My goal is to achieve immortality—not as a disembodied soul or through reincarnation in a different body—but immortality as the me I am right now. That’s why I’ve become a Jehovah’s Witness: they believe the elect will live forever on earth as our physical selves. My concern is this: Am I being selfish? And if I am, do you think Jehovah will deny me immortality on that account and consign me to Hell instead?
Rabbi Rami: Whether as a disembodied spirit, a reincarnated soul, a physical presence, or a hybrid transhuman artificial intelligence, concern with personal immortality is the concern of billions of human beings. The problem is that the self you wish to preserve isn’t your true self. Your true self is God, Brahman, Tao, etc., which is in its very essence birthless, deathless, and beyond all form even as it manifests all form. As for Jehovah consigning you to Hell for your selfishness—you’re in luck! Jehovah’s Witness doesn’t believe in Hell at all.
My son belongs to what appears on its website to be a warm and wonderful church. Yet he just sent me this hurtful text saying Jesus rejects me because I support LGBTQ folks and women’s health issues, and that as a disciple of Christ, he must reject me as well. How do I respond to this?
Your son is what my liberal Christian friends call a Chino: “Christian in name only,” whose worship of Christ masks a denial of the values for which Jesus stood. The best I can offer you is this: Make it clear to him that neither you nor your God will ever reject him; that God is a God of love, justice, and peace and your faith will not be shaken by those who preach hate, injustice, and violence; and that you pray he becomes a true disciple of Christ known for the quality of discipleship established by Jesus himself: love (John 13:35).
I recently gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl. My girlfriends gave her a baby shower before she was born, and now they’re planning a Wisdom Shower to gift her with words of guidance. We are avid readers of your column and want to include you in this. What wisdom can you give to my baby?
I love this idea and hope readers will adapt it to their own situations. Not knowing what an aged Boomer can offer a newborn Generation Alpha, however, I shared your question with my three-month-old grandson. This is what he had to offer:
Be as joyous as possible and as sad as necessary.
Do as little harm as you can and make amends for the harm you do.
Think for yourself and act for the welfare of others.
Read. Write. Sing. Dance.
Eat. Pray. Love. Poop.
Live generously. Die gracefully.
I think he had one more, but he needed to nurse so I gave him back to his mom.
Negative thoughts haunt me. My spiritual advisor tells me negative thinking is a choice, but how can I choose to think differently?
You can’t. Thinking isn’t a choice; thinking simply happens. When you notice thinking happening, you label some thoughts “positive” and others “negative.” While you might be curious as to why you label thoughts the way you do, the thoughts themselves arose before you noticed them, and because they did, you didn’t think them, and therefore you can’t control them. I suggest you just watch them; don’t act on them, don’t react to them, just acknowledge them, and use whatever information they provide to live more kindly, justly, and purposefully. This won’t lead to the ending of thought, but it may lead to the end of haunting.
“Be Here Now” is the core idea of my spiritual life. I don’t believe in any religion, god, or spiritual practice. All I do is live in the moment. Isn’t that the one true religion?
It may be, I don’t know. What I do know is that there is no “here” or “now” in which to be. As soon as you are aware of a “here” and a “now,” they are already “there” and “then.” This is because reality is fluid, and your one true religion of living in the present is simply a denial of the fact that you are always living in the past. “Here” and “now” die the moment you notice them. If you are still committed to finding the one true religion, you might want to keep looking.
I, like you, believe everything is God. Doesn’t that mean that good and evil are the same? Is your philosophy amoral?
What I share about God is what I experience, not what I believe. I experience all life and each life as a necessary manifesting of infinite Aliveness. Good and evil are necessary expressions of this Aliveness the way positive and negative poles are both necessary expressions of a magnet. Just as you wouldn’t mistake a positive charge for a negative charge, so you shouldn’t conflate good and evil. Positive and negative, good and evil are not the same thing; they are simply manifestings of the Only Thing: God.
I’ve lost my faith in God, and God is using serious illness to punish me for it. I’m terrified of what God might do next. How do I regain my faith in God?
You can’t regain your faith in God because, from what you’ve said, you haven’t lost it. If you really lost your faith in God, you would doubt the existence of God rather than be terrified by God. I suggest you seek out a therapist to help you discover why you have created an image of God whose sole purpose is to terrorize you.
My granddaughter gave me a subscription to your magazine for Christmas. I’m new to spirituality, and I don’t like to waste time. What is the best spiritual path to God?
If you are really in a hurry, let me let you in on a secret: There is no path to God, and trying to find one is like a wave trying to find its way to the ocean that waves it. You are now, and will always be, a manifesting of the Divine, call it what you will. If you get this, there is no need for any spiritual path; simply live from your own divinity in service to others. That said, there is a lot to learn from Spirituality+Health magazine. We hope you enjoy your subscription, and we thank your granddaughter for gifting it to you.