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Buddhism teaches that ones goal is to reach Nirvana, where you’re no longer serving your insatiable cravings. I find that sometimes I also set my goals to be liberated from my own thought enslavement.

I once heard that “Judaism starts where Buddhism ends”.

Rabbenu Bachya writes (חובות הלבבות שער חשבון הנפש) that from the following verse the Torah requires us to do a self-inventory :

“וידעת היום והשבות אל לבבך, כי ד’ הוא האלוקים בשמים ממעל, ועל הארץ מתחת, אין עוד”

“And today you know, and will take into your heart, that God is the ruler in the heavens above and on the land below. There is no other”

Rav Kook asks (מוסר אביך פ״ד), How does this verse obligate us to consider our actions? It seems only to necessitate our firm belief in the oneness of God? He answers that “in the heavens above” suggests our thoughts and “on the land below” alludes to our actions. So the verse requires us to contemplate if our thoughts and actions demonstrate the oneness of God.

That’s a charming allusion, but is the verse really saying that?

Here’s the idea: If we know in our minds and adopt in our hearts that God is everywhere, above and below, then we should feel compelled to act in unison with that knowledge. It’s simply foolish to believe that God created the world and doesn’t expect something from us in return. Real belief in God behooves commensurate action from us; duties of the heart and aligned performance. It’s not enough to feel God in our lives, we need to serve God.

One of Rebbe Nachman’s most essential themes is to serve God without sophistication (תנינא י״ב). We must simply clarify to ourselves in every situation, “Will this action bring out the glory of God? If it does, then do it. If it doesn’t, then don’t”.

Our goals shouldn’t be to achieve feelings or to detach from inferior feelings. Those landmarks are merely a means to our greater goal of performance and ultimate unity.

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