Powerful Words from Rabbi Adam Jacobs

sunrise-4

(Rabbi Adam Jacobs was) ‘…a student in a yeshiva (Jewish college) directly opposite the Western Wall in the late ’90s. It was a high traffic area and it was not uncommon for tourists and visitors to pop in and take in the great view from our balcony. Periodically, this led to philosophical discourse between the yeshiva folk and our various and sundry visitors. Once in a while, juicy theological debates resulted.

One day I found myself well-seated to eavesdrop on one such exchange between a black-hatted, Rasputin-length-bearded rabbi and a young, secular Israeli soldier. After bantering around the meaning of life for a while, the rabbi asked the soldier what, exactly, it was that the soldier wanted out of life. “Well,” rejoined the soldier, “to be honest, I’m basically looking for … sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.”

“Great!” shouted the rabbi, “I totally agree.” Surprised (and somewhat more warmed to the conversation) the soldier pressed the rabbi to explain. “Well,” asked the rabbi, “what exactly is it that you like about drugs?”

“It’s the feeling of being beyond your boundaries — of connecting to something bigger than yourself.”

“Ahh, so you’re looking for connection and transcendence?” asked the rabbi.

“Hmmm, I guess so,” said the soldier. “I never thought about it like that.”

“And what is it that you like about rock ‘n’ roll?”

“It’s the power conveyed through the music and the incredible unity of the crowd. I get it rabbi, you’ll say that what I really want is the power and unity, and that the music is just a vehicle to get there, right?”

Right indeed. In the last 15 years, I have asked hundreds of people to describe their “most spiritual experience,” or if they didn’t have one, their “happiest” one, and then to put a one word adjective to it. People chose events like; the birth of a child, witnessing a beautiful sunset or other natural phenomena, a cherished musical performance or a confession of love. Frequently, these experiences were accompanied by what some described as a sense of “being in the zone” or a state of “flow” — where life suddenly appeared to them as wonderful, correct and harmonious and life’s challenges seemed proportional, surmountable and “OK.” Most people that I have met have had at least some fleeting moment like this and everyone who was there loved it. What I discovered is that a) everyone badly wants these experiences and in fact they are the root motivators of all of our actions, b) people frequently don’t know how to consciously produce them on their own and therefore c) are susceptible to the pursuit of faux versions of the things they really want, and d) what they most want out of life is: love, harmony, unity, peace, transcendence (the feeling of being beyond one’s limitations and boundaries), joy and understanding. There may be one more or one less, but many other categories reduce to one of these seven.

The interesting thing about these ideas — the things we most desperately want out of life — is that they are all functions of mind, and though socio-biologists may twist themselves into (Gordian) Knots trying to explain how these experiences are really also part of the evolutionary process, it’s clear that the human species can eat, live and reproduce just fine in the complete absence of them. You can sire hordes of offspring without being happy and consume copious amounts of food without feeling understood. So where do these desires come from? A theological perspective would suggest that an authentic experience of love is wholly unrelated to brain-state or chemistry and is instead an experience of another, higher dimension. (For a fascinating discussion on the lack of connection between brain-state and the human experience see Thomas Nagel’s new book on the subject “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.”) People intuitively desire that non-corporeal world and its gifts but tend to get caught up in lower, temporal refractions of these transcendent states. Thus people can easily confuse lust and infatuation for love, coercion for unity, and so on.

This gratifying state of being need not be serendipitous and in fact can occur in the most (and least) fortuitous junctures in our lives. Here is one striking example taken from Viktor Frankl’s experience as an inmate in Auschwitz:

“Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way — an honorable way — in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, ‘The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.'”

If someone is capable of accessing the transcendent states of joy and love under the harshest type of duress, then surely you and I, with our comparatively less challenging circumstances, could learn to recognize, embrace and live these beautiful concepts. Ultimately, what we most need (and want) is more reality, not less, and the concomitant recognition that the true nature of that reality is one that is infused with limitless, joy-inducing good.’

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Tech Invention of the Day – The ‘StickNFind’

Source: http://www.indiegogo.com/sticknfind

Photo of the Day

Real_world-38

The Real You – Alan Watts (Video)

This is so beautiful…

Feel-Good Video of the Day

India Hails its First Polio-Free Year

12$1 billion and 23 years of volunteer work donated by Rotary club members worldwide made this dream a reality. The incidence of infection plunged during that time from 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 1,000 cases in 2010. Tens of millions of dollars was also donated to the cause by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who declared, “Children in India are now protected against this debilitating, but preventable disease.” I will toast to that tomorrow!

Source: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org

Bobby McFerrin plays… the audience!

In this fun, 3-min performance from the World Science Festival, musician Bobby McFerrin uses the pentatonic scale to reveal one surprising result of the way our brains are wired.

Listening to Bobby McFerrin sing may be hazardous to your preconceptions. Side effects may include unparalleled joy, a new perspective on creativity, rejection of the predictable, and a sudden, irreversible urge to lead a more spontaneous existence…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ne6tB2KiZuk

Thought for the Day

 Quality of life is determined by how you deal with your moments, not which moments happen and which don’t.

upside-drop

I now consider this truth to be Happiness 101, but it’s amazing how tempting it still is to grasp at control of every circumstance to try to make sure I get exactly what I want. To encounter an undesirable situation and work with it willingly is the mark of a wise and happy person. Imagine getting a flat tire, falling ill at a bad time, or knocking something over and breaking it — and suffering nothing from it. There is nothing to fear if you agree with yourself to deal willingly with adversity whenever it does show up. That is how to make life better. The typical, low-leverage method is to hope that you eventually accumulate power over your circumstances so that you can get what you want more often. There’s an excellent line in a Modest Mouse song, celebrating this side-effect of wisdom: As life gets longer, awful feels softer.

Source: http://www.raptitude.com

 

I Didn’t Know Animals Could Do That!

i-didn't-know-animals-infographic

Grieving Father Has Kind Words for Connecticut Killer’s Family

dad_with_daughter

Fighting back tears, the father of a 6-year-old daughter killed in CT’s school shooting shared with reporters some surprising words of sympathy for the gunman’s family. Robbie Parker expressed no animosity or anger, offering only prayers for the family of the man who killed 26 people and himself.

“It’s a horrific tragedy, and we want everybody to know that our hearts and our prayers go out to them– this includes the family of the shooter. I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family, and our love and our support goes out to you as well.”

This type of love and forgiveness is redemption in a world of tired souls.

Source: The Blaze

Feel Good Video of the Day

True courage, class and sportsmanship even at twelve-years-old. Sunset Middle School wrestling and a genuine act of being decent young men…

Thought for the Day

“Something inside you emerges….an innate, indwelling peace, stillness, aliveness. It is the unconditioned, who you are in your essence. It is what you had been looking for in the love object. It is yourself.”
– Eckhart Tolle

The violence that has occurred this week has made me ponder love more deeply. It is love that will get us through the darkness. I pray that we will grow in our love for one another and reach out to those who are suffering. Love is our motivator and the binding force that connects us. We must also learn to love ourselves. For when we can shine light on the darkness inside us, we can see the needs of others.

Making Wishes Come True for Foster Children

An organization called One Simple Wish has granted the wishes of more than 3000 foster children, providing a small piece of joy to kids still in need of a permanent family…

One Simple Wish empowers you to brighten the lives of foster children and vulnerable youth one simple wish at a time. From shoes to toys to musical instruments and more, you can brighten a life. Visit One Simple Wish.

Basnet named CNN Hero of the Year

121203040526-seg-cnn-heroes-hero-of-the-year-00011212-story-top

imagesPushpa Basnet, a Nepalese woman who supports children so they don’t have to live behind bars with their incarcerated parents, was named the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year on Sunday night. Nepal is one of the poorest countries, and space is very limited in the few group homes affiliated with the government. So when a parent is incarcerated and no other guardian can be found, children have little choice but to live in prison as well. Basnet, 29, is determined to give these children another option.

She started a home in Kathmandu where children can receive education, food, medical care and a chance to live a more normal life. She also runs a day care program for children who are too young to be separated from their parent. “These children have done nothing wrong. They are simply caught in something they do not understand,” Basnet said during “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” which took place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and honored her and the other top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012. “We want to work with the government to bring them all out from of prison. And they deserve a better future.”

Since 2005, Basnet has helped more than 140 children through her nonprofit, the Early Childhood Development Center. For being named CNN Hero of the Year, she receives $250,000 to continue her work. That is in addition to the $50,000 that each of the top 10 Heroes are receiving. When accepting the Hero of the Year award, Basnet relayed a message to incarcerated children in Nepal. “Mamu’s going to take you out from the prison, and you’re coming to my place,” said Basnet, who is called “Mamu” by many of the children. “This is for my children, and this is for my country Nepal. Thank you so much everybody who voted for me and who believed in my dream.”

This is the sixth year of the CNN Heroes campaign. In that time, more than 180 CNN Heroes have been profiled on CNN, chosen from more than 45,000 nominations submitted through the CNN Heroes website. Each year, the campaign culminates with a live tribute show that brings together some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.

In addition to receiving $50,000, this year’s top 10 Heroes will also receive free training from the Annenberg Foundation, a leading supporter of nonprofits worldwide. Each Hero will receive a customized version of the Annenberg Alchemy program, which provides practical guidance on fundraising, communications, management and much more. “We have found that the most effective nonprofits are like the CNN Heroes — organizations with strong and visionary leaders and a bold, new approach to getting the job done,” said Wallis Annenberg, the foundation’s president, CEO and chairman of the board. “Our hope is that in supporting them — especially smaller nonprofits, still struggling to survive and to thrive — we will help them get wider attention and become models across the world.”

Source: http://www.cnn.com