Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Zen Judaism

Thanks to Velveteen Rabbi for linking to this manifesto of Judaism for the 21st century. While it may seem to be a neutered and watered-down Judaism, I do think it is our only hope. Once you have tasted the "truth" of non-duality, there is no real choice but to be non-dual in your Judaism (or Protestantism or agnosticism, etc.) or just let it go. Any religious observance that is exclusionary is, ultimately, spiritually fatal.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1.I think for starters we need to define the term "exclusionary".

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A response from Eshin:

Here's my reply, (I will put it up on my own blog as well. This is all quite unsettling, but good to look into).

I have finally downloaded rabbi rami's manifesto of ihs views on Judaism. Certainly, each individual has a right to react to and e-interpret our great and profound tradition in anyway they see fit. However, as I see it, what rabbi rami is doing here is taking it upon himself to "re-write" Judaism. He feels he can simply throw out halacha, kashrut, and many other important concepts and re-define them in a way that is comfortable and expedient for him, and in a way that blends with Eastern practice. This is such a slippery slope. Where does it end? Who are the self appointed individuals who feel themselves able to take on such a task? Who is so wise to do this? It says in Torah that this is a Torah for all generations. Despite external differences between the centuries and generations, the fundamental human conflicts, longings and search remains the same. If rabbi rami wants to start another religion,fine. That is what he is doing here. Perhaps it is prettier, jazzier, even healthier, but why call it Judaism? Why come with a hammer and chop everything up and create confusion about what Judaism is and what it is not? Thich Nat Hanh says, "Call me by my true name." Let him call this what is - something else, not Judaism.
As I see it, true Judaism is based upon halacha. The more we throw that away, the more we disperse the energy, focus, and kadosh. And the more we open ourselves to all kinds of abberations and problems.
At this point in my life, I cannot keep halacha as I used to. But, I know what it is, value it, and do not try to change it, re-write it, to justify myself.

(I'm sorry if this sounds harsh. But these are very broad and crucial issues. It's not a game)
Love,
Eshin

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, but Eshin - your points are certainly valid, but don't we all interpret all/our religion in a way that places us along a spectrum? One can always be "more" or "less" observant of halacha, of Torah (with its own infinite interpretations), of the canon, of the ethics, etc; when is that "officially" Judaism and when is it not? Sure, Rami is much further along the spectrum than someone who, say, chooses to trim his beard, but are there basic tenets that if one adheres to then one is following acceptable Judaism? He incorporates so many aspects that are exclusive to Judaism that I don't really see how his variation is all that more objectionable than the Judaism practiced by the vast majority of Jews in the world today (though I don't, of course, know your view on them!).

I found his Principle # 5 to be the key -- aside from a simplistically all-emcompassing and all-forgiving premise (A Jew is anyone who says they are), it's as though he's selecting what he considers to be the critical, or necessary and sufficient, tenets and saying that if one does them, then one is Judeo-compliant.

12:16 PM  
Blogger eshin said...

Thanks for the thoughtful response,

When discussing Judaism and Torah, I personally cannot see that it is up to any random individual to decide to simply go in and re-make it. In ssying who is and who is not a Jew, based upon rabbi rami's personal spiritual journey or personal idiosyncracies, he is actually attempting to supercede Torah L'Shmo -Torah as it is. .pulling the foundation out, knocking down boundaries. It is as if one took the form of any practice, say yoga or zen and adjusted it to one's personal liking....then what do you have? Soup.

As I said before, this individual has every right to accept, reject, re-do the practice in whatever manner suits him, for his own personal life. However, why not be honest about it, and simply say this is "my personal preference and my personal practice", rather than go in and make pronouncements fo all Jews...pronouncements which create confusion about what Torah is, and what the true practice of Judaism entails. Once this starts, there's no end. All kinds of self appointed sages, (of which there are no end, especially in our generation), can throw in their hats.We end up with great arrogance and great chaos.
If one sees Torah as divinely given, as a unique manner of channelling divine energy and connecting us to the will of Hashem and the ultimate balance and harmony of the universe, then stepping in randomly and playing around is unacceptable.
As it is, there is so much confusion about the simple truths of spiritual practice and living - I, personally, love and crave honesty and clarity. Although I can no longer practice the way I used to, at least I realize what I am not doing when I'm not, and what is ultimately possible.

Have a beautiful Shabbos and be blessed.
Eshin Brenda Shoshanna

10:31 AM  
Blogger Haskel said...

I have added my comments as a new Post, Zen Judaism Part II. Please see above.

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