Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism


Published in 2009, when Jay Michaelson was named to the “Forward 50” list of influential American Jews, Everything is God was the first major book of Jewish theology and philosophy of his generation.

“Nondual” simply means “not-two” — but its true meaning is far deeper. Often it refers to East and South Asian religions or philosophies which hold that “All is One.” But it is also a central teaching of the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition. For 700 years, Kabbalists have insisted that God is not some old man in the sky, but is everything we see and everything we are. According to the Kabbalah, this webpage is God — and so are you.

Theologically, this view is a radical departure from traditional theism. It holds that God does not exist — God is existence itself.  Religion is not about belief — in God, myth, or fundamentalist ideas of scripture — but love, and the ethical obligations to build a more just world that spring from it. Mysticism is not about cultivating special states of mind, but learning to accept that everything in life — even suffering, pain, and injustice — is God.  Experientially, God is simply all that is, once the illusion of the separate self is taken away.

Everything Is God is both a scholarly work, with over 200 footnotes (Michaelson is completing his Ph.D. at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem), and a remarkably accessible one, with practical advice and contemporary anecdotes that illustrate how these ancient ideas transform the spiritual life, how God is present at CBGB’s (where Michaelson once played with his rock band) and Burning Man (where he teaches every year) as much as at the holiest of sacred sites. Bringing together Jewish, Buddhist, postmodern, and even pop cultural sources, Michaelson explains what this mystical nondual view means in our daily ego-centered lives, for our communities, and for the future of religion in an increasingly technological and multicultural age.


Praise for Everything is God

Jay Michaelson has written a book for serious Jewish cosmologists.  It takes the contemporary Jew — and one who wants to understand Jewish religion in its depth — through a mind laundry.  Stripping away the barnacles of outdated concepts, he aligns the best non-dual thinking in Judaism with the best the non-dual thinking in other profound systems. It is a timely and necessary contribution.
– Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of Jewish Renewal and co-author of Jewish With Feeling

Everything is God by Jay Michaelson is a brilliant discussion of a challenging paradox that could be stated as a koan:  What is Not One, Not Two, Not Zero and yet One and Two, but still Nothing? This wide spectrum of possibilities is about the divine sparks that not only fill our reality, but go beyond it; not limited by infinity. Mystics acknowledge that ordinary words cannot capture the full scope of these teachings; yet Michaelson finds a way to blaze a path through a primordial forest of ideas. This is an awesome, highly recommended presentation of crucial mystical concepts.  Rabbi David A Cooper, author of God is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism

Jay Michaelson is a compelling thinker who possesses the rare ability to transmit the most esoteric of teachings into accessible ideas for the contemporary reader. His new book ought to be required reading for anyone with an interest in Jewish mysticism or theology–or simply in God. Michaelson washes away the false dichotomy between divine immanence and transcendence and instead conveys the profound reality that the patriarch Jacob expressed when he exclaimed: ‘God is in this place, and I, I did not know it.’  – Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein, Author of Gonzo Judaism

Jay Michaelson has written a poetic, detailed, and radical book expressing a Jewish language of oneness: not the oneness of a bearded man in the sky but the Oneness of a universe not divided against itself. Fittingly, Michaelson’s book is neither universalist nor particularist but a refreshing combination of both.  He moves among kabbalists, Hindu and Buddhist philosophers, Western thinkers and psychologists, Chasidic masters, and examples of daily experience to clarify what non-dual thinking is and how humans achieve it in the midst of the maelstrom of ego-based life.  Michaelson skillfully explores the mystical Jewish versions of ‘selflessness” and gives them a new and contemporary tone, reflecting on issues of prayer, meditation, consciousness and the physical body.  He addresses accusations of heresy, quietism, and abstraction without defensiveness.  Michaelson gives the reader a gift of self-beyond-the-self, a gift that cannot be owned but is well worth having.
– Rabbi Jill Hammer, Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy of Jewish Religion


Reviews of Everything is God

Even This Review is God in Forward

Professor Alan Brill’s review of Everything is God in the Forward.


Related Material

Radical Now? in Jewish Quarterly

Beyond Oneness in Zeek

Prayer and Nonduality in Tikkun

Transformation of Consciousness as Messianic Age: A Kabbalistic View in Reality Sandwich

Stop Seeking: Paradoxes of the Spiritual Path in Reality Sandwich

Kashrut and Nonduality in Zeek

Prayer and Nonduality in Tikkun