On Jews, Buddhists, faith, and source code

I've been thinking a lot about soul, faith, mindfulness, meditation, psychedelics, and ego lately. Maybe residue from my ayahuasca adventures, maybe not.

This has led me to examine my relationship to Judaism more than I ever did in the past. I've always been in the "I'm a cultural Jew but not a religious Jew" camp. But I've been thinking about the artists I love and how many of them are Jewish. Comedians: Larry David, Woody Allen, Howard Stern, Garry Shandling. Non-comedians: Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Mark Rothko, Marc Chagall, etc. Seems like I really enjoy the "app" of Jewishness, so I've been wondering if I should look more at the source code.

Along those lines, I've been reading up and found some of this to be interesting stuff for a curious but non-believing Jew who's got a hankering for some spirituality.

1) Letters to a Buddhist Jew

Their year-long correspondence resulted in Letters to a Buddhist Jew, a lively, rigorous conversation on spirituality seasoned with humor.

This is an important book on many levels, but for secular Jews with a spiritual yearning, it illuminates realms of Judaism they may never have known existed, some of which have much in common with aspects of Buddhism. Whatever choices they make, this book will engross readers and advance their understanding of both religions.


2) Next Year in Jerusalem

In the spring of 1975, my brother Michael, then 24, was on his way home from his third trip through Asia when he arrived in Israel, planning to stay a few weeks before heading back to New York. On April 28th, he wrote to our parents: “I’ve been staying at, of all things, an Orthodox Jewish yeshiva — when I got to Jerusalem I went to visit the Wailing Wall and got invited - they hang around there looking for unsuspecting tourists to proselytize. It’s sort of a Jewish Jesus-freak type outfit - dedicated to bringing real Judaism to backsliding Jews. I haven’t been especially impressed by the message, but it’s been a really interesting week.” On June 4th, he wrote me, “I’ve had my lack of faith shaken.”


I enjoyed both those greatly and found overlap in my questions about zen, psychedelics, judaism, faith, etc. Reading that book now too.

Oh, and this podcast has been touching on spirituality and occasionally on Jew stuff in a way i've found intriguing…

3) On Being: The Refreshing Practice of Repentance

The High Holy Days create an annual ritual of repentance, both individual and collective. Louis Newman, who has explored repentance as an ethicist and a person in recovery, opens this up as a refreshing practice for every life, even beyond the lifetime of those to whom we would make amends.


And lastly, celebrities…they're just like us!

4) David Gregory's Search for God

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Lee Daniels on white vs. black crowds

Why Lee Daniels Thinks Shows Without Diversity Are “Bullshit”:

Daniels said that, in every level of the film and TV worlds, he’s found people who aren’t quite picking up what he’s putting down and chalks that up to a fundamental difference between the black and white perspective. Daniels’s harrowing Oscar contender, Precious, played as a comedy to “a group of 800 black people” during an early screening. But when the film played at Sundance, Daniels said, “It was a lily-white audience. And you could hear a pin drop. It was ‘art.’


Interesting perspective.

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People don't like the smartest guy in the room

In The Psyche on Automatic, Amy Cuddy talks about why trying to seem smart won't always get people on your side. Seems relevant to standup also. Talking about how dumb you are (see Regan or Burr) is a better way to get people to go with ya then coming out with facts and figures.

Leaders often see themselves as separate from their audiences, says Cuddy. “They want to stake out a position and then try to move audiences toward them. That’s not effective.” At the business school, she notes, many students tend “to overemphasize the importance of projecting high competence--they want to be the smartest guy in the room. They’re trying to be dominant. Clearly there are advantages to feeling and seeing yourself as powerful and competent--you’ll be more confident, more willing to take risks. And it’s important for others to perceive you as strong and competent. That said, you don’t have to prove that you’re the most dominant, most competent person there. In fact, it’s rarely a good idea to strive to show everyone that you’re the smartest guy in the room: that person tends to be less creative, and less cognitively open to other ideas and people.”


(via APYSK)

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Twins

All these fertility drugs are leading to tons of twins being born and I wonder why we aren't talking about this more. What happens when a significant portion of the population are twins? They'll all be reading each other's minds, marrying women with the same names, and doing Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger stuff. And then in 20 years, we won't even notice that people are having lots of triplets and then eventually women will just give birth to an entire tribe and there will be self-driving Tesla minivans to take them to Space Diving practice and the future scares me.

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Those who can, do. Those who can't, hold meetings.

New Vooza video.



Reminds me of how comedy industry folks constantly are taking meetings that never go anywhere. They get to say they've done their job. "I had five meetings today." Meanwhile, it's just a waste of the other person's time. Beware of folks who make a living by wasting your time on the slight chance it MIGHT wind up one day being a fruitful relationship.