The Soul and Reality
The mind is the interface between the soul and reality. We are constantly being bombarded with stimuli and sensations from the world outside ourselves. The mind processes this onrush of sensations and determines which are to be taken note of. It then sorts and prioritizes them, and decides what response is appropriate to what stimulus, based on past experiences or principles.
The way a person’s mind functions, then, is what determines how he relates to his environment. To live maximally, we must provide our minds with proper categories in which to think, to process reality and relate to it. This is a fundamental purpose of Jewish meditation.
Through meditation, we take the untamed mind and train it to think in terms of images that are true and based on the Torah. By taking a subject through deeper and deeper levels of abstraction, we reach and affect deeper and deeper dimensions of our minds, and thus gradually change ourselves and the way we respond to the world around us and within us.
To this end, the seasoned “meditator” will make use of the whole range of Biblical, Talmudic, Midrashic, Kabbalistic, Rabbinic, Chassidic, and Jewish philosophical and ethical literature. He will use these sources to fertilize the potent ground of his imagination and faculty of association and produce a conceptual garden of ever-evolving multi-dimensional insights into reality. Where evaluated in the context of the above realms of Torah knowledge, the knowledge of nature–God’s creation–can also be summoned to the same end.
In Jewish meditation, one strives to understand in depth the Divine truths embodied in the Torah text as well as in the marvels of God’s creation. This in itself binds one to God the Creator and to His Torah. One then proceeds to establish points of application between the Divine truths he now understands and his personal life.
Meditation is enhanced by hearing the holy words of the Torah (in Hebrew, the holy language, if possible) and simultaneously envisioning the holy letters. We count the holy letters as we would count precious jewels, one by one. Enamored by each letter, unable to let go of it–to leave it and pass on to the next letter–we bind the letters together as flowers, one to the other, to create a beautiful bouquet. True endearment to the letters of the Torah comes from realizing that the Infinite One, blessed be He, has–so to speak–given Himself to us in them.
To this end, we will anchor each concept we present in this exposition to a specific source-quote, either from the Bible or from rabbinic literature.