Reprinted from the Letter to the Editor column in "Inquiring Mind," P.O. Box, 9999, Berkeley, CA 94709. (510) 841-2320

Among the pioneering spirits who have promoted the movement of Buddhist concepts to our Judeo-Christian shores, we find a remarkably high proportion of teachers and practitioners of Hebrew extraction. Many have avowed that they had failed to find spiritual nourishment--or even relevancy--in the pastures of their forefathers. What I now discern is a tendency in some places to suggest, "Well, we're not all that different after all. Let's gloss over the minor discrepancies of form and become one big, happy family."

This ignores some very major incompatibilities. On the one hand is a religion that is theistic, dualistic, "revealed" and ethnocentric. On the other, a cosmology that is agnostic, non-dualistic, self-revealing and universal. Reappraising the Buddha's teaching in the light of modernity is one thing; dragging in extraneous matter from our conditioning is another. Bending over backwards to fit the square peg of upbringing into the round hole of shunyata (emptiness) puts an intolerable strain on the spine of the psyche.

The courage the Buddha enjoins--the successive sheddings of wrong views--implies the recognition that you cannot have your strudel and eat it too, that the attachment to ancestral hand-me-downs and identities is basically yet another form of clinging. "Jubus," as they have been dubbed, are free to honor the cultural values of Judaism and its inestimable contributions to mankind's history without feeling called upon to integrate its traditions into the dharma. By appropriating the various Buddhist lineages to glamorize partisian loyalties, we are merely begetting degenerate hybrids. No meat, however kosher, can ever claim to be vegetarian.

How, with preset notions about who or what we are, can we undertake the journey to discover who or what we are not?

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