Cosmos Café: Time, Space, & The Hebrew Alphabet [2018-01-09]


The topics of time and space have played a strong role in recent café discussions, but so far these themes have been approached in a very “mainstream” sort of way: we’ve looked at what physicists (e.g., Young) and experts on the subject (e.g., Welch) have had to say, and we’ve even taken a very personal and practical tack to get closer to an understanding of these key notions. What is more, we have delved deeply into the possibilities of alternate ways of knowing, as it is becoming increasingly clear to all of us involved in these discussions that there is much more at stake than immediately meets the eye.

One ever-present sojourner in these explorations has been the Swiss-German cultural philospher Jean Gebser and his structures-of-consciousness model, primarily because he provides a powerful way of talking about different understandings of the world at different times and different places throughout the history of humankind. He postulates that we are transitioning to what he terms the Integral structure of consciousness from the Mental structure, but he notes that in this particular transition, even earlier structures, such as the Mythical and Magical will play in an important role, especially the effective manifestations of those structures.

One primary – if not the primary – source of the mythology of what we most commonly refer to as Western culture is the Bible. The very first chapter in the first book contains the Story of Creation. This text may be one of the most researched and discussed texts of all time, but it still remains a mystery to many. It is this story that Creationists use to defend their attacks on science’s Big Bang theory, and as such it has become a renewed object of investigation for seekers on both sides of the science-religion divide. Fervent advocates on both sides of this divide claim to know what the text is telling us, but what if both of them are wrong and there is something quite different at work here?

This just might be the case. What would it mean – in general, but for each of us specifically, if these text “meant” something quite different from what we think it means? What if the text revealed the intimate entanglement of consciousness and reality that quantum physics seems to imply? What if the more-than-meets-the-eye reveled that there is an intimate and inviolable connection between science, consciousness, religion, and spirituality? What if there were a way to understand the text that was amenable and satisfying to experts in all these domains? That could be a game-changer. This session is about whether such an idea is even thinkable.


Obviously the letters of the Hebrew alphabet will play a role in our discussion, but this is not a topic that is well-spread throughout the educated, Western, intellectual/academic/scholarly/artistic community. No previous knowledge of the Hebrew language, or its alphabet, is necessary for this café session. Also, the “discipline” that deals otherwise with the Hebrew alphabet is known as kabbalah, but this is one of those topics that is most often either known poorly or pejoratively or it is not known at all. It is a very rich (and elusive) topic as well, so trying to “get smart” about it in short time can be as harmful as it can be helpful. What I’m saying is there’s more than enough confusion going around, and in the lead-in to the session itself, I’ll make a concerted effort to place this notion reasonably within your own background and experience that you can understand what is meant when the term is used. This is the reason there are so few preparatory references for this session. Wherever you are and whatever you know now is the perfect place to be for this session. All I ask is that you bring your naturally open (and critical) mind with you.


Genesis 1:1-3
(specifically, but the whole creation story is contained in Genesis 1:1-Genesis 2:3)

And, for those who like to hear the voice, Alexander Scourby’s reading of Genesis (with a tip o’th’ hat to @johnnydavis54):

Seed questions

  • What have you been told, in your own upbringing, that this story means?

  • In looking at it now, with all you know and everything you’ve ever heard about it, what do you think it means?

Inputs and backstory stuff

Presentation from session

Post-session references and reading


What an excellent introduction to the topic, @achronon. Thank you! I’ve just added the exact time and Zoom link above your overview. How apropros to start the new year with a reading from Genesis. I look forward to a rich conversation.

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Excellent … and it wasn’t half as bad to put together as I thought it would be. Who knows, before it’s all over I may even figure out how to work this platform in some reasonable way.


And, oh, BTW … I have a couple of visuals (actually Powerpoint slides) that I would like to share, and you did say that there was the possibility to do so via desktop sharing or some such technical mumbo-jumbo. Is there anything I need to know prior to the session or anything we need to “test” beforehand? Do we need to coordinate this is any special way? These are purely technical questions, but as we’ve never done this when I’ve been involved before I’d like to ensure that we can do it.

(Having “come of age” with the internet and web, there was a time when I thought I needed to know everything about everything digital, but since I’ve retired and don’t have to do anything, the interest in staying abreast of technology has diminished somewhat. Being by nature a curmudgeon, I have always expected – as a minimum – that “it would just work” (which, of course, it never did), but I’m less motivated to try and crack the code and more inclined to simply ruminate on why-if-the-technology-is-so-great-are-we-still-dealing-with-these-details. This is not to say that I want to make your life more miserable, Marco (our go-to tech guy in such cases), for I still think that the fewer unexpected technical glitches the better. I’m just trying to ensure that the experience is as glitchless as possible overall. I think it’s some kind of a quality-of-life thing.)

I’m no tech-guru, but by logging in via the zoom link above you can experiment with the screen share. I am on a “smartphone” now and the process is a bit confusing , but I believe the desktop version is straightforward, simply tapping the screen share icon to share what you have on the screen at that moment.

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That’s right, we should be able to accomplish this via a screen share. But I am happy to hop on the call a few minutes early to test it out. If you’d like to send me the powerpoint file ahead of time, I can also run my own test beforehand and serve as a backup in case you run into problems during the call.

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Thanks for the tips, @Douggins … very helpful. It is all much more straightforward than I thought.

@madrush, I did what Doug suggested and could easily enough bring up and navigate the presentation, so I don’t envision any real problems. It seemed that the little red recording light was on (though I did not press the record button myself), so if anything was recorded under the zoom link, it might be a good idea to delete it. Thanks.

Good to hear, Ed. I deleted that recording. I set these meetings to auto-record since I noticed that often we just jumped right into the conversation and it was disruptive to interject with a notice that “now we’re recording.” Later, I delete any dead air at the beginning before uploading to YouTube.

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I’m really looking forward to this next adventure on Cosmos and appreciate how many of us are working to bring forward mutual learning events!

I’m not sure where to post this but I thought it would be of interest to our emerging community here at Cosmos Cafe.

This is a video of a class conducted by our friend, Jeremy Johnson, on Jean Gebser.

I’m just thinking out loud about possibilities that might start to come together. Not sure what is going to happen next.

What happens, I wonder, when we start to co-model a shared reality between different learning circles in a conscious way? Perhaps something to develop in a future event? Can we start to mature, as we share our map making process with others who are outside of, but resonating with the inside of a group mind?

How does the I become a We?

How do we do this as we move towards a greater coherence, rather than a grim crash and burn scenario?

This maybe some kind of a cafe around models of the self. I think I have a process that might be emerging that can model the Self in group dynamic.


This is great, a serious idea, one that has popped up multiple times here when discussing the ultimate direction for this project…how do we include the others, the Other, even others that are so close to our thoughts and feelings? @Jeremy et al. have great ideas; if a Venn diagram, the result is almost a perfect matching circle. So what can we do?

Each grouping is a set of various sculpting tools that we use to tackle the great marble mountain of Becoming. Currently we chisel away individually or in small groups barely making a dent in the beast. The mountain is so large at the base that we rarely see each other; to climb to the top and meet takes a lifetime…what can we do to collaborate?

My first thought is to simply post a response to particular videos, a sort of dialogue. Although this particular video is an introduction to Gebser’s thought and the surrounding culture forms based on / similar to Gebserian ideas and not really prone to critique or analysis (though I suppose it is a good base to build upon), with other videos, readings etc. we could post direct responses that interlink with various groups, within their own websites, thus sharing ideas, “sharing” individuals within each said group. This can seem like more work, but it needn’t be…we can continue doing what we have been doing with the cafes and other side projects, but maybe just interconnect with specific groups or respond directly to a particular output from others in various circles. This can even be accomplished by typing a quick comment on a YouTube video we reference, a sort of anti-spam spam: “want to continue the discussion about this video, but hate the YouTube trolls, format, limitations? Come on over to the Infinite Cosmos where the Conversations have never ending meaning and connection.” If we cant tackle the beast with our own tools, use their own to get to the heart.


And when you climb to the top and meet…and then what happens?

I’m meeting lots of people, through the proper use of the technology, that I would never have found by hanging out in cafes and bars or local hangouts. But the bad news is, the bars and cafes, unlike the current tech, provided shelter, for the small, unremembered gestures, that created momentum, when a holding environment, was established. Since we share no physical environment, we have little shelter from the jealousy of the gods, who will use our discourse events, for selfish profits, and leave us starving on the side of the road, begging for alms. Conquer and divide, is the motto, and it seems to have left many of us in the dust.

I think we need to admit that small is beautiful and stop trying to turn these events into vehicles for something else to happen. That small still voice can only be heard when there are none to exploit the happening for private only purposes. Transparency is about the public/private divide and how it is shaped by the slings and arrows of many of our outrageous fortunes.

I think small is where it starts to germinate and take shape, sometimes in the dark, too much light too soon, and too many cameras flashing, can scare off the spirits. The invisible spirits shall not be mocked.

Can we be private in public? Every performer has to figure this out.


Oh, only the most creative of the Creative…but it can only be for a few moments before we return back to the projects, the “life’s work”, that includes the others, the little ones who can’t always climb on their own or need an extra boost.

And I couldn’t agree more about honing in on the God of Small Things. My first contact with the other world was conversations with gnats, the ever present little beings on our shoulders, in our periphery, sometimes bugging us when maybe we could better listen to their noise.


The noise becomes signal. There is no signal without noise. That is why a piece of music we dont know yet is so perplexing. It takes a few listening, if the music is deep, to make any sense of it. That is certainly true of great poetry. The greatest poetry is incomprehensible. I still dont know what it means, even after I have memorized it by heart, but I no longer care what it signals. We are signs within signs.

Perhaps why I love the infirm and the weak, the little ones and the ancient ones, and the mice that scurry around at night between the walls, on cold winter nights…


(I have been listening with glee to the Bubbles
Live discussions. You really found your voice in #4, mostly because it was about you field of psychological expertise. From conversation #4 to the end, you all really came together as a group. I felt myself, laugh and cry and attempt to chime in. The “musical” sonospheric alliance discussion was also great.)


Thank you, Doug, for sponsoring the I that is We. I am not sure what makes sense but when a person finds her voice, it is most satisfying, for those of us, who crave justice. I do love to be in the same space when I, or you, or an other, puts that giant ‘as if’ into speech or writing. So I imagine our tiny reading, writing, talking experiments, are a kind of training for something we cant quite comprehend. I will have to listen to that recording again. I do find that the recording of these events can provide us with an intensified sense of public/private self reflexing upon itself, a meta- attention awakenens. It is illusive but when a practitioner brings attention to that, as you have done here, it has a galvanizing effect. Thank you!


A heavy dose to be sure. Not necessarily for the faint of heart.

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Yes, not for the timid. There is a first part that is more easily digested. I like the exercises!

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(When I posted the other day about being the Fool on the README post, I clearly did not understand the connection to this Cafe topic…this fella here has quite a bit to learn…saving any “research” for another day…appreciate the caveat above!)


It would seem that all topics are somehow inextricably related to all other posts, which is as it should be.

It would seem that the inextricable interwovenness can cause confusion, which is as it should be.

If we’re not learning, we’re dead, and may not know that we’re not learning anymore.

Where you post is half as relevant as that you post. That caveat was as likely as much for me as it was for anyone else. It’s good not to be alone.


Thank you @achronon for this solid presentation. Clear, cohesive, concise, though lacking in curmudgeonry. Without you in your typical role, it seemed like we played the curmudgeon card, or at least filled the skeptics role…I’d like to know the direction the discussion travelled after @madrush’s skeptical speech that I ignorantly interrupted , if one of you do not mind a very brief summary. I was forced to leave a class right after the bell rang, knowing that the real magic comes during the questions after class.


The origins of my re-search, the reaching into the bottomless magician’s hat, of the idea of God began with an exploration of the logical proofs/deductions for the existence of God. Needless to say, this logical stuff was, well, boring. The same-old-same old…this whole New Atheist movement and the religious rebuttals through logic and academic fluff (thinking of William Lane Craig and/or Dawkins responding to one another) really ruin it all for rest of us. Who Designed the Designer (a book on the logical proof of God…taking Dawkins definition of a god and proving the existence of one true Designer ) was enough to have me searching elsewhere. After a bit more searching, I eventually settled into Tillich’s symbolic, panentheistic “God as the Ground of Being”, though this is too abstract for most normal humans and all but tosses out the Creator God as most would conceive. It is more aligned with the Platonic idea of God, in the same vein as Schelling, Aurobindo and friends than the Christian creation though might be considered the groundwork for an Integral Christianity.

What is immediately noticeable about your research is the visual. Without the slides (greatly appreciated btw), this topic might have been just a step above the logical proofing for me. Tenen is taking the magical and abstract back into the physical realm with the hand gestures, mental/physical applications,etc. The slides plus your personal clarity on the topic has made me rethink the Creator God once again, in a manner that ties in with a Panentheist’s God.