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14

Mar

Purim

I’ve been working with Mr. Wesson over the past couple of months helping him to develop curriculum for a class that he is teaching called Integral Judaism. He has a group of 14-15 yr olds that he is attempting to develop a truly fresh and inspirational view of Judaism with. I help him out a bit when it comes to having as comprehensive or integral approach as possible by using the concepts and tools that I am studying now. He is the Jewish Studies expert and not too shabby on the integral side himself.

Purim is a Jewish holiday that celebrates what most Jewish holidays celebrate; Jews not being slaughtered. This time it was a guy named Haman from the ancient Persian Empire who wanted to annihilate the Jews. They triumphed….or at least escaped, and so we celebrate.

David was telling me about one aspect of Purim that involves truly throwing off your shackles and really digging into the shadow elements of oneself. This can start with screaming and stomping during service, progress to drinking, dancing, sexing and pretty much anything else. He said that by many accounts ‘what happens on Purim stays in Purim’. Part of the idea is simply to recognize the parts of the self that are suppressed or denied throughout the rest of the year, to get in touch with much that is taboo, not to indulge it, but to better understand it and to therefore be more in control of it.

We decided that it would be a great opportunity to explore shadow with the students (the parts of our psyche that usually lie in the dark, hidden from our view) and agreed that an experiential aspect was important. After seriously considering getting the kids drunk and encouraging them to explore their boundaries of right and wrong we decided that perhaps a discussion, followed by a meditation would be more appropriate.

Here is what I wrote, stream of conscious style and what Dave ended up using as a basic guideline in class. All questions in the discussion section can be discussed for any length of time and the meditation could be 5 minutes or 60 depending on how long you want to allow each line to marinate. Apparently the students enjoyed it. I really hope to be able to go in and teach a class soon.

Discussion

What is ok?
Are all actions acceptable?
Are all thoughts acceptable?

How does the setting and the company you keep affect the acceptability of your actions?

at home?
in class?
with friends?
in temple?
Do setting and company affect your thoughts?
Should you control your actions?
Should you control your thoughts?
Can you control a negative thought without first recognizing it and labeling it as such?
Can you control your actions if you deny your thoughts?
If a negative thought arises and you disown it, where does it go? (shadow)
what can happen if you re-own such a thought?
Who created that thought? (Integral perspective, see how it arises in all 4 quadrants)
4 quadrants of a thought. Each moment as two things, karma (in all 4 quadrants) + creativity
No matter what your environment, history, DNA, beliefs (karma) etc. you still have choice
What is involved in being good?
What are some things that you don’t do?
How would you know not to do them if you did not think about them?
Does having these negative thoughts make you evil or even negative?
Most mythic religious traditions view evil as something that comes from outside of you. How does this empower or disempower you to do good?
If evil comes from without, how can you control it?
But if it arises from within?
What does it mean if you have indulged negative thoughts with negative actions in the past?
How does that affect this moment? The future?
Are those who have sinned dammed to continue to sin?

Experiential

Close your eyes
What are you thinking right now?
Is that good?
bad?
neutral?
How do you know?
What if I tell you to think of something evil?
Try it right now
now let your mind wander free
notice that you are not your thoughts
see how you can control your thoughts
send your mind to a negative place
can you think of something that you should not do?
something that society has told you is wrong
something that your friends think is wrong
something that your parents have forbid
something that you would never do
can you see yourself doing it?
does this mean that it is done?
does this change who you are or what you will do in the future?
does having felt this in your mind make you more or less likely to actually do this?
what value is there is in letting these thoughts arise on their own?
what harm is there in this?
what power can you wield by simply noticing thoughts?
can you then decide whether or not to act upon them?
can you also decide whether or not to indulge them in your mind?
is there a difference between allowing a thought to surface, simply noticing it, labeling it, and indulging it, feeding it?
might there be a line between healthy awareness and unhealthy indulgence that you should practice being aware of?
what are you thinking right now?
notice this thought
see if you have judged it
did you also judge yourself?
are you your thoughts?
if you are your thoughts, then who is judging them?
who is aware of your thoughts?
do your thoughts change?
are they fleeting?
is there something that is constant that is aware of your thoughts?

Choose a thought
create a vision of this room
right here
right now
Envision each and every person in this room sharing one thought
feel the resonance of this thought as it grows
realize your part in this thought, your contribution
feel the effects of each and every other persons awareness of this moment upon you
now focus on your breath
breath in
and now out
realize that each of you is doing the same
NOW DANCE!!!!! bitches!!!!! (play really loud music and giggle maniacally making them call into question everything you have just done and learning to ultimately trust no one but themselves, then pee on them)