I was asked by Rabbi Elana Kanter several months ago to use my creativity to create something to honor Rabbi Green who would be visiting our New Shul and in relationship to our study of Mussar .
Please note Rabbi Green is much more focused on Kabbalah than Mussar. Kabbalah is more of a mystical based study… and considering that I had been exploring Chakra healing and colors with paint for about 4 years I kept pondering what I would actually do. So several months went by. Yes I had good long prep time , but what was the hurry ?
The 7 major Chakra energy fields of the Hindu and Tibetan science of healing focuses on working to re-connect the flow of energy from the universe through the body. There are specific colors that work with this flow. In my painting here you will see that the top of the painting is violet which is considered the 7th Chakra or crown Chakra . The bottom red is considered the 1st Chakra or Root Chakra . Often in Chakra discussions we start with first things first ( which is the Root /red Chakra) but considering that Mussar was the driving force for this finished piece I feel that we should start with TRUST first which truly is what I think all spiritual beliefs rely on.
Now more about Mussar . It is a personal development system that is based on Jewish studies and practices relating to our everyday life and interactions in the world. In our class we would take one Middot , and after reading and discussing the text pertaining to this create a focus phrase and Kabbalah ( hmmm overlap?) , or action that we want to tap into and follow EVERY DAY for a month. Ouch. For those of us that easily start and stop practices as we see another shiny object this is no small task! The assignment was to also to include daily journaling , charting our progress and sharing with a partner in the program several times a month per class how we were doing as well as “declaring ” to our small group what our intention was for the month through email. Sounds pretty demanding , eh? Well consistent with the gentleness of our Rabbis it was all strongly “suggested and requested ” that is what we do. Depending upon your personality and emotional makeup this could be productive or not. I am not passing judgement here just stating observation. Considering that this was a 7 month program it could feel like training for a triathalon if one wanted to be consistent.
Now it seems that with every practice that I attempt to take on to make a change for the positive in my life it always seems to be that I am confronted head on with exactly what I am attempting to resolve and move past . So too with my taking on a an artistic project concerning Mussar. I floated over the idea for months as I was involved in a month long study for each Middot. It was not until around 2 weeks before delivery was due of my piece while I was supposedly sleeping it all came together in my mind. I am not sure if that was the hard part… to know exactly what I wanted to do.
With my painting for several years around the concept of Chakras I had been observing the reactions to color while in the meditative practice of painting as well as how others respond to being in the surroundings of the colors of the paintings. I would arrange the paintings in different ways to see how the response would change.
It finally clicked with something Rabbi Wasserman said in his shabbat Dvar Torah on March 7th at The New Shul. I meditated on it. I slept on it. I walked on it. And come Sunday morning I had connected the dots. I cross referenced my readings and personal practices concerning the Middot with those of Chakra emotional energy centers. FYI there are more chakras just as there is much more to personal development than we cover in our Mussar classes. The learning is never ending in the continuum of personal growth .
FYI process of this project from conceptualization to completion truly reminded me of all the Middot. Many of the challenges that I have experienced while in each month of the practice of the middot I found staring at me daily with this canvas. You see this canvas painting started prior to the Mussar classes . It had been hanging next to my desk asking me WHAT AM I DOING HERE ANYWAY ? It is interesting how as I kept layering the canvas the size of the color swatches kept changing and in retrospect it seemed to keep reminding me of what aspect of my life I needed to be working on at that very moment.
For further insight into the painting here are the personality and emotional traits of the Middot and Chakras … see the connection ? The First word is the Hebrew word ie Bitachon, which is the transliteration , and next to it is the English translation , ie Trust.
I have not included the Sanskrit words here as of yet.
Crown Chakra – Violet
Oneness with god, understanding , awareness, intuition, universal flow,
Third eye Chakra – Indigo
Ability to see divine perfection in all things,insight, clarity,intuition .
Shtikah-Shmirat Halashon… Silence and Mindful Speech
Throat Chakra – Blue
Expressing truth ,communication, listening.
Heart Chakra- Green
Love and acceptance of self and others,compassion
The Magen david symbol is actually used in traditional Chakra symbolism
Kavod …Dignity Honor
Solar plexus Chakra -Yellow
Ability to manifest goals , personal power,logic, intellect, anxiety,freedom to be one’s
self, self esteem
Relationships ,emotional needs. utilization of creative forces,seat of will power,productivity, enthusiasm , optimism
Root Chakra – Red
Ability to work lovingly in the physical plane,grounding , stability ,drive, passion .
By writing these words with Hebrew at top and English at bottom of canvas completes this artist’s attempt to make order out of the curiosity of how these very different worlds of philosophy have such great affinity.
I hope you enjoy and would be grateful to hear or read any comments you may have about what I have said or displayed here.
Namaste and Shalom …