Well, i haven´t been fired yet. Today´s lesson (6 hours!) went well, or well-ish anyway. My students were all naval engineers and full of lore and anecdotes and strange German humour. i am generally disdainful of machines but submarines fascinate me – perhaps from too-early exposure to Das Boot, perhaps because i can grasp the basic mechanical principles; so i likewise went through a military aviation phase as an adolescent, after playing clunky air sims on my Amiga (the bizarrely comprehensive manuals often more interesting than the games themselves). There was much conversation about Das Boot. We fell to talking about diving depths and pressure:

Elberry: How deep can your submarines go, anyway?

A certain disquiet; a few grimaces and wry faces.

Engineer 1: That is a military secret. Even we do not all know the depth capacities.

Engineer 2: It is on the internet. Everything is on the internet.

Engineer 1: We have a security department who are very interested in what appears on the internet. Like a manual for a new military submarine that was for sale on Ebay.

Elberry: On Ebay?

Engineer 1: Ten minutes it took them to deal with that.

Probably just as well i didn´t start asking wide-eyed questions about armaments (as i almost did). After the class i was paid to chaperone them to lunch at a nearby restaurant, where i had a regional speciality, some kind of cabbage or spinach, with potatoes & dead animal – very good, hearty Bosche fare. As far as i can tell my students were talking about torpedoes (in German). Sehr cool.

After class i used the work computers to research Isaac Luria a little more; the name had appeared to me in my sleep back in November, but i hadn´t had the free internet access to do much about it. At the time i assumed he must be a conductor or musician, and i had heard the name on NDR Kultur, my Kraut radio station of choice. Instead, he was, it seems, an influential 16th Century Kabbalist. He came to study of the Zohar when he was 22, abandoning a business career for a life of asceticism and meditation, living as a near hermit in a cottage on the Nile. He later moved to Safed:

There he formed a circle of kabbalists to whom he imparted the doctrines by means of which he hoped to establish a new basis for the moral system of the world.

They met every Friday, and each confessed to another his sins. Soon Luria had two classes of disciples: (1) novices, to whom he expounded the elementary Kabbalah, and (2) initiates, who became the depositaries of his secret teachings and his formulas of invocation and conjuration.

Luria used to deliver his lectures extempore and, with the exception of several works and some kabbalistic poems in Aramaic for the Sabbath table did not write much. The real exponent of his kabbalistic system was Chaim Vital. He collected all the notes of the lectures which Luria’s disciples had made; and from these notes were produced numerous works, the most important of which was the Etz Chayim, (“Tree of Life”), in eight volumes (see below). At first this circulated in manuscript copies…

i smile. If Wikipedia is any guide, Luria´s teachings echo my own recent sense of how things go with god, at the centre; though i use runes and my own speculations, the Kabbalah being as alien and weird to me, as the runes probably would be to a non-European. i was curious to hear of his own ideas of reincarnation:

Further, the departed soul of a man freed from sin appears again on earth to support a weak soul which feels unequal to its task. However, this union, which may extend to two souls at one time, can only take place between souls of homogeneous character; that is, between those which are sparks of the same Adamite organ.

i have no idea how this is compatible with Judaism, though mystics are notoriously unbiddable by creed. i think Luria is approximately right, in his general drift.

A couple of hours after reading the above, i was telephoned by a drunken mystic, while i was myself celebrating Friday with a little brandy. For some reason i am most sensitive to the voice – so with two visions i had of other people´s lives, both virtual acquaintances i have never met in the flesh – both came after hearing their voices, one on the radio, the other over the phone. Talking to the drunken mystic, who i think was my closest brother in my last life, i felt a strong connection between our ´souls´, and between us both and my Finnish friend Minna, who was once my (and so, our) eldest sister.

After the phone call, i fell to brooding on this sense of connection, an almost palpable sense of entwined destinies. i feel we are incomplete without each other; this incompleteness draws us, each to each – and perhaps an intuition of our incompleteness is what guides us, life to life, in our friendships and loves and quests, all our purposes and studies and brilliance – these depths into which we dive, life after life, to be complete at last.

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