Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On Hebrew Prayer: Organizing Principles and Surprise

barukh' ata yhvh 'eloheinu melekh ha'olam

"barukh 'ata" means blessed are you. I bless you (well hell, i don't really understand this ENGLISH word 'to bless' we don't really use it every day do we?), i am thankful for you i am in awe of you. You? yhvh (the 4 letters representing the holy name in Tanakh (bible) that traditional Judaism does not pronounce, though in the bible it certainly seems to function as a pronounceable personal name) is presence/miracles (which is what i call that state i am in when i am intensely aware of the miraculousness of existence itself. It is not a state of duality, ME being present TO miracles outside me, but a state of awareness that breaks down barriers between subject/object sensation/action) always available if i cut the tense headchatter worry about time and just be in this moment that is not yet death as long as i am present.

yhvh, presence, as close as breath not just something i feel, but feeling itself, the act, not something outside of me, no duality.

a personal particular name of a presence who came to my people? I suppose whenever one of us has this kind of experience it is experienced as intensely particular.

Now in traditional Jewish prayer we say 'barukh ata adonoi' so as to avoid pronouncing the name meaning blessed are you, our lord. (Some say barukh ata hashem, blessed is the name) Not Lord, Sir. I am not a slave to presence/miracles, presence/miracles is not a big man who has made it in the world, who is more capable than me, who has accumulated more than me.

it is not lord/slave, it is partnership. miracles cannot create without the stable beings we are who can catch energy flow, choosing some miracles and letting others go.

Certainly not a being at all, yet distinctive in some way? definitely presence, that i can remember, name if i want, but no name is the real name. presence/miracles is not outside of me, i can give presence/miracles no pronoun, i can't even talk ABOUT presence/miracles, only each time I want to mention presence/miracles I must BE in presence/miracles. Very similar to 'i will be who i will be' 'whoever i want to be, you can't predict', 'i am the spark who wakes you out of staleness.'

'Eloheinu (our god, 'elohim with the 'our' ending. 'Elohim looks like the plural of El also a word found in Tanakh to represent various middle eastern gods, but is not considered in the Jewish tradition to be plural.) However a friend suggested to me that the form of the word is similar to words like (water) and khayim (life), so we can take it as an all pervading force that you cant split up into pieces, the all pervading not-stuff of the universe, the patterns that make the universe, the physics, the mathematics. perhaps we can coin a new word like 'elohayim.

So if Elohayim is the physics the predictable, then yhvh is the unpredictable, the singularity, the quantum fluctuation that brings the potential of physics into being a universe.

Melekh (king)? what do Malakhim do? rule? push people around? coerce people? no, they are charismatic centers around which people organize THEMSELVES. Malkhut is the organizing principles themselves, the sets of interactions and feedback loops that allow independent agents to interact and self organize into larger processes. Elohayim is the set of principles that allow the multitude of discrete agents in 'olam (the world) to organize into patterns.

Does that work for me personally? For my community? It is a reminder that my mind does not create this world around me, that i myself am a dissipative process of molecules interacting, meaning that energy is flowing through me (not just into me) and this energy flow causes fluids and chemistry to form stable dynamic systems that can catch random fluctuations and create pattern). Can i rally around the patterns of physics and mathematics, do they give my life meaning? Well, what else do i walk with and breath with and how does this elohayim serve as an organizing center for community? why should a gathering of people show recognition of physics and mathematics and the principles of self organizing mathematics that energy flow through interacting particles creates stable creative dynamical systems?

well, for sure, every time a bunch of people want to get together and do something, they should realize how these principles work, that people self organize they are not controlled by a politician, nor should they let themselves be. they should learn the ways of dissipative and inculcate patterns of local interaction.

and of course they should at these intense moments of prayer get out of their petty little mind-worlds, human society world, and realize that there is a larger earth around them a larger set of patterns that gives them the very gravity they move in, the very electromagnetic force that makes atoms, molecules, biology cohere. thankful that the universe is an INTERESTING place, otherwise we wouldn't be.

And why does yhvh and elohayim have to be one and the same? This is one of the cornerstones of the Jewish tradition. One God. This doesn't work for me, I do not see evidence for it. I do not require a neat simple system that collapses all primal organizing principles in my life into one being. so i have to say: baruch ata yhvh who sparks into being, toda l'elohayim melekh who is expansion and organization of the sparks into an 'olam.

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