Michael Lerner

Michael
Lerner
1943

American Rabbi, Political Activist, Editor of Tikkun (a progressive Jewish interfaith magazine)

Author Quotes

In place of the Old Bottom Line of money and power, a New Bottom Line of Love and Generosity is possible. People of all faiths need to shape a political and social movement that reaffirms the most generous, peace-oriented, social justice-committed, and loving truths of the spiritual heritage of the human race. It is only this resurrection of hope that can save us from a new wave of global hatred.

I would not be surprised to learn that some branch of our government conspired either actively to promote or passively to allow the attack on 9/11. For those who watched the reactionary political uses made of this tragedy, it’s easy to conjure up a variety of possible conspiratorial motives that would have led the president, the vice president, or some branch of the armed forces or CIA or FBI or other “security” forces to have passively or actively participated in a plot to re-credit militarism and war.

Support for the anti-war message is so important, ... that we are willing to participate in a demonstration with others whose views we find obnoxious.

You, my Eternal Friend, witness now that I forgive anyone who hurt or upset me or who offended me…May no one be punished because of me. May no one suffer from karmic consequences for hurting or upsetting me. Help me, Eternal Friend, to keep from offending You and others. Help me to be thoughtful and not commit outrage by doing what is evil in Your eyes. Whatever sins I have committed, blot out, please, in Your abundant kindness, and spare me suffering or harm. Help me become aware of the ways I may have unintentionally or intentionally hurt others, and please give me guidance and strength to rectify those hurts and to develop the sensitivity to not continue acting in a hurtful way. Let me forgive others, let me forgive myself, but also let me change in ways that make it easy for me to avoid paths of hurtfulness to others. I seek peace, let me BE peace. I seek justice, let me be just. I seek a world of kindness, let me be kind. I seek a world of generosity, let me be generous with all that I have. I seek a world of sharing, let me share all that I have. I seek a world of giving, let me be giving to all around me. I seek a world of love, let me be loving beyond all reason, beyond all normal expectation, beyond all societal frameworks that tell me how much love is “normal,” beyond all fear that giving too much love will leave me with too little. And let me be open and sensitive to all the love that is already coming to me, the love of people I know, the love that is part of the human condition, the accumulated love of past generations that flows through and is embodied in the language, music, recipes, technology, literature, religions, agriculture, and family heritages that have been passed on to me and to us. Let me pass that love on to the next generations in an even fuller and more explicit way. Source of goodness and love in the universe, let me be alive to all the goodness that surrounds me. And let that awareness of the goodness and love of the universe be my shield and protector. Hear the words of my mouth and may the meditations of my heart find acceptance before You, Eternal Friend, who protects and frees me so that I may fully engage in the work of Tikkun – the healing and transformation of the world social and economic order, the planet, and myself.

Energy always flows either toward hope, community, love, generosity, mutual recognition, and spiritual aliveness or it flows toward despair, cynicism, fear that there is not enough, paranoia about the intentions of others, and a desire to control.

I simply cannot understand how somebody can be a spiritual being and not be actively involved in transforming the world.

Next time you are at work, or at a social gathering, try the following exercise: Look at every single person, one by one. See each one as embodiments of God, one of God's many faces.

Ultimately, one of the best ways to take care of our souls is to build a society that supports rather than undermines our highest moral and spiritual intuitions and inclinations. Yet, building that society can never be divided from the daily practices through which we live out our ethical and spiritual lives, both in the way we treat others around us, and in the way we nourish the God within us.

I don't think people are any more concerned about noise now than they were in the past. I think the concerns are the same, but there are now more opportunities, more solutions available, to help with the problem. These solutions may or may not have been available in the past.

The need to overcome the potentially fascistic direction of American politics as the Religious Right and the secular right strengthen their alliance and their hold on American political institutions makes us want to transcend past upsets and focus on how to build the most effective social change movement for the future.

A spiritual sensibility encourages us to see ourselves as part of the fundamental unity of all being. If the thrust of the market ethos has been to foster a competitive individualism, a major thrust of many traditional religious and spiritual sensibilities has been to help us see our connection with all other human beings.

Instead of a bottom-line based on money and power, we need a new bottom-line that defines productivity and creativity as where corporations, governments, schools, public institutions, and social practices are judged as efficient, rational and productive not only to the extent they maximize money and power, but to the extent they maximize love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and our capacities to respond with awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation.

We need to build millions of little moments of caring on an individual level. Indeed, as talk of a politics of meaning becomes more widespread, many people will feel it easier to publicly acknowledge their own spiritual and ethical aspirations and will allow themselves to give more space to their highest vision in their personal interactions with others. A politics of meaning is as much about these millions of small acts as it is about any larger change. The two necessarily go hand in hand.

Reality is much more complex than any judgment of right and wrong encourages you to believe. When you really understand the ethical, spiritual, social, economic, and psychological forces that shape individuals, you will see that people's choices are not based on a desire to hurt. Instead, they are in accord with what they know and what world views are available to them. Most are doing the best they can, given what information they've received and what problems they are facing.

What the schools can teach is what we value as a community… love, empathy, caring, cooperation, commitment to others, spiritual and ethical sensitivity, respect for difference, self-discipline, tolerance and honesty.

Author Picture
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Lerner
Birth Date
1943
Bio

American Rabbi, Political Activist, Editor of Tikkun (a progressive Jewish interfaith magazine)