Jewish Meditation Talks
Elul: the month where we are turning back to a place in us that can connect to something larger; to our own truth; that can connect to the sense that we are part of the Devine Unfolding. That the process of turning and connecting is really this love dance between ourselves and God.
Our purpose is to immerse ourselves in nothing, to do nothing, and to be nothing. But nothing is the most important thing of all.
What God is, is not our concepts of God. We understand that which is useful in life. We don’t understand the ultimate importance of the useless function of God; the nothing function of God. It’s our connection to God, to this endlessness, this nothingness, to this which we cannot understand, we cannot grasp, we do not know. Our connection to this which is characterized by love, and complete and profound acceptance.
The premise of an awakened mind is creating the kind of peace that people can have when they are content, regardless of circumstances. We cultivate a mind that focuses on the fact that life itself is happening, rather then on the myriad complex details that arise. This is taking the larger view: that everything is lawful, the unfolding of natural causes.
Jeff begins by addressing the question: what is the binary nature of conceptual thinking. This is an important frame for finding the solution to the problem of defining the task of a human life: alignment with loving attention/connection to the truth of what’s arising, allowing the unfolding of wisdom, all of which is being known in awareness. Jeff talks about the purpose of human life, which is to further the divine unfolding, allowing consciousness and love to be fully expressed and realized in all transitory corporeal existence. Jeff brings new meaning to the stories of the exile from Eden and of Moses at the burning bush – opening these stories more deeply to our human experience of separation from the Devine Presence.
Sheila begins with the connection of mindfulness to the cycle of Jewish holy days, being immersed in the embodied experience of the intentions arising in the practice of each holy day. Sheila teaches that Torah has a sense of being a path of well-being and peace, leading to an understanding that creates transformation. The Torah teaches us to let go – let go of that which impedes our ease, our mindfulness, our connection to the Devine.
Joanna talks about how each of us has something precious and unique that is only ours to unfold in this practice. That a spiritual practice is a practice that allows the heart and mind to settle. Joanna teaches that spirituality, which is an essential part of Judaism, is always striving for the presence of God, and the fashioning of a life of holiness appropriate to that striving. Joanna asks: how we able to be open to the presence of God in a state of great adversity. Being open to the presence of God is directly related to the state of one’s own heart.
Jordan discusses how normative Jewish practice is a spiritual practice resonant with mindfulness of the moment-to-moment experience of the normal course of events. He tells the Torah story of the spies returning from Canaan, focusing on how it illustrates the reality of human experience and the importance of remembering (mindfulness), and that our actions should be based on investigation and wisdom, not on our fears and delusions. This allows us to remember who we are: remembrance as the sharp focus of attention, embracing concern and involvement, active, not passive.
Jeff presents a brief introduction to the theology of Jewish contemplative practice. He discusses what is needed to support our practice, and focuses on the Jewish concept of mochin de katnut, or small mind. Jeff details how the experience of self-identity is a process of small mind. He discusses the make-up of small mind through the lens of the five aggregates: body; feeling tone; perception; volitional fabrications; and consciousness.
What does it mean to say You to God? Our relationship with God forms though listening without language, developing a loving relationship – not with it, which is the idea of God, but with You, the felt presence of God. This place where we address God as You includes the lover and the beloved, raising the question of dualism – what is the me; what is the other. This is the relational aspect of the divine. This is the place where we are known and loved.
Also titled, The Metaphysical Musings of a Megalomaniacal Mixed Up Mystic, in this talk Rabbi Jeff Roth discusses the laws of cause and effect and how they apply to suffering and to happiness.
In this talk Rabbi Jeff Roth discusses the benefits of letting the attention be pulled rather than pushed. Through these teachings awareness and experience opens up. “Just by paying attention there are amazing new things that you’ve never experienced before.”
In this talk Rabbi Jeff Roth explains how what the midrash says about the nature of our suffering and the relationship between thinking, desiring, awareness reveals a path to resolving tremendous suffering.
In contemporary Jewish meditation the Divine is a reference to the interconnected unity of all being. This talk unfolds this metaphor and points out obstacles that occur in “small mind” that aggrandizes the self and cuts one off from unity, compassion and loving-kindness. A set of practice instructions proposes processes to turn the obstacles into compost for spiritual growth.
Reflection on what we seek to remember in practice, developing the capacity to see which stories serve to develop wholesome qualities and reduce suffering. The center of the talk is a tour through the Jewish year, interpreting each holiday as a form of retreat practice and the opportunity to awaken and develop heart qualities.
Rabbi Jeff Roth explores Truth; awakened attention to what is happening in the moment.
Rabbi Jeff Roth discusses how to relax into both your meditation practice and your daily life, and what gets in the way.
In this talk from the 2005 winter ECAMP retreat, Norman provides an overview for a profound reading of the Torah and of our lives. Read more…
In this talk from the 2005 winter ECAMP retreat, Norman uncovers the complementary relationship between faith and experience. This 12 minute clip will nourish and ground your curiosity… What is this life?
In this Jewish meditation talk given at the Elat Chayyim Advanced Meditation Program, Rabbi Jeff Roth talks about ignorance and the patterns of mind which prevent us from truly meeting the Divine in our lives. Read more…
Another opportunity to wake up. In this talk, Rabbi Joanna Katz names and gives real-life examples of the obstacles that prevent one from being truly present and consciously with G-d.
In this Jewish meditation talk given at the Elat Chayyim Advanced Meditation Program, Rabbi Alan Lew speaks of patterns observed in the Torah that reveal the essential experienced ingredients for spiritual transformation. Read more…
The beginning part of a talk given at the 2005 winter Elat Chayyim Advanced Meditation Program retreat, Norman aids the listener in delving deeper into seeing the true meaning and opportunity of life.
In the second part (click here to listen to the first part) of a Jewish meditation talk given at a 2005 ECAMP retreat, Rabbi Joanna Katz opens with a quote from the Dalai Lama suggesting that the very purpose of our life is to seek and to move towards happiness. Using a verse from Deuteronomy and stories from her own meditation retreat experiences Joanna describes the merit of being with what is arising.
The beginning of a talk (click here to listen to the next part) given at a 2005 ECAMP retreat, Joanna reflects on the isolation, attachment and judgment that prohibits us from experiencing a truly free and peaceful happiness. Joanna uses the Shevah Brachot (seven blessings traditionally said at weddings) as a way of encountering the true happiness that God (and we) wish for ourselves.
In this talk from the 2008 winter ECAMP retreat, Joanna offers teachings about patience and self acceptance. Read more…