KosherTorah School for Biblical, Judaic & Spiritual Studies
Meditation Prerequisite 101:
Out with the Bad, In with the Good
Also: An Abridged Kabbalistic Prayer & a Kabbalistic Mental Exercise
by Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.
Before one embarks on path of meditation, one should pause to contemplate, and to answer the questions, where is it that one wants to go, and what is it that one really want to accomplish?
How can one start on a path if one does not know where one really wants to go? How can one know if one is heading towards one's goal if one has not set that goal, recognizes it, keeps one's eye on it, and pursues it will all necessary effort?
Meditation is like any other exercise, it is easy to take a few minutes to learn how to do it, but then comes the practice, and this can be long, hard and difficult. Unless one is willing to invest the effort, one will not reap the accomplishments.
Since ancient times, meditation has had numerous different forms. Yet, what united all these different forms was not their paths, but rather their singular goal. The goal of meditation is enlightenment. There are numerous different understandings of what is enlightenment, but the common denominator of them all is that one's mind expands to experience, and perceive a greater universe around us, more than what is seen with the mere eye, and the limited level of consciousness associated with it.
Expanding the mind means making the mind strong. The mind is made strong in the same way as the body is made strong, through a series of repetitive exercises. It is these exercises that define the practice of meditation.
Meditation, it must be remembered, is subject to natural and psychological law, as is everything else real in the real world. Meditation must be stripped of its mythical element, and its magical awe. Meditation is not grounded in fantasy. Therefore, it is important to begin meditating by stripping away all false notions about what meditation is, and what a meditator can expect to realistically accomplish.
Meditation is a science of the mind, and of mind expansion. Like all other rules of science, the rules of meditation must be followed precisely in order for one to accomplish the set-out goals.
The human mind, although not a physical muscle, still follows the same rules of growth as do muscles. Like in body building it is said, “no pain, no gain,” so too in mind building, no pain leads to no gain. Expanding the horizons of thought is almost always blocked from within with outbursts of fear, disbelief, or an overwhelming sense of laziness, or tiredness. All these impediments must be wisely, and even ruthlessly overcome, if one wishes to acquire the necessary strength, and disciple to make movement along one's inner path.
Pushing open the mind to experience new horizons can be compared to pushing a heavy boulder uphill. It is a real “pain in the ass,” but it can nevertheless be done, and once accomplished well worth it.
Now, that the basic premise has been established, and the beginning meditator knows what to expect, we can now begin with a simple mental exercise that will begin the strengthening of the mind.
Step 1 – Filling the mind with good stuff. Like with a physical diet, if one eats junk food, one's physical health deteriorates rapidly. So too, if one's mental diet, meaning what one put into one's heads, is the mental junk food, it is no wonder then that one's mental health suffers accordingly.
Step 1 in broadening the horizons of consciousness, which again is the main purpose of meditation, is to start cleansing the mind from mental junk food. Before we can begin to fill the mind with healthy stuff, we must first empty the mind of the trash, and the junk food.
Step 1A – What do you do with your spare time? What do you fill your mind with? What kinds of books (if any) do you read? What kind of TV shows do you watch? Where do you serf on the internet? Are you a gamer? How much time do you play, and what games are you playing? All these things affect what goes into your mind. For the most part, most people fill their minds with mental junk. How then do you expect to fill your mind with mental gold all the while that the mind is full of junk. Does not common sense dictate that for the mental gold to shine, the mental junk has to be cleaned up?
Step 1A in practical meditation preparation is to make room in the mind for the mental gold to first come in. First there must be room for it to enter, only then can it come in, and only then can it shine. The first step, which most people never succeed in accomplishing, is to make the necessary mind space.
This step is similar in function to the Kabbalistic concept called the Tzimtzum. The Lurianic Kabbalah teaches that before creation all that existed was God, in every place, time, and dimension. When the thought first arouse in the Mind of God to create a universe, the first thing that came to awareness was that there was no place in which a universe could be created, for everything, everywhere was God.
The first thing that God had to do was to withdraw an aspect of His essence from a certain place, thus creating an “emptiness,” in which the Divine Light could then penetrate and create a universe. Granted, this is a metaphorical description, and not literal, but nevertheless, we learn from this a moral lesson. If one wants to create something, there must first exist the place for the creation to occur. If one wants to “create” an inner universe through meditation, then one has to first create the place for it.
The mind must be disciplined to become focused. All extraneous things that do not support that focus must be curtailed, if not totally removed. Such change, and sacrifice is usually beyond the everyday person, and that is why however much, and however long such a one meditates such a one never really accomplishes much. It is hard to fly, without wings, without an airplane, or even without gas in the engine. Once one makes these efforts to create a space in the mind by removing the junk that one exposes oneself to, one is ready to practice a beginning technique.
Technique 1. Here is a simple technique that everyone can practice. It is a Kabbalistic prayer formatted by R Yosef Hayim, the Ben Ish Hai of Baghdad, originally published in his book, Od Yoef Hai. Reciting this prayer enables one to contemplate the Kabbalistic concepts therein, as well as focus on the internal mind cleaning that we have been referring to. I will present here an abridged version of the prayer, for easy usage. The full translation of the prayer can be found in the book, Walking in the Fire (page 373-375).
Moda'ah v'Galuei Da'at
A Prayer for the Purification of Thought - To be recited prior to meditation
"Behold I believe with perfect and complete faith that Adonai Eloheynu is the Cause of all Causes.
He has made ten sefirot, which are Keter, Hokhma, Binah, Hesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod and Malkhut.
Their lights are hidden and concealed in the supernal Keter. From there, their lights extend to the Yod, which is Hokhma, and Hey, which is Binah, and Vav that includes the six sefirot- Hesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzah, Hod and Yesod, and Hey which is Malkhut.
To His great Light (Ayn Sof), veiled within the ten sefirot of Atzilut do we offer up our prayers, our learning, our observances of the commandments; along with every good thought, and every holy intention of the heart.
All this to draw down the supernal abundance and increasing blessing from the illumination that is within Atika Kadisha (the Holy, Ancient One), who is the supernal Keter; to Abba (Father) and Imma (Mother) who are Hokhma and Binah.
From Abba and Imma to Malka Kadisha (the Holy King) and to Hakal Tapuhin Kadishin (Field of the Holy Apples), who are Tiferet and Malkhut.
Behold I believe in perfect and complete faith that Adonai Eloheynu, that He Adonai is one and His Name one.
He was, is, and forever will be. He was hidden and concealed in Keter. He is presently cloaked in the ten sefirot of Atzilut. He will be revealed in Tiferet and Malkhut.
It is incumbent upon us to offer up our nefesh (life force), ruah (spirit) and neshama (soul) for the sake of sanctifying His holy Name.
With great love and a desiring soul do we accept upon ourselves the yoke of His Heavenly Kingdom, even as it is written in the Torah:
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheynu Adonai Ehad (Listen all Israel, Adonai is our G-d, Adonai is One)
silently: Baruch Shem Kavod Malkhuto L'olam Va'ed (Blessed be the Name of His glorious Kingdom, forever and ever)
Behold, I now reveal my will and desire before the Holy One, Blessed be He. With my complete heart and my desiring soul, I hereby nullify, with a complete and perfect nullification, any foreign, blemished, defective or forbidden thought.
I also hereby nullify any kind of evil idea or any evil, blemished, defective or forbidden image in my mind; all feelings of pride and arrogance, all negative thoughts and slander, as well as all types of anger, rage and impatience that have ever arisen in my mind or heart, at any time.
Behold, I declare all these things to be completely null and void, in any and all facets. They shall not abide, or be sustained, or last in any way.
May this declaration and revelation of my will, that I declare and reveal, be accepted by in the Heavenly court above, and in the human court below; as well as in the Gathering of the Righteous, the Elders, and the Prophets.
Behold, I make a complete and perfect public confession, one that will last forever. With my complete heart and desiring soul, I declare that all my actions are for the sake of Adonai Eloheynu, and that He is one and His Name is one.
All my prayers, my study, and my performance of righteous acts, everything that I do is to obey the Will of Adonai Eloheynu, G-d of our fathers and King of the universe.
He makes us holy by the observance of His commandments, and has given us His true Torah. For the sake of the unity of the Holy One, Blessed be He and His Shekhina in awe and love, in love and awe, to unite Yod Hey with Vav Hey in a perfect unity, in the name of all Israel.”
“And let the beauty of Adonai Eloheynu be upon us; and establish the works of our hands upon us; prosper, I pray, the work of our hands.” (Psalm. 90:17)
"Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my
heart be acceptable before You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm. 19:15)
Technique 2. Here is another technique that everyone can practice, yet a little bit more involved than the first. It is a Hebrew system, based upon the Kabbalistic teachings of the Sefer Yetzirah, Book of Formation. Similar practices date back to the mathematical mystery schools of Pythagoras.
There are twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Kabbalah embellishes these letters with awesome powers, and meanings far beyond their etymological and grammatical origins. The Hebrew letters are elevated to the domain of holiness, and are contemplated as being special forms of universal energy.
Memorizing the Hebrew letters, their names, their shapes, and their sounds is a good first step to help discipline the mind, and to fill it with an imagery and knowledge, upon which one can build one's internal mental universe in meditation.
This is the same system that I recommended in my e-book Path of Ascent (Ascent, Lesson One, Introduction & Alef-Bet Mental Exercise, pages 7-8). Here is the exercise from there:
“Let me begin here by teaching you one of my favorite initial methods of mental training. This can be used as a meditative device for training the mind to concentrate and to focus. In and of itself, this tool can help you focus on your Torah learning and it is also good to do before going to sleep; it can help guide your dreams. Yet, the best time to perform this is at the beginning of midnight rituals, before one meditates upon the holy Names.
This meditative technique is outlined in many old sources and it is based upon the Sefer Yetzirah. This is a process of uniting all the Hebrew letters one with another. It is a mental exercise performed with your mouths closed. The entire focus must be mental. One begins (as the Sefer Yetzirah says) by uniting the letter Alef with all the letters of the Alefbet. One actually recites this mentally.
One begins…(Section 1)
Alef Alef, Alef Bet, Alef Gimel, Alef Dalet, Alef Hey, Alef Vav, Alef Zayin, Alef Het, Alef Tet, Alef Yod, Alef Kaf, Alef Lamed, Alef Mem, Alef Nun, Alef Samekh, Alef Ayin, Alef Pey, Alef Tzadi, Alef Kuf, Alef Resh, Alef Shin, Alef Tav.
Next one begins with Bet. (Section 2)
Bet Alef, Bet Bet, Bet Gimel, Bet Dalet, Bet Hey, Bet Vav, Bet Zayin, Bet Het, Bet Tet, Bet Yod, Bet Kaf, Bet Lamed, Bet Mem, Bet Nun, Bet Samekh, Bet Ayin, Bet Pey, Bet Tzadi, Bet Kuf, Bet Resh, Bet Shin, Bet Tav.
One goes through every line of the Alefbet in this fashion completely by heart, reciting these mental form combinations of two Hebrew letters. It helps if you visualize the letter(s) as you mentally repeat them. You will be surprised how this is not as easy as it looks. You may mess up many times, and when you do, you start over, from the start from Alef Alef. When you can get this pattern down in your head and recite it mentally completely without mistakes then you are ready for the next step.”
The above technique is rather extensive, and can take a good deal of time to master. It is easiest to simply start with the “Alef with all” (first) section, and to repeat it until perfected. One may then continue to work similarly with all the other Hebrew letter combinations.
In conclusion, you must remember, and practice this age-old principle: “Out with the old, before in the with new.” Before one begins on a path of meditation, one must make the prerequisite space in one's mind. A mind full of junk has no place to receive light of any kind.
Start off your journey properly so that you may indeed walk the proper path, towards the proper goals, to achieve the proper accomplishments. Every journey starts with a first step. Make sure your first step is the proper one. Only then will you be ready for step two.
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The Written Works of Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright (C) 1997 - 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.