Rabbi David Ingber - The Tip of the Dreidel
October 29, 2008 14:29

Written by Corey W. deVos

An Integral Approach to Judaism. Part 1. The Tip of the Dreidel.
Rabbi David Ingber and Ken Wilber

Rabbi David Ingber and Ken Wilber explore the implications of taking an Integral approach to Judaism, one which promises to include all the important insights of previous approaches, without ever privileging one perspective or interpretation of this ancient religion to the exclusion of the others. They then go on to discuss an impossibly painful chapter of human history, during which the unimaginable suffering European Jews endured was eclipsed only by the immeasurable wealth of knowledge, tradition, and insight that was forever lost to the Holocaust….

Judaism, the root of all major Western religions, is one of the oldest and most ornately textured spiritual traditions ever to be forged within the human heart.  Stretching back over 4,000 years, the Judaic tradition represents man's very first voyage into the depths of monotheism, recognizing the singularity of God before, behind, and beyond all other gods.  Some interpret Abraham's experience with God as being one that extends well beyond the veil of finite existence, piercing through the phantasmagoria of form, penetrating the silent heart that lies at the center of this and every other moment.  The God of Abraham, some might say, is both deeply personal and utterly transcendent—a radically unqualifiable Presence that describes itself only in existential terms like “I am that I am” or “Was, Is, and Will Be.”  Stepping beyond the political pantheons of squabbling gods, Judaism was among the first to escape the archetypal stew of cultural identity, psychological projection, and magical dream dust that tends to color the world's pre-monotheistic traditions.

Judaism is in many ways defined by its ability to thrive in the face of great persecution, violence, and Diaspora.  Perhaps it is exactly this long history of hardship that has made Judaism at once such a potent and provocative tradition, while remaining somewhat more recalcitrant to change and reform than many other traditions—which is certainly not to say that Judaism hasn’t changed over history, but that the tradition has remained notably more resistant to the shifting sands of time.  But like all other living traditions, Judaism has been forced to accommodate a world that is constantly evolving, and has in some ways allowed itself to evolve along with it.  Today we find a plurality of Judaic schools of thought, including Orthodox Judaism, conservative Judaism, reformed Judaism, etc., each tending to focus upon a particular perspective or dimension of human experience, often to the expense of all other perspectives and dimensions. 

But a new school of Judaism is now beginning to emerge, one which accounts for all these perspectives and dimensions of spiritual and secular life.  This new approach to Judaism acts somewhat like the pointed tip of a dreidel, around which all previous schools of Judaic thought can be seen to revolve.

In just about every sector of today's world, the forces of history conspire in the 21st century, as the fruits of human experience are beginning to ripen on the vine of history.  We are witnessing a radical convergence of knowledge, culture, philosophy, and spirituality—an influx of information from every corner of the globe that is already beginning to transfigure almost every facet of the human condition.  Our art, our morality, and our science are all becoming progressively more complex, more comprehensive, and more complete, as every branch of human discovery becomes increasingly informed by all the others.  The world, in other words, is becoming more and more integrated—and the significance this movement toward integration has for our most precious spiritual traditions cannot be overstated, as these traditions find better and more novel ways of wrapping new words around ancient truths.


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