The Real You: TorahCycle Vayetze



Anyone who’s ever spent a night tossing with insomnia knows the hunger for sleep. Those with scary nightmares long for the light of day, while those enjoying glorious Technicolor dreams are in the twilight we can too rarely conjure. Both are places where we’re instructed and guided in the often cryptic and magical language of dreams.

One theory of dream analysis postulates that everyone and everything in your dream is an aspect of you. That it’s a play for and about you, created by your higher self, your unconscious, subconscious, guides, whatever messengers you believe in, all of whom are fabricating an intricate drama–fantastical, threatening, comic, and/or challenging–often built from the characters and detritus of your daily life. Dreams are trying to get your attention. Encouraging you to examine them, from whatever pieces that you can remember.

Some people train more and better recall with a dream journal, recording each remembered fragment. Others claim not to dream at all. Most of us are in the middle, intrigued and occasionally disturbed by faint and incomplete images that escape like smoke between our waking breaths.

Often we’re left with the lingering feeling that we’ve been told something very i.m.p.o.r.t.a.n.t., and that we have a responsibility not just to remember the dream, as crazy or strange as it may seem in ordinary reality, but to interpret whatever messages it’s asking us to understand. To dig beneath the metaphor, camouflage, and irony, catastrophe or black humor, silly puns, strange sounds, and outright instructions in which the dream gods often cloak themselves.

Their messages aim at the various layers of you, at the archeology of your soul. It’s like stripping away layers of old linoleum floors in a rehab house. But in this case it’s the strata of your past, present, and possible futures. I pay special attention when former residences or dead relatives show up, or with images that become especially important if I find myself clearly engaging with them (as opposed to just watching like it’s someone else’s movie).

This week’s reading includes Jacob’s ladder. Angels ascending and descending while he sleeps with his head on a rock. Coming and going with messages, instructions, blessings, and gifts. In the morning he calls it HaMakom, The Place.

HaMakom is the place of understanding, the moment when the messages make sense. When you know with certainty what your dream is telling you and how you’re supposed to proceed. When the landscape of part/present/future gives you perspective on all directions and all possibilities. HaMakom helps you marry insight to consciousness and know how to proceed.

Most of us return to waking life less clear about following through. I remember shouting loudly to an advising guide last week: I can’t! It’s too hard!! That kind of dream is easy to remember in the light of day, and then to examine my own resistance.

Why refuse to accept such clear instruction? Because we don’t live in The Place. We’re distracted by friends, football, turkey, pumpkin pie, and a zillion alternatives to doing what we’re being told to do.

Which is the real you? The dreamer or the one who wakes in the morning? How can you find your HaMakom?

Karma Ride: TorahCycle Vayeishev

KarmaRide 2013We’re all here for different reasons, working out our unique and evolving karma. But yours, mine, theirs are at core pretty much the same stuff even if the nouns, verbs, locations, and languages seem very different. My cosmology says we’re all learning the lessons of understanding and compassion. I may get hung up on one piece of it and you on another. So we get different stories to live and tell along the way.

Those stories are our lives. If you think of each incarnation as a going to sleep and waking up in a different dream, then we’re each here dreaming, trying to make sense of the imagery and lessons of those stories. Dreaming is the metaphor of this and next week’s readings: what we’re being told and how to make sense of it in ways that are useful.

Joseph, our new protagonist, has a wild ride. Like the spinning cups at the amusement park, knocked and jolted from every side, turning all the while in crazy loops.

His story this week: he’s daddy’s favorite son; full of himself; wears a distinctive “coat of many colors”; is gifted with prophetic dreams (in which he’s the boss and the hero); gets tossed into a pit by his jealous brothers, then sold into slavery; becomes the target of his owner’s wife’s affections; resists her would-be seduction; lands in jail; interprets more prophetic dreams; gets a reputation for being insightful and special.

It’s clear early that he’s not going to become a simple herder. There’s a star on his head (even if he painted it there himself) that says, Look at me. Big things coming.

Most of our journeys are less dramatic. We take longer to find our gifts. Sure, there’s the occasional Mozart, a prodigy at age six. But most of us come into our own more slowly, in stages, over time. Or even blossom late, like Grandma Moses. Our gifts are learned from all our stories, the joyous and the painful, the easy and the hard. The living dream of our journey.

Using Torah as an allegory for personal growth helps you see its archetypes as both for and about you. Instructive if not directly prophetic. A tool to help you get more from your process.

There was a recent radio story about people with the chance to choose one super power. The most popular were the ability to fly or to become invisible (with gazillion caveats, like How fast? or Do my clothes go invisible too?). Joseph’s super power is dream interpretation. What to others is a complex jumble of images or strange situations is for him a vivid and prophetic story.

Insight about what’s coming, or at least what energies are turning the gears, creates perspective. And as much as most of us wouldn’t choose slavery and prison, each piece of the journey helps him to where he’s doing. Ditto for you.

Even if you can’t fly, become invisible, or prophesize, think about what makes you special. How did you acquire and deepen those skills? How they can help you get closer to your goals? How can they help you make better choices on your journey?