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Enlightenment is to be Lived

My best friend and I are intrigued by enlightenment but can’t define it. What is enlightenment?Rabbi Rami: For me enlightenment is the act or art of embracing what is as it is, accepting that it is what it is because at that moment it cannot be other than it is, and then engaging justly and compassionately with what is. Nothing to be intrigued about, just lived.If God is infinite, God is everything.If God is everything, God is also ego.If God is also ego, why should we kill the ego?Many spiritual systems wrongly demonize the ego. Without our egos we couldn’t dress ourselves, bathe ourselves, hold down a job, love, raise a family, or do so much else that makes human life worthwhile. Spirituality doesn’t kill the ego but nurtures it through practices that help the ego to realize its proper place and function; in this way spirituality helps the ego to stop playing God and become a vehicle for godliness instead.I’m seeking a Jewish spiritual path. My rabbi says Judaism isn’t about spirituality but about compassion and justice. Is she right? Do I have to change religions to find what I seek?First of all …

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality.

He has this to say about religion: “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”

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