Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meditative Focus


Despite having studied the Jewish mystical classic Tanya for years and years, I was left with a very blurry understanding of how the book's author, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, explains the role meditative focus plays to enhance the performance of a Mitzvah (a Torah commandment). Just this past week, while rereading this topic in Tanya, it finally clicked for me. The next day, I confirmed my understanding with a professional Tanya teacher.

What I discovered is that meditative focus is supposed to place the person in touch with the Creator's reaction to his/her Mitzvah. 

For example, if one works himself or herself into a deep enough state of love and awe of the Creator before praying, this ecstatic state can actually elevate the person to a spiritual level where s/he can taste the Creator's reaction to his/her prayer. S/he will actually glow with delight and shine from being placed in contact with the Creator's reaction; channeling the delight. 

However, because of the limits of the body the Creator's delight in our Mitzvahs can only be partially experienced by us in our current state.  However, when a person passes on, his/her meditative focus behind the Mitzvahs actually enhance his/her paradise. As a soul is less limited than a body, the person feels more acutely the pleasure the Creator had in his/her Mitzvahs, while on earth.  His pleasure wraps the soul like a garment. The garment serves as a filter, allowing the soul to be safely absorbed in the very brightly luminous delights of paradise. Otherwise, the lights would be too bright for the soul to take.

Accordingly, the level of meditative focus determines the level of paradise the soul is admitted into. If one generally worked up a deeper state of meditative focus, then s/he'll ascend to higher level of paradise. Generally, this state of meditative focus is developed though contemplation over deeply spiritual themes, like the Creator's Oneness or Kindness. If one wasn't in the habit of contemplating, the very fact the his/her Mitzvahs were performed with an appreciation of Whom the Mitzvah is being performed for, indicates that there was some latent emotional state behind the performance - even if not openly felt. In such a state, the person is admitted into a lower level of paradise, where the Creator's pleasure for such a Mitzvah resides. His pleasure wraps the soul as a garment, allowing the soul to take in the pleasures of lower paradise.

However, the tastes of paradise are not the ultimate. There are even deeper spiritual pleasures then paradise, which will first become available at the resurrection. Souls who spent years and years in paradise, ascending level to level into deeper divine bliss, will come scrambling down to the earth plane to experience the delights of the resurrection. This is an obvious indication that the resurrection has pleasures to offer that aren't available in paradise, even at the highest levels. At the resurrection our experience of the pleasure the Creator's took in our Mitzvahs will reach new unprecedented peaks. We'll need a special supply of strength to take in the ecstasy of that day. It will be that potent!


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