This is to welcome and introduce you to Crossing the Boundary blog and website. The site is designed to focus on the book, Crossing the Boundary – Stories of Jewish Leaders of Other Spiritual Paths. Here, you can learn more about the background of the book and read short passages from the chapters on each of the fourteen teachers interviewed for it. I’ve added some descriptive information about each of these men and women and links to their websites, books, and schedules for their teaching activities and workshops. You can find all this under the People of the Book menu.
This project began from an experience I had on a vision quest in the desert of Southern California in 1983. Wandering and fasting in the desert, I realized that after many years of denying it to myself, I was a Jewish man. It opened up for me a quest to understand what that meant and deepened my spiritual explorations into the nature of identity and reality itself. If it is true that I am a Jewish man, what does that mean for how I live my life? Do I need to begin observing and practicing Jewish rituals and ceremonies? Further, where do the notions of who I am and what is real come from? How much choice do I have in the matter of what I think or believe, what I feel and experience, of who I am?
As I explain in my autobiographical chapter in the book, I tried for a number of years following that vision quest to incorporate Jewish religious practices in my life. But it never felt comfortable, it didn’t fit. I continue to honor Jewish spiritual teachings, especially the mystical aspects such as Kabbalah, and I open to what they bring to me and the world. But as a daily practice, I have for over 45 years been meditating with methods drawn from Agni (light-fire) Yoga and Buddhism, and exploring the many realms of consciousness through shamanism. Jewish spirituality is one of a number of streams of wisdom from which I drink.
However, Jewish identity is more than observing religious practices. A large number of Jews, if not a majority, are non-observant (of Jewish religious rituals) yet see themselves as spiritual, or consider themselves atheists. How does the sense of Jewish identity inform their lives? Is there something in the DNA of Jews that unfolds as a way of being in the world, as a set of inherent values? How does the connection to a common ancestry and mythical story influence the way Jews see the world? How do these issues operate in the other tribal peoples that inhabit this planet? These questions and others are themes in my interviews with the fourteen spiritual teachers of the book, Crossing the Boundary, and I continue to explore them here in a form that invites your participation.
For some folks, being on a spiritual path that is dramatically different from that of one’s family is an act of heresy. But, as I say in the description of the book, “We are walking on the precipice of a massive catastrophe coming about due to human ignorance and greed and masked by the ethnocentric blinders that pit us against each other. It is my hope that the stories and wisdom of the “heretics” gathered in this book provide keys for our collective awakening, and lead us towards not only tolerance for others, but eagerness to encounter and learn from the ways of all peoples.” My vision is that through this awakening, we will find the wisdom, courage and strength to live through these times with grace and do what needs to be done.