Find Your Own Rhythm

To live in rhythm is to dance to the beat of the Source. Find your own rhythm; it’s like no one else’s.


Conformity and Community

Conformity means a bunch of individuals forming a collective ego, an I. Community means a bunch of individuals building a whole that transcends the individual “I”s (egos) and creates a collective higher self.


Not Only Humans Are Persons

A “person” may be human, but a “person” may also be another life form, including other animals and plants. The world is filled with persons we don’t even realize are there.


Search Your Core

Search your core. There you will find genuine stories.


The Unique You

There are lots of I’s that are the same, but there is no You other than You.


Concealing Yourself

You are what the I conceals.


Each Person Under a Banner

Num 1.52, “Each person under his or her banner”: Each person is uniquely himself and herself.


Love Your Neighbor

Lev 19:18: “Love your neighbor as yourself” actually reads in Hebrew: “You shall show love to your neighbor as you would (show it to) yourself.” In other words, love is not simply a feeling state, but also an act of doing.


Body and the Self

The more you are aware of your body, the more you feel the energy that shapes your greater self.


The I and the Source

Meditation, study, dreaming, praying: moments when time and the I depart and the Source enters.


Letting Go of Your I

Ironically, when we let go of our I, we feel a deep connection to others and understand Lev 19.18: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”


Our Accomplishments

Our accomplishments belong as much to others as they do to us.


So Small

So small in the vastness of the universe am i, yet complete and whole.


Stepping Outside of Your I

Stepping outside of your I gives the Source room to enter.


Holiness and the I

To be holy is to no longer focus on the I (Lev 19).



Energy is what makes us who we are. That energy never disappears and is never destroyed.


The I and the You

The “I” does not refer to the same person as the “You.” The “I” is a navigator who helps us operate in the world. The “You” is a spark of light that is love and wisdom itself.


Where do We Find You?

Where do we find you? Inside your body running the software? Outside your body plugging you in? No. “You” are not anywhere, because “you” is not an object taking up space, but an energy flowing through space, time, and beyond.


The I Disappears

Lost in the moment, I disappear. Time melts into eternity.


The Genuine You

When your I recedes, you make room for your genuine You.


Humility and the Self

Humility does not shrink the self, but expands the self until the self erupts into sparks of fire.


Love Your Neighbor

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Yourself” is not your I, but your divine spark, the authentic you. (Lev 19:18)


Judaism and Social Action IV

One further positive on government:  the environment.  If we didn’t have federal mandates, Lake Erie would still be burning, chemical and other toxic waste producing companies would be doing more damage to our soil and water, I and lots of others would be suffering from more severe asthma-induced air pollution (I’m personally still waiting for more restrictions on air particulates–it would help me to breathe), we’d continue to enjoy the benefits of DDT in our food, etc.  Sometimes the mandates are too strict (I’ve seen that with our own small family property in the Boston area), but all in all I prefer to be able to eat, drink, breathe, and live on a healthy planet.  If you want it the other way, take a look at Love Canal and other similar locations:  that’s what we have to look forward to without government “improvements.”

Again, government (WE) sometimes does the job well and sometimes badly.  That doesn’t mean we should either rely on government or remove it, but frankly we need to look to ourselves and ask ourselves what we’re doing wrong or not doing at all.  It’s up to us.  Government ineffectivenss, impersonalness, and bloat are just smptoms of our own attitudes and behaviors.


Judaism and Social Action III

An email response to a friend of mine:


A couple of points.  You’re right.  There is a distinction between government-sponsored social action and social action in a Jewish context.  But the distinction is NOT between “government” and the “individual.”

For one thing, “government” is composed of individuals–just like you and I, they’re members of our communities.  There is no “us” and “them” (i.e. goverment and people).  That’s an illusion.  The government is “us”; if we don’t like it, that’s our problem, and we should elect new reps who will change it (obviously campaign finance reform may be necessary, but that’s ultimately in our hands too).  Posing government as some kind of demonic bogeyman is just another form of scapegoating.  It tries to fob off our problems on some other entity or group of individuals.  It’s another component of the victim mentality prevalent in Western culture.  Usually we think of ethnic groups as engaging in the discourse of victimiziation, but those who blame the government for all of our ills do exactly the same thing.

Government does good things, and government does bad things.  It built our highway system.  The Voting Rights Act allowed African-Americans to vote in the South.  It gave us the GI Bill of WWII, which allowed a whole generation of GI’s to attend college and buy homes and helped to produce the modern American economy from which we still benefit.  For all its faults, affirmative action and diversity have produced work forces that include women and minorities–I think of universities where I have worked, and I know that they would look very different without the pressure of government (probably hardly any women or minorities).  Of course, government does bad things as well.  Look at our tax code.  Look at the huge bureacracies.  Look at the welfare system.  Look at the Post Office.  Look at the mess we have for an educational system.  In the end, what government does well and what government does badly simply reflects on US.  Good or bad, in the end we are responsible.  Instead of blaming government or the “system,” we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves.

As to Judaism on social action.  Judaism does not view individuals as completely separate from their communities.  That’s why at Yom Kippur we atone for sins that we ourselves as individuals may not have committed.  And Judaism always views indidiuals as part of a larger Jewish community.  And the rabbis wrote the Mishnah, Talmud, and Responsa for the express purpose of governance.  They always envisioned a Jewish society in which these laws (civil, criminal, and religious) would run a nation.  That’s because Judaism isn’t solely a religion, but also a culture, a people, and a nation.  It’s both indidivual and group.  The two go together.  Tzedakah, etc., are OBLIGATIONS that Jews have both as indviduals and as a community.  The rabbis viewed those who did not do their share not only as making an individual error, but as disturbing the harmony and well-being of the larger group and even the cosmos.  And there were penalties when such behavior got out of hand.  I’m not personally a big fan of a rabbinic government, but, when we refer to the rabbis, we should be clear:  THAT’S WHAT THEY THOUGHT.  It’s fine to emphasize the individual over the group (though I myself prefer a more balanced and integrated approach), but in any case that’s not how the rabbis thought or think even now in Israel.

The individualism that some in our country emphasize reflects a very different tradition from the rabbinic one.  It’s a wonderful tradition that has helped to make our nation what it is today, but (in my opinion) it owes more to the Enlightenment than to any earlier religious traditions.  As for myself, I believe that we can exist both as individuals with our own personal goals and needs and as members of larger communities with whom we share group commitments and oblgations.  It’s always a balance, but that’s the challenge we have to acknowledge and face.


God and the Self as Nothing

The Source is nothing. Nothing does not mean a vacuum, but no thing (no/thing). No/thing is pure energy.

A favorite quote of mine in this regard is from Dov Baer of Mezrich as translated in Lawrence Kushner,The Book of Words, p. 96 (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 1993): “You need to think of yourself as nothing. Forget yourself entirely. Pray only for the sake of God’s presence. Only then will you come to transcend time and attain the ‘World of Thought.’ No contradictions. No distinctions between life and death or sea and dry land. All the same . . . This can only happen if you forget yourself entirely. But it cannot be the case while you are attached to the tangible reality of this world. Fixated on the distinctions between good and evil and mundane creation. How otherwise could one possibly transcend time and attain ultimate unification. Thus, as long as you remain convinced that you are ‘something,’ preoccupied with your daily needs, then the Holy One cannot be present, for God is without end, that is, ‘nothing,’ no vessel can contain the One. But this is not so when you think of yourself as nothing.”

Here, “nothing” really means without boundaries and limits.

Dov Baer expresses his ideas more dualistically than I would (e.g. “attached to tangible reality,” “mundane creation,” and “World of Thought”), but his message is beautiful: To feel the presence of the Source, one must drop all categories, especially the self.



Love is the transcendence of self.


Where am I?

Where am I? Here? Or there?


Judaism and Social Action II

This is an email response to a friend of mine:


We both agree then:  The Government is US, and there are appropriate and inappropriate uses of government (federal, state, county, city).  And you’re right that the GI bill and the federal interstate highway system are projects WE commisioned government to implement.  That’s exactly my point:  “They” is “us.”

But here’s where we disagree.  The very projects that changed our lives are “improvement” projects.  They are a form of “social action.”  The GI Bill allowed a whole generation of people to move into the middle class.  The interstate highway program (even though it began as a defense project) made it possible to truck goods quickly and efficiently all across the country and helped to unify this county by making it accessible to a much larger percentage of the population.  Social Security and Medicare helped to transform the economic and social status of our elderly population.  Affirmative Action (flawed as it is) made it possible for large numbers of women and minoirites to enter into careers and companies from which they would otherwise have been excluded.  Etc.  This all involves improvement.   If you call that “socialism,” then I guess we’re stuck.  I call it intelligent public policy.  And nothing is value-free.

Further, “improvement” is related to “stability.”  Look at Cincinnati and what happens when a city fails to deal with deeply rooted policies of racial prejudice.  City government in Boston did something different.  When confronted with the same problems, the mayor and council adopted a plan that changed the ethnic and racial makeup of its police force.  Guess what?  The problems diminished, and Boston (once synonymous with racial tension) has developed a reputation for decent community policing and relative ethnic harmony.  In other words, if you want stability, you also need “improvement.”  I don’t see how you do this without government (WE), though private corporations and non-profit groups are equally important.  Cliched as it is, “private-public partnerships” is an excellent and apt phrase.  By its very definition, government is involved in forms of social action.  Otherwise, I guess we’re back to the state of nature.


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