Abulafia’s Mystical Meditation
These pages are excerpts from the book, Kabbalah's Secret Circles, by Robert Zucker. Read more sample chapters and download a free PDF sample compliments of the author.
Abulafia’s handbook on meditation was called OR HASHEKHEL (LIGHT OF THE INTELLECT).
Abulafia also penned CHAYE HAOLAM HABA (LIFE IN THE FUTURE WORLD), 329 an influential handbook on how to achieve an ecstatic prophetic experience.
As the title suggested, it covered the Judaic perspective of the afterworld and provided extensive meditation techniques, charts and instructions. The Jewish belief in an afterlife (reincarnation, gilguleem, or metempsychosis) is not an ancient one.
No ancient text had mentioned such a subject until the Middle Ages when it became a popular subject.
CHAYE HAOLAM HABA provided an amazing insight into Rabbi Abulafia's procedures, including examples to use the two letter gates, the 231 letters and other meditative techniques not discussed in Kabbalah books.
LIFE IN THE FUTURE WORLD had been quoted by many Jewish Kabbalah authors in discussions about the SEPHER YETZIRAH and the golem.
In one section of this book, Abulafia describes how to meditate on the 24 triplets of the 72 Holy Names of God. He provides explanations of the 72-letter name of God, illustrated by circular figures and explicit instructions for mystical meditation.
Abulafia explained, “It is necessary that one also learns the names of all the letters. Know that in our language, the name of each letter begins with the letter itself.”
Combining one letter with another to create a specific word is a deliberate act. Each word in the Hebrew alphabet was formed with serious deliberation and agreement among rabbis.
One example he gives are the letters Lamed (L) and Phe (P to produce the word for the first letter of the alphabet Aleph. In SEFER YETZIRAH, the letter Aleph is the ‘king’ over the breath.
Another practice of this extraordinary form of contemplation is to study a biblical phrase until the rational meaning is lost. In the disorientation following the repeated pronunciation of new meaningless phrase comes “meaning beyond meaning.”
Combined with specific breathing techniques and contemplation of body limbs meditation on the letters produces ecstasy almost immediately.
Abulafia called his “science of the combination of letters” (Hochmah ha-Tzeruf), a methodical guide to meditation with the aid of letters and their configurations.
This method utilizes letters in a certain manner to attain the divine language. Abulafia illustrated that “...that the method of tzeruf can be compared to music; for the ear hears sounds from various combinations, in accordance with the character of the melody and the instrument.”
The continuous, monotonous repetition of letters and sounds excites the mind, rather than dulls it. This is done in combination with various bodily and breathing techniques. Abulafia’s meditation method involved using head motions and controlled breathing similarly described in OHR HA-SECHEL.
Read more sample chapters and download a free PDF sample compliments of the author from the book, Kabbalah's Secret Circles.