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Selections from That's Funny, You Don't Look Buddhist by Sylvia Boorstein, Copyright © 1997 by Sylvia Boorstein.  Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"...but to explain how my Buddhism has made me more passionately alive as a Jew. And how my renewed Judaism has made me a better Buddhist teacher."

Sylvia Boorstein, That's Funny, You Don't Look Buddhist
Part 2

One More River

I have discovered that the questions most asked of me by Jews are "how" questions. I am recognized as a Buddhist. I am also – and have become much more open about this part in the last few years – an observant Jew. Not only more open, but also more observant. Because I am a Buddhist. Because I have a meditation practice. So the questions now are: "How did that happen?" "What is your practice?" "Do you pray?" "To whom?" "Why?" "Do you also do metta (lovingkindness) practice?" "When do you do that?" "Why?" "What are your ‘observances,’ and why do you do them?" "How do you deal with the patriarchal tone of Jewish prayers?" "What is your relationship to the Torah?" "To Buddhist scripture?" Most of all, "How can you be a Buddhist and a Jew?" And, "Can I?"

The answer to the "how" questions requires that I tell my personal story. Certainly not my story as a prescription for anyone else, but to explain how my Buddhism has made me more passionately alive as a Jew. And how my renewed Judaism has made me a better Buddhist teacher.

When I realized the degree of personal exposure that telling my story would require, I became alarmed that I was going to rock the boat. I had been quietly enjoying a private life as a Jew and some new, pleasant recognition as a Buddhist teacher. I had been accepting invitations for some years to teach Jewish groups, and although I had worried initially that they would be hostile about my Buddhism, they weren’t. They invited me back. Then I worried about the Buddhists.

"What if the Buddhists get mad at me for not renouncing Judaism?"

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