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Jewish Theology and World Religions$
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Alon Goshen-Gottstein and Eugene Korn

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764098

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764098.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 05 August 2021

Judaism and Buddhism

Judaism and Buddhism

A Jewish Approach to a Godless Religion

(p.299) Twelve Judaism and Buddhism
Jewish Theology and World Religions

Jerome (Yehuda) Gellman

Liverpool University Press

This chapter details how the author addresses the ‘godlessness’ of Buddhism, striving to understand Buddhism's benefits for Jews and their spiritual consciousness. As a traditionalist proceeding from a position of ‘religious exclusivist receptivity’, the author has learned about holiness from Buddhist spirituality in ways he, as a Jew, could not have imagined. Buddhism's aversion to metaphysical ontologizing and its non-theism have helped him shed the agonies of ‘the egocentric predicament’, functioning similarly to the hasidic concept of bitul hayesh (nullification of being). Paradoxically, this godless religion has taught him to focus his attention more successfully on the Jewish God — the permanent, infinite reality that transcends the human ego. It also helps him to understand the Jewish people's chosenness correctly, purged from nation-centrism and national self-absorption. The experiential and spiritual are primary here, while the formal theological issues of ‘alien worship’ that Buddhism may entail are secondary concerns.

Keywords:   godless religion, Buddhism, Jews, Buddhist spirituality, bitul hayesh, Jewish God, Jewish people, spiritual consciousness, alien worship

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