Patanjali says that we can meditate on anything that our heart desires. The important thing is not what we meditate on, but more that we meditate. And then gradually to meditate more and more on what corresponds to the innermost longing of our heart. The practice of meditation . . . gradually works its magic in stilling the mind. (42)
Religion is not about accepting twenty impossible propositions before breakfast, but about doing things that change you. It is a moral aesthetic, an ethical alchemy. If you behave in a certain way, you will be transformed. The myths and laws of religion are not true because they they conform to some metaphysical, scientific or historical reality but because they are life enhancing. They tell you how human nature functions, but you will not discover their truth unless you apply these myths and doctrines to your own life and put them into practice.
This assumption of the intrinsically repressive nature of collective experience and redemptive power of individuation is a staple of contemporary art theory and criticism. I would argue that a closer analysis of collaborative and collective art practices can reveal a more complex model of social change and identity, one in which the binary oppositions of divided vs. coherent subjectivity, desiring singularity vs. totalizing collective, liberating distanciation vs. stultifying interdependence, are challenged and complicated.
Theology is just not important in Judaism, or in any other religion, really. There's no orthodoxy, as you have it in the Catholic Church. No complicated creeds to which everybody must subscribe. No infallible pronouncements by a pope. Nobody can tell Jews what to believe. Within reason, you can believe what you like... We have orthopraxy instead of orthodoxy. Right practice rather then right belief. That's all. You Christians make such a fuss about theology, but it's not important in the way you think. It's just poetry, really, ways of talking about the inexpressible.
I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one's being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.
Up there in that room, as I see it, is the reading and the thinking-through, a theory of rivers, of trees moving, of falling light. Here on the river, as I lurch against a freshening of the current, is the practice of rivers. In navigating by the glow of the Milky Way, the practice of light. In steadying with a staff, the practice of wood.