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Jacob and the Angel

Posted by on April 14, 2013

The religious story that perhaps best exemplifies the spirit of Choose Your Metaphor that of Jacob wrestling with the angel.

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The night before Jacob is to reconcile with his brother Esau (who he had deceived and cheated), he has a dream in which he grapples with an angel. In the struggle, neither adversary can gain the upper hand; Jacob insists he will not let go until the angel (God in disguise) blesses him. The angel consents and bestows the name “Israel” which literally means “struggle with God.” During the battle, however, the angel hits Jacob in the hip, giving him a limp that he takes across the river into the Promised Land.

 

 

 

 

It is my hope that Choose Your Metaphor will be a forum for everyone who struggles with the mystery of life to come and limp together. Perhaps we can even using each other for support, as we collectively “schlep toward Enlightenment” (to use Lama Surya Das’ succinct phrase). For as the story of Jacob reminds us, struggles are not a sign of weakness or failure, but actually an integral part of the path to the “Promised Land.” These challenges will often leave us confused, bruised, and wondering whether the challenge of living our Godly/Enlightened nature is really worth it. But if we remember that falling down is essential for learning to walk, we see that each stumble strengthens our muscles strengthen a tiny bit more.

There are often no concrete answers on this path, but there is a blessed community (ummah, sangha) of people undergoing the same trials. As creatures limited in time and space doing the best to live in line with what we know to be true, we connect most with each other in speaking our questions, confusions, and uncertainty with each other.

Meditation: In which way has struggle brought you closer to truth?

 

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