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Can You Be a Jewish Buddhist?

What’s the difference between Crayola Crayon’s blue-green and green-blue? And what’s a JuBu (or a BuJu)?

According to an article in The Los Angeles Times, there are a large number of Jews represented in American Buddhist Centers, and perhaps more than 30% of all newcomers to Buddhism are Jewish. Of course, this statistic doesn’t tell us what percentage of Jews have turned to Buddhism, but it is not an insignificant number. Much higher is the number of Jews interested in Buddhism and drawn to its practices, even if they do not become Buddhist or part-Buddhist (ie., a JuBu or a BuJu). The first question I have is: what drives this phenomenon? And the second question is: why does the fusing of Judaism and Buddhism, or the assimilation of certain Buddhist practices into Jewish tradition, not rub the Jewish community in the same way that it’s rubbed by the assimilation of Christian practices into Jewish tradition?


Parallel to the trend of secularism in the American Jewish community is the trend of American Jews searching for spiritual fulfillment in the midst of an increasingly materialistic culture. For whatever reason, they do not find that Judaism fits their spiritual needs (I would say in most cases this is the fault of inaccessible Judaism rather than Judaism lacking these spiritual avenues) and look to other traditions to meet these needs. Some reject Judaism altogether, others transfer certain practices like meditation to a Jewish context, and a number become “JuBus” or “BuJus,” identifying themselves as a fusion of two identities. This attraction towards Eastern practices is also a well-known trend among Israelis who travel outside of Israel (and look outside of Judaism) for meaningful spiritual experiences in India, Thailand, and elsewhere. There are many Jewish institutions from the entire spectrum of denominations that have noticed these trends and shifted their programs accordingly. For example, Jewish meditation programs are now quite popular.

And while some would claim that meditation practices are Jewish not Buddhist in nature, having their roots in the mystical tradition (Kabbalah), others are not bothered by the concept of adopting certain Buddhist practices into Judaism. My question is, why this calm, even embracing attitude when children of interfaith families want to celebrate with their extended families drives the Jewish community crazy? What lies behind the perceived clashing of certain practices? Likely it has to do with contrary religious tenets, the most obvious example being the Christian belief that Jesus was the Messiah, contrary to the Jewish belief that the Messiah has not yet arrived. Or maybe it has to do more with the similarities between the religions; Judaism and Christianity share sacred texts and are rooted in the same traditions, engendering a greater need to draw distinctions more sharply. But another possibility is simply that Christianity is the dominant religion in this country, and so is seen as more of a threat in the overall context of assimilation. Any other thoughts? Perhaps some thoughts from those who are or know JuBus?



22 Comments

  1. My thoughts are that Buddhism, and other Eastern/New Age practices can be assimilated into Judaism more easily than Christianity, because much of the concepts in these practices do not conflict with Judaism. For example, centering yourself in meditation by focusing on your relationship to the “divine power” doesn’t negate the existence of or nature of Adonai… Jewish tenets are not denied… however, many aspects of Christianity - especially the very basic tenet of the nature of god - are incompatible with Judaism.

    You can make Buddhism and Judaism “work together”. You can’t do the same with Judaism and Christianity.

    -Emily

    Comment by Emily — May 10, 2006 @ 3:27 pm

  2. I visited Japan in 2004, and I had a great time. Naturally I visited some Buddhist temples. The tour guide explained to us that Buddha left home at age 29 to seek enlightment. Basically I got the impression that for some Buddhists at least, Buddha was a man who became divine. Avodah zarah is still avodah zarah.

    As a Jew who is constantly trying to heighten my level of monotheism- I try to use the word “the Eternal”" rather than Lord when I pray in English, and try to avoid the male personal pronoun “hu”" in Hebrew by saying Hashem. I feel very strongly about rooting out anthropomorphism in my own faith, so I cannot accept incorporating any Buddhist kind of practices, personally speaking.

    Comment by Dave — May 30, 2006 @ 10:36 pm

  3. there is a diffrence between wisdom of the nations and laws

    a gadol ba torah out to give guid to jewish-eastern perplex , to sort confusion

    avoiding anthropomorphism is aided by impersonalism but impersonalism is inferior to personalism and ist biblical

    Comment by dodgson — February 6, 2007 @ 5:08 am

  4. All mystical paths bring you to a non-dualistic experience similar to Buddhism. So when I wrote “Haggadah for Jews & Buddhists” blending Jewish mystical ideas and Buddhist non-dualistic concepts was easy.

    The more challenging part, for me, was moving beyond the historic anger at the enslavement in Egypt. After all, the whole “point” of the Seder was to remember the suffering of slavery. How can you remember suffering AND detach or let go? I spent most of 2004 wrestling with this … and for me the solution was forgiveness. When you really let go of your suffering (your attachment to how it should have been), compassion and forgiveness rise up naturally.

    So, “Haggadah for Jews & Buddhists” focuses on Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers. Later, those same brothers came begging to escape from a famine, and put their families under the care of Joseph. When you stop to think about how much forgiveness Joseph must have had, it is amazing. Consider how much he must have moved beyond his personal pain to even consider their request. He must have had tremendous compassion for this extended family which had rejected him.

    H4J&B is available through your local Jewish bookstore, AllJudaica.com or www.ModernHaggadah.com

    Comment by Elizabeth Pearce-Glassheim — March 26, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  5. Many people today have been misled into avodah zarah (idolatry), of one kind or another. Some people have been misled unknowingly. The sting of avodah zarah can cause terrible harm c”v.

    Nevertheless, there is always great hope. And that is the great light of Teshuva (returning to Hashem, our G-d.) Hashem is calling out to us every day, to return to Him properly, with a pure heart:

    “……shuvu Eilai ve’Ashuva aleichem amar Hashem Tzevakot…..” (Malachi 3:7)

    “……return to Me and I will return to you, says Hashem, Master of Legions…..”

    Teshuvah is very great and is regarded very highly in Shamayim. A person should seize the opportunity to do Teshuva to Hashem right now, while “the Gates of Teshuva are open”.

    Teshuva is one of the greatest Gifts that Hashem, Our G-d, has given to us. So swallow your pride.

    By doing a true and sincere Teshuva to Hashem, the brachot (blessings) from Hashem will come into a person’s life, and obstacles will begin to shift.

    1. I will list below:
    (a) what the sources of Tumah, and Avodah Zarah are. (‘Tumah’ is spiritual ‘uncleanliness’, which is extremely damaging to a person’s home and life). And

    (b) what a person should do to remove the sources of tumah and Avodah Zara from her/his home/life.

    2. I will then list a few mitzvot, and practical steps that a person can take, in order to do Teshuvah for any kind of involvement in avodah zara.

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — April 12, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

  6. What are the Sources of Tumah, and Avodah Zarah? (‘Tumah’ is spiritual ‘uncleanliness’, which is extremely damaging to a person’s home and life)

    What should a person do to remove the sources of tumah and Avodah Zara from her/his home/life?

    COMMANDMENT AGAINST IDOLATRY:

    We are specifically commanded against idolatry, in the SECOND COMMANDMENT of the Asseret Hadibrot:

    ‘Do not have any other gods BEFORE ME.’

    ‘Lo yiheyeh lecha elokim acherim AL PANAI.’

    And: ‘Do not represent (such gods) by any CARVED STATUE OR PICTURE of anything in the heaven above, or the earth below, or in the water below the land.
    Do not bow down to (such gods) or worship them.

    I am G-d your Lord, A JEALOUS G-D, who demands EXCLUSIVE WORSHIP.

    Where My enemies are concerned, I keep in mind the sin of the fathers for (their) descendants, to the third and fourth (generation).
    But for those who love Me and keep My Commandments, I show love for thousands (of generations.)’

    ‘Lo ta’aseh lecha PESEL, vechol temunah asher bashamayim, mima’al va’asher ba’aretz, mitachat va’asher ba’mayim, mitachat la’aretz. Lo tishtachaveh lahem, ve’lo ta’avdem, KI ANI HASHEM ELOKECHA, KEL KANAH, poked avon avot al banim, al shileshim, ve’al ribe’im, le’sonay.
    Ve’osseh chessed la’alafim, le’ohavai, u’leshomrei mitzvotai.’

    (Parsha of Yitro, Chapter 20, verses 3-6)

    Hashem, our G-d, is a very “Jealous G-d” who demands “Exclusive worship.”

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — April 12, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

  7. 1. PLACES OF IDOLATRY

    Do not go into any of the following, as they are all places of idolatry, and AVODAH ZARAH (literally ‘strange worship’). They deny the Sovereignty of Hashem, the One G-d, and Creator of the World.

    - Churches
    - Buddhist temples
    - Hindu temples
    - Sikh temples
    - Greek temples
    - Temples/buildings of any other kind of foreign worship.
    - Freemasonry

    There is a lot of TUMAH in them (spiritual ‘uncleanliness’ which can affect a person has veshalom, physically and spiritually in different ways). Always walk to the opposite side of the road rather than walk directly past one of these buildings e.g. a church.
    If any Jew is a “Freemason,” this too is based upon Avodah Zarah. He/she must stop going to such a place, and associating with “freemasons.”

    2. STONE/WOOD SCULPTURES OF THE HUMAN FORM; THE HUMAN FACE; STATUES

    These are graven images. They should IMMEDIATELY be removed from your home and discarded, no matter how much they might have cost, or the sentimental value attached to them. They are a strong source of Tumah.

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — April 12, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  8. 3. Tefillah/Prayer – in the synagogue, and at home.

    (a) There should be NO IMAGES whatsoever, inside any shul.

    There should be NO IMAGES of
    • ANY PERSON, or
    • ANY ANIMAL or
    • ANY OBJECT
    inside any synagogue.

    Any images of a person, animal or object should be REMOVED immediately, and ENTIRELY out of the synagogue or shteibl. No matter how large or small they may be. This is against the Halachah.

    (b) When praying at home, a person should endeavour to pray in a room which does not contain any images or paintings of a person, animal or object.

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — April 12, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  9. 4. BOOKS, MAGAZINES, LEAFLETS, DVD’s, CD’s, clothing

    These are a strong source of TUMAH, and bring in a lot of negativity into the home. These books and magazines negatively affect those who live in that home.

    Go through every book in your home very carefully, and check for the following. If it falls into one of these categories, or you have doubt about it – sort them out into a pile, and then DISPOSE of these books as soon as possible, and take them out of your home. Or at least take them out of your home and put them in a shed if you can.

    It is a very great MITZVAH to remove such sources of Tumah from your home. If some of these books were expensive – discard them anyway, and put aside how much they cost. They are a form of Avodah Zarah, and should be removed immediately.

    • Instead, place your EMUNAH (faith) in Hashem, the King of the World, that He will bless all your endeavours, and new, good things, will now be able to come into your life. You might start to feel better in yourself.

    The following are some examples:

    (a) ‘New Age’ books – (e.g. Indian authors, ‘Shambhala’ publications)

    (b) Philosophical books (e.g. by Indian writers such as Deepak Chopra etc)

    (c) Yoga/Tai Chi/Reiki.

    Yoga/Tai Chi (qigong)/Reiki books; yoga and reiki magazines &leaflets; tai chi (qi kung) magasines & leaflets; yoga/tai chi/reiki DVD’s & CD’s; yoga/tai chi special clothing:-

    • These physical exercises and practices are all based upon AVODAH ZARAH (idolatry). They all come from a SOURCE OF TUMAH. (‘Tumah’ is spiritual ‘uncleanliness’, which is extremely damaging to a person’s home and life).

    • The Torah cannot be mixed with Avodah Zarah. This is twisting the Torah, and the Torah must remain straight.

    • Have Emunah (faith) in Hashem, the King of the World, that He will help you to find another alternative form of exercise.

    Hashem, our G-d, and Creator of the World, is, “The Healer of all flesh, and performs wonders.” (From ‘Asher Yatzar’ prayer said every morning.)

    (d) Meditation books - by non-Jewish or unorthodox Jewish writers.

    Buddism abounds with “meditation.”
    Meditation is only for Prophets – it is not for the ordinary man or woman.

    (e) Books that appear ok – but contain many idolatrous images and drawings e.g. mathematical or philosophical books interspersed with pictures of dragons; snakes; mandalas; crosses; ‘third eyes’; hindu gods; hindu goddesses; buddas; tibetan gods; egyptian gods; greek gods; stone/gold idols etc etc – THESE SHOULD ALL BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY FROM YOUR HOME.

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — April 12, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  10. 5. (a) Written “Requests” of the Igrot/Igros (letters of advice written to other people by Rabbi M. Schneerson tz”l during his lifetime);

    (b) FAXES and LETTERS “SENT TO” Rabbi M. Schneersohn tz”l after he passed away in 1994 – at the Bet HaChaim (incorrectly referred to as the, “Ohel” by Lubavitch);

    (c) Any other written “communications with” tzaddikim at the Bet HaChaim (cemetery), who are not physically alive.

    These written requests should all be destroyed. However “nice” or “comforting” or “accurate” the “reply you received” was; or whatever “bracha you received;” or “whatever the date of the letter was;” – these writings should be destroyed. They are pure Avodah Zarah.

    • There should be NO MEDIATOR between a person’s tefillot (prayers) and Hashem.
    If a person chooses to use intercession instead of praying directly to Hashem, this is completely Assur, and forbidden.

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — April 12, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  11. 6. PHOTOGRAPHS

    If you have taken holiday photographs of e.g. Buddhist temples, whether on the outside or inside, these are a source of Tumah, and should be discarded. Similarly for buddist celebrations. These places of AVODAH ZARAH completely DENY THE SOVREIGNTY OF HASHEM, the One and Only G-d, and Creator of the World. They should not be in your home.

    The same applies to photographs of:
    - Churches
    - Hindu temples
    - Sikh temples
    - Greek temples
    - Temples/buildings of any other kind of foreign worship.
    - Freemasonry

    Sort through your photographs, and discard those that relate to Avodah Zarah.

    However attached you may feel to these photographs, they should be discarded, as they completely deny the Sovereignty of Hashem.

    • Instead, place your EMUNAH (faith) in Hashem, the Creator, and King of the World, that He will bless all your endeavours, and new, good things, will now be able to come into your life. You might start to feel better in yourself.

    7. Discard any other items related in any way to Avodah Zarah. No matter how small and insignificant, or however large e.g. bookmarks with pictures of churches; jewellery and accessories.

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — April 12, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  12. SUMMARY:

    1. Do not go into any places of idolatry.

    2. Discard and remove from your home all stone/wood sculptures e.g. sculptures of:
    (a) the human form (“nudes.”)
    (b) the human face
    (c ) statues – of the human form in particular.

    3. Books – discard and destroy all books relating to Avodah Zarah.

    4. Photographs – discard and destroy all photographs of Avodah Zarah.

    5. Discard any other items you have relating to Avodah Zarah e.g.jewellery.

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — April 12, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  13. HOW TO DO TESHUVAH FOR AVODAH ZARAH – once you have removed all sources of Tumah, and Avodah Zarah from your home/life.
    CHECKLIST.

    1. Say the KETORET twice a week at least (Tefillah, prayer).

    The Ketoret has great Kedushah, (holiness) and power to transform all negatives into positives. Say the full text of the Ketoret in the full “Sefarad” version.

    If you can say it every day, including Shabbat, this is even better. You can say it as many times as you like during the day.

    The Ketoret is said formally 3 times a day in total: twice in the Shacharit, and once during the Minchah prayer.

    2. Decide on an amount to give to TZEDAKAH, (charity) in Israel, so that it ‘hurts you’ a little bit. Give to a proper registered charity, such as a hospital or emergency services.

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — April 12, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

  14. 3. MEZUZOT – (Positive Mitzvah, commandment in the Shema – affirming that G-d is ONE, and warning against idolatry.)

    Check that:

    (a) You have properly affixed a mezuzah on EVERY DOORWAY which needs a mezuzah. This includes archways, patio doors, folding doors, side doors to garden, garden doors.

    (b) If any places in your home are lacking a mezuzah, purchase one as soon as possible from a qualilfied Sofer (Scribe), and put it up as soon as possible.

    (c) Check that ALL your mezuzot are kosher, as soon as you can. These should be given to a qualified Sofer (scribe) for checking.

    (d) Mezuzot should ideally be checked ONCE A YEAR.

    4. Travel to the KOTEL in Israel. If you can travel with a group of people who are going for the purposes of Teshuvah, this is even better. The purpose will be to pray, (Tefila and Teshuva), and ask Hashem, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, for His forgiveness, for mechilah.

    If a group can be arranged, this will be a greater mitzvah for everyone who joins. If you can go individually to the Kotel, in the meantime, before the group travel, this is also very good.

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — April 12, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

  15. 5. When you have done 1-3 and/or 4 above, (summarised below as well), you should obtain the special BERACHA, (bracha, blessing) of someone who is known to be a TRUE KOHEN/COHEN. This will bring Hashem’s brachot of the material and spiritual blessings directly into your life.

    SUMMARY:

    1. Say the Ketoret – at least twice a week.
    Say the full text of the Ketoret in the full “Sefarad” version.

    2. Give Tzedakah to recognised charity in Israel.

    3. Mezuzot - Have you affixed a mezuzah on every doorway?
    - Have you checked that all your mezuzot are kosher?

    4. Kotel in Israel – in a group (and individually, if possible).

    5. Bracha of a true Kohen/Cohen.

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — April 12, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

  16. Other forms of Avodah Zarah (idolatry): e.g. ‘Palm reading’

    It is against the Torah and forbidden, for a person to have her/his ‘palms read.’

    These kinds of people deny the Sovereignty of Hashem, the One G-d, and Creator of the World.

    Moshe Rabeinu has told us in the Parsha of Shoftim (18:10-13)
    ‘Among you, there shall not be found anyone who
    passes his son or daughter through fire;
    who practices stick divination;
    who divines auspicious times;
    who divines by omens;
    who practices witchcraft;
    who uses incantations;
    who consults mediums and oracles (who inquires of Ov or Yidoni);
    or who attempts to communicate with the dead.
    Anyone involved in these practices is REPULSIVE to Hashem….You must therefore remain TOTALLY FAITHFUL to Hashem YOUR G-D.’

    ‘Lo yimatzei vecha ma’avir beno u’vito baeish, kosem kessamim me’onen u’menachesh u’mechashef. Ve’chover chaver ve’shoel ov ve’yidoni ve’doresh EL HAMEITIM. Ki toavat Hashem kol osseh eileh………Tamim tiheyeh im Hashem Elokecha.’

    • Open a Chumash in order to increase your Emunah (faith) in Hashem.
    And in there, you will see the Words of Hashem, the Living G-d, in the Torah. The words of the Torah are eternal, for all time.

    • More specifically, open the Parsha of the week. Because we live through the Parsha of each week. And the Parsha of the week will contain words of direct significance to you. Think about what you are reading. And from those Divine words, you will be elevated, and derive inspiration. You will be strengthened in your Emunah and activities for your daily life.

    Remember that Hashem watches over each person, individually. We are all tested with different kinds of problems and challenges in life. These are all tests of our Emunah in Hashem. In order to pass these tests, we must keep our faith and Emunah in Hashem – no matter how ‘bleak’ or challenging our situation may be.

    What do we say every morning?
    “Modeh ani lefanecha, Melech, Chai, Vekayam….”
    “I give thanks before You, LIVING and everlasting KING….”
    Hashem is our Living King. And so we must look at His words of Life - which are to be found in His Torah.

    Try it.

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — May 16, 2010 @ 11:59 am

  17. Other forms of avodah zarah (idolatry) - Reiki

    This is based on AVODAH ZARAH (idolatry). It should therefore be avoided. It comes from a SOURCE OF TUMAH. (‘Tumah’ is spiritual ‘uncleanliness’, which is extremely damaging to a person’s home and life).

    It is therefore harmful to a Jewish person – spiritually, and therefore physically.

    1. Hashem, our G-d, and King of the World, is, “The Healer of all flesh, and performs wonders”.

    Hashem is, “….ROFEH CHOL BASSAR U’MAFLI LA’ASSOT.” (From, ‘Asher Yatzar’ prayer said every morning, and throughout the day following natural bodily functions.)

    2. Hashem is “ …..a Healer and a cure; He is all-seeing and a support…”

    “…VE’HU ROFEH VE’HU MARPEH, ve’Hu tzofeh ve’Hu ezrah….” (From the Song of, ‘Adon Olam’ – ‘Master of the Universe’- song said every morning in morning tefillah, prayer).

    3. So great is the power of Teshuvah, that from the MOMENT of INNER RESOLVE, of the sick person to do Teshuvah (to ‘return’ to Hashem with a pure heart), Hashem sends a Refuah Shelemah, healing, to the sick person.

    • Hashem heals, with the very same Hand, with which He strikes.

    “Re’u: atah KI ANI ANI HU, ve’ein elokim Imadi……machatzti VA’ANI ERPA…..” (Devarim 32:39)

    “See! Now, THAT I, I AM HE, I AM THE (ONLY) ONE! There are no (other) gods with Me!…………………I wounded AND I WILL HEAL…..”

    “And (Hashem) said, ‘If you surely listen to THE VOICE, OF HASHEM YOUR G-D, and you do that which is upright in His Eyes, and you carefully heed ALL His Commandments, and you keep all His statutes, then I will not place upon you any of the sicknesses/diseases, that I placed on Egypt, FOR I AM HASHEM WHO HEALS YOU.’ ”

    “Vayomer im shamoa tishma LEKOL, HASHEM ELOKECHA, ve’hayashar be’einav ta’aseh, ve’ha’azanta lemitzvotav, ve’shamarta kol chukav, kol hamachalah asher samti bemitzrayim lo assim alecha, KI ANI HASHEM ROFECHA.” (Beshalach 15:26)

    Comment by Deborah Shaya — May 16, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

  18. My people are Sefardim from Mexico, and I was born/raised Catholic. I have been a Ts’ao-t’ung Ch’an priest for 20 years, but I converted to Judaism and practiced for two years (2001-2003) as Orthodox as I could. Ultimately my rabbi agreed that I could leave the schul and go back to Buddhist ministry, IF my identity stayed as Noachide or “Righteous Gentile”.

    I’ve been taught you CANNOT be “Jewish” and be something else too. That is hogwash because Buddhism shares a common orign with Judaism. Jews and Buddhists are siblings or perhaps even closer.

    Today I tell people I am a Jew whether anyone likes it or not. What The Lord has given no one can take, not a rabbi, not a kohain, not a Buddhist monk. The Promise of Torah is still sacred.

    So if you want, try to help your siblings with compassion–otherwise, you injure the Torah when you injure others, so watch what you say! And keep meditating, on the Eternal One!

    Comment by Rev. E. A. Akiva Hernandez — July 12, 2010 @ 6:56 am

  19. why do you want to keep things apart, learn form others, be kind to others and they will be kind to you. why not take someone let you have shelter if u have kicked out of a jewish temple where else would you go, if part of the jewish nation wishes you ill and wishes you death what then um?

    Comment by ben Isaac — February 22, 2011 @ 3:35 am

  20. I cannot live under a dictatorship of any kind, religious or political. I choose to live a loving, kind life and try to correct my mistakes. Closing my mind to others’ way of thinking is to be ignorant, and I prefer to know how others think and believe. I have many books on Judaism which I find elevating. I also found a book by Paramhansa Yogananda life-saving when I was a teenager, and knew nothing much about my own Judaism. I will keep reading and learning. It is hard not to paint portraits of grandparents and grandchildren when HaShem made me an artist, and it is not praying to them when I do it. I do not pray to the landscapes I paint but I thank God for giving me the talent to do it. I will always call myself a Jew as my ancestors were Jewish and Judaism is my home, but I will not wall myself into my home out of fear of the world outside. Instead I will as God for strength to shield me from the many bigots/evil of the world, and to keep me in the loving way. Amen.

    Comment by Yehudit — August 13, 2011 @ 7:19 am

  21. To convert from Judaism to Buddhism is the same as converting to Christianity because both Buddhism and Christianity are forms of idolatry whereas Judaism is not idolatry.

    Comment by dzadza — August 2, 2013 @ 1:58 am

  22. To Orthodox Jews, even Conservative, Reform, Renewal, and Reconstructionist Judaism movements are avodah zarah. This essentially makes their perspective redundant.

    But, what they and other interpreters of Judaism should ask is why so many Jews turn to another, radically different tradition.

    The most fundamental school of Buddhism - Theravada - is wholly non-theistic. The Buddha was born and died a human being. His teachings and memory are revered but, even the statues of him are meant for inspiration, not worship.

    So, why have I been attracted to Buddhism? I, with a kosher kitchen, who can read Hebrew, lead a service, make Shabbat on Friday Night?

    Because of my extremely negative experiences with most Jewish organizations. We left two synagogues after intense internal fights. Half the people I met told me I was silly for doing anything at all, the other half told me I wasn’t doing enough. And then, of course, comes Israel. Even as a dedicated Zionist, there was always someone ready to argue.

    And that’s essential to the Jewish identity: relentless argumentation and it drove me crazy.

    So, when it came to a spiritual tradition that involves sitting quietly and turning one’s attention inward, studying the texts written by generations of other who’ve made the same inward journey, doing good for others, and living with the single, over-riding directive to do no harm to any living being, why not?

    The Mahayana school summarizes the Buddha’s teaching as follows: Cease doing evil, Do that which is good, Do good for others.

    Or, as Isaiah put it in 1:16-17 - … Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.

    Comment by Michael — March 10, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

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