If given a chance, Judy would take a rocket ship to space to explore the universe and discover the ultimate truth. She shares her journey and commitment to truth with insights into God, oneness, and the balance of masculine and feminine roles.
In this Life Wisdom Project episode, Jerry and Judy share a conversation about episode 7- I Ask What God Is Like. This conversation travels the universe and spirituality beyond religion. The two look at the question Jerry poses to God about ultimate truth, "Why the guessing game?"
Meet Judy Dornstreich, a Jewish organic farmer with a deep spiritual background and rich take on life. In this life, Judy has been blessed with a beautiful family, including her late husband, a fellow anthropologist. They began a journey living in isolated New Guinea and traveled the world exploring, delving into and sharing many styles of life. Judy and her late husband began a successful organic farm in Bucks County, PA.
While a Jewish South-Philly girl at heart, Judy has explored not just the world but many facets of spirituality and has had teachers from many spiritual traditions, including Swami Chinmayananda, teacher of Vedanta. Judy continues to share her story and insights today through conversations of spiritual living lending from multiple traditions and her unique life experiences.
LISTEN TO RELEVANT EPISODES- [Dramatic Adaptation] I Ask What God Is Like
God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, is written by Dr. Jerry L. Martin, an agnostic philosopher who heard the voice of God and recorded their conversations.
The podcast began with the Dramatic Adaptation of the book and now has several series:
#thelifewisdomproject, #godanautobiography, #experiencegod
Scott Langdon [00:00:17] This is God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him. Episode 129.
Judy Dornstreich [00:01:14] One of my great teachers, my main great teacher, Swami Chinmayananda, teacher of Vedanta, said-- he went through a whole list of things that the Gita says and he said, "and it all boils down to do the best you can and leave the rest to God."
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:01:33] Yes. That's wonderful.
Judy Dornstreich [00:01:34] Yeah.
Scott Langdon [00:01:37] Hello and welcome to episode 129 of God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. I'm Scott Langdon, your host. And that was just a taste of what you'll get today from the wonderful Judy Dornstreich Jerry's guest this week on our latest edition of The Life Wisdom Project. I hope you enjoy the episode. Here's Jerry to introduce Judy.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:03] I'm very happy to have as my dialogue partner in today's episode of The Life Wisdom Project of the dazzling, fascinating Judy Dornstreich, starting out with her young husband as anthropologists in Borneo, she has gone on to do many things, but they became very successful organic farmers right here in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. But meanwhile, she started out Jewish and of course still is Jewish, but she went and studied with some of the most famous gurus and took in the wisdom they had to impart and made the most of that. And at one point, as she described it, she danced around the Caribbean, and I don't know what that involved. And she is a mother and grandmother of all things, and I'm just so glad to have her here because she has read the God: An Autobiography with great interest. And we've had discussions about it. And so I look forward to finding out what life wisdom she sees in this particular episode.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:19] Well, you know, I thought this was a fascinating episode and I thought of you.
Judy Dornstreich [00:03:24] Ah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:24] You know, I think of who would be good to discuss this with.
Judy Dornstreich [00:03:27] Ah huh.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:28] And a couple of reasons I thought of you, is I thought a couple of these experiences could well, that I report here, could well have happened to Judy, the encounter with the drop of water.
Judy Dornstreich [00:03:39] Oh.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:40] I could imagine you having something like that. Am I wrong?
Judy Dornstreich [00:03:44] Right. Well, no, it's true. I mean, that account that you said, it's like all of a sudden you saw in that drop of water- reality.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:55] Yeah. Yeah.
Judy Dornstreich [00:03:55] That it was real on itself. And then this whole big thing that we're in which, you know, some religions say it's an illusion, but what the illusion really is, is that it's not all one thing.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:09] Okay.
Judy Dornstreich [00:04:10] You know, but you saw that thing in its-- in its suchness, as you said.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:14] Yeah. In its suchness.
Judy Dornstreich [00:04:15] And it's quite a phenomenal universe, I mean or existence, or whatever this thing is.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:26] Yeah.
Judy Dornstreich [00:04:26] Which brings me to, if you want me to just go all over the place...
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:30] Well, yeah, let's talk about the episode and some particular-
Judy Dornstreich [00:04:34] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:35] Life lessons, you know, takeaways from this.
Judy Dornstreich [00:04:37] Well, one of the things that happened to me as a 15 year old, about 14 or 15, is that I'm sitting on the front porch with my father looking at the stars. And I said, "Okay, they go on and on and on, but where does it end?".
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:54] Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:04:54] And he started to describe- you know, there is no end. It keeps going. And then he also talked- stretched it in terms of time, no beginning or end. And I was so irritated that my mind couldn't grasp that. I couldn't get a picture of it. So I kind of walked in the house. So I said okay. And I-- not slammed the door-- but walked in the house, and I remember passing a mirror and looking at it. And I had a very good childhood- loving parents. I mean, it was not without difficulties. I wasn't popular in high school, but who is? So, but I thought to myself, if I could get on a rocket ship and get the answer to this but never be able to come back, I'd go.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:47] Oh, wow, That's commitment.
Judy Dornstreich [00:05:50] That and having realized it--
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:52] That's commitment to truth!
Judy Dornstreich [00:05:53] Huh?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:54] That's commitment to truth.
Judy Dornstreich [00:05:56] Yes.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:56] You know you follow it wherever it takes you.
Judy Dornstreich [00:05:58] Wherever it takes me if I'm going to get it and I want to get it. This intellect is voracious. I want to get it. And I realized many, many years later when I was had done yoga and, you know, yoga really works. I had a stressed out job and I'd go to yoga class and come out in the Integral Yoga Institute in New York, and I'd feel, you know, mellow and not even hungry and peaceful. And I said, "This really works and I'm going to listen." The first time the teacher Satcitananda came along, gave lecture, I listened and I can remember calling -- people may want to hear this -- I remember calling my girlfriend and I said, "Two years of graduate school and I've never heard anything so smart." This guy said, "You people don't know anything about love." He said, "You say I love you and you cock your ear to hear I love you back." He said, "That's not love, that's business." And I went, "Oh." And I called my friend to tell her, which is why I remember, I said, "This was really something." But I also at one point listening to her went, "I'm on the rocket ship." Some of these teachers are pointing in certain directions and to my Ananda one point said "The teacher is going to point, but you have to follow and then make that jump yourself."
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:07:35] Yes. Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:07:36] No one's going to do it for you.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:07:38] And remember, that's what's said when I asked, well I am praying, I've got God on the line. You know this remarkable experience, and so I say about whatever I'm asking about, "Can't you just put the answers in my mind into my head?"
Judy Dornstreich [00:07:52] And that was something that struck me is the answer to that in this episode is you can't just do that with the mind. The mind has to wrestle with it. I mean, you know, has to work with it and get there itself. So you asked early on, "Are you infinite?" And He said, "Boundless." I mean, that's okay-- that's easy, that one. Omniscient. I pay-- It's like I pay attention to whatever's important, so I know about it, but it's like some of it is just like that-- which was an interesting answer. And then omnipotent I can do what is valuable--.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:38] Yeah. In effect.
Judy Dornstreich [00:08:40] You know, in a sense, leave the rest up to you. But it also makes some space for a certain amount of free will.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:48] Ah, yes. Yes. A lot of free will. A lot of contigency in the God book.
Judy Dornstreich [00:08:52] A lot of free will, which is an interesting characteristic that we've got. And I have examined that in my own life a certain amount, of course. And, sometimes it seems like there's that you can lead wherever you're going along the road, but every once in a while, there appears to be a bit of a nudge.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:09:26] Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:09:28] That little nudge, which you have free will whether to pay attention to it or not.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:09:32] Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:09:34] So it still doesn't mean you don't have-- But it's like, yo, you know take a step back.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:09:40] And it means God isn't going to do it for you. God isn't going to press it on you. It's like the point we were just making. God can't put it into you.
Judy Dornstreich [00:09:47] But God is going to sometimes-- Is there a nudge? Jerry, is there?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:09:53] There are nudges. God gives you nudges.
Judy Dornstreich [00:09:55] Right. And you either pay attention or you say, no, I really you know, I really want more and more of this ice cream, even though I'm diabetic or whatever.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:10:03] Yeah, right.
Judy Dornstreich [00:10:04] It'll be all right. Oh, the danger. Oh, yeah. I remember telling my children- any time your mind says it'll be all right, it'll be all right- that's called stop and think. It'll be all right is a dangerous reaction to just about anything. So one of the things in your "Are you infinite, omniscient and omnipotent." You did not ask, "Are you omnipresent?"
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:10:35] No, I did not.
Judy Dornstreich [00:10:37] You did not. And that was the first time-- I listened twice to the tape. And the first time I didn't really get that, and I thought you said omnipresent. But then I heard it again, and it was like the answer to that is actually kind of, "Yes."
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:10:55] Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:10:56] But you got to let me in.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:10:59] Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:11:00] You know, omnipresent there, but it depends on the direction you're open to. There's an openness.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:11:08] Right.
Judy Dornstreich [00:11:08] And a willingness to go along with whatever appears to be the right, the best choice you make. You know what-- and sometimes you may make a mistake and then hopefully only get a little smack.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:11:24] Right.
Judy Dornstreich [00:11:25] And a little nudge to go in a different direction. So that was another take from the omnipresence, but you have to be, in a sense, tuned up in a coy way. And all the spiritual practices are meant to do that.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:11:43] Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:11:44] Yeah. All of the instructions and even something like breathing with yogic breath. I mean, calm down. It has some actual-- some of these practices have been done for a million years.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:12:01] Yeah.
Judy Dornstreich [00:12:02] And they work.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:12:04] Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:12:05] Yeah. One of the things that I threw out very early was this image that we've got in the Bible of what I call 'Big Daddy the String Puller.'
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:12:17] Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:12:19] That I just threw out. And I said, "Okay. I don't really know." I mean, I'm a teenager. I don't know for sure. So I must be an agnostic, not an atheist, because really, I don't know for sure what's going on. But I really don't like that sort of image. I can say yes- pray to get attuned to what the greater being or the greater purpose or, you know, try to do what can filter down in through you and not just have it be your own, you know, chocolate bars. But, it doesn't... Except for those nudges. Those nudges. And then sometimes there's gigantic stuf like how to deal with the environment. I mean, come on, folks.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:13:20] Big issues. Yeah.
Judy Dornstreich [00:13:21] Yeah. Climate change. I mean. Hello. Pay attention.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:13:26] Yeah. Well, and what I was told throughout the whole of God: An Autobiography, God does not micromanage the universe. You know, there's this idea- God is aware of every sparrow that falls, but God is not causing it to fall or reaching in to lift it up. And so that idea-- and God tells me at one point, you know, that you pray and God the Almighty can just zoop in and save you from everything, give you what you want. God says, "I am not like a rescue helicopter." That lands on when the HVAC team gets out. That is not God's role, and that is a self centered kind of--
Judy Dornstreich [00:14:07] Right. And that was the thing I threw out when I was a teenager. I said, "It can't be that If I'm saying please, you know, get me an A on this exam." You know, it's like study and you'll get the A. And if you don't get the A, you did the best you can.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:14:24] Exactly.
Judy Dornstreich [00:14:24] But that kind of self-centered thing didn't seem to me to be what it's all about.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:00] Let me shift to something different.
Judy Dornstreich [00:15:02] Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:02] Because, this is, I think the first section in my experience in God: An Autobiography that God answers in a feminine voice. You know, I wonder about, you know, if God is so personal that God, the divine reality, as it turns its way to me, is intensely personal, and persons are usually male or female. You know, it's hard to think it as just nothing we might say, though, you can have in between things, fluid conceptions. But God answers in a feminine voice and then gives me an explanation that there are many aspects to the divine reality.
Judy Dornstreich [00:15:47] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:47] Some of which you might call male or female, masculine or feminine, and then explains the role of each.
Judy Dornstreich [00:15:57] Right. And it would have to be that. Because there exists male and female. So if there's the whole and there's male and female in the whole.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:16:11] Yeah.
Judy Dornstreich [00:16:12] There's male and male and female aspects to God. And perhaps, I mean, I've thought about this, both are-- not perhaps -- both are needed and there are slight differences and maybe because those slight differences emphasises, you know, in general, there are certain male characteristics that we identify as male in turn and as female. And all of us have all of these characteristics. But perhaps in men, there's more dominance of the need to produce, to use their body, to use their intellect to do something for the good of the world or just for themselves. Whatever your choice is, and there's a s-- and less, well... In certainly this culture and many cultures, I speak as an anthropologist, the feminine is not valued as much as the masculine. I mean, when we were in New Guinea, the people sort of, I was like, wow, people look at women as somewhere between people and pigs. I mean, they're, you know, like they're not quite as valued. Sometimes women just they see suffering and they-- oh man, if I see you suffering, I may try to talk you out of it. That's more masculine. I wonder, one time Mark was sitting at the table and he was upset about something and I just stroked his head. That was my-- and he looked at me with such gratitude. And it was a really feminine response to suffering instead of my, you know, trying to argue him out of it, which might be a slightly more masculine thing. I mean, I still would then go on to try to argue him out of it. But still, the first response was stroke him on the head. And I didn't think about it.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:18:20] Yeah, I feel the masculine response- men tend to feel they're supposed to take care of their families and other people and fix it. And then the man, the part you're mentioning, Judy, is then if he can't fix it, he wants her to fix it. Fix it in the sense of deny it, get over it.
Judy Dornstreich [00:18:40] Right. Right. And it's an orientation. So there's plenty of men, and actually, I have one of my sons has got such a good heart that I really felt at a certain point, you know, there's going to be hurts here. And then at a certain point as a teenager, the image of masculinity was cover that up. Thank goodness he's got a wife who knows how to say it's okay. I appreciate your feelings and let them come out with our children and all of that stuff. But this culture is pretty tough on men with feminine hearts.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:26] Sure. Yeah, you're not supposed to cry, and so forth.
Judy Dornstreich [00:19:29] You're not supposed to cry or you got to fix it. You can't just stroke the person's head.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:33] Or you got to fix it. No. I love your story of just stroking his hair, and I often feel it, and you mentioned earlier, Judy, omnipresence. That's one of the divine traits and the extraordinary power, it sounds like nothing sometimes, as I see it, God's loving presence.
Judy Dornstreich [00:19:54] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:55] Well, what can we do for each other in suffering? We can be present to it in a loving way.
Judy Dornstreich [00:20:00] Absolutely.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:02] Like you're to your husband. You could not fix it. You didn't try to fix it. That's not what that moment called for- it didn't need fixing.
Judy Dornstreich [00:20:09] Exactly.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:10] It needed loving presence embodied in your stroking his hair.
Judy Dornstreich [00:20:14] Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:16] Remember this moment in the book, God is asking me to do something that sounds very scary to me, and I said, "Well, you know, I always try to follow orders."
Judy Dornstreich [00:20:25] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:25] Love me. You know, I pray God to love me as I enter this thing. And He says, God tells me, "Let Abigail love you. You'll feel my love through her."
Judy Dornstreich [00:20:37] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:38] And that's the concrete role we play in life, right? God does not smother us in glowing lights.
Judy Dornstreich [00:20:45] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:45] You have to do that, we're God's instruments when it comes to spreading love, loving presence.
Judy Dornstreich [00:20:52] Yes, exactly. That's what being embodied on this planet is-- and oh, it's such a wonder.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:03] Yes. Yes. And a lot of the wonder is right back to that male female dynamic. That, of course, plays out in different ways, in different cultures and different points of time. There's no single way it always plays out, though there are wisdom when you read the Yin Yang literature or the I Ching, which starts with the feminine principle, because that's considered the matrix of reality and the action occurs within that matrix, the feminine resonating matrix of reality. So, you know, those are useful to and of course the stories are always, I mean, the rich reality and values come out of the combination and interaction. Wouldn't you say?
Judy Dornstreich [00:21:48] Yes. And one of the things that well, I don't know if you get The New York Times, I get only the Sunday Times and it's enough to last me a week. But, you know, there was a section there about Afghan women suffering. And I mean, it's you know, it's like, guys, guys, you need them for balance, for making your values really come manifest. It's really tough because there's a lot of with the male female thing in this world, and not only male female but a lot of stuff, holding on to something and pushing away other things. You know, my religion is right. You're wrong. And if one could just say, "Oh, you say je t'aime and I say, ti voglio bene, and he says, ich liebe dich. And that's what all the different religions are, just different ways in, out, you know, different ways. And doing the ones that do what feels right and it is right to do the one that feels right if it's only one or take a dip into Buddhism, take a dip into yoga and Vedanta, you know, I mean I've taken a different take a dip into Gurdjieff work, all sorts of stuff. And at a certain point I said, you know, you know more stuff about the East than you do about Judaism, but you're going to have children and you better learn about this because you're not going to have Hindu kids, so learn about it. And fortunately, Philadelphia was quite a center for the new life that's happening with Judaism. And it's wonderful and it's going in all directions and really wonderful. And I feel really privileged to have been able to learn from those teachers, too.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:23:54] Yeah, I take it the implication, in God: An Autobiography as it goes on will be coming to these episodes at some time later.
Judy Dornstreich [00:24:02] Yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:24:03] But it's kind of, I'm told to pray about the ancient scriptures, the foundational scriptures of different traditions, including religions that have kind of died out, ancient Egyptian and so forth. But then to ask basically, "God, what were You up to with these people?" And I'm told, "Well, they don't all say the same thing because I didn't tell them the same thing." He gives them different missions. He gave the Jews a covenant. He gave the Atman that's Brahman to the Hindus. You couldn't well, you couldn't easily do both of those things, but each one gives you a set of truths about the world.
Judy Dornstreich [00:24:39] Yes. And it makes total sense to me because the world is varied intellectually, emotionally, physically, it's varied. And also there's timing on the stream of time, what can be heard and acted upon given the state of the culture at that point and or development. And it's going to be really interesting to see where it goes when we start really traveling around the universe.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:12] Yeah, well, you've seen a lot of the universe going to Borneo.
Judy Dornstreich [00:25:17] Yeah. I mean I have seen a lot of the universe on this planet, which was something I really wanted to do. Really what-- and I call it greed, but some people have said, "Oh, don't call it such a nasty word." I wanted and want to taste what it's like to be on planet Earth. What it's like to-- So, you know, when we could have done archeology in Syria or done this far out, two years in New Guinea, in the Stone Age, it took us 35 minutes to do to decide which to do.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:57] Okay. You wanted it to be more unfamiliar. You learn from the unfamiliar, is that it?
Judy Dornstreich [00:26:04] Well, the unfamiliar. And it's like-- this is really a different kind of existence. It's a human existence. What can I experience in this?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:16] Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:26:17] And it was pretty fantastic. Right, you know. And in many ways, I mean, riding it down, a canoe, down river, and I'll remember Mundagamon paddling the canoe, and I looked at him and I went, "Hey, the Mundagamon is black, I never noticed before." Because he was just him.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:45] Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:26:46] Whereas in this culture, you've got this filter over you.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:49] Yes. Yes.
Judy Dornstreich [00:26:51] You know, automatically we are programed to have this. I notice whether you are white or black. And I had gotten so into that place that I didn't notice. And I went, ooh, that's a blessing.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:05] Yes, I noticed my son when he was in elementary school in Colorado, he-- I was just visiting school maybe I was picking him up-- but the kids were playing basketball or something. And he referred to his friend Henry. And I ask, which one is Henry? Well, the one in the red sneakers. Well, the one in the red sneakers was the only black player. But that's not how he saw Henry.
Judy Dornstreich [00:27:37] Right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:37] The one, he's wearing the red sneakers.
Judy Dornstreich [00:27:44] What a liberation! That's really, yeah. And I mean, I had to go to New Guinea to, you know, for the same experience that he had and times, thank goodness. Thank goodness, our awakening to some degree of the oneness. I mean, it's the oneness of all of us. I mean, it's so gorgeous.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:28:03] Yeah. Yeah.
Scott Langdon [00:28:24] Thank you for listening to God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted, God: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher, available now at amazon.com, and always at godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and experience the world from God's perspective as it was told to a philosopher. This is Scott Langdon. I'll see you next time.