When I first began this book, my intention was to write my memoirs. Twenty months later, having grappled with what this book was to be about, my ideas have changed and I realize now that the autobiographical focus is neither the essence nor the purpose of my writings, for the book is about spiritual change. I quote from a commentary of the Book of Job: ďTruth is absolute only when we can divorce it from the person who proclaims it.Ē At the outset, however, I admit that I have no proof whatsoever to offer you that the spiritual experiences I describe in this book did indeed happen. But they did happen, and they were so important and they were so meaningful in my life that I would give anything right at this moment to repeat all of these experiences, for with each passing day, they still remain so truly remarkable. I long to hear the awesomeness of His voice, to feel within that incredible mountainous movement, and to visualize the spectacular scenes that continually flash through my mind, only memories now, though never to be obliterated from my soul. I feel so grateful, for these spiritual experiences have enlightened and illuminated my being through and through. They are my ultimate highs that cannot be duplicated, at least in this world. What makes them so special is that they were granted unconditionally by the One, Whom many of us believe in deeply and together we call God.
Except for a vague yet oddly unwavering belief in God beginning in my teenage years, I was spiritually bankrupt, devoid of aspiring to any higher meaning in my life. Therefore, I donít know why His Splendor has shone upon me, but I do know that I have been changed forever by the experiences. I continue to grow spiritually and yearn only to serve my Creator, Whom I love with all of my might, heart, and soul. It is very important that you realize that I never have had conversations with my Creator, nor have I been given any celestial instructions. But I did hear a voice, and my daughter heard a voice, that I have no doubt was God. Nonetheless, I now have a steadfast belief in the Torah and what was spoken by God and His prophets in the Hebrew Bible, and I have absolutely no doubt that the conversations and heavenly instructions described in the Torah occurred. Furthermore, I feel that spiritual events have taken place and are taking place, even at this moment, with others who, unlike myself, have chosen not to make public any of their experiences, regardless of their religion. Religion is not a prerequisite for spirituality. Nor is spirituality for religion, although it ought to be. In my humble opinion, spirituality permits us more freedom to float our souls to help one another, because it lacks the barriers we impose through identification of ourselves with a particular religion. Yet, Iím not advocating disbanding religion, for Iím proud of my Jewish heritage, as I am sure others are of theirs. I believe that spirituality was announced quietly with the engravings and cave art of our ancestors and explosively and dramatically with the giving of the Ten Commandments by God. Therefore, spirituality preceded religion by several thousand years and continues to transcend religion in the private domain and hearts of the human race.
By being truthful, I am uncomfortably and painfully baring my soul. By a hairsbreadth I almost lost my way as a husband but did lose my way as a scientist. Despite being blessed with a rainbow in my life with my wife, Marcia, I have hurt her deeply, and I loathe myself for having come so close to jeopardizing our sacred relationship. I caused her an unforgivable amount of pain even though her very pain placed me squarely at the crossroads of either continuing on the wrong path or choosing the path that I did indeed choose, not knowing that it would be the turning point to the beginning of my ascension of Godís spiritual ladder. How did I come upon this path of spirituality? Simply stated, it was a fork in the road, and Iím fortunate that I chose wisely. The path that I ultimately did not choose, but was on, was leading in a direction directly opposite, away from God. Had I chosen that New Age path, which is disguised behind the Christian faith, I would have become part of an occult group, whose magician and mystic leader deluded his followers into believing that salvation and what he termed higher levels can only come about through a false, esoteric journey of conscious awakening from robotic sleep in present-day living. Once I rejected this self-proclaimed, ingenuous, man-made god and his New Age cult, by choosing the only God many of us believe in, I began my spiritual journey. I havenít looked back since or regretted my choice.
This is a personal story of spiritual awakening arising out of a traumatic childhood coupled with mental illness. The book is written from a Jewish perspective on spirituality and would perhaps best serve a Jewish audience, who might be able to better identify with the Creatorís Ten Commandments. However, the Hebrew Bible clearly states that God is the Creator of all people and that the Jews were chosen not because they were better than anyone else but because they were chosen to bring Godís spiritual message to humanity. The ideas expressed herein are not meant to proselytize the path that I have chosen. Nor are they a cure for anyoneís ills, for, ultimately, each of us must face our own demons. The Torah and the Holy Writings suggest that people are led in the way they wish to go, although some of us, burdened by our past, proceed helplessly in directions not of our choosing.
When king Solomon was troubled, it is said he would look at his ring and say, ďThis too shall pass.Ē These four words uttered by Solomon seem to be quite simple, and yet they are very powerful. Solomon was able to use these words to his advantage because he felt the presence and love of God. Even amid his wine, women, and song, Solomon is referred to as the wisest man of his time, perhaps of all time. However, make no mistake, it wasnít his wisdom that gave him strength. It was his faith, trust, and spirituality. Solomon was imperfect, like we all are, and he went astray, like we all do, because spirituality is not a rose garden. There are thorns along the way, and although we all progress along the path of spirituality at different rates, my own experience tells me that some of us get caught by the thorns and progress very slowly. But the road does get smoother. With the passage of time, I have experienced a striking shift from being negative to being very positive, from being unhappy to being happy, and from feeling frustrated and overwhelmed to feeling the inner strength that I need for lifeís wondrous mix of pain and pleasure. I never used to smile, and now I smile all the time, and I laugh, even belly laugh, which I rarely did for so many years.
Will spirituality give you inner peace? I believe yes, ultimately, but inner peace is more elusive and is not automatic, because we continually have feelings, and a healthy person lets these feelings come to the surface. To me, inner peace is a composite of both spirituality and resolution of feelings. You might argue that there are perfectly good ways to reach this state through nonspiritual or spiritual routes other than via spiritual Judaism. I wholeheartedly agree. However, because I truly feel my Creator at my side, I am not afraid to admit my mistakes, even in front of a large audience. I donít worry about other peopleís approval, nor do I envy them, and I especially donít feel alone. Because I have the love of my Creator, I have found the means to eliminate the miseries and the tormenting shackles of my childhood through Primal Therapy. Because I have the love of my Creator, I can with difficulty openly admit to scientific cheating. Because I have the love of my Creator, I have found the way to live a normal life with manic depression. Best of all, loving and trusting in my Creator is free and doesnít cost me a penny.
I reap His benefits, providing I live my life in His Image and follow His Commandments.
Are there ways to live your life outside of spirituality? Of course there are, and we all do so, some more than others and to varying degrees. However, based upon my personal experiences, living with a greater degree of spirituality helps us follow the guiding principles of the Ten Commandments and lead a more moral life with less chance to make a major slipup. Acquiring spirituality has also taught me that if your lot in life, like mine, was initially cast and subsequently set for decades in a sea of agonizing anxiety and in hurt feelings of rejection, helplessness, and being unwanted, then the odds of coping with these emotions are better if you walk the spiritual path. By staying the course through this almost magical transformation of self, I have seen my fears and need for approval lessen markedly. The key word is ďlessen,Ē because these stressful feelings have not yet disappeared. Rather, the constant turmoil, which has relentlessly immobilized and imprisoned me virtually all of my life, is slowly being replaced by a newfound spiritual strength and a wondrous freedom of tranquility within.
Part of Godís spiritual plan is for humanity to try and help those less fortunate than themselves. I have written this book to share my experiences, feelings, and spiritual insights with individuals whose sad lives have been emotionally damaged by the ravages of either their upbringing or mental illness. I will always be a member of this group. However, I have moved on with my life because of the help given to me by my Creator. Writing this book, therefore, is one way of earning the blessings I have been granted, because I can give back to my Creator by trying to help my fellow human beings. I hope that you will see that this book has a second purpose: it highlights an old message of the affirmation of the recognition of Godís presence in our world. What remains is for God to come out of the shadows into the daylight and reveal Himself openly and publicly as He did with the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai more than thirty-three hundred years ago. When He does, He shall surely make the greatest impact ever seen in the history of the human race. As the Hebrew Bible states, He shall perform miracles that are incredible even to Him. Spirituality is not necessarily, nor does it have to be, nor is it, everyoneís cup of tea. I have made a conscious choice for God. You may not feel this need. Spiritual or not, I wish you good health and the joie de vivre in whatever path you choose or wherever your destiny brings you.