“Only don’t know” was the name of a Jewish contemplative exercise that I once enjoyed. If you google “Only don’t know” you’ll find how very Zen is the expression. Finding it in a Jewish tradition was a surprise, an intrigue–what is this doing here?
What permanently impressed me was the idea of relinquishing any idea that you think you know anything about God, in particular …
… but if you know nothing about God, do you have any foundation in the world at all?
This kind of humor from a 2007 email is more typical of what I think I know about the Jewish outlook. I do adore its pragmatism :
- Accept misfortune as a blessing.
- Do not wish for perfect health or a life without problems.
- What would you talk about?
- The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single “oy.”
- If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?
- Be here now.
- Be someplace else later.
- Is that so complicated?
- Drink tea and nourish life.
- With the first sip … joy
- With the second … satisfaction.
- With the third … peace.
- With the fourth … a Danish.
Wherever you go, there you are.
- Your luggage is another story.
- There is no escaping karma.
- In a previous life, you never called,
- You never wrote, you never visited.
- And whose fault was that?
- The Tao does not speak.
- The Tao does not blame.
- The Tao has no expectations.
- The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao is not Jewish.
- Breathe in. Breathe out.
- Breathe in Breathe out.
- Forget this and attaining enlightenment
- Will be the least of your problems.
- Let your mind be as a floating cloud.
- Let your stillness be as the wooded glen.
- And sit up straight.
- You’ll never meet the Buddha with such rounded shoulders.
Recently Marshall Vian Summers said*, “Instead of asking people what they believe, ask them what they practice.”
* Requires registration in the Free School of the New Message. You are invited to join the Worldwide Community of the New Message as an inquirer, critic or devotee–all are welcome.