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Kabbalah Meditation and Study

Kabbalah meditation should be performed while one is in fellowship or accountability relationship with at least two trusted kabbalistic leaders, because the openness of the meditative state exposes beginners to risks of mistaking the path. A two-way accountability group (Hebrew “chavurah”) is essential for foundation in all pillars of kabbalah, but particularly so for kabbalah meditation. The kabbalah meditation that works best is grounded in kabbalah beliefs and informed by seasoned discipline.

A weekly time of one-half to one hour, and multiple daily times of at least five minutes, should be reserved for the kabbalah meditation in a quiet and secluded place. The primary means of kabbalah meditation is a straitly focused concentration upon a received text. According to the Zohar, one is to concentrate on all four levels of the text, pshat, remezh, drash, and sodh. Pshat can be learned by oneself or with good textual helps; remezh and drash can be learned in a synagogue or other faith teaching community that reveres the Hebrew text; and methods of sodh are diverse, such as concentration on permuting the individual symbols represented by each letter of the text.

Kabbalistic Texts for Meditation

The best texts for kabbalah meditation are the Torah, the Hebrew prophets, and other Jewish writings prior to the Mishnah. Slow, thoughtful reading of an entire chapter is very rewarding, but those trained in the proper use of the deeper kabbalah beliefs will be able to concentrate undistracted on a shorter passage for the same period of time. Reducing kabbalah meditation to a single word or incomplete phrase is not recommended; mantra meditation is different, as it seeks to disengage rather than engage the mind. The Sefer Yetzirah and Zohar inform meditation.

The subtleties of Shmoth 14:19-21, already alluded, form excellent meditation targets. Within pshat, the malach haelohim (God’s angel); the angel’s movement; the surrounding pillar of fiery cloud; the unidirectional light from the pillar; the hand of Moses and the divided waters. Within remezh, comparison to other textual appearances of God’s angel, and comparison to the crossing of the Jordan River by Joshua, and later by Elijah. Within drash, searches for other situations, perhaps apocalyptic, with the world government pursuing in darkness (like wolves, says the Talmud) while the anointed prophet is exalted and the “rod of God” is lifted up. Within sodh (which also assists in memorizing the text), reference to the 72 principles, starting with Whu, Yli, Cit, and going all the way to the 72nd name, Mum.

The Universal Kabbalah Principle of Growth

Because kabbalah meditation is focused wholly on Torah or a similarly received text, it assists in emptying one of self-ambition and ego and filling one’s experience with that which is wholly Other. There is risk of kabbalah meditation becoming overly focused upon a tiny subset of Other (meaning, usually, someone else’s Self, which can even include one’s own kabbalah teacher); this is why multiple accountability relationships are essential.

Life is growth. The kabbalah student will grow automatically, due to connection, resonance, harmony, and alignment with the universal kabbalah. Growth can be healthy or stunted, and this choice is in the hands of the kabbalah student at every moment. Cultivated growth can continue until moments of literal ecstasy are achieved in meditation. Seeking at each moment to perform the activity most fitting to the state of the cosmos at that instant, rather than the activity most fitting to Self, is the principle of cultivating healthy growth.

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