by Rabbi Allen S. Maller
Julius Lester, an African-American scholar and political activist, whose conversion to Judaism in 1982 came as a shock to those who only remembered his involvement in a racially charged school strike in New York’s Ocean Hill-Brownsville neighborhood in 1968, died January 18, 2018 at age 79.
Lester was an award-winning author of 43 books and articles in The New York Times and the Village Voice. A faculty member at the University of Massachusetts since 1971, he taught courses in three departments – Judaic studies, English and history. In 1994, Lester’s novel about the civil rights movement, “And All Our Wounds Forgiven,” was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.
The son of a minister, Lester was 7 when he learned that his maternal great-grandfather was a German Jewish immigrant named Adolph Altschul, who had married a freed slave named Maggie Carson. He described that as the beginning of a journey that led to his becoming a Jew by choice in 1982, at age 44.
He is a good example of a gilgul—a reincarnated Jewish soul that returns to the Jewish people. A mystical 14th century Jewish Kabbalistic teaching found in Sefer HaPliyah, says that people who feel a powerful attraction to Jewish things and Jewish people, have Jewish souls that are reincarnations (gilgulim) of one of their own Jewish ancestors from 3-7 generations in the past.
Unlike Buddhism and Hinduism, Kabbalah does not teach that reincarnation (gilgul) occurs over the course of millions of years to millions of different sentient species. Kabbalah says only the souls of self conscious moral creatures like human beings reincarnate; and they reincarnate only when they have not yet fulfilled the purpose of their creation.
Since Judaism is an optimistic religion, most Kabbalists teach that most people can accomplish their life’s purpose in one or two lifetimes. A few souls may take 3-5 lifetimes or more. The bright souls of great religious figures like Moses or Miriam can turn into dozens of sparks that can reincarnate several times.
The tragic souls of Jews whose children have been cut off from the Jewish people, either through persecution or forced conversion to another religion, will reincarnate as one of their own no longer Jewish descendants. These descendant souls will seek to return to the Jewish people.
A majority of people who end up converting (or reverting) to Judaism and the Jewish people have Jewish souls from one of their own ancestors. Thus, the Jewish mystical tradition, claims that the souls of most converts to Judaism are the reincarnated souls of Jews in previous generations that were cut off from the Jewish people.
Through conversion to Judaism they are coming home. Sometimes these souls are descendants of Jews who were part of whole communities that were cut off, like the Marranos or European Jews in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust and then Communist oppression. Other times they are descendants of individual Jews who married out and did not raise their children as faithful Jews.
As Julius Lester wrote in a 2015 essay: “Who am I? There are not enough words to describe who am I, who any of us are, because we all carry within us traces of lives going back 10,000 years and more. What a shame that there are those who would reduce the wonder of being human to such a narrow and restrictive a concept as race.”
For 10 years he served as lay religious leader of Beth El Synagogue in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
About the author:
Rabbi Maller’s web site is: www.rabbimaller.com. His new book ‘Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms: A Reform Rabbi’s Reflections on the Profound Connectedness of Islam and Judaism’ (a collection of 31 articles by Rabbi Maller previously published by Islamic web sites) is now for sale ($15) on Amazon and Morebooks.
By Master Francisco Quintero
During these tumultuous times, there are deep concerns about the future. We are experiencing the effects of climate change and facing conflicts and challenges on many levels. As we look for solutions, ancient wisdom is an invaluable resource to help us solve the problems in our lives and the world. A scientific approach without a spiritual dimension is not enough. It is crucial for us to address our inner problems in order to change the outer world.
In Greatest Love: Unblock Your Life in 30 Minutes with the Power of Unconditional Love, my teacher Master Zhi Gang Sha and I share the essence of sacred wisdom and simple but profound and powerful practices that anyone can do to access the power of the greatest love to transform their lives. Master Zhi Gang Sha clearly states, “Love melts all blockages and transforms all life.” This is the key message of our book. The greatest love, unconditional love, has no limits or boundaries. We can all connect to this pure, unending universal love.
Whatever is holding us back in life can be released through unconditional love. Our problems stem from the lack of alignment with this universal love and from the conflicts within ourselves. When our souls, hearts, minds, and bodies are in internal conflict and not joined as one, we can become ill and face all sorts of challenges. Bringing balance and harmony to our inner selves through a daily practice of connecting with unconditional love can help us break through anything that is preventing us from living truly fulfilling lives. The blessings and benefits we can receive with the power of unconditional love are limitless.
Ancient wisdom states, “The Big Universe and the human being join as one.” The significance of this is our true interconnectedness on physical and spiritual levels. Physics now teaches us that everyone and everything has a frequency and vibration. When we raise our frequency to the level of unconditional love, we can leave behind the things that are blocking us from realizing our true potential. We can get into alignment with the universe and spread love, peace, and harmony to the world.
How can we connect with the power of unconditional love? Through dedicating ourselves to a daily practice to remove our negative mindsets and emotions that hold us back from rising to a higher level and frequency. Science has provided evidence of the great benefits of meditation and mindfulness. The potential of mind over matter has been shown to have excellent results. In our teachings we add another dimension: the power of soul and soul over matter. By connecting to the deepest messages in our souls, we can bring balance and harmony between soul, heart, mind, and body and clear away any blocks to living to our fullest. In our book. we take you step-by-step through a special Five Power Technique. Through using body power, soul power, mind power, sound power, and the revolutionary new technique of Tao Calligraphy all together, you can clear away whatever is holding you back and mobilize yourself to live with the power of unconditional love. Through a daily practice, you can overcome feelings of anger, sadness, lack of confidence, or whatever is blocking you from living freely. Practice and connect with unconditional love daily, you can redirect your life and, over time, become suffused with greatest love.
Master Sha, the creator of Tao Calligraphy, a unique form of Oneness writing that carries the highest frequency and vibration of the soul, heart, mind, and body of the Ten Greatest Qualities that we all have the potential to embody: Greatest Love, Greatest Forgiveness, Greatest Compassion, Greatest Light, Greatest Humility, Greatest Harmony, Greatest Flourishing, Greatest Gratitude, Greatest Service, and Greatest Enlightenment. Anyone can trace or write these Tao Calligraphies and connect with these higher frequencies that bless and bring soul, heart, mind, and body together into harmony and balance. Stories of the benefits of practicing with Tao Calligraphy are remarkable and moving. A mother recovers from a lifetime of grief over the loss of a young child and experiences love and joy in life again. A successful businessman takes his company to far greater levels and, inspired, goes on to trace Tao Calligraphy to bring harmony to his family relationships. A depressed and anxious teenager emerges from isolation and starts to participate in life more fully. A couple on the verge of divorce rediscover love and reconcile. As this ancient wisdom teaches, we can all connect with our souls and the highest messages to remove blocks in our lives, become happier and healthier, and more able to help others and the world.
Here is a practice for you to try. While saying the words below, you can also put the fingers of one hand together and trace the Greatest Love calligraphy on the cover image of the book: https://www.drsha.com/greatestlove/
Dear Divine and Tao Source and all spiritual fathers and mothers. I love you and honor you.
Please send the Greatest Love into my heart.
Please bless my soul, heart, mind, and body with the Greatest Love.
Dear soul, heart, mind and body of the Tao Calligraphy Greatest Love. I love you and honor you.
Please bless my soul, heart, mind, and body with the Greatest Love.
Visualize the beautiful, pure light of Greatest Love filling you with the Greatest Love.
Trace the Greatest Love (Da Ai) calligraphy.
When you add a forgiveness practice every day, you clear the path for the Greatest Love to enter your heart and soul:
I deeply apologize for all the mistakes my ancestors and I have made in all lifetimes. I forgive everyone and their ancestors for all the mistakes they have made in all lifetimes. To apologize is not enough. I will serve to make others happier and healthier.
As Master Sha says, “If you want to know if a pear is sweet, taste it.” If you want to know if this wisdom and these practices will clear away obstacles to living your best life, try them. Experience the extraordinary transformative power of unconditional love for living a flourishing life.
About the author:
Master Francisco Quintero is the co-author of Greatest Love: Unblock Your Life in 30 Minutes a Day with the Power of Unconditional Love (BenBella Books). He is a Certified Master Teacher, trained by renowned spiritual teacher and humanitarian Master Zhi Gang Sha, and the author of Divine Joy: How to Find Joy in Daily Life. A leading teacher at the Tao Academy™, Master Francisco has developed training programs worldwide. With his expertise and wisdom, he has assisted in training over 6,000 soul practitioners and teachers around the world. For more information, please visit: https://www.drsha.com/greatestlove/
By Joyce and Barry Vissell
There is a large billboard sign along the Saw Mill River Parkway north of New York City that reads in big bold letters, “Prayer Works.” There are no other words on the sign. A man named Tom in one of our couple’s retreats on the East Coast told our group that he rode by that sign every single day on his way to work. He did not believe in prayer and he scoffed at the sign each day.
At the time, Tom was dating and in love with a woman named Rose. After a few years, their relationship crumbled. Tom accepted a good job opportunity in Europe and moved away. He was hoping he could forget about Rose, but his feelings for her only grew over the course of several years. Finally one night, in desperation, he thought of the “Prayer Works” sign, and decided to give it a try. He bowed his head in prayer and very humbly asked to either be free of his longing for Rose or else be able to reconnect with her.
At that exact time in New York, Rose had just ended another painful relationship. A dear friend of hers was at her house and asked about Tom. Right then and there, she decided to send him an email and find out how he was doing. They had not been in communication for several years. Well, to make a long love story short, they just gave birth to their second child. Tom admitted to our group that he is now a firm believer in prayer.
We had a lovely experience with prayer recently. Our Assisi retreat this year was very small, with only six participants. We had never done a retreat with so few people, but cancelling it was out of the question. Plus, we really wanted to go as it is a highlight of the year for our own spiritual growth. My dear friend Debbie is a devout Catholic and she told me about a special room at her church that is dedicated to prayer. Our Assisi retreat was drawing close and I felt we needed at least one more person to make the retreat flow better. I also strongly felt that I needed to go to this special room that Debbie had told me about.
Sitting in this room, I felt a little out of place since I was not raised Catholic. But while the others in the room were kneeling, I sat very quietly and prayed. I sincerely asked for one more person to be guided to the retreat. When I left that room, I had a very good feeling that, regardless of the number, the retreat would be just perfect.
At that very time, all the way in Australia, a Catholic nun realized that she had the possibility to be in Assisi from October 11-17. So she typed into google search, “Assisi Retreat October 11-17.” Since those were our exact retreat dates, we were the first search result to pop up. She had never done a retreat that was not Catholic and so she wondered if it was the right thing for her. At the time, she was visiting her childhood home with her eight siblings. As she is so loved in the family, all of her siblings became involved and started reading our many articles on our website. Finally, they concluded that it would be a good fit for her.
She emailed us and asked what we thought. At first, Barry was hesitant as we had never had a Catholic nun in any of our retreats before. He said, “What if she only wants to sing and pray, and wants nothing to do with the personal growth work?” But I felt this was so divinely guided that I assured him it was going to be fine. In a Catholic Church, I had prayed for another person and a nun signed up. I pictured that she would be in long black robes, like the nuns in Assisi. I have to admit, it was hard to picture a nun in our retreat, but I felt that we needed to trust.
Well, this nun showed up in blue jeans and a flannel shirt with a large red heart necklace around her neck. She lives in South Africa and helps run a large home for eighty African children that desperately need help. Sister Sally turned out to be a very great light, and her presence in our small group filled the room with love, courageous personal growth work, and humor. Indeed it was a very great blessing and answer to my prayer. Of the ten Assisi retreats we have done, this one was my favorite and her presence was a large part of that.
These are examples of almost instant answers to prayer, but that is not always the case. Sometimes it can take years to feel an answer to a prayer, but the important thing is to persist. When I was twelve, my father had a very good engineering job which ended when his boss suddenly died. My father was out of work at a time when it was difficult to find a job. On top of that disappointment, his childhood polio returned and he was in great back pain. My mother was barely able to support the family with her church secretary job.
I did not mind the lack of money, but I saw the strain it caused both of my parents and I wanted to help. I took on many babysitting jobs, but that only helped to pay for what I needed for school. Upon asking my mother what more I could do, she replied that I should pray for my dad to find meaningful work that would not cause additional harm to his back. Every single night for four years, I prayed for my father.
Finally, a school official from a local junior college somehow found out about my dad, and called him to ask if he would consider working as an engineering instructor. My dad had never even considered teaching. He went on to teach engineering for twenty-five years, until he retired at the age of seventy-six. He absolutely loved his job, and the students all loved and respected him. My mother and I both felt that the offer of that job, which came so unexpectedly, was an answer to our daily prayers.
Perhaps, like Tom used to, you scoff at the notion of prayer. Or maybe you have tried to pray and nothing happened so you gave up. As the sign says in bold letters, “Prayer Works.” I invite you to try and persist. You will be blessed in ways you cannot even imagine.
Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell:
Feb 4-11, 2018 — Hawaii Couples Retreat on the Big Island
Jul 22-27, 2018 — Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR
Oct 11-17, 2018 — Assisi Retreat, Italy
About the authors:
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of eight books, including two new books, To Really Love a Woman and To Really Love a Man.
Call 831-684-2299 for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.
by Paddy Fievet
Shedding off various limitations compounded with the dreams, shamanic understandings, and mystical experiences, I realized how my life had changed for the better. In other words, over the years, I began to slowly incorporate the idea that it is indeed possible to happily live by incorporating Modern Mysticism into my daily life as a birthright for each of us.
Because most people do not completely understand what a Modern Mystic is, or how they contrast from the mystics of old like the prophets in the Bible, or those like John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, or many more, the following paragraphs describe how a Modern Mystic differs in the world today from those who do not embrace the possibilities of mysticism in their own lives. I present these as ideas, not facts carved in stone; it’s also incomplete, for no one can list all the ways any of us can experience God. In reading it, pause for a heart-filled moment after each topic, asking yourself if this is something you truly wish to achieve in your life. If you say yes, then realize with your heart, mind, and through every cell in your body that you have indeed just set an intention to change your life to be a moment to moment experience of God.
Modern Mystics move day to day intuiting vibrations around them. More than just a strong empathy, which is the ability to feel the emotions and vibratory frequencies of others, the Modern Mystic can in some way intuit the vibrations of not only people, but of the world around them. These vibrations can translate into emotions, thoughts, or ideas on the human level. Also, they may be quite subtle or very intense. But the connection is far more than just human vibrations. It’s also greater than the human connection. When allowing yourself to open up to a greater awareness, some may detect vibrational essences of nature, discerning the vibrations of different plants, trees, colors, even rocks. (Yes, rocks have vibrations! In fact, environmental empathy is the ability to feel vibrations of the environment. For instance, earth energies are different from location to location. Atlanta feels to me like I am literally inside the granite of Stone Mountain—heavy and dense. The Appalachian Mountains to me have a light, spiritual fairy-like feeling.) Through a greater sense of awareness, some can also discern differences of consciousness of an area, noting loving, caring, egotistical, and even materialistic consciousness. A heightened awareness requires a great deal of discernment, managed by knowing yourself very well in order to distinguish what is yours from what you have picked up that is not yours.
Modern Mystics embrace a primal knowledge that everything is an expression of God. This includes not only people, but insects, animals, plants, as well as the earth itself. They also realize that this is not all of God, for God is much more than what you see around you or that you can even imagine. However, the Modern Mystic respects the holy essence in all things. Along this line of realization, the Modern Mystic also realizes that what people truly are often differs from what they do. This helps tremendously to realize that when someone causes harm to another in some way, it is a choice they have made, not understanding their spiritual nature, which is Love.
The Modern Mystic has experienced an awakening, a journey, or other methods of acknowledging and accepting the person he or she is created to be. Unlike simple likes and dislikes, the Modern Mystic knows why they feel attracted or not attracted to something at deep levels. Spiritual gifts, personality traits, and his or her specific methods of intuition are all known and then embraced. The Modern Mystic also realizes that his or her life is an increase in spiritual wisdom, which may include many awakenings in one lifetime. For this reason, the Modern Mystic’s life is a process of metanoia—a continual journey of changing self, mind, life, or heart.
The Modern Mystic lives from his or her heart. For the Modern Mystic, recognition is not just analytical; it is heartfelt. All nature, people, and matter are not just unique, individual expressions of God. Also, they are an expression of God’s Love, whether they realize it and act like it or not. This is more than just acknowledgement. It’s a heartfelt witnessing of Spiritual Presence embodied as Love in a myriad of different forms and expressions. In his or her own way, the Modern Mystic acknowledges this Love in all.
Those who embrace Modern Mysticism never really feel separated or isolated from the world around them because Divine Love connects all. Even though the term Oneness may be slightly overused, it still is the best word to describe the strong, loving connection Modern Mystics have with all of mankind and nature. The Modern Mystic feels a heartfelt connection of his or her indwelling Spirit to the Spirit indwelling of others. This connection overrides any differences noted between self and others. This brings me to another important trait of those who embrace the path of Modern Mysticism.
Modern Mystics respond rather than react to unpleasant dysfunction that may occur in arguments, attacks, etc. In many religious communities, a great deal of emphasis is placed on the importance and healing power of forgiveness. What I speak of as I describe the ability of Modern Mystics to get over things quickly is akin to forgiveness, but goes beyond this.
The Modern Mystic recognizes the underlying energy of the verbal attacker, whether it be pain, insecurity, anger, or a host of other emotions, while it is happening or shortly afterwards. The Modern Mystic therefore can consciously choose how to respond instead of having reactions automatically come forth. While maintaining personal boundaries, the Modern Mystic is able to respectfully respond to the situation. This level of Loving behavior is not always easy. Most of us still have to remind ourselves occasionally to settle back into this higher level of Spiritual Awareness.
This higher level of Spiritual Awareness is available to all Modern Mystics. Whether in deep contemplation, meditation, or in the day-to-day events of normal living, the Modern Mystic is acutely aware of an innate spiritual connection. Understand, though, that this connection is not perceived as just a thread of Light between the Modern Mystic and something or someone else, but is instead a Loving connection felt within. Although what I am speaking of transcends the ability to describe it in ordinary words, I understand it to be a Spiritual connection that calms, connects, and assists one to be his or her highest and best. Most Modern Mystics feel this differently, as its process is unique to the individual. As an example, I feel it just below my heart chakra close to the solar plexus. Occasionally I feel it just above the top of my head, as if it is in the body but more than the body. I have felt both simultaneously, especially when I am writing. Don’t be alarmed or assume that you’ve missed something if you feel this Presence another way, for we as individuals all have our unique ways. The point is that you become aware of this Spiritual Presence that is part of you, is you, and is a great deal more than you.
Modern Mystics have a heightened sense of intuition that allows information to be shared with them in ways other than the typical five senses. No two Modern Mystics experience this the same way, although it may be similar. The interpretation of intuitive information is also unique to the individual. Even though I have mentioned this at length in the Fourth Step, some examples may include gathering spiritual messages from trees, plants or even animal life. Shamans excel in this as do animal whisperers. Others can ascertain the messages of angels, guidance from God, and some may experience visions of the future as well as a knowing not readily ascertained from ordinary means. The Modern Mystic utilizes intuition just as readily as any person will use the five senses and is quite comfortable with the intuitive experience. In doing so, and with the open acknowledgement that God’s Spirit exists in all life, the intuitive connects to all, thereby sharing knowledge. This connection is not only facilitated through that deep abiding Love innate to all life, but is heightened exponentially by it. Every healer or shaman I have ever met has explained that the way to heighten intuition is to do it through an increase in Love. That’s what Modern Mysticism is about: Love.
This is an excerpt from The Eagle’s View: Five Steps to Modern Mysticism (Modern Mystic Series)
© Paddy Fievet, PhD, is the author of The Eagle’s View: Five Steps to Modern Mysticism, published by Cloverhurst Publications, 2017. Excerpt is printed with permission of the publisher. ISBN: 978-09906706-4-3. List price: US $14.95