Laurence Kant (Larry Kant)

1. Laurence Kant (Larry Kant...

Engaged Mysticism and Scholarship in the Pursuit of Wisdom.

Many Paths

We have many paths to choose that lead us to different places, but each one is part of a larger map laid out for us.

Love

Love stems from the awareness that we are not alone.

The Horizon

Keep your eyes on the horizon. That’s where present and future merge.

Promised Land

Does the Source want us to reach the promised land? No. The Source wants us to be on our way there, to walk toward it.  There is no promised land: only a dirt path with spectacular scenery, our two legs, and good travel companions.  The path is rocky and slow-going, but we learn much along the way. There are lots of alternate routes, and each one takes us to new vistas and landscapes.  When we finally do arrive at the place for which we yearn, we find that it’s just another dirt path taking us somewhere else.

Being and Becoming in Shabbat

Shabbat closes the weekly circle, being completing becoming.  Then a new curved line swirls outward, moving forward, waiting to meet its sibling at the beginning and at the end, to commence again in an eternally re-forming helix.  This is the 7-day ourobouros, the snake swallowing its tail, shabbat swallowing six days of creation.  We go forward, only to begin again, before the Source swallows us, and life then continues in a new form.  A day, a week, a month, each a re-forming of days, weeks, and months before them.  No different from life, Gilgul:  we are born, we live, we die, rest a while in shabbat, to move gain as new life forms, beings in the midst of becomings.

Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder: Dreams allow us to move from one dimension to another.

Lost

Lost we wander in the wilderness trying to find an oasis, not realizing that both the wilderness and the oasis are inside us.

Burdens

When your burden is too heavy to bear, let others share it.

When Things Look Down

When things look down,  look up.

Truth and Authenticity

Truth is the core goal of seekers. Authenticity is its sibling.

Helping Others

We may never know those whom we are here to help, but we are here for them just the same.

Thinking is a Scion of Feeling

Thinking is a scion of feeling, one of the senses, a metaphorical, symbolic realm filled with the vibrant colors of awareness, the smells of memory, the voices of inspiration, the touch of knowledge, and the light of clarity.

Sweden and the USA

This article by David Michael Green argues that Sweden is a much better county in which to live than the USA.

Of course, Sweden, that paragon of freedom, democracy, and equality, is now riven with conflict between Swedes and immigrant Muslims, turning antisemitic (I don’t think it’s the place for people like me with its distaste for MOTs),  and busy trying to extradite Julian Assange so that it can protect governments from that wicked scourge of (gasp)–transparency. Diversity is not exactly one of Sweden’s hallmarks.

Worshipping Sweden reminds me of a Euro-version of Edward Said’s “Orientalism”: the left romanticizing modern Norsemen in their quest for a homogenous Valhalla that doesn’t really exist.

Everything looks greener when you don’t live there.

Sweden, I’m sure, has wonderful attributes, but it’s not nirvana. I’ve always said that you don’t really belong to any group until you see its underside and still love it. That’s a grown-up way to view the world. The other is for children.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/06-2

Dealing with Evil

Sociopaths, murderers, con-men, sadists, and bystanders before violence are all part of the same cosmic body as heroes, rescuers, protectors, saints, and gentle souls. We are all on the same path, only some of us perhaps further along than others. When we punish evil, which we must–often harshly–we need to remember to have compassion for all human beings, no matter how rotted and degraded they are. They are our family; they are us. That is a form of wholeness: to be able to condemn (sometimes to kill to protect the lives of others or our own) while also acknowledging our common humanity and shared divine spirit.

Shalom

Where do we find shalom? Inside ourselves, then exhaled as life-giving breath for others.

The Right Relies on Anger and Vitriol, but…

He’s right.  Of course, the left relies on sanctimony.  So its raging anger vs. pious sanctimony.  Oy vey.
http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=are_republicans_just_idiots

Genesis

Genesis is the story of flawed characters just like us.

Calm

Where do we find calm? Right beneath the anxiety that shields us from feeling it.

Gateways

Every atom and quark inside you contains a gateway to the Source.

Culture

We can never completely absent ourselves from culture. Paradoxically, we can only transcend culture by sometimes embracing it. Staying true to ourselves involves both withdrawal and immersion.

Light and Contrast

If all was light, creation could not be. Boundaries require contrast.

What is the Light of Day 1

Since the Source created the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars on Day Four, what is the light of Day 1? It is the hidden light, the light seen not by our our outer eyes, but by our inner eyes (Gen 1).

Befriending the Darkness

Sometimes we have to accept and befriend the darkness before we can see the light. Remember that in Genesis 1 darkness precedes light.

Right Now

Right now is where we are.

Electomagnetic Harmonies

Underneath the noise are the hums, buzzes, and whistles of the earth’s vibrating voice waiting for us to listen and understand.

Richard Goldstone’s Sort-Of Apology

“Richard Goldstone’s Sort-Of Apology”
by Laurence H. Kant
Published in Shalom (Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass), May, 2011: p. 5

Pathetic. That is the only word I can use to describe Richard Goldstone’s stunning sort-of-apology in the Washington Post.

As many of you may remember, South African judge Richard Goldstone (who is Jewish) issued a report that generally downplayed the war crimes of Hamas in Israel’s 2006 Gaza incursion and lashed out at Israel for its disproportionate attacks on Gaza, its targeting of civilians, its use of Palestinians as human shields, and its destruction of civilian infrastructure. The Goldstone Report was issued under the auspices of the U.N. Human Rights Council, that embodiment of fairness toward Israel whose visionary leadership has included such democratic, gentle, peace-loving nations as Bahrain, China, Libya, Pakistan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Saudi Arabia.

In his recent op-ed, Goldstone essentially admits that Israel followed proper procedures in the investigation of its soldiers in the Gaza incursion and that Hamas did not. He all but acknowledges that Israel’s military operated at a high moral level, while the military of Hamas did not.

His excuses ring hollow: He hoped that Hamas would respond to the commission’s requests–give us a break.  On what planet is he living? He thought that perhaps the U.N. Human Rights Council would start treating Israel more evenhandedly. This explanation is implausible and bears all the earmarks of after-the-fact rationalization:  Uh-oh, I’d better come up with something good. I can hear the wheels spinning. He wishes that Israel had responded to his requests. Gee, I wonder why Israel thought he and the commission would be biased and declined to cooperate. I’m shocked.

Goldstone and his commission harmed Israel and the Jewish people. And now he tries to justify the supposedly positive aspects of the Goldstone Commission and cannot even admit that he screwed up, even though he basically says he did.

The damage Goldstone has caused, some of it in the deaths of both Israelis and Palestinians, is incalculable. The PR benefits of his essay are miniscule compared to the PR damage of his commission’s report. True apologies require a straightforward admission of error and a commitment to act differently in the future. Richard Goldstone has not even begun to do that.

Perhaps his many awards, the numerous parties in his honor, and friendships with VIPs mean more to him than offending others, especially on the anti-Israel left.  Apparently Jews don’t count on the international chichi lists of official victimhood. His excuses make things even worse.

I find it particularly sad that a person so associated with international justice in South Africa, the Balkans, and Rwanda would shut his eyes to the injustice he committed against his own people.

Legitimate debate about Israeli policies is beneficial and desirable, but the Goldstone Report made a mockery of fact-finding and objective analysis.

What is it that leads some Jews to hate themselves so much that they are willing to propagate lies and half-truths about Israel rather than grapple with complexity? What a waste.

———————-

Here are links to the story:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/reconsidering-the-goldstone-report-on-israel-and-war-crimes/2011/04/01/AFg111JC_story.html

http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=214866

A New Day

A NEW DAY
© 2010, Dr. Laurence H. Kant
Essay for the Evolutionary Envisioning Circle of the Annual Great Mother Celebration, September, 2010

A new day emerges, as so many have in millennia past. Once, after we foraged and gathered, we became hunters. Once, after we hunted, we became farmers and shepherds. Once, after we lived in villages and small enclaves, we became city dwellers. Once, after priests and kings ruled, leaders came from the people. Once we did not know what was on the other side of the ocean; now we can not only travel there by boat or jet, but we can be virtually present on other continents when we’re secure at home half a world away. Once we thought that mass violence and genocide were normal; now we don’t. Once we did not even have a word for genocide; now we do.

Each time we move a few steps closer to the land of Eden, where, amidst friendship, dance, love-making, study, and work, we will dine again with God, the Source of All That Is. The sparks of fire that scattered at creation slowly come together to create a flame that lights our world in times of dissolution and chaos. We move from confusion toward knowledge, from fear toward courage, from despair toward hope, from separation toward unity, from pieces toward wholes.

What is wholeness? In Hebrew and Arabic, shalom/salaam connects to a Semitic root that means “whole” and “complete.” Some say “peace,” but that’s only part of the story. In its mystical sense, shalom/salaam really means interconnected oneness. It is that place where difference and oneness coexist, where each being finds its own unique purpose and self-expression as part of one planetary tableau, one eternal poem, one cosmic body, one collective consciousness, one Source.

During the shift, the ego (the I) recedes, and the authentic person emerges from its mother’s womb. The true self, the person You truly are, takes its place in the chariot palace, near the blazing wings of the multi-headed cherubim and the flashing heat of the serpentine seraphim. There it dines with other new-born true selves to seek wisdom in the new Temple of Knowledge and Love. Feminine and masculine energies, whose significance we assumed we understood, reveal unexpected meanings to thinking bodies and heart-filled minds. Days of pleasure and collective communing finally allow a slumbering species to shed its ego hide and put on a healing garment of shared awareness.

What will wholeness mean for evolving human culture? “Conformity” means a mass of individuals forming a collective mega ego (an I). Genuine “community” means a critical mass of individuals building a whole that transcends the individual egos and creates a collective Higher Self.

The events we see on our television sets and computer monitors—boiling, jittery delirium and tumult accompanied by earth’s eruptions, swirling storms, and disappearing ice—signal a shift from one age to the next. There will be many more such shifts in the future. But, for now, at this moment, our twenty-five-hundred-year sojourn at the inn of familiar habits, nations, and institutions has ended. Dying structures make way for new. Another day of travelling begins toward another inn on the road circling back and forward from and toward Eden. Here, in another time long, long ahead, we will be able to eat of both trees—of life and knowledge—but with experience enough to do so as humble partners of the Source, adult co-creators, sharing in the miraculous birthing of new worlds.

Corporations Own Us–Lock, Stock and Barrel–But We are Ultimately More Powerful

The American Petroleum Institute plans to contribute directly to political candidates.  Ah, a new way to buy our political system.  I guess American no longer own our own country anymore.

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/24/api-direct/

And here’s Paul Krugman’s take on corporatizing of both Iraq and Wisconsin

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/25/opinion/25krugman.html

In the meantime, we talk a lot about bullies in schools, but what about these bullies from the Chamber of Commerce who hack activist computers?

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/17/chamberleaks-malware-hacking/

Through all this, we need to remember that we have the choice to accept this or not. The corporate interests seem all-powerful, but that’s only because we the people allow them to do what they do. We could change that tomorrow if we so chose. We have the capacity to through peaceful means to stop the madness in its tracks.  How? By voting, by contacting our elected representatives regularly, by speaking out publicly, by refusing to shop (where reasonably possible) with companies that engage in autocratic and harmful behavior, by frequenting local establishments that are friendly to the environment and workers, by protesting on the street or on the web, and (most of all) by living according to our own beliefs and our own souls–not according to the manipulations of corporate media machine’s. Often we (including me) are rats in a maze running around following the expectations of a consumption-driven economy, but we can choose to follow our own paths and live our own lives however we want. There is nothing that we cannot change collectively if we follow our authentic selves and share that with others. It seems simple and polyannish, but it also happens to be true. Instead of succumbing to anxiety and fear (which corporate interests feed off of), we simply need to tap into courage and step into genuine freedom.

Being and Becoming

What is Being?  Becoming. What is Becoming? Being. We cannot enter one without entering the other.

Jacob’s Dream

Genesis 28:10-22

We humans are stones, apparently hard and unchangeable, but in reality slowly transforming, able to be molded and shaped, gradually breaking up into soil as we nourish the earth, the water, and the air.

Jacob used a stone as a pillow during sleep and set it up afterwards as a standing pillar to remind us that we are creatures of the earth,  nourished by our mother, linked to heaven, going up and down a stone staircase, as we integrate female and male, above and below, inside and outside, earth and heaven.

Just as Jacob, we are here to immerse ourselves in life’s ups and downs:  stones breaking up and reshaping themselves as we point our inner selves heavenward and earthward to remind us of our home straight ahead, with our authentic being, now expanded to include the ever shifting kaleidoscope of life made whole.

Experiencing the Source

The Source (God) is not something you believe in.  The Source is something you experience,   People who believe in God attach themselves to an abstraction, a disembodied thought.  People who experience God have nothing to explain or justify.  The Source simply is.  It is not separate from life and creation, but integrated with life and creation.

Torah Was First

The Source created Torah before creating the world. Learning preceded producing.

Returning to Your Ancestors

To return to your ancestors is to return home, to go back where you belong. Here we travel as little-big-egos careening against, and on top of, one another as we struggle to come in first and certify our separate identities. To go home from your trip is to return to the hive, carrying with you knowledge otherwise unobtainable.

The Power of Symbolism

Here is my dissertation:  “The Interpretation of Religious Symbols in the Graeco-Roman World:  A Case Study of   Early  Christian Fish Symbolism” (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 https://mysticscholar-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/AverciusText1a.pdf.  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 “Essays and Talks” in “Larry Kant” (https://mysticscholar-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/FishNTTalk1.pdf).

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.

Diss1Diss2Diss3Diss4Diss5Diss6

Deep Knowledge

Deep knowledge takes us to a place where knowledge itself begins to evaporate into infinity. That’s when we eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge once again.

Rev. Jim Wallis on Government Cuts

As a Jew, I thoroughly share the sentiments of Rev. Jim Wallis.  The TaNaKh and rabbinic tradition command us to take care of the poor and marginalized.  That why we are told not to plough the corners of our fields.  When the Hebrew Bible and the rabbis talk about caring for the needy, they refer to communities and governments.  The structures envisioned in those texts are governmental, and they *require* (not merely suggest) a society take the needy into account.  This tradition does not focus on voluntary acts and association, but on political structures that create a just society.  Those who try to convert these into free-market scenarios, which advocate economic commitments that are solely private, do not understand what the texts actually say.  Those who know the Hebrew and the history should start articulating the true nature of this tradition, which demands that governments protect those in need.

http://blog.sojo.net/2011/03/24/fast-pray-and-act-new-threats-to-the-poor/#disqus_thread

 

Dreams Are Raw Acts of Creation

Dreams are raw acts of creation, just as when the Source created the universe in the first six days of Genesis. Dreams show we are made in God’s image.

Words

According to Genesis 1, the world was created with words. This is the core of Jewish wisdom.

Memory: Everything will be Forgotten. Nothing will be Forgotten

Memory:  Everything will be forgotten. Nothing will be forgotten.

A friend asked me about this comes from and what it means. Actually it is something I cam up with when I was meditating. I realized that we will all be forgotten at some point, even Abraham Lincoln or Gandhi or whoever. 10,000 years from now who will know about us. But, at the same time, nothing is really forgotten–even the littlest, tiny acts. What we do and who we are affects the energy of the world. The energy we have produced and the energy of who we are will always remain. Everything we do affects others and the planet in some way. So, while memory may be fleeting, our legacy, impact, and influence are total and world-changing.

That’s why we also to need to play close, conscious attention to all of what we do and say. Everything enters the world’s energy in some way. For this reason, humans and all sentient beings have tremendous creative capacity and healing power. For me this is what “spirituality” is all about.

Moving from Fragments to Wholes I

When feeling disjointed, not centered, recall that we are here to experience the movement from fragmentation to integration, from confusion to clarity and wisdom. If we were integrated and wise from birth, why would we be here?

Jewish Symbols: The Menorah

See my talk:   Laurence H. Kant, “Reassessing the Interpretation of Ancient Symbols,” Hellenistic Judaism Section Panel on Erwin Goodenough, American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Anaheim, November, 1989: This piece deals with symbol interpretation and the early Jewish interpretation of symbols, particularly the menorah: © 1989, Laurence H. Kant, All rights reserved:   MenorahTalk1

This is a summary of my view of how a symbol conveys its meanings.

What Do I Know?

What do I know?  No/thing.  And that’s everything.

Being in Becoming

Being and becoming, two halves of a whole.  Most of us search for essence, for permanence, but forget that we only arrive there through movement, through change.  We must first learn to still ourselves while moving:  to be while becoming.

What Do We Carry With Us When We Depart This Life?

What do we carry with us when we depart this life?  Our/selves.  What is our self? No/thing.  What is no/thing?  Energy perpetually shifting, changing shape every instant.  Where are we going? On another journey to another journey.

Moses’ Face Shone

Moses’ face shone with the light of the Source (Ex 34.29), the reflected radiance of a divine encounter and its presence (Shekinah) in the world through moral injunctions inscribed on stone tablets.  Light–inner awareness of the Source and of being–arises in us (as with Moses) when we connect a mystic moment to life. This is one purpose of our human incarnations:  to integrate being and becoming through right intention and action–character and ethics.

Dalai Lama Cedes His Political Role

The Dalai Lama cedes his political role.  Clearly the Dalai Lama understands the Western idea of  “separation of church and state,” its importance for entry into the modern world, and its role in fostering healthy civil institutions.  Of course, there are many traditions that Tibet will maintain, and it will adapt on it own terms.  Perhaps we will how a society can maintain its deep spirituality while developing democratic, secular institutions. This is impressive:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/world/asia/11tibet.html

Ethnoburbs

Diversity in the USA is increasing at a fast pace, a healthy sign for our democracy.  Given the anti-democratic events of past weeks (the legislature’s action in Wisconsin, the bullying by the Koch brothers and other wealthy corporate interests, and the attempts to keep minorities, the poor, and young people from voting though newly proposed state bills), this is a hopeful sign that this too will pass.  Via Nelson French.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/10/rise-of-the-ethnoburbs/?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=thab1

Poem of the Day: C.P. Cavafy, “In the Same Place”

“In the Same Place” by C.P. Cavafy (1863-1933):  my translation

Surroundings of home, cafes, a neighborhood,
that I have seen and walked through year after year.

I gave you form amid joy and amid sorrows:
with so many incidents, so many details.

And you have transmuted into a feeling for me.

—————————————–

Στον ίδιο χώρο

Οικίας περιβάλλον, κέντρων, συνοικίας
που βλέπω κι όπου περπατώ· χρόνια και χρόνια.

Σε δημιούργησα μες σε χαρά και μες σε λύπες:
με τόσα περιστατικά, με τόσα πράγματα.

Κ’ αισθηματοποιήθηκες ολόκληρο, για μένα.

Ultimate Questions

What is death? A transitional period of life.

What is life? Becoming.

Where are heaven and hell? Right next to each other, like the back and front of a door.

What is hell? A place in which we decide to reside until we decide to live elsewhere.

What is heaven? Home.

Who are we? No/thing, energy, crossing time and space, but not confined by them.

Who is the Source? Pure no/thing, raw energy out of which form emerges.

Time Never Stops

Time never stops. It is inexorable. In moments of joy and tragedy, the earth continues to rotate and the seasons continue to alternate. Shabbat and meditation offer a glimpse of existence outside of time. There we reside in the presence of the Source: no limits, no boundaries, only the vibrations of no/thing.

NYC Leads the Nation in Promoting Health Food Choices for Schoolchildren

This is inspiring. New York city has introduced a massive healthy food program that will affect children’s food choices not only in NYC, but throughout the country.

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2011/03/05/nyregion/100000000700483/citycritic-school-lunch.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=thab1

Warriors and Heroes

Those who live in pain–emotional, physical, or spiritual–who wake up in the morning, get out of bed, and engage in life are courageous warriors, authentic heroes.

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.

<http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/world/middleeast/17sharp.html?hp>http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/world/middleeast/17sharp.html?hp

Tajii Dolphin Hunt Ends One Month Early in Japan

At least this is one victory and another indication that there is a little space for humaneness in the human heart.  There is also increasing evidence for a growing inventory of unsold dolphin and whale meat in Japan, with Japanese consumers increasingly refusing to buy and eat this meat.

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”:
http://newsletter.simpletruths.com/a/tBMytFMB8PINaB8VatcNnRfx68F/movie

Tibetan Karmapa Cleared of Wrongdoing in India

A fascinating discussion of religion and politics that relates to Tibet, India, and China
http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4259/possible_heir_to_dalai_lama_cleared_of_corruption_charges/

We Are All Related

We are all related in ways we do not see.

We Are Not Our Habits

We think we know who we are based on the activities in which we normally engage, by our personalities, by our hobbies, by our socio-economic statuses, ethnicities, and religions, by the ways we hold and move our bodies, or by the personal and professional roles we acquire in our lives. But do we? Are these what ultimately define us? I’m sure that these contribute to our development as beings and to our self-understanding, but they comprise only part of a much larger framework and foundation. We often focus on the easier-to-identify elements, but we don’t notice what may be even more illuminating and revealing.

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.

http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/02/07/2742888/approaching-god-from-the-still-small-self

Arab Antisemitism and Yusuf al-Qaradawi


This is an excellent primer on Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e138.htm

Also an essay on Arab antisemitism by Richard Cohen
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/28/AR2011022805199.html

In the meantime, Hamas resists letting the UN include the holocaust in its human rights curriculum
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/28/hamas-un-holocaust-lessons-gaza

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