The Invisible Angels -Updated

I went to an one-day workshop at the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, in San Jose, California. It seeks what is divine in every person, independent of ethnicity and tribe and religion. The Reverend is a Lady named Ellen Grace O'Brian who signs the letters: "Reverence to the Divine within you."

The center is in a splendid colonial house on University Avenue with shady trees and old mansions in Rose Garden district of San Jose.
The meditation today was lead by Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro, who wrote many extraordinary books. He comes from the new movement of Renewal. He teaches a meditation course he calls "Shiviti: Living in the presence of God."

They were about 20 people. One lady with a tiny cross on her neck said she communicates with animals: squirrels, dogs, birds. Other lady was a Palo Alto social worker with wavy hair and intelligent eyes. Another woman with a beautiful voice assisted many terminal patients to feel better waiting for their death. They were few men. one was Pastor. Another was the husband of a lady who grew up Jewish in San Francisco, but forgot all about it.

As a mantra we sang:

Adonai. A-do-naiiii, elra-chum v'-cha-nun... erech a--payim

and then we walked meditating in the beautiful garden with old Spanish tiles and fountains with humming waters. Flowers were floating in tiny containers spread over the grass and lustful, yet restrained, wild-looking plants.

It was strange to see the Pastor and the Lady who spoke with squirrels, walking and saying Adonaiiii...

I thought what to ask God. I had a more direct conversation with my mother and father who are dead many years, yet, if I would not believe there a Divine, I could even try to utter a word. The feeling that they hear me, made me open.

I read in one of Rami's books that what we know for sure is that I will die and that I love my family and few other people. We are here temporarily part of an infinity. We have "nefesh" (which means "me" and has an ego). Nefesh means soul, but in Hebrew, there are 5 words for soul: nefesh, ruach, neshamah, Chayya and Yechidah, each one level higher than the other.

Talking with mother and father, I switched to God. I wanted to know what I really want. I want to know who really am I.

I went back to the room. We will repeat a few times the same: we go out, walk, try to say something, come back. In the second walk we walked slowly and said: HaRachaman, HaRachaman, HaRachaman, for twenty minutes. Again I see the Lady from San Francisco and a young woman with many earrings, saying HaRachaman HaRachaman.... HaRachaman .

Somebody asked what it means. It means the ONE who has pity. But we can say whatever we want: we can say Spaghetti, if we want and feel better. All we want is to change the low mood in spirited high mood.. We want to leave the "Mochin d'Katnut" (Katan means small in Hebrew) and reach the state of "Mochin d'Gadlut" (Gadol means great in Hebrew).

I went to eat in an Ethiopian Restaurant. , The Queen of Sheba on Alameda street on San Jose, one block away. Most people ate chip and fish, but the Ethiopian menu was on the last page. I ordered a vegetarian Atklit (curried vegetable stew made with carrots, potatoes, cabbage, peppers and onions) and Misir Key Tot (Lentils cooked in Berbere sauce (Spicy ....)

While eating, I started reading the last book of Rami Shapiro, named "Open Secrets" and it is dedicated to Father Thomas Keating.

In the foreword, Rami confesses that a few years ago , in spite of being the author of many books read all over the world, of being a successful Rabbi, of being invited by his peers to advise them, he "felt stale and listless." He talked to everyone (family, therapist, friends). They were sympathetic but could not help him.

So he turned to his Rabbi the Zalman Shachter Shalomi who knows Rami Shapiro for twenty years. Zalman said:

"Your teachings on the Internet, your books , your courses, all had a profound impact on the Jewish people, in America and South America and around the world.... You are a prophetic voice for the twenty-first century Judaism. ... When I am seeing you are not happy, I know why: enough with the Jews."

“Excuse me?”, said Rami

“Enough with the Jews”, repeated Rabbi Zalman who was sitting next to his wife, Eve. "now you must take your teachings beyond the walls of the synagogue."

"Am I supposed to become a missionary?"

"This is what I think: Shift your focus, no need to convert anyone. There is a need to enlighten people about what Judaism is and what it says. I suggest you offer Judaism for people who wish to learn from it as they do from Buddhism and Sufism. Create a Judaism for everyone, not just for Jews."

I clicked. There is an organization in Venice, CA, called One-River . They seek “spiritual literacy“ as an on-going quest for meaning and wisdom through the study of the world's spiritual literature: Baghavad Gita, Chuang Tzu, Dhammapada, Diamond Sutra, Gospel of Thomas, Hadith, Heart Sutra, Hebrew Bible, Koran, New Testament, and the Tao te Ching.

I left the restaurant, leaving part of the Misir Key Tot on the plate - it was really spicy. After lunch, all makes more sense.

Back in the classroom I hear the Pastor and beautiful ladies singing again Adonai mantra (mantra is plural, I learned).

Rami ended our day by saying we have two lives: Life 1 and Life 2.

In Life 1, stage 1, we accumulate: bicycles, cars, degrees, education, jobs, money, spouses and furniture and children.

Life 1 stage 2, is when we seek spirituality: we treat spirituality with the same desperation as we treat the accumulations from Stage 1: we buy CDs and tapes and books and attend retreats and seek answers, to the questions we have difficulty to ask, - or - hear replies that never quite make it.

The Life 2, we just exist (Hineni = I am ). No accumulations, just exist.

Life 2 is sad. It was the life of my mother in an old age home. I think Life 2, as Rami describes it, is a luxury. While he signed his book for me, I asked if he read "Values Prosperity and Talmud" by Larry Kahaner, It has a chapter of the spirituality of money. "Of Money?", he asked.  "Yes", of money.", I said.

I also wanted to remind him about the prayer for "parnasah" (a word that means the combination of a good livelihood without sacrificing the inner happiness). The prayer says something like that:

"God give us the food before we notice that we need it, make us have a bit more than enough to keep your obligations. Always you give my livelihood by opening your hand, and do not let us depend upon those made of flesh and blood..."

On Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year), we watch the letters of secret names of Gd that we are not allowed to say with loud voice and not even try to read them. Just look at them a few seconds, before going on...

The word of God we spell

' H I H - in Hebrew יהוה 

We say it Adonai, we do not pronounce the spelling  If we place it vertically, we see in Hebrew characters:
y

h

w

h
Every person we meet is accompanied by a an Angel from God. The angel is invisible, so we must look very intense at each person who walks on the street. We all have head, bodies, hands and legs. 'HIH sign resembles a head, a body, the hands and the legs human beings have.

Everyone has his or her Angel, almost invisible.

Joan Borysenko, Father Thomas Keating, Rabbi i Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbi Rami Shapiro
"Seized by Faith" organized by tells the stories of 10 spiritual leaders who have pioneered new ways for their ancient faiths to be accessible and meaningful today and demonstrate how spiritual faith can be a unifying force to create peace. Participants include Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi; Seyedeh Nahid Angha and Shah Nazar Sayed Dr. Ali Kianfar, Muslim Sufi; Sylvia Boorstein, Buddhist, Jewish; Joan Borysenko, Spiritual Mentor; Reverend Matthew Fox, Episcopalian; Andrew Harvey, Spiritual Activist; Sister Mary Jose Hobday, Native American, Catholic; Father Thomas Keating, Catholic; Reverend Mother Sudha Puri, Vedanta Hindu; and host Rabbi Rami Shapiro.

The event was organized by  The Renewal Jewish  Congregation, Pardes Levavot in Boulder Colorado


References:
Center for Spiritual Enlightenment
One River foundation

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