In our class yesterday on Jewish Spirituality one of the things we began to think about was the meanings of the words: ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’. Whilst there is no agreed upon scholarly consensus about how to define these terms, I would like to suggest that one potentially useful way to think about this topic might be as follows:
We might want to think of ‘Religion’ as living out the description of someone else’s experience that has already been written about in sacred texts and literature; whereas ‘Spirituality’ is about having your own unique embodied experience of the sacred – which may indeed be mediated by your own religious texts and community – but the experience happens inside of you.
It’ a bit like the difference between reading and enjoying a novel about falling in love, and actually having the visceral felt experience of falling in love yourself.
In our class we also began the spiritual practice of cultivating gratitude in our lives. In Hebrew the term for gratitude is ‘hakarat hatov’, which literally means ‘acknowledging what is good’.
I invite you to join us for this month of cultivating gratitude in our lives. One great way to do this is to keep a little notepad by the side of your bed and either first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, write down in your notebook 3 things you appreciate in your life in general or things that you are grateful for that happened during the day.
Then observe over the course of the month how your experience of your life changes and what things you begin to notice. If you do this practice diligently, it is likely that you will never experience life in the same way again.
Wishing you all a Shabbat shalom
Alan Wien says: “On Thursday about 20 of us tuned in to Zoom to hear the first of Rabbi Danny’s shiurim on Jewish Spirituality. It was a fascinating introduction to the subject. Rabbi Danny learned a little about us and told us a little about himself. Anybody who wants to join next week should find it easy to integrate in what promises to be a very enjoyable and enlightening series of meetings. Join us next Thursday at 12 noon for an hour.