With Heart in Mind: Mussar Teachings To Transform Your Life, By Alan Morinis
This book shares a weekly spiritual practice for developing a strong and open heart. Mussar draws from the vast storehouse of Jewish wisdom, law, revelation, and text and brings it right home in a way that is completely practical. Judaism teaches that Torah (the collective wisdom of the tradition) provides the blueprint for human experience. The more of its teachings we acquire, the more we gain a clearer, truer perspective on life and learn how to navigate its pathways. The phrase “acquiring Torah” is code for the process of internalizing this wisdom to bring about a genuine transformation of the inner self. In short, accessible chapters, this book describes 48 methods through which we can acquire Torah and turn those methods into a straightforward practice. They include cultivating humility, joy, awe, goodheartedness, closeness with friends, not taking credit for oneself, judging others favorably, and so on. The fruits of working through each quality are a refined soul and a strong and open heart.
Every Day, Holy Day
This is an essential companion for anyone who wants to experience the life-changing gifts of Mussar. “You shall be holy,” teaches the Torah. The masters of the Mussar tradition have crafted a road map to help people approach that lofty goal. Mussar is a system of introspective practices that can help you identify and break through the obstacles to your inherent holiness, using methods that are easy to integrate into daily life.
The program laid out in this book focuses on 26 traits, or middot—such as loving-kindness, strength, generosity, compassion, honor and equanimity—each of which takes center stage for a week of contemplation and exercises, in order to develop and refine that quality in yourself.
“Will inspire many people to begin a Mussar journey, and a beautiful resource for those already on it.” –Rabbi Michael Skobac
Every day begins with an inspiring teaching that illuminates the essence of the trait. An affirmation phrase and an exercise make the lesson effective in your own life. After a day of paying attention and stretching yourself to cultivate that trait, you journal to record and integrate your experiences.
Alan Morinis invites you to follow the Mussar path with him for a year. This time-tested approach is remarkably simple, and also remarkably effective in helping you overcome negative tendencies and strengthen positive ones—and to reveal your innate holiness in the process.
Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path to Mussar
Experience profound and practical teachings on discovering happiness, wisdom, and achieving our highest potential amid the struggles of everyday life. Each chapter features a key character trait (or quality of the soul) found in traditional Mussar teachings, including humility, generosity, gratitude, trust, patience, and enthusiasm—and presents them in an engaging and helpful manner that anyone can understand and put to use toward reinvigorating their religious life, exploring contemplative spirituality, or simply making spirituality a stronger presence in everyday life.
Here is an accessible and inspiring introduction to the centuries-old Jewish spiritual tradition known as Mussar. Though little known outside Orthodox Jewish communities, Mussar is an illuminating, approachable, and highly practical set of teachings for cultivating personal growth and spiritual fulfillment—and one of its main goals is to reveal the inherent goodness that lies within each of us.
“Practical guidance on how to negotiate the epidemic levels of confusion in our frenetic world. The Mussar tradition offers a path of wisdom and authentic holiness that has stood the test of time. Alan Morinis has made a significant contribution in helping reveal Mussar’s transformative power.” -Larry Dossey, MD, author of The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things
Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: One Man’s Rediscovery of a Jewish Spiritual Tradition
Jewish by birth, though from a secular family, Alan Morinis took a deep journey into Hinduism and Buddhism as a young man. He received a doctorate from Oxford University for his study of Hindu pilgrimage, learned yoga in India with B.K.S. Iyengar, and attended his first Buddhist meditation course in the Himalayas in 1974. But in 1997, when his film career went off track, and he reached for some spiritual oxygen, this time he felt inspired to explore his Jewish heritage. In his reading, he happened upon a tradition of spiritual practice called Mussar that dates from the 10th century and became a socio-spiritual movement in 19th century Europe. Gradually he realized he had stumbled on an insightful discipline for self-development, complete with meditative, contemplative, chanting, and other well-developed transformative practices designed to penetrate the deepest roots of the inner life.
Eventually reaching the limits of what he could learn on his own, and yet still wanting to go farther, he realized he would have to seek out a Mussar teacher. That goal was not easily achieved since almost the entire world of the Mussar tradition had been eliminated in the Holocaust. In time, he did find an accomplished master who stood in an unbroken line of transmission of the Mussar tradition, and who lived at the center of a community of Orthodox Jews on Long Island. This book tells the story of Morinis’ journey to meet his teacher and what he learned from him, and reveals the central teachings and practices that are the spiritual treasury and legacy of Mussar.
Mussar transformed Alan Morinis’ life. He has written this book because the wisdom and practices that helped him so much have not penetrated the world beyond the confines of Orthodox Judaism and may not be fully appreciated even there at this time. His hope is that Jews and non-Jews alike will find in Mussar a time-tested path of spiritual practice that will help them discover the hidden radiance within.