Rabbi Irwin Kula on Oneness and God

After dinner last night, I took a break and watched the first half of the Frontline special, Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero. Of the many powerful statements made in the show, Rabbi Irwin Kula’s reflections on the nature of God really struck me:

“For me, that there’s something ‘out there,’ and that I’m here, no longer meant anything, because every time I thought there was something ‘out there,’ it turns into inevitably something opposed to me. Something I have to define myself against, whether that’s God, or whether that’s a Christian, or whether that’s a Muslim, or whether that’s a Buddhist. And that’s not my experience. My genuine experience of life is that there is nothing ‘out there.’ This is all there is. And when you see the seamlessness of it all, that’s what I mean by ‘God.’

“Every tradition has that. Every morning, three times a day since I’m five or six years old, I’ve been saying, ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.’ Right? It’s one of our few creedal statements, the Shema. Three times a day, since I’m six years old. If you ask what 9/11 really did, it made me understand the truth of that. The truth of that, ‘Everything is one.’ Not that there’s some guy hanging out there who has it all together, who we call ‘One,’ but that it is all one. We all know it deep down. We’ve all had those experiences, whether it’s looking at our child in a crib or whether it’s looking at our lover or looking at a mountaintop, or looking at a sunset. Right? We’ve all had those experiences. And we recognize, ‘Whoa. I’m much more connected here.’ That’s what those firemen had. They recognized — they didn’t have time to think about it, right? Because actually, if you think about it, you begin to create separations. They didn’t think about it. All they knew is we’re absolutely connected… That’s what we mean when we say ‘God.’…”

I’m going to watch the rest of the show tonight.