I’m reading a book called My Name is Red about the Turkish Miniature Painters of the medieval Ottoman Empire. The endless descriptions of the the painters’ efforts, hopes and self sacrifice for their work in the story left me wanting to see what they actually looked like. I found some other neat things too…

The great Sufi saints in one of the 7 Heavens

The great Sufi saints in one of the 7 Heavens

The Whirling Dirvishes

The Whirling Dirvishes

14th Century Haggadah Manuscript

14th Century Haggadah Manuscript

Lord Bramha and Lord Vishnu bow to Lord Shiva in reverance after showing them His infinite form as a neverending pillar of light

Lord Bramha and Lord Vishnu bow to Lord Shiva in reverance after showing them His infinite form as a neverending pillar of light

[Note: This is the first post in a series of 3. In the first two, I will simply discuss the “text” and explain what the thoughts are that it is trying to convey. The third will be the commentary on the commentary and, of course, answer the question, “So what does this mean?”]

I was driving home from Publix when I got these ideas. They were flooding my consciousness and driving seemed almost impossible. I pulled over and texted this onto my phone; my personal way of writing notes on the go.

“Shiva mountain greek gods name the place physical manifest of oneness both
animal sacrifice adopted non harm inner devotion idol worship Translation poses
almost impossible problem and through that we see first glimpses of new thoughts
by globalization natural instincts are to try to explain new things through reason
logic and our past”

Simply reading it, one could easily come to the conclusion that this doesn’t really make sense. Sure there are understandable terms, which relate some kind of meaning, but it would be hard to understand my intentions in writing them as I did. Looking back at it now, I come to think that this small bit of writing closely resembles the styles and techniques of the Mishnah and Talmud; one may say, the “Oral Torah”.

Taylor, what are you saying, your one of the great Rabbis and comprehend Mishnah so well you write them yourself now? Hardly close. Yet still, my mind has been saturated with the style and techniques implored through the writings of the Mishnah. The Mishnah serve as a short pneumonic device that helps one remember a larger idea. For instance, the Mishnot are a collection of sayings, which with the proper background knowledge and training allow the reader, or in the original case sayers, to remember a teaching or practice that has been passed down from God to Moses orally. Through short, yet loaded sentences, the Mishnot convey a broad collection of mitzvoth; God’s “commandments”. The very study and debate of these ideas are seen as one of the holiest acts one can do. Just as God studied Torah with Moses on top of Sanai, the process involved in learning Talmud is seen as an act which conects you with God; a common theme in the following.

The Talmud’s purpose is that of commentary unto the Mishnah. The Talmud consists of the Mishnah and the Gemarah, Aramaic for commentary. Imitating the Gemarah, I want to try and let you experience the logic that followed through my electronic squibbles, piece by piece. Which is good, that was my original purpose.

It’s always good to start at the beginning.

“Shiva mountain greek gods”

Somehow I started to think of the similarities in ancient Greek religion and early Vedic belief. In Greek “Mythology”, the abode of the Gods is on top of Mt. Olympus. Mt. Kailash is the Himalayan abode of Lord Shiva, one of the 5 perceptions of God in Hinduism, and one of the most worshipped manifestations of God in India. Both traditions placed the “place of the Gods” on top of mountains. In the time, they were places that had never been reachable by humans, a place so distant and miraculous, yet fascinating. It seems easy to think that the furthest reaches of the world into the Heavens would be a realistic place of Godly inhabitation.

In Judaism, Hashem receives Moshe Rabeinu at the top of Mt. Sanai. The fact being that the shear presence of God into the physical world, outside of Moses, would annihilate the very people He wished to give the Torah to. The Prophet Mohammad received the Holy Qur’an from the Angel Gabriel at the Temple Mount. Throughout many religious traditions mountains have played an important role.

Yet why mountains? Although it is easy to think back to the point that they were the absolute physical manifestation of our closest shot at the Heavens, there may be more. While they were unreachable, the very bases of being almost inhabitable except for a select nomadic population, their sheer importance in ways of being “mystical” cannot be achieved without the important fact that they were intrinsically Holy. These physical points, at the most basic level, are nothing but physical manifestations of God’s presence in this world. They are places, things, that we can physically go to, and experience God. Ways to connect with God in our everyday world, our physical world.

“name the place physical manifest of oneness”

The Temple, the absolute center of pre destruction Judaism, is foundationally rooted by the fact that the Holy of Holies is the physical point in the known Universe, in which God is present. The same way Lord Shiva and the Greek Gods are viewed. It has been said that one of the Holiest names for God is, “The Place”. This idea of God’s presence throughout the physical universe is quite interesting.

“both animal sacrifice adopted non harm inner devotion idol worship”

Another interesting aspect of early religious traditions is a common practice of animal sacrifice. The Vedas (the most ancient religious text of the Indian subcontinent, and possibly the world are viewed as God given, much like the Torah, and contains 4 books) in Hinduism give very systematic and meticulous rules for performing offerings, animal sacrifices, and other physical things into ceremonial fires. These fires, agnah in Sanskrit, were seen as the physical portal between the God realm and the earthly, physical realm. By making offerings and sacrifices into these fires, with the correct prayer recitation and religious lifestyles would purify them from their sins. These ceremonies traditionally are only performed by Brahmins, of the priestly caste in Hinduism, much like the Kohanim in Judaism. Another important way of cleansing their sins was from a ritual bath among the Sarasvati. And then Ganga, rivers. These rivers were said to cleanse people of their spiritual sins. This is still widely believed and practiced in India. Although the modern Ganga is highly polluted today, and literally a health risk for foreigners, millions of people bath in its daily because they believe they are becoming spiritually clean.

Temple Judaism as well, was completely centered on the Temple sacrifices. The twice daily sacrifice to God, the Red Heifer which truly absolved all Jews of their sins, and the countless other rules for becoming pure and impure were centralized around the Temple altar and fire. So much, that only the Kohanim, the priestly tribe, was able to even enter into the Temple, and of course only if they were ritually pure. An important aspect of being ritual pure/impure was the cleansing waters of the mikvah. This turned into the baptism in Christianity.

This stems from an interesting human religious phenomenon, the continual attempt to manifest God physically. Although some look at the Golden Calf in Judaism as the lowest point of religious history, even still, the underlying intention among the people Israel was to worship God. They simply got it wrong. And from that, they were able to learn from their mistake. Consequently, how do we learn anything? When we make a mistake, we learn that we did something wrong. The “knowledge” that we have is simply a collection of experiences in life where we either made a mistake, or we got it right the first time. It is our past experiences which allow us to construct views and beliefs within our logic.

From this idea of mistakes, though God willing I would never attempt to say I understand the meaning of anything beyond my comprehension, my mind seems to wonder. From these two examples of animal sacrifice, Temple Judaism and Vedic Hinduism, the main body of worshipers evolved this thought process into practices that almost completely eradicated their very foundations. Vedic Hinduism was comfortably the largest majority belief among the Indus Valley people. (Being the people south of the Indus River, unto which the British world Hindu came to describe, of which the majority religion was a form of Hinduism) Yet one of the many shramana movements (movements defying the absolute supremacy of the Vedas) of India, Buddhism, came to completely reject the Vedas; mainly because of the unnecessary killing of animals for sacrifices. Hinduism itself evolved into the philosophy after this point to include the Buddha as one of the Ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu (the Highest Hindu God in a sense) whose very religious point was to end animal violence in the world.

In Judaism, with the destruction of the Temple, the religion and its people were in complete disrepair. With the destruction of the Temple, the people lost the single pathway to God. It is said that when the Temple was destroyed, God banished himself first into the desert, and then from out of the Universe as we know it. Without the Temple, Judaism surely could have become completely imploded in itself. Yet the Rabbis took the mess left over, and reconstructed a tradition that, although scripturally seemed impossible, moved the physical sacrifice, into an inner one that is to be made with a personal devotion to Gods. The physical manifestation came to be within every single one of us. We became the temple, our bodies the very altar, made from the Earth, which through prayer, we made an inner sacrifice to God. Judaism evolved its very foundation into a modern system. It is interesting to look at these evolutions of thoughts and practices in each tradition. The Hindu revolution stirred up by Buddhism, and equally Jainism, the Ajivikas, and others, caused a switch in consciousness. This led to the development and discussion of the Upanishads. Whereas the Vedas consisted of systematic ways to perform rituals, they lacked any theological explanations of the Ultimate.
The Upanishads were the first texts that looked into existential, cosmological, and theological questions. The nature of God, the soul, and existence came into play. Without physical sacrifices, the people started to question how they could unite with God, metaphysically.

The same can be said of Judaism. The new foundations set by the Talmudic Rabbis opened the doors to a new study of practices and rituals, and how they could be tied into scripture. Through time, they gave birth to mystical Kabbalah and Chassidism. The Torah is seen as a “living” Torah, something that is meant to evolve and change with times. Both of these traditions have. The idea being, maybe they were meant to. That all things change, EVERYTHING.

The end of Part 1

Namaste…

During my time in class, I often get thoughts that wonder through my head, floating around, swirling, mixing with my senses and memories. However, talking is hardly allowed during this time. Words can be used to express so much. Thoughts and ideas within our brain realm transfer to another’s when we use language to transfer these into the understanding of another thinker. Yet since spoken words aren’t allowed in class, and writing is a drag sometimes; here are some drawings to help express what my mind may be thinking. To the expansion of knowledge…

notebook-11

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Shady Grove…

Hello.

Thanks for coming. How are you feeling? Relax…

If your wondering what Tulya Tattvam means, it’s Sanskrit. An Ancient Indian language used to write down for the first time the most famous of Eastern Philosophies. From the Hindu Mahabarata and The Bhagavad Gita, to the Buddhist Bodhicaryavtara. Even the Kamma Sutra.

So Tulya Tattvam; What does that mean? Tulya means “Equal” and it’s my nickname. Tattvam means “Truth”. So the idea is, “Equal Truth”; Tulya Tatvam.

Alright, so how does this fit into my “blog”, Shady Grove? Hmm…

Well, “Shady”, let’s start with that first. I grew up in the Sunshine State of Florida, not more than a few minutes from the beach, even in California (my only other short lived birth residence). So I’ve always had a readily available supply of photons from the great beautiful Sun. Lots of it, except for the occasional cloud of course. Too much maybe?

I mean some argue, much as myself, the whole purpose of life is to bring more light into the world. Even the Baal Shem Tov said, “The Tzaddik sees the world as God sees the world: a creation of light.” Reb Moshe had so many beams of sunlight bursting from his face after he spoke to God its said he wore a mask the rest of his life. They say you can’t cut a tzaddik’s beard because if you do light sparks out. Lot’s o’ light from the beginning, and always has been.

So “Shady”. Yea, we’re closer. I have an odd gravitational pull with regards to my feelings towards “shade”. Whether its fog, a hazy day, or even the shade of a tree. Maybe its the cultural evolution of growing up around all this light. To say, the grass is always greener on the other side? But lets not think so much of foggy days and rain, but back towards the tree shade. There we’re still able to be surrounded by light, we can see it all, but we can kinda hide out for a second. Kind of recollect ourselves and if nothing else, just enjoy looking at it all here from our shady harbour.

So now there’s that “Grove” part. I think that’s a little easier to explain. Let’s try.

One of my favorite places has always been within the trees. My house, as far back as I can remember it, was always surrounded by trees, branches, leaves, and sunny shade. I pretty much evolved as a monkey because I would say I lived in trees from 2nd to 6th grade. Day and night. An explanation? I was a boy. First trying to reach for the stars, literally at night, clouds during the day. Then I figured 20 feet off the ground was at least that much closer to Heaven.

Rebbe Nachman said, “It is a great mitzvah to be happy always.” He also said that you should speak directly to God, in your own language, whatever it may be, everyday. God, and You; talking. Praying, dancing, singing, crying, laughing, staring, whatever; but to be with God everyday. Well, thankfully for me, that makes me happy too. Rebbe Nachman would also do something else, along with many other Tzaddikim, they would go to talk to God everyday of course, where? In the forest; in their own little grove. “This”, God-willing, is my “Grove”.

My intention is to come here, as if my grove, to speak with God, to speak with myself, and of course, with you. Things about truth, about experiences, and about knowledge. Here I’ll try to put together my collection of nick-nacks I pick up along my travels. I’ll try to put as much light into the world as I can, God-willing. I invite you to join my most introverted and existential, philosophical ponderings into the Universe with God, as if you were standing here next to me, screaming into the heavens out loud, talking directly to God, through the branches of the trees, here in my grove.

Come on out. It’s about an hour from were you live. Out near the backwoods of the old growth forest. Near the mouth of the mountain range that covers the rest of the area. Completely surrounded. Go into the thicket for a while, listen…When you here absolute silence, your close. Look for light coming through the little opening between some of the bigger trees. That little circle of brush, cleared out among the rest. That’s my nook, my place, my grove. It’s were I go everyday to be with God. Were I search for Truth, the light. Were I am truly happy. If you come visit me, and your welcome to anytime, I’d be happy to share it with you. Equal Truth; Tulya Tattvam.

To pursue knowledge, truth
and God-willing;
understanding.

Best Wishes,
Taylor