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Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter
Number 2 - 24 February 2000
Copyright 2000 Meru Foundation
Written by Cynthia Tenen

Meru's Research staff -- Stan and Cynthia Tenen -- are currently visiting the San Francisco Bay area, and plan to stay through at least the month of March.  If you're on the west coast, and would like to speak with us, please send us an email at <meru@meru.org> and let us know how we can reach you.  As of today, we don't have any formal classes planned, but if we do schedule a public presentation of the Meru research, I'll send an email announcement.

The Meru Foundation website,<www.meru.org>, has reached a significant milestone -- we passed 100,000 hits as of January 20, 2000, and our traffic is steadily increasing.   Also, as those of you who received our November 1999 newsletter know, we have opened a new secure-server distribution website, <www.meetingtent.com>, so that you may now order Meru Foundation videotapes, models, and other products directly on line.  We have had good success with this new site so far, thanks to Meru's President, Bill Haber, who is now running Meru's retail distribution.  But of course there's always more we could do.  If you have feedback on our new website, or suggestions as to ways we can increase traffic to <www.meetingtent.com>, please write to Bill Haber at <service@meru.org>.

Stan Tenen is scheduled to appear again on Art Bell's Coast to Coast, the all-night radio interview program heard throughout the United States, at 11 PM Pacific Time on Monday, February 28.  Stan will be interviewed by guest-host Rollie James.  Stan's last appearances on Art's show were on June 9 and July 7, 1997.  To find out what radio station broadcasts Coast to Coast in your area, go to the Art Bell website at <www.artbell.com/stations.html>.  If there's no radio station in your area that carries Coast to Coast, you can also hear the program live on streaming RealAudio(tm) via the Art Bell website -- go to <www.artbell.com/audio.html>.

Over the past several months, current research strongly indicating the primacy of gesture language in human development has received growing attention in the press.  This new work is beginning to establish a foundation meaningful to the scientific community for our proposal that the origins of Western sacred alphabets lie in hand gestures.  As noted in the Meru eTORUS Newsletter #1, several of these articles are described in the Squaring the Circle section on the Meru Foundation website, with links to them posted at <www.meru.org/3220lecture/contents.html>.

In the last few months, several additional articles have come to our attention:

A news report in the New York Times about the oldest alphabetic inscriptions yet found, in Egypt at Wadi-el-hol.  This discovery places the origin of written characters far earlier than previously thought, and one symbol in particular -- the symbol identified as "H" -- clearly shows the stick-figure of a human making the same gesture that Meru research suggests for the letter "He."  The article itself is posted on the New York Times website at
<http://forums.nytimes.com/library/national/science/111499sci-alphabet-origin.html>. (The NY Times will ask you to join their online service to see this article.  I recommend doing this; the service is free, and it gives you access to the entire, very extensive, NY Times online archive).  The Internet version of the Times article does not include the picture used the print version, of the "H" symbol mentioned above, but you can view it at <http://www.meru.org/Gestures/Wadi-el-hol-He.html>, along with a comparison to the letter "He" as reprinted from the Meru Foundation chart of Hebrew letter-gestures.

A second recent news report also appeared in the NY Times, on the work of Dr. Joseph Greenberg, an anthropologist and linguist with an unusual -- and very controversial -- perspective on how languages spread and evolve.  There are two URLs, one for the article, and another for a very evocative chart which is part of the article.  They are:
<http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/020100sci-archaeo-language.html>    and

The chart, in particular, shows the close relationship, and extreme similarity, of  words in several different languages having meanings related to the concepts of one, finger, or point.  Standard linguistic theory maintains these words are unrelated, but Dr. Greenberg's work shows a scientific basis for their real relationship.  Dr. Greenberg does not include Hebrew, but the hand-gesture for the letter Yod, meaning "I," "me", "to me", and point/pointer (as an expression of personal will or volition) as pictured on the Meru letter-gesture chart, is clearly consistent with his findings.  Yad, "hand," spelled Yud-Dalet (I-D), fits the pattern of root letters used to spell the word meaning "pointer" throughout Dr. Greenberg's chart.

A third and very interesting article is published in PSYCOLOQUY, a refereed online journal of open peer commentary sponsored by the American Psychological Association.  This article, titled The Role of the Hand in the Evolution of Language, by the late Prof. Ullin T. Place, is yet another recent report indicating the primacy of gesture language.  Sadly, Prof. Place died on January 2, 2000, shortly before the publication of this article. Here is an excerpt from the Abstract:

"Section III sets out eleven pieces of evidence for the view that vocal language must have been preceded by an earlier language of gesture.  Based on those principles and evidence, Section IV sets out seven proposed stages in the process whereby language evolved: (1) the use of mimed movement to indicate an action to be performed, (2) the development of referential pointing which, when combined with mimed movement, leads to a language of gesture, ..."
You can read Prof. Place's full article online at <http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/cgi/psyc/newpsy?11.007>.

In recent months, Stan has been participating in a number of electronic discussion lists on the topic of science and consciousness, or science and spirituality.  During the course of these conversations, from time to time he writes impromptu essays that we feel are of interest to readers of the eTORUS Newsletter -- because they discuss new work, or explain in detail points not elaborated on elsewhere, and provide perspective on some of the underlying principles of this research.

For the Winter issue, I've chosen an essay on the topic of how the way we look at the Hebrew Bible, and what we presume its history to be, profoundly affects what we see in it.  Rather than send the complete essay in this newsletter, I've posted it to a special section on the Meru website where these newsletters will be archived, at <http://www.meru.org/Newsletter/textnotstories.html>.  Below is a short excerpt that sets the tone for this piece:

     "If you were alive several thousand years ago, and you came upon, learned, had revealed to you, whatever, a meditation that had integrative and therapeutic value and brought you into a sense of connectedness with life and the Transcendent, and you wanted to record it for posterity, what could you do?  Obviously, writing a story doesn't solve the problem.  Meditational exercises are notoriously impossible to convey in word-descriptions.  You could do what any reasonable person would do today:  you could create a special formal language for the purpose of recording meditation.  This is what I'm suggesting as the origin of the Hebrew alphabet as a gesture-language.

     "But recording a series of gestures would be of no interest to the general public.  Given that the educated elite is the first to be wiped out in bad times, how could you see to it that your formal record of a meditational dance would survive?  Why would persons who could not perform, and who could not appreciate the meditational dance, preserve your record of it?

     "This is why the Hebrew Bible has to have a clear-text, and why a religion has to have culturally attractive and community-binding rituals.  If the clear-text is an attractive or fascinating cultural history, then those reading it would have sufficient reason to maintain it, even if they didn't know of or couldn't perform the meditations.  If you read the Hebrew sages, they tell you that the stories -- the clear-text -- only became readable after historical events occurred.  Well, if you were choosing a clear-text, wouldn't you choose to say things that were believed to be true?  It makes no sense to read the stories of the Bible in a way that makes them oppose history.  That would lower their credibility, and consequently their survivability."
(Essay excerpt ©1999, 2000 Stan Tenen)
You can read this complete "e-list essay" by Stan Tenen at <http://www.meru.org/Newsletter/textnotstories.html>.

I hope you enjoy this Meru Foundation eTORUS Newsletter.  We welcome your feedback; if you have questions, or suggestions, please don't hesitate to write me at:
Cynthia Tenen <meru@meru.org>

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

The Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter is copyright 1999, 2000, 2001 Meru Foundation.
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>.

Meru Foundation research offices:
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Contents of this page are ©1999 Cynthia Tenen, and licensed to Meru Foundation, 524 San Anselmo Ave. #214, San Anselmo, CA 94960.
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