Posted: August 10th, 2017
We’re now up to the topic of “meditation” itself. What is this strange state, this level of awareness? What is this act of meditating? What is the meditative state, the experience we’re trying to discover?
Consciousness or awareness is a mental activity, an activity of the mind, as I mentioned when I talked about the mind and levels of mental awareness. We are now on the fourth level of consciousness, awareness which is a mental activity and faculty of mind.
Meditation is what I call “super-focused awareness.” In other words, there is no mental interference; the same is true of the state of contemplation. Just as with contemplation, so it is with meditation in terms of the cessation of all extraneous stimuli. There is no more interference or intrusion of extraneous mental phenomena, no more mental activities, no more thoughts, feelings, or images that interject themselves upon the mind. There are no more sensations, whether bodily or sensory. All this disappears in the meditative state. The person is actually able to control himself (his “self”) and keep these things out of the mind. The mental “static” that a person always feels is gone in the state of contemplation and, certainly, in the state of meditation.
What, then, does a person experience? Meditation turns up the focus of awareness. Instead of working on removing the external or extraneous stimuli, blocking sensation and other mental activity, the person focuses awareness to an incredible extent, dials up that awareness beyond just removing the extraneous mental activity and sensations. That focused awareness is the only thing that exists in this state. The object of thought, the object of awareness, focuses completely on the experience, the object itself. The object the person is aware of fills the entire field of awareness. It’s total mental involvement. The object of thought is focused upon as if it were an exclusive experience. The entirety of mental awareness is on this object. It is an enhanced and heightened state of consciousness. One’s alertness of reality is intensified enormously. One’s awareness is totally focused.
The awareness of the mind can be looked upon as if it were a field, one that zeroes in on that one single experience, the object of its awareness. There is nothing else that the mind is aware of--not that the mind has awareness which it could be using but is only using to a limited extent of its awareness. The entire range of awareness that the “self” has, that this person has, is focused on the object, on that unitary experience which fills the entire range of awareness of this man or this woman. It’s an incredible state of awareness. You are totally aware in every aspect of your mind of what you are thinking about.
Two things have happened; there has been the removal of all extraneous stimuli, all sensation of mental activity which interferes or intrudes on a person’s awareness--that’s out! What’s “in” is the heightened state of awareness on a specific object. That is a difficult state to achieve.
Sometimes people experience that spontaneously. For example, if you get involved in reading a book late at night or you’re on a train or a bus, reading, you are so involved that the reality outside the book ceases and you don’t even know how involved you have been until you lift your head and suddenly realize that: hey! There’s another world besides the one I was reading about! Then you realize how focused your awareness was. You realize there’s a bus and other people around you. That’s when you realize how intensely you were involved in that book. That should give you an idea of what meditation and contemplation are.
You cannot achieve that state normally. It’s a freak accident that you got so involved because if you try to duplicate this again, you begin thinking of other things. The more you try to focus intensely on the book, the more other thoughts and feelings, images, bodily sensations, sounds, visions, will intrude. It’s difficult to do consciously. When it is unconscious, automatic, then you recognize the state you’d been in afterward, but to actually do it purposely is almost impossible for the average person. It requires work and learning certain techniques which I will talk about.
Extraneous Mental Input
I’d like to cover the concept of the intrusions, the interferences. We see that full concentration, full attention is really difficult to achieve. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to achieve, let alone the contemplative and meditative states. Even the level called “concentration” is difficult or nearly impossible to achieve.
For example, if you’re looking at a flower or picture, it is difficult to maintain that concentration on that flower or picture for any length of time. Why is that? The intrusions, interferences that are occurring while you are thinking or aware are called “mental static.” It’s the background noise that keeps Impinging upon and bombarding your awareness. I’d mentioned what these interferences are. They are the mental activities that go on in the mind all the time.
Why are these extraneous feelings, images etcetera produced by the mind? Where do they come from? Why do they keep coming and don’t seem to be a response to your will? Sometimes I find myself thinking about something and I don’t know why the thought is there. I didn’t mean to start thinking about it. I didn’t initiate the feeling. I didn’t close my eyes and to call the imagery to mind. All of a sudden, the images come in. Where do these come from that make it so difficult to achieve concentration?
Conscious Will and Unconscious Will
The answer lies in the fact that the self has two wills. One is called “conscious will” and the other is “unconscious will.”
What is the conscious will of self? It is when the self is aware of the actual act of decision, the act of willing, and it’s aware of the motive as to why it is willing. We can distinguish the following elements: There’s “self “as a result of reason or a motive when the self makes a decision. The will, which is the mechanism that connects the self and the neurons in the brain, fires up the neurons and action results. We have self which is motivated for specific reasons, to make a decision which activates will resulting in mental productions. You think! The conscious self is aware of what the motive is and why it is willing something in the first place. The products of the conscious will can be initiated at will and stopped at will and be controlled or altered because you are consciously aware of the “willing process,” the decision process, the motive for willing something and conscious of the productions you’ve willed.
The “unconscious will” of self is different. The self is not aware of the act of willing itself nor is it aware of the act of willing which is taking place nor of the motive of the will. Suddenly, there are thoughts, feelings, images that the self “sees” but the self is not aware that it decided, willed these thoughts and feelings or images in the mind. It is only aware of these “coming in” but not aware of what motivated them or why. To the self, things intrude constantly.
We realize an interesting idea, that self can be aware of its own products, aware that it is willing, that it wants something and why it wants it or not. Sometimes, it’s now aware at all. Suddenly, something pops up in the mind. How did it get there? You willed it there for a specific reason. Because of that reason, that motive, you decided to have it and willed the thought there but you don’t know you willed it there. You are not conscious of the motive, the actual decision process. You are not conscious of the act of willing which generated or evoked or produced this thought, feeling, or image in the mind. That is “unconscious motivation.” It is not conscious of the actual act of willing itself.
A good example of this is “slips of the tongue.” You say something you didn’t mean to say. You decided or willed it and uttered it but you are not aware of why you did so.
Unconsciously, you really know why you said something. Unconsciously, you “decided” to say it. You willed It and uttered it, but you’re not aware of the willing of it. The willing of it is based on a motive but you’re not aware of the motive. You experience thoughts, feelings, images in the mind and don’t know why. Don’t be fooled. Despite it being unconscious, it’s you that is bringing them into the mind. That is the concept of “unconscious motivation” or “unconscious will of self.”
Unconscious will is responsible for a great deal of behavior. A person is always willing things. Sometimes you’re aware of the motives, the actual act of deciding based on a motive and will. Suddenly, the effect is generated, the slip of the tongue, a feeling, a sensation. Things are happening and you don’t know why but it is the “self” doing it without your awareness.
Self is aware and self is not aware of things.
This explains why you experience these interferences and intrusions, this mental static. It comes from the unconscious will by which you are busy producing and generating thoughts feelings and images based on motives you have but not conscious of. The act of decision and willing is unconscious to you. That is the origin of the interference, the extraneous mental activity which disallows your concentration.
We see from this, obviously, that the products of the mind, mental productions which arise from the unconscious will, are extremely difficult to control. It is possible to control them through meditation and that is one of meditation’s objectives. How can one cultivate these objectives?
Before I begin to discuss that area of the techniques one can use to develop the meditative and contemplative state, I want to have a brief “recap” of previous ideas I’ve presented.
There are four states of awareness, states of consciousness: reflection, concentration, contemplation, and meditation.
The first, “reflection,” is when a person is aware of or thinks about anything in a sort of light, unfocused way accompanied by a great many intrusions of external and extraneous mental input. These can be images, feelings, sensations that are sensory or bodily. These intrusions break the person’s focus or concentration.
“Concentration” is when a person is able to focus or direct his awareness of thought on a certain object or idea or topic with a greater state of awareness. The thinking is more focused but even this state has extraneous mental input that bombards the mind and retards his ability to focus or maintain his directed thinking for long. These distracting thoughts or images seem to “come up” spontaneously. These distractions are products of the unconscious will.
The third level of awareness is much higher and is more difficult to achieve--“contemplation.” It is, basically, the same as “concentration” except that a person directs or controls or focuses his awareness but he has succeeded in removing or excluding, shutting out, any and all extraneous mental input he would experience. He can shut out extraneous thoughts, feelings, bodily and sensory sensations. His awareness is greatly intensified not necessarily because the person actually increases focusing his awareness but because the extraneous input is shut out.
The fourth, and highest, state of awareness, of consciousness, is “meditation.” That state which I called “super-focused” is one in which the person’s entire field of awareness is focused on one experience. There is nothing left of that person’s awareness of anything else. At the same time, he has excluded all interference of phenomena that would intrude or distract. Absolutely nothing else enters the mind.
Many disciplines aspire to achieve that meditative level because there are many things that can be accomplished as a result. When we get into Yoga, you’ll see that yoga, especially, tries to get the individual to realize that level. Yoga regards that as the main vehicle for what’s called “liberation of self” or “self-realization” which I’ll get into later.
As an aside, I’d like to mention the idea of “creativity.” The more you are focused on an object, the greater is the faculty of creativity that the mind has upon that object. When there is an enormous awareness on a single subject or object, new subtleties, new shades, new aspects, new elements or facets of the object are revealed with great awareness. New relationships, new fundamental principles become “visible.” The self’s faculties are greatly strengthened or enhanced in this meditative or contemplative state.
Another idea I’d like to mention before we get into techniques to achieve meditation is the concept of “genius.” Genius can be thought of as a product of a person’s ability to focus awareness, to achieve concentration or contemplation or meditation. Genius can be a result of the heightened awareness that can enhance knowledge and creativity about that object. The power of the intellect in conception, judgment, and reasoning is greatly strengthened as a result of his awareness.
We tend to think that a person is a genius who has superior intellect, superior ability to reason, to form conceptions from judgements, to form reasoning. The truth is that, many times, a person can be absolutely brilliant for no other reason than he as the ability to achieve great states of awareness or consciousness. That itself enhances the creative process and gives a person far greater ability to know something, comprehend the nature of things. So, it’s not too late for those people who are not innate geniuses; it’s always possible to develop heightened states of awareness. Who knows?
We are now up to the techniques of meditation. How does a person achieve these states? The first level, “reflection,” with its unfocused awareness and extraneous mental input requires no technique. It requires no effort. Believe it or not, most people function at this mental level. It is a simple form of thinking that almost everybody can do innately, intuitively. Awareness is a mental activity you’re born with, to be aware of things with the extraneous input going on simultaneously.
To achieve the second level of consciousness, “concentration,” ---the focused awareness, directed awareness with extraneous input going on at the same time--doesn’t require any special technique or training. It can be realized, readily achieved by most people. It requires only that they apply themselves, make an effort to direct their “thinking apparatus” on a certain matter and most can do it. One person may differ from another in the length of time that he can do it. To be able to do it for an extended period of time does require training and discipline but not extensive training. It requires readiness in the sense that a person does need the ability to keep up with ideas as is done when attending shiurim—study sessions, lectures that are academically sophisticated. After a while, you become accustomed to attending such shiurim and concentrating during these them and your mind will discipline itself to be able to sit for an extended period of time. It tends to get easier and easier.
To achieve the third level, “contemplation,” that intense focused awareness, directed awareness without any extraneous mental input at all, is not an easy matter. To achieve the fourth state of consciousness, “meditation,” that super-focused awareness without any extraneous input at all, requires practice of particular techniques and demands intense effort for long hours to accomplish.
It is not easy because the mind is relatively undisciplined, often changing the object of its awareness. It takes many hours of training in specific techniques to train itself to shut out all extraneous mental input and focus in a superlative, sophisticated way on any object of thought.
How does one develop the contemplative and meditative state? There are three types of meditative techniques. By looking at different books on the subject of developing such abilities, one would think there are many approaches but it really comes down to one of three and all three have really one thing in common They are three forms of the achieving the same goal. These three types of techniques are:
1- Mantra--or sound--meditation
2- Contemplative--or sight--meditation
3- Visualization--or image—meditation
Either you focus on a sound, a sight, or a mental image. Let’s examine these more in detail.
What is “mantra meditation” or “sound meditation”? It is when a person concentrates, focuses his awareness on a word or phrase or sound. That is the “mantra,” a term used to describe that sound which is concentrated upon by vocalizing a word or phrase. You pronounce it softly, whisper or mouth it, or think about its sound. You can mentally “sound it” when you concentrate on it. Repeating this procedure constitutes “mantra meditation.”
The second technique is called “contemplative meditation” and entails gazing at some object which can be a written word, phrase, or symbol. When gazing with concentrated effort, with directed awareness, this constitutes “contemplative meditation.” The object is not a sound but, rather, a sight. You gaze intently at something and concentrate on gazing at it.
The third method of developing a meditative state or contemplative state is called “visualizing meditation.” A person evokes or fixes their attention upon an image generated in the mind—an object, a letter, a word, a symbol, holding it there, concentrating one’s mental “gaze” on it for some duration of time. One cannot fix a phrase in the mind because it’s too lengthy to hold there. When a person fixes upon or evokes a symbol, word, object, letter and focuses awareness upon this image for a specific duration, this is “visualizing meditation.”
These are the techniques used to develop meditative or contemplative states. Sometimes, they are used in the actual act of meditating or contemplating. Sometimes, these techniques are what’s done when meditating. Let’s assume that a person has achieved the ability to arrive at a meditative state and now wants to meditate on a particular Hebrew letter. It’s not just a technique to cultivate meditation; it’s the active meditation itself.
By the way, the Hebrew term for this technique, the “visualizing meditation,” is called “chakika” which means “engraving” in that you’re engraving an image in the mind.
What are the common objectives of these three techniques? How do they enable you to achieve a contemplative or meditative state?
The common objective of all of them is two ideas: to enable one to develop skill in greatly enhancing focused awareness, to still the mind, clear it, shut out, empty the mind, exclude all extraneous mental input and to discipline the mind so nothing enters except awareness of the object of its focus. You cease all the mental static. If done for long enough, frequently enough, the self—that’s really who’s doing it—is able to control the mind in two ways. The self, the individual, is able to control the mind to exclude mental static and focus on a desired object. If done often enough, you become proficient, reach amazing states of consciousness, very high levels of awareness. You learn to develop focused awareness, gain the experience and the discipline to do it, and enable the mind to shut out all kinds of extraneous mental input.
Meditation is a method, a device, a means, a technique to achieve realistic goals. What can you accomplish?
I’ve selected twelve goals of meditative consciousness which means you can tailor your activities of meditation toward achieving one or more of these twelve. Although there are twelve, Judaism selects only several of these goals. The rest it leaves off although I’m not saying the rest are not valid or not utilized. Judaism, in terms of what it wants to achieve, suggests, recommends that only two of these twelve goals should be sought in achieving a meditative state.
The twelve goals begin with what we’ve already covered. The first goal is to quieten the mind to exclude all extraneous mental input, all feelings, sensations both bodily and sensory. This enhances the relaxation response, cultivates deep relaxation. When the sensory barrage, the bombardment of stimuli to the self is excluded--in the way tension and anxiety are often presented, as muscular twitches, tics, pains, aches—a person can achieve a state of relaxation without disturbing thoughts, frightening images, or negative feelings. Cultivating a deep relaxation response is one goal of meditation, to learn how to relax deeply. This is no small objective especially in this kind of world where everybody’s uptight.
A second objective is to loosen the physical bonds from the self. This begins to have certain significances to religion, particularly to the Eastern meditative doctrines. You, as a person, can de-emphasize your attachment to the physical world. There will be no physical attachment to the physical, external world. Why not?—because there is no sensory input. You’re not receiving anything from your senses. There’s no attachment to the physical body, no bodily sensations. In addition, there is no attachment to the physical world, no thoughts, no images, no feelings about that either. A person is linked to the physical world via thoughts, images, feelings about the world, linked to the physical world because of sensory input. He sees the world, hears it, touches. smells and tastes things of the world. If a person can clear out, shut out these experiences, he’ll experience much less of the world. The objective of meditative doctrine is to loosen the physical bond, the attachment the self has with the physical world. This objective, as we shall see, is especially important in religion, in Judaism and in Yoga and the Eastern meditative doctrines. The physical world’s intrusion disturbs your idea of who you are; we’ll speak about that much more when we get to the topic of Yoga. They discuss this in terms of illusions, or “Maya,” and we’ll see what that means.
A third objective of meditation which can be achieved due its exclusion of extraneous mental input is to gain conscious control in suspending the mental productions-- the thoughts, images, feelings-- of the unconscious. You can gain conscious control of the unconscious will. For whatever reason, you are willing, deciding, motivating—and all three are known to you—various mental products coming into your mind that can be shut out with meditation. In other words, you can gain self-mastery over extraneous, unwanted thoughts, images, feelings. The goal is to use the conscious mind to master the unconscious mind.
This is very important to becoming a tzaddik—righteous individual due to the concept of “hirhurim,” thoughts that fly into the mind, products of the unconscious will. They are not “machshovos”—thoughts you want to think about, products of the conscious will. Hirhurim is the stream of incessant mental activity and an impediment to the avoda—service of working yourself up to be a tzaddik or a kodosh, to get rid of these hirhurim.
A fourth product, effect, of meditation—the first being the exclusion of the extraneous mental input—is the ability to focus awareness on a particular object, subject, idea. Using the second product of excluding distracting input as its fundamental determining principle, you can actually acquire the skill of intense, super-focused concentration or awareness toward any object you wish. It imparts the disciplined will whereby you can think about something you want to, zero-in on it, and shut everything else out. That is enormously beneficial for somebody who wants to learn or experience anything fully. Having that power is extremely significant in many areas, not only in religion. You could focus on G-D or prayer or whatever. When doing that, G-D becomes a different kind of reality. But even in other areas, being able to focus on something quickly and efficiently with unimpeded concentration is a skill that is achievable and extremely valuable.
A fifth objective is the attainment of a greater state of consciousness, an enhanced awareness which can be, itself, the goal and a very exhilarating experience. The objective can be the gaining of awareness of feelings and emotional states which one doesn’t normally have. The objective becomes the meditative state itself.
A sixth objective is the gaining of greater knowledge of the object of awareness, a heightened consciousness and knowledge of the object which enhances creativity. Not only is knowledge of the object enhanced, such knowledge increases creative output, as I mentioned earlier. The focused awareness offers insight into new relationships among ideas, new shades of meaning, new elements of the given object. This enables restructuring, seeing it in a new and different way. That’s what “creativity” is. You can achieve greater knowledge and generate creative products.
A seventh objective is a greater perceptual awareness of an object to the extent that one feels a merger of the object and the self. For instance, if you gaze with focused awareness at a rose, gaze at a beautiful scene, that rose or that beautiful scene will become different to you in some way than it does to the average person. You will discover aspects of that rose or scene not accessible to others and that will be exhilarating. The greater awareness of the object you have, the greater will be the feeling of being “at one” it. This is one of the supreme objectives of Yoga, the merger of the self with the object of awareness--any object.
An eighth objective of meditation is to arouse within you a strong emotional state through intense awareness and knowledge of a thing. For example, if you meditate upon G-D with super-focused awareness, this will yield certain emotional states toward G-D. If you meditate on greater love and fear, on spirituality, upon spiritual worlds or ideas within Judaism, certain emotional states will be aroused. You become enmeshed in the object in an emotional way. Experiencing different emotional states is an objective.
A ninth objective, and one which is important for Yoga and the martial arts such as Karate, is the ability to channel sources of internal and external energy to any desired area of your body or another’s body. There are such things as sources of energy within self and sources outside of self. Through meditation, you can channel these to any desired area. On a practical level, there’s a practice called “touch healing” wherein someone touches a person and healing can occur. You channel the energies through touch while meditating on sources of energy to release it. Karate uses this when wanting to channel energy into certain muscle groups to significantly intensify strength. The muscle is not merely a physical instrument; it's also a receiver of energy as a result of mental involvement in that muscle group which then exhibits far greater strength.
A tenth objective is to achieve realization of self; that’s Yoga’s goal. That’s the “self-realization” which we’ll get into later much more extensively. Yoga zeroes in on this. People make a mistake thinking that Yoga is chiefly about relaxation, improving flexibility or enhancing one’s reflexes but these are by-products of the meditative state. Yoga popularizes itself by offering these enhancements relaxation but these have little to do with Yoga. Authentic Yoga is interested in only one thing: “liberaton of self.” It seeks to liberate the self from all bonds or, more accurately, to liberate self from its illusion of what it really is. All the other goals are popularization.
An eleventh objective of meditation is to establish an existential or ontological connection or “hook-up” to the object of the meditation. It’s called “entity hook-up” which I’ll explain after I finish enumerating the objectives. This is one of the most crucial ideas in meditation and where you begin to see how it functions in terms of Judaism.
A twelfth objective is specifically Jewish in nature. It seeks to form an attachment to, make contact or have communication with and perceive transcendental realms/worlds and spiritual entities for the purpose of having control of the various transcendental/spiritual entities themselves. This is the crucial objective Judaism uses meditation to achieve. It uses meditation to achieve control or manipulation of different spiritual entities in the service of whatever you want them to do. That’s why Judaism uses it. We will get into this very extensively.
Meditation is a very powerful device--also contemplation but especially meditation--a powerful vehicle to achieve many objectives. You can enhance the relaxation process, loosen physical bonds that the self has with the world, gain conscious control, suspend the productions of the unconscious world mastering unwanted thoughts, become skilled in focused awareness on an object, attain heightened states of consciousness to prompt exhilaration, achieve knowledge that stirs the creative faculty, know something on a perceptual level to arouse emotional states and achieve merger, channel internal and external energies to any desired area of the body, achieve self-realization, connect ontologically to an object, communicate with and attach oneself to and perceive and control spiritual entities for the purpose of having them do one’s bidding.
I imagine that these objectives are enticing to people. It’s fascinating to think that one can actually do the kinds of things I’ve enumerated and described.
Entity “Hook-up” to Affect Creation
The eleventh objective which is to establish an ontological connection, what I call “entity hook-up”—what does that mean? The self, in general, is existentially connected to all aspects of the Creation. It’s important to know that each individual is a model of Creation, is existentially and ontologically connected or attached or “hooked” to all Creation. If you make some part of Creation the object of your awareness, it intensifies the connection.
I’m not going to get into it now but, after these shiurim on meditation, I’m going to give shiurim on Adam Kadmon—primordial man, the structure of man and the structure of the universe, why man was created the way he was with two hands, two eyes, etcetera. It will provide an understanding of the structure of the human being. We will see that man is the model of all Creation, literally, connected to all Creation’s aspects. Mankind itself is automatically attached so when a person thinks intensely about a certain aspect of Creation, it clears the channels and intensifies the connections. In other words, the self is existentially and ontologically attached, connected, “hooked-up” to the object of its awareness and, using meditation, awareness of that object becomes far greater than without this focused awareness.
Though you aren’t aware of it generally, the truth is that you can influence all aspects of Creation. When you focus your awareness on that aspect of Creation, it’s like clearing clogged pipes, taking away all the intrusions to perceive the direct line between you and that area of Creation or between you and that object which is part of the Creation. The more the self is aware, mentally preoccupied, the greater is the connection to that thing. Remember, man himself is connected to all aspects of Creation because of his unique spiritual structure. When a person meditates on any aspect of Creation, the channels, the link a person has with that object within Creation is greatly intensified, is greatly reinforced. This has great metaphysical significance in Judaism.
There’s a statement in Judaism that says, “Where the mind is, you are” What you think about all the time, that’s where the self is. That is what the self is connected to. The connection itself is on a mental and spiritual plane. The self is connected to the spiritual determinants, the causes, roots of that object; that’s the connection.
You’re connected to the underlying spiritual counterparts or determinants of objects and you also are connected to things on a mental plane. We find, for instance, many times you may think of a person going through a dangerous moment and you think about that because you’re hooked up to someone who is always the object of your awareness, especially if it’s a loved one.
If the object of your awareness is physical or material, then the self is attached or hooked to gashmius—physicality. If your mind is always on chandeliers and carpets or how to further material pursuits, then the self, the nefesh elyona—higher soul, is connected to physicality. You are connected to the physical world. The self is enmeshed or entangled in materialism.
On the other hand, if your mind is preoccupied with thoughts about G-D, about His Torah, about doing mitzvahs, about studying hashkafa—Jewish philosophy as we’re studying now, then the self is hooked to spirituality and spiritual realms, attached to transcendental worlds. The nefesh elyona is enmeshed in its natural, true environment. The self intensifies its connection with spirituality which has repercussions on a spiritual plane. If the self, via the nefesh tachtona—mind, is preoccupied with physical pursuits, material pursuits, it is connected to the physical planes. That greatly diminishes the stature of the nefesh itself. It also precludes, prevents, the individual from experiencing many spiritual phenomena. Spiritual phenomena abhor, repudiate the self that is enmeshed in the physical world. It’s called “mutually exclusive phenomena.” Spirituality cannot mesh with a self that is enmeshed in materialism, in the physical world. We’ll discuss this more when we get to the topic of prophecy and spiritual phenomena.
We will talk about prophecy and Divine inspiration, ruach ha’kodesh. So far, we’ve gone through the objectives of the mediative and contemplative states. We’ve also analyzed the concept of an existential and ontological hook-up, the self’s connection to all reality by virtue of the fact that it is an “adam”—human being. Later we’ll see more what that means.
When you are aware of something, you intensify or reinforce or clear the channels to enhance the link. Meditation and contemplation are difficult states to achieve notwithstanding all the glorious objectives that have been enumerated.
Is it possible that we, average persons, can achieve certain states of awareness that will give us the benefits of meditation without engaging in the long hours of arduous effort that these disciplines require? The answer is, yes. There is something that we, ourselves, can do with a little effort that can achieve the objectives without going through all the work and all the time it takes to achieve meditation and contemplation. How? We said that “concentration” is directed and focused awareness, thinking about something, with the bombardment of interferences of extraneous mental input. The level of awareness, the thinking in concentration is limited because of the extraneous mental input interfering. A way exists whereby one can increase the level of awareness in the state of concentration without working on excluding the extraneous mental input which, of course, diminishes somewhat the focused awareness. We have an alternative to the contemplative and meditative state. The alternative is desirable because the contemplative and meditative states are difficult to achieve for the average person. It’s possible to increase the level of awareness, the consciousness in concentration without working on clearing the mind of the distracting input. It’s possible.
How is it done? It’s done with prolonged and frequent periods of experience. You have to become mentally preoccupied, obsessed, with anything for prolonged and frequent periods of time. If you take any area of interest, let’s say an area you want to study, and you concentrate within the normal bounds people have, think about it intensely and often. This will heighten the state of awareness even without removing the interfering mental input. Obviously, if you increase the level of awareness from merely focused awareness of concentration to intense focused awareness of contemplation, even without removing the distractions, then you can achieve a great many of the objectives one can achieve with the meditative state. You won’t achieve all of them because you have not excluded extraneous mental activity but, in terms of the heightening or enhancing the focused awareness, that can be achieved. This is an important tool for learning and creativity. Even with the interference, you can still achieve much greater levels of awareness than is normally achieved with the regular state of concentration.
Again, the two requirements are: focused thinking for a prolonged period time and doing so with frequency. Intense intellectual activity—thinking in a concentrated fashion—brings in the intellect and raises the level of awareness, enhances the state of consciousness toward that object in a way that cannot normally be achieved. This is sometimes referred to as “intellectual meditation.” It is meditation that uses the intellect, immersing itself in an area of study or on an object. One becomes strongly connected existentially and ontologically to the object or the area of thought. Through intellectual meditation, the creative faculty is extremely productive in revealing fundamental principles, relationships and concepts. One experiences strong emotional states, “highs,” as if your being, your “self” resides in that area of thought.
Interestingly enough, many great people were able to achieve this. This is what made them great; this is what I believe. We find that many great tzaddikim—righteous, enlightened people, Torah giants, have been totally obsessed in learning Torah. Their awareness is so great, their creative ability so tremendously enhanced that they produce informational knowledge to a great degree because they are so wrapped up in that particular area of knowledge. This is also true among secular giants such as Einstein. He was immersed in theoretic physics. In fact, that is what he did all day—think. This is why he was able to perceive relationships that were not apparent to other scientists.
Greatness in any area of knowledge is achieved in total immersion in that area of knowledge, especially when occurring frequently over many years. It’s as if the self and the area of knowledge merge. That’s an ontological merger. If it happens in the area of spirituality, then it’s almost as if the spiritual world you’re focused on is one you reside in. It’s an emotional high residing in that area of thought, in that spiritual world.