About this book
In The Tao of Solomon, Rabbi Rami Shapiro unravels the golden philosophical threads of wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes, reweaving the vibrant book of the Bible into a 21st century tapestry. Shapiro honors the roots of the ancient writing, explores the timeless truth that we are merely a drop in the endless river of time, and reveals a path to finding personal and spiritual fulfillment even as we embrace our impermanent place in the universe.
This book is not a new translation of Ecclesiastes; rather, it is a re-visioning of the sacred text that acknowledges that the only constant in life is change, that nothing lasts forever, and that only by releasing our hold on permanence can we finding personal peace.
Rejoice without reason, walk without a map, and seize each moment without trying to capture it. Experience the timelessness—and timeliness—of the ancient words of wisdom of in The Tao of Solomon.
“Rabbi Rami’s translation and re-interpretation of Ecclesiastes has been life changing for me. It has opened up the deep and exuberant wisdom that is at the heart of my Tradition. The Tao of Solomon gives us back an ancient text that has been misunderstood through the dulled lens of pessimism and despair. Rabbi Rami returns that treasure to me, now sparkling in its clarity, wisdom and joy — a celebration of life.”
—Rabbi Shefa Gold, author of Are We There Yet? Travel as a Spiritual Path
“We give thanks for this fresh rendering of the wisdom of Solomon’s Ecclesiastes, brilliantly revitalized by Rabbi Rami Shapiro. He points us toward the ‘essential unity of all things in, with, and as God, the Source and Substance of all reality.’ Through The Tao of Solomon, Solomon, we are encouraged to awaken anew, moment by moment, breath by breath, in loving awe. ‘So when all is said, remember this: open your mind to wonder, your heart to compassion, and your hand to justice, that you fashion a whole and holy world.’ ”
—Camille Hamilton Adams Helminski, author of Ninety-Nine Names of the Beloved: Intimations of the Beauty and Power of the Divine
“For everything, there is a season, and this season of diversity, pluralism, and inter-spirituality calls for bold new interpretations of sacred texts. Rabbi Rami can always be counted on for fresh takes that incorporate the cross-traditional wisdom of the great mystics and the emphasis on direct experience that they insist upon. In The Tao of Solomon he does not disappoint. The book is
illuminating and instructive, pragmatic and provocative—a text that will surely promote both spiritual growth and dynamic debate. I suspect that King Solomon, or whoever wrote Ecclesiastes, would applaud.”
—Philip Goldberg,author of American Veda and The Life of Yogananda
“We need the wisdom of Solomon today like we need fresh air. Rabbi Rami Shapiro makes it possible for us to breathe in that wisdom, experience it, and let it change us. That’s the Zen of it. The Tao of Solomon is a masterful gifting—a transformative verb of living wisdom as universal, and as vital, as the air we breathe. It’s not often that a book this wise comes along to wake us to joy. Don’t miss it.”
—Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, author of The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity Through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga
“Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) is the most contemplative text in the Bible, and Rabbi Rami Shapiro’s The Tao of Solomon brings a contemplative lens to its teachings. The result is a fruitful meeting of East and West, impermanence and eternity, speech and silence.”
—Rabbi Jay Michaelson, author of The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path
These are the teachings of Ecclesiastes,
he who is called the Assembler of Wisdom,
who lived in Jerusalem
during the reign of Solomon,
son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Emptying! Emptying upon emptying!
The world is fleeting of form,
empty of permanence, void of surety, without certainty.
Like a breath breathed once and gone, all things rise and fall.
Understand emptiness, and tranquility replaces anxiety.
Understand emptiness, and compassion replaces jealousy.
Understand emptiness, and you will cease to excuse suffering
and begin to alleviate it.
When you are deluded by the illusion of permanence,
you become trapped in the pursuit of profit.
Profit for the body—wealth.
Profit for the mind—knowledge.
Profit for the soul—eternal life.
Vanity and foolishness!
Profit requires permanence, and there is no permanence.
Therefore, there is no profit,
and the pursuit of profit yields only suffering.
You suffer because you hunger for permanence
and there is only impermanence.
One generation arising from the dust of another,
only to collapse itself in the heap of history.
Even the earth is passing away;
its permanence is an illusion—it passes more slowly than you,
and you mistake its slow death for eternity.
Eternity is not the infinite stretching of time, but the ending of time.
When you see the emptiness of things, you see the emptiness of time.
When you see the emptiness of time, you are free from eternity.
When you are free from eternity, you no longer pursue permanence.
When you no longer pursue permanence, you no longer harvest anxiety.
When you no longer harvest anxiety, you reap tranquility.
Cycles, endless rounds, countless turnings—
such is this world under the sun,
your world of imagined separateness and permanence.
The sun climbs eagerly through the sky only to tumble into darkness.
It crawls through the night and returns to the climb, only to fall once more.
The wind blows south, then north;
round upon round of endless spinning.
Rivers pour tirelessly into the sea, and yet the sea is never full.
There is no purpose to it.
Sun, wind, river act according to their nature;
they do what they do because of what they are.
Only you insist upon meaning and purpose.
For you the Way is not enough;
for you it must be a Way To, when in fact it is only the Way Of.
Your passion for purpose traps you in the pursuit of permanence.
Your hunger for meaning blinds you to the simple beauty of the turnings.
There is no tranquility in the Way To; yet the Way Of is peace itself.