Wednesday, January 15, 2014

// // 4 comments

Promoting Idolatry

by Gutman Locks

 

Promoting Idolatry

 

Benjamin “Shared” a picture of a Buddhist monk meditating in the same posture as in this cartoon. It is linked from “Sun Gazing” with “Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain” written across the picture.

 

Gutman commented: Why do you promote idolatry instead of Jewish teachings?

 

Benjamin: Wisdom can be learned from all nations. Read my comment the beginning of wisdom. No idolatry here, unless one reads it in. Recall: i.e. reader brings more to the text than the text to the reader. PS I read and value your books.

 

Gutman: Sorry sir. You cannot use even the good things from idolatry, and to prove it, the picture you posted of the Buddhist man meditating is sitting in a posture that promotes idolatry, and you think it is fine!

 

Benjamin: I know enough about it not to reject it out of hand. Go play thought police on every Jew including some Haredim practicing Hatha Yoga where some of the very postures are actual invocations of the pantheon of Hindu deities right in Jerusalem the Holy City.

     Outside of Tibetan Buddhism, the vast majority of manifestations are not purely speaking idol worship. They are not my faith, but the ideas are not completely forbidden either; and moreover may serve well as a starting point for Jews who know virtually nothing about authentic Torah, except for childhood grudges, which they have nursed as a career.

     Part of my use of the image is to speak to the language of people currently lost from the way in order to make sense for them to want to learn more.

 

Gutman: You are the perfect example why not to do what you are doing. Of course you believe that you are doing good, but you are promoting actual idolatry and do not even know it. That posture the man is sitting in spreads a false spiritual teaching yet you are defending it saying you will bring Jews to Torah by using it! You cannot purify even the tiniest idol, not even with thousands of good deeds.

 

Benjamin: What did I say: The beginning of wisdom is Fear of Hashem. The only idolatry, G-d forbid, is what is read in or superimposed.

 

Gutman: Here are some of the ways that you unknowingly spread idolatry into the Jewish world.

 

     The picture shows a Buddhist monk in his colorful robe meditating in an exotic way. Across the picture is written, “Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain.” To the ignorant viewer it seems almost romantic. But here is what is really going on.

 

     Since the four main precepts of Buddhism somehow deal with suffering, they would say something like, “Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain.”

    The Torah teaches that life is a beautiful opportunity, so a Jewish perspective of wisdom might be; wisdom is knowledge used to enhance the human condition.

     At first, these two might seem to somehow be saying the same thing, but they are not. The Buddhist saying claims that wisdom has healed their pain. They started from a place of suffering and try to be healed.

     The Torah starts from a place of life being a beautiful opportunity, and wisdom allows us to make what is good, even better.

     The picture comes from a site called “Sun Gazing”. Gazing at the sun is a Buddhist meditation technique designed to entirely remove one’s attention and attachment from the world. Their hope is to completely withdraw from the world, and experience the everlasting peace of this complete detachment (nirvana).   

     This is the opposite of the goal of Jewish meditation which is to teach you the spiritual perspective so you will become more sensitive and able to go out into and improve the world by using it for holy purposes.

      The website that the title is linked to is a site promoting the dali llama who is perhaps the leading Buddhist teacher in the world today. He seems like a lovely person, and draws many Jews to his teachings. He has taught such things as how to bring peace to the world by “appeasing the god with four heads and 21 arms.”

     Buddhism teaches that there is no one G-d, but there are many little deities, and they serve these deities. This is idolatry.

     Buddhist meditation teaches that you should touch your forefingers to your thumbs when you meditate (as clearly shown in the picture) to redirect the prana (life-force) that drains out of your hands. According to them, this will recycle it back into your body.

     The Torah teaches that there is one Life in all the worlds. Hashem is the Life, and we do not have to touch our forefingers to our thumbs to keep Him in our bodies.

     The point of my original criticism is that if you draw someone toward something interesting about idolatry, even via a pleasant picture, it most often does not stop there. Because of the picture they go on to learn false spiritual concepts that cripple their spiritual lives.

     As I said, find Jewish sources to teach Jewish lessons. Surely what you want to teach has a fine Jewish source for you to present.

 

 

4 comments:

Some dude said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Some dude said...

The only thing I didn't like about the article is the "me too" attitude at the end. " Surely what you want to teach has a fine Jewish source for you to present."

That is not quite what I want to hear. I have faith that Hashem has provided for every need He has given me in this world. He has given me needs, and He has provided proper ways of fulfilling those needs in accordance with His will.

Therefore, that Moshe was a true prophet, that every word in the Torah is true, then the statement regarding the "elders in the gates" is also true, therefore we can assume that there is a true tradition regarding every spiritual need that a Jew has.

Furthermore human beings do not essentially change. In essence if I need food today, obviously previous generations of men also needed food. And this goes for the entire range of human needs,physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I put those in order of abstraction.

To reiterate, all needs of any man in this generation, existed in previous generations. If a need is only now coming to our attention, it stands to reason that need was being met in previous generations.

The only objection to that is if the need was not being met, but circumstances prevented it from being at the top of the list. i.e., if you are being chased by wolves you are not prioritizing your need for cuddling.

However, that objection is met by pointing out that if one is forced to prioritize imperative needs over secondary needs for a long time, it is possible that the means of fulfilling the secondary needs, however important they are, may be forgotten or lost. Such that in a generation where the priority needs (breathing, eating and not being murdered/raped) are already being met, then the average Jew realizes that he has this unmet need.

Therefore, I contend that all these spiritual needs we see today were being met by our previous generations. Sometime between then and now, we have forgotten or lost something. This is being expressed by the unmet need of various groups of Jews who commit flat out idolatry.

And yes, that is clearly avodah zara. And the argument by our brother in your article is clearly nonsensical rationalizations to ease his conscience.

So the question is this - if we are not meeting the spiritual needs of our brothers, but we were meeting it five generations ago, what is it we have forgotten?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely, Rabbi Gutman Locks.
And from my own experience.
A certain Jewish 'frum' website used to present clips of films or current-day TV comedies in order to illustrate their point.
Did they ever stop to think about viewers who hadn't had the merit to be exposed to their American garbage culture?
Thanks to them, and much to my regret, I was exposed - through them.
And the only thing I remember from those clips were the comedy/film element,not the little point they were trying to illustrate...

The end does not justify the means, especially if the means can possibly bring to an undesirable - if wholly unintended - end.

Anonymous said...
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