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Concept Exchange Society


Wednesday, January 14, 1998 6:30 pm

At Glenn Johnston's House.

Presentation: Jeff Love

January in Qaballah-land

Pre-Meeting Notice:

January in Qaballah-land (yes, another "Q" without the "u")

Writes Jeff:
The Qaballah, Kabalah, no matter how you spell it, is the core of the Western Metaphysical tradition which includes the Tarot, Astrology, Numerology, Alchemy, and other "esoteric" or "occult" practices. Much older than its written works is its oral tradition which includes elements from ancient Egypt and Greece. It is the key to understanding the inner teachings of the bible but, more importantly, it is a map to higher consciousness and a method for personal self discovery. After an overview of Qabalah, Jeff will focus on the symbolic aspect of Qabalah, known as the "Tree of Life."


Present were Glenn, Jeff, Don, Curtis, Steve Bell (first time), Roberto and Marvin.

Qabalah means in Hebrew, to receive, says Jeff. It refers to the body of Jewish mysticism whose first written documents appeared in twelfth century Europe. The main text is called the Zohar.

Jeff explained that it is a system of symbology. It connects to alchemy, the tarot, numerology and other practices in the western tradition of metaphysics. Jeff went on to draw the ten spheres comprising the tree of life. Each sphere location is associated with an astrological symbol, a heavenly body and a set of attributes. My depiction follows.

The structure connects to the chakras or energy centers in the body according to eastern healing traditions, says Jeff. It also connects to the symbols of western Judaism (Star of David) and Christianity (Cross).

The tree is made of three verticals. The preferred path is between the extremes of mildness and severity. People strive for a logic, for a pattern to understand the universe, says Jeff. Qabalah offers a "language of qualities".

Marvin finds this a beautiful phrase- a language of qualities! An expression of things beyond the quantitative.

Jeff sees his symbology as a Dewey Decimal System of the Mind. Steve sees in it "a vocabulary of concepts to interprete your inner experience". Jeff agrees. It is "a vocabulary of thoughts to appreciate what's happening!"

Curtis: The famous anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss said that there is a primal mania to classify everything according to rules. Humankind has a compulsion to classify. Its apotheosis carries the authoritative title, taxonomy.

Jeff continues to enthuse eloquently on his topic. The usefulness of symbology lies in keeping attention on your feelings. That is what following the planets does. Says Jeff, tarot has symbols so you can familiarize yourself with them. You can associate with them. Jeff's idea is to give concepts a visual quality. Via symbology ones world can appear organized - visually present - rather than as a confused fog of nothing seen.

Says Marvin: This great insight finds a large following. In commerce it is the basis of advertising. That we want pictures planted in our minds is an addiction well exploited in marketing. The same addiction is surely at the basis of learning and of scientific investigation. We want to classify our measurements, our perceptions of what surrounds us.

Glenn confessed that he always carries a six inch scale in his shirt pocket. He feels naked without it.

Curtis gives the astrological analysis: Glenn is a Libra.

Roberto: How often does it occur, Glenn, that you need to measure something less than six inches?

Don: That's not the point. The point is that if it should ever happen he wants to be able to measure.

Don and Steve voiced their appreciation that Jeff's mystic system is not about behavior. It does not moralize. In this way it differs from religion. It is about understanding.

Marvin does not think it is about understanding. It is about poetry and imagery. It is charming metaphor. There are people for whom 'understanding' must meet more stringent conditions than mere imagery. Such people could not class symbology with understanding.

Jeff offered his concepts lightly; a structure anyone could interpret as he or she wished. How appealing! But precisely this appeal, is unappealing! The structure cannot embrace understanding. Understanding is where one seeks universal agreement. The stuff of science. Two people assessing something using symbology may reach valid different conclusions. One inescapable conclusion is the mark of understanding.

Jeff's symbology is not a means of understanding. It is a great aid in expressing ones perceptions. In 'expressing ones understanding'. In fact everyone uses myth and symbols to do that. Hercules represents strength. The moon connects to love and to 'light in the darkness'. But, with intellectual progress, the beautiful notion, "to the ends of the earth," disappeared - except for children's fairy tales.

Are there practical consequences of Jeff's mysticism? Jeff produced one: a way of getting what you want. He gave out a page entitled The Creative Law. You make your wish. Declare what it is you want. The Creative Law procedure is effectively a ritual generation of conviction. The process ends with "... allow the universe to bring it into manifestation. Simply know that what you want is on the way to fruition." Jeff talked about it extensively in his September 1996 Real Magic presentation.

The practice of using rituals of magic 'to get what you want' seems a primitive activity to me. Neither the goal nor its method of achievement seem worthy. To 'get what you want' is to 'get your way', to 'have it your way'. The focus is on naked willfulness - an emotional condition - rather than on understanding - an intellectual condition. The key feature here is not the evil of willfulness but its primitiveness. It is an emotional condition.

A tempering by intellect can be useful. A thoughtful person knows that 'not getting what you want' may be a greater blessing than 'getting' it. Thus reason leads one to emphasize the question, 'whether to get what I want' rather than 'how to get what I want'. The answer to the second issues gratuitously from considering the first. The Creative Law does warn us to "evaluate the desire". It's in Stage Two. But the emphasis is on the mechanism of achievement - how to get what you want.

The Buddha said, desire is the cause of all suffering. It sounds moralistic. Simple people take it as a moral stricture: Strangle desire. But desire is also the cause of all achievement. You strangle achievement when you strangle desire. Suffering and achievement are a symbiosis of incompatibles.

The notion that 'desire is evil' is a puritanical one, says Steve. A higher consciousness releases us from that prejudice. It's OK to want, says he.

Rational people curb their desires not out of moral rectitude but from understanding the delicious complexity of nature. They know that you might not want what you want.

Previously Jeff had counseled a practice exercise to "test" the Creative Law. Desire to find quarters, he suggested. Apply the Law and see if you find them. I cannot be so cavalier with my desires. To concern myself with finding quarters I would have to need them. And were I in such need, hoping to find them, would be low on my list of methods to get quarters. Desiring to find quarters makes you walk looking down rather than forward. You miss the scenery.

Consider two musically inclined people. One uses the Creative Law. He imagines himself in the concert hall. He is imagining that "what (he) wants has already taken place ". The other doesn't think of giving concerts. He simply loves music and plays tirelessly. Which of these two would you prefer to hear?

I choose my wants judiciously. Best have few and make of each a unique, precious and worthwhile personal challenge.

January 1998
Marvin Chester

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© m chester 1998 Occidental CA