Jewish Meditation

Introduction to Jewish Meditation – Part 1 – With All My Heart I Seek You

On the title page of his "Treatise on Meditation," Rabbi Dovber of Lubavitch inscribed the verse from Psalms, "With all my heart, I seek You." This is the objective of Jewish meditation, to seek and find God, to reveal Him in our lives.

God placed us here in this world and concealed His presence from us in order to play with us a holy game of "hide and seek." By consciously seeking after Him, we bring Him joy, as it were, and thereby fulfill His desire in creation. Our deepest need–to find God in our lives–is His, as well.

If you know where you lost a precious jewel, you go there, not elsewhere, to seek it. God revealed to us His ways–the roads along which He Himself walks–in the Torah. The commandments of the Torah are the "ways of God," the "place" to go when seeking God. For this reason, the most basic Jewish meditation–living in Divine space–is based on the six continuous commandments of the Torah.

Point, Line, Area

Kabbalah and Chassidut speak of three stages of development: "point, line, area." Applied to meditative consciousness, the "point" of meditation is "with all my heart, I seek You."

The "line" is the awareness of well-defined "directions," or orientation in meditation. In meditation, it refers to the continual consciousness of the six directions surrounding us at all times, and how they correspond to the six continuous commandments of the Torah. (Note that in this case, the "line" of meditation is actually three-dimensional.)

The full "area" of meditative consciousness is becoming so engrossed in the depth of one's meditation, in the wealth of its Divine "details"–on both the intellectual and emotional planes–that one transcends his own limited state of self-consciousness, "metamorphosing" to become one with the Divine truth embodied in the meditation.

Thus, the three stages of "point, line, area" in reference to meditation may be expressed as "objective, orientation, metamorphosis."

The Service of the Heart

As the initial point of meditation is "with all my heart, I seek You," meditation may be understood as "the service of the heart." Our sages, however, refer to prayer as "the service of the heart." So, we see the intrinsic relationship of meditation to prayer.

Prayer is indeed the culmination, the consummate expression, of meditation. We will see that prayer reflects the inner experience of the meditator encompassed in the consciousness of living in Divine space. As will be explained, prayer is the striving of the soul to transform the line of meditation into its full area–to metamorphose out of one's limited state of self-consciousness. Prayer, the point within the six directions of Divine space, converts the meditative outline, the relative periphery of consciousness, into a living, pulsating Divine "area." The initial point of meditation creates Divine structure; the final point within–prayer–creates, for the meditator, Divine life in full.

Study as Preparation for Meditation

IChassidut, it is explained that meditation possesses three stages, which themselves correspond to the progression of "point, line, area":

  • Study as preparation of meditation
  • Meditation before prayer
  • Meditation during prayer

Relative to one another, these are:-

  • a yet inanimate point,
  • dynamically animate line, and
  • a full experience–area–of Divine life.

As study in general is the point preceding the actual service of meditation, while studying one should try to retain consciousness of the initial point of meditation itself: "With all my heart, I seek You." In direct proportion to the sincerity and intensity of the point–while studying and thereafter proceeding to begin the actual service of meditation–will one succeed in progressing to the line, and, ultimately, the area.

If, at any point, the vastness and profundity of the study becomes overwhelming, one always has the point to return to. In the relatively inanimate state of study, the point is its spark of life, never to be extinguished. Thisspark of life is what inspires one to reach deeper, more profound levels of understanding in his study, to proceed from point to line to area in the study itself.

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