|Dr. Robert Puff|
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Issue #1290 - Monday, December 16, 2002 - Edited by Jerry
"I'm so pretty I can hardly stand to look
"Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee. Your hands can't hit
what your eyes can't see." "It's just a job. Grass grows, birds
fly, waves pound the sand. I just beat people up."
"If anybody ever dreamed of knocking me down, he'd wake up and
"The fight is won or lost far away from witnessesbehind the lines,
in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under
"It's hard to be humble, when you're as great as I am."
"I'm a baaaadd man!"
"If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make
something out of you." "A rooster crows only when it sees the
light. Put him in the dark and he'll never crow. I have seen the
light and I'm crowing."
"Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn't choose it, and I didn't
want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name - it means beloved of God -
and I insist people use it when speaking to me and of me.''
"Why should I drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam
while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?"
"I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It
would be a better world."
"I haven't been home in 410 years. I'm going there to see what home
"Dundee told me: "Go out and hit him! Go out and hit him!" So I
said: "You go out and hit him. I'm tired."
"People ask me how many children I have. I say one boy and seven
"God gave me this physical impairment to remind me that I am not
the greatest. He is."
"Sometimes I laugh at what I do harder then anyone else."
--selected quotes attributed to Muhammed Ali. Contributed by
By DAVID CURZON from The Forward, December 13, 2002: http://www.forward.com/issues/2002/02.12.13/fast4.html
In oral literature the tale is told slightly differently with each telling. A performer such as Homer did not recite from memory but created as he went along a variant on the known tale. He was guided in his telling not only by the story line but also by what became known in the modern scholarly study of oral literature as the "type-scene." When the hero arrives somewhere for a visit, for example, the performer tells his audience about it by following a fixed order of motifs. The type-scene of the visit consisted of the approach of the guest, the first sighting of the guest, someone hurrying to meet him, a description of the festive meal and so on.
In his book, "The Art of Biblical Narrative," Robert Alter applied this conception to the Bible and showed that many of its stories can be understood as type-scenes. The encounter with a future wife at a well, and the birth of the hero Isaac, Joseph, Samuel to a previously barren wife, are examples of situations that recur and are treated in similar ways in different contexts. But, as Alter is at pains to show us, "what is really interesting is not the schema of convention but what is done in each individual application of the schema."
This concept of a type-scene can help us see correspondences between the biblical story and our own individual lives, making the text a living presence in us and giving details of our own lives a universal context of understanding.
This week's portion, Va-Yigash, starts with Judah's speech to the great lord of Egypt, who he doesn't know is his brother Joseph. In the course of the speech he tells the lord of Egypt how precious Benjamin is to his father because he is the only surviving son of his mother, Rachel, and what an agony it was to allow him to come to Egypt, as Joseph had demanded. Joseph is overcome with emotion and instructs all the Egyptians in the room to leave. He then breaks down and weeps and reveals himself to his brothers. No doubt there are many scenes in other literatures in which the same elements are present. In his classic, "Morphology of the Folktale," Vladimir Propp lists, as standard components of many folk-tales, an unrecognized hero who travels to a far country, and a subsequent recognition scene. But that is not my concern here. This year, as I read the familiar story of Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers, I asked myself, When did I live out this type-scene?
One of the difficulties of using biblical stories to search our lives in this way, of finding midrash in our lives, is to arrive at the right level of generalization at which to seek out the correspondences. If we take the task too literally we end up asking ourselves, When was I in effect sold into slavery by my brothers? When did I interpret a Pharaoh's dreams? For some people these may be highly suggestive questions, but for the majority correspondences will only occur at a much higher level of generalization.
The right level of generalization for myself, this year at least, was along these lines: When did I close a door literally or figuratively in order to tell someone a revelation about myself, or hear someone else's revelation? When did I withhold my identity, or evidence of a change in my identity, from those closest to me? How long did I keep it up? With what effects on others and myself? Or, for that matter, when did I have a yearning to reveal myself but didn't do it? More than 20 years ago I recorded such a yearning in a poem:
If only I could rise outstretched above
this bureaucrat who works behind closed doors
that block the chatter going on outside
and from my cramped position open up
like divers who've been soundless, down too long,
and stretch toward the surface to come home;
if only I could rise and float away
to any place I wanted to be in
and lying weightless next to you could watch
invisibly while you were sleeping there
three inches from me and I felt the stir
of your cool breath caressing both my cheeks;
if only I could move above myself
and rise up to the surface and its words.
Well, I was certainly behind closed doors, but the person who should have been there wasn't, and so there was no revelation, and no weeping, and no reconciliation, as there would have been had this moment matched the type-scene.
Years later, and quite unconsciously, I did close a door at the right moment to make the enclosure needed for personal revelation:
The phone rang in my office. It was you, Michele.
The background noise competed with your voice.
I understood it was a pay phone on the street.
You asked if you could come up to my office
and something sounded wrong as you asked and I
of course said yes and had some apprehension
and met you at the elevators. You
were clutching several large brown envelopes,
the sort used for X-ray negatives.
I asked you if the problem was medical.
You nodded as we walked the corridor.
We reached my office and I closed us in.
You said, "Cancer," and allowed yourself
some sobs. I hugged you and the negatives.
David Curzon is the author of "The View From Jacob's Ladder" (Jewish Publication Society of America) and other books of poetry and midrash.
CAUTION: SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE 'AMELIE'
Anyone see Amelie? Did you see a teaching about the nature of reality and an enlightenment moment in it? In any case, it was a very good and enjoyable movie. --Jerry
Amelie is a delightfully sweet movie. I saw it twice. Since I was born in Italy, the European nuances in the movie brought back fond memories of my childhood. When Amelie found the box, she found her life's purpose (enlightenment?) and then charmingly played with reality to make people happy. I'm all smiley, mushy and teary-eyed again just thinking of it. Go see it everyone. I recently saw the video "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe" written by Jane Wagner and starring Lily Tomlin. See it for the 'goose bumps'. -- Mary
I am too, but perhaps for a different reason...
It is a delightful movie. Amelie also discovered a rational
explanation of a mystery that she considered mystical (regarding the
photo booth) and she realized, with a bit of prodding, that she could
dare to love for her own joy. That's the enlightenment moment in my
opinion. It's certainly a lesson for this frightened body-mind.
Go see it.
When her boyfriend realized the guy who'd been dropping all
the photos was
only the photo booth repairman, he gave an 'aha' kind of laugh. That the
repairman harshly opened the curtain between the boyfriend and himself was a
symbol of a veil being torn away. For me the movie was about moments of
surprise or resolution which remove a veil and bring one closer to something
called reality. It's also interesting to see how it's not necessary to deal
directly with situations, that a person can be themself and that can add
charm to the universe. At this time almost every online guru is very big on
getting to the point and dismissing everything everyone does. Landmark and
all that. It's really sad. I say, hey, be yourself. Be indirect, be
whatever. Be yourself. You already know your own teaching. --Jerry
"The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete
acceptance and openness to all situations and
emotions, and to all people, experiencing everything
totally with out mental reservations and blockages, so
that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself."
~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (from Daily Dharma)
M : Your life of purity and peace will enrich the world a
fold more than you can even imagine you would be able to do through a worldwide
marshalling of the forces of the states towards organized
philanthropy and material aid to needy humanity.
Hari Aum !!! --SVCS (the I Am list)
from the Live Journal Nonduality Community
The Anointed One
This man, Jesus of Nazareth, practiced modern political correctness nearly 2000 years ago. In a religious political system where the sick and handicapped were considered impure and made outcasts, Jesus made no such discriminations. In fact, he taught that we should all love indiscriminately. Jesus took his meals with socially outcast people of all types. Whores, thieves, murderers, politicians, homosexuals, Jesus loved everyone. The act that eventually led to the mass conversion from Grecco-Roman Paganism to Christianity did not begin with Constantine. Jesus openly accepted Gentiles. Some of his devotees were Romans. He even taught to love your enemies. If world governments heeded this teaching, there would be no war. This Christmas, let's remember what the true spirit of Christmas is all about. Please help to carry this spirit out into the rest of the year as well. Only love can defeat hate.
from the Live Journal Nonduality Community
Andrew Cohen's quote of the week: no obstacles to enlightenment
It's a good quote, even though he says some of that funny ambiguous stuff about embracing life wholeheartedly. What he really means by that, I don't know. One could be doing almost anything and claim to be embracing life wholeheartedly. But the seed of the message is still a good one, I think. That is to say, there are no obstacles in your path to becoming enlightened this moment.
The liberated condition is based on the discovery that nothing is wrong. There is nothing in your way and there never has been. And traditionally that recognition is an end in itself. But if enlightenment is seen in the context of evolution, then that recognition is really the beginning of the path. You realize that because there's nothing in the way, there really is no excuse for not embracing life wholeheartedly. There's nothing preventing you. So that recognition, instead of being an end in itself, becomes a stepping-stone to embracing the burden of evolution. It becomes a stepping-stone into the fire.
From a retreat in Foxhollow, MA, October 2002
from Live Journal
Today I started
thinking while stacking the used packing crates away, that having
religions with written teachings, set rituals, rules of conduct,
requirements for membership, hierarchy of elders, niveaus and
levels, is just completely pointless.
Why build walls around something everyone has and which is everywhere ? Sit still for a moment and breathe, the silence and the world that's there while you do that, is what the religions is trying to teach you how to do.
Clever ideas, complicated theories, laws and rules, ascending and attaining, it's all trinkets and decoration, they're not the freedom that the religions are founded on. Because what it comes down to is the everyday moment and whatever is in your hands right now, every moment. Everyone exists in the moment, from moment to moment. It's so simple it doesn't need to be taught.
I guess... all that other stuff religions are talking about is just a waste of time. Why do it ? Why why why ?
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|Dr. Robert Puff|