SOM Pod: American Mussar, with Greg Marcus

In this episode of the Seekers of Meaning podcast, Rabbi Address chats with Greg Marcus, the founder of American Mussar.

Mussar is based on the principal that we all have the same soul traits that make up who we are – however we are each at different points on the spectrum for each of them. The purpose of a Mussar practice is to create balance among these different traits within our souls. This is achieved by focusing on a single soul trait for two weeks at a time. The American Mussar framework makes it easy to identify habits and thoughts activated by the Soul Trait.  We can then begin to make small modifications to our behavior with the goal of being more centered and nurturing to ourselves and others.

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Seekers of Meaning Podcast - Transcript of January 18, 2019 program
Guest: Greg Marcus, founder of American Mussar

Rabbi Address: [00:00:06] Shalom and welcome again to today's edition of "Seekers of Meaning," the podcast of Jewish Sacred Aging I am your host Rabbi Richard Address. We hope to explore some of the issues that touch on our families, our communities, and ourselves as a result of the revolution in longevity. And you can contact us via our home page. Jewish Sacred Aging or via our Facebook page. Jewish Sacred Aging on Facebook. And we welcome your comments either on the voicemail icon at the Web site or to me And it gives us pleasure to welcome to the Seekers of Meaning microphones for today's edition, Greg Marcus, the author of "The spiritual practice of good actions," subtitled "Finding Balance Through the Soul Traits of Mussar." Greg, welcome to Seekers of Meaning. How are you doing.

Greg Marcus: [00:01:01] I'm doing great. Thank you so much for having me today.

Rabbi Address: [00:01:04] Thank you. Let's get the technical stuff out of the way. "The spiritual practice of good actions," published by you, right?

Greg Marcus: [00:01:12] It was published by LLewellyn, actually.

Rabbi Address: [00:01:13] And available where?

Greg Marcus: [00:01:15] It's available at Amazon, it's available in bookstores, libraries, any number of places.

Rabbi Address: [00:01:23] The usual suspects, in other words.

Greg Marcus: [00:01:25] Yes.

Rabbi Address: [00:01:26] OK. So, this is an interesting title, "The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions: Finding Balance through the Soul Traits of Mussar." What does that mean?

Greg Marcus: [00:01:36] Well the practice of Mussar, you can think of it as actions that we can take in every day life so that we can become a mensch, or we can become more Mensch like. So being a mensch is being a really good person, or a person of outstanding character. So when we think about taking a spiritual approach towards becoming a mensch, that was kind of the inspiration for the title and then, mussar as a practice, it's about balancing different soul traits. The Hebrew word is middot. And part of the idea is that we all share these same soul traits, things like humility, patience, order, truth, but we have different amounts of each, and when we have too much of a soul trait, it gets us into just as much trouble as if we have not enough. So finding balance, that was, that was the idea for that part of the title.

Rabbi Address: [00:02:29] And you are the creator of American Mussar. What is that?

Greg Marcus: [00:02:35] Right. So American Mussar, that is a website that I created that sort of encapsulated this idea of making Mussar as accessible as possible to Jewish people who are around today. I wrote the book not that long after the 2013 Pew study came out.

Rabbi Address: [00:02:58] Right.

Rabbi Address: [00:02:58] Which I'm sure you're familiar with and many listeners are familiar with.

Rabbi Address: [00:03:02] Right.

Rabbi Address: [00:03:02] But the finding which really stood out for me was that 70 percent of Jewish people in the United States were not members of a synagogue. Many of them still had a very favorable view of being Jewish. So I used to be a marketer, sorry, before I wrote the book I went out and I talked to a number of people who are Jewish and not members of the synagogue to try to figure out what the, what the barriers are. And not surprisingly, there were two barriers that came up. One was Hebrew and another one was God. And what was interesting about the Hebrew was not that they were uncomfortable about hearing Hebrew words or terms but it actually caused shame, that they kind of felt like they weren't Jewish enough. And I realized that, yeah, I share that, even though I was very active in my synagogue. Someone, one of the rabbis there used this phrase, kol ha-kavod, and I didn't know what that meant. And for five years I was too embarrassed to ask what it meant. And now I know it means "all the honor" or "props to you." But thinking about the Mussar approach, it's not incumbent upon the listener not to feel shame. It's sort of incumbent on the speaker not to cause shame. So with American Mussar, the approach I took was not using any Hebrew terms except for the word Mussar, and also providing alternatives to God talk. You know, if someone, if I say the word God ,and that brings up all these associations in your head that about something which you don't like and you're uncomfortable with, you're just going to stop listening. But if I say, well if you think about, if you're not sure about the divinity, you can think about it as the best part of yourself or of the universe. So I try to provide these bridges to meet people where they are today.

Rabbi Address: [00:04:50] So let me ask you a practical question, because a while ago in September, we had Alan Moriniss on as a guest on one of the "Seekers of Meaning" podcast from the Mussar Institute. For people who are taking Mussar classes, what's the difference between the institute and American Mussar, other than Hebrew? What are the differences? You went to the institute, correct?

Greg Marcus: [00:05:26] Yeah, I've I've taken a number of classes through the Mussar Institute. I was trained as a Mussar facilitator by the institute. So they're an institute, and they create classes ,they train people on how to facilitate Mussar. They translate Mussar books. American Mussar isn't. I do have a curriculum and I do have some classes and workshops that I lead. But it's really like a particular approach to Mussar, whereas I think the Mussar Institute is a little bit more all encompassing. So at the end of the day Mussar is Mussar it's really the same stuff. It's just a couple of little details on on presentation and formatting that. And my primary focus is accessibility, is making Mussar accessible.

Rabbi Address: [00:06:15] Now you're in the Bay Area and if somebody wants to connect to you, and learn more about this, what's the website or how to how do they do that?

Greg Marcus: [00:06:26] Right. So the website is American Mussar dot com. That's probably the easiest way. I also have a Facebook page Facebook dot com slash American Mussar, or those are probably the easiest ways to get in touch with me. And I do live workshops, and I do virtual workshops, and I do actually some work with people one on one as well. But I always love to hear from people, to hear your stories, to hear what's keeping you from being your best self. So anyone who wants to reach out you can also just email me and

Rabbi Address: [00:07:04] And American Mussar on, lowercase, all one word and Mussar with two s's.

Greg Marcus: [00:07:11] Yes.

Rabbi Address: [00:07:13] Because at that sometimes people spell it with just one s. So the motivation for this book really, what I'm hearing you say, emerged out of the Pew study from 2013 and, and you write about or you ask that one of the, I guess, entry way questions that you work with in American Mussar is, how do I wish to be remembered? So when I saw that, in going through the book, the first thing that came to my mind is then, is your approach to Mussar about legacy?

Greg Marcus: [00:07:49] I think I'd say, you know, that's an interesting question. I mean I wouldn't say that it is about legacy per se, but I think when you ask people about legacy, it can get them a little bit, like if somebody is already on a spiritual journey, like, they wouldn't need to get at that question. They would already understand that. But if somebody isn't already inwardly focused, then you ask them and they're caught up in their life, with either parenting or working, or taking care of their parents, or just trying to get their first job, or just trying to get by, you know, looking within may not be something that they think about. But if you start saying, well what do you want your legacy to be? You can go a very materialistic route. It's like, well, I want to, you know, founded a company, made all of this money, and then leave all this money behind in a foundation, or you can say, you know what, I would really like to you know, when it's time for me to go, I'd like to have some kids and grandkids who love me and respect me, and a lot of a lot of friends who will remember, like, that I was nice to them, that I was there for them when they needed me. And if we want that kind of life, that's where Mussar can help us show up and in the real world every day in ways that help us be kind and support others.

Rabbi Address: [00:09:18] Greg, why do you think that we're seeing this bubbling up of trends dealing with the search for a spiritual life? I mean the Mussar, my experience to travel, and then in congregations, this has become much more popular than ever. What's, what's going on? What's your sense of why this is taking off?

Greg Marcus: [00:09:41] So I think that there's a couple of reasons. One is I think it's it's just, part of it's just filling a gap in Jewish life that hasn't been there previously and in prior generations. Like the people who would go off and become Buddhists, or would become serious yogis. They are realizing that some of that kind of seeking and spiritual work and spiritual development can be done within the Jewish religion. And I also think there is a lot of people who are just tired and worn out and either they, you know, are young people today, they saw their parents working all the time, and are realizing, you know, where did that get me? Or people who are older and they've been working all the time, they're starting to realize, where did that get me? You know there's got to be something more. There's gotta be something deeper and more meaningful and more authentic. And then what kind of overall society message. The overall message that society is offering.

Rabbi Address: [00:10:45] So with this emptiness or this void that you're describing, I mean, you just think, you write in the book that Mussar equals or is a concrete instruction and guideline to help you live a meaningful and ethical life. Is that a correct statement?

Greg Marcus: [00:11:02] Yes that's a correct statement. The book does say that.

Rabbi Address: [00:11:05] And so how does you know what these guidelines, these middot, these principles and how did they translate into, because you use the word a lot, the practice of Mussar? Because sometimes somebody may say well, I have to practice this? What does that mean? How do you do that? How do you practice Mussar?

Greg Marcus: [00:11:05] Yes. So that is that is a really important distinction. And I think there's a couple different ways that we can we can look at that. Rabbi Elya Lopian described Mussar is "teaching the heart what the head already understands." So we can go and we can read, you know, a very beautiful passage, you know, from the Torah that says love thy neighbor as thyself. It's like, OK, I don't I don't think that, you know, there is some discussion you could have about that, but there's no real objection that that's a bad thing to do. But the question is, what is it inside that's preventing me from being loving towards other people, or what is it inside that's preventing me from being loving towards myself, and the way that we, you know, there's, there's no magic bullet, we can't just snap our fingers, and say, OK I'm gonna I'm going to be a more loving person, I'm gonna be a more patient person. As a matter of fact, this is one of the questions that the rabbis were asking a thousand years ago is, like, why is it so hard to be good? Why is it hard to, you know, if everything's laid out in the Torah, what is it that's preventing people from from carrying out those the commandments? So what they discovered is that by making small changes, a little bit at a time, we gradually rework the soul, or a modern neurobiologist would say by taking small actions repeatedly, we're rewiring our brains, and a new set of habits forms that are a more positive direction. So what Mussar does is it offers a daily framework. So we would begin the day with like a mantra or a recitation phrase that we would, say, contemplate for a couple of minutes. And that frames our day, like, let's say we're working on patience. The phrase might be, this too shall pass and I have the strength to get by until it does. And then as I go through my day, I'm on the lookout for times when my patience is tested, or maybe I'm being too patient, and I'm not taking action when I really need to be kind of stepping in and stepping up. So as I go through the day I notice those, and I try to find one part of my life where I'm gonna make a small change. Like I had a student who was always angry as a driver. She was a real East Coast rage-a-holic driver. She just decided, I'm going to let every car in ahead of me. And she came back two weeks later and said, well, I'm the calmest driver in California. And her whole, just by taking this one small change, it made a really big difference in her life, and not only was she calmer driving, she found herself being more patient with her kids as well.

Rabbi Address: [00:14:23] Obviously, she's never driven on the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia.

Greg Marcus: [00:14:28] There are there are certain there are certain highways ...

Rabbi Address: [00:14:32] ...or the 101 out where you are in rush hour or the 280.

Greg Marcus: [00:14:36] Well that's that's right. Those are exactly those circumstances, what we're talking about. Another reason why I think of this as a practice as we practice it in situations which aren't mission critical. Like again, If we're practicing patience, maybe I'll choose, deliberately choose a longer line in the grocery store.

Rabbi Address: [00:14:55] Right.

Greg Marcus: [00:14:56] And then when I'm waiting in line, I'll say my mantra, or I'll just meditate or I'll just try to look at the other people. So then, like, it's like practicing for your swim meet or practicing for the orchestra. Then when you get onstage and a real serious situation comes up you'll have some tools and some habits to fall back on to help you deal with that.

Rabbi Address: [00:15:18] In your chapter on patience, I mean, you brought up patience, and I think you defined it is the ability to bear the burden of an uncomfortable situation, which is pretty cool. But what struck me also is you have this little vignette about Reb Nachman, whose advice was to just to come up with a tune, to sing a tune, to get you through this particular passage, you just reminded me I don't know why but I read that I said it's like "The King and I," you know. Whistle a Happy Tune, and here it is right in the middle of Nachman of Bratslav, who seemed to have a lot of things figured out.

Greg Marcus: [00:15:59] He certainly did!

Rabbi Address: [00:16:00] We're speaking with Greg Marcus, the creator of American Mussar and the author of "The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions: Finding Balance Through the Soul Traits of Mussar." Greg how do we meet our soul?

Greg Marcus: [00:16:17] Well you know I mean probably five years ago I wouldn't have even understood what that question meant, because I thought, you know, my soul was like a little part of myself a little something that, you know, was kind of the best part of me and maybe, you know, from the wider culture's thinking, OK, and after I die the soul kind of goes on and hangs out. And now what I've come to understand is that I don't have a soul, I actually am a soul. And when I understand that I'm a soul and every other person that I'm dealing with is a soul, that provides a framework to really, to really look at the, at the world differently or look at other people differently. For thousands of years people have been trying to understand what a soul is. So even if I accept that I'm a soul. How does that possibly help me. If philosophers can't agree on the soul. So here again Mussar provides a little bit of a framework to help us. So instead of trying to change all of the soul at once, we focus for a couple of weeks at a time on different parts of the soul, which are called, which I call soul traits, or other people call soul traits. The Hebrew word is middot. singular middah. And by trying to focus on a part of a soul that's what one of my students calls extreme Spiritual Fitness. So it's kind of like you go to the gym and, ok, today's my arms day and I'm going to focus on my arms, and then the next time I go, I'm going to only focus on my legs. So if we focus on just one little piece of the soul at a time, we can begin to make these these small gradual and transformative changes.

Rabbi Address: [00:17:56] And what are the what are the assumptions of the soul? Because you write in the book about the four assumptions of the soul?

Greg Marcus: [00:18:04] Yeah, so I used to be in marketing and we would make these assumptions for doing financial forecasts. So it's like, well I get 100 people an hour in the store, and they'd spend 100 hundred dollars, you know, that means that I'm going to make ten thousand dollars an hour. So I wanted to, because I wanted to reach people with various degrees of Jewish literacy, I didn't want people to feel like they had to get a whole yeshiva education in order to understand the Jewish back story. So what I did, is I created, you know, because I didn't you know most people are just not going to be there. So. So I created these assumptions and the idea is that if you accept them as true they will give you a basis to have a Mussar practice. Now maybe you agree with it maybe you don't. But just it's an opportunity to keep an open mind. So the the four assumptions are, the first one is, we all have a divine spark, which is occluded by our baggage. The second is that we have free will, but it's not always accessible. The third is is that we're driven by the conflict between the good inclination and the evil inclination, and the fourth is, is that we all have the same soul traits, but have different amounts of each.

Rabbi Address: [00:19:31] So in the massaging, if I can use that word, of these four assumptions, you suggest or Mussar says, you practice every single day, an approach to one or all of these, or ultimately try to integrate all these four assumptions in who you are. If you accept the the idea that the soul is not part of you but you are a soul. Am I phrasing that correctly?

Greg Marcus: [00:20:05] Yeah I mean I would say it is. You know what I would say is that as you're doing your daily practice, the assumptions are something that you can draw upon to kind of help you understand why you might be doing a particular thing. I begin each chapter on the different soul traits by revisiting one of the assumptions, which is particularly particularly important and relative to that chapter. Like for example, the gratitude chapter, I think I talk about the assumption that we all have the same soul traits but different amounts of each. So if you meet someone that seems like a really ungrateful person, it's not that they're not capable of gratitude, it's just that they don't, they are out of balance for that sole trait at this time, or if I feel like I am not very good at patience, I can understand that dynamic in between, like, a good inclination and the evil inclination can help me understand what's kind of going on within within which can lead me to be to feel that way.

Rabbi Address: [00:21:19] Mussar puts a lot of stock in gratitude, doesn't it?

Greg Marcus: [00:21:23] It does. Absolutely.

Rabbi Address: [00:21:24] I mean especially in this day and age you see where civility seems to be on vacation. My sense of talking to people who are involved in Mussar practices and taking classes and teaching them, that the idea of being grateful and gratitude is something that's trying to really, trying to be recaptured in daily life practice. Would that be an OK thing to say?

Greg Marcus: [00:21:52] Oh absolutely. The the phrase the phrase in Hebrew is Hakarat HaTov, which means recognizing the good, and it's really trying to find the good and whatever, whatever, might be happening. So you might not like the political situation but maybe the good is it has gotten people more active and they are going out to vote more. And when we start looking for the good, it offers us an opportunity to take action. Now at the same time, we don't want to be like all soul traits. If we have too much of a soul trait, that's not good either. If we have too much gratitude, then we say, oh well, I don't like the political situation but that's OK. This is really for the best. You know this is really a good thing. And then we don't we don't take action when we should.

Rabbi Address: [00:22:43] So in other words there is a sense of moderation or reality based principles as you go in typical Jewish tradition. You don't go overboard on one or the other or anything, it's a sense of moderation that, like you said, too much gratitude, you know, become self-serving in many ways, I guess.

Greg Marcus: [00:23:01] Yeah yeah yeah that's that's exactly it. We want to, you know, we want to understand where where we are. Like, you know, finding a job, and I'm always grateful to my boss, and my boss is actually being kind of manipulative, and isn't giving me credit for things, and he's just kind of throwing me crumbs then if I'm too grateful, then I'm not really seeing the reality of the situation, where I might be getting taken advantage of.

Rabbi Address: [00:23:33] Correct.

Greg Marcus: [00:23:34] And it might be best for me to go out and get my resume out there and get out of that office and find a different job where someone will not only say that they're grateful to me, but they will back that up with words and actions and promotions and opportunities.

Rabbi Address: [00:23:49] One of the interesting chapters in the book has to do with truth. I found that really, you know, not only do you quote a young colleague who used to work for me when I worked for the URJ, she was one of my interns, Rabbi Mayrer, but the the way you approach it and the story about it. So I I'm I want to ask you to just reflect about what you wrote about truth, and within the context of the question, is, is truth in your understanding and Mussar's, is it conditional or contextual? Is there such a thing as absolute truth, or can we been truth every once in a while for a particular context?

Greg Marcus: [00:24:33] Yeah you know that was um... The truth is is it gets really really complicated. I mean that's my first answer. I am not a believer in an absolute truth, although I guess I would say that what I actually believe is that there is an absolute truth but it's inaccessible to humans. It's only something that the divine knows, and the reason for that is because our human perceptions are different. And so we can walk away from an interaction where I think something happened, and the person I was dealing with saw something completely different happen. You know, neither one of us is going to be lying when we say this is what happened in that meeting. It's just that we have really different perceptions and memories of what was going on. So I think that a lot of what Mussar focuses on is something called the judgment of truth which is trying to understand the truth from another's perspective. And it's not to say that falsehood is not important. Another important part of the truth in Mussar is distancing yourself from a falsehood, but that, I think, is easier to understand than actually what is actually, what is truth.

Rabbi Address: [00:25:49] So but you do write in the book in a quote, let's see here...that the Talmud teaches that it's OK to deviate from the truth on account of peace. Quoting Ma'aseh Avot. What. How do you understand that? Because you know somebody may say well I guess in a particular context it's okay to tell what may be a white lie or just massage what's really true. But but for the sake of a higher value is that how you're understanding it?

Greg Marcus: [00:26:24] Yeah pretty pretty much it goes back to. But let me let me clarify and flesh that out, because it's very easy to kind of deceive ourselves and to say well there is a higher value, which is why I'm massaging the truth, and the higher value being, you know, if the higher value is, I don't want my wife to be mad at me. That's, you know, not necessarily, you know, if I'm out there spending the money gambling all the time, and I'm not telling my wife because I don't want her to be mad at me, that's not the same thing as telling the truth and I'm a kind of peace where,, if it's you know what do you like do you like this. You know. Your loved one comes in and they're all dressed up and they've spent a while getting ready and they say you think I look good. And if you're not all that crazy about, it you could say oh you look terrible. That that eye shade doesn't go at all. You know that's going to hurt somebody's feelings.

Rabbi Address: [00:27:21] Right, do you think I look fat in the dress. I know that's an old joke. Yeah but it's true.

Greg Marcus: [00:27:25] Yes exactly. Yes. So you know there's only what there's only one right answer.

Rabbi Address: [00:27:32] So in other words that ,you know, that chapter really talks about, and my understanding of that is a very contextual concept of truth, and truth as you as you alluded to, can change as we change, because what may have been true and we're 20 may not necessarily be true when we're 70, and I think that's part of the, as you were saying, you not necessarily believing in an absolute truth that may be the province of God, but in the real world, in the everyday working out, that's it has to be put into a certain context. And I think that's one of the messages that you bring out in the chapter, and so before we start running out of time, I do want to jump to just one more other, one of the other rather fascinating chapters in the book, which you call I think fear of consequences. And you talk about the fear of God. So when I read that, the question I wanted to ask you is, in your understanding and in your practice of Mussar when this comes up, this fear of consequences, does this stop people from growing as a human being? I'm afraid of what will happen, or I mean, just just unpack this a little bit for me. The fear of consequences section of the book.

Greg Marcus: [00:29:00] Yeah yeah. So a couple a couple of things about it. There's a soul trait, or there's a concept, it's called the yirah, which doesn't really translate into English very well, it could be translated either as fear or it can be translated as awe, and one of the things I decided to do in the book is I split those out into two different chapters, and I thought of it as kind of like you practice the piano with the right hand. I mean you practice the piano with the left hand but then you bring your two hands together. I mean you play together you know you'll be making better music and if you try to learn them together all at once. So there's this concept of your awe of God or fear of God or awe of God. And it can get really heavy handed in some traditional texts. It's like, it's sort of this idea of, well if you're not good, you're gonna pay for it in the next world. What I've tried to do with fear of consequences is to say that the kernel idea there is that when we act what we do there are consequences to our actions and we should have a healthy respect for the consequences when we act. The problem is, if we get too caught up in the fear, it prevents us from taking action. There's a phrase, I don't know who to attribute it to but it's "there's no growth in the comfort zone," and Mussar is all about taking that one small step outside your comfort zone. You know if you're too afraid to kind of look with the hand and to see and to accept that yeah there's some dark places or Yeah, there's, I made a mistake or wow, I really was trying to do my best and I hurt that person. I just got so angry that these words came out of my mouth, and I couldn't believe what I just said, because they were so nasty. You know, if we're not, if we're too afraid to kind of own up to that, and look at that, then our opportunity for growth is really cut off. It's only by accepting those things and being willing to take some chances and to confront them and to try to do things differently that we have the full potential for growth.

Rabbi Address: [00:31:18] And the practice of Mussar enables one, one hopes, to overcome those fears. Is that correct?

Greg Marcus: [00:31:26] Yeah absolutely. Because it's really about making small gradual gentle change. Can I give you a simple example of that?

Rabbi Address: [00:31:36] Sure.

Greg Marcus: [00:31:37] So let's say that the kind of person who on the humility spectrum, you're really afraid to ask questions in a meeting. You sit in these meetings and you're kind of person who's afraid to ask questions. The next step for you might be to ask one question, not to ask the first question, and not to talk the whole time, but just asking one question, and if it's too hard to ask that one question in the meeting, go up to the speaker afterwards and ask the question. And by taking that step out of the comfort zone, we begin to grow. Similarly, you might be the kind of person that's always talking in a meeting. You always ask the first question, and then you actually get nervous and afraid if you're not talking. And for you, that that challenge is to let someone else ask the first question, is to make a little bit of space for other people. And again, so those are, those are the ways that Mussar can help very clearly walk us down that path towards growth.

Rabbi Address: [00:32:46] So one step at a time and small steps lead to eventual growth, change and a flowering of the soul. Can we say that kind of overused expression, but it is from what you're saying, this, the practice of Mussar, is really it is a one step process was slow one step at a time to achieve growth and evolution. Am I correct?

Greg Marcus: [00:33:10] And I would I would be only a small tweak I would make to what you said is that if you take that one small step, you're getting immediate growth.

Rabbi Address: [00:33:18] Ah, OK.

Greg Marcus: [00:33:19] Because that one small step is the growth. It's not like you take small steps small steps and then eventually grow. It's like that's the whole game. You take that one first step. You have you have grown in that step. And it makes that next step that much easier. You know as it says you know a mitzvah leads to another mitzvah. Once we get started, and then we sort of feel better, and say, wow, I asked my question and the world didn't come to an end...

Rabbi Address: [00:33:47] ...and I can do...

Greg Marcus: [00:33:48] As a matter of fact they really liked my question and I have something to share with people.

Rabbi Address: [00:33:52] Right.

Greg Marcus: [00:33:53] And they appreciated me. And then next time I'm going to ask two questions.

Rabbi Address: [00:33:58] All right, thank you very much, Greg Marcus, the author of "The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions: Finding Balance Through the Soul Traits of Mussar," the creator of American Mussar. And again Greg, the website is what?

Greg Marcus: [00:34:13] American Mussar dot com, that's Mussar with two "s's.".

Rabbi Address: [00:34:17] Right, and the book available now through the usual suspects, Amazon, et cetera, et cetera, correct.

Greg Marcus: [00:34:24] Yeah. Amazon et cetera et cetera.

Rabbi Address: [00:34:26] Thank you Greg. Listen, continued good luck, success with life, and teaching out there, and thank you very, very much for joining us here on today's edition of Seekers of Meaning. Wish you well and thank you.

Greg Marcus: [00:34:39] You're very welcome. Thank you for having me.

Rabbi Address: [00:34:42] And to all of you thank you again for joining us on today's edition of Seekers of Meaning, the podcast of Jewish Sacred Aging. And a reminder that we welcome comments and contact at our home page Jewish Sacred Aging Or to me directly Rabbi Address at Jewish Sacred Aging dot com, and we invite you to visit our Jewish Sacred Aging Facebook page. Seekers of Meaning is produced by Steve Lubetkin and recorded at the studios of Lubetkin Global Media, here in charming Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Thank you again for joining us. And we look forward to greeting you on the next Seekers of Meaning, the podcast of Jewish Sacred Aging. I'm your host Rabbi Richard Address. Thank you. And shalom.

About the Guest

Greg Marcus is a practitioner, facilitator, and innovator of American Mussar, a 21st century spiritual practice for an authentic and meaningful life. Greg Marcus has a BA in Biology from Cornell University, and earned his Ph.D. in biology from MIT. Greg prefers male gender pronouns. He worked for ten years as a marketer in the Silicon Valley genomics industry, after which he became a stay-at-home dad, writer, life balance coach, and biotech consultant. Greg’s first book, Busting Your Corporate Idol: Self-Help for the Chronically Overworked, is a five star Amazon best seller.  Greg resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two daughters, and two cats.


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