Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Lightning, meditation, turbulence

Lightning
On a recent trip abroad I had a rather curious experience after meditating. Due to the fact that it was a family trip, I only got two chances to meditate. However, after each session there was a fierce storm in the area. The second storm in particular lasted for longer than the locals told me was normal for that place. The lightning was striking just down the street and it really felt like there were lightning sprites dancing outside.

On the flight home we had almost 2 hours of turbulence. Initially I tried to shield the plane, but then on a whim decided to make friends with the air and lightning sprites. Although the turbulence lessened to the extent that the air crew were allowed to move around again - it was none the less a fairly bumpy ride all the way home. That'll show me for meditating in a new place without making some attempt to make friends / peace with the local entities manifesting as wind, rain, and lightning.

Meditation
The experience above and my advancement in ability to understand and put in to practice techniques in Hebrew Kabbalistic manuscripts & books has made me more aware of finding a teacher. This has been re-enforced having read "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales. In this book he describes how some people (and not others) have survived life threatening crisis.

Whilst the situations described in the book are (thankfully) very rare, they are of interest to me as a practitioner as I am aware of the changes that following a magical path can take. "You will be changed by it" was amongst some of the first advice I was given. The second piece of advice "When you open the door and can see them, they can see you too" is the advice that still keeps me awake at night.

Anyway, the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (who tragically died young) gave the following warning in his commentary and translation of Sefer Yetzira: (pp.124)
"...One of the early 10th century mystics, Hai Gaon, noted that many people who embarked on the mysteries were successful, but then met with an untimely death The higher the climb, the more dangerous the fall. 
A person would not attempt to climb a dangerous mountain without the proper training and equipment. Any novice who would attempt a climb without an experienced guide would be courting disaster. Climbing spiritual heights can be equally dangerous. One needs the proper training and mental equipment, as well as an experienced spiritual guide..."
Reading "Deep Survival" reminded me of this quote from Rabbi Kaplan. It made me keenly aware of my lack of teacher.

Turbulence
So in order to find a teacher and to advance my Hebrew Immersion project - I am taking a multi-pronged approach. This involves meditation, seeking a guide, integrating more Hebrew study in my (already packed) day, and creating a plan.

A plan is particularly useful for mapping out a 'path of dots'. It helps me figure out how to get from a known starting point to a theoretical next level. Although the plan is a nice fiction, it's a very useful tool for putting ideas in to a coherent order and testing whether it is achievable or not. Benjamin Franklin supposedly once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Planning a change is also an invitation to enter in to a state of crisis. To be an agent of change requires one to be changed too. I think that I whilst I knew that in theory, it's taken reading Deep Survival to understand just how paralyzing and insidious fear can be. Thankfully I picked up Rabbi Jonathan Sack's "Future Tense" book at just the right time to prevent the fear** from becoming overwhelming and instead channel it to more productive ends.

** fear of delving deeper in to letter combination meditations and the likely outcomes.