8 principles of spiritual literacy as inspired by the Hasidic masters

I diverge briefly from my normal posts about marketing with this post because I caught wind of a new book by Dani Shapiro called Devotion that seems to touch an important topic for many people. The book outlines a woman’s search for spiritual clarity (author’s note – I have not read the book – but it’s going on the list :)). In an interview on The Today Show the author comments that she was brought up in the Orthodox tradition which she “abandoned” when she reached adulthood and replaced with “nothing”. She explained how in her mind, Jewish religious practice was an all or nothing proposition. Most sensitively she described that her search was motivated by a desire to answer her children’s questions about spirituality with answers that demonstrated depth of thought. This book emerged out of her recognition that she wanted to fill the spiritual gap for herself and for her family.

I feel a kinship with her, similarity in name aside, but because I too was brought up Orthodox. Not just Orthodox mind you, but I was raised in a Hasidic Rabbinic family – the ultra right wing of the Jewish spectrum. Yet, unlike Dani, I did not abandon my upbringing even as I pursued a wonderful career in technology marketing. I was fortunate that my family, the Hasidic Rabbis from Europe, were trained to be spiritual masters so that under their tutelage I was trained to understand the fundamental principles of being spiritual.

They taught me their legacy of “spiritual expectations” (note I don’t say beliefs) that transcended any religion or religious practice so that I could construct a functional model for the spiritual seeking soul. These expectations frame the spiritual seeker’s quest to an actionable set of principles which apply no matter what religion (or lack thereof) you were raised in. While these ideas represent my interpretation of these spiritual concepts – it is inspired by the lessons I was fortunate enough to have been taught by them.  I pay homage to their wisdom as I share this list with you.

1) There has to be a conscious choice to be a spiritually sensitive being. It can not be assumed that this is a goal everyone strives for. It is not. Do not assume that because you are seeking spiritual vigor – everyone shares your enthusiasm.

2) Rituals are the physical training ground for the spirit. There’s a wonderful Hebrew phrase: “Mi-toch lo’ lishma ya’voh lishmah” – translated to mean roughly, “From non devotion comes devotion.” In other words, the rituals won’t always evoke an “ohh” spiritual glow, but over time they do. When I first started to light candles on Friday night nearly 30 years ago to mark the beginning of the Shabbath, (you start lighting candles when you get married), it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Now, though when I light my Sabbath candles, the atmosphere of the room is noticeably changed. Once the ritual becomes part of your being; that frees energy to fully exploit the value of the ritual. There’s no more wasted energy worrying about “when” or “how” to spiritually train – that was all taken care of once you accepted the sanctity of the ritual. Without the impetus of religious sanctity – sticking with any ritual practice that is substantive enough to deliver the spiritual goods is really really really hard.

3) Accept that to be a spiritual being requires an investment of time. There’s no shortcut. The rituals of the ultra religious of all traditions are designed for success because they eliminated the hassle of figuring out the nitty gritty details of how to be spiritual, letting the focus be on the spiritual work. By contrast, how successful would anyone be creating their own rituals and then sticking to it? There are more bad jokes about the futility of keeping New Year’s resolution than I need to make my point.

4) There is no such thing as “sin” with the moral sting we all associate with that word. The Hebrew word “Het” means more like, “Oops, missed that time – try again”. In my world, when you committed a “sin”, you were “reproached” for it much in the same way one might speak to a young child who, when they are first learning to catch a ball, misses. “Oops – not quite – try again.” No guilt. No shame. Just an expectation that you could do better.

5) Spirituality is not something you are but something you do. Spirituality can not be thought of as a cloak we don at certain times and then discard when it is inconvenient. It is reflective in how we act – all the time.  For instance, I must light my candles every Friday at precisely the proper time no matter what. If I miss it – I can not light later in the evening because there’s no “do-over”. Being spiritual means that if I feel that my ability to light the candles on time is in jeopardy, I will re-organize my entire day to ensure I can fulfill this ritual on time.

6) Often, people confuse being a “good or moral person” with being spiritual. They are not the same thing. Morality is often culturally based and evolving – slavery being a good example, whereas spirituality transcends cultural influences.  The work of spiritual masters from 3,000 years is as relevant today as they were in their day.

7) I do not “expect” that there is a God (breathe everyone). Here’s what I know for sure. There is the world of the “known”; the world we can measure, touch and analyze. Then there is the world of “kaddosh”; usually translated to mean sacred or holy, but actually meaning “other” or separate – the world of the “unknown”. This “unknown” state is often referred to as God.

8)  Everything in the universe changes including the world of the “Kaddosh”, the “unknown” and the world of the known. In fact, the world of the unknown is quickly flowing towards the world of the known so that soon these two worlds will emerge into one. That is the spiritual singularity – when there is no more “unknown” a.k.a. God. When might this singularity happen? Who knows, but often people think the time of the Messiah is that singularity moment. I’m not so sure but here’s an interesting little tidbit. According to mystical Jewish philosophy, the world will “evolve” into another form of existence by the year 6000. We are currently in the year 5770 of the Jewish calendar, so that gives us about 200 years until the next cycle. That plunks us right into the time of Star Trek. I like the synchronicity of that because that fictional show gives us a glimpse of how different our understanding of life will be in 200 years. Perhaps in 200 years our spirit, mind and body will be better aligned and free to evolve …

These Hasidic masters understood spiritual power and mastery. It is my legacy from them which I share with you so you can create the spiritual house that best suits you.

Judy Shapiro

How technology can serve the human race.

We all know how amazing technology can be to solve human problems and expand our horizons. The list of technology innovations just in the last 10 years are too numerous to list on one blog (but if I did – imagine the SEO value).

That’s why I love being in technology. I get to imagine how some new technology innovation can make my life better (I don’t say easier anymore though). Sometimes though, not only can technology help serve the human race – it can directly save lives.

This is one of those times.

Paltalk has partnered with the leading world organization to stop malaria from killing children, March on Washingtons. This organization coordinates activities from numerous resources to distribute real medicine and provide bednets.

Paltalk will be using its technology to support this important initiative.

First on September 15, in coordination with the opening of the UN General Assembly, Paltalk will host an all day video chat telethon (11:00 – 5:00PM Eastern Standard) to raise awareness about this deadly killer. During the event, Paltalk will have special guests to talk to people from all over the world about how this life threatening disease can be prevented. They will share ideas on how the disease can be stopped from spreading or what effective treatments can be. For the entire day, people will be able to talk and see each other as we together fight this disease. The Paltalk technology that allows lots of people from all over to see and hear each other is too awesome, especially when used in the service of humanity.

Then, Paltalk will use this campaign to donate $1 in hard cash for any new download of our free software. Our technology delivers what Skype delivers and more. We are better than the best IM software (like MSN) because you can do multi person voice and video chat. And we give people what webex does but you can do a 10 person video conference call for free all the time.

In short, Paltalk technology gives you great free services that normally cost a bundle for free – no catches.

Join me in this noble fight. Spread the word. Get anyone you know to download Paltalk.

The math is easy.

  • 1 download = $1 donated from Paltalk to fight malaria
  • Get 5 friends to download = $5 will be donated and that’s enough to buy 1 bednet to prevent the disease.
  • 1 life saved

Here are the details http://www.paltalk.com/fightmalaria.

It doesn’t get easier than that. Ain’t technology great :)

Judy Shapiro

http://twitter.com/judyshapiro

What’s face time?

    

Whoopi Goldberg had a funny special on Bravo a while ago about modern life as it is being experienced by those of us weaned on free love and then conscious parenting… She observed, rightly, that while our children are smarter than we are, we are raising a generation of “barbarians”. She was commenting on the fact that our children are proficient tweeters, and IM’ers and texters. But they have too little interactive with real people in the real world.

 

Enter face time.

 

I would bet that some enterprising young graduate student has already tracked how much less face time kids have today versus even just a generation ago. It is obvious – the only question is how much less face time do our kids today have versus even 20 years ago. I would bet the actual figure would horrify most of us.

 

Our kids spend more time in front of devices instead of spending time interacting with human beings. And they are the worse for it. It was Whoopi’s point and it is well worth noting.

 

So what to do? Instead of bemoaning the situation and throwing up your hands in surrender. Fight fire with fire. Use technology to solve the problem it created.

 

Enter video chat.

 

You heard me. For those of you who think it is not for them – think again and get over it. Our highly mobile kids need to be with us even if they are not with us. Video chat has become so easy, that most anyone can figure it out. There are a few ways to do this, including a free video chat software from a company called Paltalk. With this software (and a webcam) you can see your kids and they can see you. In fact up to 10 of you can see each at once. Go get it and get on with it.

 

Face time – delivered technology style.

 

Judy Shapiro  

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,193 other followers