Another Kind of Trip

I can’t help chuckling as I recall Greg’s advice – Jen, don’t make your blogs too long. People don’t have the time. I have created jennie’s red book because I need to put my writing somewhere. It assures that I apply some rigour to my thinking and writing. Also, I really had to stop writing on FaceBook. This satisfies my on-going need to write but with a little less likelihood of pissing off my friends. Please forgive me and don’t, if you have got this far, feel like I expect or need you to read on.

Life is full of interesting twists and turns at the moment, excluding the number of chores that never seem to get any the less even though we are supposed to be living on Ibiza time – that ran out a long time ago! Life for me has taken on a different shape, a series of interesting ‘plays’, and it seems to be the universe who is the director.

The particular ‘play’ started with an article that had been shared on FB.  This one was about an interesting new development in the on-going study of the Arc gene, and what has been driving the study is the thought that it is an important link to understanding Alzheimer’s. It is a gene crucial for learning, and who knows what else. It can ‘send its genetic material from one neuron to another by employing a strategy commonly used by viruses.’   The reason it caught my imagination is because the opening line said: this ancient virus could be responsible for consciousness. I thought it would be a good idea  to cross-check what had actually been written by scientists about it.  I looked at a couple of sites, and the following one I was able to follow with some degree of understanding:

What then caught my imagination was the following:

“The University of Utah researchers began their examination of the Arc gene by introducing it into bacterial cells. To their surprise, when the cells made the Arc protein, it clumped together into a form that resembled a viral capsid, the shell that contains a virus’ genetic information. The Arc “capsids” appeared to mirror viral capsids in their physical structure as well as their behaviour and other properties.”

I couldn’t help thinking about the ‘shells’ talked of in the description of the Creation in Kabbalah, and that Isaac Luria, the 16th century mystic, would often make reference to snails. Apparently this somewhat bemused Luria’s students and I can quite see why.

From page 4 of Kabbalah of Creation: The Mysticism of Isaac Luria, Founder of Modern Kabbalah:

“…Included within this state of spiralling energy is the “vessel with the soul”. It is curiously compared to a snail, “whose garment is part of its body”. …”

I looked up one more article on the Arc gene. It was a bit like gibberish – you would need a PhD in the subject to understand it. But this did catch my eye:

“Arc holds considerable promise as a “master regulator” of protein synthesis-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity, but the mechanisms that modulate and switch Arc function are only beginning to be elucidated.”

I got the impression that the scientists had their own reason to call the gene Arc, but I couldn’t help wondering whether there was something more to its name! Nomen est omen.  It also wouldn’t surprise me if the gene manages comfortably to evade altogether any further ‘elucidation’.

The reason why I got so excited by this particular interrogation, or trip, is because I have never forgotten my confusion at, and frustration with, not being able to take my art concepts to a deeper level, as my lecturers encouraged me to do. I had gone back to university as a mature student around 1995 to study Visual Arts. At the time I perfectly understood what they were asking of me but seemed unable to reach deeper. I wondered whether it was because I lacked the talent, or was it insufficient imagination, or maybe I was just motivationally lazy. But I also wondered at the time if there was a ‘wall’ beyond which I was not meant to go. Maybe there was. Perhaps if I had achieved the success that may have resulted, I would have gone down a path that was not the one I had  ‘signed up to’ before arriving in this incarnation. Similarly, I had questioned myself as to why I had chosen to leave my homeland at twenty-four years old, when everything about my life was straightforward, recognisable, predictable and by now I had some really good friends. I was not by nature adventurous.  It was as if I was compelled to leave my comfortable little pond for the great ocean that was London and the UK where I knew virtually no one. Even before I arrived at a better understanding of soul contracts (since Elle died) I was aware that there appeared to be a path, a destiny that lay before me, and I was even aware of what was not included in that plan.  It seems to me that I am following a path that was always mapped out for me, albeit not the one I would have chosen for myself.  And that the journey that is revealing itself to me the further along I travel is going to be exciting and worthwhile.

So back to my trip and having found that the Arc gene yet again catapulted me from science to the Kabbalah, I thought I would ask Google the following question: Are there any physicists who have cross-referenced physics with the Kabbalah. I scrolled down a few of the links until there was one that felt right. It is a paper that was co-authored by Joel R Primack and Nancy Abrams around the year 2006. Primack is a professor of physics and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I think I mentioned before that in my simplistic understanding, as described in the book I have on Kabbalah, it felt a lot like a scientific and mathematical description of the creation of the cosmos. I found it much softer reading than I expected, and I have chosen a few quotes to illustrate my thinking.

The site for this paper is:

The name of the paper is “In A Beginning, Quantum Cosmology and Kabbalah, by Joel R Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams:

“Something invisible is exercising enormous gravitational effects on visible matter. If the theory of Inflation is right, then the blueprint for the large-scale structure of the universe existed before the Big Bang created matter. Except for the effects of earth’s motion, the radiation appeared to be a perfectly uniform 2.7 degrees above absolute zero in every direction, until 1992.”

Apparently in 1992 one of NASA’s satellites detected tiny differences in temperature in the background radiation, which is what the physicists had been looking for, going back decades as it may prove the Inflation theory to be right. Apparently these differences could provide a readable fossil record of the period before Big Bang, from which the Big Bang emerged. This would be spectacular evidence of the existence of ‘primordial wrinkles’ in space. Madeleine L’Engle wrote a book in 1961, and a film called Wrinkles in Time has recently been released. She must be looking down and loving this, and I am really looking forward to watching the film to see how she used and interpreted ‘wrinkles of time’, or wrinkles in the fabric of space-time. Another name, perhaps more recognisable, is gravitational waves.

More quotes I enjoyed:

“If the theory of Inflation is right, then the blueprint for the large-scale structure of the universe existed before the Big Bang created matter.”

“The theory of Eternal Inflation, largely worked out by Russian astrophysicist Andre Linde, now at Stanford University, says that Inflation stopped only in the minute part of the universe we can see – within our cosmic horizon – and some unknown distance beyond that. Everywhere else it continues forever.”

This is where my interest really started picking up with regard to what I was looking for. I wonder how much of this comes into a school education, and I can’t help thinking that it could have such mind-expanding consequences for our young people over the age of twelve. To contemplate the meaning of life through the study of the cosmos can only be a good thing.

“The ideas that follow are a sort of theoretical theology, a spiritual analogue of theoretical physics. This is a logical game, but amazingly, sometimes the universe actually embodies a theorist’s dreams. When this happens, it can have the force of a religious experience – at least for the theorist involved!”

“We may be further than ever from answering the question that Einstein said was the one that really interested him: Did God have a choice?”

“Kabbalah, medieval Jewish mysticism, is the only traditional cosmology we know of in which the universe was understood to have begun in a point and expanded. We are not kabbalists, nor are we trying to promote Kabbalah. We are not arguing that Kabbalah was prescient or somehow knew mystically what science is now discovering. We are interested in Kabbalah because it developed a set of ideas describing the origin of an expanding universe and integrated these ideas into its religious worldview. Can Kabbalah help us to integrate the scientific concepts we have been describing into our own culture?”

“Kabbalah means ‘secret tradition’, and its origins are uncertain.   Though its earliest preserved writings date from the twelfth century, from Provence and later Spain, its adherents believed it derived from the secret Torah given to Moses and handed down orally through the most religious Jews.”

I have been thinking a lot about my statement to Peter quite a few years back. Based on no study whatsoever, but having watched a few documentaries on the Jewish faith over the course of my adult years, the thought came to my mind that the Jews were the Keepers of the Keys. Another interesting little aside is that, having left my homeland, South Africa, I felt like I had come home, perhaps on an ancestral basis, when I moved to Spain. I was twenty-five years old. My father, who spent a lot of time here in Ibiza with Greg and I, and with whom I had a deep bond, said exactly the same thing in a notebook I found in his ‘office’ after he died.

This morning (4 March – it is taking me a long time to put this together), I pondered over a question that has often come up but I have never found a satisfactory answer to. Why do so many people dislike, and even hate, the Jews? Why does anti-Semitism keep on rising again and again, and if not rise, at least continue to linger, deeply imbedded in cultures, societies and individuals. A quick answer may be, ‘They killed Christ’, but that doesn’t work for Islamic people in the same way, or ‘They make all the money and keep it within their own society’, ‘they are a protected class’, or even today, ‘they have robbed the Palestinians of their homeland.’ These feel more like justifications than a good reason.   Perhaps they, as a race or tribe, function as an archetype, and perhaps the archetype is literally the ‘key’. It’s like ‘look over here at me and you will find what you are looking for, the answers to everything’. They believe they are the chosen tribe, but I have never read anywhere what they were chosen for – probably as a result of not reading the Bible thoroughly enough. I now see it as though there was a ‘wall placed between them and the rest of us’. (Interesting how the wall can now be quite literally seen in Israel today.) It is deeply imbedded in our nature to distrust, and even hate, what is different because it forces us to confront who we are and question our beliefs. It takes us out of our comfort zone – we can’t both be right? If we have been given keys to understanding all the great questions, there is no point leaving them lying around for anyone to just pick up and walk off with? We need to work hard to find them, and in the process profound changes can be made to our consciousness, that will not easily be lost or destroyed. A great and high wall, into which we need to create footholds in order to climb, one foot at a time, or a long flimsy ladder even, seems to be a good way to do this. The clues were always there – a scattering of bread crumbs leading to our redemption. It lies, not surprisingly, in the less popular direction of our irritation, hatred, distrust – those who prove to be our nemeses, just as it does if we look for personal answers and individual redemption.

I have looked on Google to see if I can find references to anti-Semitism rearing its head in the East. The furthest east seems to be Eastern Europe. Perhaps the answers lie elsewhere for the Motherland of the East, China. I know I am way out of my knowledge zone on all this, but it feels like a worthwhile exercise for me to give time to my questions. It seems to be an issue only within the monotheistic religions, or those who seem hell bent on proselytising and converting others to their way of thinking. Perhaps, at the end of the day, we are not as smart as we think we are, but rather the ones most in need of a helping hand.

This article is helpful in understanding the history of anti-Semitism, but nowhere have I found a good reason as to why it came about.

More quotes from the paper on the role of the Jews as set out in the Kabbalah.

“God sent holy light into the world, but the world was too weak to hold God’s glory. Its cornerstone were vessels that shattered in the light. The role of the Jews is to repair the shattered vessels by re-collecting the sparks of God in the world.”

“The role of the Jews is to repair the shattered vessels by re-collecting the sparks of God in the world. Tzimtzum is the name of God’s self-exile. Tikkun Olam is the repairing of the world.”

“For Jews in the century or so after the expulsion from Spain in 1492, the concept of a God in exile gave cosmic meaning to their people’s traumatic and seemingly endless history of expulsions and exiles.”

“But Kabbalah is a metaphorical description of a set of fundamental universal relationships which in light of modern astrophysics appears closer to reality than the infinite rectangular space of the Newtonian worldview.”

One of the closing statements of the paper:

“Just as light cannot be described accurately as either a particle or a wave but only as something beyond either metaphor, the universe cannot be adequately described as either something scientifically observed or something spiritually experienced. The reason kabbalistic terms are helpful to our account is that they bind together the search for truth with the search for the divine. The emerging scientific cosmology and Kabbalah are two metaphor systems whose juxtaposition points toward a truth larger than either can express alone.”

Some more good quotes from the article:

“The kabbalists used every resource they had – not only reason and logic but poetry, meditation, and mystical experiences – to try to understand the nature of God. They believed that they could learn about God through contemplation of God’s relationship to creation. For this reason, they strove to grasp the hidden reality behind the opening words of Genesis.”

“Beyond the picture was Ein Sof, ‘Without End’, the unknowable God, which emanated the light that created the aspects of God knowable to humans.”

“In the sixteenth century, the great kabbalist Isaac Luria developed the scheme further, teaching that at the initial point, Hokhmah, God began to withdraw into self-exile in order to make space for the universe.”

I have always believed that we are here free of interference from God. It makes total sense to me. I see it as something akin to finally withdrawing assistance and support from our children in order that they may develop themselves, otherwise there is no satisfaction to be gained from achievements. But that also, there may well be lesser representatives, like Angels, that are permitted to give a little helping hand or a push, or waft over to us something inspirational, so that we can keep moving forward.

I know that I am at the very beginning of a personal journey of discovery but it does seem to me that you couldn’t make up what comes to us through the mystics that have existed since time immemorial. These particular teachings go back at least to the 12th century, and it is considered that perhaps even to the time well before Christ. It not only makes total sense to me, but also intuitively rings deeply true such that it feels trivial to even write that. The description of the kabbalistic creation story is written up so well in the paper that it has made me go back to my book and read with greater understanding.

In the same paper there are some quotes from a speech by Vaclav Havel, given in Philadelphia on July 4, 1994, on the state of the world and its prospects

“Science, which has been the bedrock of industrial civilization for so long, fails to connect with the most intrinsic nature of reality, and with natural human experience. It is now more a source of disintegration and doubt than a source of integration and meaning..

… We may know immeasurably more about the universe than our ancestors did, and yet it increasingly seems they knew something more essential about it than we do, something that escapes us… Paradoxically, inspiration for the renewal of this lost integrity can once again be found in science… a science producing ideas that in a certain sense allow it to transcend its own limits… Transcendence is the only real alternative to extinction.”

Only this morning (that was yesterday now) Peter and I were discussing Hawking’s death and all the interesting articles that have been highlighted by it. We both came to the conclusion that humankind has actually been descending rather than ascending over the last few thousand years, which fits in with the Kabbalah diagram of our descent from the Godhead, and that we are still awaiting the paradigm shift from the linear world to the circular world. I particularly like the word ‘essential’ that Havel chose to use to differentiate between our arrogant current knowledge of everything and a ‘primordial knowing’ that goes deeper and way beyond most of us. So much of our lives is lived in individual little bubbles of busyness, and we tend to leave the blue sky thinking to very few. Our current crappy education system bears a lot of responsibility for this. I like to think though that children are waking up around the world.

I also can’t help thinking that humanity is starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel, although I suppose it is not unfeasible to think that we still have hundreds of years to go before colliding with the rock at the bottom, especially if I look at the amount of movement we have accomplished in the last few thousand years, and I don’t count technological accomplishments as an indicator of progress.

A couple of final quotes so apt to our times:

“Not only is the human population inflating; simultaneously, so are the technological power and the resource use of each individual. Multiply these times each other: we are now processing a substantial fraction of the earth’s entire crust. In population growth, resource use, pollution, and garbage production, the human race is addicted to exponential growth. Inflation is the controlling metaphor of our time.”

“The question for our time is, how can we end inflation gently on earth? How can we slow human inflation enough that creative restoration can overtake it? When we have developed a sustainable relationship with our planet, humanity and earth will be in balance, and the transition from inflation to stable expansion will have been achieved through the restoration of the world – Tikkun Olam.

Restoration, or redemption, is possible as bleak as our future looks. I try to keep hope alive by concentrating on the incredible innovation going on by some of our inventors, educators and architects, and other true visionaries. We need more though. And for me answers come through a combination of science and the mystics of the past and present. That said, I am also cautious of the ‘mystics’ of today. They need to have earned their colours and this requires time.

Author: jenniesredbook

Someone who is trying to find the stepping stones that will make a difference to her in this lifetime.

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