Sunday, April 14, 2013

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Eye to the Infinite – Introduction Part 1

We are pleased to offer Eye to the Infinite, a Torah Guide to Jewish Mediations for Divine Awareness, in a weekly serialized form.

Eye to the Infinite – A Torah Guide to Jewish Meditations to Increase Divine Awareness.  Copyright © 2013 by Aharon Rubin – serialized on the Mystical Paths blog with permission.

Meditative Thought in Jewish Practice

Meditation is an essential component of the mesiloh ho’oileh Beis E-l, the path that leads to G-d, the individual’s unique and inimitable connection to his Creator.

For aeons, hisbodedus – physical and mental seclusion for deep contemplation and meditation - was a key discipline for the serious spiritual seeker, its methodology handed down from master to pupil, the holy commandments of the Torah performed hand-in-hand with profound meditations, practised and taught by the saintly Masters of Jewish mysticism. Jewish meditation draws the initiate into G-d’s Presence, to bask in His Love, His Highest Will and His mystical Embrace. The foundation of ancient customs, teachings and philosophies, the soul of esoteric lucubrations and mystical tomes, its fibres are so woven into the bedrock of tradition and Jewish law that revealing the original systems and meditations is sometimes akin to unravelling the DNA of the human genome to determine an elusive gene. It is then all the more ironic and tragic that today the subject is largely ignored, denied its rightful place in the study-hall, leaving the bearers of our unique heritage starved of the wholesome and natural spontaneity of spiritual awareness, the result of mindful practice.

The path of Judaism combines the mind with the heart, purposeful thought with passionate yearning. Coaxed and guided by the still, inner voice of the Divine soul, the conscious mind seeks the sublime depths of the Infinite, attaching, merging and dissolving, to realise the transcendent immanence of the G-d of Israel. This seductive, transient state is called deveikus (- deveikus literally means cleaving, specifically, the mystical state of cleaving to G-d).

The constant and ideal state of deveikus as a way of living is pithily expressed by no less than King David in his famous words," שויתי ד' לנגדי תמיד "- “I place G-d before me always” (Psalms 16:8). Living with constant awareness of G-d is the quintessence of the Mitsvos, says the holy Ba’al Shem Tov, the essence of the living Torah manifest within the person, the consequence of the performance of the Mitsvos and following the path of the Torah. It is the fruit of the Tree of Life at the centre of the Garden of Eden; the attachment to the coveted thread of the Infinite Essence – the indivisible Eternal Divinity that lies at the heart of all creation. 

Thought is central to any spiritual exercise. Though the uttered word strongly influences thought patterns, the mind’s image is its ultimate director; as the Rabbis say, ‘words are secondary to intent. Taught in regards to religious practice, this is especially true concerning prophetic meditation, the path of deveikus, which involves a process of unifying the mind and soul with G-d. In the words of King David, דרשו ד' ועוזו, בקשו פניו תמיד – “Seek G-d and His Strength [i.e. the Shechinoh], search for His Presence constantly” (Psalms 105:4); mind and heart must unite in their spiritual search for and focus on the Creator, through the powerful imagery of the mind.

Thought and meditation however, though of great importance, need to be balanced. Brain and soul cannot operate in isolation from the body. Thought needs to be directed, translated into action, holy speech or Unifications, positive emotions need positive deeds16. Without the Torah and Mitsvos, as it were G-d’s Revelation written as a life-manual for man, the private sacred path may be obscured by the shadows of good intentions, the soul’s purpose eluded. Armed with Torah and the adherence to G-d’s commandments, the holy Shechinoh will reveal Itself to the soul of a person, because the person lives the path of the image of G-d.

…to be continued, G-d willing, next week.

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WARNING - The material presented in the Eye to the Infinite requires a basic standard of (Jewish) holiness in conduct and living as prescribed by the Torah (and described by the Mishna, Gemora and Shulchan Aruch).  If you are dependent on medication for mental stability, or have thinking challenges, please consult with your physician before attempting meditative exercises described here.

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