Hi Rabbi Gutman:)
I'm reading your book now (Coming Back to Earth), and I really enjoy it. It's fun to see where your search for peace has taken you.
I also have an urge to explore this side of life, but I feel that as a Jew I should try and find the same thing in Judaism. I've been attracted by books such as the Bhagavad Gita, and Zen Buddhism, but I'm trying to practice Judaism instead.
But I don't really know why I'm doing this...
I'm interested in spirituality, and all I know is that certain traditions can bring peace and energy. Do I really need to believe that God gave the Torah at Mount Sinai? It seems so irrelevant to my life. Why not just experience God through the way that is most accessible and attractive to me?
Another question I have is about spirituality. How do you think Judaism compares, spiritually speaking, to Eastern religions?
Can it bring the same sort of peace of mind?
Does it have a different "flavor"?
Is it stronger/weaker?
It feels strange writing to you. I've appreciated your videos and your book but never thought of communicating with you, from across the world.
Hope to hear from you soon...
You are a Jew. You were born a Jew for a good reason. As a Jew you have been given the proper path for you to find spiritual success. You will not find it in those other places. What you do find there that you think is spiritually high is really like smoking drugs; you will experience a high that goes up and down but really goes nowhere. It is a "high" that actually prevents you from finding the true High.
The valid spiritual experience comes when you direct your heart to Hashem. The more you do it the greater the experience.
The difference between a valid spiritual experience and the East is like day and night. If you do not believe that Hashem gave us the Torah then you will not come to the spiritual goal of Torah. The primary spiritual goal of the East is to come to peace and to prevent reincarnation through detachment. The primary spiritual goal of Torah is to reveal G-d's Presence in the world.
Compare the peace that comes from total detachment to the peace that comes from revealing Hashem's Presence. When you are totally detached you have ignored the world around you. You are unaffected by the suffering that you either do not see, or "know" was divinely destined.
When you have revealed Hashem's Presence you are at peace while you work for Him to relieve the suffering that you cannot help but see.
Keeping the physical Torah will give you a wonderful physical life, family, stability, joy, but to have the spiritual benefits of Torah that you seek you have to try to direct your heart to Heaven over and over again, especially when you are doing a mitzvah. You have to work hard to receive the valid spiritual experience in Torah. It does not come automatically with the physical Torah.
Often, especially when we are young, what is most attractive to us is not necessarily what is best for us. In fact, the Torah warns us not to follow our eyes and heart as they will lead us astray. Follow the tradition that your people have followed for the past 4000 years. We are Jews here today because of them. The Jews who follow the Torah have Jewish families, Jewish grandchildren and Jewish greatgrandchildren. The Jews who stray to the East rarely see any importance in maintaining a Jewish People.
Also, remove those books on idolatry that are in your possession as they can pervert the "High" that you are seeking. The "higher" you come the more dangerous they are. You can nullify the most treacherous poison if you add enough pure water. But no matter how many good thoughts you might have they cannot nullify the tiniest bit of idolatry.