"May Adonai bless you and protect you! May Adonai deal kindly and graciously with you! May Adonai lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace!" (Torah, Numbers 6:24-26) And Jesus said, "Allow the little children to come unto me. Forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly, I say unto you, unless you receive the Kingdom of God as a little child does, you shall not enter therein." (New Testament, Mark 10:14-16)

Sojourning at an Oasis Paradise

My purpose for living this life, and for writing this blog, is to understand the faith that links us to God. I wish to explore and discuss the reality at the heart of all of the world's religions. This is an immense task, but I know that God also has faith in us, trusting that we do desire the truth, as well as freedom, love and wisdom. Thus, as always, He meets us halfway. Even as God has given us individual souls, so we must each of us trace out an individual pathway to God. Whether we reside in the cities of orthodox religion, or wend our solitary ways through the barren wastelands, God watches over us and offers us guidance and sustenance for the journey.

Most of what you will see here is the result of extensive personal study, combined with some careful speculation. Occasionally, I may simply offer some Scripture or an inspirational text. I am a wide reader, and the connection of some topics and ideas to matters of faith and religion may not seem immediately obvious, but perhaps I may spell it out in the end... or maybe, you will decide that it was just a tangent. Anyway, I hope that you will find my meanderings to be spiritually enlightening, intellectually stimulating, or at least somewhat entertaining.

In the coming weeks and months, I intend to transcribe a series of essays that I wrote about 20 years ago in the hope that I might get them published. They represent the nucleus of my spiritual life and the focal point around which my wanderings revolve like an electron in an atom. I hope that they might eventually serve as a springboard for discussions about the common spiritual heritage of humanity. May we come together and embrace each other in peace.

Monday, December 21, 2009

You can teach a man to fish...

One brilliant maxim has been repeated to every generation of children since the dawn of civilization, and probably even before that, because its simple wisdom is irrefutable. It contains so much truth, and seems so obvious, but amazingly enough the message seems to be overlooked by so many.

"You can give a man a fish, and feed him for a day.
Or you can teach him to fish, and feed him for a lifetime."

My father told me that time and time again. It was his way of telling me that I should pick a profession and learn it well. He was a professional salesman, and he was good at it. He could sell just about anything, and he could also teach others how to sell. Now, I am not a salesman. I chose to be a writer, and I think I am reasonably good at that. I write about topics in religion and philosophy... mostly essays, short stories, research papers, blogs, et cetera... if you've been following this blog, you've seen some of my work. Hopefully, you like it. But one thing my Dad taught me remains essential in my work. He told me, "when you're selling something, never say anything that you don't believe like it's the gospel truth." He lived by that, and so do I. It's a matter of trust. You never want to betray the trust of your friends, or your customers, or you will lose them forever.

Being a writer is a lot like being an artist. We've all heard about the artist who is famous now, but never could make a living from his artwork. We call him a "starving artist," and feel pity for him, wishing he could have known how well he would be loved in the future. And we also wish he could have done a lot more of his artwork before he had to quit, for whatever reason, maybe simply from frustration and hunger. Vincent Van Gogh is a perfect example. People thought he was crazy. He even spent time in a mental hospital, and eventually committed suicide. He was sadly misunderstood, but we adore his paintings today. There are some who think I am crazy today, for spending my time writing this blog instead of going out and getting a "real" job. But, we must follow the path to which we are called, if we truly believe it is God's will and plan for us.

And yet, my father did teach me how to fish. I loved it. I only wish we had been able to go fishing together many more times before he passed on. It is a beautiful, meditative art. All you need is access to a bountiful pool or stream, and the right technique to reach the fish. You can use a pole, or a net, or you can set a "trot line" and check it later. It's really a minimal effort, but it's so rewarding to see the fish when you pull it in. You just know that you are going to eat well tonight, and maybe feed many others as well if you take your surplus to the market.

Today, I am going fishing, and I am inviting you to come along. Many of us today are hungry, because we don't know how to fish. But if we never pick up a pole or net, and decide on a day to go to the water and try, we will never learn how it's done. A good friend sent me an email yesterday. He is the husband of my wife's first cousin, so I trust him. He is also a millionaire (Really! I stayed a week at his house.), so I know that he knows what he is talking about. He sent me this email about a marketing business that uses the internet to reach people who want to make lots of money easily, like fishing. In fact, its called "My Money Fish" and its in the preliminary phase right now, so if we get in now we have the best chance to do really well. There's far too much about it for me to explain here, but you can see for yourself at this website: http://mymoneyfish.com/u/learn2fish There's also a link at the top of this page, and another in the sidebar, if this one doesn't work. I really trust Julio, and he promised that he would never send me anything that he wouldn't join himself. I looked. He is a member in the list above me, so I know.

When I saw this email, my first thought was a doubt. Another "internet business opportunity," but then I saw who it was from, and decided to read it. I hope you will do the same. The thought immediately jumped into my head, "if you teach a man to fish..." and then, I remembered Jesus' words to Peter, "Follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men." I thought about those words while I read through the rather long letter telling about My Money Fish, and gradually my doubts grew less and less. Of course, not everyone will be convinced, and you may decide that this is not what God (Baruch haShem) is calling you to do. Maybe you're not hungry, so you're not interested. But I hope you will look at this and see what you think of it, anyway.

Shalom, and God bless you.

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