Padma Wick: Reb Zalman, you have led a long and very influential life. You've served as a bridge between Hasidic and Reformed Judaism. You are loved and respected by people of all backgrounds.
Reb Zalman: I came from a very narrow
place-a Hasidic yeshiva.
Nevertheless I got to find out about Christian mysticism. I found a little
book called The World Bible. And I read about Sri Ramakrishna. From that
time on I was getting interested in what other people do. I tell people
I'm a spiritual Peeping Tom. I like to see how people get in touch with
God. The deeper I went in my own tradition the more I found parallels with
other traditions. I began to see that human behavior is really hard-wired;
different parts of the brain perform different functions. But then there
is the other 85% of our brain capacity that has not been formatted.
That's where intuition is operating. That's where Raja Yoga is...
PW: Yoga means union. In the Jewish
tradition there is the unification of the broken parts. Could you please speak
RZ: In Judaism we speak of the broken
shards, the sparks of holiness, which have broken and fallen all over the
place. The word that has to do with unification is very important. When a
Hasid goes to his master for counsel, that's called a yihud, a unification.
At that moment they become one, they merge into one, in the Presence of God,
and that is what makes their meeting significant. It's not just advice from a
smart person; it's guidance that comes from God.
Who is it is that makes the great unification? When you
learn Hatha Yoga you learn the unification of your body. When a person is
chanting and there is no longer a difference between the adorer and the adored,
this is unification. We call it either yihud or d'vequt, which means
"to stick to." When a person is in d'vequt they are not separate from the
One whom they adore.
A yihud comes when a great paradox is being held in the
mind. It looks like a contradiction. At first we say, "How could this be?"
And then there is this deep "aha" which is what people call enlightenment.
There is a sense that there is moksha there. There is a sense of being freed.
That is a yihud of the mind. There is another kind of yihud, which is not of
the mind. It's in the being, at the deepest level. For example, it is when I
wake up in the morning and ask myself, "Good morning. Who am I?" and I realize
that I'm God being Zalman for another day. So what can Zalman do about it?
Zalman can give God a noble ride for the day. That deep sense is where Judaism
and levels of Vedanta are very close.
I gave a course at Naropa, called "Lineages in Upheaval."
I pointed out that since we are going through a paradigm shift in the world
now, all religions have problems. How do you manage to take an ancient
religion into the 21st century? Many of the sadhanas require a lot of time.
The problem with that is that people need quality time with their families.
I ask people who come to me, "What's your practice?" They say "Oh, it is
wonderful, a little Yoga, a little tai chi and chi gong and this and that
and vipassana." And I say, "Well, how often do you do it? How much time do
you spend on it?" and they say "Well, I can't really do much because I have
to spend quality time with my family." Then I say, "How much quality time
do you spend with the family?" They say, "We're not together enough."
So I say, "You know what, why don't we do something I call socialized
meditation. Take it out from inside of you, and begin to share it with the