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Martial Arts & Spirituality

Rabbi Ariel Mayse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My decades-long journey as a Jewish seeker is rooted in the practice of martial arts of my youth. I will always remember standing on a summit in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, breathing slowly at the end of my black belt test. A broken brick lay on the rocks between my feet, settling into the earth as I gazed out into the vast expanse of pine forest and granite cliffs. It was there that I felt myself overwhelmed by the presence of God for the first time. A kind of sacred energy, as yet unnamed, was coursing through me; the life-force of the world was now breathed into my very being. For years I had repeated the same motions, pouring forth my spirit through the timeworn patterns and exercises, and constant training had led me into the quiet realm of the holy among these trees and rocks. I lacked the words to describe this experience, but my heart had awakened to a new kind of consciousness. My world changed forever in those moments. Yet as time wore accessing these feelings and concretizing them in my life outside the dojo became difficult. I began to search for a path that would give life to the spiritual worlds that had been awakened within me through holistic daily praxis. But I was also driven by a deep-seated desire to serve, for even in my adolescence my soul was alert to the inner stirrings of a devotional vocation. It was this quest for expansive practice through worship and service of the Source of all being led me to the worlds of Jewish mysticism.”

(Rabbi Ariel Mayse, director of the Jewish Studies program at Hebrew College)

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