Out beyond ideas

of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.


When the soul lies down

in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language

– even the phrase “each other” –

do not make any sense.




“In some ways kavannah
is similar to the Buddhist notion of mindfulness, for kavannah, like
mindfulness, is understood to mean attention and intention. One intends
to place one’s attention on what is going on all around one…..

In Roptchitz, where
the tzaddik Naftali lived (a tzaddik is

a fully enlightened being), it was the custom for rich people whose

houses stood isolated to hire men to watch over their property by night.

Late one evening Naftali was skirting the woods that surrounded the

city and meditating on the moon when he encountered a watchman.

‘For whom are you
walking?’ the tzaddik asked.

Not recognizing him,
the watchman inquired in turn, ‘For whom are you working Rebbe?’

The words struck the tzaddik
like an arrow.

‘I am not working for anybody just yet,’ he whispered and began walking

back and forth in great agitation and whispering to himself, ‘For whom

am I working, for whom am I working?’ Finally he stopped and turned to

the watchman. ‘Will you come and work for me?’ he asked.

The watchman asked,
‘But what would be my duties?’

‘To remind me,’
murmured the tzaddik.

This story
illustrates the kind of attention necessary for our practice. The tzaddik,
already enlightened, recognizes that his attention could be even more sharply

Kavannah is to place our
attention on what we are doing, then, by being in the moment, we experience joy
in the doing…..

Our kavannah,
our passionate intent, brings

us into deeper contact with all of life, even the painful parts. For if

we wall ourselves off from life because we believe that life is

suffering and filled with pain, we will end up walling ourselves away

from the joy and infinite sweetness of existence, and we will thus

barricade the direct road to wisdom and enlightenment.”

The Way of Flame: A Guide to the Forgotten Mystical
Tradition of Jewish Meditation




“The sum-total
of human suffering all round must be

incredible, and yet it seems to be considered quite a normal condition

in this world, as long as it is happening to somebody else……The only

possible hope for this world is to alter the SOUL of humanity

for the better, which may be a small step for us, but an important one

nevertheless. I suppose in the end we all have our ideas of what to do

for the best, but what is important is that we should want to do better

in the first place.”

– J.G. Swart