About the Zen Rabbi

Space Holder, Paradox Embracer, Gentle Healer, Way Finder, Soul Carer, Wholehearted Explorer, Bridge Builder, Vulnerable Warrior, Curious Observer

I don’t know. This is the only certainty I can truly offer you…

As a former Christian missionary and un-ordained minister, I like to reflect on how to cultivate meaning and soulfulness through all the ups and downs of life in a secular world.  I have terrible days and happy days and depressing times and times where things make sense. Some days I struggle to be grateful and to see anything good or beautiful. In my little bit more than fourty years I have failed many times. Being an idealistic dreamer looking back too much of my own journey has been about avoiding and fixing the (perceived) messiness and imperfections of (my) life. Befriending rather than fixing and suppressing  all these uncomfortable parts of being me you could say is slowly becoming my deepest spiritual practice.

I see the world as colourful.

My life as an evolving work of art.

Soulfulness as dancing through all the colours.

Also dancing through all the dark and grey corners.

As with the creation story of Adam and Eve:

soil comes before soul…

And according to the Buddhist tradition:

mud is required for the Lotus flower to blossom…

Drawing from the Judeo-Christian tradition comes naturally for me. I look at the stories intuitively and symbolically rather as something representing the actual words of God or literal historical truths. With soulfulness I mean a sense of aliveness that includes all aspect of life. For example: she has soulful eyes; he plays the cello soulfully; she is a soulful lover; their singing has lots of soul. Thus I’m not suggesting any belief in an independent soul that needs to be saved for all eternity or reincarnated for however many lives (you are of course free to believe whatever resonates with you). Buddhist wisdom is at the core of how I think about the nature of the mind and reality and often helps me to reconnect with sanity. The name Zen Rabbi indicates this paradox of embracing different traditions and is not meant literally in any way. Advaita Vedanta, Shambhala Buddhism, and Vipassana Buddhism are some of the traditions I explored since leaving behind conventional Christianity. I know very little about Zen and I have never been a Jewish Rabbi.

Over the years I have come to accept that there probably is no personal God out there that loves me and directs my path. Said differently: accepting that there is no Jesus who wil rescue me from all my perceived flaws and misery. The shift in consciousness that led to this realisation to this day has been the most significant shift in my life. It was a shift from a singular exclusive perspective on truth to a multiple, relative and inclusive perspective on truth. Said more simply moving from believing everything in the Bible as literally true to seeing all religions and their texts as created by the imagination of humans. It also represents the most emotionally traumatic event being left with the void of a personal loving Father in heaven after believing it wholeheartedly for over twenty years.

I aim to write honestly and compassionately and have no agenda to convert you to a specific set of dogmas and neither is my idea to trash or attack religion (okay maybe I’m hoping to make you a little less certain about anything you believe ;-). If my goal is one thing it is to help people who can’t believe conventionally to drop all the judgements around the questions secretly floating in their minds… helping them to give themselves permission to embrace different interpretations. Not only is this for religious people  but also for those who find themselves asking questions on a post-religious journey in other forms of spirituality. I can’t change your mind about anything but I can support you to recognise a movement that is already occurring within you.

You may always question anything and everything.

Although it has been very healing and transformative to shed many layers of religion, our brains are not wired to live by daily scientific facts and informative PowerPoint presentations. Looking at the history of Homo sapiens I do take the position that stories were an essential part of the formation and survival of human societies and also played a very important part specifically in the evolution of our consciousness. In a way, you could argue that myths and stories have always been our daily bread. And this daily bread shaped our societies and offered structure, community, belonging and meaning within the evolution of consciousness of that time. The unique challenge of our time is that with the scientific advancements of the past few centuries we completely outgrew the stories that served as the daily bread for millions of people for thousands of years. For example, if you used to live within a mythical worldview where it was not uncommon for a god to impregnate a virgin girl, there was no cause for cognitive dissonance. Myth and reality flowed seamlessly. You and I do not live in that world anymore. If you live in our present age with just a little understanding of how a woman falls pregnant you can’t believe in a virgin birth without massive cognitive dissonance or an insane amount of naivety. We no longer have our daily bread. We no longer have the daily bread that sustains the fabric of our societies. This is a big dilemma in the secular world I find myself apart of. I believe many people in the West unconsciously suffer psychological strain as they attempt to still believe certain myths as a way of coping with life while their scientific brains accuses them of madness. We have no idea what impact the loss of religion had and will have on the structure of our societies and our mental wellbeing. Despite having evolved intellectually beyond religious truths, secular people can for example also struggle with anxiety and finding meaning. We are all in the same boat that life can be very tough.

When I interact with mythical stories it is thus not to prove them as true in any literal sense, but to play intuitively and symbolically to create meaning in our present secular context. I fully respect you as a fellow adult and you are free to agree or disagree and mould your own beliefs as you cultivate your soulful path. This is a journey of giving yourself permission and a journey of unconditional compassion as you journey through the mysteries of life.

The word courage comes from the Latin word cor which means heart. You also require an open mind to have an open heart as they are connected. To have courage you then could say is to move through life with an open mind and open heart.

Journeying with uncertainty into the unknown can be daunting and you will need lots of courage.

You are not alone.

Let’s move together…

dancing courageously with the sacred and secular…