About Colette

 COLETTE ABOULKER-MUSCAT (1909-2003)

Colette

 Post your memories or imaging exercises in homage to Colette on her Facebook page.  More about Colette.

The eldest daughter of the most famous neurosurgeon of his time, in Europe and North Africa, Colette became a realized being at the age of six. Being tutored in the way of Spirit by her family members, notably her father, mother, grandmother and uncle, she began then her two-fold life-long  mission:

  • To save lives as a healer, documented by her heroic work in ministering to wounded WW I war veterans whose conditions escaped medical cure, and her repairing the mental character of a serial murderer who had previously killed 21 women, as examples.
  • To save the Jewish people from extermination, highlighted by organizing the successful underground resistance against the Nazis in North Africa during World War II. She was subsequently decorated after World War II as one of the “five mothers who helped save the world.” 

From early life, her reputation spread far and wide as a special wise woman.  She received many honors during the course of her life, achieving four degrees at the Sorbonne in Paris; becoming President of the Women’s International Zionist Organization in Europe (the forerunner of the women’s organization Hadassah in the U.S.); capping it off with being named in the late 1990’s as The Most Beloved of Jerusalem in recognition of her contributions to the Jewish nation she lived in since 1954.   Colette died on November 25, 2003 quietly at home.

KABBALAH OF LIGHT

Colette was a spiritual teacher in the tradition of the Kabbalah of Light, the visionary Kabbalah of imagination and allied practices, taught in the wisdom schools of the ancient Holy Land known as the Sons of the Prophets.  This tradition, also known as Merkavah or Chariot mysticism, is first described vividly in the first 28 lines of the Book of Ezekiel. It was then passed down through the succeeding centuries by such luminaries as Rabbi Akiva, Isaac the Blind, and eventually passing to the 20th century master, Colette.  Her translation of the imaginal wisdom took root in the work she termed Waking Dream and its component parts called Guided Imagery and Short Imagery Exercises.  All of her teaching was directed toward two aims: 1) to create healing for daily topical difficulties and 2) to achieve transcendence and mystical union.

LATER LIFE

 Colette married twice.  Her first marriage resulted in her  bearing  two children who have gained some degree of prominence in their respective fields.  Her second marriage was to a Russian-born former lawyer named Aryeh Muscat whose last name she adopted when she moved to Jerusalem where he lived in 1954.  He served as an international fundraiser for Israel and held the post of comptroller for the city of Jerusalem until he retired.  Colette lived modestly in Jerusalem, receiving people from all over the world and accepting no money for whatever she gave: healing imagery, teaching classes, giving sage advice, and feeding those who attended her weekly Saturday night salons who feasted on her personally prepared recipes of foods cooked in the Algerian style.  Although she was sought out repeatedly during her life for interviews in the press, on radio and TV, and asked to write books or have books written about her, she vowed not to become publicly noted until she reached age 80. 

LEGACY

 After 80, her life work began to be published through articles and films about her as well as her own works and works by her students.  Tamar Bergman wrote a biography about Colette in Hebrew as well as a children's storybook about Colette's life.  Colette then began writing her own works.  To date, ACMI Press has published five books of Colette's:

 La Vie N’est Pas Un Roman, a privately published five-volume memoir in French of her early childhood years from 4 to 12 was produced memoir (partially translated into English as life is not a Novel);

 Alone With The One, a collection of 86 mystical poems serving as a manual of spiritual practice;

Mea Culpa: Tales Of Resurrection, a collection of 50 stories of how she brought people back to life from the brink of death beginning at age 6 until the age of 83 (when she wrote the book);

The Encyclopedia of Mental Imagery: Colette Aboulker-Muscat’s 2,100 visualization exercises for Personal Development, Healing, and Self-Knowledge (edited by Gerald Epstein and Barbarah L. Fedoroff); 

 Reversing Cancer through Mental Imagery   Colette's 12 phase healing cancer healing manual to separate from the disease written by her student Simcha H. Benyosef.  

 In addition, a two-volume documentary entitled The Waking Dream (vol. I) and 10 Essential Exercises (vol. II) by filmmaker Patrick Bokanowski interviews Colette and films her at work with students.  Finally, her legacy has been amplified through the writings of her students capturing Colette's wisdom, healing images, and other practices of the Kabbalah of Light such as dreams, waking dream therapy, facereading (morphology), and the use of will. 


REMEMBERING COLETTE

The Light of Creative Imagination - by Oleg I. Reznik, M.D. (2004) 

I first met Colette Aboulker-Muscat in 1992. At that time she was already eighty three years old, which did not stop her from seeing patients and teaching six days a week. At that point, introduced to her by my uncle who is a clinical psychologist, I attended one of her Saturday salons where she led group imagery exercises. This was in Jerusalem, Israel and, as myself, many participants were visitors from other countries—France, USA, Canada. All classes were held in English.

The fact that she did not charge or accept money directly or indirectly from her patients or students made it easier to realize that this was a genuine teacher, interested only in the well being of her patients and students. There was no sign of a cultism. In fact, it was known among the students that if one were to show signs of attachment, Colette would tell that person that he or she is ready to be on their own and would break a tie permanently. She did not teach any doctrine, knowledge she imparted always came from within the learner stimulated by the imagery exercise she offered. In my nine years of learning (1994-2003) I did not learn a single concept from Colette. Instead, I learned through the experience of doing the mental exercises myself, observing how Colette was using them to help patients and students, and by asking questions. I also witnessed treatments of patients with serious and “incurable” diseases (both physical and mental), and saw many of them returning with thanks after doing better.

Colette Aboulker-Muscat was born in 1909 in Alger. She was a daughter of a professor of neurosurgery Henry Aboulker. Her mother was a known novelist of the time in France and North Africa. Her parents came from a line of Sephardic Jewish aristocracy. Her father taped her mouth closed from age 5 to age 9 due to a condition involving larynx and vocal cords. Tape was only removed for meals and at nighttime. 

As she writes in her hand written CV that I have been given after her passing, she began to discover and apply her method of imagination first as a child in the hospital of Dunkerque during the First World War in France, where her father was sent to be the French army head and neck surgeon. She was married to a scientist and has two sons; one is a high level engineer, the other is a professor at Sorbonne University in France.

During the Second World War she applied and developed her way of therapy in Algiers military hospital, while at the same time teaching philosophy. Colette and her family have contributed to the preparation of the American landing in Algiers on the 8th of November 1942. Colette completed a doctorate in philosophy and had known personally Martin Buber and Hugo Bergman. She was also a student and a friend of Robert Desoille, a French psychologist who named his method “Reve Eveille Dirige” or directed waking dream. (Desoille devised a set of motifs—mountain, cave, meadow, forest and others—that he invites the patient to explore in their imagination). 

Colette remarried to Dr. Arye Muscat and had been living in Jerusalem, Israel since 1954 until she passed away in November of 2003, being almost ninety five years of age. There, as she wrote, she “tried to help those who needed her knowledge, given advice to many artists and some scientists in their search for their discoveries, and sustained a great number of people who needed to be listened to, or to have an answer to a question.” At the same time she had been giving classes in personal development followed by a large number of students from Israel, France, and USA. Between the classes Colette was receiving people with physical, emotional, and mental illness. Among many of her achievements she, being a Jew, received a medal of exorcism from a catholic monastery for achieving great success in the treatment of possession. Colette’s autobiographical book in French—La Vie n’est pas un Roman (Life is not a novel), which she wrote as a legacy for her children, speaks of many of her life’s adventures. This book has been translated into English. 

One of her main students Dr. Gerald Epstein is a practicing psychiatrist in New York City and an author of several books that are based on her method. He also heads the American Institute of Mental Imagery (AIMI) where he teaches this method in his own way. AIMI is a New York State Regents-chartered post-graduate training center offering a Certificate of Completion for all mental health practitioners; doctors, nurses, psychologists, osteopaths, social workers, chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists and licensed massage therapists (www.drjerryepstein.org).

 As I mentioned, the knowledge that Colette imparted to me was non-conceptual yet not beyond being described. Colette’s work has no real limits yet it is not formless, it is subtle and precise. True to her non-conceptual but experiential way, she imparted her teaching into her book of poetry Alone with the One. The nature of poetry is to reveal itself to the learner to the degree that the learner is ready to receive. A larger part of what she offered for her students and patients were short mental imagery exercises. Most of these last less than two minutes including the preparatory breathing. Colette taught that in this work often less is more. She also did more lengthy exploratory exercises, and longer (about 30 minutes) exploratory/therapeutic exercises based on patient’s night dreams called waking dream. She applied the knowledge of numbers, colors and directions in space in her work, as well as morphology—reading the shape of face, profile and body type. She helped children with the use of semi-structured drawings that was used for diagnostic and therapeutic purpose. Her interventions, on some occasions, included physical and ritual exercises (on one occasion with a group ritual action she successfully treated a collective possession—an incident that she describes in her book Mea Culpa or Tales of Resurrection). 

In a short mental imagery exercises an image is used to give a micro-shock that overcomes person’s defenses (an inner wall that one builds to remain status quo, not the defenses of psychodynamic model), and initiates an inner movement in the direction of healing. A shock or an element of surprise is achieved by a variety of means that are discovered in the moment. An image, for example, that resonates with a deeply held belief is one of the ways of achieving a surprise. This image can be found in the person’s language (I feel like I’m in a cage), from repetitive themes of their night dreams, or created in accordance with person’s morphology—which reveals their innermost tendencies. A certain similarity with a battlefield can be drawn. As in a battle, there are unlimited ways of achieving an element of surprise. This surprise is subtle, as is this work. Following it, or at the same time, elements of cleansing, reversing, or connecting with something greater than oneself are used, to name a few. Most of the imagery is derived from and not imposed upon the patient. To give an example, a writer known in Israel and throughout the world was brought to Colette paralyzed from the neck down from a neurodegenerative disease (I do not know what kind). He was a person for whom living in Jerusalem had a very special significance, and who had written about Jerusalem. To understand the imagery better, one needs to know that the city of Jerusalem is built on hills and mountains. Colette asked him to imagine rolling over all of the hills and mountains of Jerusalem, sensing how his spine from the top to the bottom was being massaged. There was a surprise, a movement where before the problem was a lack of movement, there was Jerusalem and there were the mountains each with its significance and all at once. As I was told by the witnesses the man regained some movement immediately after the exercise. I last saw this man in 2003, more than 10 years after this work was done he walked with a cane but otherwise was independent. 

Colette said that she provided the key to the doors, the doors that we had to open and go through, the doors that separated parts of ourselves from the rest, that kept part of us locked away for a variety of reasons. She provided the light needed to regain wholeness—healing and cure often followed. 

 

"Be Happy" - by APR, NYC

My first encounter with Colette was back in 2001 when I began my studies with you.  I remember, one evening that year, at my very first Salon, you mentioned it was Colette’s birthday.  You then said if anyone wanted to contact her she can be reached in Jerusalem at her home and gave her number to the audience.  You indicated the time difference in locations and to take that into consideration when calling. Being a novice to this work, I still had an intuitive hit to write down the phone number, and early upon arising, the very next morning proceeded to call her.  To my amazement, she answered her phone directly, never “imagining’  that such a prominent woman would be answering her own phone.  I told her I was a new student of Dr. Epstein in NYC.  She proceeded to ask me what I want. I told her I wanted to hear her voice and wish her a Happy Birthday.  She then said “Be Happy”…..two of the most freeing words I’ve ever heard. With gratitude, love and much light.