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After years of studying and practicing Buddhism at a Zen center near Chicago, he received lay ordination as a Zen Buddhist in 2002."I am a Zen Jew struggling to resolve these two identities," he writes.
Yet, I sometimes felt like a wife who divorces her first husband because he never brought home a paycheck and marries a second husband who supports her in grand style only to feel, whenever she encounters her first husband, that, unaccountably, she still loves him.
For many Jews in Eastern paths, their dual identity remains a low-grade ambivalence. David Gottlieb, who grew up Reform, is a writer who has worked in theater and public relations.
'Why,' they wondered, 'would you want to complicate yourself with Judaism?
' It's not a question, for me, of deciding to complicate myself with Judaism.
Even as a Buddhist delegate at a major interfaith conference, when her turn came to introduce herself by name and religion, the best she could manage was: "My name is Sylvia Boorstein.
I grew up as a Jew, and I teach Buddhist meditation." She writes: "Some friends of mine, aware of my great respect for Buddhist understanding and of my dedication to practice, have been surprised at my renewed interest in Judaism.
Other than her light complexion, she was indistinguishable from the myriad of saddhus (spiritual renunciates) wandering around India. When my eyes adjusted to the darkness, the first thing I saw, prominently displayed on the wall of the cave, was a hand- printed poster in Hebrew with God's ineffable name surrounded by Hebrew Scriptural passages. Amidst all the trappings of a highly committed Hindu practitioner, hidden in the deepest recesses, was a cherished Jewish identity.
This incongruous juxtaposition abides in the hearts of many Jews who follow Eastern spiritual paths.
There, the priest, dressed conservatively in clothes that say, "Hi, I'm a Jungian therapist," greets my wife and shows her the meditation hall… It's strictly forbidden." "Well--" my teacher begins.