Sunday, April 29, 2007

I Believe in Victims; I Believe in Accidents

No victims, no accidents. That is what I heard over and again while attending a New Age fair in Atlanta, GA this weekend. The topic was the murders at Virginia Tech. The victims—oh, sorry, the volunteers—who died during Mr. Cho’s rampage had agreed to die (just as Cho had agreed to play the murderer) before they were even born in order to make some greater point that God needed made. And what is true of Virginia Tech is also true of deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the world. No victims, no accidents.

I believe in victims. A victim is a person who suffers from something over which she or he has no control, and for which she or he has no responsibility. Saying “I don’t believe in victims” is really saying, “You are responsible for whatever happens to you, and I don’t have to feel bad for or lend a hand to help you or anyone.”

I believe in accidents. Accidents are events that happen without intent. Note I didn’t say ‘without cause.” Everything has a cause. I knocked the class of orange juice off my writing table by accident. I didn’t intend to do it, but there were a number of causal factors in my doing it. I placed the glass too close to the table’s edge. I leaned too far across the table to grab a reference book. My elbow swung out and pushed the glass so far over the edge that gravity pulled it earthward. Lots of causes, no intent. An accident.

Intent, or rather the lack of it, is central to both victims and accidents. To say “no victims, no accidents” is to say everything that happens does so by intent. Everyone gets what they intend to get, good or bad, and there is no reason to be upset one way or the other.

One reason we believe in “no victims, no accidents” is that we, like Einstein, can’t stomach the idea that God plays dice with the universe. We don’t like chance; we want an ordered universe. But chance is not opposed to order. Toss a pair of dice one hundred times and you will get more sevens and elevens than twos and twelves. Guaranteed. What you cannot guarantee is what number will come up on any given roll of the dice.

Believing in order need not harden one’s heart to victims or close one’s mind to accident.
There are victims and we should feel deep sadness at their suffering. There are accidents and we should learn to live without certainty. Feeling sad and navigating anxiety open both heart and mind, and keep us humble. Living with reality is accepting what is, not excusing what is.

So many people I met this weekend wanted to be numb. They mistook this numbness for equanimity, even peace, even joy. They wore it like a badge of honor, a PHD in spiritual attainment. There is no suffering, there is no injustice, there is no horror. Everyone is simply playing out her or his agreed-to roles.

I couldn’t help noticing that everyone who told me this also told me that he or she had attained or was about to attain the American Dream of health, wealth, and happiness. It was clear to me that worrying about or feeling real sadness over the fate of others less fortunate then themselves was just going to muddy the waters of success, and they would have none of that. I can’t decide which is worse: a religion that robs us of mind or a spirituality that robs us of heart. Luckily in America we get to have both.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Witch Way for America

I recently read that the Department of Veterans Affairs has, after a decade of foot dragging, finally agreed to allow Wiccans who served in the US military to mark their graves with the encircled five-pointed star that is the symbol of their faith. I am happy for Wiccans and proud of America, but two ironies haunt me.

The first irony is that it took the most overtly Christian administration in American history to recognize the pentagram as a legitimate religious symbol. This is so cool, and so American. It shows what a secular democracy is all about. The Bible, of course, is not American, secular or democratic, “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18). Stoning and later burning witches at the stake was just doing the will of Allah, oh, sorry, YHVH, God, Jesus, Whomever. In this country burning witches is associated with Salem, MA which makes me wonder why a tobacco company would name a cigarette after it. When you light up a Salem are you symbolically reenacting witch burning?

[To find out, wrap yourself in thick iron chains and throw yourself into a lake. If you drown you are not reenacting Salem witch burnings. You are also not smoking. Or breathing. You are dead. So, on second thought, don’t try this.]

Actually the Hebrew of Exodus is a bit more nuanced than the English. It may mean, “Thou shalt not provide witches with livelihood.” In other words you don’t have to kill them, just don’t hire them. Which brings up the question why I see so many signs for local Tarot card and palm readers in my overwhelmingly Christian town. I wonder if people read the Bible, or only those parts that fit their opinions? Actually I don’t really wonder about this. I know we all edit the Bible in our own image, after our likeness, reflecting our madness, bias, and bigotry.

If you believe, as many of my neighbors do, that God wrote the King James Version of the Bible, you know that homosexuals and witches (not to mention shrimp, jumbo and otherwise) are abominations to God (see Leviticus 18:22; Deuteronomy 18:12; and Leviticus 9:12). Why focus on one and not the other two? (I am as guilty of this as the next person. I keep kosher and don’t eat shrimp.)

The second irony is that Wicca claims to be a religion whose central tenet is not harming other human beings. If this is true, what are Wiccans doing in the Armed Services in the first place? I served in the military, but my religion is not shy about smiting and fighting and marching behind a god who is a Man of War (Isaiah 42:13). Shouldn’t people whose faith tells to them to do no harm or to love their enemies refuse to serve in the military? I guess Wiccans are a lot like the rest of us: we don’t let religion get in the way of doing what we want.

Anyway, I am grateful to anyone willing to put her or his life on the line in service to this country, and I am pleased wiccans now have their religious symbol recognized by the government. I am only sad that they need to use it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Booing the Bible

Can you imagine booing in church? How about blowing a raspberry in your synagogue or mosque? Well, that is what one Nashville rabbi is suggesting— oh, that rabbi is me; I’m suggesting we do this. For a moment I thought I worked for the New York Times. But it’s true. I think we ought to boo in church.

Imagine this: You are sitting in synagogue on a Saturday morning during the Torah reading. Imagine further that you actually understand what is being read, and, because you do, you hear the reader chanting, “When God brings you to the Land to possess it, He will thrust away many nations from before you…and you will smite them—you shall utterly destroy them… break apart their altars; smash their pillars; hack down their sacred trees; and burn their carved images” (Deuteronomy 7:1-5). And imagine that you realize that this is divinely sanctioned genocide, and that you are opposed to such genocide. So you boo the Bible. Out loud. Out loud loudly.

What would happen? They could throw you out, but so what? Your action might cause a few people to think about what they are reading and to Whom they are offering their loyalty and love. Or a rabbinic court might ban you from the community, and people will talk about what you did to deserve this. Or the rabbi might ask you why you are booing and you could engage the congregation in a dialogue about divinely sanctioned violence. Regardless of what happens you win, and, more importantly, sanity wins.

Or imagine you are in church and the reading is from the New Testament and Jesus is damning the fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season. Or he is threatening his opponents with eternal damnation. Or St. Paul is ranting about keeping women silent and in their place. And you boo. What is the worst that could happen? OK, eternal damnation, but what is the second worse?

Or imagine you are in a mosque and the Koran or imam is calling for the killing of the nonbeliever, or the fellow Muslim who believes a bit differently than the imam does. And you boo. What is the worse that could happen? OK, don’t think about that. Just boo.

Booing may be the key to freeing humanity from the insanity that passes for holiness in so many religious settings today. Booing is all-American. We boo politicians, comedians, and movie stars when they do or say things that offend us; why not boo religious texts, teachings, and teachers when they do the same? Booing what is evil or absurd in our religions might just free them and God from the madness that threatens to set the world on fire.

So here are three suggestions for fomenting a religious revolution: 1. Boo whenever you hear injustice and cruelty preached in your religious community. 2. Print and display bumper stickers that say, “Boo if you love Jesus (God, Allah, etc.).” 3. Use the video function on your cell phone to capture the mad teachings you are booing and post them on YouTube.

What do you think? Don’t boo me, now.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lukewarm Sucks

If you ever wondered whether newspaper editorial illustrators actually read the editorials before illustrating them, wonder no more. Not that I have the answer to this question, just that it is a stupid thing to wonder about, so stop. I can tell you, however, that Web Bryant, who illustrated Michael Medved’s On Religion column for today’s USA TODAY (Monday, April 23, 2007) probably didn’t.

Medved wrote about the decision of the Jewish Theological Seminary to accept openly gay and lesbian students into its rabbinical program. The piece was called “Goldilocks’ faith serves lukewarm mush,” and Bryant was illustrating the lukewarm mush by showing us three bowls of porridge: one hot, one cold, and the other stabbed with a giant spoon sporting a large white Christian Cross. The drawing wasn’t that good, and the essay was predictable, but the Cross did make it memorable.

Michael Medved tells us he grew up in a Conservative Jewish home, but that he, two brothers, and his father have migrated to Orthodox Judaism, while another brother is a Reform Jew. Clearly the center cannot hold, which shows that Michael never read or understood Goldilocks.

In Goldilocks’ world the middle is just right not lukewarm. Goldilocks is a golden haired Buddhist following the Middle Way, or a blond Confucian adhering to chun yung, the Mean. In Michael’s world the middle is weak and wishy-washy. Choose damn you: hot or cold, hard or soft, big or small. Clearly when it comes to homosexuals Michael chooses hot, hard, and big. I don’t blame him.

I agree with Michael: “watered down versions of religious faith fail.” Where I disagree is over the implication that Reform Judaism is watered down. Today’s Reform Judaism is actually thickening up. Traditional norms, rituals, and Hebrew liturgy are making just enough of a comeback as to thicken Reform into Conservatism Lite. What I would say is that lukewarm religion fails, and that contemporary Reform Judaism is definitely lukewarm.

The original Reform Judaism of the late 19th century was ice cold. It had bite. It stood for something. You either loved it or hated it. It was either genius or heresy. Today it is long forgotten as Conservative and Reform Judaisms slowly merge into a massive blob of tasteless porridge, Orthodoxy is dynamic, creative, hot, hard, and authentic. It is also homophobic, misogynist, and medieval.

We need a new Judaism. One that is a icy alternative to Orthodoxy’s blistering heat. One that blends the Neo-Hasidic fervor of Jewish Renewal with the theological daring of Mordecai Kaplan, and the religious humanism of Martin Buber. We need a Judaism unafraid to be deeply spiritual, contemplative, postmodern, scientific, soulful, and blessedly anarchistic. We need a Judaism of which Spinoza and Einstein could be proud. We need a Judaism Michael Medved would be as passionate about rejecting as he is about the Orthodoxy he embraces. Michael is right, Goldilocks is wrong. Lukewarm sucks.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

There is No Morality Without God

There is no morality without God. Without Him we wouldn’t know right from wrong, or good from evil. Millions of Americans believe this, and I am one of them.

Without God I would have no idea that it’s OK to kill adulterers, witches, and wayward sons. Without God I would have assumed that selling my daughter into slavery was wrong, and committing genocide was evil. Without God it would never occur to me that Shi’ites have a moral obligation to murder Sunnis and vice versa. Slavery, too, would have been labeled immoral in my book had I not the guidance of God’s Book.

I need God to instruct me in His ways because left to my own devices I would probably choose a more live-and-let-live lifestyle, following the advice of Rabbi Hillel, “Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you.” He isn’t quoting God, just figuring things out for himself.

God also teaches us to love our neighbor and the stranger, to feed the hungry, and see to the welfare of the poor and powerless. These are great ideas, but I suspect I would have come up with these on my own. It is good to know God approves, but I probably didn‘t need Him to tell me to care for others in the first place. After all there are many godless societies that practice the Golden Rule. What they have to learn is how to wage genocide.

What I find troubling, however, is the fact that God didn’t want us to know good and evil. When Eve eats of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden she is not rewarded but punished. So is Adam for doing the same. If God wanted us to be moral He would have offered us the fruit Himself, but He didn’t. I can only draw one conclusion from this: God would rather us not be moral.

You see before Adam and Eve became moral they were naked and unashamed. As soon as they knew the difference between right and wrong they were ashamed and afraid. The fruit of the Tree didn’t supply them with moral insights, just a sense of guilt over having eaten from the Tree itself.

This is made clear when the First Folks leave the Garden and become the First Family, only to have their son Cain murder his brother Abel. If Adam and Eve knew that killing was wrong you would think they would have taught that to their kids, but Cain seems to be clueless in this regard. So the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was really the Tree of Knowledge of Shame and Fear, and I think this is why God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from it.

People who are naked and fearless are rarely a threat to others. If I don’t fear you I might get to know you. True, I might not like you, but I without fear I won’t try to enslave or kill you. Fear is the root of most evil for fear drives out love, justice and compassion.

So I am glad we have God to scare us and teach us how to be scared of others. Without Him I might not hate homosexuals, be obsessed with women’s hair and menstrual blood, or hope to kill an infidel now and again. Thanks God.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What Is Spirituality?

What is spirituality? I am asked the question quite frequently, and my answer changes as I change. Which is to say, I don’t have one definitive response. But here is my answer for today:

“Spirituality” is best used as a verb rather than a noun. Spirituality is a practice, the cultivation of states of consciousness and traits of behavior that place the egoic “I” in the larger context of the transpersonal I AM. Spirituality is doing: meditating, chanting, praying, etc. The result of this doing is the maturation of “mochin d’gadlut,” spacious mind, that level of consciousness that knows all things to be part of the One Thing that is God, Tao, Allah, Adonai, etc.

Unfortunately most people use “spirituality” to refer to a feeling, though what that feeling is often differs from person to person. Regardless of the specific feeling to which one may refer, feelings themselves are fleeting. They come and go and are not directly controllable by the will. If they were you would choose to feel happy all the time, and the only people I know who are so happy are people who are ingesting products that are illegal. Since feelings are ever-changing, identifying spirituality with a fixed feeling set is setting yourself up for spiritual failure.

Luckily, spirituality is not about feeling one way or another. It is about cultivating that spaciousness of mind that allows you to feel your feelings (whatever they happen to be at the moment) without being blown away by them. When you are happy, be happy without wanting to be happy forever. When you are sad, be sad without worrying that you will be sad forever. Spirituality is cultivating the spaciousness of mind and heart that allows you to engage each moment with curiosity and compassion, seeking what is just and kind in any given situation, and doing it.

“I am spiritual but not religious” doesn’t tell me much; in fact I never really know what the person saying that really means, though I can’t help but suspect that the speaker is saying, “I would rather not do any serious practice, and am content to just grasp on to some vague feeling of something or other; but I don’t want to feel guilty about my inaction. Hence, I am spiritual but not religious.”

I don’t have a problem with people who don’t practice. I don’t have a problem with people who say they are spiritual but not religious. I just don’t expect too much from them. Of course I don’t expect too much from those who say they are religious either.

I do expect something from people who claim to engage in serious contemplative practice on a daily basis. I expect that they are continually growing in self-awareness and self-transcendence. I expect that they are continually glimpsing Self-awareness and embracing both Self and Other as the One and Only. I do expect that they are increasingly kind, just, humble, and engaged without the constrictive and conflictive baggage of a shadow-blind (and shadow projecting) ego. After all this is what spiritual practice is all about.

Coo Coo for Cocoa Christ

Remember how upset we enlightened westerns were when the Islamic world erupted in outrage over cartoon images of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him? How could they get so apoplectic over an image? How could they not understand the centrality of freedom of speech to democracy, and the centrality of democracy to everything we believe to be holy? They must be so medieval; so backward; so frightened of freedom as to be unredeemable.

Lucky for us we live in the heart of Christendom where such madness could never hold sway. Unless of course you happen to sculpt a nude chocolate image of Christ crucified.

This exactly what Cosimo Cavallaro, and Italian-American artist in Manhattan did, and the response was, well positively medieval. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League called it “one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever.” Cavallaro and his wife began receiving death threats—not from irate Muslims, but from, can it be, God fearing Christians. Yes the followers of the God of Love and Prince of Peace plot to murder the Willy Wanka of Christian iconography.

Can you imagine Sam Harris, one of America’s leading atheists, threatening to kill someone for making a chocolate nude of Marilyn Murray O’Hare? Religion is the breeding ground for violent nut jobs. If Christians demand moderate Muslims decry the madness of their fanatic co-religionists, I think it is only fair that Catholics come out and disavow the dark (chocolate) fantasies of Bill Donohue, and Protestants disavow any connection with or support for the chocophobes in their midst.

Personally I like the idea of a chocolate Jesus. It certainly makes the idea of eating his body far more palatable to me. Imagine a new faith with a communion of chocolate body and hot chocolate blood.

The fact is some 15 years ago or so, I wrote a novel, never published, entitled “Play Kaddish For Me” in which the hero, a psycho-P.I., battled a bishop of a new brand of Christianity that did in fact eat chocolate Jesuses at its communions. Actually, every believer who died was turned into chocolate and eaten by loved ones at her or his funeral.

Like I said, the novel never left my computer, so the Catholic League never tracked me down, and Protestant hit squads left me alone. I always hoped to publish the story some day, but after reading about Cavallaro’s experience I will reconsider. I might be willing to die for my faith, but I have no desire to die for someone else’s.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

God Redux

“The only option if one is to be true to what we know to be true is to abandon the word “God” altogether.” This from an email responding to my essay on the God of Science and the Science of God.

It seems to me that this idea is too narrow. We have, in fact, three choices: We can maintain the ancient and medieval gods of our various tribes and competing religions and allow them to take us to war over and over again. Or, we can, as the emailer suggests, abandon all notions of God and find solace in a universal scientific materialism. Or, we can, as I propose, reinvent God and proselytize with a vengeance.

I don’t think people can do without God. The idea has been around almost as long as homo sapiens sapiens, but it has not always meant the same thing. What I propose is a new vision of God, one that transcends tribe, gender, ethnicity, race, etc. One that leads us beyond the politics of piety and its toxic mix of nationalism and religion. One that does away with reward and punishment, heaven and hell, and salvation and damnation.

This new image of God will draw heavily from philosophers such as Spinoza, theologians such as Tillich, and philosophers such as Whitehead. It will be unabashedly panentheistic, seeing God as that which manifests and transcends the world open to us through our senses and machines. Such a God does indeed incarnate as man, as many claim is true of Jesus, and also as woman, roses, oceans, bees, and bedbugs. The universe, indeed the multiverse, is God’s body. And it is forever changing for God is change as well as the changeless. God is paradox, and nothing less that the tools of paradox—quantum physics and Zen koans, to name but two—can help us realize God.

The prophets of this God are people like Amma, the hugging saint of India, Ramana Maharshi, Alan Watts, Sri Aurobindo, Toni Packer, and J. Krishnamurti. Erich Fromm (To Have or to Be), Aldous Huxley (The Island), and Ken Wilbur (Integral Spirituality) will be among our pundits. Einstein, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King will be our guiding lights.

My point is simple, people need God. They need a word that reveals the greater reality in which they live. I am not hung up on the word, and one is free to use any number of synonyms, but to abandon the idea of God in hopes of creating a better world is a waste of time. What we need is a fresh and relevant God-talk. What we have is idol worship among the conventional theists, and idol bashing among the conventional atheists. Both of these are silly.

No, the fearsome god of Abraham, the god who destroys peoples and planets and who demands blood sacrifice either of sons or his, will not die overnight. But if we can powerfully and plainly articulate a vision of a truer god (God itself being beyond knowing) the old god will eventually go the way of Zeus. I only hope this happens before his followers literally love bomb us to death.

Monday, April 09, 2007

God of Science/Science of God

What can we believe? This is the question that occupies my students and myself as we enter into the final hours of the course I created called “The God of Science and the Science of God.” During the past months we read over a dozen books, watched many video interviews with leading scientists, and wrestled with questions of enduring significance. Here are some of them.

Who is the God of science? The nondual consciousness that manifests all reality.

What is the science of God? Since God is reality, all science is in a sense a science of God. In addition there are disciplines that investigate this consciousness more directly: contemplation, meditation, neuroscience, and neurotheology to name but four.

Can those of us who take science seriously believe in God? Absolutely. The universe is not a random accident but the unfolding of a universal nondual consciousness. God is that consciousness.

Is God purposeful? Yes. God’s purpose is God’s nature, and God’s nature is to manifest a universe capable of knowing itself to be a manifestation of God.

Does God have a plan for my life? Yes. God’s plan is for you to realize your true nature as God incarnate.

Does God choose one people over another? No. The idea of chosenness is a sociological fiction and has nothing to do with God.

Does God save some and damn others? No. Salvation and damnation, heaven and hell, are manipulative tools of political power and coercion and have nothing to do with God.

What kind of religion works with science? One that is not afraid of myth.

What kind of science works with religion? One that is not afraid of mystery.

Where does this leave religious believers? At a crossroads. If we choose biblical literalism over science we must live in abject fear of truth. If we choose a mythic reading of scripture we are free to blend the knowledge of science with the wisdom of faith.

What is the key ingredient to the science-religion dialogue? Humility. Humility on the part of science as it learns to respect the mystery its own methods reveals. Humility on the part of religion as it learns to free God from the superstition of our ancestors.

Does the God you find in this class transcend and even reject religion and its creeds and competitions? Yes. This class doesn’t negate religion but it demands a new understanding of it, one that overthrows the triumphalism as the heart of the three Abrahamic faiths crumbles. The question is will these faiths crumble with it?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

He Is Risen

“He is risen,” proclaimed a banner attached to the tail of a small airplane circling the skies over my head. “He is risen,” affirmed the billboard on the lawn of one downtown church as thousands of worships streamed into churches across the city. “He is risen,” shouted one pastor to his dancing flock, as I listened by a window to the joyous gospel choir echoing these words back to him.

“He is risen,” said the elderly black man standing in front of the Olive Branch Church on Main Street.

“Yes,” I replied sincerely as I made room for him on the sidewalk, “he is risen,” adding in what I hoped was an inaudible whisper, “but am I?”

Today is Easter Sunday, Christianity’s chief holy day, and I am walking through town and out to the river beyond it to sing my own praises to God. I am not a Christian and church holds little interest for me, but the question of my own resurrection does.

For Christians what matters this Easter is that Jesus is risen, for me what matters is whether I am risen—risen from the dead, from the past, from the old, from the safe, from the conventional, from the conditioned, from the known, from the tomb of my own convictions, story, and self.

For Christians the resurrected Jesus is the point, for me he is the pointer. “Follow me,” Jesus said. I take that literally. Jesus took the best of his Judaism, the love of God and neighbor (to which I would add love the stranger as well), lifted both out of the narrowness of tribalism, priestly purity, self-righteous piety, and religiously sanctioned jingoism, and pointed toward a religion of no-religion. I follow him as best I can: loving God, neighbor, and stranger beyond the boundaries of doctrine, creed, and tribe. For me, “He is risen” means that his message continues to slip free from the death grip of those who seek to strangle his message by turning the iconoclast into an icon.

“He is risen.” I visited the tomb of Jesus last November, and as I stood for a few moments inside that empty cave I felt the power of this 1st century Galilean Jew who defied both priests and politicians in the name of justice and compassion. In a world going mad with messianic fever, he preached the simple Torah of Hillel: do not do to others what you would not want others to do unto you. In a world where the simple faith of Abraham had become the property of priests and lawyers, he preached the prophetic call to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. I could never be a Christian, but I hope, given what I know of Jesus and the early Jewish radicals who followed him, I would have been a hasid, a disciple, of Jesus.

Our world is not unlike his world. Mad prophets manipulate people with fear. Would-be Caesars vie for power in the name of God. Church and state are the two pockets of corporate elites preaching a zero-sum game of have and ever more indebted have–nots. The pious proclaim, “He is risen,” and are then herded back into the tomb of their lives where fear rather than hope is the foundation of faith.

Yes, he is risen, but we are not.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


For the first thirteen years of my life my family identified as Orthodox Jews. Following my Bar Mitzvah the entire synagogue shifted into the Conservative camp in order to allow men and women to sit together in the sanctuary. When I entered rabbinical school I chose the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College, and when I created my own synagogue I chose to affiliate with the Reconstructionist movement. Add to this the fact that I was the editor of the Journal of Humanistic Judaism for two years, and that I am a hasid of Reb Zalman Shachter-Shalomi founder of the Renewal movement, and you have a portrait of a multidenominational Jew. Yet people want me to identify with one movement or another so they can get a handle on who I am and what I believe. Since no one denomination is sufficient for me, I have decided to start my own: Paradoxy. From this day forth let it be known that I am a Paradox Jew.

To understand Paradoxy imagine the classic figure/ground image of the goblet and profiles. Looked at one way, the image is a white goblet surrounded by a black field, looked at another way it is the portrait of two black human profiles separated by white space. But what is the image itself when no one is looking at it?

Whatever this is I will call Truth, whatever we see I will call truth. To the see the goblet and not the profiles is not wrong or false, it is true, just not the entire Truth. To the see the profiles and not the goblet is also true, just not the whole Truth. The whole Truth cannot be seen, for the act of seeing forces us into a figure/ground dualism while Reality itself is nondual. Paradoxy is recognizing that all truth is partial, and that the Truth is nondual and beyond our ability to grasp with the dualistic mind. Humility not hubris is nature state of the Paradox Jew.

Paradoxy is not totally open-ended, however. Looking at our figure/ground image one cannot assert that the image is one of dogs playing poker. While Reality is beyond reason transcends reason it also embraces reason and its truths are open to scientific exploration.

Paradoxy encourages freedom of thought and expression. The Paradox Jew is one who can hold a variety of truths (no matter how inconsistent) at the same time. The Paradox Jew cannot claim that Judaism is True, only that Judaism contains truth. Hence the Paradox Jew is not limited to Judaism in her quest for truth, and can learn from and incorporate truths from all sources: religious, scientific, philosophical, etc.

Of course you might say that one who follows the Paradox Path need not accept any label other than Paradox itself. Why be a Jew or Christian, or Muslim if these are no more than aspects of a multilevel figure/ground Reality? The answer is, I don’t know. You want a label, pick a label. You want to label yourself unlabelable, fine. The point is that no label, including No Label, really matters.

So for those who care, I am a Paradox Jew. If you would like to join my new movement great. Dues are steep: consistency, surety, certainty, and the capacity to mistake truth for Truth. Get rid of each of these and you may well find yourself a member of the Paradoxy. Welcome.