individual words and sentences of the original. Rather, there is first of all the concrete dialectical process, the biological clock which to begin with factors the initial text (and the pilgrim along with it) into key extreme polarities (constellations of ideas), and then demands of the pilgrim that he withdraw into his "heart" (the fertile void), confront the reality of his existential impasse, and open himself to the possibility of finding resonances with corresponding higher level, more encompassing constellations of ideas. Then, "with a little bit of luck" as the song goes, from the void or from the heavens and by means of logical induction, emerge the higher, redeeming ideas as an explosion into authenticity. This translation from fragmented, conflicted existence in the microcosm to integrated, blissful existence on the level of macrocosmic encompassing, general, universal ideas, goes by many names - most typically Platonic collection or anamnesis (recollection) of primordial ideas. Once the pure, universal ideas have emerged, then they are projected upon key figures of the particular cultural tradition which is the context for that Gestalt session. If the context is Jewish, then the most general ideas (those of the dialectic itself) may be projected onto Abraham (the thesis, awareness), Isaac (the antithesis, conflict) and Jacob (the synthesis, authentic action). Other Jewish trinities are available, such as Chochmah/Binah/Keter, or Metatron/Avir/Shekhinah. Christians prefer the persons of the trinity and Paracelsus prefers his three basic principles of alchemy: sulphur (the thesis, what is combustible), salt (the antithesis, what is solid), and mercury (the synthesis, what is fluid or volatile and can undergo translation). FW: Kabbalah labels pilgrims who undergo this descent to the heart in search of pure, redemptive ideas as "those who descend in the chariot" (Hebrew: "yorday ha- merkavah") Maimonides, writing 200 years or so before the Kabbalah became a major cultural force in Judaism, prefered to focus on preparation for the prophetic function when he addressed man's participation in the concrete dialectic or biological clock. But regardless of which set of metaphors is invoked by a particular philosopher, theologian, therapist or alchemist, the "process" underlying concrete, here and now dialectical thinking remains the same, and it is perhaps Gestalt dreamwork which is the most clearly accessible, paradigm case of this process. The notion of man operating in the image of G-d refers to concrete dialectical experience in which the macrocosm of possible, ideal experience shines through the microcosmic dead shell of our usual experience. Man's hope is that pure ideas will illuminate dead form into live form. Religiously inspired people express this hope by saying that G-d creates the world anew at each moment by emanating His light into the darkness of the world. MACROCOSM VAST POSSIBILITIES, INFINITE LIGHT DEDUCTION ↓ Y ← 0 X / -X ↑ INDUCTION MICROCOSM DEAD FORM ILLUMINATED INTO LIVE FORM WB: The nucleus is best defined as the element that does not lend itself to translation. While content and language form a certain unity in the original, like a fruit and its skin, the language of the translation envelopes its content like a royal robe with ample folds. For it signifies a more exalted language than its own and thus remains unsuited to its content, overpowering and alien. The task of the translator consists in finding that intended effect [Intention] upon the language into which he is translating which produces in it the echo of the original. Unlike a work of literature, translation does not find itself in the center of the language forest but on the outside facing the wooded ridge; it calls into it without entering, aiming at that single spot where the echo is able to give, in its own language, the reverberation of the work in the alien one. FW: When we read of "a royal robe with ample folds" and "the echo of the original" immediately we suspect Gnostic sources. The Hymn of the Pearl is quite popular among those who turn to Gnosticsm for inspiration. Walter Benjamin is no exception. (See Hans Jonas' "The Gnostic Religion" for a succinct rendition of the story.) The myth is simple, but its implications are profound. Once upon a time, it is said, the heavenly Father and Mother decided to dispatch the Prince to go forth into the world in search of a Pearl. The Prince leaves behind his heavenly garment and his twin brother and sets off on his way. Once there the Prince forgets his mission, until a message from on high reminds him to complete it. He does so and returns home, where he reclaims his royal garment, merges with his twin brother and joyously appears before his Father and Mother. End of the Hymn of the Pearl - simplified version. Now, the twin brother who does nothing at all in the story is actually the key to decoding it, since he is a Gnostic version of Aristotle's final cause immanent in the world. Says Aristotle, the final cause, which is actuality, is prior to potentiality. Or in Gestalt terms, the "coming solution" with which the protagonist needs to identify is prior to the mere potentiality of the system of rigid games and ego defenses in which the Prince is stuck at the outset. Likewise, the Prince leaves a copy of his "nucleus", center, true actual being, final cause behind in the heavens, and he descends into the mire of a world full of archons or dybbuks which are organized as a totalitarian system by the demiurge. Around his pneumatic nucleus, the Prince dons a human ego instead of his regal garment of pure Platonic ideas and he sells himself out to the system. But finally he hears the call from on high. He then identifies with the coming solution and finds his way back home by doing a lot of Gestalt dreamwork, until the Double bursts through the Prince's ego character armor and rejoins the Prince's pneumatic soul. FW: Concerning the art of translation, the original text is the Prince lost in the world. The nucleus of that text that does not need translation is the pure pneumatic soul of the Prince which is one with his transcendent Double. The pneumatic soul of the original author (the content of the original text) and the expression (skin) of the original text form a tolerable unity in the original, but nothing like the explosion into authenticity that that pneumatic soul would experience if it would rejoin its royal garment of pure Platonic ideas on the level of universal man. For then as Metatron (universal man), merged with the Ether (the perfected contact boundary), the pneumatic soul would embody the Shekhinah, the Divine immanence. Ditto for an analogous process using Christian or alchemical symbols to code the underlying dialectical logic. FW: What is the role of the translator in the Gnostic myth? The translator, as messenger sent by the Father, calls from outside the terrestrial system (the forest), and seeks the hidden soul of the original text - the soul its author put there is the first place. The hidden soul, the Gnostic pneuma, is the lost soul of the Prince buried in the quagmire or junk collage of the world. The translator struggles to release the pneuma by working his way through the text and identifying with the heavenly Double or pure language. By himself undergoing the concrete dialectic, as an image of the true G-d, the translator extracts pure ideas from the dross of the world - the X/-X extremes - and sends them forth to illuminate the original text, thereby elevating it to the level of a true translation. FW: And here is the Gestalt parallel. The protagonist does dreamwork on the dream using awareness, identification with images and the rhythm of contact and withdrawal. Thereby he sets the biological clock in motion dialectically. This is his alchemical distillation apparatus, and from the dross of the X/-X impasses he extracts pure Platonic ideas, which then move the original statement of the dream through the dreamwork process and towards higher ideas in the macrocosm. The protagonist succeeds in negating the original dream statement, burning it up in alchemical fire, and from the husks he creates a series of new texts, each one more pure and exalted than the last version, till finally the text is freed all terrestrial entanglements and as the existential message of the dream the text and the translator rejoin the Double on high. Amen. No longer is there an echo, since now the Word and its echo on high are one. The Nam(ing) of G-d and G-d Himself on high are One at this moment of messianic redemption. This is the hope expressed at the end of most Jewish religious services: "and on that day the Lord shall be One and His Name One". This is the ultimate translation.
27 Jul 2011
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12:43
גשטאלט-בראשית gestalt dreamwork "genesis", hebrew added. gestalt dreamwork done by me, franklyn wepner, on my own life, including my own interpretation of the session in terms of jewish philosophy ("kabbalah"). along with this video is an essay, also by me, commenting on Rashi's notes for the genesis portion of the torah. the parallels between my gestalt therapy session and the essay are striking, when we probe the roots of both processes from the point of view of aristotle and maimonides. if you don't want to deal with all this stuff, push "delete" now! PARASHAT B'REISHIT FRANKLYN WEPNER OCTOBER 2009 franklynwepnergmail**** THE ARISTOTELIAN DIALECTIC We see clearly in Rashi's commentaries on this Torah portion his Aristotelian and dialectical orientation. Rashi cleverly finds ways to insert the Aristotle dialectic as a logical skeleton on which the glad tidings of the Torah Creation story drape in the manner of a garment on the body of a person. Essentially, dialectical logic moves from a "thesis" to an "antithesis" to a "synthesis", and that is exactly what Rashi demonstrates as the logical throughline which is at work here in the tale of how God creates His world in seven days. The creation dialectic in Parshat B'reishit moves, according to Rashi, from the One (God alone, the thesis) to the Many (the world with all its differentiated components, the antithesis) and finally to the One in the Many or the Many in the One (God in the world or the world in God, the synthesis). THE THESIS: THE ONENESS OF GOD Whatever it was that actually did transpire on that first day of Creation, Rashi boils it all down, logically speaking, to a manifestation of the Oneness of God. The relevant Torah passage is: "Elohim called the light day, and the darkness He called night. It became evening and it became morning, one day." Rashi's commentary on this passage is: "Why then is it written [here] 'one'? This is because [on this day] God was alone in His world, for the angels were not created until the second day. This is the explanation in Bereshit Rabbah." For Rashi, then, God being "alone in His world" is the thesis, the initial state of affairs of the dialectical logic underlying the entire Torah portion. Rashi then goes on to anticipate a possible objection of someone who might argue that the Torah next states "Elohim said "Let there be a canopy in the midst of the waters, and let it divide between waters and waters." Rashi's commentary is: [The meaning is] let the expanse be solidified. Even through the heavens were created on the first day, they were nevertheless, still fluid and were solidified on the second day by the roaring command of God, when He said, "Let there be a canopy!" Rashi's point here seems to allude to the Neoplatonic position of Philo that the heavens on the first day were there in the manner of ideas in the mind of God, and not yet created as separate components of a world. Hence, despite the presence of the heavens on the first day, God was still One. The angels, which according to Maimonides are the separate forces which result in differentiation within the world, have not yet made their appearance. B'REISHIT 1:5-6. THE THESIS EXTENDED TO INCLUDE MORE IDEAS IN THE MIND OF GOD The Torah next introduces a transitional stage lasting from day two until day six, until the moment when God created Eve from the rib of Adam. During this transitional time, on the one hand God was no longer One, since the creatures, including man, have somehow already appeared. But on the other hand, the Fall from an initial state of oneness with God in the Garden of Eden has not yet occurred. Again, Rashi seems to be relying on the Platonic point of view of pure ideas still residing in the mind of God. The mechanics of how God manages to pull this off involve a special meaning for the word "naming". Here is how that naming process works. The creatures have a tendency to attain a state of separateness and move onto the antithesis, but man - still created as an image of God - serves the will of God by "naming" all the creatures. The point is that this naming also implies subjugating and dominating. By naming the creatures for God, man simultaneously subjugates them to the grid of differentiations implicit in a pure language that allows God still to be comfortable with Himself as Lord of the World. The creatures, once named by Adam, are restored to the state of ideas in the mind of God, since no deviation from the will of God has yet occurred. Here are proof texts to substantiate this interpretation. First we have the peculiar notion that naming something somehow conquers and subjugates it. The Torah says, "Adonoy Elohim formed from the ground every beast of the field, and every bird of the heaven, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. Whatever the man called [each] living creature, that is its name." Rashi adds, "immediately on the day they were created He brought them to man to call them by name. According to the Aggadah, the word 'yetsirah' has the meaning of dominating and subjugating them, under the domination of man." That is to say, Rashi's interpretation is that man - even before he was created as a separate creature on day six, was busy performing God's naming function. This could only be the case if both man and the the entities he is naming still are merely ideas in the mind of God, in a state of oneness with God. Concerning vegetation, for example, Rashi says, "[the fact that] on the third day it is written 'Let the earth sprout forth' [should be interpreted] they did not protrude but they remained at the surface of the ground until the sixth day [when man was created]." That is to say, man (in his fully separated state) is needed as part of the divine plan, for the other creatures to achieve their fully separated state. Then, once man and the creatures all have become fully differentiated, we have arrived at the second stage of the dialectic, the stage of the antithesis. Now God is no longer One, alone with himself and His ideas. Rather, now the focus shifts to the limits that separate the different creatures. B'REISHIT 2:19. Underlying this view of the creation process, we have the fundamental Aristotelian principle that "actuality is prior to potentiality". Rashi says, "everything was actually created from the first day, and required only to be brought forth". B'REISHIT 1:24. That is to say, at the moment of "b'reshit" ("in the beginning") God did his founding act of action and creation, which (logically speaking) is that moment of total reality and actuality when the knower, the known and the knowing all are one. The moment might be, for example, that at which a hero decides to risk his life to save other people, or it might be the moment at which a man decides to get married, or divorced. This first moment in an action includes all the different parts of the whole that will eventually emerge and move from potentiality to actuality, as the final stage of the action is achieved. Rashi is very clear about this. Rashi says: "He relates the end from the beginning, without stating it explicitly. He relates from the beginning of something the end of something." B'REISHIT 1:1. The basic teleological principle of Aristotle cannot be any more clearly articulated than that. Aristotle's position also is an organismic point of view. A living creature is viewed here as a totality consistent of cells and organs, each of which also is a totality. An action, likewise, is a whole consisting of parts, each of which is also a whole which seeks to actualize its potentiality by participating fully in the ongoing action of the entire organism. Rashi ties this organismic idea to the notion that any committed, authentic action by man is, in a sense, a naming and subjugating of all of God's creatures that are involved in that action to the encompassing idea of that action. Through being fully alive in his concrete existential situation, man serves as God's proxy and enables God to maintain His organismic totality as a One with many parts. Philosophically speaking, this is the model Leibniz presents in his theory of a monadology made up of monads, a totality made up of subordinate totalities, each of which could by a figure ground reversal emerge as the new encompassing totality. In order to consistently maintain this complex view of creation Rashi is driven to invoke some rather extreme bits of Jewish folklore. The Torah states, "And thus Elohim created man in His form. In the form of Elohim He created him, male and female He created them." Rashi's commentaries are, "this teaches you that the form that was established for him [i.e., man], is the form of the image of his Creator", and "[Yet] later it states 'He took one of his ribs, etc'. According to the Midrash Agadah He created him with two faces at first and afterward He divided him". Again we see that the Platonic notion of ideas still impacted in the mind of God provides a way out of these theological conundrums. Man as image of God, still an idea in the mind of God, has no problem having two faces, in the sense that for him chochmah and binah, the right and left pillars of the tree of life, still are in a state of oneness within keter, the original sefirah. It is only when Eve appears on the scene as an opposition to Adam, an "ezer k'negdo" ("helper against him") - in the sense of non-ego versus ego, or nature versus man - that a real contact boundary of separateness emerges between two aspects of man's reality, and between creatures in general, as will now be elucidated. At that moment the two faces of man separate into that of Adam and Eve. B'REISHIT 1:27. THE REAL ANTITHESIS The Torah says, "Adonoy Elohim built the rib that He took from the man into a woman and He brought her to the man. The man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This shall be called Woman, for from Man was she taken'. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Rashi comments, "this teaches that Adam attempted to find [his mate] among all the animals and beasts, and he was not satisfied with them, until he discovered Eve." In order for the dialectic to unfold, there needs to emerge a stage of true antithesis, which we can represent as X/-X, where "X" and "-X" are two states in a relationship of opposition. The initial state of oneness we can represent as "X". For a relationship to exist there needs to emerge a contact boundary through which the opposing states can relate to each other. By continuing his naming function and naming Eve "eeshah" (woman) as an opposite to "eesh" (man) Adam establishes a true contact boundary, an otherness that now negates the original oneness of God, and builds up the left side of the sefirotic tree of life under the rubric of "binah" (Hebrew: "building"), as an opposition to the right side of the tree under the rubric of "chochmah". Extending the literal story of Adam and Eve to the realm of metaphor allows us to look at the awareness process of Gestalt Therapy as a similar process of contact boundary formation, in keeping with the tradition of Aristotelian psychology. In awareness work our mind (oneness, chochmah, Adam) radiates a ray of awareness, while the object contacted likewise may be said to radiate a ray of awareness (otherness, binah, Eve). The two rays, the original one and the projected and returning one, meet somewhere between subject and object, and establish a moment of living experience as a dialectical synthesis of the two opposites. This is the kabbalistic moment of "da'at", which links chochmah and binah on the sefirotic tree. Nachman of Breslav uses the metaphor of two pure birds encountering each other. We now can decode the two statements of Adam: (1) that Eve is "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh", and (2) that "a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and they shall become one flesh". If the mother and father in question are the chochmah/binah relationship on the level of pure ideas, sefirot in the mind of God, and, furthermore, if the relationship of Adam to Eve is on the level of living, concrete, contactful experience in this world of human encounters, then we have followed the dialectical movement from thesis to antithesis, from pure ideas as oneness in the mind of God to living, concrete experience in a world alienated from and resistant to the oneness of God. THE FINAL SYNTHESIS IN GOD'S CRUCIBLE Fragmentation, at the moment of the antithesis, need not be the end of the dialectic, however. For the prediction by Adam that "they shall become one flesh" is actualized to the extent that the awareness and contact process is successful, and leads to authentic action as the final synthesis. The honeymoon of pure contact on the level of pure ideas in the mind of God does not last long. Soon arrives the serpent with his tempting offer, that "your eyes will be opened and you will become as gods, knowing what is good and what is evil". B'REISHIT 3:5. The moment of the Fall into sin is, as Maimonides maintains in his "Guide", the shift from completed actions to actions interrupted by an excessive focus on distinctions of good versus evil, which is the work of the left pillar of the tree of life. Self-interruption of authentic action is a reliance upon rigid distinctions rather than a submission to the active passivity of the middle way which is represented by the middle pillar of the Tree of Life. The Torah describes the plight of Adam at this moment. "Adonoy Elohim said, 'behold, the man has become like one of us to know [what is] good and [what is] evil. Now he must be prevented from reaching out his hand and also taking from the Tree of Life and eating [from it] and live forever . . . He stationed the Cherubim and the flame of the rotating sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life." B'REISHIT 3:22-24. In terms of the dialectic, we have arrived at the moment of extreme opposites, arising from too many judgments, rigid distinctions and unaware habits, all of which interfere with the flow of awareness and contact. Non-contactful blocs separating the fragments of a person's personality and shattering the Oneness of God are alluded to in the metaphor of Cherubim blocking the return to the Garden, while the "flame of the rotating sword" suggests the cycles of the dialectical logic (theses/antithesis/synthesis) which a spiritual pilgrim or therapy client needs to work through in order to arrive "home" again. The hard work of overcoming and encompassing opposites in higher syntheses is what kabbalists of various sects label the moment of "tsimtsum", in which the searcher shifts his focus from deductively struggling with endless logical distinctions to inductively focusing on integrating his fragmented self. "Induction" is the philosophical term for the therapy process of gestalt formation and integration, through work on awareness. What in Gestalt Therapy is labeled "the rhythm of contact and withdrawal", is the endless spiral of alternating moments of deduction (all the things encountered in the contact boundary via awareness) and induction (withdrawal into the no-thingness of the void), leading to finding new ideas internally in the fertile void at the moment of "tsimtsum" during each cycle. The path is a difficult one to traverse, but with the tools of Gestalt Therapy (awareness and the rhythm of contact and withdrawal) a man does oftentimes succeed in "reaching out his hand and taking from the Tree of Life and eating from it and living forever", that is to say in the messianic now of authentic action. Thus, if Rashi's commentary on Genesis is the theory component, then Gestalt Therapy is a paradigm case of practical laboratory work which embodies Rashi's Aristotelian point of view. God is the alchemist, and the world we live in is His crucible.
9 Aug 2011
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11:44
*******SupremeMasterTV**** – Al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz: A Religion of Peace. Episode: 1788, Air Date: 7 August 2011. The Druze religion is one which unifies all religions in the world. They call themselves “muwahhidun.” The muwahhidun are united. The essence of all religions is in the Druze religion. Welcome, peaceful viewers, to A Journey through Aesthetic Realms on Supreme Master Television. On this edition, we travel to the lands of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Israel to meet devout practitioners of the al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz faith. The origin of the religion, which has been in existence for over a thousand years, can be traced back to Egypt. In the early 1900s, Mr. Philip K. Hitti wrote “The Origins of the Druze People and Religion,” introducing al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz to the English-speaking world for the first time. Today we have the honor of speaking with Dr. Kais Firro, Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel, who shares his wealth of information about the history and belief system of the people of the al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz faith. The Druze was founded at the beginning of the 11th century, between 1017-1043. That means from this span of time, the Druze propagated their doctrine among the Ismailis who are Islam Shiites, and most of the adherents of this new religion were Ismailis, before they became the Druze. And the name “Druze” is not Druze; it’s from the outsiders. The Druze called themselves “muwahhidun,” that means Unitarians or Monotheists. And they propagated this religion in greater Syria, in the mountains of Lebanon, and the area of Hermon, and the Galilee, and in the area of Damascus, and the area of Beirut, and in the north of Syria, of today. The muwahhidun respect all religions of the world, including the ancient prophets and sages, and influential people such as Egyptian Akhenaton, the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and Alexander the Great. Believed to be a development of the religious group Ismailiyyah (or Ismailism) – a major branch of the Shi'ah of Islam – al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz incorporated elements of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Sufism as part of the religion’s belief system. The Druze doctrine is an offshoot of the Ismaili doctrine. What means “Ismailis”? The Ismailis were influenced by philosophy, notably the Greek philosophy, New Platonic philosophy, and from Asian philosophies – from India and others’ philosophies – and they also were Muslims, and therefore, they believed in the Qur’an. The Druze took this inheritance, this tradition, from the Ismailis and developed their belief, and they became independent from the Ismailis during this period of 1017 to 1043. Being influenced by Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and Sufism, the religious creed of the muwahhidun in the 11th century was considered very liberal in its time. The Druze believe in one God, but there are two forms: one form called the “human form,” and the second is the essence of divinity. Some researchers said this is “theophany.” “Theophany” – that means God manifests Himself in a human body. But the Druze stressed in their epistles, the “Epistles of Wisdom” – this is the Druze canon – that man cannot conceive God, because we are limited in our comprehension, we are limited in our mind to understand God. Therefore, God is eternal, without beginning, without end, without spirit, without body: we cannot give Him a name, or even we cannot attribute to Him anything. Therefore, if we want to define God, we cannot define it by our words. Therefore, in order to be close to humankind, God manifests Himself in the human form. This is one of the beliefs of the Druze. The second belief is very important, that the revelation of the religion, like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, can be understood literally, not by esoteric interpretation. The Druze makes esoteric interpretation to this text, notably the Qur’an. They believe in the Qur’an, but they have their interpretation which is different from other religions in the Middle East. Therefore, they use philosophy to understand the text, and use New Platonic philosophy and so-called Gnostic tradition to understand the text. The third principle is the transmigration of soul. The Druze believe in the transmigration of soul. That means there is no death per se. There’s no death, the soul exists all the time, but it takes a new form of the human body. This transmigration of the soul is very important, because at the end of the so-called human era, when the people reach the last judgment, God will assess and reassess the soul by all the transmigrations of the soul. That means sometimes the man or the woman would be rich, sometimes poor, sometimes ill, sometimes with health, and, therefore, there are many experiences. And then in the last judgment, God punishes the people who should be punished and rewards the people who should be rewarded. The muwahhidun also have a strict code of ethics that has been transmitted over 10 centuries from the uqqal (enlightened ones) to the juhhal (unenlightened ones). They must not do indecent acts, they must not kill, they must not eat pork. They are forbidden to drink alcohol beverages, no smoking. In the Druze community, the many laws that are written prohibit indecent acts, to be a pure heart, pray to one God. The Druze believe in Seven Principles of Unitarianism. The first is the truth is foremost – to say the truth every time; this is one principle. The second principle is called the mutual aid, to aid the group in every disaster. Therefore, the Druze have a very good solidarity because they have a commandment about this mutuality to aid your friend, your Druze friend, every time. And other commandments that deal with the belief in God, to follow the unitarianism of the Druze, according to the Druze epistles, or the Druze canon. This principle is very important. Since the inception of al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz, the muwahhidun have always advocated for equal rights for women, both in the secular as well as spiritual spheres. Women of the al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz faith generally are well-educated. According to Dr. Naim Aridi, lecturer at Gordon College and the College for Arab Teachers in Haifa, “Druze women can attain positions of religious significance, and some have indeed achieved high rank.” Men and women are equal, without distinguishing between the two – in marriage and divorce, inheritance, and everything. The daughters and sons have the same rights in the family. Not only they pray, but to behave as a Druze, to behave as a unitarian. Traditionally, the muwahhiduns are farmers, subsisting for the most part on vegetables. Most of the time they eat vegetables. They prefer to eat vegetables, and some people now follow the vegetarian instruction. For example, the leader of the Druze community in Lebanon, Kamal Jumblat, he was vegetarian, and he tried to introduce vegetarianism to the Druze initiated people, and he succeeded in some areas. I think there are now followers of Kamal Jumblatt in Lebanon and in Syria, who became vegetarians. He visited several times India and was influenced by the Asian culture. He found similarities between the Druze and some communities in India; he was influenced by vegetarian communities and followed vegetarianism. To preserve the purity of their religion, the muwahhidun keep their teachings secret; only the uqqal, or the enlightened ones, have access to the scriptures, especially the “Epistles of Wisdom,” al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz’s canon. Furthermore, no new members have been accepted into their faith since 1043, over 9 centuries ago. Emigrating from Egypt to Lebanon, the muwahhidun now live in other places such as Syria, Israel, Australia, the United States, and Europe, with approximately 2 million worldwide. Our religious men and women, all the time, speak about peace and about a good life. And we think about how to be at peace in all the world. We are coming to this world all the time to love one another. That all men and women in all the world, they are friends. We believe that the world can have a capacity for all us. Our vision for the Druze community: that the Druze community can be one day the ambassador of peace for all the world. To us, all the communities of the world, a good life and good communication, and the countries to think about positive things, not negative things, like war and the nuclear and all things, and to change that to help the poor communities. Our sincere appreciation, Dr. Kais Firro, for sharing your knowledge on the uplifting principles of the al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz faith. May the God-loving adherents continue to promote messages of universal love and peace within our world, with manifold blessings. Gentle viewers, thank you for joining us today on A Journey through Aesthetic Realms. Our Noble Lineage is coming up next, right here on Supreme Master Television. Wishing you abundant grace from Heaven.
12 Nov 2011
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part 2, Nachman of Breslav's "Likutei Moharan" (collected essays), essay 52 interpreted, in relation to the traditions of kabbalah, dialectical philosophy, gestalt therapy, and symbolist poetry. FRANKLYN WEPNER MAY 2012 COMMENTARY ON LIKUTEI MOHARAN 52: HITBODEDUT IN CONTEXT 1. DEDUCTIVE THINKING IS MERELY THE FIRST STEP TO SEEKING REALITY. Here is the opening sentence of essay 52 of "Likutei Moharan", the "Collected Essays" of Nachman of Breslav. יש אפיקורסים שאומרים שהעולם הוא מחויב המציאות And here is the official Breslav Research Institute translation: "there are heretics who say that the world is a necessary reality". The first point I want to make is that what Nachman in this statement is labeling "necessary reality", or more literally, "obligated finding", is what Gestalt therapists call "confluence", from the Latin roots "con" (with) and "fluere" (to flow). For Gestalt therapists "confluence" means a near total lack of here and now awareness, as is seen in autism, psychosis and certain master manipulators such as an Adolf Hitler. Instead of being grounded in reality, the person is identifying with, flowing along with fixed deductive systems, a matrix of habits which he justifies by simple cause and effect logic. Since "the system" appears to make sense, therefore the system is "necessary reality". For example, "I am right, therefore you must be wrong," or "I am good, therefore you must be evil" is a way of thinking that "makes sense" and seems to be necessarily the case for a mind that relies primarily upon the syllogisms of deductive thinking to solve problems. But from the point of view of a more encompassing "dialectical" thinking, this deductive sort of logic is merely the first stage of authentic thinking which aims at truth. This deductive stage is merely the "thesis", a comforting illusion or dream of oneness, identity, based on our everyday habits, our manipulative games which have frozen into a dead shell around our true self. True, Maimonides does say that the Word first comes to us on the side of rational thinking. That is to say, first we need to use all our deductive "wits" to deal with the situation - until we get stuck. And of course soon we will get stuck if we rely primarily upon deductive logic, which is a way of thinking which moves from general abstract assumptions to particulars which stem from those general assumptions. For example, if my general assumption is that "today is a nice day", what do I make of the fact that it just rained on my picnic? How can a nice day also be not a nice day? Likewise, in Gestalt dreamwork we begin with our defective, incomplete notion of what we think is "awareness" and we proceed until our self-interruptions, the holes in our contact boundary, lead us to impasses. We begin with by simply telling the dream as we dreamed it, in the here and now. But this is only 1/60 of the Word. The dreamwork process aims at correcting this illusion and providing the rest of the existential message. Shifting to a kabbalistic and alchemical point of view, we can say we descend deductively on the left side of the tree of life from alchemical water to alchemical earth, as our initial simple abstract idea trickles into its many apparently logical but nevertheless conflicting consequences. This is deductive, cause and effect logic. Then, in the new state of alchemical earth all reality is a fragmented clog of apparently totally unreconcilable points of view. We are stuck at an impasse. Heretics, according to Nachman, fail to complete the cycle of dialectical logic by neglecting the right side of the tree of life, the side which relies upon inductive thinking. The inductive process begins as alchemical air discovers spaces within the clumps of alchemical earth. Then, within these voids there descend from on high sparks of alchemical fire which burn up the impasses of alchemical earth and encompass the burnt crusts in a redeeming inferno which wafts them back up to the One Without A Second, at which point the dialectical cycle begins anew. Cycle after cycle, this is an endless spiral of descents for the sake of ever higher ascents. 2. DIALECTICAL THINKING COMBINES DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION. באמת העולם ומלואו הוא אפשרי המציאות. כי רק השם יתברך לבד הוא מחויב המציאות, אבל כל העולמות עם כל אשר בהם הם אפשרי המציאות. כי הוא יתברך בראם יש מאין, וביכלתו וכוחו ואפשרותו יתברך היה לבראם או שלא לבראם, על-כן בודאי כל העולם ומלואו הוא אפשרי המציאות. The official Breslav translation of this next paragraph is: "the truth is that the world and all it contains is a contingent reality. Only the Holy One must necessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all they contain need not necessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For God had the ability, the power and the alternative to create them or to not create them. Therefore the world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." This paragraph shows us how Nachman deals with the cul-de-sac resulting from the assumption that the world is an unchangable necessary reality. We see that Nachman does a subtle figure/ground reversal, without telling us he is doing it. He shifts from deductive logic to inductive logic, from a descent on the left side of the tree of life to an ascent on the right side of the tree of life. Previously he was descending from the one idea, the dialectical "thesis", to its many conflicting ramifications. Now he is ascending from an infinite number of particular awareness moments, each one emerging as a spark of alchemical fire from the void of alchemical air. The infinite moments of awareness in the here and now are the dialectical "antithesis" of the original single idea frozen into a deductive system. Gradually these gestalts, monads, living organisms that constitute the contact boundary congeal into their ultimate integration back in the One, as the One in the many, as identity in difference, as God in the world. And this final integration is the third stage of dialectical thinking, the "synthesis". The outcome is that what Nachman calls "the world" is no longer a comforting illusion of abstract oneness enjoyed by what he labels "heretics", but rather the world is an endless kaleidoscopic array of here and now contact experiences in the environment, in our body and in our fantasies, enjoyed by any truly sane and truth seeking person. Autistic children and logically stillborn "heretics" find this logical reversal to be very threatening, since their safe repetitive rituals and syllogisms, concocted for an abstract deductive world, are not well adapted to a concrete, organic, inductive world. It is like shifting from looking at a painting or dream from the outside to living in the world of that painting or dream, with all its bewildering possibilities. In Gestalt dreamwork this transition from seeing the dream as a painting out there to living it completely in the here and now, "saying it with your whole body", is accomplished only gradually over a period of hours, weeks or months, as the protagonist peels away layer upon layer of frozen childhood habits to arrive - he hopes - at a certain level of maturity. This dreamwork process unveils the remaining 59/60 of the prophetic message that constitutes "the existential message of the dream" in secular jargon. Note that Nachman is anything but "objective" in his evaluation of the situation. He labels anyone who is not totally committed to his own phenomenological orientation a heretic, without even the slightest hint as to what is his underlying logical frame of reference. Therefore, in order to read Nachman from any point of view other than that of sheep following a shepherd blindly, we must supply the missing manual, the missing logical infrastructure, ourselves. Actually, this task is not difficult to do. For once we decode Nachman's theological jargon word by word we find right there in his text all the elements we need to peer into his inductive, phenomenological, Gestalt therapy, poetically spiritualized way of interpreting reality. 3. DECODING NACHMAN'S TEXT: KEY TERMS As a matter of fact, Nachman's text itself demands that we decode his message, since anyone who does not decode his message (and this includes most of his starry eyed, intellectually muddled disciples) arrives at totally absurd conclusions. Here is one glaring example. Nachman says: עתה שכבר נאצלו ונמשכו נשמות ישראל, עתה בודאי העולם הוא בבחינת מחויב המציאות. A superficial translation would be that of the Breslav Research Institute: "for after the souls of Israel were issued and brought down, now the world is certainly in the aspect of necessary reality ". Then, Nachman's next sentence is: "For the world and all it contains were created only for Israel, as is known. And Israel rules the world!!!" This, of course, is rubbish, very dangerous rubbish. A hundred years after Nachman and other naive Jewish rabbis penned such rubbish, later generations of Jews encountered the response of those "heretics" to Nachman's arrogance. Certain "heretics" metamorphosed Nachman's text into "The Protocols of The Elders of Zion". All the heretics needed to do was substitute "money" or "gold" for "awareness", as the glue which holds the Jewish people together and is the true Source of Jewish vitality and dominance. And then, fifty years after the Protocols came the Holocaust, which might be seen as Europe's "final solution" to the problem created by Jewish apocalyptic chauvinists. So much for "Israel uber alles!" We may conclude, then, that either Nachman of Breslav was totally meshuggeneh, or there must be some other message hidden in lesson 52 of Likutei Moharan (LM 52) besides that conveyed by the official Breslav Research Institute translation of the text. Let us begin our translating project, or rather our decoding project, once again. This time we will try to ferret out what Nachman actually meant. Or even if he did not mean it, we need here to sift out the wheat from the chaff, since if we do so it turns out that indeed there is much wheat to be found in this Torah commentary. In the meantime we will leave the totalitarian nonsense for those who crave that nonsense. Code word number one here is "Israel", which for Nachman codes for all those who find a proper balance between deductive and inductive logic, with a slight emphasis on the side of inductive logic as Maimonides requires for wannabe prophets. Then the non-Israelites, i.e., the rest of the world, are those unfortunates who rely primarily upon deductive logic, such as the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus. It is black and white for Nachman: induction or deduction, Israel or Egypt, good guys or bad guys, redeemed Jews or godforsaken goyim. He does not spell it out here, but in other essays Nachman makes much of ancient Egyptians as those who rely on deductive logic. Here in LM 52 the Egyptians are generalized to all "heretics" who rely primarily upon deductive logic, not only the imaginary, much abused Egyptians. Another code word in the above passage which requires careful attention is "neh-ets-lu". The official Breslav translation is: "issued", but literally the word means "risen and drawn near", based on the word "etsel", meaning "near" from the root A-TS-L. Now, what is it that rises and draws near when we get in touch with reality? Answer: "reality" itself, i.e., what is tangible to our senses and other forms of awareness when we operate in an inductive manner, i.e., from the concrete particulars to the encompassing integration of the particulars in higher and higher orders of experience. The ultimate integration of awareness experiences goes by many labels, such as the glory of God, or Aristotle's "final cause", or Plato's "anamnesis" (remembering primordial ideas). And so we find ourselves in the framework of Gestalt therapy, since it is "figures" which rise up from the (back)ground and draw near to us when we take time for awareness experiences. Gestalt therapists label these rising figures "gestalts", which also alludes to their organic living reality, wholeness or pattern. Each moment of awareness is posited as a living organism, a strong gestalt, which gobbles up and encompasses lower levels of similar living realities, weaker gesalts. Leibniz labels the gestalts "monads", since each one is in a sense a single world of experience, whether referring to our everyday world, or infinitely large "worlds", or infinitely small "worlds". For Nachman and for Leibniz it is worlds within worlds within worlds, as endlessly as God is the "endless" (Hebrew: "eyn sof"). 4. THE PHILOSOPHICAL CONTEXT: ARISTOTLE, PLATO, LEIBNIZ, GESTALT Here again is the text which specifies necessary and contingent existence. Let's dissect it within the framework we have just established. באמת העולם ומלואו הוא אפשרי המציאות. כי רק השם יתברך לבד הוא מחויב המציאות, אבל כל העולמות עם כל אשר בהם הם אפשרי המציאות. כי הוא יתברך בראם יש מאין, וביכלתו וכוחו ואפשרותו יתברך היה לבראם או שלא לבראם, על-כן בודאי כל העולם ומלואו הוא אפשרי המציאות. We'll begin once again with the official Breslav translation of the paragraph, which is: "the truth is that the world and all it contains is a contingent reality. Only the Holy One must necessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all they contain need not necessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For God had the ability, the power and the alternative to create them or to not create them. Therefore the world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." The Hebrew word for "existence" here is "m'tsi-ute", which means literally "what is found", from the root M-TS-A, "to find". Again we are guided in the direction of inductive thinking based on awareness. Awareness is what we find/contact when to stop doing things deliberately and open ourselves to encountering the objects of our experience in a middle way, active passivity manner. We begin with moments of awareness and gradually we discover that these moments are part of a river of experience that is flowing towards a certain final integration of all types of awareness: environmental, bodily and fantasy. This subconscious or superconscious river does not flow when we are striving deliberately towards a goal definable within a deductive system or matrix, but it does flow when we simply are getting in touch with all the realities of the moment, the situation, the circumstances. Hightened awareness leads to a mobilizing of the total organism, so that once an optimal state of readiness is attained authentic action emerges spontaneously. "Say it with your whole body" is the Gestalt therapy maxim here. Taoists say, if you want to hit the target aim for the Tao and not for the target, which is their way to putting the emphasis on inductive rather than deductive thinking. And in Judaism total involvement in all the realities of the situation is another name for God, "the Place" (Hebrew: ha-Makom). We recall the definition of "local motion" which Maimonides took from Aristotle: motion in one place and in a circle, which is the basis of the spiraling dialectic of the logos, the Word, the tree of life, the Merkavah upon which God "rides on the Aravot". Going back to the paragraph from Nachman above, what necessarily is found (exists) if we continue our finding is the ultimate integration of all awarenesses and motivations of the situation into action which is totally appropriate for the circumstances. Entering totally into this now time and this now place leads inexorably to holistic experience "necessary", "obligated", in this time and place. The drive towards this strongest gestalt is what Nachman refers to as "obligated finding", which the Breslav Research Institute translates vaguely as "necessary existence". Only the strongest gestalt possible in a specific time and place is an "obligated finding" in that sense. If we look at the big picture of the entire world, then, of course, for Nachman God is that largest gestalt, ha-Makom. Many philosophical systems have their own version of this process. For Aristotle it is the "final cause" which, like a magnet, pulls us towards authentic action in concrete circumstances. Nachman uses this Aristotelian point of view. He also uses the Platonic point of view. In the Prologue to Likutei Moharan he has Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai tell us that "the Torah will not be forgotten". This is a code for Platonic "anamnesis", "not forgetting" the primordial ideas of dialectical thinking: Abraham (awareness, the thesis), Isaac (difference, conflicts, the antithesis), and Jacob (identity in difference, authentic action, enlightenment, the synthesis). For Nachman the Covenant (Hebrew: "brit") which must not be forgotten is on the most basic level a commitment to dialectic logic. Thus Nachman uses the term "Israel" to represent those who avail themselves of the complete dialectic by combining deduction and induction. It is this Covenant which binds Israel to God, as the stages of dialectical thinking are bound to the Aristotelian final cause at the end of a long tunnel or to the Platonic idea at the origin of the seductive illusion we assume uncritically we know as "reality". But what about the phrase the Research Institute translates as "contingent existence"? First of all, the literal meaning is "scattered finding", from the root P-Sh-R, meaning "to divide". See the Talmudic dictionary for this antique sense of the word. Division is what we find in our here and now awareness experience of inductive thinking. The myriad figures that rise here and now from the ground of possibilities are scattered willy-nilly without any apparent system at first. This "scattered finding" ("Contingent existence") does not appear at first to be a "necessary, obligated finding", unless, that is, we commit ourselves totally to following the river of awareness back to its Source (Plato) or on to the great ocean (Aristotle). Then, once each moment of awareness has been discovered, it is a part of the higher levels of Gestalt integration as we ascend the right side of the tree of life. This is the paradox which Nachman is alluding to in LM 52. (1) The final cause, God, is necessarily found if we go with the phenomenological river of experience. (2) But any moment of initial awareness is merely a chance occurrence, a "scattered finding". (3) Nevertheless, paradoxically, once that moment of awareness has emerged from the ground of possibilities it now is locked into the endless process of more and more encompassing gestalts leading to the particular final cause, strongest gestalt, divinity, archangel, name of God, which is acting as a magnet in the field of gestalts or monads or (to use Nachman's metaphor) "souls". For in Nachman's jargon "souls" are gestalts, monads, living centers of consciousness in a sphere in which any point, any soul, is potentially the center. If it is your soul at this moment of the messianic now which is the most inflamed in the search for God or truth, then you at this messianic moment are the center of the Jewish universe, the lamed-vavnik, that the Jewish people needs at this moment as a redeemer. Of course, Nachman has his sights on this job, when he sees himself as the brook in the Prologue to Likutei Moharan. For him the brook implies the proper middle way relation between the river of inductive ideas and its deductive banks, the river of chochmah and its binah banks, the river of divine light and its shekhinah banks, the river of chet and its nun banks (see LM 1). 5. BARE BONES HITBODEDUT With this philosophical context in place, we now can easily unravel the rest of Nachman's prescription for religious perfection based on what he calls "hitbodedut". As usual we will find Nachman's unfolds his tale on two levels, the simple level for simple folk and the more complex level for more sophisticated seekers after truth. Here we need not go word by word through Nachman's text, since the implications of the basic philosophical structure already are much more obvious than is the buried structure which we just have ferreted out from Nachman's hassidically tinted prose. We see immediately, for example, that we need not take Nachman literally when he tells us to do hitbodedut only at night and alone. For the process works just as well, perhaps even better, in a well lit room when supervised by a Gestalt therapist with a group of perhaps 50 fellow pilgrims observing - provided, of course, that the observers respect the process and do not meddle by trying to be "helpful". Gestalt therapy originally was labeled by its founder Fritz Perls "concentration therapy", with the assumption that the sort of concentration called for in the process is of the inductive sort. In general, participants in a Gestalt group session discover that the power of awareness work is so formidable that most people can focus reasonably well on their own phenomenological river and ignore what other people who are observing might be thinking deductively. What comes to mind regarding the river of inductive thinking is the childhood ditti: "Row, row, row the boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!" That is to say, if we flow with the river of awareness, we have an opportunity to wake up from our silly dream of deductive thinking and get a lot closer to reality itself. Or as Nachman would put it, we can discover easily how we got stuck being heretics. Once we see how we got stuck, then we also see how easy it is to get un-stuck. Nachman says, "pray, study, pray!" That is to say, shift the balance of your life so that most of your focus is on inductive experiences rather than deductive experiences. For Nachman, "praying" equates, once again, to a proper middle way balance of deductive and inductive thinking, while "studying" equates to an overemphasis upon deductive thinking. Nachman develops this notion of what prayer is in LM 2. See my essay on LM 2, "Simple As Child's Play" for details. 6. HITBODEDUT AS POETIC LANGUAGE AND GESTALT MONOLOGUE דע שעיקר הביטול, שאדם מבטל יישותו ונעשה אין, ונכלל באחדות השם יתברך, אין זה אלא על-ידי התבודדות. וההתבודדות צריך מקום וזמן מיוחד, שלא יבלבלו אותו המונעים. My own translation of this text of Nachman is: "Know that the main point concerning negation of one's ego, that a person negates his existence and becomes nothing and is included in the oneness of The Name, may it be blessed, this is only by means of hitbodedut (that is to say: secluding oneself and talking to God). Hitbodedut requires a special place and time, so that the hindrances will not confuse him." The hindrances in question here are precisely those spelled out in texts of Gestalt therapy under the heading "self-interruptions", and in the writings of Johann Georg Hamann under the heading "prose versus poetry". In fact, this text of Nachman is a restatement of the basic tradition of the Lurianic kabbalah moment of tsimtsum 2 (negation of the two sides of an impasse in the void by means of getting a new idea), with the crucial addition of a verbal monologue. Nachman's emphasis on the role of language in pietist religion places Nachman squarely on the road travelled by his predecessor Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788) in Konigsberg, East Prussia, in his resistance to the German Enlightenment movement. Some earlier philosophical roots of Hamann in the philosophy of inductive thinking of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) are demonstrated by James O'Flaherty in his analysis of the work of Hamann, entitled "Johann Georg Hamann". In short, what Nachman labels "hitbodedut", Hamann labels "poetry". Frederick Copleston elucidates Hamann's view of poetry as the mother language of mankind as follows: "The speech of primitive men was sensation and passion, and they understood nothing but images. It was in music, song and poetry that they expressed themselves." ("A History of Philosophy", Volume 6, p. 136) Gestalt therapists make a similar distinction between poetry and prose. A client who is babbling away without much personal connection to his verbiage is "talking literature", while a client whose speaking is directly related to his authentic actions is considered to be speaking poetically. Nachman's "heretics" are those of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment movement) who prefer prose (deductive thinking and babbling) to poetry (inductive thinking and committed action) in Hamann's sense of the word poetry. See my own extensive commentary on LM 4, entitled "Bacon, Hamann and Nachman" for a detailed treatment. Nachman's emphasis on a monologue in solitude also places Nachman squarely in the tradition of Gestalt therapy, which is a bare bones version of the hitbodudut process: minus the theological jargon, minus the rustic solitude hard to find these days, and minus all the melodrama concerning the mystical powers of darkness and King David's harp which, says Nachman, begins chiming by itself at the midnight of a hassid's existential despair. The hindrances/self-interruptions in the Gestalt formulation are: (1) confluence, (2) introjection, (3) projection, (4) retroflection, (5) egotism. See "Gestalt Therapy" by Perls, Hefferline and Goodman or "Gestalt Therapy Verbatim" by Perls for details. Also, see my 90 minute video, "Hitbodedut", for an illustration of these Gestalt self-interruptions at work during the hitbodedut process. The defining traits of "poetic language" in contrast to prose, according to O'Flaherty's analysis of Hamann are: (1) imagery, (2) analogy, (3) parataxis, (4) paradox, (5) multiple levels of language, (6) affective terminology. See O'Flaherty for details. My aim in this clinical and philosophical dissection of Nachman's pietist process of hitbodudut has not been to disparage the process itself. What Nachman of Breslav calls "Hitbodedut" and Fritz Perls calls "Concentration Therapy" or "Gestalt Therapy" and Johann Georg Hamann calls "Poetry" is a dimension of human experience of crucial importance, a dimension which indeed accomplishes very well the goals Nachman of Breslav or Fritz Perls or Johann Georg Hamann claim it accomplishes. I merely am suggesting that once the hitbodedut process is carefully demystified, and the bones are picked clean of obfuscating viscera and suspect chauvinistic motives, hitbodedut is rendered much more useful for many different types of people in many different sets of circumstances, for example, training for spiritually inclined performers of a not so frum Jewish theater. A pharmaceutical wedding between Nachman's medicine and Fritz Perls' medicine in a Hamann inspired poetic crucible would preserve the best of all three systems, while reserving the pure Nachman, pure Fritz and pure Hamann versions for specific populations most in need of either a purely hassidic redemption, or a purely secular healing, or a purely spiritual poetry, respectively.
24 May 2012
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part 1. THE ROOM commentary, based on likutei moharan 52, 51 of nachman of breslav, plato, schopenhauer, symbolism, expression. LIKUTEI MOHARAN 52 IN RELATION TO THE GESTALT MONOLOGUE: “THE ROOM” 1. DEDUCTIVE THINKING IS MERELY THE FIRST STEP TO SEEKING REALITY. Here is the opening sentence of essay 52 of "Likutei Moharan", the "CollectedEssays" of Nachman of Breslav. And here is the official Breslav Research Institute translation: "there are heretics who say that the world is a necessary reality". The first point I want to make isthat what Nachman in this statement is labeling "necessary reality", or moreliterally, "obligated finding", is what Gestalt therapists call "confluence", fromthe Latin roots "con" (with) and "fluere" (to flow). For Gestalt therapists"confluence" means a near total lack of here and now awareness, as is seen inautism, psychosis and certain master manipulators such as an Adolf Hitler.Instead of being grounded in reality, the person is identifying with, flowingalong with fixed deductive systems, a matrix of habits which he justifies bysimple cause and effect logic. Since "the system" appears to make sense,therefore the system is "necessary reality". For example, "I am right, thereforeyou must be wrong," or "I am good, therefore you must be evil" is a way ofthinking that "makes sense" and seems to be necessarily the case for a mindthat relies primarily upon the syllogisms of deductive thinking to solveproblems. THE SHOW BEGINS WITH WHAT LOOKS LIKE AN ORDINARY REAL LIFE ROOM,WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS. But from the point of view of a more encompassing "dialectical" thinking, thisdeductive sort of logic is merely the first stage of authentic thinking which aimsat truth. This deductive stage is merely the "thesis", a comforting illusion ordream of oneness, identity, based on our everyday habits, our manipulativegames which have frozen into a dead shell around our true self. True,Maimonides does say that the Word first comes to us on the side of rationalthinking. That is to say, first we need to use all our deductive "wits" to deal withthe situation - until we get stuck. And of course soon we will get stuck if werely primarily upon deductive logic, which is a way of thinking which movesfrom general abstract assumptions to particulars which stem from those ישם םם םם םא אב בת ת general assumptions. For example, if my general assumption is that "today is anice day", what do I make of the fact that it just rained on my picnic? How can anice day also be not a nice day? Likewise, in Gestalt dreamwork we begin withour defective, incomplete notion of what we think is "awareness" and weproceed until our self-interruptions, the holes in our contact boundary, lead usto impasses. We begin with by simply telling the dream as we dreamed it, in thehere and now. But this is only 1/60 of the Word. The dreamwork process aimsat correcting this illusion and providing the rest of the existential message.Shifting to a kabbalistic and alchemical point of view, we can say we descenddeductively on the left side of the tree of life from alchemical water toalchemical earth, as our initial simple abstract idea trickles into its manyapparently logical but nevertheless conflicting consequences. This is deductive,cause and effect logic. Then, in the new state of alchemical earth all reality is afragmented clog of apparently totally unreconcilable points of view. We arestuck at an impasse. Heretics, according to Nachman, fail to complete the cycleof dialectical logic by neglecting the right side of the tree of life, the side whichrelies upon inductive thinking. The inductive process begins as alchemical airdiscovers spaces within the clumps of alchemical earth. Then, within thesevoids there descend from on high sparks of alchemical fire which burn up theimpasses of alchemical earth and encompass the burnt crusts in a redeeminginferno which wafts them back up to the One Without A Second, at which pointthe dialectical cycle begins anew. Cycle after cycle, this is an endless spiral ofdescents for the sake of ever higher ascents. DOING THE GESTALT IDENTIFICATIONS OPENS UP THE HOLES IN ALCHEMICAL EARTH, AND THEN THE NEW FIERY IDEAS BEGIN TO ILLUMINATE THE IMAGES,SUCH AS “A LIFE ON FIRE” DESPITE FACT THAT THE PRESENT SITUATION IS RATHER DEPRESSING. 2. DIALECTICAL THINKING COMBINES DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION. The official Breslav translation of this next paragraph is: "the truth is that theworld and all it contains is a contingent reality. Only the Holy One mustnecessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all they contain need notnecessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For God had the ability,the power and the alternative to create them or to not create them. Thereforethe world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." ת תם םו וא אי יהמציאות. י יק קם םך ךד דא אב בהמציאות,ל לל לת תם םל לר רם םם םי יהמציאות. י יא אך ךם םש שמאין,ו וו וו וך ךה הם םו וא אלבראם, על-ן ןי יל לם םו וא אי יהמציאות. This paragraph shows us how Nachman deals with the cul-de-sac resultingfrom the assumption that the world is an unchangable necessary reality. We seethat Nachman does a subtle figure/ground reversal, without telling us he isdoing it. He shifts from deductive logic to inductive logic, from a descent on theleft side of the tree of life to an ascent on the right side of the tree of life.Previously he was descending from the one idea, the dialectical "thesis", to itsmany conflicting ramifications. Now he is ascending from an infinite number ofparticular awareness moments, each one emerging as a spark of alchemical firefrom the void of alchemical air. The infinite moments of awareness in the here and now are the dialectical "antithesis" of the original single idea frozen into adeductive system. Gradually these gestalts, monads, living organisms thatconstitute the contact boundary congeal into their ultimate integration back inthe One, as the One in the many, as identity in difference, as God in the world.And this final integration is the third stage of dialectical thinking, the"synthesis". BEGINNING THE GESTALT INDUCTIVE WORK IS THIS SHIFT OF DIRECTION ON THE TREE OF LIFE, FROM DESCENT TO ASCENT BASED ON FAITH THAT THEPROCESS WILL LEAD SOMEWHERE. The outcome is that what Nachman calls "the world" is no longer a comfortingillusion of abstract oneness enjoyed by what he labels "heretics", but rather theworld is an endless kaleidoscopic array of here and now contact experiences inthe environment, in our body and in our fantasies, enjoyed by any truly saneand truth seeking person. Autistic children and logically stillborn "heretics" findthis logical reversal to be very threatening, since their safe repetitive rituals andsyllogisms, concocted for an abstract deductive world, are not well adapted to aconcrete, organic, inductive world. It is like shifting from looking at a paintingor dream from the outside to living in the world of that painting or dream, withall its bewildering possibilities. In Gestalt dreamwork this transition from seeingthe dream as a painting out there to living it completely in the here and now,"saying it with your whole body", is accomplished only gradually over a periodof hours, weeks or months, as the protagonist peels away layer upon layer offrozen childhood habits to arrive - he hopes - at a certain level of maturity.This dreamwork process unveils the remaining 59/60 of the prophetic messagethat constitutes "the existential message of the dream" in secular jargon. THE WOMAN IN THE SHOW IS AMBIVALENT ABOUT THE MAN’S AGENDA. SHE NEEDS HER BOX, BUT EVEN MORE SHE NEEDS TO BE A JACK IN THE BOX. THEJACK IN THE BOX IMAGE IS APPROPRIATE, SINCE NEITHER ONE LETS GO OF THEBOX COMPLETELY. IT IS ENOUGH TO BE BLOWING IN THE WIND. Note that Nachman is anything but "objective" in his evaluation of the situation.He labels anyone who is not totally committed to his own phenomenologicalorientation a heretic, without even the slightest hint as to what is his underlyinglogical frame of reference. Therefore, in order to read Nachman from any pointof view other than that of sheep following a shepherd blindly, we must supplythe missing manual, the missing logical infrastructure, ourselves. Actually, thistask is not difficult to do. For once we decode Nachman's theological jargonword by word we find right there in his text all the elements we need to peerinto his inductive, phenomenological, Gestalt therapy, poetically spiritualizedway of interpreting reality. 3. DECODING NACHMAN'S TEXT: KEY TERMS As a matter of fact, Nachman's text itself demands that we decode his message,since anyone who does not decode his message (and this includes most of hisstarry eyed, intellectually muddled disciples) arrives at totally absurdconclusions. Here is one glaring example. Nachman says: ה הר רו וו ות תישראל, ה הי ים םא את תב בהמציאות. A superficial translation would be that of the Breslav Research Institute: "forafter the souls of Israel were issued and brought down, now the world iscertainly in the aspect of necessary reality ". Then, Nachman's next sentence is:"For the world and all it contains were created only for Israel, as is known. AndIsrael rules the world!!!" This, of course, is rubbish, very dangerous rubbish. Ahundred years after Nachman and other naive Jewish rabbis penned suchrubbish, later generations of Jews encountered the response of those "heretics"to Nachman's arrogance. Certain "heretics" metamorphosed Nachman's textinto "The Protocols of The Elders of Zion". All the heretics needed to do was substitute "money" or "gold" for "awareness", as the glue which holds the Jewishpeople together and is the true Source of Jewish vitality and dominance. Andthen, fifty years after the Protocols came the Holocaust, which might be seen asEurope's "final solution" to the problem created by Jewish apocalypticchauvinists. So much for "Israel uber alles!" We may conclude, then, that eitherNachman of Breslav was totally meshuggeneh, or there must be some othermessage hidden in lesson 52 of Likutei Moharan (LM 52) besides that conveyedby the official Breslav Research Institute translation of the text. THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW IS FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF DEDUCTIVE LOGIC, WITH EACH NEW IDENTIFICATION LEADING TO A NEW HOLE IN THATMATRIX, UNTIL GRADUALLY THE RIVER BECOMES THE DOMINANT METAPHORAND THE WOMAN’S FINAL RESISTANCE BECOMES JUST A FADING IMAGE, A CLOD OF ALCHEMICAL EARTH BURNING UP IN THE FIERY LIGHT OF THE OVERALL SUPEROBJECTIVE. Let us begin our translating project, or rather our decoding project, once again.This time we will try to ferret out what Nachman actually meant. Or even if hedid not mean it, we need here to sift out the wheat from the chaff, since if wedo so it turns out that indeed there is much wheat to be found in this Torah commentary. In the meantime we will leave the totalitarian nonsense for thosewho crave that nonsense. Code word number one here is "Israel", which forNachman codes for all those who find a proper balance between deductive andinductive logic, with a slight emphasis on the side of inductive logic asMaimonides requires for wannabe prophets. Then the non-Israelites, i.e., therest of the world, are those unfortunates who rely primarily upon deductivelogic, such as the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus. It is black and white forNachman: induction or deduction, Israel or Egypt, good guys or bad guys,redeemed Jews or godforsaken goyim. He does not spell it out here, but inother essays Nachman makes much of ancient Egyptians as those who rely ondeductive logic. Here in LM 52 the Egyptians are generalized to all "heretics"who rely primarily upon deductive logic, not only the imaginary, much abusedEgyptians. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW THERE IS THE LIGHT INSIDE AND THE TOILET OUTSIDE. GRADUALLY THE SIMPLE DICHOTOMY GOODGUYS/BADGUYS GETSBLURED, AS THE NARRATOR GETS INTO WHAT AT FIRST SEEMS TO HIM TO BEHIS “SEEMY SIDE”. LATER THIS ERUPTION OF ORGASMIC ENERGY TURNS OUT TO BE WHAT IS NEEDED TO OVERCOME THE INTHEBOX/OUTSIDETHEBOX SPLIT ANDMOVE FROM UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO THE SUPEROBJECTIVE, FROM EVE/ADAM,BINAH/CHOCHMAH TO KETER, TO THE OHR MAQQIF, TO THE EXISTENTIALMESSAGE OF THE DREAM OR THE WORD OF GOD. Another code word in the above passage which requires careful attention is"neh-ets-lu". The official Breslav translation is: "issued", but literally the wordmeans "risen and drawn near", based on the word "etsel", meaning "near" fromthe root A-TS-L. Now, what is it that rises and draws near when we get in touchwith reality? Answer: "reality" itself, i.e., what is tangible to our senses andother forms of awareness when we operate in an inductive manner, i.e., fromthe concrete particulars to the encompassing integration of the particulars inhigher and higher orders of experience. The ultimate integration of awarenessexperiences goes by many labels, such as the glory of God, or Aristotle's "finalcause", or Plato's "anamnesis" (remembering primordial ideas). And so we findourselves in the framework of Gestalt therapy, since it is "figures" which rise upfrom the (back)ground and draw near to us when we take time for awarenessexperiences. Gestalt therapists label these rising figures "gestalts", which also alludes to their organic living reality, wholeness or pattern. Each moment ofawareness is posited as a living organism, a strong gestalt, which gobbles upand encompasses lower levels of similar living realities, weaker gesalts. Leibnizlabels the gestalts "monads", since each one is in a sense a single world ofexperience, whether referring to our everyday world, or infinitely large "worlds",or infinitely small "worlds". For Nachman and for Leibniz it is worlds withinworlds within worlds, as endlessly as God is the "endless" (Hebrew: "eyn sof"). AS THE SHOW GOES ON, MORE AND MORE GESTALTS, MONADS OPEN UP THENATURALISTIC MATRIX OF SIMPLY A “ROOM”, UNTIL BY THE END OF THE SHOWTHIS “ROOM” HAS ASCENDED VIA THE SPIRALING DIALECTIC TO THE LEVEL OF “HA-MAKOM” OR THE MERKAVAH, BY ENTERING TOTALLY INTO THEPOSSIBILITIES OF THE SITUATION, THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE ACTION. 4. THE PHILOSOPHICAL CONTEXT: ARISTOTLE, PLATO, LEIBNIZ, GESTALT Here again is the text which specifies necessary and contingent existence. Let'sdissect it within the framework we have just established. We'll begin once again with the official Breslav translation of the paragraph,which is: "the truth is that the world and all it contains is a contingent reality.Only the Holy One must necessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all theycontain need not necessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For Godhad the ability, the power and the alternative to create them or to not createthem. Therefore the world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." The Hebrew word for "existence" here is "m'tsi-ute", which means literally "whatis found", from the root M-TS-A, "to find". Again we are guided in the directionof inductive thinking based on awareness. Awareness is what we find/contactwhen to stop doing things deliberately and open ourselves to encountering theobjects of our experience in a middle way, active passivity manner. We beginwith moments of awareness and gradually we discover that these moments arepart of a river of experience that is flowing towards a certain final integration ofall types of awareness: environmental, bodily and fantasy. This subconscious orsuperconscious river does not flow when we are striving deliberately towards agoal definable within a deductive system or matrix, but it does flow when wesimply are getting in touch with all the realities of the moment, the situation,the circumstances. Heightened awareness leads to a mobilizing of the total ת תם םו וא אי יהמציאות. י יק קם םך ךד דא אב בהמציאות,ל לל לת תם םל לר רם םם םי יהמציאות. י יא אך ךם םש שמאין,ו וו וו וך ךה הם םו וא אלבראם, על-ן ןי יל לם םו וא אי יהמציאות. organism, so that once an optimal state of readiness is attained authenticaction emerges spontaneously. "Say it with your whole body" is the Gestalttherapy maxim here. Taoists say, if you want to hit the target aim for the Taoand not for the target, which is their way to putting the emphasis on inductiverather than deductive thinking. And in Judaism total involvement in all therealities of the situation is another name for God, "the Place" (Hebrew: ha-Makom). We recall the definition of "local motion" which Maimonides took fromAristotle: motion in one place and in a circle, which is the basis of the spiralingdialectic of the logos, the Word, the tree of life, the Merkavah upon which God"rides on the Aravot". THE NARRATOR, FRANKLYN, TELLS US HOW HAS GIVEN UP ON HIS DELIBERATE,DEDUCTIVE ATTEMPT TO FIND PERFORMERS TO WORK WITH THAT WILL PAY HIM TO HELP PAY THE RENT, INSTEAD HE HAS DECIDED TO DO THE WORKHIMSELF SIMPLY FOR ITS OWN SAKE, “L’SHEM SHAMAYIM” (HEBREW: “FOR THESAKE OF HEAVEN”). AND YET BY DOING SO HE DISCOVERS OTHER MORECOMPELLING NEEDS WHICH HE BEGINS TO DEAL WITH VIA THE GESTALT PROCESS (HITBODEDUT). ESPECIALLY HE GETS IN TOUCH WITH HIS ADVANCINGAGE AND THE FACT THAT “IT IS GETTING HARDER TO FIND CANARIES”. Going back to the paragraph from Nachman above, what necessarily is found(exists) if we continue our finding is the ultimate integration of all awarenessesand motivations of the situation into action which is totally appropriate for thecircumstances. Entering totally into this now time and this now place leadsinexorably to holistic experience "necessary", "obligated", in this time andplace. The drive towards this strongest gestalt is what Nachman refers to as"obligated finding", which the Breslav Research Institute translates vaguely as"necessary existence". Only the strongest gestalt possible in a specific time andplace is an "obligated finding" in that sense. If we look at the big picture of theentire world, then, of course, for Nachman God is that largest gestalt, ha-Makom. Many philosophical systems have their own version of this process. ForAristotle it is the "final cause" which, like a magnet, pulls us towards authenticaction in concrete circumstances. Nachman uses this Aristotelian point of view.He also uses the Platonic point of view. In the Prologue to Likutei Moharan hehas Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai tell us that "the Torah will not be forgotten". Thisis a code for Platonic "anamnesis", "not forgetting" the primordial ideas ofdialectical thinking: Abraham (awareness, the thesis), Isaac (difference,conflicts, the antithesis), and Jacob (identity in difference, authentic action,enlightenment, the synthesis). For Nachman the Covenant (Hebrew: "brit") whichmust not be forgotten is on the most basic level a commitment to dialecticlogic. Thus Nachman uses the term "Israel" to represent those who availthemselves of the complete dialectic by combining deduction and induction. Itis this Covenant which binds Israel to God, as the stages of dialectical thinking are bound to the Aristotelian final cause at the end of a long tunnel or to thePlatonic idea at the origin of the seductive illusion we assume uncritically weknow as "reality". But what about the phrase the Research Institute translates as "contingentexistence"? First of all, the literal meaning is "scattered finding", from the rootP-Sh-R, meaning "to divide". See the Talmudic dictionary for this antique senseof the word. Division is what we find in our here and now awareness experienceof inductive thinking. The myriad figures that rise here and now from theground of possibilities are scattered willy-nilly without any apparent system atfirst. This "scattered finding" ("Contingent existence") does not appear at first tobe a "necessary, obligated finding", unless, that is, we commit ourselves totallyto following the river of awareness back to its Source (Plato) or on to the greatocean (Aristotle). Then, once each moment of awareness has been discovered,it is a part of the higher levels of Gestalt integration as we ascend the right sideof the tree of life. This is the paradox which Nachman is alluding to in LM 52. (1) The final cause, God, is necessarily found if we go with thephenomenological river of experience. (2) But any moment of initial awarenessis merely a chance occurrence, a "scattered finding". (3) Nevertheless,paradoxically, once that moment of awareness has emerged from the ground ofpossibilities it now is locked into the endless process of more and moreencompassing gestalts leading to the particular final cause, strongest gestalt,divinity, archangel, name of God, which is acting as a magnet in the field ofgestalts or monads or (to use Nachman's metaphor) "souls". For in Nachman'sjargon "souls" are gestalts, monads, living centers of consciousness in a spherein which any point, any soul, is potentially the center. If it is your soul at thismoment of the messianic now which is the most inflamed in the search for God or truth, then you at this messianic moment are the center of the Jewishuniverse, the lamed-vavnik, that the Jewish people needs at this moment as aredeemer. Of course, Nachman has his sights on this job, when he sees himselfas the brook in the Prologue to Likutei Moharan. For him the brook implies theproper middle way relation between the river of inductive ideas and itsdeductive banks, the river of chochmah and its binah banks, the river of divinelight and its shekhinah banks, the river of chet and its nun banks (see LM 1). IN THE SHOW THERE IS AN INITIAL, PREMATURE ATTEMPT TO BRING THINGSTOGETHER INTO A RATIONAL COMPROMISE. BUT THE NARRATOR DISCOUNTS THAT COMPROMISE BETWEEN THE GRAY WALLS AND THE RED FLOOR AS BORING, SINCE IT HAS RESULTED FROM THE ANTAGONISTS NOT REALLYCOMMITTING THEMSELVES TO THE DEEPER STRUGGLE OF DEDUCTION VS INDUCTION, REASON VERSUS AWARENESS. NEXT, THE “AIR” CHARACTER ENTERSAS A NEW POINT OF VIEW ENTIRELY: THAT OF “SCATTERED FINDING” VERSUS THE “OBLIGATED FINDING” OF ANY SORT OF SYSTEM. HIS POINT OF VIEW IS THAT OF “CHAOS” VIS-A-VIS THE ROOM WHICH MERELY ENCOMPASSES THE WALL/FLOOR DIALECTIC IN A DEDUCTIVE PAIR OF OPPOSITES. THISALCHEMICAL AIR OR ETHER CREATES AN INFINITE NUMBER OF VOIDS IN THE ALREADY SOMEWHAT PERFORATED MATRIX SYMBOLIZED BY THE ROOM. AFTER ENCOUNTERING THE CHAOS OF THE AIR, THE NARRATOR REALIZES THATCOMPROMISE IS NOT THE OBJECT OF HIS QUEST. HIS NEW QUEST IS “A LIFE ONFIRE”, AND THIS ANNOUNCES THE EMERGENCE OF ALCHEMICAL FIRE FROM THEVOID OF ALCHEMICAL AIR. UP UNTIL NOW THINGS HAVE BEEN TOO EASY. WHAT IS CALLED FOR NOW IS CREATIVE AGGRESSION TO COMPLETE THE NEGATION OF THE NEGATIONS OF THE ONE WITHOUT A SECOND, TO CHEW UP ANDOBLITERATE COMPLETELY THE ALREADY STRESSED OUT DEDUCTIVE SYSTEM. THE ENERGY FOR THE CREATIVE AGGRESSION NEEDS TO COME FROM SOME SORT OF EXPLOSION INTO AUTHENTIC ACTION WHICH RESULTS FROM THE ASCENT OF SMALL GESTALTS TO THE LEVEL OF LARGE, ENCOMPASSINGGESTALTS, WHAT NACHMAN LABELS IN LM 1 “YAALAT CHEN”, THE ASCENT OFTHE SUBJECT/OBJECT RELATIONSHIP VIA INDUCTIVE THINKING. THE FOURMAJOR SORTS OF EXPLOSIONS FRITZ PERLS MENTIONS IN HIS “GESTALT THERAPY VERBATIM” ARE GRIEF, ANGER, JOY, AND ORGASM. IN THIS SHOW,“THE ROOM”, THE FINAL EXPLOSION COMBINES ALL FOUR SORTS: GRIEF AT THEPASSING OF YOUTH, ANGER AT REJECTION BY WOMEN CLOSED UP IN THEIRBOURGEOIS BOX, JOY AT OVERCOMING ALL THE REMAINING OBSTACLES ANDORGASM AS MALE AND FEMALE, CHOCHMAH AND BINAH, ADAM AND EVECOALESCE INTO ONENESS THOUGH WITHOUT SURRENDERING THEIR DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW COMPLETELY. THIS IS THE NECESSARY DIALECTICAL SYNTHESIS NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE DRAMATIC ACTION: IDENTITY IN DIFFERENCE, THEONE IN THE MANY, OR (FOR THE RELIGIOUSLY INCLINED) GOD IN THE WORLD. 5. BARE BONES HITBODEDUT With this philosophical context in place, we now can easily unravel the rest ofNachman's prescription for religious perfection based on what he calls"hitbodedut". As usual we will find Nachman's unfolds his tale on two levels, thesimple level for simple folk and the more complex level for more sophisticatedseekers after truth. Here we need not go word by word through Nachman's text,since the implications of the basic philosophical structure already are muchmore obvious than is the buried structure which we just have ferreted out fromNachman's hassidically tinted prose. We see immediately, for example, that weneed not take Nachman literally when he tells us to do hitbodedut only at nightand alone. For the process works just as well, perhaps even better, in a well litroom when supervised by a Gestalt therapist with a group of perhaps 50 fellowpilgrims observing - provided, of course, that the observers respect the processand do not meddle by trying to be "helpful". Gestalt therapy originally waslabeled by its founder Fritz Perls "concentration therapy", with the assumption that the sort of concentration called for in the process is of the inductive sort.In general, participants in a Gestalt group session discover that the power ofawareness work is so formidable that most people can focus reasonably well ontheir own phenomenological river and ignore what other people who areobserving might be thinking deductively. MERELY THE FACT THAT I WAS ABLE TO DO THIS PROCESS IN A WELL LIT ROOM SITTING AT MY KEYBOARD AND COMPUTER, AND ENVISIONING AN AUDIENCEOF BILLIONS ON THE INTERNET DEMONSTRATES THAT WHAT IS IMPORTANT HERE IS THE LOGICAL PROCESS OF INDUCTION, AWARENESS, AND NOT THETHEATRICAL EFFECTS THAT HASSIDIM CRAVE, ALONG WITH THEIR 18THCENTURY WARDROBE. What comes to mind regarding the river of inductive thinking is the childhoodditti: "Row, row, row the boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily,merrily, life is but a dream!" That is to say, if we flow with the river ofawareness, we have an opportunity to wake up from our silly dream ofdeductive thinking and get a lot closer to reality itself. Or as Nachman wouldput it, we can discover easily how we got stuck being heretics. Once we see howwe got stuck, then we also see how easy it is to get un-stuck. Nachman says,"pray, study, pray!" That is to say, shift the balance of your life so that most ofyour focus is on inductive experiences rather than deductive experiences. ForNachman, "praying" equates, once again, to a proper middle way balance ofdeductive and inductive thinking, while "studying" equates to an overemphasisupon deductive thinking. Nachman develops this notion of what prayer is in LM 2. See my essay on LM 2, "Simple As Child's Play" for details. THE PROCESS I HAVE JUST DEMONSTRATED IS “PRAYER”, “HITBODEDUT”,PRECISELY IN LINE WITH THE GUIDELINES NACHMAN SPECIFIES, ON THE MOSTBASIC LEVEL. 6. HITBODEDUT AS POETIC LANGUAGE AND GESTALT MONOLOGUE My own translation of this text of Nachman is: "Know that the main pointconcerning negation of one's ego, that a person negates his existence andbecomes nothing and is included in the oneness of The Name, may it beblessed, this is only by means of hitbodedut (that is to say: secluding oneselfand talking to God). Hitbodedut requires a special place and time, so that thehindrances will not confuse him." ע ער רהביטול, ם םל לו וה האין, ל לת תם םיתברך, ן ןה הא אעל-י יהתבודדות. ת תך ךם םן ןמיוחד, א או וו והמונעים. The hindrances in question here are precisely those spelled out in texts ofGestalt therapy under the heading "self-interruptions", and in the writings ofJohann Georg Hamann under the heading "prose versus poetry". In fact, thistext of Nachman is a restatement of the basic tradition of the Lurianic kabbalah moment of tsimtsum 2 (negation of the two sides of an impasse in the void bymeans of getting a new idea), with the crucial addition of a verbal monologue.Nachman's emphasis on the role of language in pietist religion places Nachmansquarely on the road travelled by his predecessor Johann Georg Hamann(1730-1788) in Konigsberg, East Prussia, in his resistance to the GermanEnlightenment movement. Some earlier philosophical roots of Hamann in thephilosophy of inductive thinking of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) aredemonstrated by James O'Flaherty in his analysis of the work of Hamann,entitled "Johann Georg Hamann". In short, what Nachman labels "hitbodedut",Hamann labels "poetry". Frederick Copleston elucidates Hamann's view ofpoetry as the mother language of mankind as follows: "The speech of primitivemen was sensation and passion, and they understood nothing but images. Itwas in music, song and poetry that they expressed themselves." ("A History ofPhilosophy", Volume 6, p. 136) Gestalt therapists make a similar distinctionbetween poetry and prose. A client who is babbling away without muchpersonal connection to his verbiage is "talking literature", while a client whosespeaking is directly related to his authentic actions is considered to be speakingpoetically. Nachman's "heretics" are those of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenmentmovement) who prefer prose (deductive thinking and babbling) to poetry(inductive thinking and committed action) in Hamann's sense of the wordpoetry. See my own extensive commentary on LM 4, entitled "Bacon, Hamannand Nachman" for a detailed treatment. Nachman's emphasis on a monologuein solitude also places Nachman squarely in the tradition of Gestalt therapy,which is a bare bones version of the hitbodudut process: minus the theologicaljargon, minus the rustic solitude hard to find these days, and minus all themelodrama concerning the mystical powers of darkness and King David's harpwhich, says Nachman, begins chiming by itself at the midnight of a hassid'sexistential despair. The hindrances/self-interruptions in the Gestalt formulationare: (1) confluence, (2) introjection, (3) projection, (4) retroflection, (5) egotism.See "Gestalt Therapy" by Perls, Hefferline and Goodman or "Gestalt TherapyVerbatim" by Perls for details. Also, see my 90 minute video, "Hitbodedut", foran illustration of these Gestalt self-interruptions at work during the hitbodedutprocess. The defining traits of "poetic language" in contrast to prose, accordingto O'Flaherty's analysis of Hamann are: (1) imagery, (2) analogy, (3) parataxis, (4) paradox, (5) multiple levels of language, (6) affective terminology. SeeO'Flaherty for details. My aim in this clinical and philosophical dissection ofNachman's pietist process of hitbodudut has not been to disparage the process itself. What Nachman of Breslav calls "Hitbodedut" and Fritz Perls calls "Concentration Therapy" or "Gestalt Therapy" and Johann Georg Hamann calls"Poetry" is a dimension of human experience of crucial importance, a dimensionwhich indeed accomplishes very well the goals Nachman of Breslav or Fritz Perlsor Johann Georg Hamann claim it accomplishes. I merely am suggesting thatonce the hitbodedut process is carefully demystified, and the bones are pickedclean of obfuscating viscera and suspect chauvinistic motives, hitbodedut isrendered much more useful for many different types of people in manydifferent sets of circumstances, for example, training for spiritually inclinedperformers of a not so frum Jewish theater. A pharmaceutical wedding betweenNachman's medicine and Fritz Perls' medicine in a Hamann inspired poeticcrucible would preserve the best of all three systems, while reserving the pureNachman, pure Fritz and pure Hamann versions for specific populations most inneed of either a purely hassidic redemption, or a purely secular healing, or apurely spiritual poetry, respectively. ALSO THIS PROCESS IS GESTALT THERAPY AND POETRY, AS I JUST HAVE SPELLEDOUT. IN FACT, THIS PROCESS FITS PRECISELY INTO THE MOST CLASSICALDEFINITIONS OF POETRY OF THE DRAMATIC ACTION SORT. THE MOMENT OF CRISIS AND DEATH OF EGO EQUIVALENT TO THE FOURTH ACT OF A GREEKTRAGEDY IS THAT IN WHICH THE PROTAGONIST, FRANKLYN, GIVES UP HISIDENTITY AS AN AGING FAILURE AND SURRENDERS TO THE HERE AND NOW SITUATION, HOWEVER WE MAY CARE TO DESCRIBE IT. WHETHER HE HASSUCCEEDING IN FINDING A MOMENT OF “LIFE ON FIRE” IS FOR THE AUDIENCE TO DECIDE. AS FOR THE PRESENT WRITER, I FEEL A CERTAIN CATHARSIS THAT IHAVE MANAGED TO GIVE POETIC FORM TO A MAJOR LIFE PASSAGE MOMENT. POET DYLAN THOMAS FOUND HIS OWN WAY TO EXPRESS A SIMILAR LIFE PASSAGE MOMENT IN HIS POEM, “DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOODNIGHT”. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on that sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
26 May 2012
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part 2. THE ROOM commentary, based on likutei moharan 52, 51 of nachman of breslav, plato, schopenhauer, symbolism, expression. LIKUTEI MOHARAN 52 IN RELATION TO THE GESTALT MONOLOGUE: “THE ROOM” 1. DEDUCTIVE THINKING IS MERELY THE FIRST STEP TO SEEKING REALITY. Here is the opening sentence of essay 52 of "Likutei Moharan", the "CollectedEssays" of Nachman of Breslav. And here is the official Breslav Research Institute translation: "there are heretics who say that the world is a necessary reality". The first point I want to make isthat what Nachman in this statement is labeling "necessary reality", or moreliterally, "obligated finding", is what Gestalt therapists call "confluence", fromthe Latin roots "con" (with) and "fluere" (to flow). For Gestalt therapists"confluence" means a near total lack of here and now awareness, as is seen inautism, psychosis and certain master manipulators such as an Adolf Hitler.Instead of being grounded in reality, the person is identifying with, flowingalong with fixed deductive systems, a matrix of habits which he justifies bysimple cause and effect logic. Since "the system" appears to make sense,therefore the system is "necessary reality". For example, "I am right, thereforeyou must be wrong," or "I am good, therefore you must be evil" is a way ofthinking that "makes sense" and seems to be necessarily the case for a mindthat relies primarily upon the syllogisms of deductive thinking to solveproblems. THE SHOW BEGINS WITH WHAT LOOKS LIKE AN ORDINARY REAL LIFE ROOM,WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS. But from the point of view of a more encompassing "dialectical" thinking, thisdeductive sort of logic is merely the first stage of authentic thinking which aimsat truth. This deductive stage is merely the "thesis", a comforting illusion ordream of oneness, identity, based on our everyday habits, our manipulativegames which have frozen into a dead shell around our true self. True,Maimonides does say that the Word first comes to us on the side of rationalthinking. That is to say, first we need to use all our deductive "wits" to deal withthe situation - until we get stuck. And of course soon we will get stuck if werely primarily upon deductive logic, which is a way of thinking which movesfrom general abstract assumptions to particulars which stem from those ישם םם םם םא אב בת ת general assumptions. For example, if my general assumption is that "today is anice day", what do I make of the fact that it just rained on my picnic? How can anice day also be not a nice day? Likewise, in Gestalt dreamwork we begin withour defective, incomplete notion of what we think is "awareness" and weproceed until our self-interruptions, the holes in our contact boundary, lead usto impasses. We begin with by simply telling the dream as we dreamed it, in thehere and now. But this is only 1/60 of the Word. The dreamwork process aimsat correcting this illusion and providing the rest of the existential message.Shifting to a kabbalistic and alchemical point of view, we can say we descenddeductively on the left side of the tree of life from alchemical water toalchemical earth, as our initial simple abstract idea trickles into its manyapparently logical but nevertheless conflicting consequences. This is deductive,cause and effect logic. Then, in the new state of alchemical earth all reality is afragmented clog of apparently totally unreconcilable points of view. We arestuck at an impasse. Heretics, according to Nachman, fail to complete the cycleof dialectical logic by neglecting the right side of the tree of life, the side whichrelies upon inductive thinking. The inductive process begins as alchemical airdiscovers spaces within the clumps of alchemical earth. Then, within thesevoids there descend from on high sparks of alchemical fire which burn up theimpasses of alchemical earth and encompass the burnt crusts in a redeeminginferno which wafts them back up to the One Without A Second, at which pointthe dialectical cycle begins anew. Cycle after cycle, this is an endless spiral ofdescents for the sake of ever higher ascents. DOING THE GESTALT IDENTIFICATIONS OPENS UP THE HOLES IN ALCHEMICAL EARTH, AND THEN THE NEW FIERY IDEAS BEGIN TO ILLUMINATE THE IMAGES,SUCH AS “A LIFE ON FIRE” DESPITE FACT THAT THE PRESENT SITUATION IS RATHER DEPRESSING. 2. DIALECTICAL THINKING COMBINES DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION. The official Breslav translation of this next paragraph is: "the truth is that theworld and all it contains is a contingent reality. Only the Holy One mustnecessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all they contain need notnecessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For God had the ability,the power and the alternative to create them or to not create them. Thereforethe world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." ת תם םו וא אי יהמציאות. י יק קם םך ךד דא אב בהמציאות,ל לל לת תם םל לר רם םם םי יהמציאות. י יא אך ךם םש שמאין,ו וו וו וך ךה הם םו וא אלבראם, על-ן ןי יל לם םו וא אי יהמציאות. This paragraph shows us how Nachman deals with the cul-de-sac resultingfrom the assumption that the world is an unchangable necessary reality. We seethat Nachman does a subtle figure/ground reversal, without telling us he isdoing it. He shifts from deductive logic to inductive logic, from a descent on theleft side of the tree of life to an ascent on the right side of the tree of life.Previously he was descending from the one idea, the dialectical "thesis", to itsmany conflicting ramifications. Now he is ascending from an infinite number ofparticular awareness moments, each one emerging as a spark of alchemical firefrom the void of alchemical air. The infinite moments of awareness in the here and now are the dialectical "antithesis" of the original single idea frozen into adeductive system. Gradually these gestalts, monads, living organisms thatconstitute the contact boundary congeal into their ultimate integration back inthe One, as the One in the many, as identity in difference, as God in the world.And this final integration is the third stage of dialectical thinking, the"synthesis". BEGINNING THE GESTALT INDUCTIVE WORK IS THIS SHIFT OF DIRECTION ON THE TREE OF LIFE, FROM DESCENT TO ASCENT BASED ON FAITH THAT THEPROCESS WILL LEAD SOMEWHERE. The outcome is that what Nachman calls "the world" is no longer a comfortingillusion of abstract oneness enjoyed by what he labels "heretics", but rather theworld is an endless kaleidoscopic array of here and now contact experiences inthe environment, in our body and in our fantasies, enjoyed by any truly saneand truth seeking person. Autistic children and logically stillborn "heretics" findthis logical reversal to be very threatening, since their safe repetitive rituals andsyllogisms, concocted for an abstract deductive world, are not well adapted to aconcrete, organic, inductive world. It is like shifting from looking at a paintingor dream from the outside to living in the world of that painting or dream, withall its bewildering possibilities. In Gestalt dreamwork this transition from seeingthe dream as a painting out there to living it completely in the here and now,"saying it with your whole body", is accomplished only gradually over a periodof hours, weeks or months, as the protagonist peels away layer upon layer offrozen childhood habits to arrive - he hopes - at a certain level of maturity.This dreamwork process unveils the remaining 59/60 of the prophetic messagethat constitutes "the existential message of the dream" in secular jargon. THE WOMAN IN THE SHOW IS AMBIVALENT ABOUT THE MAN’S AGENDA. SHE NEEDS HER BOX, BUT EVEN MORE SHE NEEDS TO BE A JACK IN THE BOX. THEJACK IN THE BOX IMAGE IS APPROPRIATE, SINCE NEITHER ONE LETS GO OF THEBOX COMPLETELY. IT IS ENOUGH TO BE BLOWING IN THE WIND. Note that Nachman is anything but "objective" in his evaluation of the situation.He labels anyone who is not totally committed to his own phenomenologicalorientation a heretic, without even the slightest hint as to what is his underlyinglogical frame of reference. Therefore, in order to read Nachman from any pointof view other than that of sheep following a shepherd blindly, we must supplythe missing manual, the missing logical infrastructure, ourselves. Actually, thistask is not difficult to do. For once we decode Nachman's theological jargonword by word we find right there in his text all the elements we need to peerinto his inductive, phenomenological, Gestalt therapy, poetically spiritualizedway of interpreting reality. 3. DECODING NACHMAN'S TEXT: KEY TERMS As a matter of fact, Nachman's text itself demands that we decode his message,since anyone who does not decode his message (and this includes most of hisstarry eyed, intellectually muddled disciples) arrives at totally absurdconclusions. Here is one glaring example. Nachman says: ה הר רו וו ות תישראל, ה הי ים םא את תב בהמציאות. A superficial translation would be that of the Breslav Research Institute: "forafter the souls of Israel were issued and brought down, now the world iscertainly in the aspect of necessary reality ". Then, Nachman's next sentence is:"For the world and all it contains were created only for Israel, as is known. AndIsrael rules the world!!!" This, of course, is rubbish, very dangerous rubbish. Ahundred years after Nachman and other naive Jewish rabbis penned suchrubbish, later generations of Jews encountered the response of those "heretics"to Nachman's arrogance. Certain "heretics" metamorphosed Nachman's textinto "The Protocols of The Elders of Zion". All the heretics needed to do was substitute "money" or "gold" for "awareness", as the glue which holds the Jewishpeople together and is the true Source of Jewish vitality and dominance. Andthen, fifty years after the Protocols came the Holocaust, which might be seen asEurope's "final solution" to the problem created by Jewish apocalypticchauvinists. So much for "Israel uber alles!" We may conclude, then, that eitherNachman of Breslav was totally meshuggeneh, or there must be some othermessage hidden in lesson 52 of Likutei Moharan (LM 52) besides that conveyedby the official Breslav Research Institute translation of the text. THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW IS FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF DEDUCTIVE LOGIC, WITH EACH NEW IDENTIFICATION LEADING TO A NEW HOLE IN THATMATRIX, UNTIL GRADUALLY THE RIVER BECOMES THE DOMINANT METAPHORAND THE WOMAN’S FINAL RESISTANCE BECOMES JUST A FADING IMAGE, A CLOD OF ALCHEMICAL EARTH BURNING UP IN THE FIERY LIGHT OF THE OVERALL SUPEROBJECTIVE. Let us begin our translating project, or rather our decoding project, once again.This time we will try to ferret out what Nachman actually meant. Or even if hedid not mean it, we need here to sift out the wheat from the chaff, since if wedo so it turns out that indeed there is much wheat to be found in this Torah commentary. In the meantime we will leave the totalitarian nonsense for thosewho crave that nonsense. Code word number one here is "Israel", which forNachman codes for all those who find a proper balance between deductive andinductive logic, with a slight emphasis on the side of inductive logic asMaimonides requires for wannabe prophets. Then the non-Israelites, i.e., therest of the world, are those unfortunates who rely primarily upon deductivelogic, such as the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus. It is black and white forNachman: induction or deduction, Israel or Egypt, good guys or bad guys,redeemed Jews or godforsaken goyim. He does not spell it out here, but inother essays Nachman makes much of ancient Egyptians as those who rely ondeductive logic. Here in LM 52 the Egyptians are generalized to all "heretics"who rely primarily upon deductive logic, not only the imaginary, much abusedEgyptians. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW THERE IS THE LIGHT INSIDE AND THE TOILET OUTSIDE. GRADUALLY THE SIMPLE DICHOTOMY GOODGUYS/BADGUYS GETSBLURED, AS THE NARRATOR GETS INTO WHAT AT FIRST SEEMS TO HIM TO BEHIS “SEEMY SIDE”. LATER THIS ERUPTION OF ORGASMIC ENERGY TURNS OUT TO BE WHAT IS NEEDED TO OVERCOME THE INTHEBOX/OUTSIDETHEBOX SPLIT ANDMOVE FROM UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO THE SUPEROBJECTIVE, FROM EVE/ADAM,BINAH/CHOCHMAH TO KETER, TO THE OHR MAQQIF, TO THE EXISTENTIALMESSAGE OF THE DREAM OR THE WORD OF GOD. Another code word in the above passage which requires careful attention is"neh-ets-lu". The official Breslav translation is: "issued", but literally the wordmeans "risen and drawn near", based on the word "etsel", meaning "near" fromthe root A-TS-L. Now, what is it that rises and draws near when we get in touchwith reality? Answer: "reality" itself, i.e., what is tangible to our senses andother forms of awareness when we operate in an inductive manner, i.e., fromthe concrete particulars to the encompassing integration of the particulars inhigher and higher orders of experience. The ultimate integration of awarenessexperiences goes by many labels, such as the glory of God, or Aristotle's "finalcause", or Plato's "anamnesis" (remembering primordial ideas). And so we findourselves in the framework of Gestalt therapy, since it is "figures" which rise upfrom the (back)ground and draw near to us when we take time for awarenessexperiences. Gestalt therapists label these rising figures "gestalts", which also alludes to their organic living reality, wholeness or pattern. Each moment ofawareness is posited as a living organism, a strong gestalt, which gobbles upand encompasses lower levels of similar living realities, weaker gesalts. Leibnizlabels the gestalts "monads", since each one is in a sense a single world ofexperience, whether referring to our everyday world, or infinitely large "worlds",or infinitely small "worlds". For Nachman and for Leibniz it is worlds withinworlds within worlds, as endlessly as God is the "endless" (Hebrew: "eyn sof"). AS THE SHOW GOES ON, MORE AND MORE GESTALTS, MONADS OPEN UP THENATURALISTIC MATRIX OF SIMPLY A “ROOM”, UNTIL BY THE END OF THE SHOWTHIS “ROOM” HAS ASCENDED VIA THE SPIRALING DIALECTIC TO THE LEVEL OF “HA-MAKOM” OR THE MERKAVAH, BY ENTERING TOTALLY INTO THEPOSSIBILITIES OF THE SITUATION, THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE ACTION. 4. THE PHILOSOPHICAL CONTEXT: ARISTOTLE, PLATO, LEIBNIZ, GESTALT Here again is the text which specifies necessary and contingent existence. Let'sdissect it within the framework we have just established. We'll begin once again with the official Breslav translation of the paragraph,which is: "the truth is that the world and all it contains is a contingent reality.Only the Holy One must necessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all theycontain need not necessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For Godhad the ability, the power and the alternative to create them or to not createthem. Therefore the world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." The Hebrew word for "existence" here is "m'tsi-ute", which means literally "whatis found", from the root M-TS-A, "to find". Again we are guided in the directionof inductive thinking based on awareness. Awareness is what we find/contactwhen to stop doing things deliberately and open ourselves to encountering theobjects of our experience in a middle way, active passivity manner. We beginwith moments of awareness and gradually we discover that these moments arepart of a river of experience that is flowing towards a certain final integration ofall types of awareness: environmental, bodily and fantasy. This subconscious orsuperconscious river does not flow when we are striving deliberately towards agoal definable within a deductive system or matrix, but it does flow when wesimply are getting in touch with all the realities of the moment, the situation,the circumstances. Heightened awareness leads to a mobilizing of the total ת תם םו וא אי יהמציאות. י יק קם םך ךד דא אב בהמציאות,ל לל לת תם םל לר רם םם םי יהמציאות. י יא אך ךם םש שמאין,ו וו וו וך ךה הם םו וא אלבראם, על-ן ןי יל לם םו וא אי יהמציאות. organism, so that once an optimal state of readiness is attained authenticaction emerges spontaneously. "Say it with your whole body" is the Gestalttherapy maxim here. Taoists say, if you want to hit the target aim for the Taoand not for the target, which is their way to putting the emphasis on inductiverather than deductive thinking. And in Judaism total involvement in all therealities of the situation is another name for God, "the Place" (Hebrew: ha-Makom). We recall the definition of "local motion" which Maimonides took fromAristotle: motion in one place and in a circle, which is the basis of the spiralingdialectic of the logos, the Word, the tree of life, the Merkavah upon which God"rides on the Aravot". THE NARRATOR, FRANKLYN, TELLS US HOW HAS GIVEN UP ON HIS DELIBERATE,DEDUCTIVE ATTEMPT TO FIND PERFORMERS TO WORK WITH THAT WILL PAY HIM TO HELP PAY THE RENT, INSTEAD HE HAS DECIDED TO DO THE WORKHIMSELF SIMPLY FOR ITS OWN SAKE, “L’SHEM SHAMAYIM” (HEBREW: “FOR THESAKE OF HEAVEN”). AND YET BY DOING SO HE DISCOVERS OTHER MORECOMPELLING NEEDS WHICH HE BEGINS TO DEAL WITH VIA THE GESTALT PROCESS (HITBODEDUT). ESPECIALLY HE GETS IN TOUCH WITH HIS ADVANCINGAGE AND THE FACT THAT “IT IS GETTING HARDER TO FIND CANARIES”. Going back to the paragraph from Nachman above, what necessarily is found(exists) if we continue our finding is the ultimate integration of all awarenessesand motivations of the situation into action which is totally appropriate for thecircumstances. Entering totally into this now time and this now place leadsinexorably to holistic experience "necessary", "obligated", in this time andplace. The drive towards this strongest gestalt is what Nachman refers to as"obligated finding", which the Breslav Research Institute translates vaguely as"necessary existence". Only the strongest gestalt possible in a specific time andplace is an "obligated finding" in that sense. If we look at the big picture of theentire world, then, of course, for Nachman God is that largest gestalt, ha-Makom. Many philosophical systems have their own version of this process. ForAristotle it is the "final cause" which, like a magnet, pulls us towards authenticaction in concrete circumstances. Nachman uses this Aristotelian point of view.He also uses the Platonic point of view. In the Prologue to Likutei Moharan hehas Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai tell us that "the Torah will not be forgotten". Thisis a code for Platonic "anamnesis", "not forgetting" the primordial ideas ofdialectical thinking: Abraham (awareness, the thesis), Isaac (difference,conflicts, the antithesis), and Jacob (identity in difference, authentic action,enlightenment, the synthesis). For Nachman the Covenant (Hebrew: "brit") whichmust not be forgotten is on the most basic level a commitment to dialecticlogic. Thus Nachman uses the term "Israel" to represent those who availthemselves of the complete dialectic by combining deduction and induction. Itis this Covenant which binds Israel to God, as the stages of dialectical thinking are bound to the Aristotelian final cause at the end of a long tunnel or to thePlatonic idea at the origin of the seductive illusion we assume uncritically weknow as "reality". But what about the phrase the Research Institute translates as "contingentexistence"? First of all, the literal meaning is "scattered finding", from the rootP-Sh-R, meaning "to divide". See the Talmudic dictionary for this antique senseof the word. Division is what we find in our here and now awareness experienceof inductive thinking. The myriad figures that rise here and now from theground of possibilities are scattered willy-nilly without any apparent system atfirst. This "scattered finding" ("Contingent existence") does not appear at first tobe a "necessary, obligated finding", unless, that is, we commit ourselves totallyto following the river of awareness back to its Source (Plato) or on to the greatocean (Aristotle). Then, once each moment of awareness has been discovered,it is a part of the higher levels of Gestalt integration as we ascend the right sideof the tree of life. This is the paradox which Nachman is alluding to in LM 52. (1) The final cause, God, is necessarily found if we go with thephenomenological river of experience. (2) But any moment of initial awarenessis merely a chance occurrence, a "scattered finding". (3) Nevertheless,paradoxically, once that moment of awareness has emerged from the ground ofpossibilities it now is locked into the endless process of more and moreencompassing gestalts leading to the particular final cause, strongest gestalt,divinity, archangel, name of God, which is acting as a magnet in the field ofgestalts or monads or (to use Nachman's metaphor) "souls". For in Nachman'sjargon "souls" are gestalts, monads, living centers of consciousness in a spherein which any point, any soul, is potentially the center. If it is your soul at thismoment of the messianic now which is the most inflamed in the search for God or truth, then you at this messianic moment are the center of the Jewishuniverse, the lamed-vavnik, that the Jewish people needs at this moment as aredeemer. Of course, Nachman has his sights on this job, when he sees himselfas the brook in the Prologue to Likutei Moharan. For him the brook implies theproper middle way relation between the river of inductive ideas and itsdeductive banks, the river of chochmah and its binah banks, the river of divinelight and its shekhinah banks, the river of chet and its nun banks (see LM 1). IN THE SHOW THERE IS AN INITIAL, PREMATURE ATTEMPT TO BRING THINGSTOGETHER INTO A RATIONAL COMPROMISE. BUT THE NARRATOR DISCOUNTS THAT COMPROMISE BETWEEN THE GRAY WALLS AND THE RED FLOOR AS BORING, SINCE IT HAS RESULTED FROM THE ANTAGONISTS NOT REALLYCOMMITTING THEMSELVES TO THE DEEPER STRUGGLE OF DEDUCTION VS INDUCTION, REASON VERSUS AWARENESS. NEXT, THE “AIR” CHARACTER ENTERSAS A NEW POINT OF VIEW ENTIRELY: THAT OF “SCATTERED FINDING” VERSUS THE “OBLIGATED FINDING” OF ANY SORT OF SYSTEM. HIS POINT OF VIEW IS THAT OF “CHAOS” VIS-A-VIS THE ROOM WHICH MERELY ENCOMPASSES THE WALL/FLOOR DIALECTIC IN A DEDUCTIVE PAIR OF OPPOSITES. THISALCHEMICAL AIR OR ETHER CREATES AN INFINITE NUMBER OF VOIDS IN THE ALREADY SOMEWHAT PERFORATED MATRIX SYMBOLIZED BY THE ROOM. AFTER ENCOUNTERING THE CHAOS OF THE AIR, THE NARRATOR REALIZES THATCOMPROMISE IS NOT THE OBJECT OF HIS QUEST. HIS NEW QUEST IS “A LIFE ONFIRE”, AND THIS ANNOUNCES THE EMERGENCE OF ALCHEMICAL FIRE FROM THEVOID OF ALCHEMICAL AIR. UP UNTIL NOW THINGS HAVE BEEN TOO EASY. WHAT IS CALLED FOR NOW IS CREATIVE AGGRESSION TO COMPLETE THE NEGATION OF THE NEGATIONS OF THE ONE WITHOUT A SECOND, TO CHEW UP ANDOBLITERATE COMPLETELY THE ALREADY STRESSED OUT DEDUCTIVE SYSTEM. THE ENERGY FOR THE CREATIVE AGGRESSION NEEDS TO COME FROM SOME SORT OF EXPLOSION INTO AUTHENTIC ACTION WHICH RESULTS FROM THE ASCENT OF SMALL GESTALTS TO THE LEVEL OF LARGE, ENCOMPASSINGGESTALTS, WHAT NACHMAN LABELS IN LM 1 “YAALAT CHEN”, THE ASCENT OFTHE SUBJECT/OBJECT RELATIONSHIP VIA INDUCTIVE THINKING. THE FOURMAJOR SORTS OF EXPLOSIONS FRITZ PERLS MENTIONS IN HIS “GESTALT THERAPY VERBATIM” ARE GRIEF, ANGER, JOY, AND ORGASM. IN THIS SHOW,“THE ROOM”, THE FINAL EXPLOSION COMBINES ALL FOUR SORTS: GRIEF AT THEPASSING OF YOUTH, ANGER AT REJECTION BY WOMEN CLOSED UP IN THEIRBOURGEOIS BOX, JOY AT OVERCOMING ALL THE REMAINING OBSTACLES ANDORGASM AS MALE AND FEMALE, CHOCHMAH AND BINAH, ADAM AND EVECOALESCE INTO ONENESS THOUGH WITHOUT SURRENDERING THEIR DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW COMPLETELY. THIS IS THE NECESSARY DIALECTICAL SYNTHESIS NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE DRAMATIC ACTION: IDENTITY IN DIFFERENCE, THEONE IN THE MANY, OR (FOR THE RELIGIOUSLY INCLINED) GOD IN THE WORLD. 5. BARE BONES HITBODEDUT With this philosophical context in place, we now can easily unravel the rest ofNachman's prescription for religious perfection based on what he calls"hitbodedut". As usual we will find Nachman's unfolds his tale on two levels, thesimple level for simple folk and the more complex level for more sophisticatedseekers after truth. Here we need not go word by word through Nachman's text,since the implications of the basic philosophical structure already are muchmore obvious than is the buried structure which we just have ferreted out fromNachman's hassidically tinted prose. We see immediately, for example, that weneed not take Nachman literally when he tells us to do hitbodedut only at nightand alone. For the process works just as well, perhaps even better, in a well litroom when supervised by a Gestalt therapist with a group of perhaps 50 fellowpilgrims observing - provided, of course, that the observers respect the processand do not meddle by trying to be "helpful". Gestalt therapy originally waslabeled by its founder Fritz Perls "concentration therapy", with the assumption that the sort of concentration called for in the process is of the inductive sort.In general, participants in a Gestalt group session discover that the power ofawareness work is so formidable that most people can focus reasonably well ontheir own phenomenological river and ignore what other people who areobserving might be thinking deductively. MERELY THE FACT THAT I WAS ABLE TO DO THIS PROCESS IN A WELL LIT ROOM SITTING AT MY KEYBOARD AND COMPUTER, AND ENVISIONING AN AUDIENCEOF BILLIONS ON THE INTERNET DEMONSTRATES THAT WHAT IS IMPORTANT HERE IS THE LOGICAL PROCESS OF INDUCTION, AWARENESS, AND NOT THETHEATRICAL EFFECTS THAT HASSIDIM CRAVE, ALONG WITH THEIR 18THCENTURY WARDROBE. What comes to mind regarding the river of inductive thinking is the childhoodditti: "Row, row, row the boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily,merrily, life is but a dream!" That is to say, if we flow with the river ofawareness, we have an opportunity to wake up from our silly dream ofdeductive thinking and get a lot closer to reality itself. Or as Nachman wouldput it, we can discover easily how we got stuck being heretics. Once we see howwe got stuck, then we also see how easy it is to get un-stuck. Nachman says,"pray, study, pray!" That is to say, shift the balance of your life so that most ofyour focus is on inductive experiences rather than deductive experiences. ForNachman, "praying" equates, once again, to a proper middle way balance ofdeductive and inductive thinking, while "studying" equates to an overemphasisupon deductive thinking. Nachman develops this notion of what prayer is in LM 2. See my essay on LM 2, "Simple As Child's Play" for details. THE PROCESS I HAVE JUST DEMONSTRATED IS “PRAYER”, “HITBODEDUT”,PRECISELY IN LINE WITH THE GUIDELINES NACHMAN SPECIFIES, ON THE MOSTBASIC LEVEL. 6. HITBODEDUT AS POETIC LANGUAGE AND GESTALT MONOLOGUE My own translation of this text of Nachman is: "Know that the main pointconcerning negation of one's ego, that a person negates his existence andbecomes nothing and is included in the oneness of The Name, may it beblessed, this is only by means of hitbodedut (that is to say: secluding oneselfand talking to God). Hitbodedut requires a special place and time, so that thehindrances will not confuse him." ע ער רהביטול, ם םל לו וה האין, ל לת תם םיתברך, ן ןה הא אעל-י יהתבודדות. ת תך ךם םן ןמיוחד, א או וו והמונעים. The hindrances in question here are precisely those spelled out in texts ofGestalt therapy under the heading "self-interruptions", and in the writings ofJohann Georg Hamann under the heading "prose versus poetry". In fact, thistext of Nachman is a restatement of the basic tradition of the Lurianic kabbalah moment of tsimtsum 2 (negation of the two sides of an impasse in the void bymeans of getting a new idea), with the crucial addition of a verbal monologue.Nachman's emphasis on the role of language in pietist religion places Nachmansquarely on the road travelled by his predecessor Johann Georg Hamann(1730-1788) in Konigsberg, East Prussia, in his resistance to the GermanEnlightenment movement. Some earlier philosophical roots of Hamann in thephilosophy of inductive thinking of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) aredemonstrated by James O'Flaherty in his analysis of the work of Hamann,entitled "Johann Georg Hamann". In short, what Nachman labels "hitbodedut",Hamann labels "poetry". Frederick Copleston elucidates Hamann's view ofpoetry as the mother language of mankind as follows: "The speech of primitivemen was sensation and passion, and they understood nothing but images. Itwas in music, song and poetry that they expressed themselves." ("A History ofPhilosophy", Volume 6, p. 136) Gestalt therapists make a similar distinctionbetween poetry and prose. A client who is babbling away without muchpersonal connection to his verbiage is "talking literature", while a client whosespeaking is directly related to his authentic actions is considered to be speakingpoetically. Nachman's "heretics" are those of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenmentmovement) who prefer prose (deductive thinking and babbling) to poetry(inductive thinking and committed action) in Hamann's sense of the wordpoetry. See my own extensive commentary on LM 4, entitled "Bacon, Hamannand Nachman" for a detailed treatment. Nachman's emphasis on a monologuein solitude also places Nachman squarely in the tradition of Gestalt therapy,which is a bare bones version of the hitbodudut process: minus the theologicaljargon, minus the rustic solitude hard to find these days, and minus all themelodrama concerning the mystical powers of darkness and King David's harpwhich, says Nachman, begins chiming by itself at the midnight of a hassid'sexistential despair. The hindrances/self-interruptions in the Gestalt formulationare: (1) confluence, (2) introjection, (3) projection, (4) retroflection, (5) egotism.See "Gestalt Therapy" by Perls, Hefferline and Goodman or "Gestalt TherapyVerbatim" by Perls for details. Also, see my 90 minute video, "Hitbodedut", foran illustration of these Gestalt self-interruptions at work during the hitbodedutprocess. The defining traits of "poetic language" in contrast to prose, accordingto O'Flaherty's analysis of Hamann are: (1) imagery, (2) analogy, (3) parataxis, (4) paradox, (5) multiple levels of language, (6) affective terminology. SeeO'Flaherty for details. My aim in this clinical and philosophical dissection ofNachman's pietist process of hitbodudut has not been to disparage the process itself. What Nachman of Breslav calls "Hitbodedut" and Fritz Perls calls "Concentration Therapy" or "Gestalt Therapy" and Johann Georg Hamann calls"Poetry" is a dimension of human experience of crucial importance, a dimensionwhich indeed accomplishes very well the goals Nachman of Breslav or Fritz Perlsor Johann Georg Hamann claim it accomplishes. I merely am suggesting thatonce the hitbodedut process is carefully demystified, and the bones are pickedclean of obfuscating viscera and suspect chauvinistic motives, hitbodedut isrendered much more useful for many different types of people in manydifferent sets of circumstances, for example, training for spiritually inclinedperformers of a not so frum Jewish theater. A pharmaceutical wedding betweenNachman's medicine and Fritz Perls' medicine in a Hamann inspired poeticcrucible would preserve the best of all three systems, while reserving the pureNachman, pure Fritz and pure Hamann versions for specific populations most inneed of either a purely hassidic redemption, or a purely secular healing, or apurely spiritual poetry, respectively. ALSO THIS PROCESS IS GESTALT THERAPY AND POETRY, AS I JUST HAVE SPELLEDOUT. IN FACT, THIS PROCESS FITS PRECISELY INTO THE MOST CLASSICALDEFINITIONS OF POETRY OF THE DRAMATIC ACTION SORT. THE MOMENT OF CRISIS AND DEATH OF EGO EQUIVALENT TO THE FOURTH ACT OF A GREEKTRAGEDY IS THAT IN WHICH THE PROTAGONIST, FRANKLYN, GIVES UP HISIDENTITY AS AN AGING FAILURE AND SURRENDERS TO THE HERE AND NOW SITUATION, HOWEVER WE MAY CARE TO DESCRIBE IT. WHETHER HE HASSUCCEEDING IN FINDING A MOMENT OF “LIFE ON FIRE” IS FOR THE AUDIENCE TO DECIDE. AS FOR THE PRESENT WRITER, I FEEL A CERTAIN CATHARSIS THAT IHAVE MANAGED TO GIVE POETIC FORM TO A MAJOR LIFE PASSAGE MOMENT. POET DYLAN THOMAS FOUND HIS OWN WAY TO EXPRESS A SIMILAR LIFE PASSAGE MOMENT IN HIS POEM, “DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOODNIGHT”. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on that sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
27 May 2012
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part 3. THE ROOM commentary, based on likutei moharan 52, 51 of nachman of breslav, plato, schopenhauer, symbolism, expression, gestalt therapy, bertolt brecht, stanislavski, mabou mines theater. LIKUTEI MOHARAN 52 IN RELATION TO THE GESTALT MONOLOGUE: “THE ROOM” 1. DEDUCTIVE THINKING IS MERELY THE FIRST STEP TO SEEKING REALITY. Here is the opening sentence of essay 52 of "Likutei Moharan", the "CollectedEssays" of Nachman of Breslav. And here is the official Breslav Research Institute translation: "there are heretics who say that the world is a necessary reality". The first point I want to make isthat what Nachman in this statement is labeling "necessary reality", or moreliterally, "obligated finding", is what Gestalt therapists call "confluence", fromthe Latin roots "con" (with) and "fluere" (to flow). For Gestalt therapists"confluence" means a near total lack of here and now awareness, as is seen inautism, psychosis and certain master manipulators such as an Adolf Hitler.Instead of being grounded in reality, the person is identifying with, flowingalong with fixed deductive systems, a matrix of habits which he justifies bysimple cause and effect logic. Since "the system" appears to make sense,therefore the system is "necessary reality". For example, "I am right, thereforeyou must be wrong," or "I am good, therefore you must be evil" is a way ofthinking that "makes sense" and seems to be necessarily the case for a mindthat relies primarily upon the syllogisms of deductive thinking to solveproblems. THE SHOW BEGINS WITH WHAT LOOKS LIKE AN ORDINARY REAL LIFE ROOM,WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS. But from the point of view of a more encompassing "dialectical" thinking, thisdeductive sort of logic is merely the first stage of authentic thinking which aimsat truth. This deductive stage is merely the "thesis", a comforting illusion ordream of oneness, identity, based on our everyday habits, our manipulativegames which have frozen into a dead shell around our true self. True,Maimonides does say that the Word first comes to us on the side of rationalthinking. That is to say, first we need to use all our deductive "wits" to deal withthe situation - until we get stuck. And of course soon we will get stuck if werely primarily upon deductive logic, which is a way of thinking which movesfrom general abstract assumptions to particulars which stem from those ישם םם םם םא אב בת ת general assumptions. For example, if my general assumption is that "today is anice day", what do I make of the fact that it just rained on my picnic? How can anice day also be not a nice day? Likewise, in Gestalt dreamwork we begin withour defective, incomplete notion of what we think is "awareness" and weproceed until our self-interruptions, the holes in our contact boundary, lead usto impasses. We begin with by simply telling the dream as we dreamed it, in thehere and now. But this is only 1/60 of the Word. The dreamwork process aimsat correcting this illusion and providing the rest of the existential message.Shifting to a kabbalistic and alchemical point of view, we can say we descenddeductively on the left side of the tree of life from alchemical water toalchemical earth, as our initial simple abstract idea trickles into its manyapparently logical but nevertheless conflicting consequences. This is deductive,cause and effect logic. Then, in the new state of alchemical earth all reality is afragmented clog of apparently totally unreconcilable points of view. We arestuck at an impasse. Heretics, according to Nachman, fail to complete the cycleof dialectical logic by neglecting the right side of the tree of life, the side whichrelies upon inductive thinking. The inductive process begins as alchemical airdiscovers spaces within the clumps of alchemical earth. Then, within thesevoids there descend from on high sparks of alchemical fire which burn up theimpasses of alchemical earth and encompass the burnt crusts in a redeeminginferno which wafts them back up to the One Without A Second, at which pointthe dialectical cycle begins anew. Cycle after cycle, this is an endless spiral ofdescents for the sake of ever higher ascents. DOING THE GESTALT IDENTIFICATIONS OPENS UP THE HOLES IN ALCHEMICAL EARTH, AND THEN THE NEW FIERY IDEAS BEGIN TO ILLUMINATE THE IMAGES,SUCH AS “A LIFE ON FIRE” DESPITE FACT THAT THE PRESENT SITUATION IS RATHER DEPRESSING. 2. DIALECTICAL THINKING COMBINES DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION. The official Breslav translation of this next paragraph is: "the truth is that theworld and all it contains is a contingent reality. Only the Holy One mustnecessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all they contain need notnecessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For God had the ability,the power and the alternative to create them or to not create them. Thereforethe world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." ת תם םו וא אי יהמציאות. י יק קם םך ךד דא אב בהמציאות,ל לל לת תם םל לר רם םם םי יהמציאות. י יא אך ךם םש שמאין,ו וו וו וך ךה הם םו וא אלבראם, על-ן ןי יל לם םו וא אי יהמציאות. This paragraph shows us how Nachman deals with the cul-de-sac resultingfrom the assumption that the world is an unchangable necessary reality. We seethat Nachman does a subtle figure/ground reversal, without telling us he isdoing it. He shifts from deductive logic to inductive logic, from a descent on theleft side of the tree of life to an ascent on the right side of the tree of life.Previously he was descending from the one idea, the dialectical "thesis", to itsmany conflicting ramifications. Now he is ascending from an infinite number ofparticular awareness moments, each one emerging as a spark of alchemical firefrom the void of alchemical air. The infinite moments of awareness in the here and now are the dialectical "antithesis" of the original single idea frozen into adeductive system. Gradually these gestalts, monads, living organisms thatconstitute the contact boundary congeal into their ultimate integration back inthe One, as the One in the many, as identity in difference, as God in the world.And this final integration is the third stage of dialectical thinking, the"synthesis". BEGINNING THE GESTALT INDUCTIVE WORK IS THIS SHIFT OF DIRECTION ON THE TREE OF LIFE, FROM DESCENT TO ASCENT BASED ON FAITH THAT THEPROCESS WILL LEAD SOMEWHERE. The outcome is that what Nachman calls "the world" is no longer a comfortingillusion of abstract oneness enjoyed by what he labels "heretics", but rather theworld is an endless kaleidoscopic array of here and now contact experiences inthe environment, in our body and in our fantasies, enjoyed by any truly saneand truth seeking person. Autistic children and logically stillborn "heretics" findthis logical reversal to be very threatening, since their safe repetitive rituals andsyllogisms, concocted for an abstract deductive world, are not well adapted to aconcrete, organic, inductive world. It is like shifting from looking at a paintingor dream from the outside to living in the world of that painting or dream, withall its bewildering possibilities. In Gestalt dreamwork this transition from seeingthe dream as a painting out there to living it completely in the here and now,"saying it with your whole body", is accomplished only gradually over a periodof hours, weeks or months, as the protagonist peels away layer upon layer offrozen childhood habits to arrive - he hopes - at a certain level of maturity.This dreamwork process unveils the remaining 59/60 of the prophetic messagethat constitutes "the existential message of the dream" in secular jargon. THE WOMAN IN THE SHOW IS AMBIVALENT ABOUT THE MAN’S AGENDA. SHE NEEDS HER BOX, BUT EVEN MORE SHE NEEDS TO BE A JACK IN THE BOX. THEJACK IN THE BOX IMAGE IS APPROPRIATE, SINCE NEITHER ONE LETS GO OF THEBOX COMPLETELY. IT IS ENOUGH TO BE BLOWING IN THE WIND. Note that Nachman is anything but "objective" in his evaluation of the situation.He labels anyone who is not totally committed to his own phenomenologicalorientation a heretic, without even the slightest hint as to what is his underlyinglogical frame of reference. Therefore, in order to read Nachman from any pointof view other than that of sheep following a shepherd blindly, we must supplythe missing manual, the missing logical infrastructure, ourselves. Actually, thistask is not difficult to do. For once we decode Nachman's theological jargonword by word we find right there in his text all the elements we need to peerinto his inductive, phenomenological, Gestalt therapy, poetically spiritualizedway of interpreting reality. 3. DECODING NACHMAN'S TEXT: KEY TERMS As a matter of fact, Nachman's text itself demands that we decode his message,since anyone who does not decode his message (and this includes most of hisstarry eyed, intellectually muddled disciples) arrives at totally absurdconclusions. Here is one glaring example. Nachman says: ה הר רו וו ות תישראל, ה הי ים םא את תב בהמציאות. A superficial translation would be that of the Breslav Research Institute: "forafter the souls of Israel were issued and brought down, now the world iscertainly in the aspect of necessary reality ". Then, Nachman's next sentence is:"For the world and all it contains were created only for Israel, as is known. AndIsrael rules the world!!!" This, of course, is rubbish, very dangerous rubbish. Ahundred years after Nachman and other naive Jewish rabbis penned suchrubbish, later generations of Jews encountered the response of those "heretics"to Nachman's arrogance. Certain "heretics" metamorphosed Nachman's textinto "The Protocols of The Elders of Zion". All the heretics needed to do was substitute "money" or "gold" for "awareness", as the glue which holds the Jewishpeople together and is the true Source of Jewish vitality and dominance. Andthen, fifty years after the Protocols came the Holocaust, which might be seen asEurope's "final solution" to the problem created by Jewish apocalypticchauvinists. So much for "Israel uber alles!" We may conclude, then, that eitherNachman of Breslav was totally meshuggeneh, or there must be some othermessage hidden in lesson 52 of Likutei Moharan (LM 52) besides that conveyedby the official Breslav Research Institute translation of the text. THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW IS FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF DEDUCTIVE LOGIC, WITH EACH NEW IDENTIFICATION LEADING TO A NEW HOLE IN THATMATRIX, UNTIL GRADUALLY THE RIVER BECOMES THE DOMINANT METAPHORAND THE WOMAN’S FINAL RESISTANCE BECOMES JUST A FADING IMAGE, A CLOD OF ALCHEMICAL EARTH BURNING UP IN THE FIERY LIGHT OF THE OVERALL SUPEROBJECTIVE. Let us begin our translating project, or rather our decoding project, once again.This time we will try to ferret out what Nachman actually meant. Or even if hedid not mean it, we need here to sift out the wheat from the chaff, since if wedo so it turns out that indeed there is much wheat to be found in this Torah commentary. In the meantime we will leave the totalitarian nonsense for thosewho crave that nonsense. Code word number one here is "Israel", which forNachman codes for all those who find a proper balance between deductive andinductive logic, with a slight emphasis on the side of inductive logic asMaimonides requires for wannabe prophets. Then the non-Israelites, i.e., therest of the world, are those unfortunates who rely primarily upon deductivelogic, such as the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus. It is black and white forNachman: induction or deduction, Israel or Egypt, good guys or bad guys,redeemed Jews or godforsaken goyim. He does not spell it out here, but inother essays Nachman makes much of ancient Egyptians as those who rely ondeductive logic. Here in LM 52 the Egyptians are generalized to all "heretics"who rely primarily upon deductive logic, not only the imaginary, much abusedEgyptians. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW THERE IS THE LIGHT INSIDE AND THE TOILET OUTSIDE. GRADUALLY THE SIMPLE DICHOTOMY GOODGUYS/BADGUYS GETSBLURED, AS THE NARRATOR GETS INTO WHAT AT FIRST SEEMS TO HIM TO BEHIS “SEEMY SIDE”. LATER THIS ERUPTION OF ORGASMIC ENERGY TURNS OUT TO BE WHAT IS NEEDED TO OVERCOME THE INTHEBOX/OUTSIDETHEBOX SPLIT ANDMOVE FROM UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO THE SUPEROBJECTIVE, FROM EVE/ADAM,BINAH/CHOCHMAH TO KETER, TO THE OHR MAQQIF, TO THE EXISTENTIALMESSAGE OF THE DREAM OR THE WORD OF GOD. Another code word in the above passage which requires careful attention is"neh-ets-lu". The official Breslav translation is: "issued", but literally the wordmeans "risen and drawn near", based on the word "etsel", meaning "near" fromthe root A-TS-L. Now, what is it that rises and draws near when we get in touchwith reality? Answer: "reality" itself, i.e., what is tangible to our senses andother forms of awareness when we operate in an inductive manner, i.e., fromthe concrete particulars to the encompassing integration of the particulars inhigher and higher orders of experience. The ultimate integration of awarenessexperiences goes by many labels, such as the glory of God, or Aristotle's "finalcause", or Plato's "anamnesis" (remembering primordial ideas). And so we findourselves in the framework of Gestalt therapy, since it is "figures" which rise upfrom the (back)ground and draw near to us when we take time for awarenessexperiences. Gestalt therapists label these rising figures "gestalts", which also alludes to their organic living reality, wholeness or pattern. Each moment ofawareness is posited as a living organism, a strong gestalt, which gobbles upand encompasses lower levels of similar living realities, weaker gesalts. Leibnizlabels the gestalts "monads", since each one is in a sense a single world ofexperience, whether referring to our everyday world, or infinitely large "worlds",or infinitely small "worlds". For Nachman and for Leibniz it is worlds withinworlds within worlds, as endlessly as God is the "endless" (Hebrew: "eyn sof"). AS THE SHOW GOES ON, MORE AND MORE GESTALTS, MONADS OPEN UP THENATURALISTIC MATRIX OF SIMPLY A “ROOM”, UNTIL BY THE END OF THE SHOWTHIS “ROOM” HAS ASCENDED VIA THE SPIRALING DIALECTIC TO THE LEVEL OF “HA-MAKOM” OR THE MERKAVAH, BY ENTERING TOTALLY INTO THEPOSSIBILITIES OF THE SITUATION, THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE ACTION. 4. THE PHILOSOPHICAL CONTEXT: ARISTOTLE, PLATO, LEIBNIZ, GESTALT Here again is the text which specifies necessary and contingent existence. Let'sdissect it within the framework we have just established. We'll begin once again with the official Breslav translation of the paragraph,which is: "the truth is that the world and all it contains is a contingent reality.Only the Holy One must necessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all theycontain need not necessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For Godhad the ability, the power and the alternative to create them or to not createthem. Therefore the world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." The Hebrew word for "existence" here is "m'tsi-ute", which means literally "whatis found", from the root M-TS-A, "to find". Again we are guided in the directionof inductive thinking based on awareness. Awareness is what we find/contactwhen to stop doing things deliberately and open ourselves to encountering theobjects of our experience in a middle way, active passivity manner. We beginwith moments of awareness and gradually we discover that these moments arepart of a river of experience that is flowing towards a certain final integration ofall types of awareness: environmental, bodily and fantasy. This subconscious or superconscious river does not flow when we are striving deliberately towards agoal definable within a deductive system or matrix, but it does flow when wesimply are getting in touch with all the realities of the moment, the situation,the circumstances. Heightened awareness leads to a mobilizing of the total ת תם םו וא אי יהמציאות. י יק קם םך ךד דא אב בהמציאות,ל לל לת תם םל לר רם םם םי יהמציאות. י יא אך ךם םש שמאין,ו וו וו וך ךה הם םו וא אלבראם, על-ן ןי יל לם םו וא אי יהמציאות. organism, so that once an optimal state of readiness is attained authenticaction emerges spontaneously. "Say it with your whole body" is the Gestalttherapy maxim here. Taoists say, if you want to hit the target aim for the Taoand not for the target, which is their way to putting the emphasis on inductiverather than deductive thinking. And in Judaism total involvement in all therealities of the situation is another name for God, "the Place" (Hebrew: ha-Makom). We recall the definition of "local motion" which Maimonides took fromAristotle: motion in one place and in a circle, which is the basis of the spiralingdialectic of the logos, the Word, the tree of life, the Merkavah upon which God"rides on the Aravot". THE NARRATOR, FRANKLYN, TELLS US HOW HAS GIVEN UP ON HIS DELIBERATE,DEDUCTIVE ATTEMPT TO FIND PERFORMERS TO WORK WITH THAT WILL PAY HIM TO HELP PAY THE RENT, INSTEAD HE HAS DECIDED TO DO THE WORKHIMSELF SIMPLY FOR ITS OWN SAKE, “L’SHEM SHAMAYIM” (HEBREW: “FOR THESAKE OF HEAVEN”). AND YET BY DOING SO HE DISCOVERS OTHER MORECOMPELLING NEEDS WHICH HE BEGINS TO DEAL WITH VIA THE GESTALT PROCESS (HITBODEDUT). ESPECIALLY HE GETS IN TOUCH WITH HIS ADVANCINGAGE AND THE FACT THAT “IT IS GETTING HARDER TO FIND CANARIES”. Going back to the paragraph from Nachman above, what necessarily is found(exists) if we continue our finding is the ultimate integration of all awarenessesand motivations of the situation into action which is totally appropriate for thecircumstances. Entering totally into this now time and this now place leadsinexorably to holistic experience "necessary", "obligated", in this time andplace. The drive towards this strongest gestalt is what Nachman refers to as"obligated finding", which the Breslav Research Institute translates vaguely as"necessary existence". Only the strongest gestalt possible in a specific time andplace is an "obligated finding" in that sense. If we look at the big picture of theentire world, then, of course, for Nachman God is that largest gestalt, ha-Makom. Many philosophical systems have their own version of this process. ForAristotle it is the "final cause" which, like a magnet, pulls us towards authenticaction in concrete circumstances. Nachman uses this Aristotelian point of view.He also uses the Platonic point of view. In the Prologue to Likutei Moharan hehas Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai tell us that "the Torah will not be forgotten". Thisis a code for Platonic "anamnesis", "not forgetting" the primordial ideas ofdialectical thinking: Abraham (awareness, the thesis), Isaac (difference,conflicts, the antithesis), and Jacob (identity in difference, authentic action,enlightenment, the synthesis). For Nachman the Covenant (Hebrew: "brit") whichmust not be forgotten is on the most basic level a commitment to dialecticlogic. Thus Nachman uses the term "Israel" to represent those who availthemselves of the complete dialectic by combining deduction and induction. Itis this Covenant which binds Israel to God, as the stages of dialectical thinking are bound to the Aristotelian final cause at the end of a long tunnel or to thePlatonic idea at the origin of the seductive illusion we assume uncritically weknow as "reality". But what about the phrase the Research Institute translates as "contingentexistence"? First of all, the literal meaning is "scattered finding", from the rootP-Sh-R, meaning "to divide". See the Talmudic dictionary for this antique senseof the word. Division is what we find in our here and now awareness experienceof inductive thinking. The myriad figures that rise here and now from theground of possibilities are scattered willy-nilly without any apparent system atfirst. This "scattered finding" ("Contingent existence") does not appear at first tobe a "necessary, obligated finding", unless, that is, we commit ourselves totallyto following the river of awareness back to its Source (Plato) or on to the greatocean (Aristotle). Then, once each moment of awareness has been discovered,it is a part of the higher levels of Gestalt integration as we ascend the right sideof the tree of life. This is the paradox which Nachman is alluding to in LM 52. (1) The final cause, God, is necessarily found if we go with thephenomenological river of experience. (2) But any moment of initial awarenessis merely a chance occurrence, a "scattered finding". (3) Nevertheless,paradoxically, once that moment of awareness has emerged from the ground ofpossibilities it now is locked into the endless process of more and moreencompassing gestalts leading to the particular final cause, strongest gestalt,divinity, archangel, name of God, which is acting as a magnet in the field ofgestalts or monads or (to use Nachman's metaphor) "souls". For in Nachman'sjargon "souls" are gestalts, monads, living centers of consciousness in a spherein which any point, any soul, is potentially the center. If it is your soul at thismoment of the messianic now which is the most inflamed in the search for God or truth, then you at this messianic moment are the center of the Jewishuniverse, the lamed-vavnik, that the Jewish people needs at this moment as aredeemer. Of course, Nachman has his sights on this job, when he sees himselfas the brook in the Prologue to Likutei Moharan. For him the brook implies theproper middle way relation between the river of inductive ideas and itsdeductive banks, the river of chochmah and its binah banks, the river of divinelight and its shekhinah banks, the river of chet and its nun banks (see LM 1). IN THE SHOW THERE IS AN INITIAL, PREMATURE ATTEMPT TO BRING THINGSTOGETHER INTO A RATIONAL COMPROMISE. BUT THE NARRATOR DISCOUNTS THAT COMPROMISE BETWEEN THE GRAY WALLS AND THE RED FLOOR AS BORING, SINCE IT HAS RESULTED FROM THE ANTAGONISTS NOT REALLYCOMMITTING THEMSELVES TO THE DEEPER STRUGGLE OF DEDUCTION VS INDUCTION, REASON VERSUS AWARENESS. NEXT, THE “AIR” CHARACTER ENTERSAS A NEW POINT OF VIEW ENTIRELY: THAT OF “SCATTERED FINDING” VERSUS THE “OBLIGATED FINDING” OF ANY SORT OF SYSTEM. HIS POINT OF VIEW IS THAT OF “CHAOS” VIS-A-VIS THE ROOM WHICH MERELY ENCOMPASSES THE WALL/FLOOR DIALECTIC IN A DEDUCTIVE PAIR OF OPPOSITES. THISALCHEMICAL AIR OR ETHER CREATES AN INFINITE NUMBER OF VOIDS IN THE ALREADY SOMEWHAT PERFORATED MATRIX SYMBOLIZED BY THE ROOM. AFTER ENCOUNTERING THE CHAOS OF THE AIR, THE NARRATOR REALIZES THATCOMPROMISE IS NOT THE OBJECT OF HIS QUEST. HIS NEW QUEST IS “A LIFE ONFIRE”, AND THIS ANNOUNCES THE EMERGENCE OF ALCHEMICAL FIRE FROM THEVOID OF ALCHEMICAL AIR. UP UNTIL NOW THINGS HAVE BEEN TOO EASY. WHAT IS CALLED FOR NOW IS CREATIVE AGGRESSION TO COMPLETE THE NEGATION OF THE NEGATIONS OF THE ONE WITHOUT A SECOND, TO CHEW UP ANDOBLITERATE COMPLETELY THE ALREADY STRESSED OUT DEDUCTIVE SYSTEM. THE ENERGY FOR THE CREATIVE AGGRESSION NEEDS TO COME FROM SOME SORT OF EXPLOSION INTO AUTHENTIC ACTION WHICH RESULTS FROM THE ASCENT OF SMALL GESTALTS TO THE LEVEL OF LARGE, ENCOMPASSINGGESTALTS, WHAT NACHMAN LABELS IN LM 1 “YAALAT CHEN”, THE ASCENT OFTHE SUBJECT/OBJECT RELATIONSHIP VIA INDUCTIVE THINKING. THE FOURMAJOR SORTS OF EXPLOSIONS FRITZ PERLS MENTIONS IN HIS “GESTALT THERAPY VERBATIM” ARE GRIEF, ANGER, JOY, AND ORGASM. IN THIS SHOW,“THE ROOM”, THE FINAL EXPLOSION COMBINES ALL FOUR SORTS: GRIEF AT THEPASSING OF YOUTH, ANGER AT REJECTION BY WOMEN CLOSED UP IN THEIRBOURGEOIS BOX, JOY AT OVERCOMING ALL THE REMAINING OBSTACLES ANDORGASM AS MALE AND FEMALE, CHOCHMAH AND BINAH, ADAM AND EVECOALESCE INTO ONENESS THOUGH WITHOUT SURRENDERING THEIR DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW COMPLETELY. THIS IS THE NECESSARY DIALECTICAL SYNTHESIS NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE DRAMATIC ACTION: IDENTITY IN DIFFERENCE, THEONE IN THE MANY, OR (FOR THE RELIGIOUSLY INCLINED) GOD IN THE WORLD. 5. BARE BONES HITBODEDUT With this philosophical context in place, we now can easily unravel the rest ofNachman's prescription for religious perfection based on what he calls"hitbodedut". As usual we will find Nachman's unfolds his tale on two levels, thesimple level for simple folk and the more complex level for more sophisticatedseekers after truth. Here we need not go word by word through Nachman's text,since the implications of the basic philosophical structure already are muchmore obvious than is the buried structure which we just have ferreted out fromNachman's hassidically tinted prose. We see immediately, for example, that weneed not take Nachman literally when he tells us to do hitbodedut only at nightand alone. For the process works just as well, perhaps even better, in a well litroom when supervised by a Gestalt therapist with a group of perhaps 50 fellowpilgrims observing - provided, of course, that the observers respect the processand do not meddle by trying to be "helpful". Gestalt therapy originally waslabeled by its founder Fritz Perls "concentration therapy", with the assumption that the sort of concentration called for in the process is of the inductive sort.In general, participants in a Gestalt group session discover that the power ofawareness work is so formidable that most people can focus reasonably well ontheir own phenomenological river and ignore what other people who areobserving might be thinking deductively. MERELY THE FACT THAT I WAS ABLE TO DO THIS PROCESS IN A WELL LIT ROOM SITTING AT MY KEYBOARD AND COMPUTER, AND ENVISIONING AN AUDIENCEOF BILLIONS ON THE INTERNET DEMONSTRATES THAT WHAT IS IMPORTANT HERE IS THE LOGICAL PROCESS OF INDUCTION, AWARENESS, AND NOT THETHEATRICAL EFFECTS THAT HASSIDIM CRAVE, ALONG WITH THEIR 18THCENTURY WARDROBE. What comes to mind regarding the river of inductive thinking is the childhoodditti: "Row, row, row the boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily,merrily, life is but a dream!" That is to say, if we flow with the river ofawareness, we have an opportunity to wake up from our silly dream ofdeductive thinking and get a lot closer to reality itself. Or as Nachman wouldput it, we can discover easily how we got stuck being heretics. Once we see howwe got stuck, then we also see how easy it is to get un-stuck. Nachman says,"pray, study, pray!" That is to say, shift the balance of your life so that most ofyour focus is on inductive experiences rather than deductive experiences. ForNachman, "praying" equates, once again, to a proper middle way balance ofdeductive and inductive thinking, while "studying" equates to an overemphasisupon deductive thinking. Nachman develops this notion of what prayer is in LM 2. See my essay on LM 2, "Simple As Child's Play" for details. THE PROCESS I HAVE JUST DEMONSTRATED IS “PRAYER”, “HITBODEDUT”,PRECISELY IN LINE WITH THE GUIDELINES NACHMAN SPECIFIES, ON THE MOSTBASIC LEVEL. 6. HITBODEDUT AS POETIC LANGUAGE AND GESTALT MONOLOGUE My own translation of this text of Nachman is: "Know that the main pointconcerning negation of one's ego, that a person negates his existence andbecomes nothing and is included in the oneness of The Name, may it beblessed, this is only by means of hitbodedut (that is to say: secluding oneselfand talking to God). Hitbodedut requires a special place and time, so that thehindrances will not confuse him." ע ער רהביטול, ם םל לו וה האין, ל לת תם םיתברך, ן ןה הא אעל-י יהתבודדות. ת תך ךם םן ןמיוחד, א או וו והמונעים. The hindrances in question here are precisely those spelled out in texts ofGestalt therapy under the heading "self-interruptions", and in the writings ofJohann Georg Hamann under the heading "prose versus poetry". In fact, thistext of Nachman is a restatement of the basic tradition of the Lurianic kabbalah moment of tsimtsum 2 (negation of the two sides of an impasse in the void bymeans of getting a new idea), with the crucial addition of a verbal monologue.Nachman's emphasis on the role of language in pietist religion places Nachmansquarely on the road travelled by his predecessor Johann Georg Hamann(1730-1788) in Konigsberg, East Prussia, in his resistance to the GermanEnlightenment movement. Some earlier philosophical roots of Hamann in thephilosophy of inductive thinking of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) aredemonstrated by James O'Flaherty in his analysis of the work of Hamann,entitled "Johann Georg Hamann". In short, what Nachman labels "hitbodedut",Hamann labels "poetry". Frederick Copleston elucidates Hamann's view ofpoetry as the mother language of mankind as follows: "The speech of primitivemen was sensation and passion, and they understood nothing but images. Itwas in music, song and poetry that they expressed themselves." ("A History ofPhilosophy", Volume 6, p. 136) Gestalt therapists make a similar distinctionbetween poetry and prose. A client who is babbling away without muchpersonal connection to his verbiage is "talking literature", while a client whosespeaking is directly related to his authentic actions is considered to be speakingpoetically. Nachman's "heretics" are those of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenmentmovement) who prefer prose (deductive thinking and babbling) to poetry(inductive thinking and committed action) in Hamann's sense of the wordpoetry. See my own extensive commentary on LM 4, entitled "Bacon, Hamannand Nachman" for a detailed treatment. Nachman's emphasis on a monologuein solitude also places Nachman squarely in the tradition of Gestalt therapy,which is a bare bones version of the hitbodudut process: minus the theologicaljargon, minus the rustic solitude hard to find these days, and minus all themelodrama concerning the mystical powers of darkness and King David's harpwhich, says Nachman, begins chiming by itself at the midnight of a hassid'sexistential despair. The hindrances/self-interruptions in the Gestalt formulationare: (1) confluence, (2) introjection, (3) projection, (4) retroflection, (5) egotism.See "Gestalt Therapy" by Perls, Hefferline and Goodman or "Gestalt TherapyVerbatim" by Perls for details. Also, see my 90 minute video, "Hitbodedut", foran illustration of these Gestalt self-interruptions at work during the hitbodedutprocess. The defining traits of "poetic language" in contrast to prose, accordingto O'Flaherty's analysis of Hamann are: (1) imagery, (2) analogy, (3) parataxis, (4) paradox, (5) multiple levels of language, (6) affective terminology. SeeO'Flaherty for details. My aim in this clinical and philosophical dissection ofNachman's pietist process of hitbodudut has not been to disparage the process itself. What Nachman of Breslav calls "Hitbodedut" and Fritz Perls calls "Concentration Therapy" or "Gestalt Therapy" and Johann Georg Hamann calls"Poetry" is a dimension of human experience of crucial importance, a dimensionwhich indeed accomplishes very well the goals Nachman of Breslav or Fritz Perlsor Johann Georg Hamann claim it accomplishes. I merely am suggesting thatonce the hitbodedut process is carefully demystified, and the bones are pickedclean of obfuscating viscera and suspect chauvinistic motives, hitbodedut isrendered much more useful for many different types of people in manydifferent sets of circumstances, for example, training for spiritually inclinedperformers of a not so frum Jewish theater. A pharmaceutical wedding betweenNachman's medicine and Fritz Perls' medicine in a Hamann inspired poeticcrucible would preserve the best of all three systems, while reserving the pureNachman, pure Fritz and pure Hamann versions for specific populations most inneed of either a purely hassidic redemption, or a purely secular healing, or apurely spiritual poetry, respectively. ALSO THIS PROCESS IS GESTALT THERAPY AND POETRY, AS I JUST HAVE SPELLEDOUT. IN FACT, THIS PROCESS FITS PRECISELY INTO THE MOST CLASSICALDEFINITIONS OF POETRY OF THE DRAMATIC ACTION SORT. THE MOMENT OF CRISIS AND DEATH OF EGO EQUIVALENT TO THE FOURTH ACT OF A GREEKTRAGEDY IS THAT IN WHICH THE PROTAGONIST, FRANKLYN, GIVES UP HISIDENTITY AS AN AGING FAILURE AND SURRENDERS TO THE HERE AND NOW SITUATION, HOWEVER WE MAY CARE TO DESCRIBE IT. WHETHER HE HASSUCCEEDING IN FINDING A MOMENT OF “LIFE ON FIRE” IS FOR THE AUDIENCE TO DECIDE. AS FOR THE PRESENT WRITER, I FEEL A CERTAIN CATHARSIS THAT IHAVE MANAGED TO GIVE POETIC FORM TO A MAJOR LIFE PASSAGE MOMENT. POET DYLAN THOMAS FOUND HIS OWN WAY TO EXPRESS A SIMILAR LIFE PASSAGE MOMENT IN HIS POEM, “DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOODNIGHT”. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on that sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
28 May 2012
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הוידאו הזה בשפה העברית part 1. THE ROOM commentary IN HEBREW, based on likutei moharan 52, 51 of nachman of breslav, plato, schopenhauer, symbolism, expression, gestalt therapy, bertolt brecht, stanislavski, mabou mines theater. LIKUTEI MOHARAN 52 IN RELATION TO THE GESTALT MONOLOGUE: “THE ROOM” 1. DEDUCTIVE THINKING IS MERELY THE FIRST STEP TO SEEKING REALITY. Here is the opening sentence of essay 52 of "Likutei Moharan", the "CollectedEssays" of Nachman of Breslav. And here is the official Breslav Research Institute translation: "there are heretics who say that the world is a necessary reality". The first point I want to make isthat what Nachman in this statement is labeling "necessary reality", or moreliterally, "obligated finding", is what Gestalt therapists call "confluence", fromthe Latin roots "con" (with) and "fluere" (to flow). For Gestalt therapists"confluence" means a near total lack of here and now awareness, as is seen inautism, psychosis and certain master manipulators such as an Adolf Hitler.Instead of being grounded in reality, the person is identifying with, flowingalong with fixed deductive systems, a matrix of habits which he justifies bysimple cause and effect logic. Since "the system" appears to make sense,therefore the system is "necessary reality". For example, "I am right, thereforeyou must be wrong," or "I am good, therefore you must be evil" is a way ofthinking that "makes sense" and seems to be necessarily the case for a mindthat relies primarily upon the syllogisms of deductive thinking to solveproblems. THE SHOW BEGINS WITH WHAT LOOKS LIKE AN ORDINARY REAL LIFE ROOM,WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS. But from the point of view of a more encompassing "dialectical" thinking, thisdeductive sort of logic is merely the first stage of authentic thinking which aimsat truth. This deductive stage is merely the "thesis", a comforting illusion ordream of oneness, identity, based on our everyday habits, our manipulativegames which have frozen into a dead shell around our true self. True,Maimonides does say that the Word first comes to us on the side of rationalthinking. That is to say, first we need to use all our deductive "wits" to deal withthe situation - until we get stuck. And of course soon we will get stuck if werely primarily upon deductive logic, which is a way of thinking which movesfrom general abstract assumptions to particulars which stem from those ישם םם םם םא אב בת ת general assumptions. For example, if my general assumption is that "today is anice day", what do I make of the fact that it just rained on my picnic? How can anice day also be not a nice day? Likewise, in Gestalt dreamwork we begin withour defective, incomplete notion of what we think is "awareness" and weproceed until our self-interruptions, the holes in our contact boundary, lead usto impasses. We begin with by simply telling the dream as we dreamed it, in thehere and now. But this is only 1/60 of the Word. The dreamwork process aimsat correcting this illusion and providing the rest of the existential message.Shifting to a kabbalistic and alchemical point of view, we can say we descenddeductively on the left side of the tree of life from alchemical water toalchemical earth, as our initial simple abstract idea trickles into its manyapparently logical but nevertheless conflicting consequences. This is deductive,cause and effect logic. Then, in the new state of alchemical earth all reality is afragmented clog of apparently totally unreconcilable points of view. We arestuck at an impasse. Heretics, according to Nachman, fail to complete the cycleof dialectical logic by neglecting the right side of the tree of life, the side whichrelies upon inductive thinking. The inductive process begins as alchemical airdiscovers spaces within the clumps of alchemical earth. Then, within thesevoids there descend from on high sparks of alchemical fire which burn up theimpasses of alchemical earth and encompass the burnt crusts in a redeeminginferno which wafts them back up to the One Without A Second, at which pointthe dialectical cycle begins anew. Cycle after cycle, this is an endless spiral ofdescents for the sake of ever higher ascents. DOING THE GESTALT IDENTIFICATIONS OPENS UP THE HOLES IN ALCHEMICAL EARTH, AND THEN THE NEW FIERY IDEAS BEGIN TO ILLUMINATE THE IMAGES,SUCH AS “A LIFE ON FIRE” DESPITE FACT THAT THE PRESENT SITUATION IS RATHER DEPRESSING. 2. DIALECTICAL THINKING COMBINES DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION. The official Breslav translation of this next paragraph is: "the truth is that theworld and all it contains is a contingent reality. Only the Holy One mustnecessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all they contain need notnecessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For God had the ability,the power and the alternative to create them or to not create them. Thereforethe world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." ת תם םו וא אי יהמציאות. י יק קם םך ךד דא אב בהמציאות,ל לל לת תם םל לר רם םם םי יהמציאות. י יא אך ךם םש שמאין,ו וו וו וך ךה הם םו וא אלבראם, על-ן ןי יל לם םו וא אי יהמציאות. This paragraph shows us how Nachman deals with the cul-de-sac resultingfrom the assumption that the world is an unchangable necessary reality. We seethat Nachman does a subtle figure/ground reversal, without telling us he isdoing it. He shifts from deductive logic to inductive logic, from a descent on theleft side of the tree of life to an ascent on the right side of the tree of life.Previously he was descending from the one idea, the dialectical "thesis", to itsmany conflicting ramifications. Now he is ascending from an infinite number ofparticular awareness moments, each one emerging as a spark of alchemical firefrom the void of alchemical air. The infinite moments of awareness in the here and now are the dialectical "antithesis" of the original single idea frozen into adeductive system. Gradually these gestalts, monads, living organisms thatconstitute the contact boundary congeal into their ultimate integration back inthe One, as the One in the many, as identity in difference, as God in the world.And this final integration is the third stage of dialectical thinking, the"synthesis". BEGINNING THE GESTALT INDUCTIVE WORK IS THIS SHIFT OF DIRECTION ON THE TREE OF LIFE, FROM DESCENT TO ASCENT BASED ON FAITH THAT THEPROCESS WILL LEAD SOMEWHERE. The outcome is that what Nachman calls "the world" is no longer a comfortingillusion of abstract oneness enjoyed by what he labels "heretics", but rather theworld is an endless kaleidoscopic array of here and now contact experiences inthe environment, in our body and in our fantasies, enjoyed by any truly saneand truth seeking person. Autistic children and logically stillborn "heretics" findthis logical reversal to be very threatening, since their safe repetitive rituals andsyllogisms, concocted for an abstract deductive world, are not well adapted to aconcrete, organic, inductive world. It is like shifting from looking at a paintingor dream from the outside to living in the world of that painting or dream, withall its bewildering possibilities. In Gestalt dreamwork this transition from seeingthe dream as a painting out there to living it completely in the here and now,"saying it with your whole body", is accomplished only gradually over a periodof hours, weeks or months, as the protagonist peels away layer upon layer offrozen childhood habits to arrive - he hopes - at a certain level of maturity.This dreamwork process unveils the remaining 59/60 of the prophetic messagethat constitutes "the existential message of the dream" in secular jargon. THE WOMAN IN THE SHOW IS AMBIVALENT ABOUT THE MAN’S AGENDA. SHE NEEDS HER BOX, BUT EVEN MORE SHE NEEDS TO BE A JACK IN THE BOX. THEJACK IN THE BOX IMAGE IS APPROPRIATE, SINCE NEITHER ONE LETS GO OF THEBOX COMPLETELY. IT IS ENOUGH TO BE BLOWING IN THE WIND. Note that Nachman is anything but "objective" in his evaluation of the situation.He labels anyone who is not totally committed to his own phenomenologicalorientation a heretic, without even the slightest hint as to what is his underlyinglogical frame of reference. Therefore, in order to read Nachman from any pointof view other than that of sheep following a shepherd blindly, we must supplythe missing manual, the missing logical infrastructure, ourselves. Actually, thistask is not difficult to do. For once we decode Nachman's theological jargonword by word we find right there in his text all the elements we need to peerinto his inductive, phenomenological, Gestalt therapy, poetically spiritualizedway of interpreting reality. 3. DECODING NACHMAN'S TEXT: KEY TERMS As a matter of fact, Nachman's text itself demands that we decode his message,since anyone who does not decode his message (and this includes most of hisstarry eyed, intellectually muddled disciples) arrives at totally absurdconclusions. Here is one glaring example. Nachman says: ה הר רו וו ות תישראל, ה הי ים םא את תב בהמציאות. A superficial translation would be that of the Breslav Research Institute: "forafter the souls of Israel were issued and brought down, now the world iscertainly in the aspect of necessary reality ". Then, Nachman's next sentence is:"For the world and all it contains were created only for Israel, as is known. AndIsrael rules the world!!!" This, of course, is rubbish, very dangerous rubbish. Ahundred years after Nachman and other naive Jewish rabbis penned suchrubbish, later generations of Jews encountered the response of those "heretics"to Nachman's arrogance. Certain "heretics" metamorphosed Nachman's textinto "The Protocols of The Elders of Zion". All the heretics needed to do was substitute "money" or "gold" for "awareness", as the glue which holds the Jewishpeople together and is the true Source of Jewish vitality and dominance. Andthen, fifty years after the Protocols came the Holocaust, which might be seen asEurope's "final solution" to the problem created by Jewish apocalypticchauvinists. So much for "Israel uber alles!" We may conclude, then, that eitherNachman of Breslav was totally meshuggeneh, or there must be some othermessage hidden in lesson 52 of Likutei Moharan (LM 52) besides that conveyedby the official Breslav Research Institute translation of the text. THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW IS FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF DEDUCTIVE LOGIC, WITH EACH NEW IDENTIFICATION LEADING TO A NEW HOLE IN THATMATRIX, UNTIL GRADUALLY THE RIVER BECOMES THE DOMINANT METAPHORAND THE WOMAN’S FINAL RESISTANCE BECOMES JUST A FADING IMAGE, A CLOD OF ALCHEMICAL EARTH BURNING UP IN THE FIERY LIGHT OF THE OVERALL SUPEROBJECTIVE. Let us begin our translating project, or rather our decoding project, once again.This time we will try to ferret out what Nachman actually meant. Or even if hedid not mean it, we need here to sift out the wheat from the chaff, since if wedo so it turns out that indeed there is much wheat to be found in this Torah commentary. In the meantime we will leave the totalitarian nonsense for thosewho crave that nonsense. Code word number one here is "Israel", which forNachman codes for all those who find a proper balance between deductive andinductive logic, with a slight emphasis on the side of inductive logic asMaimonides requires for wannabe prophets. Then the non-Israelites, i.e., therest of the world, are those unfortunates who rely primarily upon deductivelogic, such as the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus. It is black and white forNachman: induction or deduction, Israel or Egypt, good guys or bad guys,redeemed Jews or godforsaken goyim. He does not spell it out here, but inother essays Nachman makes much of ancient Egyptians as those who rely ondeductive logic. Here in LM 52 the Egyptians are generalized to all "heretics"who rely primarily upon deductive logic, not only the imaginary, much abusedEgyptians. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW THERE IS THE LIGHT INSIDE AND THE TOILET OUTSIDE. GRADUALLY THE SIMPLE DICHOTOMY GOODGUYS/BADGUYS GETSBLURED, AS THE NARRATOR GETS INTO WHAT AT FIRST SEEMS TO HIM TO BEHIS “SEEMY SIDE”. LATER THIS ERUPTION OF ORGASMIC ENERGY TURNS OUT TO BE WHAT IS NEEDED TO OVERCOME THE INTHEBOX/OUTSIDETHEBOX SPLIT ANDMOVE FROM UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO THE SUPEROBJECTIVE, FROM EVE/ADAM,BINAH/CHOCHMAH TO KETER, TO THE OHR MAQQIF, TO THE EXISTENTIALMESSAGE OF THE DREAM OR THE WORD OF GOD. Another code word in the above passage which requires careful attention is"neh-ets-lu". The official Breslav translation is: "issued", but literally the wordmeans "risen and drawn near", based on the word "etsel", meaning "near" fromthe root A-TS-L. Now, what is it that rises and draws near when we get in touchwith reality? Answer: "reality" itself, i.e., what is tangible to our senses andother forms of awareness when we operate in an inductive manner, i.e., fromthe concrete particulars to the encompassing integration of the particulars inhigher and higher orders of experience. The ultimate integration of awarenessexperiences goes by many labels, such as the glory of God, or Aristotle's "finalcause", or Plato's "anamnesis" (remembering primordial ideas). And so we findourselves in the framework of Gestalt therapy, since it is "figures" which rise upfrom the (back)ground and draw near to us when we take time for awarenessexperiences. Gestalt therapists label these rising figures "gestalts", which also alludes to their organic living reality, wholeness or pattern. Each moment ofawareness is posited as a living organism, a strong gestalt, which gobbles upand encompasses lower levels of similar living realities, weaker gesalts. Leibnizlabels the gestalts "monads", since each one is in a sense a single world ofexperience, whether referring to our everyday world, or infinitely large "worlds",or infinitely small "worlds". For Nachman and for Leibniz it is worlds withinworlds within worlds, as endlessly as God is the "endless" (Hebrew: "eyn sof"). AS THE SHOW GOES ON, MORE AND MORE GESTALTS, MONADS OPEN UP THENATURALISTIC MATRIX OF SIMPLY A “ROOM”, UNTIL BY THE END OF THE SHOWTHIS “ROOM” HAS ASCENDED VIA THE SPIRALING DIALECTIC TO THE LEVEL OF “HA-MAKOM” OR THE MERKAVAH, BY ENTERING TOTALLY INTO THEPOSSIBILITIES OF THE SITUATION, THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE ACTION. 4. THE PHILOSOPHICAL CONTEXT: ARISTOTLE, PLATO, LEIBNIZ, GESTALT Here again is the text which specifies necessary and contingent existence. Let'sdissect it within the framework we have just established. We'll begin once again with the official Breslav translation of the paragraph,which is: "the truth is that the world and all it contains is a contingent reality.Only the Holy One must necessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all theycontain need not necessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For Godhad the ability, the power and the alternative to create them or to not createthem. Therefore the world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." The Hebrew word for "existence" here is "m'tsi-ute", which means literally "whatis found", from the root M-TS-A, "to find". Again we are guided in the directionof inductive thinking based on awareness. Awareness is what we find/contactwhen to stop doing things deliberately and open ourselves to encountering theobjects of our experience in a middle way, active passivity manner. We beginwith moments of awareness and gradually we discover that these moments arepart of a river of experience that is flowing towards a certain final integration ofall types of awareness: environmental, bodily and fantasy. This subconscious or superconscious river does not flow when we are striving deliberately towards agoal definable within a deductive system or matrix, but it does flow when wesimply are getting in touch with all the realities of the moment, the situation,the circumstances. Heightened awareness leads to a mobilizing of the total ת תם םו וא אי יהמציאות. י יק קם םך ךד דא אב בהמציאות,ל לל לת תם םל לר רם םם םי יהמציאות. י יא אך ךם םש שמאין,ו וו וו וך ךה הם םו וא אלבראם, על-ן ןי יל לם םו וא אי יהמציאות. organism, so that once an optimal state of readiness is attained authenticaction emerges spontaneously. "Say it with your whole body" is the Gestalttherapy maxim here. Taoists say, if you want to hit the target aim for the Taoand not for the target, which is their way to putting the emphasis on inductiverather than deductive thinking. And in Judaism total involvement in all therealities of the situation is another name for God, "the Place" (Hebrew: ha-Makom). We recall the definition of "local motion" which Maimonides took fromAristotle: motion in one place and in a circle, which is the basis of the spiralingdialectic of the logos, the Word, the tree of life, the Merkavah upon which God"rides on the Aravot". THE NARRATOR, FRANKLYN, TELLS US HOW HAS GIVEN UP ON HIS DELIBERATE,DEDUCTIVE ATTEMPT TO FIND PERFORMERS TO WORK WITH THAT WILL PAY HIM TO HELP PAY THE RENT, INSTEAD HE HAS DECIDED TO DO THE WORKHIMSELF SIMPLY FOR ITS OWN SAKE, “L’SHEM SHAMAYIM” (HEBREW: “FOR THESAKE OF HEAVEN”). AND YET BY DOING SO HE DISCOVERS OTHER MORECOMPELLING NEEDS WHICH HE BEGINS TO DEAL WITH VIA THE GESTALT PROCESS (HITBODEDUT). ESPECIALLY HE GETS IN TOUCH WITH HIS ADVANCINGAGE AND THE FACT THAT “IT IS GETTING HARDER TO FIND CANARIES”. Going back to the paragraph from Nachman above, what necessarily is found(exists) if we continue our finding is the ultimate integration of all awarenessesand motivations of the situation into action which is totally appropriate for thecircumstances. Entering totally into this now time and this now place leadsinexorably to holistic experience "necessary", "obligated", in this time andplace. The drive towards this strongest gestalt is what Nachman refers to as"obligated finding", which the Breslav Research Institute translates vaguely as"necessary existence". Only the strongest gestalt possible in a specific time andplace is an "obligated finding" in that sense. If we look at the big picture of theentire world, then, of course, for Nachman God is that largest gestalt, ha-Makom. Many philosophical systems have their own version of this process. ForAristotle it is the "final cause" which, like a magnet, pulls us towards authenticaction in concrete circumstances. Nachman uses this Aristotelian point of view.He also uses the Platonic point of view. In the Prologue to Likutei Moharan hehas Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai tell us that "the Torah will not be forgotten". Thisis a code for Platonic "anamnesis", "not forgetting" the primordial ideas ofdialectical thinking: Abraham (awareness, the thesis), Isaac (difference,conflicts, the antithesis), and Jacob (identity in difference, authentic action,enlightenment, the synthesis). For Nachman the Covenant (Hebrew: "brit") whichmust not be forgotten is on the most basic level a commitment to dialecticlogic. Thus Nachman uses the term "Israel" to represent those who availthemselves of the complete dialectic by combining deduction and induction. Itis this Covenant which binds Israel to God, as the stages of dialectical thinking are bound to the Aristotelian final cause at the end of a long tunnel or to thePlatonic idea at the origin of the seductive illusion we assume uncritically weknow as "reality". But what about the phrase the Research Institute translates as "contingentexistence"? First of all, the literal meaning is "scattered finding", from the rootP-Sh-R, meaning "to divide". See the Talmudic dictionary for this antique senseof the word. Division is what we find in our here and now awareness experienceof inductive thinking. The myriad figures that rise here and now from theground of possibilities are scattered willy-nilly without any apparent system atfirst. This "scattered finding" ("Contingent existence") does not appear at first tobe a "necessary, obligated finding", unless, that is, we commit ourselves totallyto following the river of awareness back to its Source (Plato) or on to the greatocean (Aristotle). Then, once each moment of awareness has been discovered,it is a part of the higher levels of Gestalt integration as we ascend the right sideof the tree of life. This is the paradox which Nachman is alluding to in LM 52. (1) The final cause, God, is necessarily found if we go with thephenomenological river of experience. (2) But any moment of initial awarenessis merely a chance occurrence, a "scattered finding". (3) Nevertheless,paradoxically, once that moment of awareness has emerged from the ground ofpossibilities it now is locked into the endless process of more and moreencompassing gestalts leading to the particular final cause, strongest gestalt,divinity, archangel, name of God, which is acting as a magnet in the field ofgestalts or monads or (to use Nachman's metaphor) "souls". For in Nachman'sjargon "souls" are gestalts, monads, living centers of consciousness in a spherein which any point, any soul, is potentially the center. If it is your soul at thismoment of the messianic now which is the most inflamed in the search for God or truth, then you at this messianic moment are the center of the Jewishuniverse, the lamed-vavnik, that the Jewish people needs at this moment as aredeemer. Of course, Nachman has his sights on this job, when he sees himselfas the brook in the Prologue to Likutei Moharan. For him the brook implies theproper middle way relation between the river of inductive ideas and itsdeductive banks, the river of chochmah and its binah banks, the river of divinelight and its shekhinah banks, the river of chet and its nun banks (see LM 1). IN THE SHOW THERE IS AN INITIAL, PREMATURE ATTEMPT TO BRING THINGSTOGETHER INTO A RATIONAL COMPROMISE. BUT THE NARRATOR DISCOUNTS THAT COMPROMISE BETWEEN THE GRAY WALLS AND THE RED FLOOR AS BORING, SINCE IT HAS RESULTED FROM THE ANTAGONISTS NOT REALLYCOMMITTING THEMSELVES TO THE DEEPER STRUGGLE OF DEDUCTION VS INDUCTION, REASON VERSUS AWARENESS. NEXT, THE “AIR” CHARACTER ENTERSAS A NEW POINT OF VIEW ENTIRELY: THAT OF “SCATTERED FINDING” VERSUS THE “OBLIGATED FINDING” OF ANY SORT OF SYSTEM. HIS POINT OF VIEW IS THAT OF “CHAOS” VIS-A-VIS THE ROOM WHICH MERELY ENCOMPASSES THE WALL/FLOOR DIALECTIC IN A DEDUCTIVE PAIR OF OPPOSITES. THISALCHEMICAL AIR OR ETHER CREATES AN INFINITE NUMBER OF VOIDS IN THE ALREADY SOMEWHAT PERFORATED MATRIX SYMBOLIZED BY THE ROOM. AFTER ENCOUNTERING THE CHAOS OF THE AIR, THE NARRATOR REALIZES THATCOMPROMISE IS NOT THE OBJECT OF HIS QUEST. HIS NEW QUEST IS “A LIFE ONFIRE”, AND THIS ANNOUNCES THE EMERGENCE OF ALCHEMICAL FIRE FROM THEVOID OF ALCHEMICAL AIR. UP UNTIL NOW THINGS HAVE BEEN TOO EASY. WHAT IS CALLED FOR NOW IS CREATIVE AGGRESSION TO COMPLETE THE NEGATION OF THE NEGATIONS OF THE ONE WITHOUT A SECOND, TO CHEW UP ANDOBLITERATE COMPLETELY THE ALREADY STRESSED OUT DEDUCTIVE SYSTEM. THE ENERGY FOR THE CREATIVE AGGRESSION NEEDS TO COME FROM SOME SORT OF EXPLOSION INTO AUTHENTIC ACTION WHICH RESULTS FROM THE ASCENT OF SMALL GESTALTS TO THE LEVEL OF LARGE, ENCOMPASSINGGESTALTS, WHAT NACHMAN LABELS IN LM 1 “YAALAT CHEN”, THE ASCENT OFTHE SUBJECT/OBJECT RELATIONSHIP VIA INDUCTIVE THINKING. THE FOURMAJOR SORTS OF EXPLOSIONS FRITZ PERLS MENTIONS IN HIS “GESTALT THERAPY VERBATIM” ARE GRIEF, ANGER, JOY, AND ORGASM. IN THIS SHOW,“THE ROOM”, THE FINAL EXPLOSION COMBINES ALL FOUR SORTS: GRIEF AT THEPASSING OF YOUTH, ANGER AT REJECTION BY WOMEN CLOSED UP IN THEIRBOURGEOIS BOX, JOY AT OVERCOMING ALL THE REMAINING OBSTACLES ANDORGASM AS MALE AND FEMALE, CHOCHMAH AND BINAH, ADAM AND EVECOALESCE INTO ONENESS THOUGH WITHOUT SURRENDERING THEIR DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW COMPLETELY. THIS IS THE NECESSARY DIALECTICAL SYNTHESIS NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE DRAMATIC ACTION: IDENTITY IN DIFFERENCE, THEONE IN THE MANY, OR (FOR THE RELIGIOUSLY INCLINED) GOD IN THE WORLD. 5. BARE BONES HITBODEDUT With this philosophical context in place, we now can easily unravel the rest ofNachman's prescription for religious perfection based on what he calls"hitbodedut". As usual we will find Nachman's unfolds his tale on two levels, thesimple level for simple folk and the more complex level for more sophisticatedseekers after truth. Here we need not go word by word through Nachman's text,since the implications of the basic philosophical structure already are muchmore obvious than is the buried structure which we just have ferreted out fromNachman's hassidically tinted prose. We see immediately, for example, that weneed not take Nachman literally when he tells us to do hitbodedut only at nightand alone. For the process works just as well, perhaps even better, in a well litroom when supervised by a Gestalt therapist with a group of perhaps 50 fellowpilgrims observing - provided, of course, that the observers respect the processand do not meddle by trying to be "helpful". Gestalt therapy originally waslabeled by its founder Fritz Perls "concentration therapy", with the assumption that the sort of concentration called for in the process is of the inductive sort.In general, participants in a Gestalt group session discover that the power ofawareness work is so formidable that most people can focus reasonably well ontheir own phenomenological river and ignore what other people who areobserving might be thinking deductively. MERELY THE FACT THAT I WAS ABLE TO DO THIS PROCESS IN A WELL LIT ROOM SITTING AT MY KEYBOARD AND COMPUTER, AND ENVISIONING AN AUDIENCEOF BILLIONS ON THE INTERNET DEMONSTRATES THAT WHAT IS IMPORTANT HERE IS THE LOGICAL PROCESS OF INDUCTION, AWARENESS, AND NOT THETHEATRICAL EFFECTS THAT HASSIDIM CRAVE, ALONG WITH THEIR 18THCENTURY WARDROBE. What comes to mind regarding the river of inductive thinking is the childhoodditti: "Row, row, row the boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily,merrily, life is but a dream!" That is to say, if we flow with the river ofawareness, we have an opportunity to wake up from our silly dream ofdeductive thinking and get a lot closer to reality itself. Or as Nachman wouldput it, we can discover easily how we got stuck being heretics. Once we see howwe got stuck, then we also see how easy it is to get un-stuck. Nachman says,"pray, study, pray!" That is to say, shift the balance of your life so that most ofyour focus is on inductive experiences rather than deductive experiences. ForNachman, "praying" equates, once again, to a proper middle way balance ofdeductive and inductive thinking, while "studying" equates to an overemphasisupon deductive thinking. Nachman develops this notion of what prayer is in LM 2. See my essay on LM 2, "Simple As Child's Play" for details. THE PROCESS I HAVE JUST DEMONSTRATED IS “PRAYER”, “HITBODEDUT”,PRECISELY IN LINE WITH THE GUIDELINES NACHMAN SPECIFIES, ON THE MOSTBASIC LEVEL. 6. HITBODEDUT AS POETIC LANGUAGE AND GESTALT MONOLOGUE My own translation of this text of Nachman is: "Know that the main pointconcerning negation of one's ego, that a person negates his existence andbecomes nothing and is included in the oneness of The Name, may it beblessed, this is only by means of hitbodedut (that is to say: secluding oneselfand talking to God). Hitbodedut requires a special place and time, so that thehindrances will not confuse him." ע ער רהביטול, ם םל לו וה האין, ל לת תם םיתברך, ן ןה הא אעל-י יהתבודדות. ת תך ךם םן ןמיוחד, א או וו והמונעים. The hindrances in question here are precisely those spelled out in texts ofGestalt therapy under the heading "self-interruptions", and in the writings ofJohann Georg Hamann under the heading "prose versus poetry". In fact, thistext of Nachman is a restatement of the basic tradition of the Lurianic kabbalah moment of tsimtsum 2 (negation of the two sides of an impasse in the void bymeans of getting a new idea), with the crucial addition of a verbal monologue.Nachman's emphasis on the role of language in pietist religion places Nachmansquarely on the road travelled by his predecessor Johann Georg Hamann(1730-1788) in Konigsberg, East Prussia, in his resistance to the GermanEnlightenment movement. Some earlier philosophical roots of Hamann in thephilosophy of inductive thinking of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) aredemonstrated by James O'Flaherty in his analysis of the work of Hamann,entitled "Johann Georg Hamann". In short, what Nachman labels "hitbodedut",Hamann labels "poetry". Frederick Copleston elucidates Hamann's view ofpoetry as the mother language of mankind as follows: "The speech of primitivemen was sensation and passion, and they understood nothing but images. Itwas in music, song and poetry that they expressed themselves." ("A History ofPhilosophy", Volume 6, p. 136) Gestalt therapists make a similar distinctionbetween poetry and prose. A client who is babbling away without muchpersonal connection to his verbiage is "talking literature", while a client whosespeaking is directly related to his authentic actions is considered to be speakingpoetically. Nachman's "heretics" are those of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenmentmovement) who prefer prose (deductive thinking and babbling) to poetry(inductive thinking and committed action) in Hamann's sense of the wordpoetry. See my own extensive commentary on LM 4, entitled "Bacon, Hamannand Nachman" for a detailed treatment. Nachman's emphasis on a monologuein solitude also places Nachman squarely in the tradition of Gestalt therapy,which is a bare bones version of the hitbodudut process: minus the theologicaljargon, minus the rustic solitude hard to find these days, and minus all themelodrama concerning the mystical powers of darkness and King David's harpwhich, says Nachman, begins chiming by itself at the midnight of a hassid'sexistential despair. The hindrances/self-interruptions in the Gestalt formulationare: (1) confluence, (2) introjection, (3) projection, (4) retroflection, (5) egotism.See "Gestalt Therapy" by Perls, Hefferline and Goodman or "Gestalt TherapyVerbatim" by Perls for details. Also, see my 90 minute video, "Hitbodedut", foran illustration of these Gestalt self-interruptions at work during the hitbodedutprocess. The defining traits of "poetic language" in contrast to prose, accordingto O'Flaherty's analysis of Hamann are: (1) imagery, (2) analogy, (3) parataxis, (4) paradox, (5) multiple levels of language, (6) affective terminology. SeeO'Flaherty for details. My aim in this clinical and philosophical dissection ofNachman's pietist process of hitbodudut has not been to disparage the process itself. What Nachman of Breslav calls "Hitbodedut" and Fritz Perls calls "Concentration Therapy" or "Gestalt Therapy" and Johann Georg Hamann calls"Poetry" is a dimension of human experience of crucial importance, a dimensionwhich indeed accomplishes very well the goals Nachman of Breslav or Fritz Perlsor Johann Georg Hamann claim it accomplishes. I merely am suggesting thatonce the hitbodedut process is carefully demystified, and the bones are pickedclean of obfuscating viscera and suspect chauvinistic motives, hitbodedut isrendered much more useful for many different types of people in manydifferent sets of circumstances, for example, training for spiritually inclinedperformers of a not so frum Jewish theater. A pharmaceutical wedding betweenNachman's medicine and Fritz Perls' medicine in a Hamann inspired poeticcrucible would preserve the best of all three systems, while reserving the pureNachman, pure Fritz and pure Hamann versions for specific populations most inneed of either a purely hassidic redemption, or a purely secular healing, or apurely spiritual poetry, respectively. ALSO THIS PROCESS IS GESTALT THERAPY AND POETRY, AS I JUST HAVE SPELLEDOUT. IN FACT, THIS PROCESS FITS PRECISELY INTO THE MOST CLASSICALDEFINITIONS OF POETRY OF THE DRAMATIC ACTION SORT. THE MOMENT OF CRISIS AND DEATH OF EGO EQUIVALENT TO THE FOURTH ACT OF A GREEKTRAGEDY IS THAT IN WHICH THE PROTAGONIST, FRANKLYN, GIVES UP HISIDENTITY AS AN AGING FAILURE AND SURRENDERS TO THE HERE AND NOW SITUATION, HOWEVER WE MAY CARE TO DESCRIBE IT. WHETHER HE HASSUCCEEDING IN FINDING A MOMENT OF “LIFE ON FIRE” IS FOR THE AUDIENCE TO DECIDE. AS FOR THE PRESENT WRITER, I FEEL A CERTAIN CATHARSIS THAT IHAVE MANAGED TO GIVE POETIC FORM TO A MAJOR LIFE PASSAGE MOMENT. POET DYLAN THOMAS FOUND HIS OWN WAY TO EXPRESS A SIMILAR LIFE PASSAGE MOMENT IN HIS POEM, “DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOODNIGHT”. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
28 May 2012
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הוידאו הזה בשפה העברית THE ROOM commentary IN HEBREW, based on likutei moharan 52, 51 of nachman of breslav, plato, schopenhauer, symbolism, expression, gestalt therapy, bertolt brecht, stanislavski, mabou mines theater. LIKUTEI MOHARAN 52 IN RELATION TO THE GESTALT MONOLOGUE: “THE ROOM” 1. DEDUCTIVE THINKING IS MERELY THE FIRST STEP TO SEEKING REALITY. Here is the opening sentence of essay 52 of "Likutei Moharan", the "CollectedEssays" of Nachman of Breslav. And here is the official Breslav Research Institute translation: "there are heretics who say that the world is a necessary reality". The first point I want to make isthat what Nachman in this statement is labeling "necessary reality", or moreliterally, "obligated finding", is what Gestalt therapists call "confluence", fromthe Latin roots "con" (with) and "fluere" (to flow). For Gestalt therapists"confluence" means a near total lack of here and now awareness, as is seen inautism, psychosis and certain master manipulators such as an Adolf Hitler.Instead of being grounded in reality, the person is identifying with, flowingalong with fixed deductive systems, a matrix of habits which he justifies bysimple cause and effect logic. Since "the system" appears to make sense,therefore the system is "necessary reality". For example, "I am right, thereforeyou must be wrong," or "I am good, therefore you must be evil" is a way ofthinking that "makes sense" and seems to be necessarily the case for a mindthat relies primarily upon the syllogisms of deductive thinking to solveproblems. THE SHOW BEGINS WITH WHAT LOOKS LIKE AN ORDINARY REAL LIFE ROOM,WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS. But from the point of view of a more encompassing "dialectical" thinking, thisdeductive sort of logic is merely the first stage of authentic thinking which aimsat truth. This deductive stage is merely the "thesis", a comforting illusion ordream of oneness, identity, based on our everyday habits, our manipulativegames which have frozen into a dead shell around our true self. True,Maimonides does say that the Word first comes to us on the side of rationalthinking. That is to say, first we need to use all our deductive "wits" to deal withthe situation - until we get stuck. And of course soon we will get stuck if werely primarily upon deductive logic, which is a way of thinking which movesfrom general abstract assumptions to particulars which stem from those ישם םם םם םא אב בת ת general assumptions. For example, if my general assumption is that "today is anice day", what do I make of the fact that it just rained on my picnic? How can anice day also be not a nice day? Likewise, in Gestalt dreamwork we begin withour defective, incomplete notion of what we think is "awareness" and weproceed until our self-interruptions, the holes in our contact boundary, lead usto impasses. We begin with by simply telling the dream as we dreamed it, in thehere and now. But this is only 1/60 of the Word. The dreamwork process aimsat correcting this illusion and providing the rest of the existential message.Shifting to a kabbalistic and alchemical point of view, we can say we descenddeductively on the left side of the tree of life from alchemical water toalchemical earth, as our initial simple abstract idea trickles into its manyapparently logical but nevertheless conflicting consequences. This is deductive,cause and effect logic. Then, in the new state of alchemical earth all reality is afragmented clog of apparently totally unreconcilable points of view. We arestuck at an impasse. Heretics, according to Nachman, fail to complete the cycleof dialectical logic by neglecting the right side of the tree of life, the side whichrelies upon inductive thinking. The inductive process begins as alchemical airdiscovers spaces within the clumps of alchemical earth. Then, within thesevoids there descend from on high sparks of alchemical fire which burn up theimpasses of alchemical earth and encompass the burnt crusts in a redeeminginferno which wafts them back up to the One Without A Second, at which pointthe dialectical cycle begins anew. Cycle after cycle, this is an endless spiral ofdescents for the sake of ever higher ascents. DOING THE GESTALT IDENTIFICATIONS OPENS UP THE HOLES IN ALCHEMICAL EARTH, AND THEN THE NEW FIERY IDEAS BEGIN TO ILLUMINATE THE IMAGES,SUCH AS “A LIFE ON FIRE” DESPITE FACT THAT THE PRESENT SITUATION IS RATHER DEPRESSING. 2. DIALECTICAL THINKING COMBINES DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION. The official Breslav translation of this next paragraph is: "the truth is that theworld and all it contains is a contingent reality. Only the Holy One mustnecessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all they contain need notnecessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For God had the ability,the power and the alternative to create them or to not create them. Thereforethe world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." ת תם םו וא אי יהמציאות. י יק קם םך ךד דא אב בהמציאות,ל לל לת תם םל לר רם םם םי יהמציאות. י יא אך ךם םש שמאין,ו וו וו וך ךה הם םו וא אלבראם, על-ן ןי יל לם םו וא אי יהמציאות. This paragraph shows us how Nachman deals with the cul-de-sac resultingfrom the assumption that the world is an unchangable necessary reality. We seethat Nachman does a subtle figure/ground reversal, without telling us he isdoing it. He shifts from deductive logic to inductive logic, from a descent on theleft side of the tree of life to an ascent on the right side of the tree of life.Previously he was descending from the one idea, the dialectical "thesis", to itsmany conflicting ramifications. Now he is ascending from an infinite number ofparticular awareness moments, each one emerging as a spark of alchemical firefrom the void of alchemical air. The infinite moments of awareness in the here and now are the dialectical "antithesis" of the original single idea frozen into adeductive system. Gradually these gestalts, monads, living organisms thatconstitute the contact boundary congeal into their ultimate integration back inthe One, as the One in the many, as identity in difference, as God in the world.And this final integration is the third stage of dialectical thinking, the"synthesis". BEGINNING THE GESTALT INDUCTIVE WORK IS THIS SHIFT OF DIRECTION ON THE TREE OF LIFE, FROM DESCENT TO ASCENT BASED ON FAITH THAT THEPROCESS WILL LEAD SOMEWHERE. The outcome is that what Nachman calls "the world" is no longer a comfortingillusion of abstract oneness enjoyed by what he labels "heretics", but rather theworld is an endless kaleidoscopic array of here and now contact experiences inthe environment, in our body and in our fantasies, enjoyed by any truly saneand truth seeking person. Autistic children and logically stillborn "heretics" findthis logical reversal to be very threatening, since their safe repetitive rituals andsyllogisms, concocted for an abstract deductive world, are not well adapted to aconcrete, organic, inductive world. It is like shifting from looking at a paintingor dream from the outside to living in the world of that painting or dream, withall its bewildering possibilities. In Gestalt dreamwork this transition from seeingthe dream as a painting out there to living it completely in the here and now,"saying it with your whole body", is accomplished only gradually over a periodof hours, weeks or months, as the protagonist peels away layer upon layer offrozen childhood habits to arrive - he hopes - at a certain level of maturity.This dreamwork process unveils the remaining 59/60 of the prophetic messagethat constitutes "the existential message of the dream" in secular jargon. THE WOMAN IN THE SHOW IS AMBIVALENT ABOUT THE MAN’S AGENDA. SHE NEEDS HER BOX, BUT EVEN MORE SHE NEEDS TO BE A JACK IN THE BOX. THEJACK IN THE BOX IMAGE IS APPROPRIATE, SINCE NEITHER ONE LETS GO OF THEBOX COMPLETELY. IT IS ENOUGH TO BE BLOWING IN THE WIND. Note that Nachman is anything but "objective" in his evaluation of the situation.He labels anyone who is not totally committed to his own phenomenologicalorientation a heretic, without even the slightest hint as to what is his underlyinglogical frame of reference. Therefore, in order to read Nachman from any pointof view other than that of sheep following a shepherd blindly, we must supplythe missing manual, the missing logical infrastructure, ourselves. Actually, thistask is not difficult to do. For once we decode Nachman's theological jargonword by word we find right there in his text all the elements we need to peerinto his inductive, phenomenological, Gestalt therapy, poetically spiritualizedway of interpreting reality. 3. DECODING NACHMAN'S TEXT: KEY TERMS As a matter of fact, Nachman's text itself demands that we decode his message,since anyone who does not decode his message (and this includes most of hisstarry eyed, intellectually muddled disciples) arrives at totally absurdconclusions. Here is one glaring example. Nachman says: ה הר רו וו ות תישראל, ה הי ים םא את תב בהמציאות. A superficial translation would be that of the Breslav Research Institute: "forafter the souls of Israel were issued and brought down, now the world iscertainly in the aspect of necessary reality ". Then, Nachman's next sentence is:"For the world and all it contains were created only for Israel, as is known. AndIsrael rules the world!!!" This, of course, is rubbish, very dangerous rubbish. Ahundred years after Nachman and other naive Jewish rabbis penned suchrubbish, later generations of Jews encountered the response of those "heretics"to Nachman's arrogance. Certain "heretics" metamorphosed Nachman's textinto "The Protocols of The Elders of Zion". All the heretics needed to do was substitute "money" or "gold" for "awareness", as the glue which holds the Jewishpeople together and is the true Source of Jewish vitality and dominance. Andthen, fifty years after the Protocols came the Holocaust, which might be seen asEurope's "final solution" to the problem created by Jewish apocalypticchauvinists. So much for "Israel uber alles!" We may conclude, then, that eitherNachman of Breslav was totally meshuggeneh, or there must be some othermessage hidden in lesson 52 of Likutei Moharan (LM 52) besides that conveyedby the official Breslav Research Institute translation of the text. THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW IS FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF DEDUCTIVE LOGIC, WITH EACH NEW IDENTIFICATION LEADING TO A NEW HOLE IN THATMATRIX, UNTIL GRADUALLY THE RIVER BECOMES THE DOMINANT METAPHORAND THE WOMAN’S FINAL RESISTANCE BECOMES JUST A FADING IMAGE, A CLOD OF ALCHEMICAL EARTH BURNING UP IN THE FIERY LIGHT OF THE OVERALL SUPEROBJECTIVE. Let us begin our translating project, or rather our decoding project, once again.This time we will try to ferret out what Nachman actually meant. Or even if hedid not mean it, we need here to sift out the wheat from the chaff, since if wedo so it turns out that indeed there is much wheat to be found in this Torah commentary. In the meantime we will leave the totalitarian nonsense for thosewho crave that nonsense. Code word number one here is "Israel", which forNachman codes for all those who find a proper balance between deductive andinductive logic, with a slight emphasis on the side of inductive logic asMaimonides requires for wannabe prophets. Then the non-Israelites, i.e., therest of the world, are those unfortunates who rely primarily upon deductivelogic, such as the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus. It is black and white forNachman: induction or deduction, Israel or Egypt, good guys or bad guys,redeemed Jews or godforsaken goyim. He does not spell it out here, but inother essays Nachman makes much of ancient Egyptians as those who rely ondeductive logic. Here in LM 52 the Egyptians are generalized to all "heretics"who rely primarily upon deductive logic, not only the imaginary, much abusedEgyptians. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW THERE IS THE LIGHT INSIDE AND THE TOILET OUTSIDE. GRADUALLY THE SIMPLE DICHOTOMY GOODGUYS/BADGUYS GETSBLURED, AS THE NARRATOR GETS INTO WHAT AT FIRST SEEMS TO HIM TO BEHIS “SEEMY SIDE”. LATER THIS ERUPTION OF ORGASMIC ENERGY TURNS OUT TO BE WHAT IS NEEDED TO OVERCOME THE INTHEBOX/OUTSIDETHEBOX SPLIT ANDMOVE FROM UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO THE SUPEROBJECTIVE, FROM EVE/ADAM,BINAH/CHOCHMAH TO KETER, TO THE OHR MAQQIF, TO THE EXISTENTIALMESSAGE OF THE DREAM OR THE WORD OF GOD. Another code word in the above passage which requires careful attention is"neh-ets-lu". The official Breslav translation is: "issued", but literally the wordmeans "risen and drawn near", based on the word "etsel", meaning "near" fromthe root A-TS-L. Now, what is it that rises and draws near when we get in touchwith reality? Answer: "reality" itself, i.e., what is tangible to our senses andother forms of awareness when we operate in an inductive manner, i.e., fromthe concrete particulars to the encompassing integration of the particulars inhigher and higher orders of experience. The ultimate integration of awarenessexperiences goes by many labels, such as the glory of God, or Aristotle's "finalcause", or Plato's "anamnesis" (remembering primordial ideas). And so we findourselves in the framework of Gestalt therapy, since it is "figures" which rise upfrom the (back)ground and draw near to us when we take time for awarenessexperiences. Gestalt therapists label these rising figures "gestalts", which also alludes to their organic living reality, wholeness or pattern. Each moment ofawareness is posited as a living organism, a strong gestalt, which gobbles upand encompasses lower levels of similar living realities, weaker gesalts. Leibnizlabels the gestalts "monads", since each one is in a sense a single world ofexperience, whether referring to our everyday world, or infinitely large "worlds",or infinitely small "worlds". For Nachman and for Leibniz it is worlds withinworlds within worlds, as endlessly as God is the "endless" (Hebrew: "eyn sof"). AS THE SHOW GOES ON, MORE AND MORE GESTALTS, MONADS OPEN UP THENATURALISTIC MATRIX OF SIMPLY A “ROOM”, UNTIL BY THE END OF THE SHOWTHIS “ROOM” HAS ASCENDED VIA THE SPIRALING DIALECTIC TO THE LEVEL OF “HA-MAKOM” OR THE MERKAVAH, BY ENTERING TOTALLY INTO THEPOSSIBILITIES OF THE SITUATION, THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE ACTION. 4. THE PHILOSOPHICAL CONTEXT: ARISTOTLE, PLATO, LEIBNIZ, GESTALT Here again is the text which specifies necessary and contingent existence. Let'sdissect it within the framework we have just established. We'll begin once again with the official Breslav translation of the paragraph,which is: "the truth is that the world and all it contains is a contingent reality.Only the Holy One must necessarily exist. However, all the worlds and all theycontain need not necessarily exist. God created them creatio ex nihilo. For Godhad the ability, the power and the alternative to create them or to not createthem. Therefore the world and all it contains are certainly a contingent reality." The Hebrew word for "existence" here is "m'tsi-ute", which means literally "whatis found", from the root M-TS-A, "to find". Again we are guided in the directionof inductive thinking based on awareness. Awareness is what we find/contactwhen to stop doing things deliberately and open ourselves to encountering theobjects of our experience in a middle way, active passivity manner. We beginwith moments of awareness and gradually we discover that these moments arepart of a river of experience that is flowing towards a certain final integration ofall types of awareness: environmental, bodily and fantasy. This subconscious or superconscious river does not flow when we are striving deliberately towards agoal definable within a deductive system or matrix, but it does flow when wesimply are getting in touch with all the realities of the moment, the situation,the circumstances. Heightened awareness leads to a mobilizing of the total ת תם םו וא אי יהמציאות. י יק קם םך ךד דא אב בהמציאות,ל לל לת תם םל לר רם םם םי יהמציאות. י יא אך ךם םש שמאין,ו וו וו וך ךה הם םו וא אלבראם, על-ן ןי יל לם םו וא אי יהמציאות. organism, so that once an optimal state of readiness is attained authenticaction emerges spontaneously. "Say it with your whole body" is the Gestalttherapy maxim here. Taoists say, if you want to hit the target aim for the Taoand not for the target, which is their way to putting the emphasis on inductiverather than deductive thinking. And in Judaism total involvement in all therealities of the situation is another name for God, "the Place" (Hebrew: ha-Makom). We recall the definition of "local motion" which Maimonides took fromAristotle: motion in one place and in a circle, which is the basis of the spiralingdialectic of the logos, the Word, the tree of life, the Merkavah upon which God"rides on the Aravot". THE NARRATOR, FRANKLYN, TELLS US HOW HAS GIVEN UP ON HIS DELIBERATE,DEDUCTIVE ATTEMPT TO FIND PERFORMERS TO WORK WITH THAT WILL PAY HIM TO HELP PAY THE RENT, INSTEAD HE HAS DECIDED TO DO THE WORKHIMSELF SIMPLY FOR ITS OWN SAKE, “L’SHEM SHAMAYIM” (HEBREW: “FOR THESAKE OF HEAVEN”). AND YET BY DOING SO HE DISCOVERS OTHER MORECOMPELLING NEEDS WHICH HE BEGINS TO DEAL WITH VIA THE GESTALT PROCESS (HITBODEDUT). ESPECIALLY HE GETS IN TOUCH WITH HIS ADVANCINGAGE AND THE FACT THAT “IT IS GETTING HARDER TO FIND CANARIES”. Going back to the paragraph from Nachman above, what necessarily is found(exists) if we continue our finding is the ultimate integration of all awarenessesand motivations of the situation into action which is totally appropriate for thecircumstances. Entering totally into this now time and this now place leadsinexorably to holistic experience "necessary", "obligated", in this time andplace. The drive towards this strongest gestalt is what Nachman refers to as"obligated finding", which the Breslav Research Institute translates vaguely as"necessary existence". Only the strongest gestalt possible in a specific time andplace is an "obligated finding" in that sense. If we look at the big picture of theentire world, then, of course, for Nachman God is that largest gestalt, ha-Makom. Many philosophical systems have their own version of this process. ForAristotle it is the "final cause" which, like a magnet, pulls us towards authenticaction in concrete circumstances. Nachman uses this Aristotelian point of view.He also uses the Platonic point of view. In the Prologue to Likutei Moharan hehas Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai tell us that "the Torah will not be forgotten". Thisis a code for Platonic "anamnesis", "not forgetting" the primordial ideas ofdialectical thinking: Abraham (awareness, the thesis), Isaac (difference,conflicts, the antithesis), and Jacob (identity in difference, authentic action,enlightenment, the synthesis). For Nachman the Covenant (Hebrew: "brit") whichmust not be forgotten is on the most basic level a commitment to dialecticlogic. Thus Nachman uses the term "Israel" to represent those who availthemselves of the complete dialectic by combining deduction and induction. Itis this Covenant which binds Israel to God, as the stages of dialectical thinking are bound to the Aristotelian final cause at the end of a long tunnel or to thePlatonic idea at the origin of the seductive illusion we assume uncritically weknow as "reality". But what about the phrase the Research Institute translates as "contingentexistence"? First of all, the literal meaning is "scattered finding", from the rootP-Sh-R, meaning "to divide". See the Talmudic dictionary for this antique senseof the word. Division is what we find in our here and now awareness experienceof inductive thinking. The myriad figures that rise here and now from theground of possibilities are scattered willy-nilly without any apparent system atfirst. This "scattered finding" ("Contingent existence") does not appear at first tobe a "necessary, obligated finding", unless, that is, we commit ourselves totallyto following the river of awareness back to its Source (Plato) or on to the greatocean (Aristotle). Then, once each moment of awareness has been discovered,it is a part of the higher levels of Gestalt integration as we ascend the right sideof the tree of life. This is the paradox which Nachman is alluding to in LM 52. (1) The final cause, God, is necessarily found if we go with thephenomenological river of experience. (2) But any moment of initial awarenessis merely a chance occurrence, a "scattered finding". (3) Nevertheless,paradoxically, once that moment of awareness has emerged from the ground ofpossibilities it now is locked into the endless process of more and moreencompassing gestalts leading to the particular final cause, strongest gestalt,divinity, archangel, name of God, which is acting as a magnet in the field ofgestalts or monads or (to use Nachman's metaphor) "souls". For in Nachman'sjargon "souls" are gestalts, monads, living centers of consciousness in a spherein which any point, any soul, is potentially the center. If it is your soul at thismoment of the messianic now which is the most inflamed in the search for God or truth, then you at this messianic moment are the center of the Jewishuniverse, the lamed-vavnik, that the Jewish people needs at this moment as aredeemer. Of course, Nachman has his sights on this job, when he sees himselfas the brook in the Prologue to Likutei Moharan. For him the brook implies theproper middle way relation between the river of inductive ideas and itsdeductive banks, the river of chochmah and its binah banks, the river of divinelight and its shekhinah banks, the river of chet and its nun banks (see LM 1). IN THE SHOW THERE IS AN INITIAL, PREMATURE ATTEMPT TO BRING THINGSTOGETHER INTO A RATIONAL COMPROMISE. BUT THE NARRATOR DISCOUNTS THAT COMPROMISE BETWEEN THE GRAY WALLS AND THE RED FLOOR AS BORING, SINCE IT HAS RESULTED FROM THE ANTAGONISTS NOT REALLYCOMMITTING THEMSELVES TO THE DEEPER STRUGGLE OF DEDUCTION VS INDUCTION, REASON VERSUS AWARENESS. NEXT, THE “AIR” CHARACTER ENTERSAS A NEW POINT OF VIEW ENTIRELY: THAT OF “SCATTERED FINDING” VERSUS THE “OBLIGATED FINDING” OF ANY SORT OF SYSTEM. HIS POINT OF VIEW IS THAT OF “CHAOS” VIS-A-VIS THE ROOM WHICH MERELY ENCOMPASSES THE WALL/FLOOR DIALECTIC IN A DEDUCTIVE PAIR OF OPPOSITES. THISALCHEMICAL AIR OR ETHER CREATES AN INFINITE NUMBER OF VOIDS IN THE ALREADY SOMEWHAT PERFORATED MATRIX SYMBOLIZED BY THE ROOM. AFTER ENCOUNTERING THE CHAOS OF THE AIR, THE NARRATOR REALIZES THATCOMPROMISE IS NOT THE OBJECT OF HIS QUEST. HIS NEW QUEST IS “A LIFE ONFIRE”, AND THIS ANNOUNCES THE EMERGENCE OF ALCHEMICAL FIRE FROM THEVOID OF ALCHEMICAL AIR. UP UNTIL NOW THINGS HAVE BEEN TOO EASY. WHAT IS CALLED FOR NOW IS CREATIVE AGGRESSION TO COMPLETE THE NEGATION OF THE NEGATIONS OF THE ONE WITHOUT A SECOND, TO CHEW UP ANDOBLITERATE COMPLETELY THE ALREADY STRESSED OUT DEDUCTIVE SYSTEM. THE ENERGY FOR THE CREATIVE AGGRESSION NEEDS TO COME FROM SOME SORT OF EXPLOSION INTO AUTHENTIC ACTION WHICH RESULTS FROM THE ASCENT OF SMALL GESTALTS TO THE LEVEL OF LARGE, ENCOMPASSINGGESTALTS, WHAT NACHMAN LABELS IN LM 1 “YAALAT CHEN”, THE ASCENT OFTHE SUBJECT/OBJECT RELATIONSHIP VIA INDUCTIVE THINKING. THE FOURMAJOR SORTS OF EXPLOSIONS FRITZ PERLS MENTIONS IN HIS “GESTALT THERAPY VERBATIM” ARE GRIEF, ANGER, JOY, AND ORGASM. IN THIS SHOW,“THE ROOM”, THE FINAL EXPLOSION COMBINES ALL FOUR SORTS: GRIEF AT THEPASSING OF YOUTH, ANGER AT REJECTION BY WOMEN CLOSED UP IN THEIRBOURGEOIS BOX, JOY AT OVERCOMING ALL THE REMAINING OBSTACLES ANDORGASM AS MALE AND FEMALE, CHOCHMAH AND BINAH, ADAM AND EVECOALESCE INTO ONENESS THOUGH WITHOUT SURRENDERING THEIR DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW COMPLETELY. THIS IS THE NECESSARY DIALECTICAL SYNTHESIS NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE DRAMATIC ACTION: IDENTITY IN DIFFERENCE, THEONE IN THE MANY, OR (FOR THE RELIGIOUSLY INCLINED) GOD IN THE WORLD. 5. BARE BONES HITBODEDUT With this philosophical context in place, we now can easily unravel the rest ofNachman's prescription for religious perfection based on what he calls"hitbodedut". As usual we will find Nachman's unfolds his tale on two levels, thesimple level for simple folk and the more complex level for more sophisticatedseekers after truth. Here we need not go word by word through Nachman's text,since the implications of the basic philosophical structure already are muchmore obvious than is the buried structure which we just have ferreted out fromNachman's hassidically tinted prose. We see immediately, for example, that weneed not take Nachman literally when he tells us to do hitbodedut only at nightand alone. For the process works just as well, perhaps even better, in a well litroom when supervised by a Gestalt therapist with a group of perhaps 50 fellowpilgrims observing - provided, of course, that the observers respect the processand do not meddle by trying to be "helpful". Gestalt therapy originally waslabeled by its founder Fritz Perls "concentration therapy", with the assumption that the sort of concentration called for in the process is of the inductive sort.In general, participants in a Gestalt group session discover that the power ofawareness work is so formidable that most people can focus reasonably well ontheir own phenomenological river and ignore what other people who areobserving might be thinking deductively. MERELY THE FACT THAT I WAS ABLE TO DO THIS PROCESS IN A WELL LIT ROOM SITTING AT MY KEYBOARD AND COMPUTER, AND ENVISIONING AN AUDIENCEOF BILLIONS ON THE INTERNET DEMONSTRATES THAT WHAT IS IMPORTANT HERE IS THE LOGICAL PROCESS OF INDUCTION, AWARENESS, AND NOT THETHEATRICAL EFFECTS THAT HASSIDIM CRAVE, ALONG WITH THEIR 18THCENTURY WARDROBE. What comes to mind regarding the river of inductive thinking is the childhoodditti: "Row, row, row the boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily,merrily, life is but a dream!" That is to say, if we flow with the river ofawareness, we have an opportunity to wake up from our silly dream ofdeductive thinking and get a lot closer to reality itself. Or as Nachman wouldput it, we can discover easily how we got stuck being heretics. Once we see howwe got stuck, then we also see how easy it is to get un-stuck. Nachman says,"pray, study, pray!" That is to say, shift the balance of your life so that most ofyour focus is on inductive experiences rather than deductive experiences. ForNachman, "praying" equates, once again, to a proper middle way balance ofdeductive and inductive thinking, while "studying" equates to an overemphasisupon deductive thinking. Nachman develops this notion of what prayer is in LM 2. See my essay on LM 2, "Simple As Child's Play" for details. THE PROCESS I HAVE JUST DEMONSTRATED IS “PRAYER”, “HITBODEDUT”,PRECISELY IN LINE WITH THE GUIDELINES NACHMAN SPECIFIES, ON THE MOSTBASIC LEVEL. 6. HITBODEDUT AS POETIC LANGUAGE AND GESTALT MONOLOGUE My own translation of this text of Nachman is: "Know that the main pointconcerning negation of one's ego, that a person negates his existence andbecomes nothing and is included in the oneness of The Name, may it beblessed, this is only by means of hitbodedut (that is to say: secluding oneselfand talking to God). Hitbodedut requires a special place and time, so that thehindrances will not confuse him." ע ער רהביטול, ם םל לו וה האין, ל לת תם םיתברך, ן ןה הא אעל-י יהתבודדות. ת תך ךם םן ןמיוחד, א או וו והמונעים. The hindrances in question here are precisely those spelled out in texts ofGestalt therapy under the heading "self-interruptions", and in the writings ofJohann Georg Hamann under the heading "prose versus poetry". In fact, thistext of Nachman is a restatement of the basic tradition of the Lurianic kabbalah moment of tsimtsum 2 (negation of the two sides of an impasse in the void bymeans of getting a new idea), with the crucial addition of a verbal monologue.Nachman's emphasis on the role of language in pietist religion places Nachmansquarely on the road travelled by his predecessor Johann Georg Hamann(1730-1788) in Konigsberg, East Prussia, in his resistance to the GermanEnlightenment movement. Some earlier philosophical roots of Hamann in thephilosophy of inductive thinking of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) aredemonstrated by James O'Flaherty in his analysis of the work of Hamann,entitled "Johann Georg Hamann". In short, what Nachman labels "hitbodedut",Hamann labels "poetry". Frederick Copleston elucidates Hamann's view ofpoetry as the mother language of mankind as follows: "The speech of primitivemen was sensation and passion, and they understood nothing but images. Itwas in music, song and poetry that they expressed themselves." ("A History ofPhilosophy", Volume 6, p. 136) Gestalt therapists make a similar distinctionbetween poetry and prose. A client who is babbling away without muchpersonal connection to his verbiage is "talking literature", while a client whosespeaking is directly related to his authentic actions is considered to be speakingpoetically. Nachman's "heretics" are those of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenmentmovement) who prefer prose (deductive thinking and babbling) to poetry(inductive thinking and committed action) in Hamann's sense of the wordpoetry. See my own extensive commentary on LM 4, entitled "Bacon, Hamannand Nachman" for a detailed treatment. Nachman's emphasis on a monologuein solitude also places Nachman squarely in the tradition of Gestalt therapy,which is a bare bones version of the hitbodudut process: minus the theologicaljargon, minus the rustic solitude hard to find these days, and minus all themelodrama concerning the mystical powers of darkness and King David's harpwhich, says Nachman, begins chiming by itself at the midnight of a hassid'sexistential despair. The hindrances/self-interruptions in the Gestalt formulationare: (1) confluence, (2) introjection, (3) projection, (4) retroflection, (5) egotism.See "Gestalt Therapy" by Perls, Hefferline and Goodman or "Gestalt TherapyVerbatim" by Perls for details. Also, see my 90 minute video, "Hitbodedut", foran illustration of these Gestalt self-interruptions at work during the hitbodedutprocess. The defining traits of "poetic language" in contrast to prose, accordingto O'Flaherty's analysis of Hamann are: (1) imagery, (2) analogy, (3) parataxis, (4) paradox, (5) multiple levels of language, (6) affective terminology. SeeO'Flaherty for details. My aim in this clinical and philosophical dissection ofNachman's pietist process of hitbodudut has not been to disparage the process itself. What Nachman of Breslav calls "Hitbodedut" and Fritz Perls calls "Concentration Therapy" or "Gestalt Therapy" and Johann Georg Hamann calls"Poetry" is a dimension of human experience of crucial importance, a dimensionwhich indeed accomplishes very well the goals Nachman of Breslav or Fritz Perlsor Johann Georg Hamann claim it accomplishes. I merely am suggesting thatonce the hitbodedut process is carefully demystified, and the bones are pickedclean of obfuscating viscera and suspect chauvinistic motives, hitbodedut isrendered much more useful for many different types of people in manydifferent sets of circumstances, for example, training for spiritually inclinedperformers of a not so frum Jewish theater. A pharmaceutical wedding betweenNachman's medicine and Fritz Perls' medicine in a Hamann inspired poeticcrucible would preserve the best of all three systems, while reserving the pureNachman, pure Fritz and pure Hamann versions for specific populations most inneed of either a purely hassidic redemption, or a purely secular healing, or apurely spiritual poetry, respectively. ALSO THIS PROCESS IS GESTALT THERAPY AND POETRY, AS I JUST HAVE SPELLEDOUT. IN FACT, THIS PROCESS FITS PRECISELY INTO THE MOST CLASSICALDEFINITIONS OF POETRY OF THE DRAMATIC ACTION SORT. THE MOMENT OF CRISIS AND DEATH OF EGO EQUIVALENT TO THE FOURTH ACT OF A GREEKTRAGEDY IS THAT IN WHICH THE PROTAGONIST, FRANKLYN, GIVES UP HISIDENTITY AS AN AGING FAILURE AND SURRENDERS TO THE HERE AND NOW SITUATION, HOWEVER WE MAY CARE TO DESCRIBE IT. WHETHER HE HASSUCCEEDING IN FINDING A MOMENT OF “LIFE ON FIRE” IS FOR THE AUDIENCE TO DECIDE. AS FOR THE PRESENT WRITER, I FEEL A CERTAIN CATHARSIS THAT IHAVE MANAGED TO GIVE POETIC FORM TO A MAJOR LIFE PASSAGE MOMENT. POET DYLAN THOMAS FOUND HIS OWN WAY TO EXPRESS A SIMILAR LIFE PASSAGE MOMENT IN HIS POEM, “DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOODNIGHT”. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. TAGS נחמן מברסלב, ליקוטי מהר"ן 51, ליקוטי מוהר"ן 52, nachman of breslav, likutei moharan 52, likutei moharan 51, plato, schopenhauer, symbolism, expressionism, gestalt therapy, brechtian theater, walter benjamin, mabou mines theater, konstantin stanislavski
28 May 2012
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