“...There's things I want, there's things I think I want
There's things I have, there's things I wanna have
They say the more you fly, the more you risk your life
Well I'm just looking, I'm not buying I'm just looking, keeps me smiling...”
Stereophonics lyrics to “Just Looking”
I've just finished playing the Planescape:Torment (PS:T) computer game for the... well, I've lost track how many times I've played it. At the time, it was a ground-breaking game and there are numerous quotes from the characters which have a habit of lingering in my mind until I have learned their lessons.
At the moment I'm in the process of studying chapter 2 of Sefer Yetzira again. This too I have lost track too of how many times I've tried to learn it.
In chapter 2, verse 2 (in the Kaplan edition) it states:
“Twenty-two Foundation letters: He engraved them, He carved them, He permuted them, He weighed them, He transformed them, And with them, He depicted all that was formed and all that would be formed”As Rabbi Kaplan recommends in the Introduction, this verse (SY 2:2) should be read in the imperative. But what does it mean to engrave, carve, permute, weigh, and transform the twenty letters? Put simple, based on my current understanding, this involves:
Engrave – focus on each letter in turn, not necessarily the shape but the meaning. There are numerous books which are worth-while reading on the significance of each of the Hebrew letters.
Carve – focus on nothing outside of the letters. I normally do this using sound to carve away all extraneous thoughts and focus entirely on the letters (in combination with each vowel).
Permute – combine each letter with all the other letters of the Hebrew aleph-bet. This is done with each of the vowels. I believe that weighing should actually be done first...
Weigh – the way that I do this is combining each letter with the others but with only the base vowel of each letter. This gives a sense of how each letter relates to the others and can, I believe, give a deeper understanding of why the letters are in a specific order. Transform – this means gemmatria. There are numerous systems of gemmatria, some of them even work.
One of my favourite characters in PS:T is called Dak'kon. Here are some of his quotes and how I've applied them to the study of SY2:2...
“A divided mind is an unfocused mind.” Meditation is in my view focused thought. By focusing on each letter and not allowing other thoughts to dominate or intrude, my mind remains focused and undivided. This is the stage of engraving.
“There cannot be two skies!” In the fictional history of the game, Dak'kon comes from a race that fought off the shackels of slavery. One faction led by Gith sought to continue the genocidal war against their former owners. Zerthimon (whom Dak'kon follows) chose to not to pursue this war and a civil war ensued.
To focus only on the letters and nothing else, everything else must be removed in one's thoughts. There cannot be two skies, just each letter and that alone. This is the stage of carving.
“Balance in All Things.” To get the measure of each letter, it is necessary to weigh each one in one's thoughts. To ensure that no letters become one's primary focus to the exclusion of the others, it is necessary to stay balanced in all letters. This is the stage of weighing.
“All things, whether structure or flesh — their existence is defined by their knowing of themselves.” To know the essence of something, it is necessary to de-construct its name letter by letter. Cycling though each letter and vowel combination for one letter with all the other letters can give rise to great insights. This is the stage of permutation.
“Steel marks flesh, but flesh cannot mark steel.” Letter substitution allows, according to what limited amount of study I have done to date, allow for the transformation of one thing in to another. Flesh cannot mark steel, but legend has it that when Esau bit in to Jacob's neck, the latter's neck was transformed to marble. This is the stage of transformation.
Back to the Song
I think that I want to game, but I really want to meditate. So why do I struggle to prioritise one other the other? I have plenty of books on Kabbalah and a basic knowledge of Hebrew to start studying them – what I wanna have is actually to have studied them already :-)