Religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or say as well in another; and the more languages you speak, the more nuanced your understanding of life becomes.
On Perennial Wisdom
I am, as Reb Zalman Schachter–Shalomi once told me, a Jewish practitioner of Perennial Wisdom, the four–fold truth at the mystic heart of all religion:
•All life is a manifesting of a dynamic non–dual Aliveness called by many names: Chiut, Tao, Mother, Brahman, God, Allah, YHVH, Nature, Dharmakaya, etc.
•We humans have the innate capacity to awaken in, with, and as this Aliveness.
•Awakening to Aliveness calls us to the Golden Rule and being a blessing to all the families of the earth, human and otherwise.
•Awakening in, with, and as Aliveness and living the Golden Rule in service to being a blessing is our highest calling as human beings.
The Judaism I teach rests on two pillars: teshuvah, returning you to your true nature as a manifesting of Aliveness (Genesis 1:26), and tikkun, repairing the world through Rabbi Hillel’s Golden Rule: “What is hateful to you do not do to another” (Talmud, Shabbat 31a).
The Judaism I teach is free from chosenness, xenophobia and ethno–nationalism.
The Judaism I teach envisions a fearless world without war (Micah 4:3–4) where people eat simply, drink moderately, work joyously, and love freely (Ecclesiastes 2:24; 4:8–12).
The Judaism I teach is rooted in the iconoclasm of lech lecha, freeing you from everything that keeps you from being a blessing to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:1–3).
The Judaism I teach affirms machlochet l’shem shamayyim and eilu v’eilu: honoring argument, doubt and critical thinking over intellectual passivity, spiritual conformity, and manufactured consent (Talmud, Eruvin 13b).
The Judaism I teach highlights eight mitzvot: Shabbat, reclaiming the dignity of all beings; kashrut, ethical and sustainable manufacturing and consuming; tzedakah, just use of finances; gemilut chasadim, acts of lovingkindness; shmirat halashon, cleansing your speech of gossip, slander, falsehood, and distortion; limmud, turning Torah in search of wisdom; brachot, cultivating gratitude through blessing; and hitbodedut, inquiring into self (mochin d’katnut, narrow mind) and awakening as Self (mochin d’gadlut, spacious mind).
On the Divine Mother
I experience Aliveness (Chiut in Hebrew) as Chochma/Sophia, Mother Wisdom through whom all reality is birthed and guided (Proverbs 8:22ff). She speaks to us through dream and parable, myth and mysticism, and the wisdom sages of every tradition both spiritual and scientific.
My encounters with Chochma began during my college years and have ripened ever since. While I study Her teachings in many traditions, I write about Her and share Her teachings within the frame of Jewish Wisdom Literature: Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Pirke Avot, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, and Song of Songs.
I have written seven books on Chochma and Her wisdom: The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature, Embracing the Divine Feminine, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Tao of Solomon, The Ethics of the Sages, and The Gospel of Sophia (forthcoming).
I am a food addict and compulsive over eater. I have been clean for many years. Still, I can’t be certain about tomorrow.
While I am aware of the limitations of and criticism leveled at Twelve–Step recovery, I nonetheless find the Twelve Steps insightful and life–saving not only for those struggling with named addictions, but for all of us wrestling with the universal addiction Bill W. called “Playing God,” a disease that keeps us from realizing that it is God who is playing us.
I have written two books about the Twelve–Steps from an inter–spiritual perspective: Recovery: The Twelves Steps as Spiritual Practice, and Surrendered: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality. While my take on the Steps is unique to me, my hope is that these books will be of value to anyone seeking to recover from the addictions that plague them.
Writing is the art of translating
thought into sound,
sound into words,
and words into print.
I run three infrequent writing programs: Path & Pen: Writing as Spiritual Practice; Room to Write: a Writer’s Getaway; and Read to Write, Write to Be Read: Bibliotherapy for Writers. All three are taught with my son, Aaron, and my daughter–in–law Agapi, both of whom are university professors of literature and writing. Aaron and I co-wrote a book on writing as spiritual practice called: Writing Beyond the Page.
On Holy Rascals
The toxicity of our time—personal, interpersonal, political, ethnic, gender, racial, religious, social, economic, environmental, etc.—stems from ignorance regarding the nature of reality and our place in it.
At the root of this ignorance and toxicity is Big Religion, those belief systems that promote a fear–based, demonizing, alienating, and intrinsically violent and zero–sum worldview rooted in a Strict Father God theology in which God dominates men, men dominate women, the wealthy dominate the poor and middle class, and humans dominate nature.
With laughter and love as our primary tools, Holy Rascals replace ignorance with wisdom and fear with love, and in this way free people for a deeper spiritual exploration of what it means to be human in the 21st century.
My work with holy rascality has produced a book and an audio series: Holy Rascals: Advice for Spiritual Revolutionaries and How to be a Holy Rascal.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award–winning author of over thirty-six books on religion and spirituality. He received rabbinical ordination from the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and holds a PH.D. in religion from Union Graduate School. A rabbinic chaplain with the USAF for 3 years, a congregational rabbi for 20, and a professor of religious studies for 10, Rabbi Rami currently co-directs the One River Foundation (www.oneriverfoundation.org). Rami is also a Contributing Editor at Spirituality and Health magazine where he writes the Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler column for the print magazine, the Spirituality & column for the digital magazine, and hosts the magazine’s bi-weekly podcast, Spirituality & Health with Rabbi Rami (www.spiritualityhealth.com).