Saturday, 20 September 2014

End of Year Thoughts

As mentioned previously, I don't have much time to blog at the moment. So here is a round up the kernel of some thoughts that are knocking around in my head at the moment.

Want to Meditate versus Want to Have Meditated
A Rabbi once said to me: "Sometimes I want to pray and sometimes I just want to have prayed." In other words, sometimes the act is the goal and sometimes the goal is just having done it. An example is the difference between "I'm enjoying this meal" and "I'm glad I had lunch (but have no memory of the taste of it)".

Apologies for hammering home this point. I think it's quite important and Rufus Opus' recent post touches on a similar idea. What are you choosing to spend time on? Well, as Jason from Strategic Sorcery has stated on a number occasions.. if there is only one thing that you do in magic (paraphrasing) make sure it is meditation.

So... do you want to meditate or want to have meditated?
Do you find meditation boring or see it as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself?

Recommended reading:
[Book] Mastery by George Leonard (Scribbler recommendation)
[Blog Post]  On the Nature of Work (by Frater Acher)

Animating the In-Animate
Trainee Golem builders like me, learning to create humanoid life within inanimate matter such as clay, have a thing about finding out who else is working on creating human like life-forms from inanimate matter.

So you can imagine my delight when I came across these two TEDs talks. The first is about creating algorithms for quad-copters to work together. That might not sound very magical, but when you learn a little about how artificial life can be made - it gets pretty interesting (in my opinion) how you can create smaller entities that working together can achieve amazing results. And the secret is in getting the algorithms (i.e. instructions) right.

The other video (and if you only watch one, I recommend this one) is about making robots appear more life-like - with soul.

In Other News
Daf Zohar, daily study of Zohar, has been kicked off on Facebook. Here is the description of the project:
A Zohar study group. Currently focusing on Zohar Ammud Yomi, A Daily Page of Zohar. Members are also welcome to discuss any other Zohar passages. This is an unofficial group of students and teachers reading the Zohar (Pritzker Edition etc) together and sharing what we discover.
I bought a copy of the first book in the Pritzker edition translation of the Zohar. Until now I have shied away from studying the Zohar as I am mainly interested in pre-Zohar Jewish mystical writings. However, a recent comment by one of the people I consider to be a (distant) teacher made me realise that I should study it at some point in the next couple of decades.

Let's see how long the project lasts and whether I can keep up with the additional daily study or not.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

September Mini-Reviews

Jason just posted about keeping a balance between time, money, and attention. The way that I view it is that there are a number of plates that I need to keep spinning in my life: Family, work, studying, friends, meditation, finances, romance, parenting, etc (in no particular order). I can only focus on keeping a few of those well balanced and the others I just need to pick up and get spinning once in awhile.

Story reviews

Anyway, I digress before even getting in to the point of this post. Because my time is taken up with a lot of commuting (4 hours a day) and hence that is when my study time is... I don't have a lot of time for blogging. Therefore I am lumping a number of reviews all together. My apologies for the people whose work are mentioned - you deserve a more in-depth review.

1. Mechanicals by Jordan Stratford (5/5)
Starting with the best first. This book was my first Steampunk novel and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey that the protagonists took in their journey. Along the way they encountered a number of people whose name will ring a bell with those familiar with historical figures in the occult world. What I really loved were the descriptions of how one of the characters learned to operate a mechanical, when some others encountered a doll that was not all it appeared and how a demon made two weeks seemingly disappear. Really exhilarating adventure but it ended a little too abruptly. I hope a sequel is in the works.

2. Alice Adventures in Steamland: Clockwork Goddess by Wol-vriey (2/5)
Whilst the former novel had a character with a bit of a virgin theme, this novel's main character is a prostitute and there was plenty of sex. Now, I don't mind sex in a novel if it's done well - but this was not the case for this novel in my opinion. If you fancy a spunky (literally) heroine in a gore-filled version of Wonderland with steam, cake, icing, hatters, more icing, a clockwork goddess - this is the novel for you.

3. Joe Golem and the Copper Girl: A Short Story by Mike Mignola (5/5)
Having done the good and the bad, it's now the turn of the ugly. Except that the only ugly thing in this short story are the looks of the hero and the ugly side of human nature. Thoroughly enjoyable story set in the drowning city (reviewed here). Although the city was not described in as vivid detail as I might have liked (I find the setting to be as interesting a character as the protagonists or villains - for example my favourite character in Farscape if Moya) it was a beautifully written and moving short story.

Meditation Review

Getting back in to basic letter meditation. Going well so far. Considering that I am now reading through chapters 3 and 4 of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero's "Ohr Yaka" commentary on Sefer Yetzirah - I should hopefully get in to the more involved letter combination meditations in the coming months. Lots of exciting stuff on the horizon.

The Lions 

Unfortunately I will not be able to actively provide any aid to the Detroit Lions football team this year, seeing as I am currently a theoretical golem builder. However, there were two techniques that I used in the first year of the Lion Who Roared project that seemed to have a big impact. One was a meditation on the Divine Name of 72 triple letters. The other was refraining from certain activities.

In Judaism there was a number of positive and negative commandments. There are 613 in total and 248 positive (do something) and 365 negative (do not...) commandments.

So this year I will be putting special emphasis and focus on one of the "do not" commandments. Let's see if that has any passive boost to the performance of the Lions as I seem to have some level of entanglement with them. I call this not-a-project "An awesome lion, who dares rouse him?"