On November 7th I sent His Holiness the Dalai Lama a copy of my art installation proposal: Art for Prayer and Peace: A Bridge to Oneness in the hopes that he would find time to read it, give me feedback and possibly send his endorsement. It is with immense gratitude that I report that he has endorsed this art work. Please see below for His amazing response and for the introduction to this work that I will be creating. Please stay tuned for future BLOG posts that will outline each of the pieces in this exhibit.
Introduction: My Path Towards This Work: A Spiritual Journey
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to feel spiritual belonging within my own Jewish community and among the diverse people around me. Shema, the first and most important line on the mezuzah scroll says to me that we are all one. I wondered where I could find the truth in these words out in the world. I have chosen Shinto, Shin Buddhism and Hindu as well as two languages– Japanese and Sanskrit to combine with Judaism and Hebrew as my first forays into revealing the divine unity that resides within these seemingly unrelated teachings. The Abrahamic religions of Christianity and Islam as well as some of the teachings from Native Cultures are being tied in as well.
While traveling through Japan in 2004, I discovered spiritual ideas in Shinto religion and Shin Buddhism that work like a hinge with Judaism. This work is meant to be a collaboration of the schools of thought. Shinto– the Japanese native religion– and Judaism share similarities in the way they value sanctuary, sacred space and intentionality. Buddhism and Judaism both teach lovingkindness. Considering the existence of God while not necessarily believing in God is acceptable within Judaism. Buddhism is non-theistic. Both religions can be practiced without conversion. Buddhism focuses on the changing world, while our Torah is an interpretable text. Buddhism teaches us to stay in the moment; Judaism has a special prayer for blessing an exceptional moment in time, called the Shehecheyanu.
For years I have known about some fascinating similarities between Sanskrit words and meanings and some core Jewish teachings, But not until more recently, when a Sanskrit teacher came to me to commission a copper sign for his fire temple was I able to weave in Sanskrit and Hindu into this potential worship/mediation environment. Beginning with prayers for fire and light, moving into symbolism around death and transformation and ending with one of the most important teachings around what makes a person holy– the inclusion of Sanskrit and Hindu creates a harmonious tone among these differing religions.
In the final section of this installation, there is a place where Judaism, Shin Buddhism, Sanskrit, Hindu, Christianity, Islam and Native Cultures mix. Like a hinge, Judaism provides one set of knuckles while these other religions and languages provide the adjoining knuckles. When put together they open the door to a greater realization of our oneness and potentially deepen our connection to God.