Inner Peace w/ Dr. Reese
Sept. 6, 2020

The Voice of Silence w/ Rabbi Rami Shapiro

The Voice of Silence w/ Rabbi Rami Shapiro

In episode # 64, Dr. Reese talks with Rabbi Rami Shapiro about the voice of silence. In this conversation, he talks about his personal spiritual meditation practice, the interesting way he explains death to children, his work under the notorious Father Thomas Keating, his view on why young jewish kids aren't taught Kabbalah, his relationship to the Tao Te Ching & More. They also explore the mystical side to Jesus and a profound secret from the Talmud. 

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Dr. Reese (00:18):
Thank you for joining me today.

Rabbi Rami (01:28):
My pleasure,

Dr. Reese (01:30):
You know, I once heard you say, no matter what name you choose, whether it's God Dow, source, whatever you said, no matter what name you choose, it's gonna be wrong.

Rabbi Rami (01:42):
<laugh> right.

Dr. Reese (01:44):
Because God or whatever you name, it is really a verb.

Rabbi Rami (01:50):
I agree with myself, right? God is a verb. And any noun we choose or proper noun that we choose is, is gonna be wrong. Cuz it mix, it misses two things. One, it misses the fact that God is a verb. God is dynamic. God is active and you can't label it. Even with the word God. And two, as soon as you put a label on it, you've reduced it to some, I don't know the, the, the story that goes with the label. So I am a firm believer in the truth of the opening verse of the Dowing that says, you know, LASU says the Dow that can be named is not the eternal Dow. And the corollary to that in Judaism is that to me, the Bible is, is story, not history, but there's a story in the book of Exodus where Moses encounters God at the burning Bush and he asks God, what's your name?

Rabbi Rami (02:50):
And God gives two names. Both of them sort of verby <laugh> the first one, uh, is a, a AK, which most English Bibles translate is. I am what I am, which is not very dynamic or I am what I'm becoming, which is closer. Uh, the word in Hebrew is AK and it's the first person singular in a future tent. So it's sort of the eyeing of the universe, but it's, it's so abstract that in the story, God says, oh, you know what? And I'm paraphrasing. This is not what it actually says, but right. God says, wait, here's another one that maybe is a little bit easier. And then God gives, uh, Moses the four letter name of God, Y H V H in English. Good. Hey, VHA and Hebrew, which we render not translate. We render is Lord, but that's the word, Lord is antithetical to the actual Hebrew.

Rabbi Rami (03:48):
The Hebrew is another verb. It's the verb to be. And it's in the future imperfect form again. So it it's sort of like, um, well, I usually translate it as awkward as it sounds as the happening happening is all happening, right? So you know, that to me is God. And then the third guess to bring in another religion is St. Paul's definition of, uh, the divine in the book of acts, where he defines God as that in whom we live and move and have our being, I mean that you don't get more doist than that. So no name actually captures the reality because it's just too big and too dynamic. And every name just sort of ruins the very, the experience, because now you're trying to experience a concept as opposed to the actual thing happening in with, and as you

Dr. Reese (04:42):
We're swimming in it, and when people put names on it, people get caught up in language. When you said this, it reminded me of something I heard, uh, Goma the Buddha say in a scripture somewhere where he said, that's not a river that's rivering.

Rabbi Rami (04:59):
Right? Exactly. Yeah. I mean, that's not a microphone that's microphone, but this is the same reality robbing and Kevin

Dr. Reese (05:08):

Rabbi Rami (05:08):
Right. It it'd be great if we could eliminate all nouns and replace them with jars. Mm <laugh>.

Dr. Reese (05:16):
You know, you mentioned the DTE Chan, you know, in my, in my experience, that's the best spiritual book I've ever read because of the simplicity of it. So incredibly simple <laugh> and precise.

Rabbi Rami (05:37):
I agree.

Dr. Reese (05:38):
And I, I wanna bring, I wanna shine the light on the fact that you are not the average rabbi. You're talking about the Dante Ching, you're talking about Buddha. I see a cross behind you right now. I see over there to the left of, or to the right of you that resembles something Zen.

Rabbi Rami (05:59):
Yeah. It's uh, an end. So circle,

Dr. Reese (06:02):
You are a different kind of rabbi. You are very diverse in your understanding.

Rabbi Rami (06:09):
I'm very eclectic. How

Dr. Reese (06:10):
Did you get this way, rabbi? How did you get this way? What, what happened to you, you know, from, you know, bar mitzvah on?

Rabbi Rami (06:19):
Yeah. So my bar mitzvah and I, I grew up in a modern, Orthodox home. My bar mitzvah was very serious and completely meaningless to me. Um, <laugh>, it, it, Judaism was basically, uh, you know, sort of ancestor worship and, and, and just feel, feel piety, you know, that kind of thing. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so you did it cuz that's what you did. Uh, but I didn't understand anything about Judaism and I really wasn't interested in none of the rabbis I worked with who they were all and I mean, this, they were all dedicated, devoted men at that time. They were all men who really probably felt they wasted their lives, trying to turn 13 year olds into serious Jews because you know, it wasn't gonna happen. Right. But in high school I had two teachers in my junior year and senior year in high school, two teachers who went on a, it wasn't a sabbatical, but something like that, they were, they, they went on this journey to India, some program and they came back and they started teaching world religion mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I took it when I was in my junior year of high school and it just blew me away. It was taken by Buddhism. And I started studying Zen in a way that I thought was serious. Uh, later when I moved on to college, I actually worked with a Zen master and then it was really serious and he screwed up to hit you with a stick

Dr. Reese (07:46):
Navy seals right there, spirituality

Rabbi Rami (07:49):
<laugh>. So, so that was, that was pretty intense. Uh, but my experiences with meditation were always just outside any of these boxes, any of these isms or ideologies and, you know, the truth is I was experiencing it and it's, let's predict to say that, you know, I experienced the truth, but the reality I experienced was one that was unnamable and certainly not reducible to a specific religious tradition. So I'm Jewish. I don't have any problem with being Jewish. There's a lot about being Jewish that I'm very excited about. Uh, but I've also been initiated into the Rama Christian order of ante Hinduism. I studied for many, many years on, you know, Zen cushions. I have Sufi teachers. I have a well he's deceased now, but I was, I studied for a very long time with a father Thomas Keating. I mean, I'm just interested in all these things and Thomas

Dr. Reese (08:48):
Keating, that name sounds familiar. Wasn't he? A Christian mystic?

Rabbi Rami (08:51):
Yeah. Thomas Keating died a couple of years ago. He was along with father basil Pennington, the founder of centering prayer movement in Christianity, where they took medieval Christian meditation practices and brought them into a modern setting. So I don't do centering prayer. I was never interested really in centering prayer. I have my own meditation practice as a teacher father. Thomas was amazing. I was with him since, uh, 1984 until he died a couple years ago. Wow. So all, all these things just pointed me to some reality that was bigger than any religion allows.

Dr. Reese (09:30):
Right. And, and, but usually when somebody experiences all these different traditions, they don't necessarily become a rabbi

Rabbi Rami (09:40):
<laugh>. I was on a Zen retreat with, uh, Joe Suzaki Roshi, who is my, my Zen teacher.

Dr. Reese (09:46):
I'm familiar

Rabbi Rami (09:47):
And, you know, for all of his horrible hashtag me too problems. And so many of these people have them. So I, I didn't know of them at the time. I didn't know that at the time, but subsequent to his death, I discovered all these things that, you know, he had, uh, real issues. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but as a teacher, I, you know, the time I knew him, he was very helpful, but very intimidating. And at one of these sessions, it was near the end and he literally backed me against a wall. And, and I'm, you know, I'm shrinking now, <laugh> in my seventies, but I was like six foot to six foot tall. And he was much shorter than me. And he just, you know, got closer and closer and backed me up against a wall. And he knew, cause this is my senior year of college.

Rabbi Rami (10:33):
He knew I was planning to go to graduate school for Zen Buddhist, uh, academic training to, to train in, in Buddhism, uh, at, at the university. And he was outraged. He said, that was a disaster. You can't learn Buddhism that way. And he said, don't go to graduate school, move to the monastery and live with him there. And I'd been there. I knew what it was like, it's not for me. And I just blurted out, you know, ROCI I can't do that. I'm gonna be a rabbi. And then that was news to me. No, it was, it was just, I, I, I thought it was just a way to get him off my case, but he said, oh, good. Be rabbi he's Zen rabbi. I said, okay, I'll be a Zen rabbi, but I'm not going to the monastery. He was absolutely right about graduate school.

Rabbi Rami (11:24):
I was looking for what I had as an undergraduate where I worked with as Zen, uh, not as I worked with him, but I also worked with a pure land Buddhist priest who was both a PhD and clergy. And it's all about a living Buddhism. And what I found in the seminars in graduate school was a dead Buddhism. And I, I dropped the major right away and switched over to Judaism, uh, where it wasn't more alive <laugh> but I wasn't looking for, for enlightenment. I was just looking for, you know, a career path. So I ended up getting a master's in Judaic studies and then went on to become a rabbi, cuz I told the Zen master that I would do that

Dr. Reese (12:04):

Rabbi Rami (12:05):
But you know, I'm doing my best to be a Zen rabbi, whatever the heck. That is.

Dr. Reese (12:08):
It's an unusual story. Um, I, I have a similar path. I had a bar mitzvah. Didn't understand it. Didn't wanna do it. Tons of pressure. Right. At 12 years old, you're learning this and you have to put on a quote unquote performance in front of friends and family.

Rabbi Rami (12:27):
Yeah. Yeah. It's intense.

Dr. Reese (12:28):
I was sick of friends calling me Jew boy, Andre old boy at school. It's a lot for a 12 year old boy. Yeah. And I, you know, by the time I got to 18, I denounced it. Mom wasn't happy. Dad was from a Protestant family though. So I had Christmas Anne Hanukkah. I had both spoiled extra gifts and I just didn't get it rabbi. I just didn't get it. And it wasn't until my late twenties, I started learning things like Buddhism and the pine gland and enlightenment and things of this nature. And it's you start getting it. And one of the things I came across in my studies was Kabbala and I said to myself, man, if they taught me, Kabbala when I was 12, maybe I would've stuck with this Jewish tradition thing. My gosh, why aren't they teaching Kabbala.

Rabbi Rami (13:29):
Yeah. So I, I, I have a couple of thoughts on that cuz I've, I've taught, you know, uh, when I was a synagogue rabbi, we had, you know, bar and, but Mitzva training and mm-hmm we didn't teach Kabbala. I, I think that that KAA is, uh, really for an adult. I mean, if you really wanna get into Kalo, you have to be, uh, literate in the Bible and, and you have to know enough Hebrew to be able to play with the language and the numerology and all this stuff. There probably is a way to use it with kids. Uh, but when I was in the synagogue world, I, I didn't know how to do that. I could never figure that out. I have a couple thoughts about, you know, being 12 and studying for a bar, I brought mitzvah a, I think they should move it off to your much later. You're too young. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so 16 to 18 would be a choice I would make. And then second, I would make it training for a vision quest. I wouldn't, you know, just to, to memorize a passage of the Hebrew Torah and to recite it back and to give some, it's not a canned speech, but it's usually pretty safe speech about the Torah portion that doesn't really go anywhere cuz you don't even know what to do with it as a 13 year old.

Dr. Reese (14:40):
And I still know some of it right now and I don't know why <laugh> but real kata, I don't know. I have a Hanu milk alum. That's where it ends.

Rabbi Rami (14:49):
Well, that's it the beginning of almost every prayer <laugh> uh, but um, you know, if it, if it were a vision quest, but I had this idea to create a vision quest where the kids, um, spent a year studying mystical stuff, studying meditation all with a Jewish context, it's all in Judaism studying the, the ethics that flow from Jewish mystical teachings and then taking them out into the desert cuz Judaism is a desert religion and go out into the desert. You know, when Jesus, um, tries to make sense out of his baptism, he goes into the desert and he is Jewish. So he goes into the desert to take kids out into the desert and to teach them how to have to, to invite a vision. Uh, the way, you know, Jacob has visions and the, you know, prophets had visions. So to, to take them out and they'd be monitored, he can't just leave a kid out and wilderness, you know, for a week, but there'd be adults who would, who were there in case, but really to train them to be out there alone in the desert and to see what happens because my experience in the desert and I wasn't 12, but I was, I don't know, maybe 19 was my first Sinai alone experience and something happens.

Rabbi Rami (16:09):
I mean the, the geography of the desert is to jump from one, from geography to, to something more abstract. The geography of a desert is empty mind, Shunya it's emptiness. That's right. And my experience in the desert and now I, I have the same experience daily. My experience in the desert was that you started to hear something. Uh, I didn't hear voices. I'm not, I didn't, I didn't hear that. But you hear, I heard this well sort of a, a, a, a, a hum or a hiss or a it's it's hard to define. I've heard it. I've heard. Yeah. I mean, in Hinduism, it's called not a yoga sound yoga. Yeah. In Judaism, it's called cold to mama DACA, the thins, the fragile voice of silence. Yeah.

Dr. Reese (17:00):
It reminds me of almost like a radio switching. Like

Rabbi Rami (17:05):
Something like that this morning, I get up my normal thing, four 30 in the morning. I, I, I wash up a little bit and I sit, I chant, I work the ma beads. And then I, and I sit in silence. It's very quiet in the house at that time. And I just listen. I mean, that's the core teaching of Judaism is, you know, Shama, Israel, listen. And so I listen, I listen to whatever I can hear as far out as I can hear it, which isn't much at four 30 in the morning, but then I start listening, not inward and outward, but just listening, sort of passive listening. And then I can hear that sound. And I'm told, and I'm agreeing with it only because it's romantic and cool. <laugh>, I'm told it's the, you know, the, the sound before own, it's that primal sound of the universe happening or the divine happening, or, you know, whatever you want to call it.

Rabbi Rami (17:56):
But, you know, I'll, I'll settle with the, the fragile voice of silence, um, that you get from, uh, the book of Kings. So if you could train kids to go out in the desert and have that experience, and then to have that experience, lead them to the realization of their own divinity, cuz everything is God. And then to have that lead them to the core ethical command of Judaism, uh, from the Bible's point of view, which is, uh, Genesis 12, three, be a blessing to all the families of the earth, human and otherwise boy, that's a bar mitzvah. That's a bar mitzvah.

Dr. Reese (18:34):

Rabbi Rami (18:35):

Dr. Reese (18:35):
I would've stuck around for that.

Rabbi Rami (18:37):
Yeah. I would've, I would've been enticed by that too. But when I tried to actually, uh, implement it, taking kids into the desert is a bad idea.

Dr. Reese (18:49):
Yeah. <laugh> but when we're silent and we can make the language stop, that's when we invite something to happen.

Rabbi Rami (18:58):
If you don't get attached to the language, then you know the chat. If, if I have to stop all the chatter first, I probably just spend the entire time trying not to, to have the chatter, but if I can allow the chatter to be just part of the noise, uh, of everything else that I'm hearing, I always hear that sound. I don't wanna say behind it cuz there's it's it's non-local it's I don't know where it's coming from. It's not in or out or behind or it's just this amazing sound. And I just focus on listening to that. It's very comforting to rest in that sound,

Dr. Reese (19:38):
The audible life stream. Some people might call

Rabbi Rami (19:41):
It. Yeah. Right. That's nice.

Dr. Reese (19:43):
Yeah. When we get this silent aren't we inviting the, uh, what's called the Shaa in Cabala. The connect. Yeah.

Rabbi Rami (19:52):
Well it, that may be what we're hearing. So I'm very biased when it comes to Shana. My, my, you know, I believe just what we said at the top of the show that God is the happening, happening is all happening. God is everything. And as such, God has no form, no gender. Right. But at the same time in Hinduism that talk about this concept of Ishua your personal experience of deity as, as a person. So it's not that God is a person, but lots of us either because we crave it or because it's just happens to us, lots of us experience God in some kind of form. So I have a deep respect for Buddhism, a deeper respect philosophically for Daoism, but the language of Hinduism suits me better. Uh, when I'm trying to explain, you know, Judaism and Buddhism, uh, Hinduism language helps. And, and in Hinduism you have the notion of, uh, near gunna Braman, the, the Braman without form, and then sad, gona Braman, the Braman with form.

Rabbi Rami (20:56):
And the form that appears to me is Shana. Shana is a woman. Uh, she has many names in the Jewish tradition, but she is the first happening of the divine. We learned that in, in the book of Proverbs verse, uh, chapter eight in verse, uh, eight, uh, chapter eight, 20 verse 22, she just starts talking and she says, she is the first of, of the manifesting of the divine. And in Proverbs, she's called Hama wisdom or Sophia in the Greek. So my morning practice, I mean, I've written two books on this and the third one in the works. Uh, I experience the divine mother as my UA and she's my gateway to the non-gendered divine. But every morning I I'm chanting to her. I'm working a ma uh, you know, Mala beads, uh, reciting Hama over and over and over again with a variation on the Ave, Maria, that I was taught, uh, in a mystical experience in Nazareth in Israel or Palestine. It, it is the, shainas the sound of the Shaina is the presence of the, the Shaina. Uh, and I think that that's what we're experiencing when you, when we experience that sound. Mm.

Dr. Reese (22:14):
You just mentioned formlessness. That's key in the understanding of this whole, this whole shebang that we're in. When I think back to the famous thing that God said in the Bible, you know, and, uh, Genesis, uh, make man in my image, right? I say to myself, well, if you're formless, that means we're really formless. People mostly have the concept of, well, he, he was a man and that's the guy in the sky and we look like him,

Rabbi Rami (22:51):
But, well, that's the, that's the trap of language, right? We refer to God as he, which is wrong. Yes, yes. And we, and just the way you translate it, you know, let us make man in our image, the Hebrew doesn't, doesn't say that the word for man and woman comes later in the text, the word that that is used in that, uh, Genesis 1 26 first it's, uh, a Dom, which comes from the word AMA earth. So God says, let us make earthling in our image. And then it says male and female were created. So if God is, if we say, God is formless, and this is again, why I like the Hindu way of doing it? If we say, God is formless, then God is not non-dual. God is not everything because formless is opposed to form. So God is formless and form at the same time.

Rabbi Rami (23:43):
So yeah, God takes on infinite form. You, me, the microphone, you know, uh, the computer lamps, you know, if, if it's, if it's, if it exists, it's God, um, because God is existing as all existence. So, um, what, what we have to do this should be Judaism's mission. Yes. To, uh, awaken us or in Hebrew, the word is to return us to shva to return us to our, uh, to the consciousness, our, the awareness that we are and everything else is divine. And when you have that, when you realize we're all manifesting of the same phenomenon, the same dynamic happening, then being a blessing becomes axiomatic. You can't do anything else. Once upon a time, many years ago, I was teaching in Amsterdam and I was in a, an apartment just up the street from Anne Frank House. I got a call from the people who were hosting me.

Rabbi Rami (24:42):
And they said there was a rabbi who they said flew in from Israel. And he wanted to, to meet me how he knew I was there. I have no idea, but I said, okay. So I never met this guy before he walks in. I offered, you know, tea, sit down, talk, he didn't sit down and didn't take off his coat. Didn't he just stood there and said, I have one question. He goes, what's the heart of Judaism. It was very Zen. Like, you know, like, what's the sound of one hand clapping. And without thinking, cuz if I thought, I couldn't say a thing, but without thinking two words just came out and I said it's to shva and T Koon to shva returning to your true nature as divine happening and T Koon healing the world from that place by being a blessing to all the families of the earth. And he said, I like the answer and he left. So I like the answer too. <laugh> I can't take credit for it. Yeah. Cause I didn't think of it. I just verbalized it. Yeah. And, but I, it stayed with me and I think it's, it's absolutely true.

Dr. Reese (25:39):
Mm. Because you are so diverse and your understanding is, is that why you're not a Hasid in the Hasid?

Rabbi Rami (25:48):
Uh, no. I tried to be a Hasidic. Yeah. I, I I'm. I was at one time still am, I guess, sort of taken by the whole Hasidic ideal, my romanticized vision version of what Hasidism is. And I tried when I was studying in Israel for the first time in the seventies, uh, I really wanted to become part of, uh, of the Habad school of Hasidism cuz it's, it's very intellectual and very mystical at the same time. Hmm. And I went to live at their village Habad in Israel and I lasted like two to three Mon minutes. I mean, I got there. I said, whoa, this is too intense. This would be like going to the, you know, to sake Roche's monastery <laugh> it was no, I don't like boot camp. I not really into this. So I couldn't do the lifestyle. I just, it was too rigid, too strict when I started working with my own Rebi re Zoman Shlomi who's from that school, the Habad Hasidic tradition, but who modernized it?

Rabbi Rami (26:54):
When I started working with him, I felt at home cuz he himself was like this. He was into all these other religions as well as psychedelics and stuff that I don't know anything about. But mm-hmm <affirmative> he was a real pioneer in, in spiritual exploration and he made it, he, he, I found a place of, of welcome and comfort with him because he and I were, we could both borrow from a million different traditions to explain what we were talking, what we were experiencing. Right. And, and uh, when I became a host of his, I adopted a lot of the trappings of, you know, so I, I, I wear only black and white now he didn't wear a Stripe shirt, but you know, I, I, I dressed a lot, uh, closer to Habad and I've always kept kosher and I grew up that way. I still I'm a vegetarian, so it's easy, but mm-hmm <affirmative> I still do.

Rabbi Rami (27:44):
I still keep kosher. I have my own version of Shabbat. So I keep the core rituals of Judaism. And I study the texts all the time daily because I find so much value in them. I'm lucky in that I was trained how to unpack them, you know, not just in rabbinical school, which is not the focus of rabbinical school, but with all the other mystics that I've worked with Jewish and non-Jewish, they've taught me how to, uh, some of them taught me how to use the Hebrew in a mystical way, which allows all kinds of death to arise. And the text that wouldn't have come up otherwise. And some just how to experience the text in a way that allows you to get to the heart of it without being hung up on the linguistics alone or the cultural limitations that the text carries

Dr. Reese (28:32):
In 2012, I went to an Ashra and I didn't even know what an Ashra really was. I just learned about it. And I went and

Rabbi Rami (28:41):

Dr. Reese (28:42):
In New York Shreve bra Menand who, uh, passed away in, I wanna say early nineties. And so I'm there. And I met a guy who was different. I mean, I, I just knew in five minutes, I'm like, there's something off about this guy. <laugh> and come to find out he was a mystic. He, uh, worked there. He was doing Seva and he became my mentor for seven years. I I'd email him and you know, he'd answer whatever questions I had. And you know, this is a far cry from the 12 year old that doesn't wanna do his bar mizvah right. And to come across a, a, a, a mystic who didn't pronounce that he was a mystic. Nobody knew he walked around. He didn't, he didn't really talk unless you spoke to him or hi, bye. Later on, he would describe himself as a sober mystic. He was very low key doing his own thing at the time. I'm like, what the heck is a mystic? Like I'm from Connecticut. We got mystic pizza. We, we got mystic aquarium.

Rabbi Rami (29:53):
He got mystic Connecticut. So

Dr. Reese (29:55):
Unless like what what's going on here. And I was introduced to this whole thing and my entire thirties has been this, this, this mystical journey. And so I, I, you know, I heard you say mystic a few times, isn't it interesting that someone can be a mystic and not even have a tradition. They don't have to be Jewish or Christian or Sufi or Zen.

Rabbi Rami (30:21):
Yeah. So, so for me, a mystic is a person who isn't satisfied with a second hand on experience or understanding of reality. A mystic wants to like the Bible says taste and see, or, you know, a direct, like a Zen, a direct perception of reality without, you know, words and concepts. It seems to me that you can have mystics who start in a tradition and mystics who are not attached to a tradition, but in the end mystics, can't be limited to a tradition, but I I'm not, I don't call myself a Jewish mystic. If I were gonna say I was a mystic, I would just have to be a mystic without an adjective. Um, because it's, it's too limiting. You could say, you know, if, if you call someone like a Christian mystic, it's someone whose practice, uh, that leads them to the mystical awareness is from the Christian tradition.

Rabbi Rami (31:13):
I, you know, you can do that. Mm. But the experience itself, isn't Jewish Christian Buddhist in, I mean, if, if you have, this is my bias, but if you have Christian mystical experiences that are just within the Christian box, then you're having maybe a deep Christian experience, but that's not experience of reality, which is fundamentally without a box. The Dow that cannot be named. Hmm. I, I was once with, um, well, when I first started starting with father Thomas Keating in 84, he invited, uh, 12 what he called mystics contemplatives anyway, from 12 different traditions to live with him in his monastery for a week. At a time, every year we went and the whole idea was we would have lengthy periods of meditation, each person doing her own thing. And then there would be times of, um, dialogue where we would talk about our experience.

Rabbi Rami (32:14):
And the first rule of the first rule of this group was don't talk about the group. But the first rule he had was you can't use language formulations. Like we Jews believe X, or we Catholics believe why he says, I don't care. He says, what do you experience? Not what do you believe? What do you know from your experience? Right. Right. And it became, to me abundantly clear that everyone was having the same experience or everyone was having the same. Non-experience, you know, they were all dropping their ego, self, and their Christian self and their Jewish self all fell away. And whatever was left is what they tried to share when they came back into their embodied form. Hmm. But whatever that, um, experience was, I think it was, it is unlabel and universal. We all have the capacity to experience it. Again. Language is a problem because there's nobody there to experience it. Right. If I'm, if I'm in meditation, I'm going, whoa, this is an amazing experience. I'm just hallucinating. But there are moments when you're just not there. I mean, even, even, maybe for someone who's had it, it makes no sense, but it's very difficult to describe.

Dr. Reese (33:32):
Hmm. Yeah. Language is very limited.

Rabbi Rami (33:36):
<laugh> yeah.

Dr. Reese (33:36):
Earlier you mentioned you had a, a really deep connection to doism. What is it about doism maybe Lazu that you're connected with,

Rabbi Rami (33:47):
But the Dow Denk the 81 poems, just speak to the nature of reality and how best to navigate it, but you don't have to really believe anything. You just have to observe reality as it is. Yeah. And the practice for me, that stems from my interest in Daoism is, uh, a Chiang mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I've studied, I'm not a Chiang teacher, but I've studied Chiang. I have a Chiang teacher learning the movements of Chiang to what sort of surrender your body to the flow of the energy of the flow of Chi is a very powerful thing to do in, in before COVID, when I would run retreats at retreat centers, you know, face to face stuff, we would always start every morning with Chiang. In fact, I took a group to Israel.

Dr. Reese (34:40):

Rabbi Rami (34:40):
A couple of years ago. And every morning I brought my, my, you know, my Chiang teacher and friend with me, uh, he's a Chiang teacher. He's a Buddhist, uh, lineage holder and he's an Episcopal priest. So he took, wore a lot of hats on this trip. But every morning, while we traveled through Israel, we were on the rooftops of hotels. We were on mountaintops doing Chiang and it was really powerful.

Dr. Reese (35:07):
Mm. Okay. So we, we talked about being a mystic. I wanna ask you a question about the most popular man that walked earth. Was Jesus a mystic?

Rabbi Rami (35:18):
Yeah. I, I would say yes, without hesitation. I would say Jesus is a mystic defining a mystic as somebody who wants a direct experience of the divine. I think that his realizations come out, you never know if he said any of the things that the Bible says. He said, but let's assume if, if he didn't say them, then somebody said them and the somebody who said them is, is the mystic, but crediting Jesus with, uh, especially the stuff he says in the gospel, according to John, you know, when he says, um, you know, I am, the father are one, you know, uh, I am the vine, you are the branches. I mean, this kind of non-dual insight is absolutely the mystic insight. And then when he says to, to love your neighbor as yourself, as a direct outgrowth of the unity or the non-duality of the divine.

Rabbi Rami (36:08):
Yeah. I mean, that's the whole thing. We're all part of this singular, uh, dynamic reality. And we have to love all of its manifesting. So I think he was absolutely ATIC. I think he was also, if you wanna take it a little further, keep going in, in the Jewish tradition. Um, this is from Martin Buer, philosopher, Martin Buer in the mid 20th century, but Martin Buer said he was, uh, a laed Vick. So a laed Vick, the word means 36 36 are, uh, there's this teaching from the Toma, uh, rabbi of BA about 1600 years ago, sort of spilled the beans. This was a secret. And you know, the T is just this layer upon layer of just rabbi's babbling on mm-hmm <affirmative>. And all of a sudden, I don't know what they were talking about, but all of a sudden, he just blurts this out and he says, there are always 36 people.

Rabbi Rami (37:04):
That's the laed VO idea. There's always 36 people on the planet who are in the presence of the Shaina, you know, this, the divine feminine, which is God happening is all happening. So there's always 36 people. So in the Jewish tradition there, what grew up out of that was this notion that at any given moment, there are 36 people on the planet self, or, you know, realized God realized individuals, right. Enlightened. Yeah. Right. Enlightened individuals who are doing this, you know, this blessing work. And because they're there, the univer or the, the human civilization doesn't collapse under the weight of its own ignorance and arrogance and greed. So traditionally the idea is that it's a fixed number of 36. So you're born one of these guys and you die. It can be men, women. Right. But, uh, and, and then when one dies another, you know, baby girl LA above Nick is born.

Rabbi Rami (38:06):
Huh? So there's always a new one coming every generation. Wow. But what happens when some they're supposed to be hidden, they're called hidden saints. And when they're outed, they're usually in big trouble because people don't for all the love, they exude people become very frightened of them. So yeah. Um, you can talk about, I mean, what happens to Jesus? He's, you know, he's outed, his mother outs him in the, you know, wedding feast at Cana when she's, you know, says, you know, my, my kid will take care of the, the lack of wine. Uh, but every time he does a miracle, almost every time he says, you know, don't tell anybody, just go. And they always go, yeah. Yeah. I won't tell anybody. And then they tell everybody and he ends up being crucified. Uh, you get, um, Monur Alage and the Islamic tradition who has some mystic experience.

Rabbi Rami (39:00):
And he runs out and he says, Ock, I am truth. You know, now he doesn't mean me. Monsour I'm I'm God. He means the, I am, that we mentioned earlier is truth. And, and that I am is me and you and everything else. Mm. So when the same with, with Jesus, when he says, I am the way, the life, the way, the truth, the life he's not talking about from a mystical perspective, he's not talking about Jesus, the son of Mary, he's talking about the, I am consciousness, which he's realized as a mystic and, and every religious tradition when someone is outed this way, uh, something bad happens to them except in India, where everyone goes, oh, very good. You finally got it. You know? So Jesus' problem was he, he, he said he was the, the way, the truth and the life in Israel. He, if he had said it in, you know, deli, he would've been applauded in Israel. He was like, what? That's madness.

Dr. Reese (40:01):
Right. A lot of people miss that point that he was speaking to Jews of that era When Buddha was talking to Hindus of his era and different audiences, it's just like being a pub. You're a public speaker. I'm a public speaker role, number one, know your audience <laugh>

Rabbi Rami (40:24):
Yeah. Right.

Dr. Reese (40:26):
Yeah. The translations, if you will kind of get mixed up with the language and everything, don't they cuz they're parables.

Rabbi Rami (40:31):
Well they're parables and they're and like you said, they're translations. Yeah. And what Jesus, I mean, we don't know what Jesus said, cuz Jesus spoke Aramaic and we don't have Aramaic translation. People try to reconstruct, but they're going backwards from the Greek and trying to imagine what the Aramaic was. But when we read the Bible, the new testaments let's say, or the gospels in Greek, even, that's not what he said, but that's what his followers, uh, Greek speaking followers understood him to say that's much closer to the truth than, than our English and the Greek is often and I'm not a Greek scholar. So I really can't speak to the details here. But when you read about, uh, Jesus, in the context of the gospels, you have to read it through the eyes of someone who knows the Greek. So they can say, look, he didn't say what the English says. He said, you know, it's like in the Hebrew, it doesn't say Lord it, when they're referring to God, it just doesn't. It says Jote. And that means the verb happening. And someone else put Lord in there and everyone just translates it that way. But that's just a habit, not the text. So everything gets confused when we think the English is the actual, uh, the original text. So, uh, so you gotta know Greek gotta know Hebrew got know Sanskrit <laugh> poly. I mean there's Chinese.

Dr. Reese (41:59):
Yeah. Yeah. They kind of piece it together. The interesting thing is how, you know, there's such a big gap in his story and all of a sudden he kind of comes back at 30 and boom, here's my ministry.

Rabbi Rami (42:12):

Dr. Reese (42:13):
What do, what was he doing before that? Do you think he was traveling with the scenes? Did he go to India? Did he learn about Chris? Krisna

Rabbi Rami (42:20):
Think, I think he was in grad school.

Dr. Reese (42:22):

Rabbi Rami (42:24):
But maybe he was in grad school in India, you know? I mean, there's all these, all these theories. Yeah. There, there is something called the Jesus Sutra in India, which are ancient stories about Jesus living in India. I don't know maybe the een, but maybe he goes to India because they're trying to say he gets his wisdom from someone else or somewhere else. And I don't think that's necessarily the case. I think that he was a mystic, I mean a natural born mystic. Yeah. And that all mystics ultimately say the same thing and why not just credit him for having the ability to, to have that experience and then translate it in, you know, in his own way. Why, why does he have

Dr. Reese (43:08):
For his audience,

Rabbi Rami (43:09):
For his audience? Why does he have to learn it from somewhere else? Right. I mean, maybe he did or maybe he experienced it and then went off. I mean, I had my first experience of this kind of thing when I was 16. And then I went off to study to, uh, with, with Buddhist and Hindus and, and Jewish com you know, all these people to, to help me understand what I was experiencing. Mm. Maybe that's what happened, but yeah, it's the lost years of Jesus. And one of the great things you can do with that is you can invent a whole, you know, fan fiction to fill in those, those lost years. What I wanna know is where has he been since he was resurrected right now? You know, we could use him, he should come back.

Dr. Reese (43:52):
<laugh> people wouldn't know what to do. They're too busy looking at their phones.

Rabbi Rami (43:58):
Well, maybe he would come back as an app.

Dr. Reese (44:01):
<laugh> what's your favorite story or most meaningful story from the Bible that resonates with you?

Rabbi Rami (44:08):
Hmm. I like the story of Elijah and the still small voice. So very quickly Elijah's being hounded by, uh, his enemies. They don't like his message and he takes refuge in a cave and he's in the cave and the voice of God, he hears the voice of God. And the voice says, why are you here, Elijah? And so Elijah starts to pour his heart out. Eh, I'm trying to do what you want from him. And the people hate being, and they're chasing me around. They wanna kill me, blah, blah, blah. It's all this whining. You know, it's like, he's talking to a therapist and then God says, well, go outside the cave. And then he has this experience where he sees there, there's a, a, a great fire and a great earthquake and a great, uh, tornado. And he looks into these elements and the Bible says, and God was not in the fire or in the earthquake or in the tornado.

Rabbi Rami (45:08):
And then after the passing of those three things, he hears the cold Dima, DACA, this thin fragile voice of stillness or voice of silence that you and I were talking about, you know, a while ago that that primordial sound. And then again, he hears, uh, why are you here, Elijah? And he didn't get it. I mean, the first time he thought it was an egoic question, why am I here? I'm here, cuz I'm threatened. And I, after experiencing these, you know, the fire represents, you know, uh, motions and anger and you know, they, they, all these, the three things are, are all about things that happen to us as we are, um, what we should call it. I guess, being, being purged or purified in ordered to have the experience of this sound. And then he has the sound experience. But when he hears the voice saying, why are you here?

Rabbi Rami (46:04):
He goes right back to the egoic. It's this sad story about a guy who's given the opportunity to completely awaken. And he can't. I like the story of you, I think, oh, maybe there's hope for me yet. Maybe I can do it, but his answer should have been, um, you know, why are you here, Elijah? He should have said, I'm here to be a blessing to all the families of the earth, but he didn't, he couldn't cuz he was still trapped in the egoic. Right. So it's, I, I think it's a powerful story. So if I had to pick one, that's the one

Dr. Reese (46:37):
Very much. So because once we gain this understanding and knowledge, we Then may develop a desire to become enlightened self-realized and then the chase switches over it switches from fame and fortune and, and women or whatever it is over to the <laugh> to the spiritual. And now we're chasing our tail, but in a different way,

Rabbi Rami (47:09):
Right? In a different way. Um, there there's a story about a famous Hasidic re Hasidic guru. I can't remember his name, which is too bad, but you know, his disciple came back from years of being with this guy and his friend said, well, what did you learn? And the guy said, I learned how to tie and untie my shoes. Hmm. You know, I learned how to be in the moment. Mm-hmm, you know, the Zen when hungry eat when tired sleep, but above all don't waffle. I learned how to tie and untie my shoes. Mm. And that's what this guy is. Like, you just hang out with him and he exudes this compassion and this wisdom and you know, you just you're just with him.

Dr. Reese (47:46):
Right. And that's,

Rabbi Rami (47:47):
He's not, yeah. He's not teaching any system.

Dr. Reese (47:50):
That's exactly how I felt when I met, uh, the mystic back in 2012, he wasn't on the circuit. He just Was just there and, and looking back now, I feel like, um, that feeling that I was experiencing back then, I was sort of looking into a mirror of the possibility. So present that. Nothing bothers you. There's no anger. There's no greed.

Rabbi Rami (48:19):
Yeah. Well, I don't know anything about that. <laugh> that I, I would say, you know, in my, in my own case. Yeah. There's anger. Yeah. There's greed. There's every emotion good and bad. And I just try to observe them and not be trapped by

Dr. Reese (48:34):
Them. Be the witness.

Rabbi Rami (48:35):
Yeah. To be the witness. Cuz if I try to get rid of them, they always win. <laugh>. I mean, there are practices that work for me and if someone asks me, what do you do? I could teach that they're just placeholders for an experience that I can't control. So, you know, I sit every morning, um, like I said, I get up at four 30 and I'm in the chair or, or, you know, doing the meditation, uh, within 20 minutes. And I'm just sitting there and doing the chanting, doing all these things as a way of keeping me sitting there and just being present to see if anything happens. Mm-hmm <affirmative> uh, and, and then that sound arises. And then if I can just listen to that rather than do mantra or anything else, there are moments completely out of my control, but there are moments when I'm not there, you know, it just Romy's gone.

Rabbi Rami (49:35):
And then Romy comes back and then I actually, then I go for a walk, um, come back and take a shower after that. But you know, I, I I'm gone and then I'm back, but I don't want to make a big deal out of being gone or coming back. Um, because anything we'd say any, anytime we make it special. Mm we've missed it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> now it's, it's not extraordinary. It's the ordinary, the extraordinary thing is, is that we've made, we don't get it. Cuz it's so ordinary. We're not right. You know, we're ignorant of it and it's but the reality's happening right here.

Dr. Reese (50:09):
Yeah. That's a nice gem right there. Don't make it special. You've done quite a few funerals as a rabbi having you.

Rabbi Rami (50:18):

Dr. Reese (50:19):
Also I believe mentioned that you're in your seventies now. Yeah. Okay. What have you learned and experienced about death?

Rabbi Rami (50:28):
Of all the things that that I got to do as a rabbi, you know, congregation, rabbi, baby namings, and circumcisions and bar and bat mitzvahs and all this. I liked the dying stuff the best. And that's because there was less BS in that setting. The, the existential reality of death can be an incredible, um, window to, to truth. And you know, I don't believe in life after death. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, it's not that there's nothing is the analogy is that the Hindu ocean and the wave analogy. So you know, you and I are waves of the ocean when a wave hits the rocks, you know, it dies, but it just goes back into the ocean, the ocean, right? And the ocean never waves the same wave twice. But the extent to which you identify is the wave is the extent to which you can talk about death, but the extent to which you identify as the ocean, you're just talking about endless waving.

Rabbi Rami (51:35):
So when I would do a funeral while I would be careful not to impose my theology on the mourners, cuz who knows where people are. Mm. If asked, I would help people say, you know, understand that what they're grieving over is the loss of a form. But the reality that was your loved one is no less present than before. It's just not in that form. And you're always a part of that. It's always a part of you cuz we're all waves of the same ocean. But when I would teach this to kids, I used to try give each kid a piece of rope and I'd say, okay, tie a knot in the rope. So you get a piece of rope. Now there's a knot in it. And we would have a discussion. What's the relationship of the knot to the rope. And each kid has her own piece of rope.

Rabbi Rami (52:21):
And so she'd say, well look, the knot is the rope. I said, yeah. Right. Okay. So then we tie another knot in the rope. So I got the same piece of rope, two knots. What's the relationship between the two knots. They're not identical. You can't tie the same knot twice, you know, to paraphrase a clay. And so each knot is unique and distinct, a little bigger, a little smaller, tighter, loose or whatever it is, but they're both equally the rope. So then I would go on a little bit longer, but eventually I'd say, okay, so we personalize the knots. So for example, this knot is, is Romi. And this knot is my dad who's deceased. So I say, okay, let me UN time. My dad's not cuz he's dead. So where did he go? The rope. That was that knot is still right there in front of me.

Rabbi Rami (53:08):
Mm. The connection that I had with that knot hasn't, hasn't gone anywhere, cuz we're both the rope, but I miss that knot. I miss the shape and all the things I associate with that shape. So I can grieve. I can mourn I can feel that loss. And at the same time, realize there's no, no such sense as no such ideas loss because it's, it doesn't get the rope isn't anymore or any less when knots are not are noded or UN noded. So, you know, I try to give the kids some insight into that. Whether they get it or not, you know, I have no idea.

Dr. Reese (53:47):
Oh, that's fantastic. When I do seminars before, long before COVID now sometimes I would use the analogy of a ice cube.

Rabbi Rami (53:56):
Yeah. Same idea

Dr. Reese (53:57):
And melts back into water. Right. And if you apply heat, it disappears.

Rabbi Rami (54:03):
Right. Right. I mean, when people ask me to explain the holy Trinity, you know, of course, why is a rabbi explaining the holy Trinity of Christianity? I mean the holy Trinity, you know, uh, God as father, son and holy spirit to me it's um, God is, father is water. God is, son is ice. And holy spirit is steam. Mm they're all H twoo. So it's, it is three manifesting of a singular reality. Mm. So if you're into this mystical metaphor stuff, you can make anything work<laugh> that's right.

Dr. Reese (54:41):
As we wrap up here, where can people find you that come say hello? On social media?

Rabbi Rami (54:46):
My, my website is rabbi R a BBI R And my foundation that I co-direct is the one river foundation, which is one river E one river And you can find me at both places.

Dr. Reese (55:04):
The last question, what's the one word you would give to someone that wants to meet God slash find enlightenment.

Rabbi Rami (55:16):
I, the one word would be, listen,

Dr. Reese (55:18):
Listen. Yeah. Rabbi. It's really been a pleasure talking to you today,

Rabbi Rami (55:22):
Kevin. My pleasure. It was great. Thank you.

Dr. Reese (55:25):
Hmm. That silence is so important. And I've been trying to stress that silence to you since episode number one. And here we are, <laugh> into the mid sixties and I hope that you are starting to really understand, Be sure to go get my meditations on Spotify or apple or YouTube. They're there for you practice them. And if you're looking for more of my work, go to Dr. That's Dr. Spelled out and I'll talk to you on the next episode.

Speaker 1 (56:04):
Thanks for listening to inner peace with Dr. Reese. If this episode opened your heart, feel free to share on social media and tell your loved ones. Also be sure to subscribe. So you never miss an episode until next time.