Friday, April 20, 2007

Going Deeper

The average family cannot trace their roots beyond 3 past generations. This means, within 50 years of your death, you are likely to be forgotten by the latest generation of your future family. This being the case, what is the purpose of your material life? The truth is that every day of your life is a day in perpetuity, preserved forever and affecting the future forever. In much the same way that every vote counts at the polling booth, every day, every decision, every word and every action counts toward the world you leave for future generations.

Every step on the journey to a more fulfilling existence begins with an exercise in self control, especially in your developing the ability to think, open mindedly, thoughts that are capable of seeing the whole picture, in detail, in order to put into context current events being experienced by you.

It is well know to practitioners of Torah and psychology that the intellect, once it grasps an idea, surrounds the concept such that the subject is firmly encompassed within the mind. It is only possible for the subject to be retained in the mind if it is fully enclosed and surrounded by the grasp your understanding provides your mind. The boundary established by your understanding an idea is therefore important because without boundaries there would be no possible way of grasping and retaining any idea. Therefore, the idea being grasped must contain one or more fixed precepts in order for the intellect to fully encompass, digest and ultimately articulate it. This often becomes apparent when ideas, which are not fully formed, present as being difficult to articulate, the mind looses focus because it (the idea) failed to capture and an attentive mind. When the defined boundaries (understanding) of the idea have not been sufficiently grasped it cannot be correctly articulated and its explanation will be insufficient to ignite the desired interest in the mind of the recipient of the information.

By studying the concepts written deeply into the hidden aspects of Torah one is drawn closer to its 'idea' which affects your sense of being as a direct result of the many important idea’s that are revealed and grasped in the process. This blog contains just a very small sample of those ideas.

By embracing knowledge of spiritual paths (Sefirot and the 32 paths of wisom) from where thoughts and ideas emerge and by total submission to G-d one can grasp deeper concepts (associated with any idea). This enables the conscious and subconscious mind to elevate to the spiritual level of the soul, outside the physical presence of the brain, through which the deepest appreciation of G-d's external influence can be realized.

When the mind is open, in the way of Torah, to contemplate the emergence of a thought the intensity of this internalized focus may lead some people to experiencee a 'holy light' (overwhelming spiritual intensity) that emanates from G-d's highest universal realm. Therefore, it is essential to correctly shield oneself, by being consciously aware of the excersise because without this grounding several potential disastrous outcomes can occur. In this state of mental openness, complete balance and order are required so that contemplations and meditations are not experienced in ways that could be harmful to the mind.

There is a well know story about three ancient and very famous Rabbis that went into an orange orchard to meditate, it goes like this;

Four entered the Orchard ( Pardes- an acronym meaning four specific modes of interpreting and learning Torah). They were Ben (Ben = Son of) Azzai, Ben Zoma, Acher (literally, "the Other", referring to Elisha ben Abuya), and Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva warned them (speaking abstractly of the spiritual experience they were about to encounter); "When you enter near the stone of pure marble, do not say 'water, water,' (since there is actually no water there at all), and it is written, 'He who speaks falsehood will not be established before My eyes' (Psalms 101:7)."

-Ben Azzai gazed and died. Regarding him it is written, "Precious in G-d's eyes is the death of His pious ones" (Psalms 116:15).

-Ben Zoma gazed and was stricken with insanity; he went out of his mind. Regarding him it is written, "You have found honey, eat moderately lest you bloat yourself and vomit it". (Proverbs 25:16)

-Acher gazed and cut the plantings i.e. he became a heretic.

-Rabbi Akiva entered in peace and departed in peace....

This story illustrates the potential harm that deep spiritual mediation, as documented by Judaism’s ancient practices, can bring to a person if they are not fully prepared and in a stable mental state. This exaggerates the problem because the vast majority of people will never experience the intensity of the experience of these Rabbi’s and sages, but there is no way of knowing, in advance, who are the righteous ones amongst us, therefore each person trying this should be prepared. Rabbi Akiva was a teacher of Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai whose revelations from the time he meditated in a cave for 13 years are to be found in one of the most famous interpretation of Torah, The Zohar.

Kabbalah includes some of the most intense meditation methods and it is known from the writings of the ancient Jewish prophets, priests and sages that properly prepared people can reach very high and holy states. However, as more is revealed, as people become aware of the deeper meanings within each of the Hebrew letters and as balanced and complete study of the Torah is restored to people, so our minds may begin to, once again, explore the methods that were once practiced and our souls may become elevated to the levels that enabled us to call out directly to G-d and to reach Him through the ways that He prescribed.

In Judaism there is a know precept that says Torah study is equal to all the other good deeds that one must do. This is because Torah is the gateway to life’s purpose and as such it is elevated above every other deed because it is known to shape people in the way that G-d wants them to be.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The System

When looked at objectively Judaism, like many other religions and belief systems, is the most complete living meditation. It's true form is found in the hidden commitments, practices, rituals and prayers of Jewish people. Many of these are taken for granted, they are not properly understood, principally because we are presently unable to practice any of these ancient techniques in their entirety as they originated and were practiced. However, the world is changing and our lives with it and through discovery, awareness, sensitivity and knowledge we are slowly fitting the pieces back together to comprehend the reasons for many of the early mystical writings of the great prophets and sages that were laid down on stone, papyrus and wood discussing elevation in the spiritual world.

Judaism’s embedded system of meditation is an all encompassing life-long continuous upward spiral (a ladder) to reach higher levels of elevation in which prayers are made with more dedication, clarity and focus. This causes ones thoughts to rise in the higher worlds (even at an intellectual level) through which actions in the lower world (emotional level) can yield the desired objectives. Here efficiency depends on purity of mind and body. This practice is contained in the recipes for living ones life including the writings and teachings of Torah as expounded through Kabbalah, Gemara, Mishnah, Midrash, Kashrut and other significant works that document, in enormous detail, the way to achieve purity of purpose and spiritual enlightenment of the highest order.

The essence of Jewish mediation and prayer is contained in the simple explicit Name of G-d –י׳ה׳ו׳ה (YHVH). As alluded to earlier (, this Name is of the highest order and contains everything within it, beyond this is The Deity Himself which we are unable to fathom in any way regardless of how one tries. We already learned that the letters י(Yud), ה(Heh) and ו(Vav) are the only possible suffixes for the first and last letters of Torah – creating words meaning 'to me', 'to her', 'to him', 'in me', 'in her', 'in him'. It is written in Sefer Yetzirah that with these six letters G-d created all things – י׳ה׳ו׳ה יה (Yah Y’H’V’H)[1].

Conceptually the brain is part of the physical world and the mind is of the spiritual world. It is said that an angel[2] (as the archetype of the spiritual) can only carry one mission and can never share the same mission, likewise a thought emerges as a singularity and the mind can never deal with more than one thought at any instant. In order for man to reach the highest levels of effectiveness, integration of the physical and spiritual is required. This explains the reasons for the many continued physical rituals and practices that exist in Judaism and many other religions, they all form part of a greater system of meditation in which the physical and the spiritual converge to yield an elevated state of holiness. These practices all stem from the 620 positive and negative commandments included in Torah (Keter (Crown)) = 620.

Throughout the prayer books of the orthodox Jews are the concepts alluding to the importance of the Name of G-d. Some of these examples include; "…then was His Name proclaimed King; …blessed is His Name; …praised and glorified His great Name forever;…may the Name of the L-rd be blessed; …the L-rd is His Name; hallow and ascribe sovereignty to: …The Name of the Almighty G-d; …He endures and His Name endures; …and have in love brought us near, O our King, to Your great Name, that we may praise You, and proclaim Your Oneness and love Your Name; …on that day, The L-rd shall be One and His Name One". Each of these references serves as a reminder that the depth of His Name represents everything including all that we are (physically) and all that we experience (spiritually) and our steps toward holiness are made by first attaining an understanding of His Name.

All of the Sefirot (soul attributes) are reflected in His Explicit Name. In the Apex of the Yud is Keter (Crown), The Yud (י - Yud) is Chokmah (Wisdom), the first Heh (ה - Heh) is Binah (Understanding), the Vav (ו - Vav) represents the Six of Zer Anpin (emotional attributes - Chesed (Compassion), Gevurah (Strength), Tifferet (Beauty), Netzach (Victory), Hod (Humility) and Yesod (Foundation) – hence the value of Vav being = 6) with the last Heh being Malkhut (Kingship) - the seventh. In the physical world, specific interactions between the various attributes of the Sefirot can be realized by combining and considering the expansions of the names of G-d to unify the letters (or the energies represented by those letters) using the mystical secrets of Kabbalah and the meditative practices prescribed by it.

Every aspect of Jewish ritual that is deeply integrated into the fabric of a Jewish devotee enables a person to achieve a higher state of holiness. The constant reminder of G-d’s presence, through rituals, practices, prayer and meditation enable one to reach a place in the spiritual world, from their place in the physical world that is closer to G-d (perfection) where the light of His countenance can be experienced with increasing degrees of intensity. The worlds improving holistic knowledge of ancient Jewish practices increasingly clarifies their worthiness as an important people. Now the intricately woven pieces of all these practices can be bound together with our renewed knowledge of the words of Torah and their meanings, discovered from all the books that expound Torah, resulting in a vision of Judaism being a complete life commitment to a better world, through holiness, achieved using meditation and actualization.

For students of mediation there is no system more advanced and there will never be one that is as advanced and complete as the holistic system and practice of being Jewish.

[1] Sefer Yetzirah – Ariyeh Kaplan Pg 16, Pg 81
[2] Sefer Yetzirah – Ariyeh Kaplan Pg 60