The definition of persistence: To move forward when you don’t feel at your best.


Is Belief a Jewish Notion?

A good discussion: Howard Wettstein argues that the question of belief is not important in Judaism. The question as to whether or not God exists is the wrong question. Rather the questions should be:  What is your experience of God? How do you relate to God? Judaism is experiential and practical, not theological:

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Oldest Piece (Zircon) of Planet Earth Found in Australia Sheep Ranch


This Zircon crystal formed in the first 100 million years of the earth’s existence and suggests that, even at this early date 4.4 billion years ago, a relatively cool earth could have conceivably sustained oceans and perhaps even life:


Martin Luther King as a Visionary Activist, not a Domesticated Politician


This article  puts MLK into perspective, reminding us that he was not a bourgeoise moderate politician, but a radical social and spiritual acitivist with an economic vision for justice and equality. Whatever one thinks of his economic solutions, there is no question that levels of inequality in our society threaten our way of life, our democracy, and our freedom. MLK was well ahead of his time on that. We need to remember who MLK was and his vision of a just society and not depict him as the main character in a romance novel in order to domesticate him for popular consumption.  .





Mormon Women Protest by Wearing Pants


In a move to assert their rights in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and to bring attention to gender inequalities, Mormon women put out a call to wear pants to church. We may think of women as having achieved parity in many sectors of American society, but in religious institutions women often find themselves caught in the backdraft of ancient traditions and historical precedents.

In my own Jewish tradition, for example, women have found themselves arrested by Israeli police simply for wearing a prayer shawl (talit) while praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In fact, there is nothing in Jewish law that would prevent women from doing this: it’s simply a custom that men in authority don’t like.

This is another example of religious institutions trailing behind other sectors of society in promoting economic and social progress. In the modern world, organized religion has in fact mostly stood as an impediment to the expansion of freedom and to cultural advancement. In contrast, spiritual thought and practice is much more attuned to the unfolding consciousness that is very gradually bringing humanity to a higher state of awareness and living.

Thanks to these Mormon women for helping humanity move forward just a little bit further.





The Power of Symbolism

Here is my dissertation: ¬†‚ÄúThe Interpretation of Religious Symbols in the Graeco-Roman World:¬† A Case Study of ¬† Early ¬†Christian Fish Symbolism‚ÄĚ (3 vols): ¬†Yale University, 1993. ¬†Please note that the pagination in the PDF files, though close, is not exactly the same as in my original dissertation (due to formatting issues).

I originally intended this as part of a comparative study of ancient symbols, including the menorah for Jews.   Given the length of the project, this was not practical.  However, I regard my dissertation as comparative project whose goal is to understand the nature of religious symbolism.

There are many things that I would now change, including writing style. ¬†Of note is the Avercius (Abercius) inscription text, which has several errors; for a correct edition, see ¬†I also wish that I had ¬†included a section on the use of fish and fishing symbolism in the gospels. ¬†If interested, take a look at the text of a talk I gave on this topic in ‚ÄúEssays and Talks‚ÄĚ in ‚ÄúLarry Kant‚ÄĚ (

I have also somewhat changed my views of Freud and Jung.  I always appreciated them, but my dissertation is more critical of them than I would be now.

Diss1; Diss2; Diss3; Diss4; Diss5; Diss6


How to Start a Peaceful Revolution: The Story of Gene Sharp

A wonderful story about a mild-mannered man whose ideas have inspired non-violent uprisings worldwide against dictatorships.


Even eagles need a push…

A moving story of an eagle and her child. ¬†‘The Push, about a mother eagle’s supreme act of love – to give her children a push – when her offspring were ready to leave the nest”:


James Kugel: The Little Self and the Big Self

I found this moving. It’s certainly not what I expected, and it reminds me of the classical mystical experience:¬† when you realize how small you are, how truly beautiful that is, and how you then can access the divine in ways you never thought possible.¬† We could also refer to it as the withdrawal of the ego.¬† To realize how interconnected we are, we must realize how small we are.¬† Those who have this experience are blessed and privileged.


Google Art

This is a momentous development, making the art of the great museums available to anyone with an internet connection.  It will have a profound impact on world culture, erasing many geographical and socio-economic boundaries.  (Via Nelson French)


Studying Philosophy at a Community College

“As state universities cut back on humanities programs, LaGuardia Community College in Queens, N.Y., is going in the opposite direction. At LaGuardia, philosophy is king and challenging the stereotype that four-year colleges are for intellectuals and community colleges are for career training” (via Dianne Bazell). ¬†Humanities offer students training in how to analyze, to think, to synthesize, and to transform themselves in a fast-past, changing, world. ¬†Humanities also give students a chance to think about what matters, which is is a crucial skill for employees, organizations. and enterprises that must reinvent themselves. ¬†(Via Dianne Bazell)


A New Day

‚ÄúA New Day‚ÄĚ: ¬†¬© 2010, Dr. Laurence H. Kant,¬†Essay for the Evolutionary Envisioning Circle of the Annual Great Mother Celebration, September, 2010: ¬†¬© 2010, Laurence H. Kant, All rights reserved:¬†¬†NewDay1


American Yoga

This is a timely piece giving a real sense of the difference between modern fitness yoga and the authentic tradition of spiritual discipline practiced by Indian yogis and yoginis.¬† Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that was then adapted in other religious traditions in the twentieth century.¬† Yet, it has its roots in Indian religion, and this is how it first came to the US. ¬†Yoga is not necessarily exercise or breath work, but a system of feeling, thought, and experience. In fact, Yoga does not even have to involve the body at all, but can consist of communal activities or study.¬† Yoga simply means “union” (as in union with God).


The Fundamentalism of Atheism

This is excellent (from Nelson French).¬† Negative theology is where I would place myself, though I must admit that I am willing now to make some statements:¬† “God is not a thing, but energy in its purest, rawest, and ultimate form”; or “We should stop using the word ‘God’ and start saying ‘Source’ or “The All’ or ‘The All That Is'”; or “God is nothing (no/thing).”¬† Of course, my statements are inherently limited and limiting because of the nature of language, but I still believe that we can speak in proximate terms.¬† In any case, Wallace is correct:¬† atheism is generally an inversion of fundamentalism.¬† Very well said and apropos.


The Power of Metaphors

How metaphors affect our behavior.


Chris Henry and Organ Donation

This is quite a moving story:


Dalai Lama Donates to Meditation Study Center in Wisconsin

“The Tibetan spiritual leader gave $50,000 to a new center devoted to studying the power of meditation.”


Web as Random Acts of Kindness
The internet as a verb: self-creating, transformative, and spreading kindness (via Nelson French).


Be Present

Wherever you go, be there (Ex. 24.12).


A Buddhist View of the Environment and Evolution

“In his recent book, The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology (2008), the great Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh asserts that Buddhism, as a robust type of humanism, allows people to learn how to live on our planet not only responsibly, but with compassion and lovingkindness. …”


Teaching Philosophy in the 2nd Grade

Teaching philosophy to children is a noble activity. Perhaps wisdom will come sooner and with fewer hardships


Are Religions Different Paths to the Same Wisdom?

Below is an interesting piece by Stephen Prothero. I agree with a lot of what Prothero says. The goals of different religions are not the same. Eliding the differences inevitably leads to misunderstanding others. For example, talking about who will be saved is a Christian question, which most in the world do not even share, because they are not interested in salvation at all. Christians are focused on the person of Jesus Christ, while Jews and Muslims are focused on texts and words. Talking about God makes no sense to many Buddhists. Many influenced by New Age approaches desire reincarnation, but Hindus want to liberate themselves from it, and Buddhists view it as ultimately an illusion. Confucians uphold political and social order, while Daoists are political and social minimalists. Plus the goal of sameness is not a goal that all share. Jews view themselves as different, and Christians and Muslims want others to be like them.

Where I disagree with Prothero is his idea that “God” or “wisdom” is not one. The fact that there are different goals and multiple truths does not negate the oneness in which we dwell. Oneness does not mean that we don’t share fundamental values (e.g. the Golden Rule) and share important spiritual outlooks. Further, the fact that we have different goals and purposes does not negate oneness. It just means that our definition of “oneness” and “unity” is too limited and narrow, since it does not make room for multiple truths, paradox, and contradiction. There are not two choices–difference or sameness. That’s a false dichotomy.

Idolatry is making an object, a person, or an idea into a fetish. That is what both sides of this debate do. The “lumpers” privilege commonality and sameness, while the “splitters” privilege separation and difference. In so doing, they end up defining “God” or a “higher power” or the ultimate energy or “nirvana” or “heaven” or “nature” or “wisdom” in simplistic and objectifying language. They cannot envision unity as complex, multivalent, or chaotic. But perhaps that is what the oneness of “God”–or whomever or whatever you prefer call it–is.

There is not one path or one truth, but many paths and many truths held together in a paradoxical unity.

In this regard, mystical approaches offer a lot, because, with the loss of the ego/self, paradox is not a problem to be solved, but a dynamic energy in which to live.

©Laurence H. Kant


Meaningful Conversation
Substantive conversation and talking deeply leads to greater happiness. I have always seen meaningful discussion as the core of teaching and wisdom (which should be the goal of all learning)


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