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The Mystical Meditation of the Baal Shem Tov and Jung

Yakov Leib haKohain

In his text, Instructions on Intercourse with God, over two centuries ago, the Baal Shem Tov wrote:

"At times a man rests on his bed, and it appears to his family as though he were asleep, but he spends this hour in solitude with his Creator, blessed is He. That is a very high rung, that he beholds the Creator at all times with the eye of his insight, as if he actually sees another man. And consider this: if you persevere in pure thought, then the Creator also looks at you, as a man looks at you."

If we read this passage carefully, what we find is a precription for a Kabbalistic meditation that is, without meaning to be, an extension of the Jungian paradigm of consciousness - as well as being related to other forms of Eastern and Western mysticism. I'll amplify this passage line by line.

At times a man rests on his bed, and it appears to his family as though he were asleep . . .

After one has retired for the night, but before going to sleep, he should lie silently on his back with his eyes closed.

but he spends this hour in solitude with his Creator, blessed is He.

He should do this alone, for approximately one hour, with the intention of having intercourse with God.

That is a very high rung, that he beholds the Creator at all times with the eye of his insight . . .

One should focus his closed eyes on the darkness at the back of his eyelids . . .

as if he actually sees another man.
until he sees, with his eyes still closed, the Kavod (or "image") of God. [NOTE: This may actually appear to be the form of a person, or something that resembles another "eye," much like that described by the Christian mystic, Meister Eckhardt.]
if you persevere in pure thought . . .

One must then concentrate on the "image" he "sees" in the darkness behind his closed eyelids with what the Hindus call "single-pointed" concentration - that is, with "pure thought."

then the Creator also looks at you, as a man looks at you.

If one persists in "looking" at the Kavod of God he sees in the darkness behind his closed eyelids -- whether it appears to him as the image of a "man," or another "eye," or a circle of light with a largish "dot" in its center - he will eventually experience the "other" looking back at *him.* It is in this state of elevated consciousness that actual communication between the meditator and the Self can then take place.  Jung calls this ego-Self relationship the "ausenander-zetsun," and the dialogue that results from it is achieved through what he further calls "active imagination." (The label "active imagination" is misleading in the sense that it implies something less than a "real" ego-Self interaction is taking place; what Jung actually means, however, is that one *uses* the imaginational function to break down the barrier between the individual ego and the reality of the Self in order to establish an "ausanander-zetsun," or intimate conversation, between the two.

This form of meditation, like any other, takes practice over a period of time and doesn't "deliver" its "payload" all at once. But it is worth the effort in the long run.


 

From a post to the Donmeh mail list
Thu, 22 Apr 1999


 
 
Baal Shem Tov
C G Jung

 
 

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page uploaded 23 April 1999