Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Appraisal of the Patterns of 2015

I speak to my boss about once a year, when it is time for annual appraisal. The rest of the year we quietly ignore each other and get on with our lives. As it's a time of official retrospection, I thought it was a good time to review 2015.

Highlights of the year:
- Memorized chapter 1 of SY
- Found a teacher
- Gave a talk on history of Jewish Mysticism
- Read commentary of Ramak on SY
Lowlights of the year:
- Meditation ramped up and then ramped-down again
- Did not succeed in studying any other SY commentaries
- Got a clear warning that I'm not ready for this course of study

On the teacher front, I asked if we could study Sefer Yetzira but he declined. Instead we studied a book of Chassidut which is related to Jewish mysticism. My teacher also made me read the Hebrew aloud, giving me vital instruction on proper pronounciation and adding to my vocabulary.

The lecture that I gave on the history of Jewish Mysticism covered the first century before the common era through to the present day. I was going to talk about how these teachings and the Western Esoteric traditions have crossed paths over the centuries. But I discovered before the talk that the audience, who were very knowledgeable in other areas of Jewish studies, were not familiar with the history of Jewish mysticism. Hence it did not make sense to talk about points of intersection between the paths if both were unfamiliar to the listeners.

My ability to read and translate Hebrew has advanced sufficiently to be able to read the commentary on Sefer Yetzira by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero. Not only was his commentary the easiest for me to read, I also felt that in some way he was the most approachable to learning these mysteries.

On the subject of being prepared to learn and practice the techniques of Jewish meditation (letter permutation, substitution, etc.), my wife got a clear warning in a dream that I was not ready. I had just received in the post a book on practical Kabbalah, that very night a rabbi (whom I believe was the author of the book) told her in no uncertain terms of all the destructive patterns of behaviour that I have in my life.

With regards to patterns of behaviour, as Blogos points out in a recent post – changes that are too abrupt either don't continue or have major detrimental side-effects. This is something that I have been thinking about quite a bit recently as my current work-life balance has been off-kilter for over the past year. Travelling four hours a day to work and back has impacted my ability to stay awake and focused during meditation. Which has resulted in a stop-start pattern of rapid ramping up to some fairly involved meditation and then stopping just as suddenly.

I think that part of the reason that I keep stopping when progressing with the letter permutation meditations is that they are uncovering more of the parts of my mind that I have kept under careful lock and key. To clear the channels of mental reception, there has to be a clearing out of mental dross, fantasies, and a re-balancing of deep emotional centres which is a time-consuming but necessary activity. The latest cycle has taken over three months and it's only now that I am considering re-starting the meditation.

Coming back to the topic of patterns, the most effective way that I have found to change them (note: not break them, but rather reconfigure) is via a series of short-term projects with clear goals. These projects form a series of dots, or stepping-stones, in a larger programme to transform my current stage in life in to the kind of life-style that I would like to progress to. One in which my work-life balance is more harmonious to continuing my growth as a husband, parent, project manager, and trainee golem builder.