That #8, in our little series on the practical value of Universal Judaism, is rather meaningful in a traditional Jewish gematria (number symbolism) way, is quite fascinating. After all, the character “8”, has two little circles stacked on top of each other, as if heaven and earth, mind and body, are both integrated within their own spheres (pun intended), as well as in their correct place in the larger Invisible Sphere which surrounds them both.
Before I unpack this subtle serendipity, a surprising symbolism (and inspirer of alliteration), let’s review where we’ve been so far.
And now we circle back, once, now twice, to generate #8:”
Universal Judaism is perfectly comfortable with the idea that there is no God. This is because the question is not whether God exists. The question is, IF God exists, what kind of God is IT/him/her.
If we are dealing with an impersonal notion of God— or rather a transpersonal notion of God—- from which living systems come, one better have a good explanation on how Life emerges from supposedly non-living, if the livingness doesn’t already exist, in some fashion.
If we are dealing with the personal notion of God—- one had better, as we know all to well— be able to account for why “bad things happen” to people, or why God seems to favor certain groups over other groups, or certain people over others. Indeed, why were SOME people seemed aware of the 911 bombing, and suddenly were inspired to not show up at work, and others weren’t.
Now, leaving this often complicated conflict between the God of science and the God of religion aside, moving past the personal and the impersonal as dualities, Universal Judasim brings us back to basics; the bottom circle of the eight.
“What is the basic experience of Life which produces Good?” “How do we ensure the experience of Good?” “How do we intensify the experience of Good?” “How do we transmit this knowledge from ourselves to future generation, indeed all generations?” “How do we expand this knowledge from ourselves, personally (or as a spiritual people) to others, help teach them to experience Good?”
The word “God” is simply a contraction of the word Good. When we experience Good, we experience God. When we experience less than good, we experience less of God.
Because we human beings have the capacity to self-reflect objectivity, and because we are super-natural (literally beyond nature, i.e. earthly nature), we can discern broad rules/laws/relationships on what we might have or not have done, that contributed to any relative state of Good. We thereby can learn “the WAYS of Good” or the ways of God.
Eat pork you get sick; but cows not (provided you avoid blemishes). And thus spiritual-discernments— basic insights into the creation of a human Good emerge.
More complex discernments come later; we’ve addressed this earlier in #5, above.
We can discern the WAYS of Good, on the soil. We can discern the WAYS of Good in the sky. We can discern the WAYS of Good of the body, and of the mind. The bottom sphere forming the eight. The top sphere froming the eight. They are both enhanced.
Both are separate spheres of human life. Both are critically important.
Because one can discern the Good— the bodily and the mental— and discern the relationship of our actions— feelings, thoughts, words, deeds— to the effects upon us, for Good or not, or in-between— this implies that there is a methodology.
Indeed, Universal Judaism at its core is a spiritual methodology for the advancement of personal good, shared-good, on all scales that come into the range of our consciousness.
It is not an “absolute” “written in stone” system, because as we’ve discussed, the problem of “revelation” being fixed, immutable and absolute is really inescapable. Quite the contrary, such a methodology is not absolute, not written in stone; it is un-fixed, mutable.
But, this does not mean anything goes! Don’t think for a moment, that removing the absoluteness and fixity of the law means that the law is abrogated. The TRUE LAW
is there, built into Life. There are rules here!
We live in an Order, and this Order interacts with our feelings, thoughts, words and actions to produce discernable results, for Good or for bad, or for relative Good-Bad experiences in between.
The more we seek Good, the more we learn the spiritual methodology that Universal Judaism teaches, the more one finds that one becomes open to the experience of God.
Now, this does not mean that Universal Judaism causes the experience of God. The Good we discern is part of the Order we live in. It isn’t anything one really has to work for, because it already exists. But, from a practical standpoint, since there is learning (and un-learning!!) to accomplish, we do have to learn to open and inculcate the Goodness which is that Potential Given to Us.
Universal Judaism helps remove the barriers to the DESCENT of Good into us.
Universal Judaism helps remove the inter-personal problems that prevent the descent of Good into us.
Universal Judaism helps positively teach those attitudes (or beliefs) which are conducive to the descent of the Good into us.
Universal Judaism helps show us how to receive this kabbalah (revelation), and discern how it works— as it moves from ourselves, outwardly— integrating, in a orderly fashion, with those closest to us, and spiraling outward from there, changing our entire social network, and our world. Indeed, there is a WAY Good is received and is transmitted. There is a methodology to the methodology.
Such an experience of Good— an experience of GOD—- is essentially identical to the descriptions one can find in scriptures. So, by having this experience of God and then reading scripture, one can OWN the scripture as one’s own. The scripture, being recorded experience, can be compared to one’s own experience of God, and we can see ourselves reflected in scripture. That also, with substantial experience, allows us to interpret scripture correctly, and update it, in a way that is not arbitrary, but God-inspired.
In this way, one can form and join a living, spiritual, continuity. One can participate in a living, breathing, spiritual community, a Living Israel.
That is how Judaism becomes alive! It’s not about pumping up Bar Mitzvah students. Or, running synagogue attendance campaigns. It’s about teaching a spirituality which makes the truths within our people’s writings and histories COME ALIVE!
My experience is that when you teach like this, a hunger is created, and the rest– well—
God does the rest, meaning, the Goodness of the Order we live in (I really think the word “God” is easier), unveils and opens itself to us.
The experience of community, of synagogue life, well, it comes naturally and effortlessly, because such community INTENSIFIES the experience. It FEELS GOOD!!!
So, Universal Judaism is, in this sense, a “umbrella” which can embrace, envelope and even en-globe all the different denominations of Judaism. This does not mean that it replaces them. Such denominational competitiveness is religious idolatry, and is dangerous.
Universal Judaism is a spiritual methodology which can inspire and reinvigorate all the blessed denominations of Judaism, as well as all the Jewish-derived religions, Christianity, Islam, and even the prophetically-inspired Global Secular culture as well.
What is the ultimate FORM Judaism will take in the future? Universal Judaism does not care, nor does it pronounce one based upon some projected, imagined FORM. The FORM will follow the SPIRITUAL FUNCTION! The spiritual function can draw upon past forms, but is never, ever bound to them.
The experience of God that Universal Judaism facilitates is wondrous. It is AWE-INSPIRING (yirat Adonai, AWE of God, unfortunately, also translated “fear”).
The experience teaches us. The Experience is the Teacher. I, as a rabbi, am merely a voice to describe that.
Want to try it?
It’s fun. And, it can be taught to children as young as 4 or 5 years old.
Please, open yourselves up to the experience of God.
Take the bottom sphere of the eight, and master it. Go beyond the bottom sphere to the top sphere of the eight, and master that.
Bring both spheres to bear in the Larger, More Invisible Sphere, which is the Mystery of Life in which we live.
The rest follows.
Blessings to all, and of course, a Sweet and Joyful New Year to all those who celebrate it.
And to those who don’t (because Universal Judaism is open to all, without restrictions, with no requirements of ritual), have a great Life:
Start with the experience of God.