Friday, 30 September 2016

Happy New Year

My last post was somewhat on the depressing side, hence I wanted to end the year on a happier note. Whilst chatting to a good friend on Facebook last night she told me about many of the positive changes in her life, I feel similar changes occurring in mine. For all of these I am very grateful.

Rosh Hashanah is a time of judgement, self-reflection, and renewal. So if I have offended, upset, or caused you any harm - please can I ask for your forgiveness? Also, I forgive any offense, upset, or harm that you may have caused me.

At Rosh Hashaah we add some piyuttim (singula piyut) liturgical poems to our prayers. Here is a vidoe of Victoria Hanna explaining the pronunciation and provides insight in to its meaning.


Thursday, 29 September 2016

The horse has already bolted

And now for a post on geo-politics.... Here is a 5 minute video by the former chief Rabbi of the UK and how jew-hatred is resurgent across Europe.

It's an important speech in my opnion, but my view is that the horse has already bolted. When I have to wear stab proof vests during my voluntary security shift outside my synagogue and kids' school, the rot in society has spread so far that it is almost irreversible. It's mainstream.

Video link.

Two Solitary Meditators meet up - you won't believe what happens next!

Apologies for the terrible post topic name...

Today I met up with someone whom I have been friends with online for close to a decade. It was awesome to meet another Abraham Abulafia enthusiast, like him I need this hobby (obsession) to make it through the day, week, year, and fleshy incarnation in general. Professor Moshe Idel once referred to folks like us, i.e. Abulafia lovers, as the (paraphrasing it to) “brotherhood of solitary meditators”.

It really felt like meeting a long lost friend. We talked about life in general, gave each other a tonne of links and ideas to follow-up on, and renewed each other’s enthusiasm. It always amazes what a diverse group of people are in to Abulafia and I suspect that the shard of Abulafia’s Neshama have scattered far and wide with his passing to re-appear almost a thousand years later. Whilst we landed in the same time location, spatial separation has not been a big challenge due to electronic communication and the relative easy of speedy long distance travel.

Anyway, I expect that some of the impacts of this meeting will take a while to bring to fruition existing and new projects – it also led me to another wave of Abulafia experiences. My friend told me about an art exhibition that I immediately included in my travel itinerary.
Alchemy of Words:
Abraham Abulafia, Dada, Lettrism

The exhibition, marking the 100th anniversary of Dada, presents 60 works from public and private collections from Israel and abroad of Dada and Lettrist artworks, sound poems and video clips, and works associated with the medieval mystic Abraham Abulafia, who served as inspiration to the Lettrist leader Isidore Isou and the Dada-affiliated poet Yvan Goll.
OPENING DATE: Friday 17 June 2016
CLOSING DATE: Saturday 19 November 2016
LOCATION: Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Sculpture Gallery, Main Building
CURATOR: Dr. Batsheva Goldman-Ida
CREDITS: The exhibition and catalogue were made possible through the support of the David Berg Foundation, New York

Pictures of that part of my trip are included below.

Exhibition Entrance
There was a screen showing two videos by the enchanting Victoria Hanna, whom you can find here and here on youtube. If you have not listened to her yet - please, please do so - she's simply amazing.

In this corner where two recordings of Abulafia meditations (chanted). The one on the left was with audio & video for 7 minutes, the one on the right was an audio recording of 46 minutes.

Recordings of Abulafia meditations
The video was by Avraham Lieder meditating on the combination of Aleph with Heh.
Ah-Yo
Ah-Yah
Ah-Yeh
Ah-Yih
Ah-Yoo

Ya-Oh
Ya-Ah
Ya-Eh
Ya-Ih
Ya-Ooh
As always, everything is lost in translation in describing it in this format... but even if I coud describe the meditation perfectly with the head movements... it still would be the map and not the territory...

The paintaing was by the late (great) Abraham Pincas (1945-2015) and the work is called Untitled: Abraham Abulafia "light of the Intellect" (ca. 1980) gall-nut ink, water-based pigments, and varnish on parchment. Courtesy of Shoshana and Moshe Idel, Jerusalem.

Untitled: Abraham Abulafia "light of the Intellect"
Next to this painting, to the right and lower down was a head-set with a 46 minute recording by Abraham Pincas (1945-2015) going through the letters Aleph to Caf (i.e. letter after Yud) and combining each with the letters of the four-letter name Yuh, Heh, and Vav, Heh.

Abraham Pincas meditation recording

I have tried this meditation in the past and found that I could only make progress by going at a decent pace - rather than drawing out each and every breath to its limit. Much to my delight, the recording had the same chant I used, although it was a much more musical.

The other image that really caught my attention was an illustration of Raziel - by Victor Brauner (1903-1966). After contemplating this, I had some very unusual dreams on the train. By unusual I mean like almost nothing I have a frame of reference to.

Raziel - Victor Brauner

Raziel - Victor Brauner



Strategic Job Hunting

This is a brief post following up on the project: “Tzedek Tzedek like a Mensch “. Specifically this is a very brief guide on strategic job hunting as part of improving one’s financial circumstances.

As well as doing any and all “magic” to enhance job hunting success (see blog post linked above), here are some more mundane strategies that should be all done in parallel. But before we get on to this awesome bullet point list, here is another to pre-empt it which gives a guideline for the order of precedence in which companies recruit:

  1. Look for an internal candidate (much cheaper option most of the time)
  2. Look to see who is cold calling / emailing to get a job
  3. Ask employees to recommend a colleague (or friend, or relative)
  4. Post an advert on job sites or via social media e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook
  5. Go via a recruiter (costs more than other option in general)

Now bearing that list in mind – and it’s not gospel as it can really vary from one industry / country to the next – if you only rely on one method then you are really limiting your options. If you’re willing to put in the effort, why not do the same for this list?

1. Networking
Yes, it’s hard and does not come naturally to many people (me included) but when in some sectors many jobs are simply not advertised… the only way to find out about these opportunities is via contacts.

2. Go direct to the company
A pretty good approach is to to say “here is an issue you may be facing” (based on actual research you’ve done on the organization) and “here is how my skills / experience / ideas can help you overcome them. Chutzpah has a place in business, why not embrace it and learn it’s inner mysteries. Just be prepared for some rude awakenings.

3. Job sites
There are lots of these. LinkedIn is becoming a big meat market, so be sure to keep your profile up to date. Also read at least 5+ articles on how to manage your profile, a lot of employers check that your LinkedIn is in line with your CV. Also whilst endorsements are good, you can have too much of a good thing.

4. Recruiters
I’m not sure how much of the light of Creation reaches this level, but like estate agents I believe that as King Solomon said everything has a time and a place.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Tension at the Cross-roads

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan writes in his Sefer Yetzira book in section 1.3:
“…When the Sefirot are in their normal state, arrayed in three columns, they are in a state of equilibrium. But when the Sefirot of the central column are moved to the right and left, so as to divide the Sefirot in to two arrays, a powerful tension is produced. When they are in such a mode, powerful spiritual forces can be directed and chaneled...”
States of tension exist throughout our daily lives to a greater or lesser extent depending on the influences in our lives and our personal decisions. Right now there is a significant amount of creative potential in my life due to some recent decisions I made in the past half year. I’m wondering how long the state can be maintained for and what the long terms effects are.

It’s another journey through the cross-road for me. My teacher and I parted ways literally due to the distance in space that has opened up between us. We can stay in touch via electronic means, but I always feel like there is a huge part of communication that is lost this way.

Now there are other teachers in to whose presence I may become a regular visitor. By presence I don’t just mean in the classroom, but in to their homes to observe and learn. There is a story of a chassid who travelled a long distance just to learn how his teacher tied his shoes. Thankfully at this stage in life I know how to tie my shoe laces, however I believe that there is a great deal to be learned from how someone is present in each moment. Whether that is teaching about secret Divine names or how to crack a nut.