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Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter
Number 16 – 9 October 2003
Copyright 2003 Meru Foundation
Edited by Cynthia Tenen

I'm pleased to announce that mention of Meru's research has been included in a new book by Peter Novak, "The Lost Secret of Death", just published by Hampton Roads. Our next eTORUS will include a review of this book by Rob Nixon, who independently brought Novak's book to our attention. (We were in touch with Peter while he was writing "The Lost Secret of Death," and were pleased to learn it was finally published.) We will have additional information on "The Lost Secret of Death" in our next issue.

As many of you know, we are very careful to distinguish Meru Foundation's research from the usual scholarly, psychological, charismatic, and new-age ideas about Kabbalah, as well as from Tarot, astrology, gematria, and other similar subjects. Because many people think these topics are related to Meru's research, or ought to be, they are confused and even upset by our insistence on keeping our work separate. This is an important issue for us; thus, "Damning by Faint Praise," below.

As Stan makes clear, we are open to people interested in all subjects, even questionable and subjective subjects -- when those subjects are presented modestly, and with a sense of perspective. If you have a serious interest in traditional Kabbalah, Tarot, gematria/numerology, or astrology, or any of the other topics Stan discusses in the essay below, please consider what we have to say with an open mind and honest heart, using your own sense of reason and balance. After all, the real issue is not the topic of study per se, but rather the caring, context, and integrity of its presentation.

(c)2003 Stan Tenen

Meru Foundation's proposals are not for everyone. This letter is my attempt to help to sort sense from nonsense, and to put some of the ideas that have become problematic before the public, so that they can be examined and discussed. We are trying to reach honest, open-minded critical skeptics, including believers and non-believers, religious people and non-religious people (of all faiths), scientists, scholars, researchers, and interested individuals in all walks of life. But we're not trying to appeal to everyone -- at least, not at first. We're trying to reach the skeptics first -- to satisfy people who demand objective demonstrations -- before we begin to consider and work with persons and ideas that are more subjective, and thus less impressive to skeptics. Of course, depending on how ideas are used, and depending on the integrity, charity, and humility of the presenters, almost all ideas can be used for the good, and make a helpful contribution.

We want to dissuade self-appointed geniuses from co-opting Meru's work by imposing their own ideas on it, and by inappropriately quoting from and incorporating our findings in their proposals. This is a significant problem, because later, third parties criticize what Meru is actually proposing based on misrepresentations by people who have imposed themselves on us. This is not just a matter of our having to deal with the copyright infringement and disparagement of the individual referred to in the boxed "Plagiarism Notice" at the bottom of our home page at www.meru.org. While this individual is clearly "over the top", many others, certainly less crazy and bizarre but often no less insistent, seem to have taken an undue interest in the Meru proposals.

Great ideas are not uncommon. What makes the difference is what is done with them, and this depends on integrity, caring, humility -- and competent management and adequate resources. In order to mature and be healthy and productive, a great idea requires the same nurturing and nourishment as a child.

Meru Foundation needs intelligent and caring support in order to form working relationships with other professionals, and in order to bring these ideas forward. However, while we need support for our work, this is in the spirit of education for the future, with all the benefits for our children and grandchildren that come from this. Support for Meru Foundation does not come before tzedakah (charity) needed to meet today's immediate human needs and emergencies.

Our work contributes to tikkun olam, that is, to a better world for our children and grandchildren. Our work attempts to address political, social, and sociological needs on a global scale, and it can relate to healing and caring also. What we have accomplished provides a philosophical and theoretical basis for action. What we need is support in order to turn this potential into action.


  1. Proper translation of traditional philosophical and Kabbalistic materials. This brings these teachings back to life in our time, and enables them to become real in our world.

  2. Increased respect for Torah, for Jews, Judaism, and Israel -- and all of the other facets of the Abrahamic traditions, and indeed, all high traditions, East and West.

  Schliemann's discovery of Troy moved Troy from easily-dismissed mythology to real and productive archeology. Likewise, re-discovery of the universal gesture-language moves the story of the Tower of Babel (and by implication, a good deal more of Torah) from mythology to reality. This encourages serious study of Torah by persons who now do not lend their talents to this, because of their lack of interest in what they believe to be subjective or mythological. New work by new students is sure to yield completely unexpected, valuable new insights and perspectives.

  The idea is to demonstrate that in the Western tradition, Torah contains what I call "a science of consciousness" that is valuable (to modern standards) to all people of all cultures.

  3. Am Segulah -- the "chosen people" -- an idea which sets Jews apart from others, becomes understood as the "well-choosing people", something that any nation that segulah -- "sustains the action of learning" -- can aspire to.

  This is not word-play. We have simply re-discovered and re-validated traditional claims that Torah Hebrew roots are not arbitrary, but rather, intrinsically define that which they describe. The Hebrew letter Samek means "to sustain". Gimel refers to "action" or "relationship" (a camel), and Lamed means "learning" (Samek-Gimel-Lamed is the root of segulah, "chosen/choosing"). Any person or people that "sustains the action of learning" learns to choose well.

Simply by moving from noun-translations to verb-translations, principles that previously have set Jews apart and caused jealousy now unite us with others, as examples of successful behavior.


What is really problematic with all of the supposed Kabbalah that is so popular these days, whether it comes from scholars, occultists, Jewish sources, non-Jewish sources, new-age sources, etc., is the inadequacy in modern terms of the content they propose.

The content that all of these scholars and experts propose for the meaning and significance of the Hebrew text of Genesis, and its Kabbalah, in effect "damns by faint praise".

If the Hebrew text of Genesis and its Kabbalah really does include a true science of consciousness and cosmology meeting the highest modern objective standards, accessible to everyone (like all real science), then what objective "praise" is it to attribute subjective, non-reproducible content to Torah or Kabbalah?

Consider for example:

  * magical healing powers
  * secret lost knowledge
  * psychic prophecy
  * UFO intervention
  * numerology
  * Bible codes
  * astrology
  * palmistry
  * Tarot

Even if any or all of these turns out to have some objectively valid component, compared to what a modern person means by an objective science, they are still all either trivial or subjective.

It is intrinsically demeaning to the Torah tradition (and the Western traditions in general) to attempt to impose this sort of "damning by faint praise" on something that is -- if I'm right -- worth enormously more praise, and is of enormously greater value.

To claim that a car can travel at 200 miles per hour would seem to be great praise -- unless, of course, the car can actually travel at 500 miles per hour, in which case the claim of 200 miles per hour is in fact a disparagement, and not praise at all.

Even if all the scholarly, new-age, Christianized, magical, mythical, and/or psychological Kabbalah is real, it's still only "faint praise" compared to what the evidence suggests the Hebrew text of Genesis and its alphabet and Kabbalah are really about.

Of course all honest scholarship is valuable and makes a contribution. The Meru proposals are based on existing scholarship. Where we differ is that the Meru proposals make it clear that the science of consciousness in Torah is objective, valuable, and usable to modern standards in the modern world.

Like "a rising tide that raises all ships", the Meru proposals give credit where credit is due, distinguish what is valuable from what isn't, and in so doing, help to extract what is real and valuable from the widest possible range of sources and perspectives (including even the examples above).

If there are "healing powers", then the Meru perspective can help to distinguish the valuable "signal" from the "noise".

If there is "secret lost knowledge" (such as the universal language at the time of the Tower of Babel), then Meru's high critical standards can help to sort through the secrets, and find what has been lost.

If there is reality to prophecy, then what we're proposing distinguishes objective prognostication from subjective beliefs. We're proposing that the letter-text of Torah includes mental exercises that help us emotionally and intellectually to mature, and consequently to gain a more inclusive overview. This may not be "magical" prophecy, but it may be akin to the objective science farmers use to know how to read the seasons to properly raise their crops.

With regard to the "Bible Codes," the Meru proposal is that the letter-patterning is objectively real, but that it is faint praise indeed to interpret this in a way that makes it appear that Torah is hardly more than a laundry-list of prophecies. The Meru proposal that the letter-text includes psychologically and physiologically sound mental exercises that can lead to an objective overview is much stronger praise -- and it is demonstrable.

Numerology and "gematria" have been much abused, and subject to fantastical claims in circumstances where the principle can only be applied in an arbitrary and meaningless way. The Meru proposals make it easier to distinguish between meaningful numerical values for names and roots, and meaningless ones.

The Western sages were clear that there is something to astrology, which is why it has been banned. Looking to signs and seasons, and interpreting them according to one's own systems of belief, can lead a person away from looking to God. The Meru proposals can extract what is meaningful, and can help to put it into proper perspective as a subset of God.

Palmistry, of course, has also been abused. But there may indeed be an objective correlation among the organs that develop from the same embryonic tissues. Thus the skin of the palm could, in principle, be objectively read to provide real information. But of course this would be entirely different than the magical subjective systems.

And finally even Tarot, almost certainly a medieval fraud, can teach us something. Tarot, like all human divinatory and idolatrous systems, attempts to make sense of the real world. Everyone alive can directly observe the cycles of life, and the seasons. Tarot and other forms of idolatry assign idols, images, and powers over these natural cycles. And surprisingly, it is exactly this "idolatry run amok" that offers the opportunity for tikkun olam (repair of the world).

Humbly taken as a catalog of natural functions, Tarot and all the other divinatory systems can be useful because, properly organized and understood, these natural functions are a natural part of any true science of consciousness.

Any of these can be used to focus a person's thinking -- and this personal basis is why these systems can be used subjectively by talented and caring individuals (whether or not they have objective value).

Contrarily, when Tarot and the others are taken to be complete systems, to represent truth, and are claimed to be science by individuals who believe they have made a great discovery, they become the ego-centric focus for idolatry.

The difference between useful function and useless aggrandizement is not in any of these (subjective) systems, but rather in the individuals who make use of them. Humble scholars and scientists recognize that great as their discoveries may be, they are only a small part of a much greater whole. Arrogant persons do not recognize this, and like Pharaoh, think that they (or their ideas) are the only "greats" in the world.

There is no one single way to express everything to everyone, and there is certainly no individual whose expertise and wisdom can encompass all knowledge, or communicate to everyone. That's why there are so many of us.

Taken in context -- humbly -- like all serious work, even marginal and false beliefs can do good and be useful. Taken out of context, even great ideas can be demeaned, demeaning, and destructive.

We are interested in the recovery of an objective science of consciousness from the roots of our Western traditions. While the personal, subjective, divinatory systems are certainly not an objective science of consciousness, a true science of consciousness must include an explanation and a place for these subjective systems. It is a matter of putting the horse before the cart.

Stan Tenen
Director of Research,
Meru Foundation


I hope you enjoy this Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter.

We welcome your comments and suggestions, and would like the opportunity to speak with you personally.

If you have comments or questions, please send an email to Cynthia Tenen at meru@meru.org with your phone number and a good time to call -- or, please call us at 781-784-8902 (Boston area). I would like to brainstorm with you.

Thank you for your interest in the work of the Meru Foundation.

The Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter is copyright 2003 Meru Foundation. All rights reserved.
Past issues of eTORUS(tm) are archived online on the Meru Foundation website at

You may duplicate and pass along this newsletter, in its entirety, as long as you include this copyright notice and the contact information below. Please send comments and questions to <meru@meru.org>.

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