07 April 2008

Hashem - Names for "The One"

The first question everyone asks is, "How do you reconcile a religion whose basic tenet is Monotheism with Buddhism which holds that there is no God?" The answer lies in the same shift in understanding of the nature of the Divine that most religions have been wrestling with for the past 75 or more years.

The Dualistic mental picture of an Old Man in the Sky who looks down and intervenes in dramatic ways, is increasingly being supplanted with a broader, richer understanding of That Which is In and Through All Things or a non-Dualistic Creator.

Our understanding of the Unknowable is, by definition, limited. Words are symbols of symbols that fail to capture the True Nature of the Divine.

Eli Jaxon-Bear relates a story that explains the concept of non-Dualism. Near the beach, the waves run back and forth, rolling and crashing, coming together, pulling back, regrouping and rushing towards the beach endlessly. Each wave is aware of its uniqueness: its height, strength and speed.

One day, a small seeker wave sees a large, old wave coming towards shore from far away. The small wave rushes out to greet the old wave and asks, "You have traveled far and seen much. Maybe you can tell me, is there such a thing as an ocean?"

The old wave smiled and replied, "I have heard of the ocean, but I myself have never actually seen it."

Non-Duality is the ocean of Oneness, within which each one of us is known by our "Uniqueness" or "Specialness," like the waves.

In this Haggadah, we have leaned heavily on the non-duality concepts of the Jewish mystics, believing that the Hebrew Atziluth (No Limits/Boundaries) or Ayn Sof (Infinite) is essentially the same as the Buddhist's Shunyata.

In a discussion with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the Dalai Lama said, "Of course, you know Buddhism does not accept a creator, God as an almighty But at the same time, if God means truth or ultimate reality, then there is a point of similarity to shunyata." Shunyata is also called by the Tibetans "dependent arising," the interrelatedness and interdependence of all things and beings. Such interrelatedness implies enormous individual freedom and responsibility.

So, like the blind men trying to describe an elephant, the best we can do is use a variety of words for Hashem. If any make you uncomfortable, substitute another one.
  • Divine
  • Adonai
  • Indwelling Presence
  • Transformative Force
  • Light
  • God
  • That Which Allows Being to Be
  • Source
  • Shadai (Almighty)
  • Hashem (The Name)
  • Beingness
  • Yahweh
  • Eheyeh (I am that I am)
  • Oneness
  • God-Within
  • Divine Consciousness
  • Creative Force of the Universe
  • Shekhina (Creator/Feminine aspect of the Eternal One)
  • Ayn Sof (Without End - There is nothing but God, it all flows from God)

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