of Stan Tenen by Dr. Jeffrey
Virtual College on Wisdom Radio, March 15, 1999
©1999 Stan Tenen, Jeffrey Mishlove
Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove is a licensed clinical psychologist, an accomplished radio and television interviewer, and author of an encyclopedic volume of consciousness studies, The Roots of Consciousness (available via his website at www.mishlove.com). Dr. Mishlove also interviewed Stan Tenen in 1992, and again in 1999, on his television series Thinking Allowed, syndicated on many PBS television stations. VIdeotapes of these television interviews, The Origin of Sacred Alphabets (1992, 30 minutes) and The Geometry of Language (1999, 60 minutes) are available from Meru Foundation at www.meetingtent.com.
Stan Tenen is Director of Research for Meru Foundation. Note: References during the live broadcast to Mr. Tenen as President of Meru Foundation have been corrected in this transcription.
Jeffrey Mishlove: Hello, everybody
out in Wisdomland. We're
back again for another week of
Virtual College broadcasting live
from Marin County, California at
the base of Mt. San Pedro. Many
people don't know where Mt. San
Pedro is, most people have never
heard of Mt. San Pedro. It's
actually a State Park here in
California, which is based on that
mountain, China Camp State Park.
And we're right at the base of it,
it's a lovely location right
between the San Francisco Bay and
the Pacific Ocean. And we're
broadcasting on the Internet, on
the C-Band Satellite, out to the
What we're attempting to create here on Wisdom College is the kind of experience that many of us wished we could have had in college, and were never able to get that. And I speak as a person who spent 15 years inside of big state universities in Wisconsin and California.
During that entire time, I found that every Professor who was really turned on, passionate about his or her own work, either quit or got fired, almost inevitably. And my goal, with this program, is to bring to the airwaves, bring to our listeners around the world, those kinds of people -- people who are so passionate about their work, they will dedicate their lives to it. People who see deeply. People who are willing to work in between disciplines. People who make the realm of the intellect come alive.
And with me tonight, I have Stan Tenen, who is the Director of Fesearch for the Meru Foundation. Stan is based in Sharon, Massachusetts, but he's here with me now in California, and Stan has explored, throughout his professional career, the origins of sacred language, particularly the Hebrew language. He has a background in physics and mathematics and he has applied that background -- and also I should say, in particular, geometry, to looking at very shape of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, to determine in sort of a Pythagorean sense, what it is that those shapes are telling us.
JM: So, Stan, it's a
pleasure to have you with me on
Stan Tenen: It's a pleasure to be here, Jeffrey. Thank you for inviting me. This is a very exciting venture, I think. Actually, I had an opportunity to teach once. When I first started this work in California, about almost twenty years ago now, we went down to U.C. Santa Cruz and talked to Ralph Abraham, the mathematician, and I think he was still Chairman of the Math Department at the time, and I asked him if maybe there was a way he could get me a job, and he probably could have, but he dissuaded me. He said there just was no place in the university system for this kind of research. And as I've learned over the years, he was probably right.
JM: I think that's an unfortunate situation, but times are changing and we hope eventually, Stan, to be able to offer academic credit to people listening to this radio program, so that people can study cutting-edge ideas such as your own.
ST: Well, that would be very useful, because there are many different researches that don't fit so easily into the conventional curricula, and that may make the faculty uneasy. That needs to be outside --
JM: Interdisciplinary research of all kinds has a hard time. I know in your field you're applying mathematics and physics and metaphysical geometry to the study of ancient languages,
ST: And that makes everybody unhappy, because -- Well, I might as well start off, we're going to talk about discovery of some basic principles in the Hebrew, and in all likelihood, in the Greek and Arabic alphabet. But this of course relates to religious traditions and sacred texts, so I often tell people, my Jewish friends think this work is much too Christian. My Christian friends think it's much too Jewish, my religious friends think there's much too much math in it, and my mathematically-inclined friends think it's much too religious.
It doesn't fit in any one place. And the normal academic custodians of this work, the people who do this sort of work, who've evolved to do it, tend to be experts in History, in Languages, in English and Poetry, in the Belles-Arts and Letters. They tend not to be interested in geometry, and so they've missed this, in my opinion, and if I try to carry it back to them, it only puts them in an awkward position.
As honest scholars, they don't want to evaluate something they are not familiar with, because how are they going to know the quality of the work when they're not really comfortable with the ideas? With geometry, in this case.
So when you're in a niche that falls between disciplines, it's very hard to satisfy any of them.
JM: But actually, you're in a very ancient tradition, and that's the irony, that because you're in effect studying, in effect, Sacred Geometry.
ST: That's right.
JM: The study of Sacred Geometry goes back to Plato, it goes back to Pythagoras, it goes back to --
ST: -- It goes back to Egypt, it goes back even earlier than that.
JM: It's not as if you've made this up out of whole cloth. You're part of a long tradition.
ST: No, not at all. In fact, to the extent that I may be making this up, I'm probably off target. I believe that what I found is so extraordinarily elegant, that I don't want to add or take from it.
I think that the philosophers who worked on this in a wide range of traditions, did an excellent job. An astonishing job. And to some extent, what I'm trying to do is demonstrate how they could have done it. Because part of bringing this back into public view is to make it plausible. If what I find requires modern Projective Geometry that we know was not known in the ancient world, then I'm probably making it up, because it's not plausible.
But if I can show that techniques and materials and tools were available in the ancient world, and could tackle these problems, then it's quite plausible that they were used. And so, what I'm finding has a place, and then it can be brought into the modern world, it can be made to be understood today and it can be true to what was understood initially -- what was the intent.
JM: Let's talk about how you got started, Stan.
ST: Yeah, we've been dancing all around. I think we better tell the audience what this is about!
Jeffrey Mishlove: We're back. This is Jeffrey
Mishlove, and with
Stan Tenen, Director of Research for
the Meru Foundation, based in the
area. Stan was describing an
epiphany he had back in the 1960's
when he began to look and see if he
could spot geometrical,
mathematical patterns in the Hebrew
letters. Let's go right to
Stan Tenen: Initially, I didn't know what it was. All I realized, very quickly, when I spotted this, is, if it were already known and explained, it was probably, that it was probably not --
JM: And what were you looking at?
ST: I was looking at the very beginning of the Hebrew text of Genesis, and because I knew the alphabet, I was looking at the letters, and not at the words.
ST: " --Elokim et ha shemayim v'et ha-aretz." "In the Beginning, God created the heaven and the earth." I asked, and eventually somebody told me, it must be Kabbalah. I'd never heard of Kabbalah. I bought out the bookstores, ultimately 2 or 3,000 volumes over ten years. I read everything in sight.
Ten years later, they're repeating the "Prisoner" show on KQED and PBS, we're living in San Francisco, I hold up the numerical sequence equivalent to the letters at the beginning of Genesis, on the air, tell the audience it's like the Arecibo message for outer space, and that there's some meaning to it, and I need help in cracking this thing.
People called in with suggestions. I tried the suggestions and it worked!
It turns out, if you count out the Hebrew letters by threes -- not in binary but in trinary -- there's 27 letters in the full alphabet, 27 is three-cubed -- and you can lay all the letters out in and on a little Rubik Cube, with each letter being given its position by its base-three count in the alphabet.
So the Aleph, even though the normal numerical count is One, in my geometric system, it becomes Zero. The Aleph sits at the Origin, and then the Bet's at 0-0-1, and then the Gimel, "C", would be 0-0-2, and the next letter[, Dalet,] would be 0-1-0, cause you're counting by threes, [and so] you get coordinates for each of the counts. And each letter has a position on this Rubik Cube, and then an amazing thing happens. I did something trivial, I tried everything complicated and none of that worked, and of course it shouldn't have, because none of that would have been known in the Ancient World. But I did something trivial.
I simply took my Rubik Cube, my Alphabet Cube, and cut away all the letters that didn't occur in the first Verse. And what I was left with was a symmetrical form. And that shouldn't have happened by accident.
And so then I investigated to see what this symmetrical form might mean. And it took a number of years additionally to figure out how to make use of this data. I ended up doing the simplest possible thing, something that everyone has done.
You know how you make a paper model, a paper airplane, a paper doll? It's pre-set, it's got tabs and slots. You put Tab-A in Slot-A and Tab-B in Slot-B. And the piece of paper folds up into the intended form.
Well, I wrote the letters of the text of Genesis out, letter by letter, one each on a bead on a bead-chain, loose on the chain but locked in order, curled the chain up, and slid the beads around, always maintaining the order of the text, until the same letters were paired with each other, like Tab-A in Slot-A, or letters in symmetrical positions on my little Rubik Cube. And when I did that, I could account for all the letters, in a pattern that was very strong, very repetitive, so strong that if any letter were to have been miscopied or added or subtracted over the centuries, it would stick out like a sore thumb and you could correct for it.
That's how strong the pattern was.
Now, I knew that there was patterning in the beginning of the Hebrew text of Genesis. But I didn't know if it was an accident! Here I was working for ten years, you know, if you work that long, you can fool yourself. You can find patterns in almost anything. So I had to know if this was just a little preamble, an accident, or a coincidence, or if it went on through the text.
And I did two basic tests and a number of other minor tests, to assure myself that the coding continued. Even though I didn't have the computing power to go much further than the very beginning.
I made a prediction that there would be a certain kind of fold-point in the text and I counted the letters out manually (I didn't have a data-base, didn't have a computer) and found the fold-point right where I predicted it. And I said, "Wow!"
JM: What is a "fold-point"?
[Extraneous material deleted]
ST: There was an anomaly that I could grab, and say, "Yes, here's a demonstration that something funny is going on at least 2000-odd letters into the text. [It was] worth working on.
JM: And [Music] we're going to have to come back again, soon enough after our break, because you're opening up a whole realm of what the Kabbalah, the Hebrew Mystical Tradition says, that the Hebrew language and the text, actually is, there are many, many meanings.
ST: Finding a pattern doesn't mean anything. Identifying [one] does. That's what we'll do.
JM: Beneath the surface. So the story is beginning to unfold for our listeners just as it unfolded for you and we'll be back after these messages.
Jeffrey Mishlove: I'm Jeffrey Mishlove, host of Virtual College, and I've been discussing with Stan Tenen, Director of Research for the Meru Foundation, his explorations into some of the metaphysical, mathematical, geometrical codes that are embedded in the very structure of the ancient Hebrew language, and I think before we go too much further, it would be useful to talk about the Kabbalistic way of thinking of the language.
Stan Tenen: The Kabbalists claim that -- well, actually, [a] traditional Jewish teaching [is] that there are four levels to the Bible: there's the story that we all know, that's with translations, there is something called Hints, which are additional ways of understanding, there are Commentaries, and then there's a Foundation Level, Yesod, the bottom level -- and that's the Letter Level.
The teaching is, that somehow, at the Letter Level of the text, the text of Genesis in particular, has something to do with the creation of the universe. [It's] not just the story, "God created the heaven and the earth," but it really is a template of creation.
That's the Kabbalists' claim. And the trouble is, if you read Kabbalistic texts in translation, they don't deliver on the claim. They repeat the claim, they embroider the claim, they make all kinds of outrageous statements, but they are reduced to mythology, to poetry, to fantasy. And no one really takes them seriously, because they've been so abused over the centuries.
So what's going to turn out here, is that by innocently and directly examining just the sequence of letters, without reference to the other teachings, I found a series of geometries which now make sense of the Kabbalistic texts.
JM: Well, let me go
back a little more, Stan, because it
seems to me that one of the things
the Kabbalists are saying is
that every letter of the alphabet
has a numerical value.
ST: More than that. Its name -- each letter has a name, and that name represents a function. I think the numerical value stuff is actually part of the problem. People have focused on it being a number, and you can use Arabic or Hebrew to write numbers --
JM: And there's a lot of Numerology based on it --
ST: Right, but this is not Numerology.
JM: I understand. But I'm trying to give people an appreciation for the complexities of Kabbalah, and one of those is that each of the letters is a word, each of the words is made up of letters, each of those letters is a word --
ST: And what's the first question that comes to mind when you have something like that? The question is, It's fine to say A-B-C-D-E-F-G. But in a Sacred Language, where each letter has a name, why should "camel", the letter Gimel, come after Bet (the letter "house"), come after "master"? What's the relationship? If this is a system, then there ought to be an unfurlment, there ought to be some reason why "A" is Mastery, and "B" is a House, and "C" is a Camel and "D" is a Door, and "E" is a Window. What does that mean? If it's random, if it's ad hoc, then this is silliness.
But if there's a system, if there's a reason why those letters are in that sequence, of meanings, then you can do something with this, you can build on it, you can work with it. One of the things we found is that there is a system. And that there's an underlying meaning to the name of each letter. In fact, you can look at Hebrew words as if they were acronyms.
Because, you can take a word and read it as a sentence, letter-name by letter-name. When you do that, you get expanded meanings for these translations, and that's one of the Kabbalistic principles.
JM: You've gone further because what you've shown is that there is a geometric foundation, an underlying geometric form, in fact, we're sitting here looking at it! Here in our studio,
ST: We'd better stop talking about it, cause this is the punch-line.
JM: This is a beautiful shape, it could be many things. It could be the core of an apple, it's a vortex, it could be like a tornado, it could be like the flame of a candle, it's a --
ST: It's a harp --
JM: -- A hand, a harp, it's a very elegant shape. And what you've discovered is that you could take this shape, hold it up to the light, move it in different positions, and it will cast on a wall, its shadow can [cast] the shape of all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
ST: That's true. But in and of itself, that would be meaningless. Because one could take a coat-hanger, and bend a couple of squiggles in it and make shadows that look like just about any letter you wanted. The point is that this is a meaningful form that is generated by pairing off the letters in the Hebrew text of Genesis!
And it's meaningful because of what it represents. As it turns out, it represents a model human hand. What you said is very nice: you can hold this shape up and you can make shadows, but what tells you how to hold it to make this particular letter? You couldn't figure it out without a coordinate system.
Not only that, but I had to create a set of criteria and this had to have a purpose. My idea was, that the meditational exercises that Jewish and Christian and Muslim Tradition, were written out as sequences of letters that represented different ways of viewing this same form. But you had to turn the form over in the mind's eye. In your mind, in your head.
If you couldn't visualize this thing easily --it's a difficult thing to see -- and you don't know how to look at it -- even that's a nice theory, but you couldn't do it.
It wasn't until several years later, because I was told by an Orthodox Rabbi that it was the right thing to do to say the Morning Prayers and such, because I was doing all this work -- I was drinking the sweet water of the Hebrew town well, and I wasn't supporting the well. --that I finally decided, even though I was nervous about it, as a modern person, to put on tefillin -- phylacteries -- which are little boxes you put on your arm and on your head -- which you put on with a leather strap.
And there's a teaching that you see letters in the leather strap on your hand.
JM: This is done during prayers,
ST: During Morning Prayers. For the first time, I put on this leather strap, and I'm putting it on my hand, and it finally dawned on me: this little abstract vortex shape that I had derived from lining up the letters at the beginning of Genesis, was a model human hand.
And as soon as you put it on your hand, you can see it in your mind's eye! You could reach behind yourself and pick up a salt-shaker, an apple, or a fork on the table. You can tell the difference. You can see what's in your hand.
So by putting it on your hand, immediately it becomes more than just an ordinary alphabet, it becomes a Sacred Alphabet. Not only for making gestures, which can be read, as it turns out, you can even do that on the radio, it's so obvious, but also for reading and writing and meditational dance in your mind's eye. A truly sacred Alphabet capable of transmitting an experiential Tradition based on meditational exercises, and not just admonition.
JM: What we're getting to, from a metaphysical perspective, here, I think, is the notion of self-reference. Because when we look out and see our own hand pointing back at us, it's a gesture of self-reference, and that seems to be one of the fundamental gestures behind the --
ST: You want to wake up from a dream, you look at your hand because it gives you back your volition. Your hand is your volition, you express your will by pointing with your hand. And that's what we're going to talk about next. [Music]
JM: It's getting fascinating. I hope you're hanging out there with us, everybody in Wisdomland, and that your neurons are growing little spikes on the axons of dendrites,
ST: There's a website where you can see some of this, too, when we get finished talking.
JM: So, Stan Tenen, my guest and
Director of Research for the
Foundation, for those of you who
are interested, Stan's website, if
you could check while you're
listening to this program, is http://www.meru.org
and you'll see some of the geometrical patterns to which we've been referring, on that website.
What we're getting into now is fascinating because we're talking about a mathematical basis, we're talking about a kind of code that exists in the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, we're talking about a geometrical relationship, and we're talking now about the human body and how gestures, hand movements, actually like the American Indian Sign Language, but perhaps in a somewhat different sense, that the various hand movements reflect both meaning and form the shapes of the letters.
ST: Can I read a short quote? This was recently published in Nature by two researchers that we have nothing to do with. This is by Jana Iverson and Susan Goldin-Meadow, and I'm just going to read excerpts.
JM: What issue?
ST: This November, 1998. But there's also an excellent article in The American Scientist this current month. [March-April 1999] I forget the author's name, but it's the Sigma Xi magazine,
ST: "Why People Gesture as they Speak," is the name of this little abstract. It says that "congenitally blind speakers gesture to each other despite their lack of a model, even when speaking to other blind people." It points out,
If people go to our website, they're going to see that the Hebrew letter "Dalet", which literally means "to pour out", which is seen in outline in this model hand, when the model hand makes the same gesture, as I just described.
This paper was written recently by two researchers who never heard of what I'm doing. And I'm very grateful they did this. The point is, that what's being claimed now is that before predecessors to modern humans acquired spoken language, we had gesture language!
JM: Once again, if you're interested in contacting the Meru Foundation, I encourage you to log onto their website, www.meru.org. There's just a wealth of information there, beautiful geometric patterns there. The geometry is really like the geometry of flowers, or something.
ST: It's a living system.
JM: It's just gorgeous, the incredible art-work you've created that explains these geometrical principles. And there are many other articles.
ST: A number of essays and there's some introductory material.
JM: The other thing I certainly want to mention for those of you who've been enjoying Virtual College here on Wisdom Radio, check out our website, www.mishlove.com and there you will see who our upcoming guests are, and you can check out their web-links in advance of the broadcasts, and there's lot of other information, including past guests and other institutional affiliations, etc. "Mishlove" is my name.
Well, Stan, we've got just about a minute or so before the top of the hour break. Is there a concluding thought you'd like to leave our listeners with, before we end this hour?
ST: I think the most important thing to realize is that this is in the center of every one of our faiths, just as the organs in our body are different projections of the same common DNA, each of the letters is a different projection of the same hand, the "Hand of God," essentially, metaphorically speaking. And so, what we're really looking at here is a way to understand the relationship among the Western faiths, and a way to empower the whole system. It's not just the alphabet. It goes much beyond that. This is an ecological model that enables us to live together. Or at least contributes to that.
JM: In effect, it's
showing how some of the universal,
metaphysical principles are
embodied, not just in the Hebrew
alphabet, but in many other Sacred
Alphabets as well. [Music]
ST: Certainly the Greek and Arabic alphabets are in the same system. And I think there's some relationship to Sanskrit, but probably not in the shape of the letters.
JM: Stay tuned to Wisdom Radio and we'll be back at 6 and a half minutes after the hour, with Stan Tenen. I'm Jeffrey Mishlove.
Jeffrey Mishlove: I'm back again. Stan Tenen is my guest. He is the Director of Research for the Meru Foundation, and we've been talking about some of the metaphysical, theoretical, geometrical, mathematical and even biological bases to Sacred Language. We've been focusing particularly on the Hebrew alphabet. However, the principles that Stan has uncovered are applicable to other ancient alphabets as well -- certainly, Arabic and Greek and very likely, some of the others.
Stan Tenen: The idea is that the scientific knowledge of these various peoples is usually the same. We all have the same technical knowledge. The cultural embodiments are different, so Judaism and Christianity and Islam are distinct Paths, and obviously the Apollo Mysteries in the Greek Tradition were very different, but the underlying geometries of the Apollo System and the underlying geometries in Egypt and in Israel and later in Christian and the Moslem world, and later in the Hermetic Traditions, and in the Celtic world, all turn out to be the same.
That the models we found, these model hands, which express human volition, the projection of our conscious will, which is clearly subjective, into the objects of the physical world where others can see it, is a fundamental process by which we express ourselves. We use our hands to do that, in all cultures.
JM: And from a philosophical point of view, the great Mystery of Life, is, how in the world is it that we combine Spirit and Matter!
ST: And that's what this model expresses. The center tip of the model, which forms around the thumb, is like the seed inside of a fruit. And the hand itself is like a tree. And the palm and the fingers are like the whole fruit.
And so, what you're doing is expressing -- I think it's Genesis 1:11 -- you're literally building a model of a "fruit tree yielding fruit, whose seed is in itself," mapped back onto itself. And this mapping is a natural process, and in fact it's this natural process that gives meaning to the letters.
Earlier I was saying, why does a camel follow a house, follow a master -- C, B, A. Why is [that] the order of the alphabet? It's because the order of the meaning of the letters of alphabet follows an embryonic unfurlment, from the singularity of a seed to the wholeness of a fruit. And if you take this very bottom-line, topologically minimum, operational set of meanings, and project them into human experience, you get the idiomatic names of the letters.
You get the names of the letters in the Hebrew Tradition, and in the Arabic Tradition, the letters are named after the attributes of Allah. But they correspond one-to-one, as you go [through the alphabet]. And it looks like particular Arabic alphabets, particular Greek alphabets, particular Hebrew alphabets derive from this same form and this same basic principle.
And the principle is the Principle of the projection of our will into the world, and that is broken up, is quantized by articulations of our hand. Our different gestures are different projections of our will, just as the different organs in our body are different projections of the common DNA.
And so, this is a natural system, that could be deduced anywhere.
What I'm saying is that it was used all over the world. And these geometric models make sense of mystical texts -- Kabbalistic texts, Sufi texts, the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismagistos -- it turns out that you're describing the same geometry that you're finding in Genesis. Much to the consternation of the ordinary translators, who compete on the fine meanings of various words, but never identify the Emerald Tablet!
Well, this identifies the Emerald Tablet. It doesn't translate it. It makes an identification.
JM: You're dealing now with the marriage of geometry and linguistics, and that's two fields that rarely come together.
ST: That's right. Again, the actual basis of the set of meanings is entirely geometric. There are 27 pointing directions that mathematically correspond to the normals to the tangents of a hypersphere. Basic ways you can navigate in hyperdimensional Space, which is where consciousness is and where physics is -- and that lays out the 27 explicit meanings.
But they're expressed in human embodiment by our gestures. So, say, if a dolphin were to use this same system, they would use the same 27 meanings, but they don't have hands, a dolphin doesn't have hands. They'd use their acoustic pressure-waves to express the same set, and thus would, in principle, if I'm right, we ought to be able to communicate with any self-aware creature whether they're extra-terrestrials, or elephants, or dolphins.
JM: You mean, the fundamental principle of a seed unfolding into a tree that creates more seeds, or of a human being making reference to oneself by virtue of a hand-gesture, these principles are so universal that even conscious creatures with other body designs would understand them.
ST: And they're psychologically effective. You become aware. You gain lucidity in your dreams when you look at your hand. It reminds you of your volition. [The alphabet is] a full set of articulations of our hand in our world.
I'm saying, that the sequence of letters in the Hebrew Bible brings lucidity to this dream -- to our Waking Dream. That's why it's part of conscious evolution. This isn't a religious teaching only. This is a Path that we can follow and learn from, and be able to include all of -- Look at an apple, consider the Earth-plane to be the equatorial cut through an apple. If you were to look across from various diameters of that Earth-plane, they'd be diametrically opposed points.
But if you spiral up around the stem, and head down toward the seed, go up over the outside of apple and spiral down around the stem, all of those divergent points on the diameter of the Earth-plane converge as they come back toward the Center.
This is a model that reconciles the One and the Many -- the seed and the fruit -- Mind and World. The four-letter Name of God, and the five-letter Name of God.
The academic scholars tell us the Bible texts were edited, because there are two different Names of God used all over the place. "Lord" and "God". My work indicates that these two words were used precisely, because their distinction was understood; and that the whole basis of the Teaching is reconciling the One and the Many -- "Atman" and "Brahman". Inside and Outside. Consciousness and World.
The Four-letter Name of God, which is a singularity in the mind's eye, and the Five-letter Name of God, which is the expanse of All That Is in the universe. And that bridge between the Singularity and Wholeness encompasses everything.
And that's why these forms, derived in the ancient world, overlay our modern physics. They weren't doing physics. But our physicists are taking the Everything and trying to find the One Big Bang. And I'm saying that in principle, that's exactly what the ancients were doing.
JM: It's a very
ancient quest, it's just taken a new
as you say. How about the Sanskrit
language, or the Chinese
ST: I don't know enough about it, but the basis of the Sanskrit language is supposedly the Sri Yantra, which is a Creation mandala of 9 interlaced triangles that unfurl from a bindu point which is said to be toroidal into a hypersphere. If you think about 9 triangles, that's 27 lines. Twenty-seven edges, three edges for each triangle.
I'm claiming that even though the Sanskrit letters are only determined tonally, by this Sri Yantra form, the basic idea of unfurling from a torus into a hypersphere via 27 lines, is exactly the same geometric model as was used to generate Hebrew, and later Greek and Arabic. It's the same model at the meaning level even though the shapes are different and the embodiment is different.
JM: When we talk about these geometric principles being embedded in these languages, I'm assuming, Stan, that you're not saying that the ancients did this consciously.
ST: Yes, I am. I think that there were two paths of development of the alphabet. The one we all know and love, that's in the textbooks, which is still being elaborated on today by some very great scholars: Start with Egyptian pictogram-type hieroglyphics, simplify them into Canaanite stick-letters, fix them up a little, and eventually you get Greek and then Latin and then English.
And you can see how the letter "A" starts as a picture "Alpu", the Bull of the Taurean Age, a V-shape with a crossbar, so it looks like an ox-head with two horns? You flip it on its side, you get the Aleph of the Canaanite tradition, you turn it completely upside-down, and you get the "A" of Greek, and later Latin and English.
Those are hieroglyphics that have turned into pictograms. And they could never be used for a monotheistic Tradition because they're all pictures of Pagan idols. "Alpu" is the Bull of the Taurean age, no Rabbi worth his salt is going to look at that! Those pictograms were replaced.
The meaning-set was kept. But you know, you can't worship a slave. Nobody worships their own slave unless they're an idiot. Well, our hands are our slaves. And therefore, taking an image of a hand making a gesture with the same meaning as the original letter replaces the Pagan image with a non-idolatrous image, and enables you to create this meaning-system.
What I'm saying is that this was a formal system that was devised separate from the phonetic system, and later became merged with it. And that accounts for the historical development. That [in] the normal phonetic alphabets, each letter points to a sound. In this system, each letter points to a gesture that has a feeling associated with it. And the sequence of feelings makes up a meditational dance.
JM: Is there any historical record to corroborate that a group of scribes or Rabbis or scholars got together to create an alphabet?
ST: Yes and No. It depends on how you read the history. Obviously, conventional reading of the history doesn't give you this. But there are many clues that this is what's going on. I'll give you a perfect example. I have a short quote here. It's on a slightly different topic, but it makes the point.
If you read these things in their simple form, you don't get this. If you go deeper, you do. And the simple form is the obvious one that people have defaulted to. The way you make this model is to take a circle and a line, and pull it up into three dimensions. And that makes this hand-shape which then makes all the letters simultaneously.
Now here's a traditional quote from a traditional source. This is from "The Origin of Letters and Numerals According to the Sepher Yetzirah," by Phineas Mordell. It was written in 1914, it's still available from Sam Weiser, and it says:
Well, the common meaning of that, which everyone takes to be the meaning, is that you could make letter-shapes from line-segments that are straight and curved. That's what he's saying, a line and a circle. That's how everyone translates that.
I say, if you go deeper, you find that you can take a circle and a line, a straight edge and a compass, if you will, and you square the circle philosophically -- you can't do it geometrically -- with a straight edge and a compass, by pulling a line and a circle into 3-D, to form a hand, and from that hand, that ONE hand, you get ALL the letters.
Much more interesting than the trivial solution.
JM: You used a few phrases or terms that our listeners may not be familiar with? You used the term Sepher Yetzirah.
ST: That's the name of a book. It's called "The Book of Formation". It's a Kabbalistic text. Its title is "Book of Formation," and everyone agrees it's all about the letters. But, you know, it never discusses the form of the letters, in modern translations! You plug these geometries into the text, identify these geometric models that come from lining up the letters in Genesis [with] nouns used in the Sepher Yetzirah and instead of getting what you get now, which skirts the issue of the form of the letters, you get the form of the letters.
It's one test of a good model -- Does it work?
JM: And the Sepher Yetzirah was considered one of the core texts of the Kabbalist Tradition.
ST: Jewish tradition says it was originally discovered by Abraham. It was originally written down by Rabbi Akiba . The academic scholars believe it was written down somewhat more recently. My work indicates that it must be ancient, and that it must go back in time to the original understanding of the letters because otherwise you wouldn't get this result.
There is much other evidence. For instance, we all have this picture of Charlton Heston coming down, carrying the Tablets in each hand, these giant Tablets, but that's not what the Torah text says. The word in Hebrew is :"b'yah-do": "in his hand." It's ONE hand. The text, the Torah, the Tablets, are in ONE hand. [Music] Or ON one hand. And that's what I'm saying.
ST: "A Tree of Life for those who grasp it."
JM: Now we're getting more into the esoteric understanding of these things, and of course there are many Mysteries. But more shall be revealed.
ST: More shall be revealed.
JM: We'll be back with Stan Tenen, Director of Research for the Meru Foundation, after these messages from Wisdom Radio. I'm your host, Jeffrey Mishlove.
Jeffrey Mishlove: Stan, at an earlier segment, you talked about the mystery of the two Names of God, in Hebrew, one is Ado-nai, and the other is Elo-henu or Elo-him.
Stan Tenen: Yes. I won't pronounce them, but that's basically [correct], the first one Ado and then noy is the Tetragrammaton, the Name-of-Four-Letters.
JM: That's right, that's not really how it's spelled in Hebrew at all.
ST: No, it's spelled Yod-He-Vov-He, which leads to other specious pronunciations.
JM: Like "Jehovah". That would be the basis of --
ST: ....... the vowels ....... So that's where that comes from. Orthodox Jews say "Hashem", the Name, when they mean that. That word is translated "Lord". And that's going to lead us to some information.
JM: In the Jewish Tradition, it is considered a sacred Name, not to be pronounced.
ST: That's right.
JM: Except, as I understand it, once on Yom Kippur, by the High Priest in the Temple,
ST: Something like that, that hasn't happened for many centuries, and in fact, I have a theory that it wasn't really the pronunciation of the Name that they cared about. The word "Name" ("Shem"), if you vowelize it differently, also means "There," as in "Place." It's the place of the meditation that was lost. Not the verbalization of the Name.
The other Name which is pronounced with an "H" -- Elo and then Him, I'll say "Elokim" -- is the "Five-Letter-Name." It's the one that appears in Genesis. That refers to the expanse of All-There-Is.
JM: It's a plural. It really could --
ST: Well, it's not a plural. It has a plural ending. The Yud final-Mem ending becomes the masculine-plural later in the text. But Yud-Mem has a meaning by itself! You can look it up in the Dictionary. That's the word for "sea", an ocean, an expanse. Yud-Mem means "a great expanse."
The God-name "Elokim" really means the "Expansive God".
The Four-Letter Name is the extent of God. Now those are very important. First, Judaism claims that those two are the same. I'm saying, the Abrahamic discovery was not that there was a God, but rather that the Singularity in Meditation, and the Expanse of All-There-Is in existence, are the same thing. That's what the two Names imply.
JM: Sounds very much like the "key" inside of Hinduism.
ST: I think it's very close.
JM: That "Atman" is "Brahman".
ST: That's right. And I would go so far as to say that additional research might demonstrate that the Abramic traditions and the Brahmic traditions are really more closely related than has been previously suspected. And that this is one way to show that.
In any event, the model that makes this hand, the geometry that makes the hand is a geometry that's based on taking the credo of Judaism, the so-called "Sh'ma" ("Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One!") and making an algebraic equation out of it, setting the Lord as Radial Extent, and God as Angular Expanse. And setting them equal to One.
"r x theta = 1" is the equation for the Reciprocal or Hyperbolic spiral. It generates a spiral that looks like the spiral under the Eye of Horus. Not a logarithmic spiral. Not a Golden Mean spiral. They're too self-similar. We're looking for the most asymmetrical spiral possible.
JM: I'm sorry that we can't present these on a computer screen right now, but people can log onto your website to see this. It's like as you say, the Eye of Horus.
ST: Yes. Under the Eye of Horus there is a spiral that starts out straight, and then curls up. Not a log or an Archimedean or a common spiral. This one is the most asymmetrical -- it's got a straight part like a line, a circling part like a circle. Again, like the quote I read, a line and a circle making all the letters. It metaphorically, philosophically squares the circle by connecting the inner Singularity of consciousness with the outer expanse of All-That-Is.
We are what squares the circle. The sequence of letters in the text is the meditation that connects inside with outside, just as surely as Pi connects a radius and a circumference, and truly squares the circle. That's the metaphor they're reaching for.
If you look at the Names, the Four-Letter Name is translated "Lord", based on a word in Hebrew, "adin", which means "a pedestal". The Lord sits high up on a pedestal, radially very high and far away. The "Elokim" Name is an Expanse -- All the surrounding.
You know where that shows up (very, very important!) Roger Penrose's new book, "The Emperor's New Mind," has a section in it where he describes where it is that the vegetable kingdom gets its self-organizing information to become alive.
JM: Just let me, for
benefit of our listeners, state that
Roger Penrose is a scholar in the
theory of Relativity,
ST: -- A famous physicist --
JM: Physicist, based at, was it Cambridge University?
ST: Oxford, maybe, I don't know,
JM: Or Oxford, in England, and his book "The Emperor's New Mind" is regarded as one of the classic books, approaching the physics of consciousness, and it's one of the densest and most difficult.
ST: He's got others that follow, that are even denser. But he recapitulates something that's well known, and if I have a moment to explain it, you'll see why this is such a beautiful model. He points out that the only reason that there's enough information for there to be self-organization of Life is because the sun, a hot, bright point in the sky, puts out visible photons which the plants swallow, and use to gather information from, and then they radiate back out [from] the planet, infra-red photons to a dark sky.
Now if the sun weren't brighter than the sky, you couldn't do that. If the sky were all bright like the sun, you couldn't re-radiate back the infra-red photons. It's because of the contrast between the bright, hot sun, and the cold, dark sky all around, that you can gain information from the difference in light taken in vs. the light radiated out.
I'm saying, extend that metaphor. Instead of a pretty, fairly hot, bright sun, in a generally cold, dark sky, let's make a hyper-model, a model that might account for our self-awareness, not just our self-organization. Let's hypothesize an Utter Singularity in consciousness. An Infinitely hot, bright spot against an Utterly cold, dark sky.
That's the Four-Letter Name against the Five-Letter Name.
That's why the Four-Letter Name is the attractor of consciousness, in the mind's eye, against the background of the Earth-plane of All-That-Is. And that's what I'm saying is the basis of the Kabbalistic Tradition, and later the Christian and Moslem Teachings as well. And this is a fundamental, definition-based Teaching.
It doesn't say that my God is the One God because it's my God, and is a "jealous" God in the ordinary sense. This is a One God that's jealous in the same sense that there's only one number "Pi" that's intrinsic to the Universe.
We're making a definition of singularity, and a definition of wholeness, and we're spanning them with a metaphoric hand.
JM: Come back to -- Are you saying that the number "Pi" is a jealous number?
ST: Yes! There's no other number like "Pi"! [Music] It's the only relationship between a radius and a circumference. This is the One God, not because Jews or Christians or Moslems say so, it's because it's defined that way. And that definition turns out to be functional. And that's what brings the Traditions alive!
JM: We'll be back with Stan Tenen, Director of Research for the Meru Foundation, after these messages.
Jeffrey Mishlove: Stan, right before the break, we were talking about Pi as being a "jealous number".
Stan Tenen: That's right. To mathematicians, Pi is a jealous number because it's a definitional number. It's intrinsic. Once you investigate the relationship between a radius and a circumference, Pi is not making some theological claim to be special, it's a definitional claim.
The model I'm suggesting is definitional. It turns out to have relationships to theology and religions because it's a very effective definition. But you start with a definition. And the definition is simply to unify Singularity and Wholeness, in every possible way. Whether it's inside the singularity of consciousness and [outside] the wholeness of the world, whether it's the principle of the One and the Many, whether it's, in Kabbalistic metaphor, the Light in the Meeting Tent, the Light is the One, the Tent is the diversity of the world.
These metaphors can also be turned around. You can also take it the other way. There's a vestment -- I can't do this on the radio -- But the idea [is] that we make metaphor. And the geometry tells us what the possibilities and relationships are.
This is all deducible. I want to read you another quote, which is an unusual quote, but it's very important to what I'm saying, because it's could have been done in the ancient world, that could have been the basis for all of this.
The first letter of the Hebrew Bible is the letter "Bet". "Bet" is a house. Except that these really aren't nouns, they're verbs. So it's what a house does. A house distinguishes inside from outside. These are the words of topologist, Spencer-Brown, writing in his book "The Laws of Form", where he specifies a "mark of distinction" that archetypally distinguishes inside from outside. And he says,
Looking at relationships instead of things is exactly what the religious traditions mean when they say, Don't look at idols. God isn't a thing, God's a process. Hebrew words aren't nouns, they're verbs. Idols are different, they're mutable, they're changeable, you could make [them] anything. But the relationships between things, Spencer-Brown is telling us, are always the same. And if you start with "primary distinction," you can unfurl all formal logic, and the unfurlment is inexorable.
You start the Hebrew Bible with the letter "Bet". And you unfurl it this way, you're going to get All-There-Is.
JM: We're talking about the Creation -- "In the beginning ..." It begins with a "Bet". The very first aspect of a Creation is the idea that something emerges out of nothing.
ST: It's simpler than that. A child comes from within the womb to the outside world. Embryology proceeds by replication and invagination. Inversion. Inside to Outside.
JM: But that's
ST: But all Creation is like that.
JM: -- [Even] the Creation of the Universe.
ST: Exactly. What I'm saying is that the stories in Genesis are at a story-level, but that at a deeper level, it really is Creation. This is the distinction between the objective and the subjective, that occurs at the Garden of Eden.
JM: What do you mean? The Garden of Eden, the objective and the subjective?
ST: We become self-aware. We become ashamed. We have a skin, we incarnate. And so, what was initially all objective if we were in constant contact with the All-That-Is, we become cut off. There becomes a distinction between the subjective and the objective, in the Garden of Eden. That's a traditional Rabbinic teaching, by the way.
If we look at this model hand, we're told in the Bible that the Tabernacle is made of "gold and silver and brass." If we look at this hand, we find it has a golden center, like a seed.
JM: Hold on. You've lost me. Golden center, like a seed?
ST: If you look at it, like a natural --
JM: When you say "this hand",
ST: The hand that we've found, that makes the letters, that we pull out of an idealized fruit,
JM: It's a geometrical shape --
ST: It's a geometrical form --
JM: -- That you and I are looking at right now,
ST: -- That's right. But if you picture a fruit, in the middle of an apple there's a star of seeds, a golden center. If you break an apple in half and consider it an Above and Below hemisphere, it's like Hamlet's Mill.
JM: Wait, Stan. What is "Hamlet's Mill"?
ST: Hamlet's Mill is a metaphor for the universe that was discussed in a book by that name, by two authors whose names I don't remember right now,
ST: That's right. And Von Dechend?
JM: I'm not sure.
ST: Another synthesis of many teachings from the ancient world which comes down to looking at two millstones with a grinding surface between them, which you drop seed, grain, down the middle of, well, think of an apple. Sliced horizontally. If you were to drop seed down the stem until you reached the middle, you'd have the same model. It's a golden seed down the middle.
JM: Why "golden"?
ST: Because grain is associated with gold and the model is also a model of the sun. In the sky. As I was just talking about. There's this model the plant reaches for: the hot sun against the black sky. Same model.
JM: What you're suggesting here is that there're kind of geometrical, metaphysical principles that are at the basis --
ST: Geometrical metaphor --
JM: -- Not only of language, but ecology.
ST: Exactly. I'm saying that all the mythology of the Western World can be mapped onto this geometry in Genesis, and that the distinction between Consciousness and Physics, between inside and outside, is what Genesis is really about, and only on the simple story level does it become the story we know.
And I'm saying that if you look at the basic components: a seed, a tree that grows from the seed, and the fruit that grows from the tree, you're looking at a module of the whole cycle of Life, one cycle. I'm saying -- to take this to the sociological level -- the seed is the Jewish Covenant, the Torah, the Law, clear thinking, conceptualization, the Tree.
The cross is the Christian Covenant, work, passion, compassion, dharma, carrying things.
And Islam is "the fruit of Islam". And together they form a whole system. And when they recognize and respect each other, then the System comes to life because the organs in the body politic form one whole organism. [Music]
JM: Stan Tenen, Director of Research for the Meru Foundation, looking deeper into the metaphysical principles that unify diversity, and we'll be back again after these messages.
Jeffrey Mishlove: Stan Tenen, at the beginning of the first hour of this program, nearly two hours ago, you told a story about what motivated you to begin your explorations into the geometrical dimensions of the Sacred Traditions, sacred alphabets in particular, and that story had to do with being at the wall in Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall, shortly after the six-day war in 1967, and feeling the tension amongst the Jews and Arabs and the Christians and wanting to do something to heal the three splits in the Abrahamic Traditions.
Now you've come up with a metaphor of the seed, the tree, and fruit.
Stan Tenen: What I've found, and it makes sense if you think about it, and again, based on this metaphor of the organs in our body. My heart and my liver "believe in" different religions. They do different things. They follow different paths. The cells don't look the same. If they got in each others' organs, they'd either hurt the organ or they wouldn't survive.
And yet, if they go inside, if you go deep in the liver, [if] you go within each cell, you find the same DNA. You find [the same DNA in] each cell in the heart. If you go deep into each of these traditions, if I'm right, you're going to find the same geometric metaphor.
Because, as one approaches the center, as one goes deep within, all the Paths converge. And so, I'm not a Jewish person telling Christians or Moslems what to believe. I'm saying, each of us should go within our own Traditions, and find out what our own teachers are saying.
And I'm confident, if we do that, we're going to find that this is a whole System, that the Jewish Path is concentrating mainly on the Law, and Christian Path is primarily concentrated on Good Works, and the Islamic Path is letting go, submitting to Allah, which is what a fruit does. When it matures, it lets go of its tree. And when fruit reaches the ground, it opens and becomes the fertile soil for the next generation to grow from.
So I'm saying, if this model is correct, and it's not a model I derive from a faith or traditional Path, it's a model I derive from examining the document for itself, letter by letter. Not the story. Not each individual religious teaching. But the actual sequence of letters that all three Western faiths appreciate, the text of Genesis.
That common Path can show Christians and Jews and Moslems what their place is, how they can contribute, and how there can be enough spiritual room, even if there's very little physical room. And I'm predicting flat out, that if these ideas are understood and appreciated, maybe not in our time, maybe at some future time, it's the Moslems who will help to rebuild the Temple. Voluntarily.
Because the Moslem world will see itself as being the hosts, the good custodians and the Jewish world will see itself as carrying the seed, of not being a world power but being a mind-power. And the Christian world will build a bridge and a relationship. And each will contribute with respect for the others, and then the System comes to life and everyone benefits. There's enough room for all of us.
So this is a demonstration of this set of models, in an attempt to bring them to credibility, so they can be made use of.
JM: It almost sounds
a little bit like a closed system,
these three religions. What about
the other world religions?
ST: The same holds for the relationship between East and West. I said earlier that the Abrahamic and the Brahmic seem to be much closer than we suspect. The Brahmic have gone within, have kept the Meditations. The Abrahamic have gone out to the world. That's the difference between the Eastern and the Western worlds even today: the Western World is outgoing and conquering, conquering Nature. And the Eastern Traditions go in to the spiritual Traditions, go deep for their faiths. Bringing those two halves together is part of the same model. It's a Yin-Yang, and each of the Yins and Yangs has three parts itself.
Also, the indigenous Traditions come into this. There is no people that doesn't dance around the campfire of a tripod of sticks. The basic model that I found in Genesis is a Light in the Meeting Tent, a tetrahedron with a vortex. The tetrahedron is the Tai Chi opening, when you rotate your arms across each other (which you can't see on the radio).
And the Light is this hand that invigorates the vessel, that brings it to life. And all of the faiths make use of this same model, they all have an "Eternal Flame" in front of the altar, the "Green Flame of Islam," they all go back to the same Abrahamic principles, and remember I said earlier also, that the supposed author of the Sepher Yetzirah, the source-book on the alphabet, is Abraham.
So how far back does this go? It goes back to Abraham, at least in principle. It goes back to the common root. And if we go to that place, we can find out how we fit together. If we want to find how Jews and Christians can get along, go back to the time when there wasn't any distinction, and see how the early Christians got along.
JM: What you've said earlier, at least in a mythological sense, go back prior to the Tower of Babel.
ST: Yes. The most recent research indicates that gesture language preceded spoken language. You can use these gestures today as an international alphabetic language in everybody's alphabet, because it's [everyone's] gestures. It doesn't matter if you're from Asia, [or if] you're from Africa, from North America, or from Australia. If you put your hands to your mouth in a shouting gesture, everyone knows that [means "shout"].
If you point [with] your arms [outstretched], extend them straight out in front of you like you're sleep-walking, everyone knows that means "to project." And if you do that, you see dangling from your hand the Hebrew letter whose name is "spear" or "arrow" or "projectile". And the same would be true in Aborigine faiths, in Amerindian faiths, in Eastern faiths, in Western faiths.
JM: So, in the field of linguistics, we have Noam Chomsky, who's from your home town of Boston, who developed the idea of a universal grammar. He's had an enormous impact, and of course he's looking at grammar very differently from you --
ST: Very differently,
JM: But still the idea of a universal grammar in your case not based on the mathematical analysis of sentence-structure, but based on a somewhat different kind of geometrical analysis of --
ST: People who speak with hand-gestures have been shown to develop their language in the same way as people who speak with speech, and develop very similar grammars. And in fact people from different cultures with different sign languages find that they can teach each other a common sign language very quickly. Based on these innate grammars. These innate gestures.
This is natural. My work is not the same as Chomsky's, but it's certainly not in conflict.
JM: No, it would seem to be very much in the same --
ST: I want to tell people, I'm not saying "I'm right and you're wrong!" This is saying, "You've all been right, and on this level we can show it!"
JM: We've been talking to Stan Tenen, Director of Research for the Meru Foundation. We're going to have some messages again, from Wisdom Network. After we come back, we'll give out Stan's website and some other contact information, so stay with us.
JM: And if you'd like to contact Stan Tenen and the Meru Foundation directly, you can write to them at P. O. Box 503, Sharon, Massachusetts 02067. Their website is, once again, www.meru.org. And if you don't have access to the Web, you can call their toll-free number, 1 (888) 422-MERU. That's 1 (888) 422-MERU.
After giving out all that information, I'm a little hesitant to give out my own website on top of it all, it almost seems like URL overload. But here it is: It's MISHLOVE.COM. www.mishlove.com.
It's been a great pleasure being with you for these two hours, Stan. I've never seen you so animated.
ST: Thank you, that was entirely due to your asking the right questions and keeping this in line. I really appreciate the opportunity, and anyone who wants further information can get in touch with us. It is a very beautiful, elegant System, and it needs to be known.
JM: I know you're very passionate about this work and it has the potential to move in many different directions. The day will come, I think, when people will be dancing the Dance of the Letters.
ST: Absolutely. Thank you.
JM: Well, thank you and your lovely wife, Levanah, for coming here to California to be with us on Wisdom Radio. Tune in again, every weekday evening, 8 PM, Pacific Time, 11 PM, Eastern Time, for Virtual College. [Music]
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