[Project DoubleMirrors] [Image Gallery] [Rabbi Net]
When Double Mirrors is understood, all organized, rigid, prescribed institutions designed to lead the masses to God, are revealed to be nothing more than a shadow, a finger pointing to the moon. Rather than go into more detail on this thought, I will let a more accomplished Jedi of truth, Bruce Lee, sum up my ideas for me. Simply replace his reference to "martial arts" with the word "religion" or the name of any other institution that claims to function in the name of God.
Unfortunately, most students of the martial arts are conformists. Instead of learning to depend on themselves for expression, they blindly follow their instructors, no longer feeling alone, finding security in mass imitation. The product of this imitation is a dependent mind. Independent inquiry, which is essential to genuine understanding, is sacrificed, Look around the martial arts and witness the assortment of routine performers, trick artists, desensitized robots, glorifiers of the past and so on- all followers or exponents of organized despair.
How often are we told by different sensei (teachers) or "masters" that the martial arts are life itself? But how many of them truly understand what they are saying? Life is a constant movement- rhythmic as well as random; Life is a constant change and not stagnation. Instead of choicelessly following with this process of change, many of these "masters," past and present, have built an illusion of fixed forms, rigidly subscribing to traditional concepts and techniques of the art, solidifying the ever-flowing, dissecting the totality.
The most pitiful sight is to see sincere students earnestly repeating those imitative drills, listening to their own screams and spiritual yells. In most cases, the means these sensei offer their students are so elaborate that the student must give tremendous attention to them, until gradually he loses sight of the end. The students end up performing their methodical routines as a mere conditioned response, rather than responding to "what is." They no longer "listen" to circumstances. These poor souls have unwittingly become trapped in the miasma of classical martial arts training. A teacher, a really good sensei, is never a giver of truth; he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that the student must discover for himself.
Bruce Lee, 1971
I call this man a New Jew, a phrase used first by early twentieth century Israeli writers to refer to the new breed of young Jews in Palestine, who rejected the two thousand year old Jewish mentality of their parents and ancestors in Europe. The people of the book had become the people of the land. The descendants of shtettle Rabbis and intellectuals of European cities were now farmers and soldiers. Love of the Talmud, the bulk of the written Torah, was replaced with love of nature.
The next image is of two ultra-religious Jews staring at an Israeli soldier ahead. This image is framed by mirrored images of the Second Temple, the Jewish shrine burnt down by the Romans in 70 A.D., marking the beginning of the Jewish Exile. The return of the Jews to Israel in the last hundred years brought an end to this two thousand year exile from the Jewish homeland.
While many before me have spoken of the emergence of the New Jew as a sociological revolution, I see it as a spiritual one. A spiritual transition in Judaism unprecedented since the destruction of the Temple. Until 70 A.D., the religion revolved around Temple worship and Priests. In the exile, however, Judaism was redefined by the Pharisees, a rebel movement which evolved into Rabbinic Judaism. It was they who realized that in order to preserve the identity of the people in exile, temple worship would have to be replaced by synagogues and study of religious law. Two thousand years were spent intellectualizing how to swim while living in the dry land of the exile. The tragic three way split of Judaism today is reminiscent of our plight 2000 years ago. Will we learn the lesson from the 2nd Temple?
The New Jew represents the third phase of Judaism. Transcendence is now found through sacrifice for the community (all Israelis go to the army at 18), love of nature, and embracing the present instead of the past. The Holocaust, a turning point of destruction even more tragic than the temple burning in 70 A.D., and far more remembered, brought a virtual end to European Jewry. Today the Old Jew resides predominantly in the U.S., where the European Jewish mentality continues. Columbia, an ironic location for these images, is certainly an institution where the Old Jew is still strong. But with the assimilation and intermarriage of American Jews it becomes increasingly clear that just as Temple Judaism faded into history, so too will the Old Jew.
Ultimately, I believe, man's perception of God is a problem greater than any religion. Old and New "Jews" can also be found hiding in Christianity, Islam, and every other religion. But when all the rhetoric and dead dogma is put aside, man's vision of the infinite- God/love/truth- exists independent of organized religion, and is in fact rooted in the inherent double mirrors of our individual minds. Because of this humanity, even an ordinary view of the ocean from a quite beach can take on infinite significance.
Undoubtedly my message is still somewhat lost in the translation. . . so my effort to communicate continues.
Dylan, Son of Waves
Until 70 A.D., Judaism revolved around Temple worship and Priests, the first phase of the religion. In the exile, however, Judaism was redefined by the Pharisees, a rebel movement which later evolved into Rabbinic Judaism. It was they who realized that in order to preserve the identity of the people in exile, temple worship would have to be replaced by synagogues and study of religious law; intellectualizing how to swim while living in the spiritually dry land of the exile. This was the second phase of Judaism. 2,000 years later, the return of the Jews to Israel just before the beginning of this century marked the third phase of Judaism. This phase is yet to be completed. It is a transition in Judaism unprecedented since the destruction of the Temple. I refer to this new breed of Jews as the "New Jew," a phrase used first by early twentieth century Israeli writers to refer to the new breed of young Jews in Palestine who rejected the two thousand year old Jewish mentality of their parents and ancestors in Europe. The people of the book had become the people of the land. The descendants of Shtettle Rabbis and intellectuals of European cities were now farmers and soldiers. Love of the Talmud, the bulk of the written Torah, was replaced with an intense love of the land and of the community. The New Jew embraces his environment- nature- and sacrifices for his community. Sports, music, sex, the army, (all Israelis go to the army at 18), and social gatherings replaced the dead lifestyle of the Shtettle. After two millennium of people like Woody Allen and myself, suddenly the Jews are musicians and soccer players. While many have spoken of the emergence of the New Jew as a sociological revolution, I see it as a spiritual one. This new mentality has led to a spiritual rebirth of a magnitude unparalleled in human history. The New Jew has managed to transcend the Jewish tradition of obsessive focus on memory, the past, and intellectualism; instead he embraces the present. As Double Mirrors indicates, getting out of the past- embracing the present- was a prerequisite to the spiritual explosion that has taken place. Never before has another nation had the opportunity to witness the spiritual relief of returning to a national home after an exile of this length. The effect of 4 million sets of double mirrors instantly snapping into harmony is a light far to bright to capture in this essay.
The Holocaust, occurring during at the same time as Israel was in a state of rebirth, was a turning point of destruction even more tragic than the temple burning in 70 A.D., and far more remembered. Despite the fact that it brought a virtual end to European Jewry, today the Old Jew survives, predominantly in the U.S., where the European Jewish mentality continues. Needless to say, Columbia is certainly an institution where the Old Jew is still strong. But with the assimilation and intermarriage of American Jews, it becomes increasingly clear that just as Temple Judaism faded into history, so too will the Old Jew. The irony of speaking of the New Jew in the language of the Old Jew, an intellectual essay, is extreme. So I'll escape for a moment into a personal experience I have written about in my journal:
There is a tradition in Judaism that the Jews will be the light onto the nations. This has come true on a very backward way. We have ultimately proven to the world the failure of organized religion. The spirituality of the New Jew comes from a closeness with nature, and the altruism that comes from placing the group's identity as more important than the individual's. Sacrifice for the community. It is a relationship where the interests of the self and the other are synonymous. A collective memory of suffering and holocaust has caused mass mirror's to align harmoniously and form a massive source for spirituality. An Israeli soldier during the Yom Kippur War threw himself on top of a strip of barbed wire blocking his units advance, and let the rest of the unit run over his back, I read years ago. This story inspired me- pure altruism, I said, and decided to move to Israel when I was older. When I was volunteering for the army in Israel, I was talking to a guy in my tent. He said his father was in the Yom Kippur War. I asked him what unit. "Golani," he said. I had done a lot of reading on the war and knew where each division was fighting (the Old Jew reads about the war while the New Jew fights it) "So he must have fought for Mt. Hermon," I said. The guy was surprised that I knew this and went on to tell me his father was in one of the elite units. One story his father had told him is that he had thrown himself over barbed wire and let the rest of the unit run over his back. I got those manic chills. This guy's father was the war hero I had heard about years ago. I was sure this was God telling me I was home.
What I refer to as the New Jew is by no means limited to Judaism. It is a global spiritual revolution bigger than anything humanity has witnessed for 2000 years. We are coming to a crossroad in human spiritual evolution. If this spiritual revolution does not spread to every corner of the globe, we will surely destroy ourselves and our environment completely. And for the first time in our history, we have the technology to do this. Another modern thinker with a very different background, Karl Marx, writes that technological revolution prompts social revolution. Spirituality comes from people. It is significant that the digital revolution which is now upon will be accompanied by a spiritual revolution as well.
It was while living in Jerusalem, the city of vision quests, where I was inspired by the life and vitality of the Israeli people. This was a stark contrast to the deadness I had witnessed in among the intellectuals, doctors, and lawyers of New York. In fact, my whole life was spent among Old Jews. I went to a yeshiva in Milwaukee, WI, whose goal was to discourage college and emulate an obscure 19th century Polish Yeshiva known as Slobadka. I dropped out and became Son of Waves while living in the land of The Ethiopian Woman, discovered Dolphin, Double Mirrors, and the spirit of the New Jew. For now, I wont elaborate about the path I have taken. Not that a personal search for truth and the lessons learned aren't significant, but all this is elaborated in my 456 page book, cd rom, and web site. For now, I will focus on what I perceive as the universal truths these life experiences made me realize.
Nowhere is the spiritual evolution more apparent to me than in the transition in Judaism from Old to New Jew. I could talk about the theoretical role of Double Mirrors in groups all day, but what better way to give my words meaning than by talking about an actual society which, by means of 4,000 years of human experience has become a macrocosm of every idea I am speaking of. What better way of understanding humanity than to first examine the people that represent the overdose of humanity (i.e.. self reflection)- the Jews.
Universal New Jews
I admit that I might be an idealist. It is possible that the New Jew no longer exists en-mass in Israel. Certainly recent events such as the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin wounded this collective spirit. Perhaps the New Jew only existed for one moment, in the country's history. But a moment like this never dies. The lesson that can be learnt by spiritual revolutions like the one in Israel is universal. New Jews are Buddhist, Catholic, and Ethiopian too. Ultimately, man's perception of God is a problem greater than any religion. Old and New "Jews" can also be found hiding in Christianity, Islam, and every other religion. Moses, Mohammed, Jesus and countless other prophets might have been legitimate visionaries, but the need of the masses for a Yoda figure- an old wise man thought to possess the meaning of life- led to so much focus on the messenger that the message was lost. When all the rhetoric and dead dogma is put aside, man's vision of the infinite- God/love/truth- exists independent of organized religion, and is in fact rooted in the inherent double mirrors of our individual minds. Regardless of how each of us chooses to conduct and express our spiritual search, its ultimately goal is universal, as we are all equally trapped in our physical bodies even as we peer out at a vision of infinity and the spirituality. The debate over how to deal with this paradox is as old as our oldest historical documents, and will persist so long as we maintain our elusive vision. (Meanwhile, the chimpanzees will continue to happily chew their peanuts without being plagued with such troubles.) We must look past the shadows and follow the example set by New Jews all over the globe: by creating harmony in our souls, as well as all around us; by sacrificing for the community: and by becoming one with not only the world around us and with nature, but with ourselves. In short, we will escape the cave by revolving our lives around love. If anyone could become immortal it would be he. . . .
I'm a recovering Old Jew. (I'm also recovering from a Jewish Mother, but I think that's obvious by now). My messed up head is just a continuation of a 4,000 year tradition of Jewish self reflection. Humans are half animal half spiritual, and until a harmony is achieved between the two, we are in a constant state of tension, our animal nature hating the soul which stares at him while he eats and has sex, and the soul, straining to break free out of the belly of the beast in which it is trapped. Jews, a people who personify human self consciousness, and therefore the human soul, have always been hated by the elements of civilization who are not at peace with their own humanity. These people hate self reflection, hate the people who represent self reflection, and most tragically, hate themselves. If Jews are an exaggeration of humanity, my family is an exaggeration of Judaism. And so, it is through discovering truth about my family, and, more importantly, myself, that I have come to learn universal truths about the human soul. My vision quest, culminating with the idea of Double Mirrors, was my own personal search. But the sunset on the beach in Tel Aviv reflects a beam of light along the waves that seems to be pointing at each and yet everyone on the beach who chooses to see it. We are all searching for the same thing , the same truth. And we all feel the same way after we find it. The sensation during the moment of orgasm is universal. But the number of paths is infinite. . .
Only through experience- through life- will these truths be revealed. I hope that sharing my experiences will communicate more than a mere intellectualization of Double Mirrors. Before every search for truth, there is a lie, and it was after being exposed to the lies of Rabbinic Judaism that my search began. How we find love is relative. It is what we experience when we find it that is absolute.