Brace yourselves, a stifling image is approaching. Not traumatizing for life, no worries, but life unsettling for sure. Lo and behold. What do you see?
Could you feel that creeping chill? Sometimes this familiar screen catches me off guard and strikes. It is the moment of hesitation before making a call when it attacks me in its full intimidating whiteness. Glancing at it I foresee endless sums of endless combinations, endless destinations of endless journeys. Glancing at it, I sense it’s glancing at me, testing me, it – having all the time in the world – peacefully alluding to my own mortal urgency. ‘What shall it be?’, it petrifies, lighting some figures with an inviting glow. ‘Start with a One perhaps?’ My fingers stutter in ignorance, my “hello” still bottled in, in brink of bursting to the thin deaf air. Where will any of them lead? And what to add then? …. and then? The knowing board mutes with expectation. You crash into this world, a cellphone in your hand, “now dial”, your first commandment. You’re doomed to fail.
How does one compose with a numbers pad?
The First Move
Try to dial 1, press “send”, and see what happens. Here’s the recording I’m hearing right now as I am writing this line: “The number you’ve just called is not connected“. On Genesis’ digit one, however, different results occurred:
“And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.
And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” (Gen 1:5)
What appears at first as a static sequence of sayings and their consequences is in fact a direct continuation of God’s hovering from before. The initial movement carries on: God delegates movement and things – everything – start happening:
Read again and notice: God’s speech is God’s turn. He spins the world, like one does with a whirligig or a planet, and afterwards invents names for the newly created dancing styles, the upbeat swing and the slow hug-and-sway.
You might remember that in times not so far from now, dialing was spinning, as the word “dial” suggests, referring to a rotating plate on a telephone. In Hebrew, too, the verb for “dial” means “to circle”, even though lately people almost solely use the verb “call”. It doesn’t matter though, because God dialed and called, a pair that was interrelated from the start. Jumping forward for a moment , I can see it as the hidden meaning of the following known verse from Psalm 8:
“When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?”
Here too, God’s “finger work” (kindly bear with me on this one) was dialing, and everything else — the heavens, the stars, the day and the night — turned up as a result. It was the world’s first response, but one we should listen to more carefully.
Ayin and Yang
What if God did not start a motion, but s l o w e d everything down?
When a multicolored ball spins very fast, its colors mesh and become one to the eyes. When it stops, the viewer witnesses the ball’s many colors, their pattern, an inscribed word or any other attribute it might have and was not noticeable whilst in motion. It is quite fascinating to become aware to the fact that our natural identification would be with the state of separations (colors, in this example), deduced from stillness, and not the state of oneness (one color), deduced from a continuous high speed movement. We see the perception of a one colored ball as an amusing illusion, and not the other way around. But is it truly the case?
Physics teaches us that everything can be defined by a degree of motion, even what seems stationary at first. Examining Genesis 1 closely can show that the change in the world was a change in movement, not in matter, and that the newly set speed necessarily altered the world of conceptualization revolving around it. It is the decrease of speed that split the oneness of light and dark into polarity, the dichotomy which became our first axiom, whereas it has never been God’s teaching of the absolute.
The principle of duality, which we began discussing on the previous post, is reminiscent of the ancient Chinese spiral of the Yin and the Yang. This symbol, though inevitably static on paper, doesn’t accidentally appear to be in fluid motion. When I spin the wheel of languages they, too, strike me with their sameness sometimes. The Hebrew word for “nothingness”, “Ayin” (אין), strikingly resembles the Chinese word for the negative feminine element “Yin”, represented by the black color, and similarly, the Hebrew word for “where”, “An” (אן), also resembles Yang. The Hebrew word that demands an answer and direction correlates with the masculine positive element of light, where things are found and not lost. However, the contradiction of the two is an illusion to be liberated from. Yin and Yang are not sworn rivals, but interlocked dancers, as Alan Watts so beautifully put it once, and this dance, when we don’t try to defame one of its participants, is a harmonious flow, a togetherness beyond separations.
≈ Meditation Point ≈
Reread the chapter and write down all the numbers you encounter.
How is the first day distinguished from the others? What meaning can you read into this difference? Try to write it intuitively, as a short poem, with each line progressing to the next day.
The Sound of One spinning Hand
“And there was evening and there was morning, one day”
The language used on verse 5 freezes a special moment. How long did this moment called “day” last, no one can tell. This timelessness seems to be a deliberate statement for the attentive meaning seeker. A second reading shows that the first day isn’t the “first” day. In any case, that is not its name. This day is referred to as day “one“, while the other days lean on their predecessors, named therefore “a second day”, “a third day”, and so forth.
Day One is still light of baggage. A pure present, the dialed one stopped at one; the day when there was only “today”. The Hebrew word for “today” is “The day” (היום), and in this commonly used yet disregarded “The” lies the key to day One, to the intentional difference between the word “One” to all the rest, to the non hierarchic system of no progression suggested here so subtly.
When man was born into life, it was already the sixth day, yet for him it was day One.
Can it still be so?
Treating everything as a dream liberates. As long as you give reality to dreams,
you are their slave. By imagining that you are born as so-and-so, you become a slave to the so-and-so. The essence of slavery is to imagine yourself to be a process, to have past and future, to have history. In fact, we have no history, we are not a process, we do not develop, nor decay; also see all as a dream and stay out of it.
From”I am That“, Dialogues with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
≈ Meditation Point ≈
Reread verses 25-31.
Man was created in God’s image. This idea that merges the Creator with its selected creation gave birth to countless interpretations, all depending on the particular divine attribute the interpreter cared to reflect upon in regards to its echo in the flesh. Following the train of thought proposed here, man dials, because God dials.
What do you think “dialing” could mean?
Dial P for Possibility
Let’s try to define Dialing. As per our wild discussion from before, dialing could be seen as increasing speeds or decreasing them, each degree being revelatory of a unique quality or layer, reshaping our perceptions.
Literature, in this sense, is one great example for human dialing. Generally speaking, a poet is skillful at speed decrease, demanding the reader’s whole attention, delaying his understanding, paving the poem with hints and holes, unexpected windows and doors, allowing the reader a speed slow enough to be able to jump freely from familiar grounds to a new opening of mind. A poet is also adept in speed increase, using metaphors to swirl and blend, present the sameness between what is usually considered parallel and apart, pulling the reader from his usual numbing rocking-chair speed of choice unto an unbalancing tripping swing.
Writings about the craft of writing can grant us a sneak peek into the creator’s summoning of dizziness. Here is a poem that does just that, in content and in form, turning “Possibility” into a synonym for “Poetry” (do dwell on this use of the verb “to turn“, it’s exactly what I’m talking about!), declaring it as the poet’s always-in-motion home (for “possibility” is the most mobile word out there). Emily Dickinson, a reigning goddess in her private domain, a secretive hermit and an owner of secrets, could write passionately about the world without leaving her home, and show how what is considered as prison by others (being at home, having a poet’s “lowly” occupation) in increased speed of mind turns into a palace made of trees and skies, a monument of inescapable paradoxes, available to all and inaccessible at the same time, allowing visitors to enter as they please, though occupied by One.
I dwell in Possibility | Emily Dickinson
I dwell in Possibility –A fairer House than Prose –More numerous of Windows –Superior – for Doors –Of Chambers as the Cedars –Impregnable of eye –And for an everlasting RoofThe Gambrels of the Sky –Of Visitors – the fairest –For Occupation – This –The spreading wide my narrow HandsTo gather Paradise –
Without decreasing our reading now completely to a thorough analysis, I’ll only mention that her words “Impregnable of eye” imply that the eye cannot have access to the core, to the Universe, to the Truth (remember the colorful illusion of the still ping pong ball?), to the paradise ever fleeting through one’s fingers, and therefore it is not through the eyes that one can enter. Through what then? One’s actual entrance – motion – transgression, and in this case, through writing or reading a poem, which is a uni-verse paced for discovery. The poet liquefies predetermined meanings, turning Cedars into chambers, roofs into skies, a pair of mortal writing hands into a lucky farmer picking fruits in another world. Being a poet is dialing the digit One, and always acquiring a different result: An unfamiliar voice. An unprecedented answer. A door once closed – suddenly open. A door once open – suddenly closed.
Using a poet’s words as building bricks is dangerous, but they are the only bricks you should count your life on.
Mini Chaos and Donald Luck
Aren’t endless possibilities another form of Chaos though? It is time to mention the most intimidating definition of dialing, the one that scared me so when I was looking at my numpad: The Russian Roulette. Infinity is paralyzing, and free will just as much, yet the true menace does not lie within the endless possibilities or the chance that everything is depressingly random and blind. Poets, shamans and spiritual leaders, whose working tools are freedom, honesty and courage, are those who rebel against what we should fear the most: Dialing the same routes, at the same speed, contained by the same undisputed views, until our last breath.
Take Don Juan’s fierce words for it, said to his lagging apprentice, and to us all:
“For you the world is weird because if you’re not bored with it you’re at odds with it. For me the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable; my interest has been to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous desert, in this marvelous time. I wanted to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since you are going to be here for only a short while, in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it.”
From Journey to Ixtlan, Carlos Castaneda
As a beginning, your homework should be to call one person who you haven’t contacted for at least One year. Give the wheel of fortune a spin and see where it leads you.
Moonwalk through life
This post was so immersed in the energy of “One” that it took me quite a while to publish it. A funny mystery, I must admit. Here in Jerusalem we have just turned the clock one hour forward — so I’m gladly riding the flow.
≈ Meditation Point ≈
One evening, while sipping a cup of soy-latte somewhere near the university’s subway station in Seoul, two foreign girls stopped at my table and began interviewing me for some voluntary project they were responsible for. At one point I asked the interviewer where she’s from. “England,” she responded.
“And what are you studying here in Seoul?” I asked.
“English literature.” was her answer.
How does this non-travel connect to our dialing meditation? I let you take this one as a koan to meditate on.
Bonus for the tragically brave:
Read Ted Hughes’ chilling poem “Lineage” from his darker than dark version of Genesis, Crow.
Write your own personal version of the first chapter, derived from the matters that matter and make your own life. What is elemental in your world?
(Don’t forget you can write your answers on your ready for print meditation notebook)
Glide on, add One and meet me there.
= More soon!