Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Ein Sof

The Ein Sof is a kabbalistic term that attempts to clarify (as much as possible)the elusive nature of G-d. It literally means 'there is no end'.
Here are my thoughts on the Ein Sof and how it fits into my worldview.

1. All power ultimately resides with the Ein Sof. The Ein Sof cannot be defined, reduced or even truly conceptualized however its presence is ubiquitous.
2. We are individual souls derived from the Ein Sof. Our abstraction from the Ein Sof does not in anyway reduce the Ein Sof.
3. The Ein Sof transcends all matter and energy and is synonymous with all that there really is.
4. The Ein Sof interacts with our defined universe via the matter world of the physicality.
5. The laws of physics do not limit the Ein Sof as all its constraints and realities are a product of the Ein Sof.
6. The Ein Sof is consequently the cause of why something as opposed to nothing exists.
7. As Ein Sof Derived Souls (known hence forth as ESDS) we can interact with the Ein Sof by following the path of goodness.
8. This involves the extension of our sense of self and a concerted focus on the positive growth of our being.
9. Several world religions have addressed this dynamic but have unfortunately allowed themselves to lose focus in the vortex of cultural noise.
10. Meaningful belief has to extend beyond this ‘noise’ to reclaim the connection with the Ein Sof
11. This brings us the greatest joy.
12. The most direct approach toward the goodness involves the elucidation of perspective. This substantiates itself in a prioritization of goals, daily events and thoughts. Perspective is a triage for the mind, it places our challenges in context so that we never lose sight of the goodness of the Ein Sof.
13. We must be thankful for what we have. I call this a consolidation of reality.
14. Once such a step has been undertaken the mind framework towards the goodness is rooted. This catalyzes the drive.

On Libya

I am still lukewarm about outside involvement in the Libyan civil war. While I have no sympathy for the detestable Gaddafi I am not sure whether the rebel forces that are fighting to seize power will be that much better if they should seize power. Its difficult to pin down their makeup but there is no doubt that fundamentalist elements exist within its ranks (possibly with ties to al-Qaeda or Iran) and by shifting our hand toward the rebels we may be galvanizing Islamism further. Still by remaining on the sidelines we run the risk of ignoring the flagrant human rights abuses that have characterized Gaddafi’s counterinsurgency so there is truism in the argument that we have a moral obligation to act. The decision by the UN to champion a no-fly zone policy seems a reasonable compromise (and will certainly even the odds that are currently stacked against the rebels) but I would be loathe, like the US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, to see Western ground troop involvement in this arena. We will have to wait and see.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Five Areas I regularly study

1. Astronomy/Cosmology – The universe fascinates me. It is large beyond all perspective but is governed by the same laws of physics that influence us in our seemingly localized milieu.

2. Modern World History (1789- present) – I started reading history books as a kid (thanks to my father and grandfather) and have been hooked ever since. In fact I wrote a history quiz book that one can find and buy on:

History was my first passion and we have been locked in an embrace ever since. I particular enjoy the modern period as it provides the immediate framework from which today’s world has evolved.

3. Political Philosophy – I enjoy struggling with ideas and relish dissecting the arguments from all sides that define the political spectrum. Part of this is a consequence of a personal investigation into World History but I prefer to see it as a richer to understand the human spirit.

4. Geography – My fascination with the world has bought me a greater understanding of geography. My mind loves organizing facts and stats into useful patterns and geography provides an excellent vehicle for such a recourse.

5. International Sports – What can I say I am a bit of a junky. Football (soccer) Tennis, Boxing, Cricket, Track and Field and rugby all appeal to me. I don’t watch as much as I used to (the responsibility of parenthood) but I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of past winners and key events.

Methods I have used to acquire knowledge

1. Listening to others. As a teacher I have found that I have learnt a lot from my students and the questions that they ask. Such questions force me to dig deeper and in doing so I have acquired a more thorough understanding of the subject
2. I was sick a lot as a child and therefore spent much time by myself…reading and learning. Having supportive parents helped as well.
3. Rising to the challenge – I love teaching new courses which force me to broaden my horizons and increase my knowledge base.
4. Magazines…… New Scientist, The Economist, BBC History Magazine, National Geographic, Time, World Football, Military History, Scientific American, Omni plus as a child Look and Learn and World of Knowledge
5. Watching Documentaries – You Tube is a great source for this.
6. Reading Reference Books – Guinness Book of Records, World Almanac, Pears Encyclopedia, Chronicle Series, World Book as a kid.
7. Reading Books in general – I normally have on the go 3-4 books that I read at a time.
8. The Internet …Its amazing how much knowledge is at your finger tips if you know where to find it.
9. Completing Quiz Books - The Isaac Asimov Super Quiz Series was great as was the British series Mastermind.
10. Schooling – Completing two science degrees plus an education degree has helped but it has not served to provide me with the bulk of my knowledge.
11. Experience…The Greatest teacher… this has no doubt served me well in both my engineering and teaching capacity. The key though is to reflect meaningfully on the experience.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Itamar Massacre

The Japanese Earthquake and the Itamar massacres have greatly disturbed me. I can understand the former (gut wrenching as it is ) as an act of nature but the latter sickens me in that it was perpetrated by human killers who thought nothing about decapitating the head of an infant slitting her throat, while murdering both her parents and two of her siblings in cold blood. There is absolutely no excuse for such barbarism other than the understanding of its manifestation as an obvious outcome from a collective psyche schooled in the art of blood lust, hate and violence.

The victimizers have their champions, candy was handed out to passing drivers in Gaza by the terror proponents of Hamas, to commemorate such an 'achievement' and its only a matter of time before the killers have schools named after. Meanwhile western leftists carry out spin control to minimize the evil, with the typical litany of rationalizations that they would never accept if the situation were reversed. Has the world gone insane? I believe it did some time ago and as a Jew who sees how cheaply Jewish life has again become the pain is lingering. Once again the Jews are alone in their struggle against base evil. However base evil in a modern framework knows no limit, and if good is not free to counter it then the slippery slope to universal barbarism lies not to far from the horizon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This Blog is still alive

I have resurrected Worldoreason. Be on the lookout for some more entries.