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Known as both a provocative religious leader and a respected spiritual iconoclast, Irwin Kula has inspired thousands nationwide using Jewish wisdom in ways that speak to modern life.  He is[…]

No one is totally true, nor are they totally false.

Transcript:A personal philosophy? I don’t know. I don’t think I have any grand philosophical philosophy. I guess it would be . . . Just right off hand it would be three things. One is every day try to be a little bit more self-aware than you were yesterday. It’s not about being more self-aware of someone else because it’s your own journey; but a little more self-aware and maybe check in every week or so, or every month or so; or for me on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Are you any more self-aware than you were last year? And two, are you any more compassionate? Have you developed . . . Have you loosened some of the weird habits, you know, that aren’t the best habits of sometimes being a little angry, or being a little impatient, or not being sympathetic enough, or not being, you know, open enough or generous enough? Not a lot, but a little bit more compassionate than a week ago, you know, a year ago. And third is to really understand that the opinions that you most deeply disagree with – and for me this is probably the biggest lesson of the last . . . I guess the last half decade of my life – is the opinions that I most deeply disagree with that make me go like (makes a repulsed sound), there’s a partial truth in them. And until I can access that partial truth I’m really no help in this situation. I simply add to the violence, or the polarization, or the conflict because no one is so smart that they can be 100% wrong. And the fact that every human being has infinite value, including the human beings who are what we call evil, those human beings by virtue of having infinite value by definition have a partial truth to whatever they’re trying to express. And I’m not a relativist. I don’t mean it’s 51% of the truth. I don’t mean everybody is equally true . . . has equal truth. No, but no one has 100% falsehood. And what we need to do is to . . . And what I’ve tried to live by surely the last few years is when I find myself reacting with real strong negativity to an opinion, whether . . . I tend to be a little more liberal, so maybe on the right. I tend to be a little bit more anti war, so it’s on pro war. I tend to be pro choice . . . So whatever the opposite of my view is, I start by saying, “What’s the partial truth of that view?” It may be an emotional truth. It may be an intuitive truth. It may not be a factual truth, but it’s truth. And I’m not gonna be able to help the situation and grow myself without understanding and incorporating that partial truth.

Question: What is the measure of a good life?

Transcript: The measure of a good life is that actually . . . The measure of a good life directly relates to my philosophy of life in that respect; that at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the month, at the end of the year, at the end of the decade, at the end of your life, you can simply say two things: I really, relatively speaking, continue to grow and understand who I am. And I really, relatively speaking, became – there were some fits and starts – but I became more compassionate than I was at the beginning.

Recorded on: 8/15/07