It seems to be a core belief among many Jews — and people from other monothestic faiths, as well — that God is an entity entirely separate from ourselves. This type of dualistic thinking holds that we are souls down here watched over by a Supreme Being who resides somewhere up there.
In this compelling book, one that jolts us from such an ego-centered illusion of separateness, Jay Michaelson takes us on a fascinating magical mystery tour to a different place of knowing, one where there are not seven degrees of separation between us and God.
Instead, God is presented as a spiritual energy that is part and parcel of all of us — a holy light which surrounds, illuminates, and imbues everything, from the molecules of the page you are now reading to every synapse in our brains.
Michaelson, an innovative writer and teacher of spirituality, Kabbalah, and meditation as well as a columnist for the Huffington Post, the Forward, Tikkun, and other publications, tackles the enormous task of convincing his readers of this truth. He does so convincingly, presenting lofty Kabbalistic ideas and complex theological texts to support his position in a down-to-earth manner.
In the course of doing so, the author presents Jewish, Buddhist, postmodern, and even pop cultural sources to demonstrate that such a nondualistic view of God is not a new radical Jewish view of the Creator but, rather, one which for centuries has been a closely-held secret among the Jewish mystics known as Kabbalists.
And while many traditional Jews, baby boomers or older, might balk at such a shakeup in their thinking, the author’s language of oneness is certain to resonate with a younger generation of spiritual seekers who are more open to a contemporary Jewish culture that includes writers like Michaelson, independent prayer communities, Buddhist Jews, and a growing number of non-denominational Jewish performers such as Matisyahu and the Balkan Beat Box who are creating new forms of music.
Everything Is God is a mystical Pandora’s box. Open the book and out pops a genie who may very well transform a reader’s cosmic view. But the book is more than simply a call to open our eyes to a new way of thinking about God; it is also filled with practical information about how this non-dualistic way of approaching God can improve our everyday lives and even better the world.
Religion, suggests the author, is not about belief, but love. Meditation is not about special states of mind, but learning to accept everything in life — including suffering, pain, and injustice — as God. It is also, Michaelson argues, about involving oneself in social action and social justice, which is impossible to ignore if we truly understand that Everything (and, thus, everybody) is God.
Everything Is God is both a scholarly work (Michaelson is completing his Ph.D. at Hebrew University) — and, at the same time, an easy-to-understand approach to the subject of non-dual Judaism.