Thursday, November 14, 2013

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Mixing In Zen

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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While we are on the subject of mixed marriages, there is also the mixed Jew. This is a Jew who, for instance, is enamored with Zen Buddhism. He proudly calls himself a Bu-Ju. He is not so involved with the Buddhist social scene, and almost entirely rejects the ascetic aspects of Buddhism (wouldn’t dream of giving up his girlfriends), but still, he is somewhat impressed with the Buddhist mind-set. He would never deny that he is a Jew, but neither would he ever dream of following the many laws of kosher eating, keeping Shabbos, nor anything else that might infringe on his freedom. Still, he does not want to appear as a mere ignorant, non spiritual, rejectionist, so he flirts with being a sophisticated, Buddhist, believer. What is so great about Buddhism is that you do not have to do anything, and still you can be a spiritual person. Pretty cool, huh?  

     So, what’s wrong with a Jew following the ancient teachings of Buddhism?

     There is a physical Torah, and there is a spiritual Torah. Each of these has its own goal, and neither one of these goals can be attained by following a Buddhist philosophy. 

     The physical Torah includes the Oral and Written Torah, and all of the physical aspects of Judaism. When a Jew follows these many, many rules and customs, he or she will almost certainly have a successful, physical Jewish life. This means that they will have a nice Jewish family, and almost certainly they will have only Jewish grandchildren. And if they are good enough at it, they will most probably have only Jewish great-grandchildren, too! This is an amazing feat when you consider that the average intermarriage rate of the non religious Jew in America is 70%! Interestingly, the Jews who follow the physical Torah will live a little longer than Jews who do not follow the physical Torah. These benefits will almost certainly not come to a Bu-Ju, as nice as he might be, and most likely he will not even care.

     There are many other benefits to the physical Torah, but these might be found in other households, too. For instance, there will be love, respect, and peace in their home.

     As for the spiritual Torah, there is a goal that is unheard of in the Bu-Ju’s “tradition”, and would probably be frowned upon if they knew about it. But to the spiritual Jew it is the very purpose of existence. It is the goal, and the only thing that will ever satisfy their spiritual yearning. The goal of the spiritual Torah is to reveal G-d’s Presence right here on this planet. And the spiritually successful Jew lives the physical life with the spiritual awareness that will lead to this revelation.

     There are many other huge differences in these two religions, and if you believe in one, you simply cannot believe in the other. For instance, a mainstay of Buddhism is their insistence on dharma. This is “conformity to one’s duty and nature…the basic principle of cosmic or individual existence: divine law”.  The Torah’s explanation of a Jew’s duty and nature, and divine law is not in the least like the Buddhists’ teachings.

     When they come to their goal of “nirvana” they live detached, calm lives. This is their purpose. They seek “a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth…the final goal of Buddhism.”

     This does not at all describe the life of a righteous Jew who lives his life trying to elevate the world by using it for holy purposes. Whereas we were sent here to help, they were sent here to detach…“don’t make waves or you will have to ride on them.”

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