On Truth and Balance, by Dr Greg Marcus (@GregMarcus2 on twitter)
We continue our weekly Sunday morning #SpiritChat conversations on Sunday, September 20th 2015 at 9amET/1pmUTC with our special guest, Dr Greg Marcus. Greg will share with us as co-host, and I am excited to be hosting him in our live weekly hour on twitter.. Greg will discuss the subject of “Truth and Balance” with all of us, bringing his unique perspective from his cultural heritage. Please join in for what will be a unique discussion in #SpiritChat. Do read and enjoy Greg’s post below, and welcome him in the comments with a brief note. Thank You! – Kumud
This week’s Spiritchat is inspired by the Jewish Spiritual Practice of Mussar. Mussar teaches how to balance various Soul Traits in order to live a more meaningful and values driven life. Soul Traits are things like Humility, Patience, and the subject of todays discussion, Truth. Having too much of a Soul Trait is as bad as having not enough. For example, too little Patience and you are a jerk; too much Patience and you are prone to staying in bad relationships or negative work environments.
Mussar is a practice, meaning that we act and not just think. We practice a particular Soul Trait for two weeks, and then move on to another one. The day begins with a mantra, to frame our day. For Truth, the mantra is “Distance yourself from falsehood.” As we go through the day, we observe how Truth is impacting our decisions. And, we pick one small change to bring ourselves towards balance. For example, if we are prone towards exaggeration, we focus on not exaggerating, even trivial things. Finally, at night we journal about our experiences over the course of the day.
Mussar draws on thousands of years of Jewish teachings in writings. For example, there is a famous argument between two Rabbis about whether one is required to tell a bride that she is beautiful on her wedding day. Rabbi Shamai argued that if the bride is unattractive, it would be inappropriate to be untruthful. Rabbi Hillel, on the other hand, argued that a bride is always beautiful for two reasons: The bride’s husband presumably finds her attractive, and that it would be unkind to hurt someone’s feelings on her wedding day.
In addition, Mussar teaches that we all have our unique “spiritual curriculum,” meaning that we all have our issues, and unique challenges to overcome in order to achieve balance. Thus, balance is personal. We all have our own vision of what balance feels like, and stress arises when we discern that we are ‘out of balance’ in our lives. Mussar teaches that external imbalance arises from a spiritual imbalance, because we make choices based on the state of our soul. Mussar offers a framework to build a balanced and loving internal world.
Truth is also very personal. One person’s truth can be another person’s untruth or unbelief. When we try and share ‘our’ truth with others, we can create an imbalance in their lives if they are not ready to receive or accept what we envision as the truth. Or, we may be perpetuating an imbalance in ourselves if we are pushing a versionof the Truth that does not take into account another’s point of view.
Dr. Greg Marcus teaches both secular and spiritual balance through a thousand-year-old Jewish practice called Mussar. He is the author of Busting Your Corporate Idol: Self Help for the Chronically Overworked available on Amazon.com. His next book on Mussar is due out in the fall of 2016. To learn more about his forthcoming website Americanmussar.com, or the American Mussar App, please visit http://idolbuster.com/americanmussar