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The Transforming Power Of Brotherly Love

Integral Yoga Yantra via Wikipedia

Integral Yoga Yantra via Wikipedia

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Stories can be fiction or true. Some stories are true because they accurately describe a unique event that happened a certain time and place. Other stories are events that once happened and have subsequently been dramatized by creative minds or faithful hearts. Archetypical stories that have been retold over the course of thousands of years are true not because they once occurred; but because they continually reoccur in many places and times.

One such archetypical story, transmitted orally in both Arabic and Hebrew for many centuries; and finally written down in the 19th century, in both languages and in several different versions; reveals a truth about the importance of brotherly love that was exemplified in the news media just a few weeks ago. First the individual stories.

A historical Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, USA was vandalized leaving over 100 headstones damaged. In response, two Muslims Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi, created a crowd-funding campaign in order to raise funds for the Jewish Cemetery. The target was set at $20,000 and it was reached in 5 hours! In that time, 848 people (mainly Muslims) donated over $25,000 and donations tripled overnight after JK Rowling, the Harry Potter author retweeted a Jewish News story on the campaign to her 10 million followers.

The organizers say: “We were inspired by the example of our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who stood up to pay respects for a passing Jewish funeral procession. When questioned on why he stood for a Jewish funeral, he responded, “Is it not a human soul?” [Source: Bukhari].

Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America. We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.”

The second event took place a few weeks earlier in the small Gulf Coast city of Victoria, Texas, a place with many churches, but just one synagogue, and one mosque built in 2000, that was burned down, about 2 A.M. Saturday January 28, 2017.

Now, the synagogue has become a mosque: because the Jews of Victoria responded to the Mosque desecration, by giving the Muslims a key to their synagogue building, so they could share a place to worship while rebuilding their own Mosque.

“Everyone knows everybody, I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them,” said Robert Loeb, the president of Bnai Israel, which affiliates with the Jewish Reconstructionist movement.

On Sunday January 29, the Victoria community held an interfaith event in front of the mosque. Through local donations and a GoFundMe page, the mosque raised over $900,000 from 18,000+ people to rebuild the mosque.

These two accounts of brotherly love are modern descendants of the following archetypical fable that illustrates how two holy places can be as closely connected as two lungs, even though they are far apart geographically and exist in different religious worlds. Some say this happened in the generation of Noah others say it was when Abraham was born.

“Two brothers who inherited a ‘valley to hilltop’ farm from their father divided the land in half so that each one could farm his own section. Over time, the older brother married and had four children, while the younger brother was still not married.

One year there was very little rain, and the crop was very meager. This was at the beginning of a long term drought that would turn the whole valley into an arid, treeless, desert where even grain did not grow, and all the springs dried up.

The younger brother lay awake one night praying and thought: “My brother has a wife and four children to feed, and I have no children. He needs more grain than I do; especially now when grain is scarce.”

So that night, the younger brother went to his barn, gathered a large sack of wheat, and left his wheat in his brother’s barn. Then he returned home, feeling pleased with himself.

Earlier that very same night, the older brother was also lying awake praying for rain when he thought: “In my old age, my wife and I will have our grown children to take care of us, as well as grandchildren to enjoy, while my brother may have no children. He should at least sell more grain from his fields now, so he can provide for himself in his old age.

So that night, the older brother also gathered a large sack of wheat, and left it in his brother’s barn, and returned home, feeling pleased with himself.

The next morning, the younger brother, surprised to see the amount of grain in his barn seemed unchanged, said “I did not take as much wheat as I thought. Tonight I will take more.”

That same morning, the older brother, standing in his barn, was thinking the same thoughts.

After night fell, each brother gathered a greater amount of wheat from his barn and in the dark, secretly delivered it to his brother’s barn.

The next morning, the brothers were again puzzled and perplexed. “How can I be mistaken?” each one thought. “There’s the same amount of grain here as there was before. This is impossible! Tonight I will make no mistake—I will take two large sacks.”

The third night, more determined than ever, each brother gathered two large sacks of wheat from his barn, loaded them onto a cart, and slowly pulled his cart toward his brother’s barn. In the moonlight, each brother noticed a figure in the distance.

When the two brothers got closer, each recognized the form of the other and the load he was pulling, and they both realized what had happened!

Without a word, they dropped the ropes of their carts, ran to each other and embraced.”

Only God can make something mundane into something holy; and God thought the brothers’ love and concern for each other made their descendants worthy to rebuild a primordial Holy House in this valley; and later to build a new Holy House on that far hill, where the descendants of one brother would live, and a descendant of the other brother would visit to ascend to heaven.

So God sent Messengers to their descendants to guide them to do this.

Christians and Jews say the hilltop is Jerusalem. Muslims say the valley is Makka. I say they are both right.

God gave humans one heart to love God as individuals, and two lungs for communities to recycle the holy spirit within human beings, among human communities, and between all humans and God.

When all those, both near and far, who revere these two sacred places as a standard, share it in love with everyone else who reveres it, then Abraham’s request for Allah to “make this a land of peace, and provide its people with the produce of the land” (Qur’an 2:126) will be extended throughout the world; and all the children of Adam, Noah and Abraham will live in Holiness, Peace and Prosperity.
 
Rabbi Maller’s web site is: www.rabbimaller.com

 What Donald Wants to Ban: (brothersjuddblog.com)

 Florida airport ‘detained Muhammad Ali’s son, asking: Are you Muslim?’ (telegraph.co.uk)

 Trump’s America: As Welcoming as Ever (americanthinker.com)

 Muhammad Ali’s Son Detained By Immigration Officials At Florida Airport (newsone.com)


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Today’s Top Tweet – Big Boy and the Serpent (a brand new myth for all ages)

A couple of weeks ago I put together a new blog called msea4ever. Its About page explains the name, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to “come out” and link it to Earthpages or not. So I said nothing here.

Tonight I’m thinking, What the heck. It’s just another side of me.

So this tweet points to a new transformation myth, written by yours truly. I’ve read a lot of myths. Seems the influences here are mostly Ancient Greek and North American.

I hope you enjoy. I had fun writing it!


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Today’s Top Tweet – How some believers shut down their minds

I’ve talked about the mystic Swedenborg and how he apparently got it laughably wrong when talking about aliens.

Today’s tweeted article is interesting. It’s written by a Swedenborgian believer who recognizes the critique about aliens but still believes because he has “seen enough” to do so.

His account reminds me of believers in other faith groups. For example, some Catholics sense a joyous, uplifting feeling at the Mass, so assume this means that everything the Catholic Church teaches must be true.

Some Hindus undergo an expansion of consciousness when they perform puja, so assume that everything their branch of Hinduism teaches is true.

Likewise, some Jews may experience a spiritual solidity or centering in temple so assume that everything their form of Judaism teaches is true.

Swedenborg via Wikipedia

Swedish scientist cum mystic Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1772) via Wikipedia

And the list goes on, from sweat lodges to tin foil hats. Some believers feel a buzz (or lack of) so assume their experience “proves” their underlying belief system is entirely true.

To me, this is fundamentalism. Fundamentalism in any form usually leads to division or, on the other hand, political correctness where nobody talks about anything, preferring to gloss over differences and issues where people might get hurt.

Notice my use of the word “some.” It not only avoids problems but is fair. Not every religious person is a fundamentalist. And some people assume that all religious people are fundamentalists, which itself is unfair and misguided.

But to return to our Swedenborgian believer: Looking through the tweeted article we find his response to the critique of Swedenborg and aliens. There he seems to overlook the possibility (again, I’ve touched on this elsewhere) that Swedenborg may have picked up a type of ET (or ETs) that our modern science cannot detect—that is, other lifeforms not based on (what we often assume are) the universal building blocks of life.

Perhaps Swedenborg’s mind translated these realities in terms that he and others in his era could understand. So Swedenborg writes about “wooden buildings” and “tents” on the planet Jupiter.

By way of comparison, the Old Testament has a primitive view of the Earth. It’s way off by modern standards. But that doesn’t mean that everything the Bible teaches is false.

I’m not a Swedenborgian and the spiritual feeling I sense from that belief system is certainly not my cup of tea. But I try to keep an open mind. As the old saying goes, one person’s meat is another’s poison.


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Is Spirituality for Losers?

I liked this tweet because over the years some folks have confronted me in one way or another, saying things like “What if you’re wrong and there is no afterlife? You’ll have wasted your whole life, investing yourself in something that doesn’t exist!

My response to that person was that my spirituality enriches my life, here and now. And Arti Gupta’s response to a similar kind of skepticism is, I think, appropriate for the Christmas season.

For me, Christmastime includes quiet reflection on the birth of Christ. Not that I’m against party people in Santa hats who couldn’t give a hoot about Jesus. That’s fine too. But for me, there’s so much more than mere revelry.

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr


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(The Other Day’s) Top Tweet – C. S. Lewis and others on science and scientism

Originally posted November 26

Today’s top tweet points to a list of the main points mentioned in a Cambridge talk commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis. The target web page also links to a freely streaming or downloadable mp3 of that talk.

Edit, November 28:  

I finally listened to the whole thing and ate humble pie the whole way through. It really is quite a good talk. So much so that I just deleted my previous comments. Never good to rush or comment on something before giving it a fair chance.

The statue of C. S. Lewis in front of the ward...

The statue of C. S. Lewis in front of the wardrobe from his book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in East Belfast, Northern Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Today’s Top Tweet – Mysticism hits the mainstream

Today’s top tweet points to a story about an Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) exhibit claiming that mysticism has the power to save our violent, secular society.

It’s a nice sentiment and I’m happy to see the topic of mysticism reach a mainstream venue. But, really, it’s not that simple. Most religious traditions and depth psychologist point to the belief that dark, “downward” mysticism coincides with light, “upward” mysticism. And most spiritual people believe that we are always tempted by the former.

So those with unresolved psychological issues are more likely to fall prey to – even come to enjoy, in a twisted way – the “power of the dark side,” as the Star Wars saying goes.

Art Gallery of Ontario at dusk. Toronto, Ontar...

Art Gallery of Ontario at dusk. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bible also talks about a struggle with dark forces in high places. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe evil rulers on Earth being influenced by the numinous power of Satan. But the point is, there’s always struggle. And mysticism alone won’t solve that. However, good ethical choices will help. That’s a bright ray of hope that empowers us all.


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Obama is a great speaker and mythmaker but…

Tower of Freedom Underground Railroad Monument on June 17, 2016 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

US President Obama is a great speaker and mythmaker but I think a little mention of Canada’s role in the emancipation of black people would have been appropriate today at the Smithsonian. Obama and many Americans love to paint this myth that the USA is unique and “the greatest.” Some Americans say this so many times that sometimes I wonder if they’re trying to convince themselves. I mean, if you are really secure about something you don’t have to continually brag, do you?

Aside from that, it was a great speech today. I think Obama would have made a superlative first President of the World. But we’re not there yet. And with American exclusivism, it clearly will take some kind of shakeup before most Americans come on board with that idea. I suppose the same could be said for Canadians and for people of many other countries. Each for our own reasons, we remain an assortment of separate states, provinces, territories and jurisdictions.

A quick look at history, however, tells a different story. For the most part, countries are becoming larger, geographically speaking. Is it only a matter of time before we have a centralized government for Planet Earth? I think so. But as I said, we’re not quite there yet.

—MC, Toronto 9/24/16