July 19, 2007
Meditation—not just for your average JewBu anymore
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Martin Buber practiced meditation. Initially he was interested in non-Jewish forms. "He understood religious meditation in terms of the different religious cookbooks that he was following," Krassen explained.
Later Buber came to the conclusion that he had never actually united with God, only with his own soul. This is the key difference between Buddhism and Judaism: Judaism is a theistic religion.
Levine gradually brought the group back to life and then explained how every moment is not only death, but also birth. "Pain is not our enemy. Pain is OK," he posited. Every moment is the breathing of newness. This was the Jewish chunk, the "Baruch Hashem, every moment is a blessing."
Among a number of meditations offered, jewishhealing.com suggests Bittul Ha Yesh, a meditation on nothingness. For this practice you close your eyes and gradually imagine life without any senses, any thought. Then you are to imagine your life without these things and gradually reach an understanding of "nothingness." Not so far from what the group did with Levine.
From my simulated death I realized that my own mortality was the shadow I was avoiding. This scary meditation was the hard work required when going "against the stream" of popular choices in consciousness and psychology. This is what my father quotes from the Torah about "working by the sweat of your brow." This is the hard work of facing a certain truth and enduring the subsequent pain.
"Buddhism is part of a greater trend," Krassen explained. "The bigger picture: evolving American spirituality that's going to be a smorgasbord of all these religious dishes." Krassen's goal: "to ensure that the delicacies of Judaism will be served at the table."
He suggests that Judaism promote a belief in God that does not conflict with rational thought. For an evolving nation, with modern ways and new knowledge, Judaism needs to grow. There is Judaism out there that can work for rationalists, Krassen said, positing a spiritual basis for everything that exists.
"The Jewish choice is not rationalism or mysticism, logic or spirituality, but both," Kushner added. "Mysticism is not escapism and madness, but an essential and vital ingredient of a mature and balanced Jewish worldview.... Just beyond the radar screens of our five senses, all being is one luminous organism."
1 | 2