Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide

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What makes Jewish Meditation such a success, and such a winner to me, is that for the first time ever, a book based upon authentic Judaism and mysticism and meditation is presented to the Jewish public. Jewish Meditation is perhaps the best-written book for giving the novice interested in authentic Jewish meditation a glimpse into the world of what Jewish meditation is really all about! Finally — Jewish meditation gets practical! First is the theory — Kabbalah Iyunit.

Then there is the world of practical Kabbalah — Kabbalah Maasit — a dangerous place to go. Here, anybody who feels the urge to plunge into this forbidden area, will find themselves against entities in the spiritual world of Asiyah — filled with a little good, but mostly bad. Should one ever go that path, one should be aware that responsibility for any danger lies squarely on their own shoulders.

Indeed, it is forbidden to get into. Then there is this middle area known as meditative Kabbalah. What Rabbi Kaplan teaches us are the basics on the path of meditation. He shares with us the simple and safe methods one may use to begin to relax the mind and body in order to allow it to enter into deeper states of consciousness.

He gives us ways to meditate on the first blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei. He gives us ways to meditate as we recite the Shema and even to consider each blessing we make. There are other practical meditations he tells us about too. Rabbi Kaplan takes us through the easy meditations such as simply calling out Ribono Shel Olam Master of the Universe — a meditation suggested by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. He explains to us the meditations of sound and meditations concerned with visualisations. I wonder if anyone today could write a book with such clarity and cover the most essential things as are discussed in this book.

B u t it is important to realize that God is also "in there"— in the deepest recesses of the soul. H e r e are two ways in which a person can discover God. First, a person can reflect on questions such as these: What is beyond space and t i m e? H o w did the world c o m e into existence? W h y does the world exist?

By ponder- ing such questions, a person can find God, but he will find God only in the sense that God is "out t h e r e. H e r e also one finds God, but one is finding Him in the sense that He is "in t h e r e. W h e n we say that God is above all things and beyond all things, we are speaking of Him in the sense that He encompasses and defines all creation. This is the concept of God as being "out t h e r e. If one discovers G o d as the ultimate depth of one's being, then the way to relate to this depth would be to relate to God.

At this point, one's meditation into the meaning of existence might b e c o m e a silent conversation with God. It is significant to note that according to the Midrash, this is exactly how Abraham's c a r e e r began. First Abraham began to contemplate the meaning of life and existence, and it was in this m a n n e r that he discovered God. Abraham's experience can be seen as a para- digm of how to begin a relationship with the Divine. Again, the problem of extraneous thoughts may arise.

O n e way to help alleviate this problem is to speak to God out loud rather than j u s t in the mind. O n e would then be speaking to God orally. Using oral conversation as a meditative technique is an ancient Jewish practice, d o c u m e n t e d in a n u m b e r of important texts. In particular, it was a t e c h n i q u e stressed by Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, as we shall see in chapter T h e r e are t h r e e important things that could be said about the above type of meditation: 1.

It is a verbal type of meditation: it involves words in thought or speech, rather than images. It is inner-directed: the entire form of the meditation comes from within the person rather than being determined by an external stimulus. It is unstructured: when the person sits down to medi- tate, he has no p r e c o n c e i v e d notion of what direction the meditation will take.

S o m e people find an unstructured meditation too loose. In order to put structure into your meditation, you can write out an agenda. You may decide that every day for a given period of time, say a week, you will meditate on one subject; then you will go on to a second subject for the next week. Thus, if you are meditating on how to reorder your life, you might decide to spend one w e e k meditating on your relationship with your spouse, a second w e e k meditating on your relationship with your children, and then two weeks meditating on your career.

As soon as one sets up an agenda of meditation, it b e c o m e s a structured meditation. Of course, a meditation can be loosely structured or tightly structured, again depending on what one wishes to accomplish. Meditating with an agenda is a practice favored by the Musar schools in Judaism. This form of meditation is especially effective when one wants to perfect one's habits or one's way of life in general. You could take verses randomly from the B i b l e or seek out verses that apply to the subject of your meditative interest. It is possible to make the entire meditative session, for a clay, a week, or a month, revolve around that verse.

Your goal would still be to rearrange your life, but you would be trying to do so in the context of that biblical verse. T h e verse could also form the basis of a conversation with God. T h e m e t h o d of basing a meditation on a verse, known as geru- shin, was used by the mystics of Safed in the sixteenth century. Although the m e t h o d was used extensively, the texts provide few details. It appears that a n u m b e r of ways are possible.

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T h e simplest way to use a biblical verse as a meditation would be to read the verse before meditating, perhaps memorizing it, and then use it as a point of departure for unstructured medita- tion. T h e meditator begins by meditating on the verse and then goes on to direct his mind to the subject upon which he wants to meditate.

T h e course of meditation could lead the meditator far from t h e original verse; the verse would serve merely as the initial focus of the meditation, not as its entire subject. This means of meditation is also discussed in Judaic literature. Alternatively, you may write the verse on a piece of paper. During the course of meditation, you could then reread it, di- recting your mind back to the verse from time to time.

This is particularly effective if you wish to apply the verse to a particular life problem; in this way, the verse b e c o m e s an integral part of the meditation. Eventually, you may wish to make the verse the entire subject of meditation. In a sense, your meditation would b e c o m e a con- versation with the biblical verse.

You would be thinking about the verse, looking at it in different ways, seeking different possi- ble interpretations, and attempting to apply it to your particular life problems. If the verse has a specific lesson, you might use a series of meditative sessions to integrate the verse into your personality. To simplify our discussion, however, we will contin- ue to speak of a biblical verse.

T h e verse can be used either visually or verbally. If the verse is used visually as the basis for meditation, write the verse on a p i e c e of paper and use it as a focus. F i x your gaze on the verse; do not take your eyes off it. T h e verse should b e c o m e the c e n t e r of your attention to the exclusion of every- thing else. It should be as if nothing else in the world exists other than the verse.

You can then gaze at the verse and allow your thoughts to flow freely. On a more advanced level, you could use this method to clear the mind of all thought other than the verse. This method is known as visual contemplation. Using a verse is j u s t one means of accomplishing such meditation.

T h e subject of your contemplation could also be a candle flame, a flower, a picture, a p e b b l e , or any other object. S i n c e this practice entails using something external to the mind as the o b j e c t of meditation, it is known as an externally directed meditation. This meditation can be either structured or unstructured.

T h e simplest way to do the meditation would be to gaze at the o b j e c t and let your thoughts flow freely. This would be an un- structured meditation. However, if you used the method to fill the mind completely, banishing all other thoughts, then this in itself would impose structure on the meditation, and it would constitute a structured meditation. W h e n o n e contemplates an object, one looks at it, paying acute attention to every detail. As one continues to gaze, even the most minute details b e c o m e significant.

O n e can look deeper and d e e p e r into the o b j e c t , trying to see its inner essence and obliter- ating all other thought from the mind. B e y o n d the inner essence, one can strive to see the Divine in the object and use it as a springboard to reach God. In lieu of gazing at the written verse, you could repeat the verse over and over for the entire period of meditation. This would be a verbal meditation as opposed to a visual contempla- tion.

H e r e again, the meditation could be unstructured, where the mind is allowed to roam wherever the verse takes it. Of course, h e r e again, the subject of meditation need not be a biblical verse. As we shall see, the great Chasidic leader Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav pre- scribed using the phrase "Lord of the Universe" as a meditative device.

In E a s t e r n traditions, the repeated phrase is known as a man- tra, and meditation using such a phrase is called mantra medita- tion. O n e of the best-known examples of a system based on man- tra meditation is Transcendental Meditation. Since there is no equivalent English term for this type of meditation, I shall use the term "mantra" w h e r e necessary. T h e r e are, then, three ways in which the above-mentioned meditations can be classified. T h e y can be either visual or verbal, structured or unstructured, internally or externally directed.

Inner-directed, unstructured meditation is most valuable as a means of examining one's life or finding meaning in life. Exter- nally directed, structured meditation is most often used to focus the mind and thought processes or to gain a transcendental experience. Although most meditative methods are visual or verbal, other faculties can be the focus of meditation as well.

Thus, instead of meditating on an o b j e c t or verse, one could meditate on a sound, such as the chirping of a cricket, the rush of a waterfall, or a musical note played over and over. O n e would be using the sense of hearing to direct the meditation, although in these cases the meditation would be nonverbal. In a similar manner, the meditation could involve the sense of smell. Indeed, there are H e b r e w blessings said over fragrances, and in practice they can make the enjoyment of a fragrance into a meditative e x p e r i e n c e.

T h e blessings over food can make a medi- tative e x p e r i e n c e out of tasting and eating. T h e sense of touch, too, can be the focus of a meditative experience. It is also possible to use the kinesthetic sense as the object of meditation. This would consist of meditating on a body move- m e n t or a series of body movements. Chasidim often use this form of meditation in dancing and in their slow swaying motions. Any action meditation can be seen as using the kinesthetic sense, even if o t h e r senses are involved. T h e main thing is to concentrate on the act and elevate it to an expression of divine worship.

This can include even mundane acts such as washing the dishes.

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In Judaism, action meditation is most important when con- nected with the performance of the commandments and rituals. Many Jews and non-Jews think of the precepts as routine, ritual- istic actions. Many Jewish sources, however, speak of the com- mandments as meditative devices, which can bring a person to a high level of God consciousness. W h e n the commandments are seen in this light, they assume great spiritual significance. A final focus of meditation can be one's own emotions.

Thus, for example, one can focus on the emotion of love in exactly the same way that one can focus on a flower or a candle flame. O n e can ponder the love one feels for another person and enhance the emotion, experiencing it totally without any outside interfer- e n c e. O n e can also take this intensified love and direct it toward God or toward one's fellow man. Indeed, the commandments "Love God your Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might" Deut.

W h e n one di- rects one's mind to love God and one's fellow man, one provides one's life with an entirely new focus. Control of the emotions is a very important e l e m e n t of self- control in general. Often the concept of self-control conjures up the image of an emotionless, dry, rigid way of life. If a person is in complete control of his emotions, however, he can call forth any emotion he desires and is free to enhance it as he wills.

R a t h e r than be controlled by emotions such as love, yearning, or awe, he can control them. O n e can evoke these emotions and blend them together, painting every aspect of life with a rich palette of feelings. Control of the emotions can thus lead a person to experience a richer blend of feelings in his daily life than the average person generally experiences.

Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide by Aryeh Kaplan

T h e s e are usually considered the most advanced forms of meditation. O n e such t e c h n i q u e involves the exercise mentioned in chapter 1, in which you were asked to try to stop thinking for a period of time. F o r most people this is impossible, and it is an excellent demonstration that the mind is not entirely under the control of the will. After a few seconds of trying not to think, thoughts begin to c r e e p into the mind, and after a short period, they often return in a torrent.

L i k e many other disciplines, this, too, can be developed. If a person practices stopping his thought flow, he can learn to do so for longer and longer periods; eventually, he can learn to turn his thought processes on and off at will. This may sound easy, but in practice it takes years of intense practice to perfect this ability. S i n c e this type of meditation does not use anything as a focus, it is often called nondirected meditation.

In its more advanced forms, it can actually focus on "nonthought" or on nothingness. This form of meditation can be dangerous and should not be attempted without a practiced guide or master. Most of the methods that I shall discuss in this book, however, are fairly straightforward and safe if practiced properly.

T h e y can be readily learned and can bring the meditator to increased awareness and higher states of consciousness. F o r the initiate these states of consciousness may be familiar, but for the outsider they are extremely difficult even to imagine. Much has b e e n written about higher states of consciousness, but the discus- sion usually concludes with a statement that these states are indescribable and ineffable. T h e r e is an important reason that such experiences are inde- scribable. In the case of objective, external phenomena, a group of people can agree on words to describe them.

This is how language in general is constructed. Thus, two people can look at a rose and agree that it is red. Since they are both seeing the same rose, they both have a common experience of which they can speak.

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However, when people try to discuss personal experiences in higher states of consciousness, the experiences are entirely inter- nal. I have no way of knowing what is in your mind, so even if you try to describe it, I have no way of being sure of what you mean. F u r t h e r m o r e , since the experiences are internal and individual, it is difficult for people to find a common ground to develop a descriptive vocabulary. F o r example, let us assume that while in a meditative state, I saw in my mind a color that has no counterpart in the external world.

Suppose it was totally different from any other color and impossible to describe in terms of other colors. How could I even begin to describe what the color looked like? T h e r e would be no words in human vocabulary to describe it. T h e same is true of many meditative experiences.

This fact makes it extremely diffi- cult to develop an epistemology of the meditative state. O n e ends up trying to describe experiences for which no language exists. This may be true, but since one of the aims of meditation is to reach higher states of consciousness, we should at least have some idea what this means.

T h e problem is that higher states of consciousness are not only difficult to describe, but also difficult to define. T h e r e appears to be no objective epistemology through which one can know for sure that one is in a state of consciousness different from the everyday waking state. Nevertheless, on the basis of subjective experiences and reports, it is possible to gain some understanding of these states of consiousness.

T h e two most familiar states of consciousness are the waking state and the sleeping state. T h e s e are two states of consciousness that are universally known and recognized. B e y o n d that, we know that sometimes we may feel drowsy, while at other times we are particularly alert.

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  • This demonstrates that there are different levels in the waking state of conscious- ness. E x p e r i m e n t s in which brain waves are measured also indi- cate that different states of brain activity exist in the waking state. E v i d e n c e from sleep laboratories indicates that there are also at least two states of consciousness involved in sleep, the first being the nondream state and the second being the dream state, in which rapid e y e m o v e m e n t R E M is observed.

    Certain drugs have an effect on a person's state of conscious- ness. T h e best known is alcohol, which has the general effect of diminishing alertness, although since it removes inhibitions, it can also lead to increased awareness in some areas. Instead, we shall explore states of consciousness that can be self-induced. I recall that when I was in yeshivah, a few friends and I de- cided to have a contest to see who could memorize the most pages of Talmud.

    F o r m e , it was an interesting experience. T h e first page took considerable effort and time, perhaps several hours. As I continued, each page b e c a m e progressively easier. Eventually, after ten pages or so, I found that I could memorize a page after t h r e e or four readings. By the time I had gone through some twenty pages, I could memorize a page with a single read- ing. W h a t had originally b e e n extremely difficult had b e c o m e relatively easy.

    My friends reported the same experience. It is well known that memory is a faculty that can be trained. People who regularly memorize large quantities of information find themselves able to do so very readily. Professional actors, for example, can m e m o r i z e the lines in a play or movie in one or two readings. Similarly, many professional musicians can memorize a score almost immediately.

    W h a t was interesting from a subjective viewpoint was that it did not seem to me that my memory had improved. Rather, it s e e m e d that when I looked at a page, I was looking at it differ- ently. It was as if my memory was wide open and the material was going directly into it. It felt as if there was normally a barrier b e t w e e n perception and memory and that this barrier had now b e e n removed. Logically, this would make sense.

    If we r e m e m b e r e d every- thing we saw or learned, our memory would rapidly b e c o m e cluttered with useless information. T h e mind therefore has a sort of filter that prevents unwanted information from being stored in the memory. T h e problem is that the filter is sometimes there when one does not want it—such as when one wishes to m e m o - rize something.

    W i t h training, however, one can learn to remove this filter at will. It could be said that he is in a different state of consciousness at the time. L e t me give another example. W h e n I was a graduate student in nuclear physics, I was once working on an extremely difficult mathematical problem for a paper. I b e c a m e totally involved in the problem and worked on it for almost seventy-two hours with- out interruption. In order to solve the problem, I had to invent a n u m b e r of original mathematical techniques and procedures. But the strange thing was that when I read the final paper two years later, I found it almost impossible to understand the mathemat- ics.

    It was difficult to believe that I had created this mathematical structure. Anyone who has ever worked on a difficult problem, especially in mathematics or the sciences, knows that at a certain point the mind s e e m s to "lock on" to the problem. At that point, solving the problem b e c o m e s the most important thing in the world, and every fiber of one's being is concentrated on finding a solution.

    Subjectively speaking, I know that I can accomplish things when in a "locked-on" state that I cannot accomplish otherwise. In one of my advanced physics courses, I had a difficult mathe- matical p r o b l e m on a test. I worked on the problem for a while and then, realizing that I was not making any progress, skipped to the next problem. Fortunately, this was a test in which one had to answer only t h r e e out of five questions.

    Several months later, I was working on another paper and in the course of my calculations found myself confronted with a similar problem. This time, however, I was "locked on" to the problem and totally involved in it. M u c h to my surprise, I was able to solve the same problem that had stumped me on the test, literally in seconds.

    It felt like the simplest thing in the world, and indeed it was, since in the course of my calculations I was routinely solving problems that were much more complex and difficult. I use the term "locking on" since this is the subjective feeling that one has in the kind of problem-solving that I am describing. W h e n one is locked on to a problem, there is tremendous, almost sensual j o y in solving it.

    Beyond this, it appears that one can call forth intellectual resources of which one is usually totally unaware. B e i n g locked on to a problem also brings a person into a state of consciousness different from his normal state. A much greater portion of the mind seems to be involved in solving the problem than in a normal mental state. It could therefore be considered a "problem-solving" state of consciousness. I also r e m e m b e r a period during which I was painting.

    I had j u s t learned how to use acrylics and had found that I could pro- duce a fairly d e c e n t p i e c e of work. W h e n e v e r I got involved in a painting, it s e e m e d that I was also "locked on" to the project; I would find it extremely difficult to leave it. Again, I was able to create paintings that were surprising even to m e.

    It appeared that when I was creating, I was going into a higher state of consciousness. Subjectively, I did not simply feel a sense of greater awareness or alertness; rather, I felt as if I were thinking in an entirely different mode. T h e difference b e t w e e n ordinary intelligence and genius may not be so much a matter of a person's innate ability as his ability to "lock on" to the work at hand and get into a higher state of consciousness.

    Ordinary people consider works of genius beyond their reach, but this might not be true, since the creator himself may be surprised at what he produces when in a "locked-on" state of consciousness. T h e degree of creativity that one has, whether in art or in problem-solving, may be several orders of magnitude greater when one is in a "locked-on" state than when one is in a normal state of consciousness.

    It may be that the secret of genius is the ability to lock on to problems or creative efforts on a much d e e p e r level than most people ordinarily attain. This locked-on state of consciousness appears to be associated with increased physical energy. T h e pulse is quicker, and one may perspire profusely. S o m e t i m e s , o n e even has the experience of trembling with creativity. It seems that while one is in such a state, the energy that one is utilizing is much greater than nor- mal, and not only is the mind completely involved in the creative effort, but also the body.

    T h e first time I b e c a m e aware of it was when, in the course of Kabbalistic research, I was trying to figure out the properties of a five-dimensional hypercube. T h e problem was extremely difficult, since it involved trying to visualize what would happen when the hypercube was rotated through five- dimensional space.

    I had spent several afternoons sweating over the problem, without even coming close to a solution. T h e n , one evening, I was relaxing in the bathtub, and my mind wandered to the problem, almost offhandedly. Suddenly, every aspect of the problem s e e m e d perfectly clear, and relationships that had b e e n impossibly complex were now easy to visualize and understand.

    By the time I got out of the tub, I had worked out the problem completely. Eventually, I began to realize that this was happening to me often. Sitting in the tub was an excellent time to solve the most difficult problems. B u t the experience was very different from being locked on to a problem. Quite to the contrary, the mind was free to wander w h e r e v e r it wanted, but it seemed to hit upon the right answers with surprising clarity.

    It seems that the mind has two modes in which it possesses abnormal ability to solve problems. O n e is the "locked-on" mode, in which the energy of both mind and body is increased. T h e other is when a person is completely relaxed and the mind drifts to the problem on its own. I think of the "locked-on" mode as a "hot" mode of thought and the relaxed mode as a "cool" mode of thought.

    In both cases, one's problem-solving ability is tremendously expanded. In hot concentration, the entire body is brought into play and, as it were, the adrenaline is made to flow. In cool concentration, body and mind are quieted down as much as possible, so that the mind is able to focus on the problem like a laser beam. T h e s e two examples may seem far removed from the usual discussion of the higher states of consciousness associated with meditation. However, t h e r e are important links. First, there are intellectual modes of meditation. In some tra- ditions, they are associated with "the way of the intellect.

    T h e r e is also a direct relationship to the better-known forms of meditation. Mantra meditation, which consists of repeating a word or phrase over and over, is said to elicit the "relaxation response. Indeed, a type of mantra meditation known as Standardized Clinical Meditation S C M has b e e n devised as a therapeutic tool, devoid of all mysti- cal e l e m e n t s. W h i l e this t e c h n i q u e appears to relax the body, it also in- creases the mind's activity. Mantra meditation can be used to relax the body and bring the mind into a state of "cool concentra- tion.

    This can be demonstrated by a simple experiment: Sit down in a straight-backed chair. Your back should be straight, since if you are in a hunched or slouched position, you will begin to feel c r a m p e d after a while. This experiment should be done at a time when you know that you will not be disturbed or interrupted. Begin by relaxing completely. Then close your eyes. Initially, you will see lights and images flashing in the mind's eye. After a minute or two, these flashes will begin to coalesce and take the form of kaleidoscopically changing images, as discussed earlier.

    As you relax, the images will begin to change more and more slowly, and eventually they will remain in the mind's eye long enough for you to focus on them. Just concentrate on the images. If other thoughts e n t e r the mind, gently push them out. Try to maintain your concentration on the forms that arise in your mind's eye, and on nothing else.

    Gradually, you should find that you can hold on to an image for quite a while. T h e first few times you do this, try to relax and concentrate on the images in your mind's eye without doing anything else. E a c h session should last for twenty to thirty minutes. O n c e you have reached this stage, you are ready to demon- strate to yourself the effects of mantra meditation. Since you are only experimenting, and not making a long-term discipline of it at this point, it does not matter what you use for a mantra.

    It can consist of a nonsense phrase, a favorite line of poetry, a phrase from the B i b l e , or any other group of words. S o m e people find the words " M y name is " an easy phrase to begin with. If you wish to make a more spiritual experience of it, you can use Rabbi Nachman's mantra, "Lord of the Universe," or its H e b r e w equivalent see chapter 5. Sitting comfortably, j u s t repeat your experimental mantra over and over.

    At this point, it does not matter how you repeat it. You may wish to chant it slowly, whisper it, or silently mouth the words. T h e phrase should be said slowly, over and over again, for the entire session. After a while, you will begin to feel very relaxed and at the same time very alert. Now, while repeating the mantra, pay attention to the images formed in your mind's eye.

    As the mind quiets down, these images should b e c o m e more and more vivid, and you should be able to hold them in the mind for longer and longer periods. T h e images may b e c o m e spectacular and beautiful, sometimes even breathtaking. T h e images formed in the mind's eye constitute one of the few objective indicators of the meditative state. You know that you are in a meditative state when the imagery in the mind's eye begins to take on a more substantial and permanent form.

    W h i l e imaging is not the only manifestation of higher states of consciousness, it is an indicator that is important and easy to describe objectively. O t h e r indicators are also manifestations of one's control over the mental process, just as visualization is. S i n c e this is b e i n g done as an experiment, it is not advisable to go too far in this direction without carefully planning out a course of meditation. B u t the experiment shows that in higher states of consciousness, one's ability to form images in the mind and con- centrate on them is greatly enhanced.

    States of Consciousness 33 After progressing in meditation and learning how to concen- trate, a process that can take weeks or months, one can learn how to control the images seen in one's mind's eye. At this point, one can conjure up an image and hold it in the field of vision as long as one desires. As we shall see, this in itself can b e c o m e a form of meditation. E a r l i e r , we discussed the random images that appear in the mind's e y e and spoke of them as being a sort of static produced by the brain.

    Although this static is most easily seen with the eyes closed, it also exists when we are looking at things; at that time, it tends to dull our perception. Thus, if one is looking at a rose, the e x p e r i e n c e of the rose's beauty is diminished by this static. W h e n a person learns how to hold an image in the mind, however, he can also control the mind's static.

    He can then see things without being disturbed by the brain's self-generated im- ages. This is especially significant in the appreciation of beauty. If a person "turns off" the mind's static and then looks at a rose, the image in his mind's eye will contain nothing other than the rose. Since at this point he can see the rose without any static, the beauty of the rose is enhanced manyfold. This is one reason that many people report an enhanced sense of beauty while in the meditative state. Indeed, many people learn meditation primar- ily to e x p e r i e n c e the new aesthetic experiences that can be en- countered in such states of consciousness.

    O n c e a person learns how to control the visions in the mind's e y e , he can progress to increasingly more advanced visualiza- tions. T h e simplest stages of visualization are straightforward; one conjures up images of figures, letters, objects, or scenes. W h a t one sees is not much different from what one sees with normal vision. Nevertheless, to make the images in the mind's eye appear as solid and real as waking images requires consider- able training. As one b e c o m e s more advanced, the images can appear even more real than what one sees with open eyes.

    T h e m o r e advanced one b e c o m e s in controlling one's mind, the more control one has over what one can see in the mind's eye. F r o m descriptions in Kabbalistic and other mystical works, it appears that many experiences encountered in higher states of consciousness fall into this category. Thus, for example, the Zohar speaks of the "lamp of darkness. Similarly, in Talmudic sources, there are references to "black fire. Ordinarily, we see bright colors, not blackness or darkness, as radiant. In the mind's e y e , however, it is possible to visualize a lamp radiating darkness.

    It would be like the negative image of a lamp radiating light. Just as when one sees light, one is aware that energy is being radiated, when one sees the lamp of darkness, one would be aware of negative energy radiating. Visualizing "black fire" would be a very similar experience. W h e n a person has learned to control his visualization experience, negative en- ergy b e c o m e s a simple thing to visualize. It is also possible for a person to intensify his perception of beauty in an image in his mind's eye. This is beyond the en- hanced perception that we have discussed earlier, in which one removes the static and focuses the entire mind on a beautiful object.

    Rather, one would be turning up the "beauty" dial in the mind, to make the mind particularly sensitive and appreciative of beauty. T h e image that one then sees in the mind's eye may appear thousands of times more beautiful than an image seen with the physical eyes, since one is intentionally amplifying the sensation of beauty. This is significant, since B e a u t y tifereth is one of the Ten Sefiroth discussed in Kabbalah. Thus, since B e a u t y is one of the Ten Sefiroth, one can turn up the "dial" and amplify the sensation.

    Another important phenomenon that can be experienced in a higher, controlled state of consciousness is panoscopic vision. Normally, when one looks at a solid object, one can see only one side of it at a time. Similarly, in the mind's eye, one usually visualizes something only o n e side at a time.

    Of course, in the case of a real object, one can rotate it to see the other side, and one can do the same in the mind's eye. In a higher state of consciousness, however, it is possible to attain panoscopic vision, w h e r e b y one can look at an object in the mind's eye from all sides at once. Thus, for example, if one were looking at America on a globe, one would not be able to see Asia, since it is on the opposite side of the globe. However, in a higher state of consciousness, it would be possible to visualize the globe and see America and Asia simultaneously.

    It is impossible to describe this sensation to one who has never experienced it. A number of modern artists, such as Picasso, s e e m to have had such experiences and at- tempted to depict them on canvas. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Walmart Tell us if something is incorrect.

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    Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide
    Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide
    Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide
    Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide
    Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide
    Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide

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