Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Ph.D., has a reputation for being perhaps the most unorthodox rabbi you’ve ever met! Growing up, his mother thought he might be the Messiah, while his father was convinced he was a luftmensch (air head). Air head, indeed! He earned rabbinical ordination from Hebrew Union College in order to preach his ideas in synagogues, and a PhD in contemporary Judaism from Union Graduate School in order to teach his ideas in universities.
Along the way, he’s taken Bodhisattva vows in Zen Buddhism, become a 32° Mason in the Scottish Rite, been initiated into the Ramakrishna Order of Vedanta Hinduism, joined the Theosophical Society, published three dozen books, has had his poems included in prayer books and hymnals around the English speaking world, and has walked the 12 Steps of Overeaters Anonymous more times than he can count.
His award-winning bestselling books fall into three categories: Biblical translations that make the Bible say what he wishes it would say; spiritual explorations that make spirituality all about practice rather than feelings; and recovery that reveals the central addiction of all humans—playing God— and the way to free oneself from it: realize God is playing you.
Well known for his quality scholarship and sacred spirit, he served for 20 years as the founder of Miami’s Temple Beth Or, where he experimented with new forms of Jewish liturgy and practice, combining his experiences with Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
Rabbi Rami currently co-directs the One River Foundation (www.oneriverfoundation.org), is a contributing editor at Spirituality & Health magazine, where he writes the “Roadside Musings” column, and hosts the magazine’s “Spirituality & Health” podcasts (www.spiritualityhealth.com).
Right-click here to download the MP3
Listen to more great episodes at Next Level Soul Podcast
Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 089
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 0:00
There's this teaching that the universe has a hum you know it's it's a musical thing that's happening and you can tune into it. If it's not magic I mean you just be quiet and you listen.
Alex Ferrari 0:23
I've been able to partner with Mindvalley to present you guys FREE Masterclass is between 60 and 90 minutes, covering Mind Body Soul Relationships and Conscious Entrepreneurship, taught by spiritual masters, yogi's spiritual thought leaders and best selling authors. Just head over to nextlevelsoul.com/free
I'd like to welcome to the show Rabbi Rami Shapiro. How're you doing Rabbi?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 0:58
Doing great, Alex, how are you?
Alex Ferrari 0:59
I'm doing great. Thank you so much for for coming on the show. I'm, I'm really excited to talk to you because I've, I've been you know, studying your work and your books and your videos. And you have a very unique take on spirituality, which I I really appreciate and I wanted to bring your message to our audience. So very first question I have for you is how did you start your spiritual journey?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:23
Oh, so I had when I was a sophomore, junior in high school, I had a course in what was called Asian civilization. Two professors had gotten a grant to spend a summer in India and they came back and they taught this class. And it just blew my mind. I mean, I grew up as an Orthodox Jew, I was an Orthodox Jew then. But I never heard of Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism and the stuff they were talking about. And I was very attracted to Zen Buddhism, and started studying from books, which is a stupid idea. But that's all I had. And I took a brief stint with a Zen teacher. And anyway, I was, in the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. I spent the summer part of the summer in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and I was meditating on the shore of a lake somewhere, I was visiting a friend and he was off and I was meditating. And I, I would, I would say, I had an experience, except that implies I was there to have the experience, something must have happened. But I wasn't there. At the time, my any sense of self had disappeared for I don't know, it wasn't very long. But when I returned into my normal waking state consciousness, I felt this overwhelming love from and for the universe, I knew, as opposed to believe, or, you know, hoped, I knew that everything was interconnected. And everything was a manifesting of this one dynamic process, which may be in Buddhism, you might call Dharmakaya. And Judaism, you might call it God. I mean, there's different ways of articulating, or of languaging what it might be, but it was a non dual dynamic process. And that was the beginning for me. I couldn't, I didn't even think about getting rid of that experience. But I couldn't shake it. It was it's defined my life since I was 1617 years old.
Alex Ferrari 3:29
So with this knowledge and this kind of experience that you had, how did you go down the road of becoming a Rabbi?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 3:36
Okay, so that was it wasn't my plan. My plan was to become a professor of Buddhist studies, I went to college. To study religion in general, I went to different places to pick up different things. I spent a year at Tel Aviv University studying Jewish material. Anyway, in my final year of college, I managed to get approval to spend my entire year at Smith College because they had this phenomenal department of religion and my primary teacher was guy named tight will No, he was a pure land Buddhist priest, but also a Zen practitioner, and he was very close to his name, just one. Josue Sasaki, Roshi, sorry, went out of my head.
Alex Ferrari 4:31
I mean, that name would go out of some people's heads. It's hard.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 4:35
It's exactly Roshi ran Mount Baldy Zen Center outside of Los Angeles. He was Leonard Cohen's, Zen masters and Roshi. And the first time I met Sasaki Roshi was with Leonard Cohen. But in any case, in any case, that's another podcast. Another another sorry. And I went to several retreats under, bro She's leadership. And the last one I went to close to the end of my senior year of college. He took me aside, he was very short, very round. And right, it was right in your face, you know, he pushed me up again, literally got me up against the wall came in really close. And I guess my professor of Buddhist studies told him I was planning to go to graduate school to study Buddhism. And he thought that was a terrible idea. And he made it very clear that that was a mistake, and that if I really wanted to study Buddhism, I should move, you know, graduate college and then move to Mount Baldy Zen Center, live at the monastery, learn Japanese and study with him. And instead of being honored and excited, or anything, I simply blurted out, I Roshi, I can't do that. I'm gonna go to rabbinical school and be a rabbi. Now, that was not on my mind. But that's what I said, maybe that was my way out, unconsciously or subconsciously. And he says, Oh, these rabbi, be Zen rabbi. I said, Okay, I will be a Zen rabbi. I'm not going well, Bob.
Alex Ferrari 6:16
And that's how you begin. So you
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 6:18
That's what put me on the path on the path to school. I did spend two weeks in graduate school and Buddhist studies discovered he was absolutely correct. I was interested in enlightenment. They were interested in historical study, and it just wasn't my thing. I switched majors to Judaism. After I got my masters, I went on to rabbinical school, just the way I told them,
Alex Ferrari 6:40
And became a Zen rabbi, Rabbi, whatever, whatever that is. That should be there should be a t shirt. I'm saying Zen rabbis. So you've heard you've, you've spoken before about this concept of being a holy rascal. Yeah, well, I'm very intrigued. What is a holy rascoe?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 7:00
So a holy rascoe is someone who thinks religion is much too important to leave to the heat in the hands of the professionals. No, there is such wisdom, and I don't know brilliance, genius, in religious stories, myth, practices, contemplative practices. And what happens when you put them into an institution is to become very dry, very cold, and self focus, not self as in, you know, in some contemplative way of the self, capital S self, but self focused in the sense of, you know, the purpose of Christianity, even though they'll say it's salvation, it's really to make you a better Christian. According to the dominant the denomination, the purpose of Judaism is to make you a better Jew, according to the denomination. So a holy rascal is curious about the the deeper meaning of religion, not at all interested in the self focused nature of religious institutions, and is convinced that these these myths and symbols and rituals are gateways to something that cannot be articulated in any other way. And so a rascal is someone who breaks the rules and tries to get to the heart of something.
Alex Ferrari 8:22
What's so fascinating about about you and your work rabbi is that you seem to have a foot in multiple in multiple arenas if you will. Just look I understand so you, but like, but like the arms of Shiva behind you. Is as cheap I think that Shiva is it? I think it is.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 8:46
Well, actually, that is a let me see if I can get a better shot of it. That is a phenomenal piece of work by a woman named Siona. Siona she's a Jewish woman from South India, and her paintings integrate her Indian heritage and her Jewish heritage. So the beautifully arms they're actually the arms the seven branches of a menorah from Temple times. Yeah, and it's a dancing Jewish woman so it's so it it draws on the iconography of of Hinduism and Judaism and blends it in phenomenal.
Alex Ferrari 9:29
It's absolutely beautiful. But so you seem to have you know, you dance in many different areas of different religions you're not doesn't seem to be dogmatic about anything. You're very open about ideas and mixing ideas and seeing what you can learn from different religions which is a wonderful approach to it. Am I correct by saying that
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 9:48
Well that gives me a little bit more credit than I deserve? I am really quite dogmatic. Okay. I believe that you know, whatever. We're going to call it God Kali. Sure. Sure, whatever is a non dual reality, it's you know, there's I don't believe that there's a God separate from nature created the world who judges us and all that stuff. I'm not a duelist. I'm a non duelist. And so I'm interested in the non dual aspects of Hinduism and Vedanta, in Taoism and Zen wherever I, you know, Christianity, Islam, they all have this non dual perspective among their mystics. I'm interested in that I will play in all those arenas, because I think they're all leading us to the same ineffable experience.
Alex Ferrari 10:36
That's what I meant to say, you were more you're more articulate than I was
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 10:39
I'm very dogmatic when it comes to someone who's a dualistic Oh, no, you're wrong.
Alex Ferrari 10:46
Right. But but not dogmatic in the sense of where you get your dualist information from?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 10:51
One right view is, when you're talking about that non dual reality, the labels are irrelevant. And I mean, every religious tradition has this mystic, an element. And because the mystics understand that, God or whatever they're gonna call it can be experienced directly in with and as you. And that's not what the conventional religious teachers tell you. Right. And I'm interested in that experience. So
Alex Ferrari 11:24
Isn't it interesting, though, that so, you know, even in my lifetime, I've seen shifts, you know, I was raised Catholic, I was raised Roman Catholic, and I still feel extremely guilty about it. And I learned a lot there. But there seems to be a shift in at least in the Western world, towards more spirituality towards being more open, being less dogmatic, but let's that at least I see that there's much more of it around now than it was when I was a kid. And I'm assuming this was the same for you.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 11:58
Sure. The number of people who register on those pew pew religious polls, who say they're they call them pew calls them nuns, which is a terrible term, that people say, I don't have a religion. I'm spiritual, but not religious. I call them the spiritually independent, there are people who are interested in spirituality, but they're, they're not going to tie themselves to one tradition in particular. Yeah, I think that's, that's a growing segment of the human population, certainly in the United States. But just to put in a good word for Catholicism. There's a lot of rich mystical stuff in the Catholic tradition that you may not be aware of, but
Alex Ferrari 12:39
It doesn't get it doesn't get there's not a lot of marketing for that, for that those magics
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 12:43
That's a problem. That's a problem. But I spent, I'm first met father, Thomas Keating in 1984. He died a few years ago. And I met with him at least once a year for those decades. And, and studied with him and learn from him and practice meditation with him. He is along with Father, Basil Pennington, the founder of the centering prayer movement. And that's a Benedictine practice that he sort of modernized to the benefit of contemporary Catholics, but now it's in a lot of different movements. But he was a beautiful holding rascal, and deep contemplative. And I don't know if I ever heard him say this specifically. I mean, he lived in monastic life. And so I don't know if he ever said this outright. But yeah, I think he would agree that Christianity Catholicism is hiding its brilliance. Under, you know, a bushel
Alex Ferrari 13:47
In the vaults, the Vatican. If if movies have taught us anything,
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 13:54
Where's Dan Brown when you need?
Alex Ferrari 13:56
Where's Tom Hanks? I need some time. Yeah, we need Tom Hanks to go down there and get it for us. Now, you've mentioned meditation multiple times in our conversation already, which I find fascinating because I never associate Judaism with meditation, I might be wrong, because I don't know a lot about I have to say I'm not educated, other than basic understanding of Judaism. But meditation seems to much be much more of the Eastern philosophies in Buddhism and Zen. And that kind of topic, how, how important is meditation to you in your spiritual practice?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 14:29
Well, so there's really two questions that how important is it to me personally, and how important is it to Judaism? Yes, so let me deal with the second one first, because it's easier. I just said about Catholicism that it hides his genius under a bushel, so does Judaism. So there is you know, 1000 year old Jewish, probably more 2000 year old Jewish mystical tradition that includes various types of meditation. Now in my own In life, the Jewish meditation practice that I follow. It's Jewish in that it, I learned it from within the Jewish framework it's talked about in the Bible, it's it's taught within, you know, by by mystical rabbis, but it's a universal practice. In Judaism, it has two names, but one is haga, which means to qu like a dove, you know, over and over again to repeat something. And the other is Giroux, Sheen which means to separate. And the idea is you repeat a sacred word or a sacred text, it's mantra practice. And ultimately, it will separate you from your addiction to what Judaism calls Moquin to Cotonou, narrow mind, and open you up to the other dimension of consciousness that you have, which is smoking, the god Lutz, spacious mind. So I spend time every morning. In focused, I'll just use mantra because that's what people would know, focus mantra practice, you know, Mantra japa. So I just repeat the name. hochma is the name I use, but there's lots of different names you can use, you can actually find in some orthodox prayer books, in the back of the book, there are several pages listing the the texts, I would just say so, in a sense, listing the mantra for based on your name. So you look at the first letter of your name and the last letter of your name. And then you can look at this list and I'll tell you, Okay, the first letter is a and the last letter is T, Look at Proverbs something or other. And that line, that verse contains your mantra, and either the whole verse or just a word of the verse, but something it's somehow connected to your name. Now I received mine from teachers. So I didn't. It's not how I found my mantra. But mantra practice is a rich Jewish practice, but nobody talks about it in Jewish context. So you're right, it's there. But unless you're looking for it, or unless you're lucky enough to have a teacher who's steeped in it, and willing to teach it, you're never going to know. But there's also I mean, there's, there's, we could go on for an hour just on the different kinds of meditative practices. But mantra is one. But you also have something similar to what's called nada yoga, in the Hindu tradition, listening for it, sound yoga. And so in Judaism, you're listening for what's called the cold demand. Medaka, the still small voice in King James Version, or the fragile voice of silence. And whether you're talking Hinduism, or you're talking Judaism, there's this teaching that the universe has a hum, you know, it's, it's a musical thing that's happening, and you can tune into it. If it's not magic, I mean, you just be quiet. And you listen. And I practice that every day also. And you can find this you know, the Hindus will call it say its own, we don't have an actual sound for it, we just call it this fractal voice of silence. But you can you can hear it in your and you know, it's not coming from your your head. And it's not exactly coming from any place outside your head. There's just this sound, and you can take refuge in that.
Alex Ferrari 18:30
And it was, I was watching a recent documentary in regards to sound and spirituality and, and the vibrations of sound and how certain sound waves can affect certain things and the power of sound. And then you go through all the cultures, every kind of, they all have either a song, a bond, a mantra that they say literally like even American Indians with the beating of the of the drum and how that beat when you start when you start doing it as a collective. The group actually there, I think it's either their brainwaves, or I think there's their brainwaves or their heartbeat, I forget which one actually starts to time. Oh, yeah, with the beat of it's fascinating to start thinking about it. But these are 1000 year old traditions that kind of get lost in the last in the main reason.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 19:21
But it's, can I jump in on this? If I could please, please, please. I was in Prague in the Czech Republic. And I was part of this wonderful interfaith group that I used to travel with pre COVID. And we were at this European Union gathering at this ancient monastery in Prague. And at one point, the leader asked me to teach just what you're talking about. So we gathered, huddled together and there may be I'm guessing, let's say 3035 people, we've gotten into a clump, and I asked them, each person can sort of find your heartbeat and just tap it like a drum. And then we started to chant now, because there was this great Indian mantra teacher in the group. I used to Hindu Trent Hindu chant, we chanted Ramana Maharshi via. And so I started with that. And he obviously was delighted, because he knew it better than I did. So he really picked it up and everyone else picked it up. And you're absolutely right. Within just moments. Everybody's heartbeat was beating in sync. And there was this real palpable sense of unity. It was, I mean, it sounds silly, but you know, it's like, Bob Marley, you know, one heart. And, you know, it's like that, right? It was just this one heart beating. And when we stopped the exercise, and went back to our chairs, the whole energy in the room it shifted, because there was a real union there. Because we had all I don't know, we were all in sync to the one heart
Alex Ferrari 20:53
To the one beat. Yeah, and I saw it in, in multiple colors. I mean, it did, it just kept showing culture after culture and, and philosophies and religions and different sorts of people throughout and every kind of person, or human being around the planet, they all have some sort of either sound, I know the Buddhists use the, the, you know, the the Tibetan Buddhist, the bowl, and the gongs and the it's constant. And it does, there's this unification of the group with the sound which I found. So fascinating. When you open yourself up to, to different ideas and cultures about the same topic. You start seeing different parts of the elephant, if you will. Exactly. Because Because there's one there's one guy in the corner going the tail is the way the tail is the way No, no, the trunk is the way the toe is the way. But when you are able to see, then you start seeing the bigger picture. And no one no one I don't think has the whole picture. But they all talk about, oh, your tail is like this. But my trunks also like this. We just call it something different. And we just look at things differently, like meditation is meditation. Different people have different practices, you could do TM, you can do mantra, you could just sit there quietly, you know, the candle meditation is 1000 meditations you could do, but it's still meditation still connecting to a higher power, connecting to your higher self. Is that Is that a fair statement?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 22:21
Yeah, yeah, I know, if I'm gonna nitpick, I don't like the word higher. But I won't have to do that. Well, I if I'm gonna use the word power, I coupled it with greater, because I don't I don't want to make a hierarchy out of it. But there is something greater than us this non dual reality of which we are apart. And you can I mean, you're all you're always connected to it, there's no way. It's yes, there's no way not to be connected. But you can block it. And that's what these practices are for on unblocking.
Alex Ferrari 22:54
Right and it's kind of like reminding yourself of who you truly are. Where we're down. Here we are. I always use the term you know, I'm not the only one to do this the matrix. You know, so many of us believe that we're in the matrix and that the matrix is real. But the truth is, what's behind the matrix, which is our our soul, our spirit, our connection to that greater power, the oneness of all of us the connection of all of us. And it's really interesting how society has shifted ever since the internet came into play. Because you and I are both of of ages of remembering when there was no internet, no public Internet, but now are my children at least. They're born into a world that's connected, that everything, everything is right here. Everything is connectable. You can talk to somebody in Istanbul over zoom call, like as long as they have an internet connection, they can get so that idea of connection of interconnectivity at multiple different levels, whether it be the physical level, economic, environmental and spiritual is a concept that is being they're born into they're not having to be taught it as much as you and I were.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 24:07
So there's there's an event I mean, I don't know how will your kids are how old? They're 1010 So I've got a six year old grandson and the same thing that he's born into that the the interesting thing or maybe the horrifying thing about the internet is that it reflects the best and the worst of human consciousness right of course there's you know, what was it's mostly for porn and violence spreading you know, racist, misogynist, anti semitic homophobe
Alex Ferrari 24:36
Absolutely there's that there's that too.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 24:39
So because that's that's us, we create these tools and then we use them to project the best and the worst of us. But the idea you know, when the Catholic mystic to shut down came up with the idea of and now sphere that there was this consciousness that was you know, surrounding us. And you know, why, what is that? But now you go Oh, you mean the internet? Right? So he didn't mean the internet. Exactly. But we don't have to, we have a tool that points toward this greater, you know, idea, this greater idea. And that's the hope if there is any, for for our time. But again, we use it in such horrible ways.
Alex Ferrari 25:22
Well, it's a hammer can build a house or it can create great destruction, it's, you know, it is always any great tool, there's always going to be a duality to it. You could do good with it, or you could go you could evil with it. It's always that way. It's always been that way. Since we since we created our first tools, but we hope that there is a shift. I mean, I am hopeful that there is a shift moving and people are moving, which I wanted to ask you to. I mean, the world is going through something right now. I mean, it's going through something of a major shift. I call it the edge of sketching of, of humanity right now is because we're getting shaking up. Well, yeah, I guess I'm dating myself and shaking, or shaking things up to a point where the environment, the political environment, the economic economies, the pandemic, it is shaking us up in a way, globally, which is really interesting, because it's never happened. To my understanding in human history. We all felt the pandemic, at the same time, every human being on the planet was like, if you would have told me the entire world was going to shut down for a month, can you can you imagine I would have been laughed out of anywhere. But that's exactly what happened. And it made us gave us all time to shift and think, hmm, maybe maybe driving an hour or two to work every day and not spending time with my kids. And this is maybe not what I want to do. It really did shift a lot. And you could see the whole list in the West. People just started to change their priorities. Like, wait a minute, I've been at home with my family for six months, I like this. And I've been working at home, I don't want to go back to an office, these kind of ideas. What do you think is happening to us? And where do you think this is all going for us?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 27:08
I think that what's happening is that there is I think we're entering into a new dark age. I think this is the Kali Yuga. This is this is you know, it's a global crucifixion of human civilization. If you want me there's three,
Alex Ferrari 27:25
It's very positive, very uplifting, Thank you!
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 27:28
But you have to go through the dark night in order to come out into the light, it's a spiral, so you're gonna go, it's not it's not a devolution, and then we can't get out of it, it's you go into the dark, and then you're going to come out again in the light, and then it's going to be dark again. So So there's, there's this dynamic between, you know, the young and the Yin here as we as we go through cycles. But they're, I think they're all connected the war in Ukraine, which is the first large, you know, land war in Europe or in Europe, since World War Two, it could trigger World war three, easily. Global Climate collapse in many places, is going to all this stuff, the violence with the hand goat with the weapon, not just ar 15, but with handguns and all the other things that you see in the United States. I mean, that's really all I really know. But you know, these things, if not the gun violence, these other things are happening everywhere. All of that is a sign of this great, dark night that we're moving into. And it it's like an x x sketch, in the sense that it gives us an opportunity to shatter all the stuff that's that doesn't work. You know, we're gonna see when I mean this horrible as the Ukraine thing is, and as an as horrible, tragic as the mass exodus of people trying to get into the United States from the from Latin America, South America. This, this is just a hint of what's coming. When climate change hits more strongly, we're going to have this massive climate migration. And if our response is to build another wall, which you know, either virtual or physical, if our response is to keep these people out, we're looking for a huge global. I don't know if you call it a civil war, but but certainly global violence and violence on a global stage. And we've got to find other ways to deal with the struggle human we have to see them not as other but as fellow humans. Of course, we have to go beyond that and see the same with regard to all species that are all part of a single eco system. And if we don't love our neighbor, who sometimes is a human and sometimes is an elephant and sometimes is the salmon and sometimes is, you know, the rainforests, if we can't love all of that as a part of ourselves because it is, then we're, we're doomed as a civilization Earth will continue nature will continue, but it won't have us in it, or very few of us. So I think that's what's happening is we're going into this dark night and the question is, what's going to guide us through it? So right now, what's guiding us through this by wizard from the TV is fear, or anger, outrage, you know, whatever, you know, different ways of manifesting, but it's all anger based, it's all fear based. At the same time, as you were saying, just a little while ago, there's this increasing number of people who are saying now, I'm, you know, like the spiritual but not religious idea, the spiritually independent person. If people like that can discover what I call perennial wisdom, there's hope for humanity. Perennial wisdom, is the title I made up for the title of a book. But the idea has been around forever. Perennial wisdom is a four fold truth at the Mystic heart of every religious tradition. And I think you'd see it in science now, too. It's very simple. I mean, the first of the four, is what we've been saying everything is a manifesting of a single non dual reality. Number two humans and maybe others, but I only speak because let's just keep it here right now. Yeah, right. Humans have the innate capacity to know ourselves as a part of this larger reality. We can move from narrow mind to spacious mind. Number three, when you make that shift, and you realize we're all part of this single dynamic, then loving your neighbor, operating by the golden rule, or as the pits put in Genesis, chapter 12, verse three, being a blessing to all the families of the earth, human and otherwise, that becomes axiomatic. You know, we're, we're all one body in a sense, and we have to take care of the entirety. So, so loving one another becomes axiomatic once you experience the fact that we're all part of the same thing. And then the fourth one is awakening to this non dual reality and living by the golden rule being a blessing. Those together comprise the highest human calling, that's what we're here to do. And if we can see that, that business as usual, is devastating society and the planet nature and upsetting my dog. If yes, yes. If if we can understand that, then we can go well, what's the alternative? And I think the alternative is the mystic alternative of what I'm calling perennial wisdom.
Alex Ferrari 32:52
Yeah, it's, it's fascinating that Oh, my God, it wouldn't be wouldn't life be a lot easier if everyone understood those four principles. And meditate a little bit more.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 33:03
And if the churches, synagogues, temples and ashrams, if the religious institutions would say, well, let's listen to our mystics, here's what here are the four things they say, then we would all be learning it, we'd learn it from in different flavors, because there's a Catholic way of saying it, and then a church way of saying it, but that just makes it more interesting. But we'd learned those four things, we'd live by those four things, and thing, and while the Dark Knight is coming in, there's nothing we can do to stop it. We can navigate through it, and come out at the other end, more loving, more compassionate more just
Alex Ferrari 33:38
Well, we do, I think, what you're saying I agree with 100%. And I do also believe that in order to shift out of this status quo of business as usual, something drastic has to happen. Is Yeah, and it's and people are like, I can't get any worse than my goal. If I would have told you, we're gonna have a land war in Europe, you would have laughed. And I don't know what I don't know what else is coming. When it's coming. But it is, there. There's there's signs that this is not over. But there has to be something to shift this out. And the pandemic was the entry point. I think, for me, at least, the strongest opening act of this, the Shakespearean play,
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 34:26
You know, for some people, the pent like me, I was privileged enough to go through the pandemic. I mean, there was death in my family, but we're which is, which is, you know, a tragedy. But you know, I didn't, I didn't, I had enough savings I had, I was old enough that I was retired. I mean, all these different things, worked in my favor so that I could go through the pandemic, without that sense of isolation that a lot of people felt without, I mean, I don't know if it's true or not, but people are saying a lot of the gun violence What we're seeing in the United States is related to lock downs. I don't know if that's true. I mean, you don't see any China and they have worse lock downs than we do.
Alex Ferrari 35:08
But, but they also don't have guns. They also don't. There's that.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 35:13
But but but for some people, that pandemic could be a trigger for something spiritually transformative. Sure. And for other people, it was just a disaster that they've got to claw their way out of. So I don't want to romanticize any given thing, but the pandemic and the land war in Europe and the climate collapse, and you know, all these economies, yeah, they everything, it's gonna, it's going to coalesce. And it's, we're in,
Alex Ferrari 35:42
We're in, we got to hold on where we got to hold on to and buckle in, because we're going to be going through some stuff. And I think I agree with you 100% on all on all Avenue on all avenues of our discussion, because it's like I've said this on the show multiple times. And I've heard this from forgot who said it, but chaos is the fertile ground for change. And we are definitely in a world we're starting to get closer to the chaos and in many places, we are in chaos. And that's when things things have to be. Unfortunately, you have to break things down before they can grow. Just like a muscle in a gym.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 36:18
Yeah, exactly. And have been one of the ways you break things down. I mean, I'm just looking behind you. You've got the book awake. Yes. So is that
Alex Ferrari 36:26
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 36:29
So there's people like Yogananda there's people like Ramana, Maharshi, and Nisargadatta Maharaj. I mean, these great non dual teachers, and there are many in the Western tradition as well. But But if, if we break down the, the narrow consciousness by just even reading some of these people, and then picking up, you know, maybe Kriya Yoga from from para Hamsa Paramahansa Yogananda, or, or the practice of self inquiry inquiry from Ramana, Maharshi. I mean, there's, the practices of there are there, they've been there for millennia. The teachers, one of the amazing things about living in the 21st century, is you can get all these amazing teachers in your head in English, in our case, you know, if you don't have to go and learn another language, that they're all translated, and there's tremendous option for spiritual revolution. But you have to seek it out. And you know, podcasts like yours, and the books like, looks like you're having yourself are
Alex Ferrari 37:39
In books like this Of course, of course. And of course, your books, anything you write, sir,
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 37:44
Right? Go out here, that's really the first step is to go out and buy all 36 of my books. And you know, now that'll be there.
Alex Ferrari 37:53
And then you're on the path to spiritual enlightenment.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 37:55
Yeah, you have to read them just pay for him. That's how I
Alex Ferrari 37:59
No you're absolutely right. I mean, when I, when I picked up Autobiography of a Yogi, the ideas and that shifted me. And it took me years to understand it, it was such deep concepts for me, I had to break out of that. And that could be you could find that in some great mystic books in any tradition. It doesn't have to be just the, you know, the, the Hindu or the, or the Eastern philosophies or things like that. But the more I study the different philosophies of the of, of the world and the mystic arts of the world. I just keep seeing the same ideas just just discussed in different flavors.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 38:40
The perennial wisdom, I mean, it's just it's everywhere.
Alex Ferrari 38:42
It's it's a it really is. And if you can get past the, the dogma of it all, sometimes it really would help. I think humanity without question, now, I wanted to ask you something. It's so many of us. We walk around lost in this in this life. We walk around trying to figure out why we're here. What are we what's our purpose? You know, it can't be to go to a nine to five all day for 40 years retire, and then die five or six years after you retire because you've killed yourself with a heart attack because of all the stress that you did for the first 40 years. That can't be it. So so many of us feel lost and I think more than more now than ever, people are trying to like they feel adrift at sea. What advice do you have for people to help them find their purpose to find that thing that they're here to do? Because I do believe that everyone does come with a mission big or small but something that they're put here to do I don't believe there's an accident. The like, Oops, John showed up. I don't know what John's gonna do. Like I don't believe that. I believe John's here for a specific reason. What how do you how would you suggest we find that in in us,
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 40:01
I think the first thing to do is to stop looking, you know, if I'm looking for my purpose, and I don't find it in a and I'm looking B, and it's not B, I'll jump over to F, and it's not f, I'll try y. And I just keep jumping around looking for my purpose, and I may, you know, die from the extraordinary the, the exhaustion of jumping from thing to write, I think that that our purpose isn't hidden. It's just that we are distracted. Right? And that if we could settle down for 20 minutes a day, you know, do like meditation, but if you can just sit and be quiet. And I mean, you might start with a mantra or something to help yourself quiet down a little bit. But eventually you just sit without any expectation without, okay. It's not like, What is my purpose? What is my purpose? What is it? You know, that's not the mantra, they just just as to be who you are in the moment. And let all your thoughts just roll. I mean, when teachers tell me stop, you know, empty the mind empty your mind. Yeah, well, I can't do that. I don't nobody can do that. No,
Alex Ferrari 41:10
I just, I just had a Buddhist monk on who has been meditating for 40 years. He says, Yeah, that's crazy. No one could do that.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 41:16
That's not, you just let the mind do what the mind does. But you don't latch on to it, which immediately tells you you're not the mind. And if you sit for just a few minutes, and watch your thoughts, without thinking about them, you realize, I'm not even thinking these things. They're just coming into my head. And eventually you get in, and I don't think it takes that long. But eventually, you get to the realization that you're not what you think you're not what you feel you're something else. And something that is fundamentally undefinable. And when you can rest in whatever that is, just by being quiet, and just letting it unfold, I think the purpose reveals itself. Now the purpose though, it may not be to write a symphony, or to discover a new, you know,
Alex Ferrari 42:10
Land or whatever.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 42:11
Sure. Yeah. Right. It may simply be. Well, I'll tell you a story. There's this wonderful Rabbi Larry Kushner, who tells this story, his dad died. And he started carrying his father's prayer shawl is tallied around, if I'm remembering the story, right. And whenever he would travel, he would just carry it in his briefcase, and he's on an airplane. He's talking to this guy and discovers they're both they're both Jewish, and the guy has just come from his father's funeral. And he says he's very upset because he wanted to keep his father's prayer shawl, but they buried his father. And so he didn't, didn't have it. It's in the ground in the grave. And Kushner says, oh, wait a minute, and he opens up his bag. And I've been carrying this prayer shawl around forever. I had no idea why. Ah, now I know why I was waiting to meet you on this plane here. This is my father's but this was meant for you. And according to the you know what, what Larry says, it changed the skies. As far as he could tell on the airplane, he just changed his mind is consciousness, he suddenly lit up, there was no guilt about his dad, there was this new connection. Now, I'm not saying that's the only reason Larry was on the planet. But it could be something as simple and yet, as profound as that. So you don't know what it is you don't and you don't have to know what it is you simply have to be open to what you're called to do moment to moment. And it doesn't have to be just one thing. It may be you know, today, there was an opportunity to do x and you did it. And that was your purpose today. But if you try to recreate that tomorrow, now you're, you're living an echo of the past, you're, you're not even present.
Alex Ferrari 44:02
I mean, you I mean you you're gonna be you're gonna be a Zen Buddhist. And then you ended up going down the rabbi path, and then you became an author. And then it just changes constantly, constantly. I mean, I started off as a film filmmaker, and I still am a filmmaker, but then I jumped into podcasting. I had an olive oil company at one point I don't that's a whole long story. And, and I've written books and it's constantly shifting in the same arena, for the most part, but not always, you know, I did I launched a spiritual podcast, a spiritual company, to do things differently outside of my other careers. And so it's constantly you're constantly shifting throughout. It doesn't have to be the one thing but my my definition of that is, is it making you happy? Are you are you truly, truly happy with inside you by doing this? Would you be doing this for free? If if You didn't have to worry about money, right? That's always the big question for me and, and I love doing this I love sitting down having conversations with, with folks like yourself and having these kinds of fantastic conversations and hopefully helping people along the way. So, you know, people listening, I want you to understand that. It's not just the one thing I'm like, I, I just want to be a writer, and I'm only going to be a writer of this kind of book for the rest of my life. Like, no, you can, you can show no, you don't you don't know where things are going to take you.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 45:29
You can, you can shift. And sometimes it's not what you do as a career. Right? It could be something outside, you may be doing a job because you have to put food on your table. But you find some other way that feeds your soul. Right? So and I mean, my purpose. I mean, I do a lot of things. But my purpose is to take my dog for a walk several times a day, because she has to go out.
Alex Ferrari 45:58
And that's one of many purposes, you have purpose. Yeah. depends on the time of day. That could be it could be to write a new book, I have to write that new chapter. Or it could be I gotta go clean,
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 46:08
So go outside. And eventually, it's all the same.
Alex Ferrari 46:14
At the end of the day, it's all a meditation. Now, another thing that we all suffer through so much is fear. Fear is, as we were saying earlier, is it runs running what's going on right now, if God forbid, you watch the news. You're terrified of even walking outside? How can we overcome fear, not just external fear, but internal fears, because external fear, to a certain extent, I understand it's, we're pre wired by that. And we have a negative bias in our minds, because you don't want to get eaten by the tiger, the bear around the quarter that I understand. But the internal fears of following your dream, of taking a chance of going down certain paths of things that stop us from progressing, even fear of leaving a possible dogmatic situation in a religion. So that's to open your mind to listening to other ideas are the things how can we break through those fears?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 47:17
So, you know, I don't have an you know, I don't have the answer. I'll give you my answer. Fair enough. First, first thing is I mean, if we're talking about fear, fear is an emotion. And emotions are not directly controllable by your will. I mean, you don't know you're afraid until you're afraid. Now you're stuck. Now. That's number one. Number two, is we're mostly afraid of the past. So something happened to me or I read something that happened to others. And now I'm projecting into the future, oh, that plane crashed, I'm gonna go take a plane ride. Now I'm afraid to do it, because the plane crashed in the past. Our fears are oftentimes just projections from either past experience or past information gleaned from the past. The way though, to work through it. And this may seem very simplistic, but this is what I would do this is what I do is, again, this mantra practice, if you have a mantra that centers you, it doesn't center you in the fear, it centers you in the in the infinite, of which you are apart. And then the fear may be present. But what was a big fear when you're a small ego becomes a smaller fear when you are the infinite self. So it's the fear may be there, but it's no longer that clanging debilitating thing, because you're much bigger than that, then it is. So I don't try to get rid of the fear, I try to expand myself to my truest self. And then the fear just is just part of the background noise.
Alex Ferrari 48:54
It's, if I can jump in for a second, because you said some things are so fascinating to me. When you meditate, you connect to the infinite self, meaning the larger thing where the ego is this small thing that's terrified of everything. But when you connect to the truth, if you will, or to who you truly are, the fear kind of whittles away a little bit. And again, this is the fear of the internal fear. I'm not talking if there's a lying in front of you. Fear is good. You want to be afraid of the moment that you're in. Don't sit and start doing mantras if that the line is attacking. They'll say Oh, as he's taking a chunk out of you, right? So fear has its place. I'm talking about the internal fear of what you're saying, living in the past, which are our memories or living in the future, which is our imagination, which and it's generally never as bad as we ever think it's going to be like you just said, I'm getting on a plane, planes crash. I'm going to generally that doesn't happen as a generalist. Amen. But I love that idea that when you center yourself and meditate, you fall into or connect to this larger network of humanity, of not humanity, of the oneness of the infinite. And when you're there, you're like, How can I be afraid of this makes no sense to be afraid of this. But when you're the ego, and you're only living here it that, of course, you're terrified of the tax bill, or of getting fired of your boss. But when you're connected to a larger by meditation connecting to the larger infinite self, you become, I love the term bigger. So it's almost almost like spreading your wings, if you will.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 50:44
Yeah, yeah. And it's it, the fear may still be there. But yeah, no longer developing. I when I was in elementary school, and a fifth grade, if I remember, right, there was this kid who, you know, bully. Sure. And at one point, he pushed me against a wall, not like Sasaki Roshi, with my best interest in mind. But he pushed me against the wall. And he started just pounding me with his fists in my stomach. Oh, but he was very small. And I was very large. And he was giving, he was giving me his best shot he was giving me he's giving the goods. And I looked down at him. And it was it was ineffective, because I was so much bigger. And I said, What are you doing? And he looked up at me, I don't know. And he walked away. And it's it's just a mess. But it's true story. But it's a metaphor. If you if you become large in the spirit kind of thing, then the things that are that are attacking, you are just not as effective when you're small. And you can deal with them more effectively. either ignore them move beyond them, or maybe eliminate them. It depends what we're talking about. But but it's it's a, it's realizing your truer, larger infinite self with a capital S, and not being locked into the small ego Excel for the lowercase s.
Alex Ferrari 52:13
I feel there's a book there, sir. I think grab it. There's 100 tire book wrapped around that one story, which you can expand into your next book. I'm just I'm just throwing, I want no commission, I'm just throwing it out.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 52:24
You never know where the inspiration will come?
Alex Ferrari 52:29
Now, I love asking this question. I'd love to hear your perspective on it. What is your definition of consciousness?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 52:36
I haven't got a definition of consciousness. Consciousness is that capacity to make definitions of consciousness? You know, consciousness isn't an object that I can define. I think consciousness is the subject that does the defining, it's like, asking, so who is the true self? I don't think you can, you can say that there is a dimension of reality that is pure subject. It manifests as object. But in and of itself, it's pure subject and cannot know itself, because that creates a division that doesn't exist within it. So just to bring it back to Judaism for a second. In Exodus, when Moses meets God at the burning bush and ask God, what's your name? The first name that God reveals to Moses is efia A share here, which most English Bible say I am, that I am or I am becoming what I'm becoming. The word here is a verb. It's the verb to be first person imperfect. So it's an ongoing beingness. So God says, I'm the I, the ion of the universe. And then as soon as God says that in the story, guys is oh, wait a minute, no one's going to understand that. And then he gives the four letter name of God that's literally unpronounceable, because it has no vowels, which is the same verb, but as an object. So the FTA is the subject. The YHVH are the UK verb, hey, is God manifest as objects? So everything I see is the happening of God. You know, my computer, you know, everything around me in there. Everything is a manifesting of God, but the seer itself. I can't see it. Because then because I am it. You know, it's I can't bite my own teeth. Alan Watts says, You can't hear your own ears. I can't, you know, there's this wonderful guy. Oh, named Swami. He wrote the book on having Douglas Harding, on having no head. And Douglas Harding was this engineer, British engineer who became this amazing mystic. And he had this realization that I can see everything around me and I can see my body up to about here, but I've never actually seen my face. By the way, I've seen my hand, because I can't turn my eyeballs, you know, inside out. He says you have no head. You've never seen it. It's just this space out of which consciousness pours. And of course, I've seen pictures of it, and I can put my hands on it and, but it's a metaphor. And he says, You've there's this open, infinite expanse, out of which you see the world. Meister Eckhart says the eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me as the same concept. So consciousness is this undefinable reality that everyone is experiencing. And I think I'm sort of a pan psychic, I think everything is conscious, you know, so not just living beings. But you know, this mug is conscious. Rocks are conscious when Jesus says, split a log and I you know, I am there or turn up a rock, turn over a rock, you'll find me there. I think what he's saying is you'll find the I Am consciousness as a log as a rock as a mug as as everything, but you can't pinpoint it and say, Oh, that's it, or there it is. Because it doesn't it just can't be done. It's It's the sea or cannot see itself. So anyway, long way of saying, I don't know.
Alex Ferrari 56:18
That was a fantastic definition of a non definition I've ever heard in my life. I was great. Now your your new book is called Jews, Judaism without tribalism. Can you discuss how we can kind of get past this kind of toxic tribalism? I mean, I don't know if there's a point that tribalism is good. But But this tribalism that we have, it seems that definitely in the political world here in the United States, I've never seen it like this before. But it's not only here. It's it's over in Europe as well. And in different countries.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 56:50
It's part of human nature. But let me let me say I'm not against tribe. What a computer. What kind of computer do you use?
Alex Ferrari 56:58
I'm obviously a Mac, sir. Come on, okay.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 57:02
Are in the Apple tribe?
Alex Ferrari 57:04
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 57:05
Nothing wrong with that. Agree, tribe is fine. Unless we decide, and I'm never going to have dinner with a Microsoft person. Or I mean, you have a Dell computer. You can't marry my daughter. Right?
Alex Ferrari 57:18
I've I've obviously never spoken to anyone who has one, sir. That's a that's the exact religion
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 57:23
That exactly. So tribe is natural tribalism is when you take tribe to the extreme and you use it to, to separate people from one another. So So you know, me, Jews are a tribe, tribe, multiple tribes, and there's nothing wrong with that. But tribal ism is when you say my tribe is better than your tribe, as opposed to saying people divide into tribes. So and that's when I say Judaism, without tribalism, it's Judaism without the I don't know what you call it. I mean, we're not the claim. For example, I mean, tribalist Judaism is rooted in three teachings, which are all false, in my estimation, but the first one is, there is a God outside the universe who chose the Jews and only the Jews, I had to be is because it's always male, his chosen special people, the chosen people, I mean, that Joseph, so that's the first point. The second point is we're chosen for what we're chosen to receive his one and only revelation. That's the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, God has nothing to do with Bhagavad Gita and nothing to do with the Holy Quran, nothing to do in New Testament. God has one revelation, it's the Torah, the Jews have it. And then the third point is, along with the Torah, we received in perpetuity, the deed to the Holy Land, no matter who's been living there before us. Or if we when we left, who is there for the last 1000s of years? None of that counts. It's ours. That's tribal ism. That's tribalism. And that gets us into trouble. When When Christians say that only Christians, you know, are saved, that's tribalism, when I don't know if they still say this. But years ago, the president of the Southern Baptist conference made a big stink by saying, God does not hear the prayers of Jews. Well, you know, according to his definition, God doesn't hear the prayer of anybody who doesn't end their prayer with the magic words, in Jesus name, we pray. So he said Jews, but he could have said Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists or secular people who if they pray or when, you know, I'm saying that it's that's tribalism. He could have said, you know, God, here's all prayers, the way we pray is God. We want God to know that we're Christian so we put in that little tag now I don't believe in a God like that or whatever but
Alex Ferrari 59:59
Declare Because God's like getting so many messages his secretary can you deal with? Are you Jewish? Christian? I can't
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:00:06
Put them in the right inbox, you know. But you know that that kind of thinking is is tribalist. And we have to get over that. Yeah. But tribe will continue. People like to hang out with people who think like them so that that's okay. But when you take it further, and you make it really divisive, that's that's the kind of thing I'm, I'm pushing against here.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:30
Yeah, and I agree with I mean, and the analogy of the Mac PC wars of of the 80s. And 90s. I mean, you mean once your Mac, your Mac, your user, and that's it. And before I mean, I could care less. I mean, it doesn't if you want to use a PC and I use if you want to use whatever sans I don't care, you know, but there was there were event there's literally an evangelist of Apple evangelist inside of the court. That's an actual job.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:00:59
Yeah. Is it still a thing it used to be? It used to be
Alex Ferrari 1:01:03
Guy Kawasaki was the evangelist. Yeah, he would just go around preaching the gospel of Apple. Yeah. It kind of gives you it gives the spotlight to kind of the lunacy of, of tribalism in many ways when you when you with a with a computer technology, if you will. And that's just a simple thing.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:01:24
Because if I mean, let's, we don't have to overdo the analogy. Sure. But, you know, so So on an iMac is an effective way of tapping into the internet. But no more effective. Not that I would know, because I would never actually touch one, but not more than a PC, you know that that's linked to the internet. It's just two different ways to get to the same cosmic mind, you know? So it makes no sense, but to say, Oh, I can't have dinner with you, because you own a Dell or I can't have you can't marry my child because you use a PC. And we're a Mac family. I mean, no, it's it's absolutely insane.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:06
It is it is, and I gotta help it, it seems to be getting worse for some strange reason. Well, that's because of the fear. And yeah, because everyone's starting to get in and
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:02:18
More afraid I am, the more I rushed to my tribe. And then I build walls around it to keep the other tribes out. Because they're, I've defined them as the problem.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:26
So is the world going to have to be attacked by aliens for everybody to get together like an Independence Day? Or are what is going to what is it going to take us to break this?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:02:40
And I'm assuming is true. But all I can say is it's anecdotal. I heard that Ronald Reagan had a meeting, I think with Gorbachev, right, because it's Mr. Gorbachev tear down this treasure, treasure. But he had this meeting with Gorbachev, and he said to Gorbachev, if the Earth were attacked by aliens from outer space, now, this is long before independence day, but our Independence Day, if the Earth were being attacked by aliens from outer space, could we work together and defend the planet? And Gorbachev said, Absolutely. And Reagan said, Okay, so we're really on the same team. Let's see how we can work together. Now, I'm not so sure anymore. Because global climate collapse is the equivalent of an attack on, you know, human civilization around the globe. And we are not working together. And I think I mean, you know, some of those smaller islands that are just going to become like Atlantis and get drowned. Are we going to help those people? Are we going to just say, Oh, that's terrible. Or are we going to do something about Well, I think the thing is, we're gonna it's gonna say, Oh, it's terrible.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:48
The thing with the climate though, it's a slow moving train, if you will, as opposed to alien invasion is right there in your face right now. So it's a different analogy, but but I do understand what you're saying like, you know, with climate said, you could just keep saying, Oh, yeah. And we got another 100 years and another 50 years, when an alien as a Reagan on you. It started to get together. So let's see what happens.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:04:13
We'll see what happens. But but you know, that's why we like movies like Independence Day. But of course, the heroes of Independence Day were Americans. Obviously the President was, you know, a nice white American man who gave a great speech. Yeah. Oh.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:30
Oh, each All right, writer that was amazing.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:04:34
Yeah, I mean, I just a great time doing that.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:36
I just thought I just saw the new Top Gun movie. Oh, really? I mean, it's it's phenomenal. First of all, I loved it. And it's you know, everybody's you know, I think we all needed it. But it skew Umair excuse American. Yeah. No doubt about it. It's it
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:04:54
It's Hollywood. Hollywood has only probably two concerns skewing American and making money the Chinese it'd be offended the Chinese they can't make any money.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:03
You know what's funny though, in Top Gun, they offended the Chinese because they put the Taiwanese flag on the back of Mavericks jacket. And they originally took it off, but they said, Oh, we're not even gonna get into China. So why even care anymore? So there's that.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:05:17
Good for them.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:18
Oh, hey, you know they're doing they're doing okay, they're doing okay. I had a couple questions left that I wanted to ask you. You answered this in another show. But I'd love to hear you bring it here to my audience. What is truth?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:05:32
Oh, what did I say on the other show?
Alex Ferrari 1:05:34
It was extremely good. Really? Altering. So no pressure.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:05:40
I have no idea what I said on the other show. Can we can we quickly put this on pause and look it up? And then
Alex Ferrari 1:05:48
Whatever comes to mind,
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:05:49
Yeah, whatever comes to mind. So I mean, truth to me is, I mean, reality. It's the existential, happening of reality at any given moment. There is no, I mean, when I laid out the four points of perennial wisdom, I think they're true. One, I pick on the idea of the chosen people, I think that's not true. That's false. But truth with a capital T is this moment, you and I talking, everything that's going around, going around me in my in my study, but going around the world, that's That's true. That's reality. What we do, is we replace truth with belief. And that's a problem. Because belief is something we affirm as truth, without having any evidence that it is true. Right? So Jews are the chosen people. So some people affirm that is true. And they make it an existential cosmic truth. But there's no evidence for that other than the Bible that claims it. And that's just circular reasoning.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:59
Have you seen that this movement, which is amazing, I saw it on 60 minutes, there was a movement that was started at a college, that all birds,
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:07:10
Birds are not true, birds are untrue, or birds are not real. Birds are not real
Alex Ferrari 1:07:14
Birds are not real. And it's become a movement. And it's ironic, and the guy who created it, he is very, it's a satire of how insane we all are with these kinds of Braves.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:07:25
All birds, and then it was were killed and replaced by drones that are monitoring us are monitoring us.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:31
And the funny thing is, he would go to people in the street, they don't know any, but don't know anything. Did you? Did you know that the birds are here, and then people would be like, oh, yeah, I heard about the birds dying off years ago. These are all and you're just sitting there going? This is This is insane. So we are we are in a world where there's a conversation about math. There's, there's a conversation about of science, there's a conversation that the world is flat, we're back to the world is flat. So that truth in belief thing is so dangerous now.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:08:06
Yeah. And again, belief is not testable. So even if you, you know, okay, maybe the world is flat, let's go to the edge and look to see what you know, off the side. And you never find the edge. Well, a person who believes that the earth is flat, is not going to lose their belief by walking all the way around the sphere. It doesn't change. I mean, you know, we're going to watch the first installment on Thursday night of the January 6 commission report. All right. But it's a foregone conclusion. I mean, I'm gonna believe what they say. And my neighbor who thinks it was all, you know, an anti hoax showing a hoax, they want, and they probably won't even watch it. And you know, so. So people, it's confirmation bias, people are going to believe what they already want to believe. Because it gives them some sense of hope, some sense of meaning, some sense of purpose, some sense of belonging. And you could take each of those things. There's hope, purpose, meaning belonging only in the hole, only in the realization that we're part of this infinite. You can say divine, I would say divine, but to this infinite reality, then then there's hope. And then there's purpose and then there's the belonging, and then there's truth, but everything anything short of that is just, you know, sacred opinion that we're afraid to challenge. And then we go into our tribalist cores based on those beliefs that we we can't prove and and can't just can't stand it or someone challenges us on those things because we know we can't prove them. So don't ask me, you know, don't challenge me to do and
Alex Ferrari 1:09:49
Also just in the ego can't allow itself to that. Yeah, Lee right. That's what I'm saying. And the longer that you believe something, the more entrenched you are in those beliefs because if if so if you've For the last 10 years believe that the world is flat and someone goes, here's a photo. Well, that's been dark. Like, if you just can't, you can't break them out of it.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:10:10
It's, I mean, some conspiracies are true. I think that Bill Gates did put microchips in the vaccine, and we're all being
Alex Ferrari 1:10:16
Obviously, you know, obviously, obviously,
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:10:18
The thing is, you know, satire, jokes, irony, no longer work. Because people take them literally, you know, because the birds are not real.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:28
The birds are not real, the birds are not real. Rob, I'm gonna ask you two questions, ask all of my guests. What is your mission in this life?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:10:38
I would say that my mission, if I have a mission, besides walking my dog, obviously cleaning? Yeah. If I have a mission, it's to to. I mean, I would fall back on this, my mission is to be a blessing to all the families of the earth, in whatever way I can do that. Now, I do I always live up to that. No, of course not. But if I had to say, what's my mission, my mission is to be a blessing. And I do that, to the best of my ability, or maybe not the best of my ability. But I do that, through my writing through my, you know, my, my dealings with my kids and my, my, my family and all that, but it's to be a blessing to all the families of the earth, not just certainly not just Jews, not just humans, but but all beings on the planet.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:30
And what is the ultimate purpose of life?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:11:33
I don't think life has an ultimate purpose. I think it is the ultimate purpose. You know, I think life is the purpose of life is life. And that you could ask the question, is there a direction to life? And then I would say, I would say yes, but I, I would say the evidence is, you could argue this, I think that the purpose of life is to be lucky is to feel like is life itself, and that there is a direction that over eons and eons and eons life. That is a belief really, I can't prove it. 100%. But it seems to me that over eons, life manifests itself in beings that are, have higher and higher levels of consciousness, and wider and wider circles of compassion. Because I think the two go together, the more conscious, the more compassionate. And I think that's the direction that life goes. And eventually so that, for example, you and I, humans, may be part. I mean, everything's part of that. So so we're part of that evolution, will we hit a dead end where we can't get any, we can't get beyond the tribal, or the tribal list, then we end up dying off, because that's the direction of life is toward higher consciousness, broader compassion. As long as we evolve in that direction, then we're fulfilling life's purpose, or at least participating in the direction of life, but to think it has a purpose other than itself. Now, then I've been if that sounds too dualistic to me, I don't know if that makes sense.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:18
It makes absolutely perfect sense is a fantastic answer to the question, Rabbi, and where can people find your new book, Judaism, without tribalism, and all 575 other books that you've written sir,
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:13:29
Right! You've gotta find Judaism without Tribalism at your local bookstore. And if they don't have it, and they're not going to order it for you, then you can always go online to Amazon, or go to the publisher and pick it up from them. But it's out this month, but not today. I don't know actually know today,
Alex Ferrari 1:13:49
It's in pre order. I think it's still in preorder.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:13:51
I was in pre order. I know it was number one, on Amazon in the Torah category. I don't know what else is. First of all, it's not a Torah book. But hey, look, to see what take it I'll take it.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:03
I'll tell you our number one best selling Amazon number one,
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:14:06
Right, you know, for about 30 seconds. So I looked up actual copies of the Five Books of Moses, the Torah, and the one that I happen to use in my office most often. I've got dozens of them, but the one I use most often, I think the number was it was 344. So and I was number one. So obviously take that Moses.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:30
Obviously you are the chosen ones. You are the chosen one. Yeah.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:14:35
They thought it was Donald Trump, but they are wrong. It is definitely me.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:39
Rabbi it has been such a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you for all the work and that you've done over the years and the energy that you're putting onto the world and hopefully your message will get out there and hopefully I've done a small part and getting it out there. So thank you so much, my friend. I truly appreciate you.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro 1:14:55
Thank you Alex. Your show is great. You're wonderful to talk with and you are a part word of that, helping expand the consciousness and widen the compassion. So thank you for having me. Be a part of that with you.
Links and Resources
- FREE Gaia Trail: Discover Gaia’s Thought-Provoking Movies and Inspirational Documentaries
- FREE Mindvalley Spiritual Masterclasses
If you enjoyed today’s episode, check us out on Apple Podcasts at NevelLevelSoul.com/apple and leave us a (hopefully) 5-star rating and a creative review.
Want to take your SOUL to the next level? Check out our curated Courses and Books that can help you along your path.