Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I Yam What I Yam.

You know there must be more to a relationship with G-d than just a list of dos and donts? That a religion should be more than a slick Sabbath morning production? That the dogma and religion isn't just a patch for your insecurities or candy for your hunger? Strip back the bulky layers of traditions and step into something more comfortable. It's called having a direct heart to heart relationship with G-d. People all over the world are doing it, and it's rooted in biblical principles! The Apotheosis of that Sublime Faith which aspires to God alone, and despises all the pomps and works of Lucifer. LUCIFER, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble, sensual, or selfish Souls? Doubt it not! for traditions are full of Divine Revelations and Inspirations: and Inspiration is not of one Age nor of one Creed. Plato and Philo, also, were inspired. ”Organised religion has its own inner traditions: Judaism has its Kabbalah, Islam has Sufism, and Protestant Christinaity could be said to have Freemasonry, in it's genuine Gnostic and esoteric forms, while Catholicism has its monastic orders whose acolytes strive towards a deeper experience of G_d's presence. Buddhism also has its many different forms. Its most exoteric face could be interpreted as the Theravadan tradition, whereas the Mahayana and all of it's tantric offshoot's have a far more esoteric bent and often a much more Guru/Chela centred relationship, rather than Layman/Priest. The priest is a closed gateway to the G-d in exotericism, whereas the guru teaches the student how they may experience G-d or divinity directly and by their own steam. Spirituality is as natural as sex and does not require religious institution to experience and develop. More often than not institutions get in the way of authentic spirituality. Within virtually all religious traditions there is a polarity between the Dogmatic tendencies of doctrine and the Gnostic tendencies that generate prophetic vision. Dogma tends to be supported by religions leaders who believe they have the one and only valid interpretation of Dogmatic "truth". Once a social concern has been reduced to a tenant of Dogma and once that Dogma is associated with G-d's Will, all discussion within the common community comes to a halt. If you believe G-d created women as inferior to men then there is no reason to discuss gender equality. If you believe God gave certain people dark skin as punishment for ancestral sins there is no motivation to eliminate institutional racism.
"We live in the aretz, in the world, and yet in one way or another it is an essential faculty of the human being' -- a mysterious longing which Abraham Joshua Heschel identifies as the root of all our religious practice -- to yearn for something more. We seek the shamayim, whether that shamayim is ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’ or purely secular, romantic, materialistic, athletic, ideological, pharmacological, or in any other form." "This is not only the occupation of the religionists. All sensitive women and men are engaged in it, whether we are trying to chase our dreams, or at least learn what they are; carpe diem; to pursue pleasure and have fun, if that brings lasting joy; or simply trying to have a warm life, surrounded by a family or other people whom you love. Anytime we are doing something other than killing time or losing our way, we are defining, and hopefully chasing, What Matters. We are valuing. From the surfer in search of the perfect wave to the guru in the desert, we are in a struggle with our own ultimate aretz -- with the knowledge that, within a century or so, we will be no more. Our human existence is conditioned by this polarity, this constant wandering between what we are and what we want to be, what we know and what we dream. We live it every day.
"And so, the Jewish mystics note, the first word of the Jewish Bible begins a Beit, the second letter of the alphabet; the world exists from its first moments in two modes. It is impossible to conceive of the shamayim, the ideal, without the aretz, the clothing in which it is manifested. And it is impossible to conceive of the aretz, I have suggested, without imprinting a notion of value on it. Like Buddhists, Jews are suggested to see a dissonance between samsara and nirvana, the world we know and the world to which we aspire. And like some schools of Buddhism, but unlike others, I will suggest that the Jewish approach to integrating shamayim and aretz is not to reject one in favor of the other but to find a way to shape the aretz in the image of shamayim; even an arbitrarily defined image.
"Jews do not begin with a perfect world, subsequently ruined by Man, but with a primordial dissonance in the world’s structure that humans are to heal. To recapture that lost, silent aleph – the unity, the wholeness, the emptiness, the only letter "spoken," according to Midrash, by the divine breath at Sinai: that is the challenge. To somehow build a place in our finite world for the infinite; to repair, or to see beyond, all the mirrors and the opposites. To make “What Matters” matter to us in every day of our lives."


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