Thanks to the help of David Waterman and Nelson Rose, we’ve been able to direct this series to more and more people. Hundreds more. We are becoming a family. Isn’t that exciting?
I hope you are all reviewing all the previous lessons, and reading them sequentially, so they form a single, simple, “sales pitch” in your mind.
NO, I’m not afraid to use that phrase. Most philosophies and religions sell, but are embarrassed about it, and blow a lot of smoke and mirrors, and “kumbaya” to hide it.
I want to be clear: I’m here to help. The Universal Judaism perspective is here to help. It is selling I’m doing here. Communicating its virtue! Truth-based selling? That doesn’t hurt people. In fact, it can help! It’s the lies, the deceits, the idols disguised as “faith” that poison us.
There are countless people who are suffering from the insane dualities of religions, from the seeming divide between Judaism and Christianity, and the fallacies of Western (so-called “modern”) civilization that inherited the polarizations.
Take an erroneous belief into you, and you will sow it, and then reap it, as the Reality of your life—- midah kneged midah, as the Rabbis of Blessed Memory might say, measure for measure. “As you believe it, so it is done unto you”, Jesus phrased it.
This “sales pitch” is serious stuff; and believe me no money is exchanging hands here. This is offered free. I just want you to know that.
So, let’s continue here with our series on the practical differences of Universal Judaism. So far . . .
And now . . .
Having properly caveated the issue of “scale” and “authority”, as well as “revelation”, let me be frank. A direct experience and so-called Providence or Grace, hasgacha, may not be direct.
Despite the claims of many religionists, including traditional Judaism, it is impossible for anyone to know the scale of the existence in which one exists, and the different levels of knowledge, beings, existences, realities which INFORM (pun intended) anyone here on earth.
What I mean therefore by “direct” experience, is “directed-experience” to YOU.
This is the miraculous spiritual-fact of individuality!
Universal Judaism is more a methodology, an approach to life than a religion. In fact, that’s what a religion should be— a re-ligere— a reconnection to True insight, True meaning, True human nature, which is spiritual BECAUSE it is individual!
Now, we don’t need complicated metaphysical notions or mysticism to accomplish this. In fact, I’m a firm believer that the reason people had to invent mysticisms is that they lost the connection to the magnificent, vibrant, percolating spiritual-experience we call “every day life”. They invented an entrenched notion of “revelation”, which became an idol, and which, being an idol, blocked and undermined the spiritual growth of people. Fanciful interpretations and mysticisms arose as a compensation to bring back the Truth through a different discipline or doorway, by-passing the religious-idol-blocked doorway they were too invested in to change.
Universal Judaism, because it is scientific, begins with the Spiritual Reality of the every day human. Indeed, to label it “spiritual” as distinct from anything else, is just more of an indication of the confusion.
Because we are Truth based, because we maintain a foundation in Unity, and maintain an appreciation of rational Causality— Universal Judaism is no less scientific in its philosophical foundation than any science. All sciences ASSUME Unity-Truth-Causality, in any experiments they do. However, we add one other component, a QUALITY, or a MORAL SENSE: Good. Goodness. That quality which we abbreviate by the word “God”.
Through Universal Judaism, one starts where one is— with the blessings and the curses (to use a Deuteronomic phrase) that one is experiencing in the moment— and proceeds systematically from there.
One learns to discern the direction that Life, Universal-Process, God, Reality, Existence (The scale is not knowable.) is directing them to. One learns how to discern the core issues under this direction. One learns how to ENGAGE LIFE FOR GOOD, which is the living, prophetic, experience of GOD. This is no different, by the way, than what the Israelites experienced it in the desert. It is the exact same essential experience, just expressed on the scale of the individual and not the group. In fact, if you look at the earlier sections of the Torah, surrounding Abraham, Isaac, Jacob—- you will see that the spiritual methodology which Universal Judaism teaches is implicit in the narrative. Universal Judaism just makes it simple, clean and explicit. Easy to learn.
And these exact same dynamics for the individual, are also operative for collective-individuals— groups, communities, nations . . . the scale makes little difference.
Whether our biblical stories are fact or not is not important. They DO contain spiritual truth—- Hebrew (human) spiritual truth which is valuable not just for the spiritual restoration and reinvigoration of the Jewish People, but for our spiritual heirs, Christianity, Islam, Western civilization and today’s world global culture, all of which is rooted in Hebrew prophetic insights.
As you progress in the learning of this spiritual methodology, the truth contained in scripture opens itself to you, and it is unimportant whether, doctrinally, you accept the Bible on the order of so-called “faith”, the fallacy of which we’ve already discussed.
Such a cogent spiritual methodology is the stunningly simple solution to the nightmarish duality between tradition and modernism, which is now going on for over 1000 years!!!
Fact or not fact, the experience of a Living Truth, is the TRUTH we seek.
Experience, by oneself, and then shared with others, is our approach. Consensually-validated experience.
True Spiritual Experience can reveal the truths in scripture, as well as the truths in culture and language and ritual which still may have value in inculcating knowledge of “How Life/God Works”.
True Spiritual Experience is RIGHT HERE. As Deuteronomy remarks, it’s right here, not “in a galaxy far, far away”. The Force is here. Here!
As one progresses in the simple spiritual methodology of Universal Judaism, one experiences, generally-speaking (because everyone is different) increased orders of good. Good. More Good. Gooder! In all areas of one’s life! One experiences the sense of Providence and Grace, the dynamism of COVENANT!
The feeling that you are cared for, loved, by Existence, perhaps “God”.
Whether this experience is actually caused by “God” or not is not discernable. I don’t know the total nature of this world I find myself in. Do you? Does anyone?
But, this experience has been, and CAN BE attributed to “God” because the experience is of a greater sense of harmony and goodness and over-arching vision and purpose and unified-truth.
Such an experience FEELS like God because it is “direct”— directed to you, as an individual—- all the many scales of existences distilling themselves into your single personal life! The ALL seems One!
Yes, this is where the theologies come from. Experience.
You can’t learn this knowledge in a book alone, because the book is sealed: it is a corpus, like a dead-body, a corpse. It is the left-over of spiritual knowledge gained, shrouded in words and past human experience.
The books must become alive! That’s what Universal Judaism does.
Become alive!! Spiritually alive!! Then, many of the most critical questions in life answer themselves for you.
It’s an exciting adventure. Interested? (oops, I’m selling).
In summary: whereas most religious-perspectives teach from books, and force you to believe their interpretations, Universal Judaism gives you spiritual experience, which you can then easily footnote from similar experiences recorded in scriptures, and all human literatures, fact or fiction.
Welcome not to the modern age. It’s over.
Welcome to the post-modern age. And BEYOND! (Scale unknown)
Thank you so much, all of you, for your enthusiasm about the Universal Judaism website and the blog content. The feedback has been most encouraging. What edifies me greatly is the caliber of the people who are contacting me– an extremely high-level of spiritually-devoted, intellectually-gifted and deeply-caring people. This tells me we are on the right track to restoring a spiritual foundation to covenant, which is what The Association for Universal Judaism is about.
Let’s continue here with our series on the practical differences of Universal Judaism. As a refresher:
1. Universal Judaism is Truth-based
2. Universal Judaism is non-idolatrous
3. Universal Judaism avoids polarized thinking
4. Universal Judaism values individuality
5. Universal Judaism is primarily a “living morality” and most, secondarily, a legal “system”.
We continue here with #6:
6. Universal Judaism is not faith-based but knowledge-based
Because of the insanity of past covenantal-formulations which equate a canon—or “certified” scripture with “revelation”, which, as discussed earlier, serves to bolster an authority system, whether or not they have true spiritual knowledge or not— a mess of problems, confusions, contradictions, dualisms, dichotomies and dangerous assertions have taken place in religion.
Devoted as they are (often idolatrously) to their own faith-formulations and the tradition around it, terrified of asking questions which might threaten their own foundation, they often resort to the teaching that something should be just accepted “on faith”, meaning, accepted just because it is transmitted by tradition, presented by established authorities, or some other sometimes arbitrary reason, such as “That’s what God wants”.
Such a faith is NOT faith. Such a faith is “shut up and believe”. Such a faith is “don’t ask dangerous questions”. Such a faith says “Truth is unimportant, and perpetuating our people is more important.” Such a faith is a denial of the very foundation of Principle #1 above, Truth: That God Whose Essence and Substance IS The Truth, Rav Emet, Abundant in Truth (Ex. 34:7)
Again, this is NOT faith. This is not emunah, which is a deep, real, living, abiding relationship, spiritual-in-nature, lived through human existence, in a consensually-validated, objective relationship that operates according to “How Life works”, i.e. God’s order or commandment by which our world is “designed”.
True faith is not “believe it even if it makes no sense”, such as the early Church father, Tertullian remarked, “I believe it because it is absurd”. True faith must make sense, because this is a world which is ordered!
True faith is scientific, although not limited to the discipline we call “science”, since we cannot observe and measure everything.
True faith is KNOWLEDGE BASED: It is based on direct personal and group-shared (objective) knowledge of “How Life/God works” in our basic every day human life.
Knowledge based, Universal Judaism reveals a living, personal knowledge by which the laws of God are revealed through the very process of living a historical existence– individually, together with others– in a sacred community.
Knowledge based, Universal Judaism avoids superstition.
Knowledge based, Universal Judaism avoids the excesses of fanciful interpretations which over time blur the truth and foster prejudices.
Knowledge based, Universal Judaism doesn’t put you on the defensive if you ask questions, even so-called “dangerous” ones.
Knowledge based, Universal Judaism is not about opinion, unless they are, as Plato described via his “character” Socrates, “right knowledge” not “right opinion”.
Knowledge based, Universal Judaism allows its participants to build deep spiritual knowledge, without getting trapped in rituals that have outlived their utility for spiritual advancement.
Now, this does not mean there is no “faith” in the sense of “daring to try something new without proof”. There is no experience— from the same Latin root as experiment-— which does not require an adventure into a domain of knowledge into which the individual had hitherto not wandered. There must be an openness to the new. An openness— yes— even to rituals which can confer gifts of spiritual experience. (No, AUJ is not “anti-ritual”! Just anti-ritual for ritual’s sake!)
Indeed, to participate in Universal Judaism, you must be open to entering into the spiritual path of covenant, and witnessing, for yourselves, its effect on your life, and the miraculous derech Adonai– the path of God– which takes place.
But you do not do this blindly.
Who needs a blind, stupid faith?
Hope? Yes, of course. We all need hope in the face of the absurdity which results from lack-of-knowledge of “How Life works”. We all need hope in the face of non-Truth-based religions and other disciplines, sometimes evil! We all need hope to persevere through Life’s difficulties. This aspect of “faith” is worthy, and will always be worthy, because it is often the “welcome mat” to hard-earned knowledge.
But, the empty hope of empty faith? NO! Universal Judaism is based upon knowledge not “faith”: Real spiritual knowledge. That IS faith!
The ancient Israelites, if the canon reports it correctly, had a REAL EXPERIENCE of a REAL GOD.
Is this essential experience duplicable? If so, then, we may have certain knowledge of it, a TEACHING—- i.e. a TORAH (as the word means)— that is REAL— built-in to the design of Life and from which our parchment was drawn, interpreted, edited and canonized. No, it wasn’t given to Moses!
No person should feel guilty for asking questions. No child should be banished for not fitting in. No individual should question, ever, his/her own sanity because of asking commonsense questions and questioning authorities without authority.
This “religious” experience must end! Now!
The Knowledge of God is what we seek. The knowledge of religion? Only insofar as it truly expresses and transcribes Knowledge of God.
Faith is only to be trusted if it is an open-door to real, reliable transmissible knowledge of GOOD. Knowledge that helps us create GOOD, or the experience of GOD.
At the age of 13, after my Bar Mitzvah, I left the Jewish mainstream conservatism of my birth. I left to find knowledge not to find empty faith-platitudes.
My search lead me to another approach which is not “religious”. I’m not religious. I don’t perform rituals, but I’ve tried many and have benefited from them.
I’m Life-based! Spiritual, secular, scientific and individualistic.
Are you like me? (There’s a lot of us out there. That’s what AUJ is here for.)