Monday, December 13, 2010

What's With the Numbers?

I don't have a lucky number.

But I admit to a feeling of reassurance when we bought at house whose address was 36. That's "double-chai" -- or double life -- in Jewish tradition. That's a good sign, I thought. Several other people made the same comment. That's also a good sign. I'm not superstitious, I thought, it's my tradition.

Sure enough, our family has lived there happily for 18 years. Too bad there isn't a number that represents "good home maintenance." We could have used that!

Numbers have power. Numbers have meaning. The Mayans and Aztecs, who probably understood the fundamentals of mathematics better than most high school calculus students, had a simultaneous mystical and intellectual approach to numbers.

1, 3, 7 -- these are almost universal mystical numbers to traditions across time, space and religious belief. It's probably not a coincidence that they also are prime numbers.

When I started the Dare to Touch the Face of God project and needed to secure funding, I knew that the dollar amounts -- the numbers -- were an important part of the concept.

So, what do these numbers mean?

There are so many ancient traditions and so many numbers. I chose from among the most common and most wide ranging.

$7 - Mayans, Aztecs, Christians, Muslims, Jews, ancient Egyptians, Hindus, and many others consider 7 to be one of the most mystical numbers. Seven days of the week, God rested on the 7th day, seven chakras, seven colors of the rainbow, seven musical whole notes on the scale.  Seven is the number of Christian Revelation, of Mayan Perfection, of Kabbalistic Wholeness and Completion, of Egyptian Hermetic Principles. There's lots more.

$33 - In Christian tradition, Jesus is said to have accomplished 33 miracles; he lived for 33 years. King David reigned in Jerusalem for 33 years. There are 33 atmospheric gods in the Zen books, Buddha was followed from the desert by 33 princes of spirits, to whom he gave sacred instruments. Dante's "Divine Comedy" had 33 songs to the Purgatory and 33 songs to the Sky. Women ham radio operators often sign of with "33," meaning "fondest regards."

$74 -- In some Muslim traditions, the name of the Prophet Muhammad is represented by 74. The number has some meanings in Buddhist and Hindu traditions that, frankly, are over my head!

$108 -- Wow! 108 is filled with mystical meanings in Eastern regilious traditions. Hindu and Sikh malas, or prayer beads, contain 108 beads. Apparently 108 has been a sacred number in the Indian Subcontinent for a very long time, explained as the product of the powers 1, 2, and 3 in mathematics. Again, this is beyond me (I'm an artist!) but it's something like: 1 to 1st power=1; 2 to 2nd power=4 (2x2); 3 to 3rd power=27 (3x3x3). 1x4x27=108.

There's more! The diameter of the sun is believed to be 108 times the diameter of the Earth.  In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108. In the Krishna tradition, there were said to be 108 gopis or maid servants of Krishna. The number 108 is used in Islam to refer to God. In the Jain religion, 108 are the combined virtues of five categories of holy ones, including 12, 8, 36, 25, and 27 virtues respectively. The Chinese, Buddhists and Taoists use a 108 bead mala, which is called su-chu, and has three dividing beads, so the mala is divided into three parts of 36 each.

$360, $1800 - Larger numbers derive their power from smaller numbers. These both trace back to Hebrew Gematria, or numerology. Like in many languages, the letters have number equivalents. The Hebrew word for life, Chai, is made up of two letters, Cheit and Yod, or eight and 10. Combined, they equal 18, an ancient symbol of Life! 360 is ten times "double-chai." 1800 equal 100 times life!

$613 -- finally, 613 is the number of commandments in the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament. (Yeah, there are a LOT more than 10 Commandments!)

Numbers have power. Numbers have meaning. But only the power and meaning that we give them. I'm hopeful that the power and meanings come to mean that you will join me to Dare the Touch the Face of God. There are only a few days left for me to reach my goal. It's an all or nothing proposition. I raise the goal or I don't. If the goal is not reached, the donors contribute nothing.

Please consider backing this project, and suggest it to someone else who can. Thank you!

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