Counting to Fifty 2017

The Counting
of the Omer is
Sunset, April 11 through
Sunset, May 30

 

 

…you shall count off seven weeks.  They must be complete:
you must count until the day after the seventh week — fifty days…

from Leviticus 23:15-16

 

If you need information or a guide for Counting of the Omer, following are some excellent resources:

Wikipedia entry “Counting of the Omer”:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counting_of_the_Omer

Chabad website of information, with Count guide by Rabbi Simon Jacobson:

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/130631/jewish/Sefirat-HaOmer.htm

Aish website of information, with Count guide by Rabbi Simon Jacobson:

http://www.aish.com/h/o/t/48969716.html?s=mpw

Aish website of information, with Count guide by Rabbi Noah Weinberg:

http://www.aish.com/h/o/t/52829142.html?s=mpw

Torah Lab website of Judaism, with information about the Count:

http://www.torahlab.org/calendar/C126/

 

For additional information or assistance, inquiries to:

33gatewaylane@gmail.com

 

GOOD LUCK!

ALL BEST WISHES TO YOU !

 

Black-Billed Cuckoo | James Audubon

Teach us to count our days, that we may cultivate a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

33 Gateway Lane participants will momentarily begin to receive the daily Counting to Fifty guidance email.

Day 1 KETER STUDY
Day 2 HOKHMAH LISTENING
Day 3 BINAH VERBALIZING
Day 4 HESED COMPREHENSION OF THE HEART
Day 5 GEVURAH AWE
Day 6 TIFERET FEAR
Day 7 NETSAH HUMILITY
Day 8 HOD JOY
Day 9 YESOD PURITY
Day 10 MALKHUT SERVING THE SAGES
Day 11 Atzilut of KETER COMPANIONSHIP WITH ONE’S CONTEMPORARIES
Day 12 Atzilut of HOKHMAH DEBATING WITH ONE’S STUDENTS
Day 13 Atzilut of BINAH TRANQUILITY
Day 14 Atzilut of HESED STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES
Day 15 Atzilut of GEVURAH STUDY OF THE MISHNAH
Day 16 Atzilut of TIFERET MINIMIZING ENGAGEMENT IN BUSINESS
Day 17 Atzilut of NETSAH MINIMIZING SOCIALIZATION
Day 18 Atzilut of HOD MINIMIZING PLEASURE
Day 19 Atzilut of YESOD MINIMIZING SLEEP
Day 20 Atzilut of MALKHUT MINIMIZING TALK
Day 21 Briah of KETER MINIMIZING GAIETY
Day 22 Briah of HOKHMAH SLOWNESS TO ANGER
Day 23 Briah of BINAH GOOD HEARTEDNESS
Day 24 Briah of HESED FAITH IN THE SAGES
Day 25 Briah of GEVURAH ACCEPTANCE OF SUFFERING
Day 26 Briah of TIFERET KNOWING ONE’S PLACE
Day 27 Briah of NETSAH SATISFACTION WITH ONE’S LOT
Day 28 Briah of HOD QUALIFYING ONE’S WORDS
Day 29 Briah of YESOD NOT TAKING CREDIT FOR ONESELF
Day 30 Briah of MALKHUT LIKABLENESS
Day 31 Yesira of KETER LOVE OF G-D
Day 32 Yesira of HOKHMAH LOVE OF HUMANITY
Day 33 Yesira of BINAH LOVE OF CHARITY
Day 34 Yesira of HESED LOVE OF JUSTICE
Day 35 Yesira of GEVURAH LOVE OF REBUKE
Day 36 Yesira of TIFERET FLEEING FROM HONOR
Day 37 Yesira of NETSAH LACK OF ARROGANCE IN LEARNING
Day 38 Yesira of HOD RELUCTANCE TO HAND DOWN RULINGS
Day 39 Yesira of YESOD PARTICIPATING IN THE BURDEN OF ONE’S FELLOW
Day 40 Yesira of MALKHUT JUDGING HIM TO THE SIDE OF MERIT
Day 41 Assiah of KETER CORRECTING HIM
Day 42 Assiah of HOKHMAH BRINGING HIM TO A PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF HIS DISPUTES
Day 43 Assiah of BINAH DELIBERATION IN STUDY
Day 44 Assiah of HESED ASKING AND ANSWERING
Day 45 Assiah of GEVURAH LISTENING AND ILLUMINATING
Day 46 Assiah of TIFERET LEARNING IN ORDER TO TEACH
Day 47 Assiah of NETSAH LEARNING IN ORDER TO OBSERVE
Day 48 Assiah of HOD WISING ONE’S TEACHER
Day 49 Assiah of YESOD EXACTNESS IN CONVEYING A TEACHING
Day 50 Assiah of MALKHUT SAYING SOMETHING IN THE NAME OF ITS SPEAKER
Advertisements

TELLING TALES 8

Bubba

 

There’s always a time and place for telling tales (pun intended).

 

 

 

 

 

Teamwork is such an important aptitude to cultivate.  Teamwork is commonly defined as a cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interest of a common cause.  Accordingly, there is representation of work done with a team.  The late and great Abraham Maslow popularized the term “synergy” to describe work teams in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Mighty true!

But we can forget with ease that teamwork also reasonably includes the individual working in teamwork-like synchronization with oneself; that is, the advantageous nature of functioning in an increasingly integrated way with an individual being synergistic intuitively, intellectually, emotionally, and instinctively in context of oneself.  Alternatives to that wholistic approach are the individual becoming further fragmented and isolated, being at odds with oneself, working at cross-purposes, or being “at sixes and sevens” with oneself.

Whether solo or as a group member, successful teamwork is often not assured, though circumstances can often be teamworked as such to further open the window of opportunity to enhance success in an endeavor.  Of course, “many hands can make light work.”  And then there are times when you simply just plain never know how teamwork effort is going to work out.

Thanks to longtime pal Bonnie for this telling tale!

 

An 85-year-old man had to do a sperm count for his physical exam. The doctor gave the man a jar and said, “Take this home and bring back a sample tomorrow.”

The next day, the 85-year-old man reappeared at the doctor’s office and gave him the jar, which was as clean and empty as on the previous day.

The doctor asked what happened, and the man explained…

“Well, doc, it’s like this — first I tried with my right hand, but nothing. Then I tried with my left hand, but still nothing. Then I asked my wife for help.

“She tried with her right hand, then with her left, still nothing. She tried with her mouth, first with the teeth in, then with her teeth out, still nothing. We even called up Arleen, the lady next door, and she tried too, first with both hands, then an armpit, and she even tried squeezin’ it between her knees, but still nothing.”

The doctor was shocked. “You asked your neighbor? Good heavens!”

The old man replied, “Yep, none of us could get the jar open.”

TELLING TALES 7

Communication can be challenging in the best circumstances.  Clarity and transparency always matter.  It is certainly easy to wander along being misunderstood or not understanding due to lack of attention.  Clear communication actually takes conscious, intentional clarity and transparency.  Loaded language and lack of authentic communication are fundamental features of co-dependency.  What a destructive mess that is.  Conscious and unconscious hidden agendas in any circumstances eschew the concept of authenticity let alone authentic communication.  And as Ann Landers observed decades ago:  “Samson slew the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass.  Every day thousands of friendships are felled with the same weapon.”  Thanks to longtime pal Bonnie for this telling tale.

Hi, Bob, this is Alan from next door.  I have a confession to make.  I’ve been riddled with guilt these past few months and have been trying to pluck up the courage to tell you to your face, but I am at least now telling you in text as I can’t live with myself a moment longer without you knowing.  The truth is – I’ve been sharing your Wife, day and night when you’re not around.  In fact, probably more than you.  I haven’t been getting it at home recently, but that’s no excuse, I know.  The temptation was just too much.  I can no longer live with the guilt and I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies and forgive me.  It won’t happen again. Please suggest a fee for usage and I’ll pay you.  Regards, Alan

Bob, feeling insulted and betrayed, grabbed his gun, and shot his neighbor dead.  He returned home where he poured himself a stiff drink and sat down on the sofa.  He took out his phone where he saw he had an earlier missed message from his neighbor:

Hi, Bob, this is Alan again from next door.  Sorry about that typo on my last text.  But I expect you figured it out anyway and that you noticed that the darned AutoCorrect changed “WiFi” to “Wife”.  Technology, hey??  Regards, Alan

TELLING TALES 6

dorothy parker stampDorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American poet, short story writer, critic, and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks and eye for 20th-century urban foibles.

From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary output in publications such as The New Yorker and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table.  Following the breakup of the
circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were
curtailed when her involvement in left-wing politics led to a place on the Hollywood
blacklist
.

Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a “wisecracker.”
Nevertheless, her literary output and reputation for her sharp wit have endured.

Parker died on June 7, 1967, of a heart attack at the age of 73.   In her will, she bequeathed her estate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Following King’s death, her estate was passed on to the NAACP.   Her executor, Lillian Hellman, bitterly but unsuccessfully contested this disposition.   Her ashes remained unclaimed in various places, including her attorney Paul O’Dwyer‘s filing cabinet, for approximately 17 years.

In 1988, the NAACP claimed Parker’s remains and designed a memorial garden for them outside their Baltimore headquarters. The plaque reads,

Here lie the ashes of Dorothy Parker (1893–1967) humorist, writer, critic.  Defender of human and civil rights.  For her epitaph she suggested, ‘Excuse my dust’.  This memorial garden is dedicated to her noble spirit which celebrated the oneness of humankind and to the bonds of everlasting friendship between black and Jewish people.  Dedicated by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  October 28, 1988.

The above information is excerpted from WIKIPEDIA.  Following is a brief sampling of the “wit and wisdom” of Dorothy Parker:

Brevity is the soul of lingerie.

That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

Tell him I was too fucking busy– or vice versa.

Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.

Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.

I don’t know much about being a millionaire, but I’ll bet I’d be darling at it.

There’s a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wise-cracking is simply calisthenics with words.

Ducking for apples — change one letter and it’s the story of my life.

Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.

That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can’t say ‘No’ in any of them.

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.

I’m not a writer with a drinking problem, I’m a drinker with a writing problem.

I hate writing, I love having written.

Whenever she would hear a telephone ring, she would say:

What fresh hell is this!

Here is her poetic take on a broken love affair:

Oh, seek, my love, your newer way;
I’ll not be left in sorrow.
So long as I have yesterday,
Go take your damned tomorrow!

But here is perhaps her finest telling tale about herself, her intellect, and her jujitsu-style golden wit:

I named my pet parrot “Onan” because it would spill its seed on the floor.

TELLING TALES 5

The Alligator and the Scorpion

Alligator was swimming along checking out its territory in a wide, long river when it heard Scorpion calling it to stop and come over to the riverbank on one side of the river where Scorpion was hopping up and down in an effort to be seen by Alligator.
Alligator swam over to the riverbank, keeping a wary distance from Scorpion.

“What’s up?” queried Alligator.

“Can I trouble you to give me a ride on your back to the other side of the river? It is abundantly clear that I can’t swim across, and I really need to get to the other side.” Scorpion was really quite upset that it was halted in its journey by such an
obstruction, and though it hated to inconvenience Alligator it really had no
alternatives.

“No way!” shrewdly responded Alligator. “Do you think I’m that stupid? You would
automatically sting me and then I’d die from your poison!”

“That’s ridiculous,” responded Scorpion. If I stung you, I’d die too because, to state the obvious, I can’t swim. What I need is to get to the other side of the river!”

Alligator contemplated the logic, and realized what a compelling point Scorpion had made.

“Okay,” said Alligator. “Hop on my back and I’ll swim over so you can get to the other side and continue on your journey – no problem!”

Scorpion was overtly effusive in its gratitude. “Thank you so very, very much,
Alligator! I really appreciate it and this will get me out of a really bad situation!”

So Scorpion hopped on the back of Alligator, which started to swim across the river to reach the other side.  About half way across to the other side of the river, Alligator felt the lethal sting of Scorpion.

“Why did you do that!?” lamented Alligator as it began to sink in the water as the
poison proceeded to paralyze it. “Now we’ll both die!”

“How could you expect me to go against my nature,” whined Scorpion as it too sank below the water surface.

 

TELLING TALES 4

The following Sufi tale has been around for so long and variously told in so many locations.  A popular telling is W. Somerset Maugham’s, and considered at 33 Gateway Lane as one of the most effectively elegant and thought-provoking.

 

“The Appointment in Samarra”
(as retold by W. Somerset Maugham [1933])

The speaker is Death

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

 

TELLING TALES 3

Adaptability is the quality to change or be changed to fit changed circumstances.  This is not a popular quality to human beings and, in fact, is generally considered a nuisance.  To explain why this is so is to state the obvious – the typical Joe or Jane wants an established routine, a known set of patterns.  We do have a tendency to be creatures of habit, don’t we?  Sure, that can become rather dull and boring from time to time, but there’s always the annual vacation to look forward to, or a periodic opportunity to swing from the rafters a bit such as a wedding or birthday party or some sort of occasion for revelry like New Year’s Eve.  These periodic opportunities thus appease the sense of adventure, and then we can dash back to the loving embrace of our precious routine.  However, there is an implicit illusion in the concept of one being embedded in routine:  The condition of routine suggests security and stability.  And this illusion can numb our aptitude for adaptability.  Further, there is almost staggering explicit truth in the Spanish proverb “Habits are first cobwebs, then cables.”  Accordingly, the bigger the conscious or unconscious cable, the smaller our capacity for conscious or unconscious adaptability.

A pirate walked into a bar, and the bartender said, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible.”

“What do you mean?” said the pirate, “I feel fine.”

“What about the wooden leg? You didn’t have that before.”

“Well,” said the pirate, “We were in a battle, and I got hit with a cannon ball, but I’m fine now.”

The bartender replied, “Well, okay, but what about that hook? What happened to your hand?”

The pirate explained, “We were in another battle. I boarded a ship and got into a sword fight. My hand was cut off. I got fitted with a hook and I’m fine, really.”

“What about that eye patch?”

“Oh,” said the pirate, “One day we were at sea, and a flock of birds flew over. I looked up, and one of them shit in my eye.”

“You’re kidding,” said the bartender. “You couldn’t lose an eye just from bird shit.”

“It was my first day with the hook.”

TELLING TALES 2

This one has been around for so long, variously told in so many locations, that attribution would be totally skewed.  Accordingly, it resides here until the title “Old Sufi Tale”.

The Sufis are known as Seekers of the Truth, this truth being a knowledge of objective
reality.  An ignorant and covetous tyrannical king called Roderick once determined to
possess himself of this truth.  He decided that truth was something which Omar the Sufi of Tarragon could be forced to tell him.

Omar was arrested and brought to the court.  Roderick said:  “I have ordained that the truths which you know are to be told to me in words which I understand; otherwise, your life is forfeit.”

Omar answered:  “Do you observe in this chivalric court the universal custom whereby if an arrested person tells the truth in answer to a question and that truth does not inculpate him, he is released to freedom?”

“That is so,” said Roderick.

“I call upon all of you here present to witness this, by the honor of our king,” said Omar, “and I will now tell you not one truth, but three.”

“We must also be satisfied,” said Roderick, “that what you claim to be these truths are in fact truth.  The proof must accompany the telling.”

“For such a king as you,” said Omar, “to whom we can give not one truth but three, we can also give truths which will be self-evident.”

Roderick took these words as a great compliment and preened himself accordingly.

“The first truth,” said the Sufi, “is that I am he who is called Omar the Sufi of Tarragon.  The second is that you have agreed to release me if I tell the truth.  The third is that you wish to know the truth as you conceive it.”

Such was the impression caused by these words that the tyrannical king was compelled to give the Sufi his freedom.

TELLING TALES 1

Once upon a time, when God had finished making the world, He wanted to leave behind Him for man a piece of His own divinity, a spark of His essence, a promise to man of what he could become, with effort.  He looked for a place to hide this Godhead because, He explained, what man could find too easily would never be valued by him.

“Then you must hide the Godhead on the highest mountain peak on earth,” said one of His councilors.

God shook His head.  “No, for man is an adventuresome creature and he will soon enough learn to climb the highest mountain peaks.”

“Hide it then, O Great One, in the depths of the earth!”

“I think not,” said God, “for man will one day discover that he can dig into the deepest parts of the earth.”

“In the middle of the ocean then, Master?”

God shook His head.  “I’ve given man a brain, you see, and one day he’ll learn to build ships and cross the mightiest oceans.”

“Where then, Master?” cried His councilors.

God smiled.  “I’ll hide it in the most inaccessible place of all, and the one place that man will never think to look for it.  I’ll hide it deep inside of man himself.”

 

Have Ox, Will Fish

Comments Regarding Readership Response to
“Taming the Wild Ox”

Crane Lake, Minnesota

Thank you to everyone for comments and questions regarding “Taming the Wild Ox”. Keep them coming; I will continue responding to all!

Most surprising is the overwhelming response to my point regarding the effort for mastery of ego as opposed to absence of ego. Considering the plethora of comments and questions targeting that one concept, it appears prudent to anticipate a more detailed post in the future that is focused on that particular point.  Meantime, it is noted here that the title for the ancient adventure is “Taming the Wild Ox”. It is not “Slaying the Wild Ox” or “Sending the Ox to Hog Heaven”.

And yes, insecurity and false modesty are functions of ego.

The Western vantage point and popular conceptions about ego are utterly, egregiously fouled up and distorted — singularly due to that master fraud and egotist, Freud and his bogus legacy of Freudian Psychology. Fully 40 years ago when I first learned a little about Freud, I had an immediate negative reaction to that little fella. The passing years have resulted in greater clarity and detail regarding my intense negative attitude about him, and frankly my disdain has commensurately deepened.  Through time, he has been publicly debunked and exposed as a fake and egomaniac. For those interested in such matters, I recommend “Freud: What’s Left?” by Frederick Crews, an article in the February 23, 2017 edition of The New York Times Review of Books.

Be that mess as it may, readers at 33 Gateway Lane may recall the concept of the Top-Down/Bottom-Up Continuum. Shortcutting to the point of the matter, mastery of the ego is attained only via Top-Down processing. Ego is affirmed, validated, empowered, and further manifest in it’s “driver” capacity by Bottom-Up processing.  Freudian psychology is a Bottom-Up processing platform with a negative polarity, whereas Jungian psychology is a Top-Down processing platform with a positive polarity.

As otherwise explored at 33 Gateway Lane, it is noted here that Bottom-Up processing is egocentric, resulting in intensification of extant negative karma brought in from previous lifetimes and/or creation of negative karma.  Bottom-Up is walking backwards into intensifying isolation.  Top-Down processing is soul-centered, the platform for rectification of extant negative karma brought in from previous lifetimes and/or creation of positive karma.  Top-Down is walking forwards into intensifying individuation.

Discerning readers will thus recognize that the enchanting and mightily challenging “Taming the Wild Ox” odyssey is the Top-Down version of the Top-Down/Bottom-Up Continuum.

Many readers reasonably inquired as to why the hell we need ego anyway. What “good” is it?  Well.  We need ego.  The ego is our human survival mechanism. It anchors our enterprising spirit in our current physical human incarnation here on terra firma. For many enterprising spirits, however, their individual anchor determines when, where, and for how long they are going to be anchored into a location, situation, behavioral pattern. That’s like a case of the inmates running the asylum, where the anchor runs the ship.  That seems rather perverse doesn’t it?  The enterprising spirit in the guise of captain of his ship is to determine when, where, and how long to drop anchor — not the anchor determining when, where, for how long it will in effect hold the ship hostage.

Have you ever gone fishing in a small boat, rowing with oars out on a lake? When you finally find the spot where the fish are biting, you drop anchor so the boat will be held in that prime location where you can hopefully catch breakfast, lunch, and maybe even dinner.  Once as a young kid I found the spot where the fish were biting only to discover I did not have an anchor. My frustration was fueled by the windy day.

“You always need your anchor, you damn fool!” I berated myself as this Michael rowed his boat ashore.

We all need that “anchor”, that common core of humanity.  However, it is only by way of our enterprising spirit in action that one can manifest that common core as humane.  Or “tame”, as one may prefer.

Thank you again, and all best regards!

 

“Taming the Wild Ox”

attributed to Zen Master Kakuan Shien
China, 12th Century

“Taming the Wild Ox” (popularly known as “The 10 Bulls of Zen” and “The 10 Ox-Herding Pictures”) is a series of 10 illustrations and accompanying short verses used in the Zen tradition to illustrate the stages of a practitioner’s progression towards the purification of the mind and enlightenment, and subsequent return into the world while acting out of wisdom.  The numbered verse translation below is credited to Philip Kapleau.

An alternative interpretation of the drawings is as representation of the steps or stages of the “pilgrim’s progress” leading to spiritual illumination.  You as an enterprising spirit can utilize the images to assess your progress or discover your current stage of your unique pilgrim’s progress.  The aqua-colored commentary below is credited to Alfonso Carrasco of Chile, translated from the Spanish by M. Gallardo.

An equally viable symbolic alternative is the 10 pictures corresponding to the 10 Sephirot of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.  The Sephirot are variously interpreted as, for example, 10 Divine attributes, or 10 “waystations” in the process of unfolding Creation.  The Hebrew and English terms for the Sephirot are provided below in gray color along with the corresponding 33 Gateway Lane nomenclature and definitions.

Two more legitimate interpretations include the representation of “The Hero’s Journey”, and fundamental symbolism of Carl Jung’s process of individuation.

Whatever interpretation you prefer, there are two points common to all the various interpretations:

1.  The ox represents the human ego.
2.  Enlightenment does not entail an absence of ego, it entails the mastery of ego.

And feel free to cast aside all interpretations and symbolism!  For standing on their own merit, in and of themselves, the 10 images can simply be appreciated and enjoyed as enchanting and delightful works of art.  Just like countless other souls have done for over 800 years.

ONE

1-01-one

1. SEEKING THE OX
Desolate through forests and fearful in jungles,
he is seeking an Ox which he does not find.
Up and down dark, nameless, wide-flowing rivers,
in deep mountain thickets he treads many bypaths.
Bone-tired, heart-weary , he carries on his search
for this something which he yet cannot find.
At evening he hears cicadas chirping in the trees.

The Search for the Bull:  This stage represents man when he still does not know his true nature, but one way or another, has already started his search. He wishes to find it, though he does not even know what it is, nor is he sure of recognizing it when he finds it. Sometimes he experiments with the search as an escape from his present circumstances which in general are not pleasant. Life as it is, is a heavy load and — he thinks — surely there must be a better way of living. Most of those who have started the “search” are at this stage.

KETER | Crown

1 INTENTIONALITY Purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct.  Done with intention or on purpose; intended; of or pertaining to intention or purpose.  Purpose implies having a goal or determination to achieve something.

TWO

1-02-two

2. FINDING THE FOOTPRINTS
Innumerable footprints has he seen
in the forest and along the water’s edge.
Over yonder does he see the trampled grass?
Even the deepest gorges of the topmost mountains
can’t hide this Ox’s nose which reaches right to heaven.

Finding the Path:  At this stage, the searcher finds indications, clues in one or more spiritual traditions, he is attracted by books of wisdom, he attends conferences on the subject, he meets masters and notices that there are others who have followed the same path, he is not the first person to have noticed that there is something subtle to attain. This stage, generally, starts with yoga practice, meditation or other disciplines. Through these he experiences sensations related to the spirit.  In the first image he searches all over, without a specific order, whereas in the second image his search is more focused and better oriented.

CHOKHMAH | Wisdom

2 POTENTIAL Possible, as opposed to actual.  Capable of being or becoming.

THREE

1-03-three

3. FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE OX
A nightingale warbles on a twig,
the sun shines on undulating willows.
There stands the Ox, where could he hide?
That splendid head, those stately horns,
what artist could portray them?

The First Glimpse:  This would be considered the first spiritual experience, the student gets to see his true self and feel the Kundalini energy that awakens within him. It is equivalent to the first contact with the master that initiates him or transmits him his energy.  Kundalini energy is both physical and spiritual in nature. The searcher’s objective will be to elevate this energy towards his consciousness instead of repressing or eliminating the animal within. This first insight can also originate from religious experiences in the form of celestial visions. As a summary, the first sight is any kind of vision or unusual experience that stimulates the individual to follow the path towards that which is transcendental.

BINAH | Understanding

3 STEWARDSHIP One who administers anything as the agent of another or others.

FOUR

1-04-four

4. CATCHING THE OX
He must tightly grasp the rope and not let it go,
for the Ox still has unhealthy tendencics.
Now he charges up to the highlands,
now he loiters in a misty ravine.

Capturing the Bull:  He has caught the animal but it is still stubborn and does not follow him. He has finally caught it but it is obstinate and uncontrolled. Its energy and decision are relentless, at times it runs toward the hills, at other times it stays unmovable in deep impenetrable valleys. It symbolizes our struggle with our basic nature, something that can last a whole lifetime. At this stage a person must analyze if he is advancing and attaining a clearer understanding or he is simply stuck and protecting himself behind certain doctrines or ideas related to spiritual practice.

CHESED | Kindness

4 LEADERSHIP The position or function of a leader.  Ability to lead.  An act or instance of leading, guidance, direction.  To go before or with to show the way; conduct or escort.  To guide in direction, course, action, opinion, etc.  To command or direct.  To take the directing or principal part.

FIVE

1-05-five

5. TAMING THE OX
He must hold the nose-rope tight and not allow the Ox to roam,
lest off to muddy haunts it should stray.
Properly tended, it becomes clean and gentle.
Untethered, it willingly follows its master.

Taming the Bull:  This represents the control of our physical or animal nature, this is attained by knowing it; in other words, listening and dialoging with it. He is now directing the bull with the reins and controls it to the extent that the bull lets himself be guided. Little by little the man becomes the master. What he does at this stage is unite his consciousness with the animal nature (basic nature).  For example, a professional animal trainer knows that using force you do not tame the animal.  Only by harmonizing his consciousness with the animal conscience can he attain that. This is why many of the effective spiritual development formulas do not try to conquer, dominate, destroy, or eliminate the ego.  Rather they teach you to live in harmony with it.  Actually, it is the ego or the mind itself, that promotes the search of one’s Self and it must go through all the stages. Thus to talk about eliminating it is absurd.

GEVURAH | Severity

5 MANAGEMENT The act or manner of managing, handling, direction, or control.  A person who has control or direction of an institution, business, etc., or of a part, division, or phase of it.

SIX

1-06-six

6. RIDING THE OX HOME
Riding free as air he buoyantly comes home
through evening mists in wide straw-hat and cape.
Wherever he may go he creates a fresh breeze,
while in his heart profound tranquility prevails.
This Ox requires not a blade of grass.

Riding the Bull Home:  In the Hindu culture, Gods and Goddesses are represented riding on animals as their vehicle. The animal symbolizes the inferior nature that the man dominates and with which he has a good relationship. One must feed and take care of the biological part of our being, without abusing nor relaxing too much. This way the physical vital force becomes an ally. In the drawing we can see how he is riding the bull without reins, the bull knows where to go and that is where it goes without being directed. He is playing the flute placidly on the back of the bull. The struggle is over, he has attained the state of enlightenment.

TIFERET | Beauty

6 INITIATIVE An introductory act or step; leading action.  Readiness and ability in initiating action; enterprise.  Of or pertaining to initiation; serving to initiate.

SEVEN

1-07-seven

7. OX FORGOTTEN, SELF ALONE
Only on the Ox was he able to come Home,
But lo, the Ox is now vanished, and alone and serene sits the man.
The red sun rides high in the sky as he dreams on placidly.
Yonder beneath the thatched roof
his idle whip and idle rope are lying.

The Transcended Bull:  He is alone and happy, sitting by his house, the bull is no longer visible. He has become one with the Being. Instead of the former efforts, a state of peace and happiness reigns.

Transcendence is a recurring or temporal experience of unity, beyond dualities. It is an exceptional state of conscience. When we live in a dual world, we always experience the opposites: inside – out, happiness – sadness, success – failure, etc. Duality starts with birth and ends with death. Actually, we live not only in duality, but rather multiplicity. Whereas transcendence implies a unity experience, not duality, not multiplicity, that shows us our true nature.

NETZACH | Victory

7 TEAMWORK Cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interest of a common cause.  Work done with a team.

EIGHT

1-08-eight

8. BOTH OX AND SELF FORGOTTEN
Whip, rope, Ox and man alike belong to Emptiness.
So vast and infinite the azure sky
that no concept of any sort can reach it.
Over a blazing fire a snowflake cannot survive.
When this state of mind is realized
comes at last comprehension
of the spirit of the ancient Patriarchs.

The Bull and Self Transcended:  All has fused itself into nothingness. We can only observe a circle, with nothing inside, which means all opposites have disappeared. At this stage he cannot even say “I am illuminated” or “I am not illuminated”, they do not exist for him.  Unity is all that exists.

HOD | Splendor

8 COMMUNICATION The act or process of communicating; fact of being communicated.  The imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.  Something imparted, interchanged, or transmitted.

NINE

1-09-nine

9. RETURNING TO THE SOURCE
He has returned to the Origin, come back to the Source,
but his steps have been taken in vain.
It is as though he were now blind and deaf.
Seated in his hut, he hankers not for things outside.
Streams meander on of themselves,
red flowers naturally bloom red.

Back to the Origin:  In this image we can see nature in all its splendor, flowers, birds, the river, mountains. It represents what happens after the transcendental experience. Outside the illuminated man, nothing has changed, only man himself has been transformed. He reenters life with different eyes, a new center with another focus guides him. Each time he so wishes he can go within himself and see life through it.  All is in peace.

YESOD | Foundation

9 VITALIZATION To give life to; make vital.  To give vitality or vigor to; animate.

TEN

1-10-ten

10. ENTERING THE MARKET PLACE
Barechested, barefooted, he comes into the market place.
Muddied and dust-covered, how broadly he grins!
Without recourse to mystic powers,
withered trees he swiftly brings to bloom!

In the World:  Buddha, after attaining the state of illumination, almost did not come out again and return to the world. His compassion for all beings finally took hold and the rest of his life he dedicated to intense social work that transformed culture and society in his time. In this drawing the illuminated man now directs himself to other beings to help them.  He puts all his wisdom at their service.

MALCHUT | Kingship

10 REALIZED To grasp or understand clearly.  To make real; give reality to a hope, fear, plan, etc.  To bring as proceeds, as from a sale.