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Showing posts from August, 2018

Restore the ancient meanings of Good and Evil and change your life and world

Two of the most powerful words in the history of humans are “good” and “evil.” We hear them from infancy to death.
● People are punished when they do evil things and rewarded when they do good things.
● Leaders of nations at war with each other often justify the war and the loss of the lives of their warriors by declaring their cause as “fighting an evil enemy.”
In the last two World Wars – the leaders of America, Britain, France and Germany did that – and a vast majority of the citizens of the nations on opposite sides were Christians.
The English words “good” and “evil” are very subjective and may be used to justify about anything. In the ancient wisdom text we use at the TOV Center, which is written in Hebrew, the words are TOV (good) and RAH (evil). They are used to judge (measure) the actions of God and humans. Below are their contextual meanings:
TOV (good) – actions that protect and preserve lives, make lives more functional and increase the quality of life.
RAH (evil) – acti…

Transforming Belief Conflicts into Relationship Building Opportunities

When Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor and I (Jim Myers) met, we were congregation leaders of two mutually exclusive monotheistic religions – Judaism and Christianity. We were separated by an unbridgeable belief gap. A person must either practice Judaism or Christianity – but not both. We wanted to learn how that gap developed, because we knew that both of our religions began as sects of another religion – Late Second Temple Period Judaism. We soon discovered that before Late Second Temple Period Judaism there were First Temple Israelite Religions and after the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE Judaism and Christianity separated and followed very different paths.
The primary challenge facing Christians and Jews -- as well as members of other religions, agnostics and atheists -- is not a lack of information about our histories. The primary challenge is getting new information past barriers created by our brains.
Living in the Information Age provides us with more information about the human brai…

A God that Values Humans First

One of the most amazing things we (Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor & former pastor Jim Myers) discovered in the opening creation account in our shared scriptures is this -- the most valued creation of the mysterious Creator of the Heavens and the Earth is humans. Every act of creation in the first account is directly or indirectly related to meeting the needs of humans. This is a core principle of this wisdom account. And, as you probably know, the Creator even created humans “In the image of the Creator” – all humans not just members of one tribe or religion.
Another core principle in this account is revealed by what the Creator did in the process of creation. The Creator used a Standard to measure its work – the TOV Standard. For an act to measure up to the TOV Standard, the act must protect and preserve lives, make lives more functional and increase the quality of life.
One other core principle in the account is that the Creator did not reveal anything about what type of creature it is or…

Ancient Wisdom and Science Agree Humans Truly are a Remarkable Species

Science may not have a perfect understanding of evolved human behavior and our cognitive limitations but scientists certainly know a great deal more than they did twenty-five years ago. During the same period, Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor and former pastor Jim Myers were working together to understand the histories of their religions and their relationships to each other. They followed the evolution of Judaism and Christianity from the first century CE to today and it was clear that their theologies were primary sources of conflict and division. However, during their journey they discovered values and principles from ancient wisdom texts in their Scriptures that they shared and agree on.
An important guideline they used in their work stated – “Our belief systems will be large enough to include all of the facts . . .” This brought them into the realm of science. They found many things in their ancient wisdom texts and agreed with things they discovered in scientific studies. When they created …

A Happiness Ritual

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar born 1970, is an American and Israeli teacher, and writer in the areas of positive psychology and leadership. As a lecturer at Harvard University, Ben-Shahar created the most popular course in Harvard's history. The subject of the course was “happiness.” In his very popular book, Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment (p. 11), he reveals a “happiness ritual” that has proven to be very successful.
Each night before going to sleep, write down at least five things that made or make you happy — things for which you are grateful. These can be little or big: from a meal that you enjoyed to a meaningful conversation you had with a friend, from a project at work to God.
If you do this exercise regularly, you will naturally repeat yourself, which is perfectly fine. The key is, despite the repetition, to keep the emotions fresh; imagine what each item means to you as you write it down, and experience the feeling associated with it. Doing this exerc…

Two Standards to Live By

In our last blog, What am I?, we discussed our answer to that question:
(1) Humans are creatures that share things in common with animals and the Creator. They have the potential of acting like deadly predatory wild animals or acting like a mysterious entity that judges its actions by the TOV Standard.
(2) Humans are genetic memetic social creatures.
The first answer came from ancient wisdom text and the second from modern science. Ancient wisdom records time-tested observations about nature, human nature and human behaviors in its stories. Modern science reveals objective facts and creates models for testing “truth claims.” Scientists tell us what we are biologically, but they don’t tell us how to interact with each other. Religion often provides tremendous insights about how people should or should not treat each other, but not about what they are physically.
One of the amazing benefits of combining ancient wisdom and scientific facts in our research is that we discover things from them…

What am I?

What am I? Now that’s a question a lot of people have asked in the history of humans. We (Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor and former pastor Jim Myers) created two models for working with that question – after wrestling with it for over 25 years. You may have noticed that use models instead of answers. Most questions about life are better understood by using models that reveal potentialities than statements of either/or answers.
Our models emerged from two sources in which our research and studies focused on during our journey together – one source is an ancient wisdom account embedded in our shared religious texts and the other source is modern science. This makes our approach at the TOV Center unique in many respects – we combine the wisdom of ancient texts with the facts of modern science to maximize human experiences.
As pointed out above, we created a model from each source to help us better understand humans:
(1) Ancient Wisdom ModelHumans are creatures that share things in common with an…

Leynor and Myers on Living Life as a Human

We, Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor and former pastor Jim Myers, have learned a lot about living life over the past thirty-years as congregation leaders in a synagogue and church, chaplains of law enforcement agencies, teachers and counselors. We have experienced the happiest moments in life – marriages, births, victories, successes -- and the saddest and most feared moments – deaths, divorces, tragedies, failures. We have been there when babies were born into or adults decided to convert to our religions -- and when people decided to leave them too.
The more people know about what it means to be a human, the better they are at planning and coping with life experiences. We created the TOV Center as a way to accomplish our goals. It is an educational nonprofit corporation. Our information comes from our religions, science and personal experiences. Our religions are great sources of ancient wisdom, morals and values. New scientific discoveries reveal the roles genes and memes play in creating the r…

Why are we are always pointing a finger at someone else?

Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins’ book The Wisdom of Judaism is loaded with very useful information. His discussion about “Personal Growth” is based on a quote from the Babylonian Talmud (Bava Metzia 107b): Improve yourself, and only afterward, try to improve others. Below are some quotes from his discussion. I have reformatted the text in a few places to highlight specific points the rabbi made.
Sometimes, when trying to make the point that we need to start with ourselves, I ask people to stretch out their hand and point with their index finger. Then I ask them to notice where the third, fourth and fifth fingers are pointing. . . . There is a wonderful Hasidic tale that illustrates this point. A famous Hasidic rebbe once proclaimed that when he was a young rabbi: his idealistic and romantic goal was to change the world.
After a while, he realized that his aspiration was too grandiose, and so he lowered his expectations and said that he would be satisfied if he could just change his own commun…