Sunday, March 04, 2007

Integral Judaism: David Ingber

As part of my research for a discussion with TikkunGer about integral Judaism, I came across this interview with David Ingber in Zeek, a one-time student of Marc Gafni and a proponent of an integrally informed Jewish faith.

During a crisis of faith as a young man, one of the books he read was Sex, Ecology, Spirituality by Ken Wilber. Judging by the interview and his vision of Jewish faith, he took Wilber's ideas about the Great Chain of Being and applied them to his spiritual practice.

Here is a section of the interview -- the whole thing is worth the read.

RB: These four ideas-moving the body, opening of the heart, stimulation of the mind, unfolding of the spirit-map neatly to the four worlds of assiyah, yetzirah, beriah, and atzilut. How does the four worlds model play into this work?

DI:Actually, I would say the foundational motif of Romemu is not the four worlds, but the five freedoms. I took Virginia Satir’s notion of five freedoms, and applied it to davening. Five’s a great number: five are the books in the chumash, five levels of soul, five letters of Romemu.

To be in your body is the world of assiyah, the soul-level of nefesh. So we offer multiple modes of sitting and standing, so people can take care of their bodies. I’d like to have bouncy-balls for people to sit on too. What matters is, there’s freedom for all bodies to be in our services.

The next level is the freedom to be in your voice, which parallels the world of yetzirah, ruach, what you might call the ‘freedom to throat!’ To express yourself, to speak your truth, to join us regardless of what it is that you believe in. If you breathe, you’re welcome.

The next freedom is the world of briyah, the soul-level of neshama: freedom to think. We’re a congregation that tries to support both rational and postrational thinking-the rational and beyond! We haven’t jettisoned our rational faculties in order to leap into the mystical.

The fourth freedom is freedom to have silence. The soul-level of chaya, the world of atzilut. We promote as much ecstasy, and as much silence, as we can. The transformative elements happen between the prayers. It’s the white fire, you know?

RB: Right, the idea that Torah is written in black fire on white fire.

DI: Davening is the same way. The black fire is the letters, the white fire is what happens when the words have stopped and we’re hanging in that space. In-between is where redemption happens, which is why we put a mezuzah there. We honor the liminal space between.

And the fifth freedom, the highest one, the world of adam kadmon and yechidah, is the freedom to commit. The primordial ‘yes’. God didn’t create the world until God said ‘I want.’ Desire is the first movement in going from the pre-world to the world. The freedom to say, 'I will.'

Read the rest.

I admire what he is doing within the Judaic tradition. With the fall of Gafni, there are few other integrally minded folks that I know about working within the major traditions. Christianity has Father Thomas Keating and Brother David Steindl-Rast, but there needs to be a lot more leaders within all the world's major traditions working toward a more integral understanding of faith and spirituality.

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