Introduction and Frequently Asked Questions
about Meru Foundation
Where does the name Meru come from?
Meru Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational foundation established in 1983 to support the ongoing research begun by Stan Tenen, Meru's research director. The root-word "Meru" refers to the name of the Hebrew alphabet, Meruba; "Mt. Meru", the cosmic mountain that supports the world in the eastern traditions; Merudanda, the spinal column; Moriah, the temple mount in Jerusalem; and Su-Meru, an ancient name for the Pascal triangle (which is of fundamental importance in mathematics).
What is the basic finding of Meru Foundation research?
We have re-discovered the use of geometric metaphor in the Bible traditions and a wide range of related teachings. Religious and academic scholars know that Bible stories, histories, and spiritual lessons are expressed in metaphor, but it is believed that this must be word-based, poetic and literary metaphor. The re-introduction of geometric metaphor enables us to clearly understand and appreciate many perplexing and controversial passages and teachings, and to see them in a more functional, modern perspective.
How was this geometric metaphor discovered in the Bible?
We are working with the sequences of letters in the standard traditional Hebrew text of Genesis. This text has always been associated with claims of meaning at the letter level. It is well known that ancient texts did not include word divisions (nor vowel markings), and letter sequences in the original language cannot be incorporated into any translation. We found the elements of geometric metaphor in the letter patterns that have avoided the scrutiny of modern scholars.
How can geometric shapes tell a story?
An embryo develops from one simple shape, a sphere, to a cluster of many spheres, to a hollow ball, then indents and becomes much more complicated. That progression of shapes is the same for all embryos. If you wanted to communicate to someone who did not speak your language about how an embryo develops, you would draw a cartoon of those shapes rather than try to describe the process in words. That is one example of how geometric patterns can be called a universal language.
Meru Foundation findings suggest that the letter-text of Genesis specifies geometric patterns, illustrating a universal embryonic process. In fact, the letter-text of Genesis includes this geometric metaphor for creation, in the very place that the word-text talks about creation.
How is an appreciation of geometric metaphor helpful in building a better society?
Geometry is used by architects to build structures in our world. Two-dimensional blueprints are used to construct a three-dimensional building. The identification of geometric metaphors as suggested by Meru research enables us to unify and transcend our many current cultural, political, and geographical limitations. Meru's models are snapshots of a natural ongoing process of embryonic growth. By applying these models at many levels, we can view the "big picture" of how our universe and our planet work as whole systems, where each element shares and interacts simultaneously, for the benefit of all.
The metaphors of geometry can provide concrete, logical, functional tools to statespersons, who can use them to accomplish what they now cannot envision using word-based metaphors alone. The re-discovery of geometric metaphor enables us first to learn how to take the higher view needed to reconcile what appears to be irreconcilable, and then to bring this higher view down to the earth we all inhabit. We can use this higher view to reconcile our cultural, personal, and political differences, by seeing the vital function of each unique political and social expression within the greater human whole.
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What does this geometry indicate?
The geometric forms woven into the letter sequences of the Hebrew text of Genesis enable us to gain a precise mathematical view and a deep experiential sense of the text that is complementary to, but not available from, a narrative translation.
Our findings also demonstrate that the sequence of letters in Genesis can define a mathematically meaningful model human hand. When a person wearing this model hand makes gestures, they and those watching them can see 2-dimensional outlines of all of the rabbinic Meruba Hebrew letters, with each letter-outline seen in a gesture that carries the same natural meaning as the name of the letter. (Greek and Arabic letters are formed by a closely related model.) These gestures are truly universal; for example, some gestures match those made by blind persons -- who have never seen anyone else gesture -- while they speak.
Although the story is roundly dismissed by modern scholars as no more than legend or myth, our research suggests that this universal gesture language, not phonetic speech, is the form of language referred to in the episode of the Tower of Babel.
How does the re-discovery of geometric metaphor affect our understanding of our religious traditions?
The model hand, which represents the geometric metaphor for choice and will, generates the Hebrew alphabet, and particular styles of Arabic and Greek letters as well. This is why the geometric metaphor(s) based on this common model can show the inter-relatedness of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is similar to the way the same DNA demonstrates the inter-relatedness of the very different-appearing organs in our own bodies. When we view our religious traditions in the light of geometric metaphor, we find both their necessary differences, and their essential commonality. Geometric metaphor does not replace or devalue the poetry and narrative of traditional Bible translations. It enhances all of these perspectives, and shows them in respectful relationship to each other.
Does this research have to do with coding in the Bible?
Yes and no. Meru research was conducted independently of the statistically discovered "codes in the Bible". Our findings suggest that prophetic claims made for these coded patterns are not valid, but that the letter-patterns themselves are real, and are better explained by the geometric models suggested by Meru research.
Our models show that what appears to be coding in the Bible is a natural result of the way the letter-text was originally woven. (See below.) This form of weaving is not mysterious, and is very similar to techniques that were known to have been used in the ancient world.
Instead of a "list of prophecies" as has been proposed by non-critical believers in the "Bible Codes," Meru Foundation research suggests that the sequence of letters in the original Hebrew text of Genesis, when taken as "gestures in the mind," could represent specific meditational exercises that enhance particular mental skills. Or, to use a Christian metaphor, we’re suggesting that the Hebrew Bible is not a "fish" (one or two or just a list of prophecies), but rather a "fishing pole" (a means by which a qualified person could gain greater mental maturity).
How can Biblical verse be seen as anything but the stories we are familiar with?
Uniquely, the Hebrew alphabet and language allow strings of letters to be divided into words that make meaningful sentences in a very wide range of possible ways. Traditional teachings suggest literally hundreds of acceptable narrative translations for the first verse of Genesis. This inherent flexibility in biblical Hebrew enables it to carry information at more than one level. The narrative stories are there, of course, but it is as if they are written on the threads of a woven lattice. Our findings suggest that this "textile" is the framework on which the stories are inscribed.
This is why we are looking at the arrangement of letters, and not at the words and phrases. We are proposing that the alphabets, and the texts that make use of these alphabets, are multi-layered and multi-dimensional. The Hebrew alphabet is used for many purposes -- for the Biblical text, as a modern language, and as a counting system. Our analysis of the letter-text of the Bible suggests that Hebrew is also a formal language, much like musical notation or computer languages. A wide range of references suggests this formal structure, but without the rediscovery of the particular geometric metaphor on which this structure is based, it has not previously been possible to provide any functional and testable example of how this could be so. Meru’s findings bridge this gap by providing explicit, testable examples that can now be used to confirm the deep, precise, and functional meaning of many traditional teachings.
Use of the alphabet, understood as Meru research suggests, recovers the formal language and provides us with the ability to generate the geometry of Genesis, which brings greater relevance to the traditional stories, narratives, and Biblical teachings.
Are there scientific applications for this research?
Meru research has always insisted on precision, objective demonstration, falsifiability, elegance, and informational depth. Because our findings are based on the methods of science, they naturally have real consequences that can be demonstrated. For example, our findings have confirmed earlier work by mathematician Arthur M. Young, who presented a natural "geometry of meaning," and showed that information can be conveyed by pointing.* Meru’s finding that hand-gestures -- basically, pointing our hand -- are the basis of the Western sacred alphabets, is thus surprisingly consistent with the use of the quantum state vector in physics, which is itself nothing more than a pointing direction.
Another example is the direct parallel between the sequence of geometric forms that make up the geometric metaphor, and the stages of embryology in biology, and self-organization in general. What we have found are natural models, from natural sources, that have natural and universal meaning and application.
*Young’s thesis is presented in two seminal books, The Reflexive Universe and The Geometry of Meaning.
Does Meru research suggest that all religions are or should be the same?
No. Our work shows why both the similarities and the differences in our beliefs and traditions are necessary. We are suggesting an organic model. Just as we are each alive because our different bodily organs perform different vital functions, our "human body politic" also requires a suite of different spiritual and philosophical "organs" in order to express the full potential of humanity. Each and every faith and tradition is vital, and must maintain its distinctiveness in order to make its particular contribution to the whole. But at the core, we are all human.
Traditionally, geometric metaphor has been the preferred language for philosophers and sages of all traditions and all ages to express and demonstrate our commonality. The Greek philosophers insisted on it, stating that "Only those who know geometry can enter here." We propose that the Meru findings of an explicit geometric metaphor specified by the letter-text of Genesis can be a first, beginning step towards rediscovering the complete "genome" for the "organs" and families of the entire human body politic.
Do the methods of science used in Meru research conflict with the many traditions of belief in the Transcendent?
Not at all. One of the beauties of the methods of mathematics and science is that when properly used, they are truly neutral, and acceptable to all. Meru Foundation’s work is based on definitions and axioms of unity, which are then explored in detail. Persons of faith and persons of no faith alike can appreciate logical deductions based on logical definitions. A definition of unity is in no way offensive to either a person of belief, or a person of no belief.
Why is the geometric perspective on ancient philosophical and spiritual texts unknown in modern scholarly studies?
Primarily because in modern higher education, the people who are attracted to studying Biblical texts and other philosophically oriented works are not the same people as those who are attracted to studying mathematics and science. A scholar of ancient texts would need to be familiar with geometric relationships in order to recognize that an ancient author might use analogies from the world of nature (for example) to describe them.
What one concept most exemplifies the benefits of Meru research?
Reconciling the seemingly-irreconcilable. Spirituality and science, inner and outer, consciousness and physics -- the Meru research presents, and depends on, a perspective for discovering the unity that joins a wide range of seeming opposites, and the appropriate diversity that distinguishes them. By "thinking outside of the box," Meru research offers new conceptual tools, providing the additional conceptual space required to "reconcile the irreconcilable" and to effectively address problems which now appear to be intractable.
What material is available to learn more about Meru research?
Meru Foundation offers a series of 5 live-lecture DVD's spanning 10 years of Meru research. These DVD's, a 3-volume complilation of written materials titled The Alphabet in Genesis, and other materials are available for purchase on our secure-server website at www.meetingtent.com. Essays, articles, and graphic posters introducing this work are available at www.meru.org.