Essays by Stan Tenen

Informal Essay by Stan Tenen: Which Way Up
25 September 2000      ©2000 Stan Tenen
We live in a noisy and distracting world.  Sometimes it seems that as soon as we get started on something, the phone rings.  While we are still trying to answer the first question, the world is already two questions ahead of us. Each new distraction is a sparkling anomaly that demands - and often gets - our attention.

Keeping our mind focused on what we intend to pay attention to requires us to maintain a consistent and stable mental stature, perspective, and point-of-view.  We need to maintain our balance and we need to remember who we are, where we are, and what our goal is - all while standing in a roaring, living, stream.

In order for us to be able to point in a particular direction - both physically and morally - it is necessary for us to have some form of feedback that compares which way we are pointing with a reference direction.

When we look around, we see no reason to pick one direction over another.  The single extraordinary direction - unlike all the others - is from (anywhere and/or everywhere) inside to (anywhere and/or everywhere) outside of ourselves. All healthy mature adults know that their subjective volitional consciousness is inside each of their bodies and the objective physical world is outside. Since an arbitrary or ambiguous choice would be neither natural nor universal, to pick a reference direction other than from inside to outside would be to make a choice that does not hold universally. A sense of what is inside and what is outside seems to be an essential part of self-awareness.

We (our bodies) naturally compare the orientation of our spine with the reference direction radially out, and "vertically" up, from the center of the earth to the sky. This is the alignment of the pull of gravity, and we must know it in order to balance our bodies on our spine so we can walk upright and orient our bodies as we wish.

Our "reference direction", our spine, also metaphorically points from inside to outside. Our spine reaches from our deepest insides (our brain which carries our mind, our consciousness, and our commands) to our furthest outsides (our extremities and external-connecting bodily organs.)

In a more abstract sense, the "earth plane" of existence is midway between our inner, personal, subjective, conscious minds and our outer, consensus, objective experiences in the material world.

Theologically we are strung between the Oneness (utter singularity) of the Lord and the Wholeness (All-There-Is, complete inclusiveness) of God. We experience our memory as residing in our mind and we can experience our volition as welling up from an inner fountain of consciousness hidden in the depths of our mind. The Unitary aspect of God, identified with the Tetragrammaton, the "Four-Letter-Name" ("The Name" = HaShem, in Hebrew usage), YH-VH, "Lord", represents this deep hidden inner fountain which seems to be the source of our consciousness and volition.

The Five-Letter-Name of God, Elo-him, "God" can be identified with the totality of nature and mind.  This is the Whole aspect of God; it is All-There-Is.  Both the Lord and God are infinite, but each in a different way. Metaphorically, the One-Lord name can be understood to represent infinite "vertical" extent, while the Whole-God name can represent its complement, infinite, all-inclusive, "horizontal" expanse.

The model we are investigating suggests that the Oneness of the Lord can be usefully identified with what mathematicians call the Dirac Delta function. The Delta function has no duration in time and it is of zero magnitude everywhere except in the continuous present instant. Even though it is outside of time, the Delta function has infinite magnitude (extent) in the ever-present instant. Metaphorically, the Delta function can be described as an infinite vertical extent because it is thin and tall. It is utterly Now! and utterly Singular. This suggests that the Lord, identified with the infinite-extent, singular, instantaneous Delta function, is the ultimate source of each of our singular conscious choices.

When mathematicians examine the Dirac Delta function as if it were a musical pulse, they find the spectrum of pure tones that it generates (which is the same spectrum of tones from which it can be composed.)  The spectrum of the Dirac Delta function consists of an infinite expanse of all possible tones, sounding continuously, at unit magnitude (which is infinitesimal compared to the infinite Delta function itself), over all time, (from the beginning of time to the end of time.) Metaphorically, because it is low and wide, the spectrum can be described as a horizontal expanse.  Thus, as long as the Delta function is absolutely infinite in magnitude (of its extent) and of no duration in time, its spectrum is all-inclusive (of infinite expanse) - without any gaps - at the same unit magnitude - and it is forever. (A defective Delta function that is not of infinite extent or that has even the slightest duration in time, must have gaps in its spectrum of tones and it cannot represent an infinite "horizontal" expanse over all time at equal magnitude.)  Thus the all-inclusive infinite-expanse spectrum of the Delta function (which mathematicians obtain by means of the Fourier transform) is a useful model of All-There-Is Wholeness. The Name, Elo-him literally designates an Expanse-of-All-Light.  Elo-h refers to God or to "a Great Light" and the "im" suffix literally means "expanse" or "sea," (and, thus it also usually serves as the common Hebrew masculine plural suffix.) Therefore, we can identify the spectrum with the All-There-Is Whole name of God, Elo-him.

In the plant kingdom, a sprout reaches up and out to the sun while is root reaches down and into the earth.  The physical sun functions as the singular source of energy for the plant, and the earth functions as its ground of physical nourishment. A plant is strung and stretched between the sun and the earth.  The greatest contrast the plant experiences is between the single, anomalously bright, sun and the whole, common, all-encompassing darkness of the (earth and) sky.  This highest contrast in the physical world of the plant is the source of the maximum neg-entropy (information) that the plant needs to self-organize and grow.  The plant knows that "up-down" is the natural, universal, reference direction for it because the plant grows best when it aligns its stem with this gravitational, energetic, and informational axis.

The analogy between plants and humans is clear.  We also grow best when we correctly sense and accurately orient our spiritual and physical spines with the pole and axis that runs most directly from the Oneness of the Lord - through us - to the Wholeness of God. The Dirac Delta function-like Lord stands absolutely vertical and exactly upright (at a right angle) to its Whole spectrum of All-There-Is.  It has no width and no slant.  When our spiritual spine is oriented so as to unify the two names of God, "Lord" and "God," and to balance our "yirat HaShem" ("fear of the Lord") consciousness with our "ahavat Elo-him" ("love of God") physicality, we are aligned with this axis and we are standing as upright and true as we possibly can.  This is the only "place" where we can truly know who we are, where we are, and which way we are going (what our goals are and what our path leads to.)  This is the "place" and orientation of the tzadik (saint).

How do we find the spiritual pole, axis, and path that unites the complementary Singular and Whole aspects of our reality and that allows us to tread the "upright," "middle way" between fear and love?  We do this in the same way we first learned to physically walk (and gesture, and talk) when we were children. To gain our sense of balance and our "sea legs" in both the inner world of our personal consciousness and in the outer world of objective reality at the same time is to be properly prepared for our inner journey in the ship of skin we sail across the sea of life.

So, we crawl, and toddle and walk and stride and run and jump.  When we have our sense of balance, we can dance.  What dance?

We can dance in our bodies with grace and good bearing.  We can flow and sweep; we can expand and contract; we can spin and tumble.  Spiritual-physical exercise systems such as Tai Chi teach us to move with this grace and good bearing - but we can only truly master them when we have gained our inner grace and good bearing.

Meditation can be an exercise, a path, and a form of dance in the mind.  It is the mental source of our physical dance and it is the source of our grace and good bearing in the physical world. The Hebrew alphabet is designed to provide the dance steps needed for the meditational dance.  It also provides us with a way to find "which way is up" for ourselves.  When we move through the letters of the alphabet we can circle the Whole world and reach for the One Most High.  This is the First Hand path, the Hero's Journey, and the path with heart, and it is the direction we are searching for.  It is unique, it is singular, it is unambiguous,  it is "true-north" and "true-plumb", and it is all we need to strengthen and straighten our spiritual "sea legs" so we can joyfully dance the dance of life with integrity, love, intelligence, poise, and grace.

The Hand of the Hebrew letters forms a kind of "Jacob's Ladder" that extends from the material world to the spiritual world.  Each letter carries the reference direction from inside to outside.  Each letter carries us forward and upward. But, we must pay attention to do this.  Slipping off the ladder means starting over. So in order to climb we must learn to pay attention. This is the training we need to stand up in the world and to remember who we are, where we are, and which way we are going.  - And even though we each experience different views of the outer world, and even though each of our conscious minds inside is different from all others and unique to each of us, the most direct line from inside to outside is still utterly singular and the same for all life. The One-Whole Lord-God always points up. When we know this, we can move most simply, most easily, and most surely and directly forward.

Stan Tenen
September 2000

Return to Meru e-TORUS Newsletter Index

Contents of this page are ©2000 Stan Tenen, and licensed to Meru Foundation, 524 San Anselmo Ave. #214, San Anselmo, CA 94960.
Email inquiries to the Research Staff at:
To order Meru Foundation materials, go to
For Customer Service, call 1-888-422-MERU or email to