Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. Isaac went out in the evening to meditate in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, and said to the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. (Genesis 24:62-67)
Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. (Psalm 119:27)
My eyes are awake before each watch of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise. (Psalm 119:148)
I revere your commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes. (Psalm 119:48)
Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the voice of his servant,
who walks in darkness and has no light,
yet trusts in the name of the Lord
and relies upon his God? (Isaiah 50:10)
Meditation is an important part of the Judeo-Christian tradition and can be traced back to many references in the Hebrew Bible and early Jewish writings (Kaplan, 1978). The word hitbodedut (התבודדות) denotes meditation. Hitboded (התבודד) is the verb form “to meditate.” The root word in Hebrew is Baded (בדד) which means “to be alone” in the sense of “self-isolation” or “internal isolation.” There are other words that are interpreted to mean meditation, such as siyach (שיח) found in the Psalms (64:2 and 119:15) and hagah (הגה), which is sometimes translated as “studies” or “meditates” and contains the implied quality of a repetitive or mantra-like process.
Prophetic revelation required isolation, or separation, from others in order to be alone with God. In Exodus 19 Moses ascends Mt. Sinai alone to speak with God. Elijah goes alone to Mt. Horeb to speak with the Lord (I Kings 19) and finds God in the still, small voice that comes after the wind and earthquake. Rabbis and Hebrew scholars of Kabbalah, some from the period of the Babylonian exile as well as the last century BCE and the first two centuries of the CE, use many ancient Jewish texts in addition to the Hebrew Bible, like the Talmud, in their exegetical work. They understand meditation as an important practice that precedes and helps prepare for prophetic revelation. In the New Testament, the first chapter of Mark, Jesus goes off alone to pray in the morning and represents a similar orientation to his prophetic/messianic ministry.
Mantras, prayers, music, and images can be used with training to achieve an optimal introspective point of focus. After one calls God by name, or calls out to God by name, in prayer, meditation is the process by which one listens for God’s response. We withdraw all of our projections from the external world when we meditate. Our introspective focus leads us to the most intimate part of our being, where the most intimate part of our identity is connected to God and comes to us from God’s own being. We would die without the ability to breathe, and just as surely we would die without the life that flows into us from God. This life from God has its own rhythm, like the breath, and just as effectively penetrates every cell of our physical body. When the highest state of meditation is reached, the spiritual energy of God becomes fully realized in all of the physical, mental, and spiritual bodies present in a human being. Pure consciousness that embraces complete awareness is mystically united with the consciousness of God. The life that animates our being pulses with God’s energy, power, and being in the unity found in oneness with God. Our intelligence, our ego, our mind, all cease to function according to our individuality, and our identity merges with the identity of God. We surrender everything of ourselves, empty all content of our being, in preparation of receiving an infusion of God’s spirit and presence.
Infinite and merciful God: Help us surrender to you anything that is a hindrance to your complete love and truth, filling us with life. In our moments alone may we hear your words, your voice, the sound of your presence. When we finish our prayer, let the silence prepare us for the arrival of your consciousness and being. Help us to serve your coming, your emergence, your resurrection, in the regeneration of every human being. Amen.
From The Readings
2011-134 For many human beings, there appears to be an ebb and flow to events inside of themselves. Some days are harder; some days are easier. This is true most frequently when a person is passive toward God. The constancy of God means that the full power of God is always present to guide the being and overcome all influences. Human beings can become so strong in God that they will feel and know a constant power found in the presence of God. I am not talking about being in the presence of God; rather, I am speaking about God’s presence in the being. It requires work in order to be aware of the constant presence of God inside the human being. You are moving in this direction, but there are times when you feel there is a block. These blocks can occur at two levels. One is at the level of the mind. This is a relatively low-level block. Here the mind is unable to access the stillness and the constancy of God’s presence in the being. This is why meditation is necessary to calm the mind. All of the anxiety felt in the being, the human being’s person, is a struggle of the ego and the fear that has been projected onto the being. This fear has been learned. The second block is at the level of the heart. True compassion, true devotion, and love, especially the practice of love, are those things that overcome the block in the heart center of the human being. These things, the block in the mind, the block in the heart, can feel as if they are very material things. However, they are spiritual. To overcome these blocks, the human being must access the spiritual. The two-fold nature of all spiritual things means that we must acknowledge the physical and the spiritual as fully present in the individual human being.